VIENNA -- At the end of his three-day visit here, Pope John Paul II fired parting shots at his quarreling Austrian bishops, but steered clear of directly addressing a sex scandal and dampened any hopes he would change his positions on church policy.
A crowd of about 50,000 turned out in the Heroes' Square, the vast plaza designed by the Hapsburg emperors where hundreds of thousands poured in to welcome Adolf Hitler in 1938.
John Paul's third visit to Austria, was aimed at calming the waters in this traditional Catholic bastion, which has been rocked by accusations that a cardinal sexually abused young boys, and divisions among its bishops and demands for reform signed by a half-million Austrians. John Paul made his criticism in a private meeting of Austrian bishops after Mass. The Vatican released the text.
"The church's authority does not rest solely in its bishops," the pope said in a clear reference to Bp. Kurt Krenn, a conservative who has angered many by his staunch support for Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer. The cardinal was forced by the Vatican to relinquish his duties following accusations of pedophilia. The pope scolded the bishops for going public with their conflicts, saying that "like every house that has special rooms that are not open to all guests," the church too needs "rooms for talks that require privacy."
In the only public statement during the trip that could be construed as a reference to the scandal, the pope said he knew his bishops had been "put through trials of various types" and that they were "particularly present" in his prayers.
The Vatican estimates that 78 percent of Austria's 8 million people are
Catholics, but only 20 percent attend church regularly and 40,000 leave
the church each year.
(6/21 Associated Press)
BRUSSELS -- Pedophilia has remained a source of shame and scandal in Belgium since the 1996 arrest of Marc Dutroux. Dutroux, charged with the rape and murder of four girls and the kidnapping of two others will probably not face trial until 2001.
Cardinal Godfried Danneels must pay damages to one of three boys whom a priest was convicted of molesting, a criminal court has ruled. The court said Danneels and a local assistant bishop were responsible as the employers of Fr. Andre Vanderlyn, 64. It ordered the two men to pay a total of $14,000, the first time high-level church officials have been held responsible for civil damages in a pedophile case involving Belgium's church. The ruling could affect the outcome of several other cases still pending.
The priest was accused of molesting boys over several decades. The victim at the center of the case alleged he was forced into sex with Vanderlyn in the sacristy of the church. The priest had threatened to withhold holy communion from the victim, then 12, if he did not submit. Danneels, who testified at the trial, has always denied the church tried to cover up Vanderlyn's crimes but promised to set up structures within the church to prevent a recurrence. Vanderlyn was sentenced to 6 years in jail after confessing to raping around 10 children since 1968.
Recently prosecutors in the city of Tongeren ordered police to question
about 1,500 former pupils of a now retired teacher of religion, also a priest,
who has been accused by another female ex-student of rape. The suspect denies
STRATFORD, Ontario -- The Ontario Provincial Police said that Fr. John Gerald Stock, 69, had been arrested at the mission where he was living, and faces 68 sex-related charges involving 16 children dating back to 1959.
Fr. Jack Lynch, superior-general of the mission, refused specific comment on the charges. However, he said that Stock has been suspended from any priestly functions.
Stock grew up in the small hamlet of Kinkora and, while he worked for the church over the years in Ontario and around the world, he would return to his hometown in the summer. Police said 16 males aged nine to 15 were assaulted between 1959 and 1981 in the Kinkora area.
OPP said the charges followed a six-week investigation. Stock faces 34 counts each of indecent assault and gross indecency.
In addition to the OPP charges, the police confirmed they charged Stock on July 6 with sexual assault involving an incident 21 years ago. Stock pleaded guilty in June in London court to indecently assaulting an altar boy years ago and received a 12-month conditional sentence. Stock was a priest at a parish there at the time.
Shortly after that court case, the family of the altar boy filed a $32-million
lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Church, the Diocese
of London and two bishops.
(9/10 London Free Press)
The 7 accused men, all but one in their 60s or older, face charges of having sex with adolescent boys in the 1950s and 60s. The scandals started with Fr. Charles MacDonald, first accused in 1993. He faces a total of nine counts, involving 5 victims from 1967 to 1983. Also among them are Lionel Carrierre, 77, better known as Br. George Edmond during his days as a teacher, and Frs. Paul Lapierre, 69, and Kenneth Martin, 67.
The Ontario Provincial Police launched Project Truth, a full-scale investigation into what some believed was an organized pedophile ring, over a year ago. 9 men have been charged to date and police say they are looking at 4 or 5 more suspects.
What many say are the most shocking charges came in June, when the OPP, arrested a man, referred to as "the 47-year-old man" because he persuaded the judge to ban publication of his name. His identity is said to be well-known anyway, and the charges are said by police to be based on allegations of recent events.
Despite all that, the officer in charge, said investigators have yet
to find evidence of an organized ring of pedophiles. Mrs. Dunlop, wife of
former-Constable Perry Dunlop who first brought the allegations to light,
said that it is premature to talk about closure yet. "I know for a
fact that there are more people involved," she said.
(7/20 Globe and Mail)
Bromley was charged with the offenses following an RCMP investigation
in 1994 into allegations of abuse at the home. The offenses allegedly occurred
between 1970 and 84 and involved sexual assault, indecent assault, gross
indecency and buggery.
(6/20 Evening Telegram)
Bp. Hubert O'Connor apologized for the incidents that occurred during the mid-1960s at a residential school run by the Catholic church for native children, officials and the victim said at a news conference.
O'Connor, 71, did not attend the news conference because of ill health, but copies of his apology were distributed to reporters. "I apologize for the harm I have done in hopes there will be a healing of the rifts between our communities, not because I have to, but because I want to," O'Connor said in the statement.
Two current Canadian Catholic officials also attended the healing circles and issued a formal apology to all aboriginal people who attended the schools run by the church in Canada.
O'Connor was charged in 1991 with raping several girls who attended the
Williams Lake residential school. He was eventually convicted in 1996, but
an appeals court threw out the verdict this year. Prosecutors had been pressing
for a new trial.
"This is a major threat to every church in the country," said Gerry Kelly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. "The potential costs are exceedingly high. I don't really know what's going to happen. The number of cases has just grown and grown."
In Ottawa, federal bureaucrats met with officials from several churches, trying to determine what should be done in the face of what appears to be a staggering number of claims. At the moment, churches and the federal government face at least 1,000 abuse cases from native Canadians who attended the schools, and lawyers connected with the issue say the number may escalate.
Prime Minister Jean Chretien said that Canada, which has been asked to defend its treatment of native children at the schools before a United Nations tribunal, is ready to accept its responsibility, although it will review each case separately.
"It looks like the court has attributed to the federal government some responsibility," he said. "If we have responsibility, we have to meet our responsibilities."
In a court ruling dealing with a residential school in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island, the B.C. Supreme Court found that both the federal government, which financed the school, and the United Church, which ran it, were jointly liable and must compensate those who were sexually assaulted at the school by Arthur Plint decades ago. The ruling is considered a landmark because it transfers accountability from Mr. Plint to his employers. Although it has been cheered by victims, others warn that the ruling could have far-reaching effects.
Observers say the crucial aspect of the decision is the way it extends the concept of vicarious liability, which determines where an employer's accountability ends and an individual's begins. Until now, the courts have generally ruled that an employer can't be held liable for their employees' actions if there was no way to anticipate them. One expert warned it could mean the end of girl's soccer and the Boy Scouts.
More than 80 residential schools for native children were set up in the past century in almost every province. Officials estimate that up to 125,000 native children passed through the system before it was closed in the mid-1980s.
In June, the Prime Minister or a senior government representative has been asked to appear before an international human-rights tribunal to defend Ottawa's record on caring for the children at the schools. An international court, convened by tribal leaders from across North America, was to hold three days of public hearings in Vancouver as a response to complaints of sexual abuse, assault and cultural genocide at the schools and pleas for justice.
The testimony is mainly for the benefit of the International Human Rights
Association of American Minorities, which is formally affiliated with the
UN. The association is expected to report to the UN Secretary-General. It
is believed to be the first time that the non-governmental organization
has investigated a situation in Canada. Although the tribunal does not have
the force of law behind it, the association's findings could embarrass Canada
at the UN, where Canada often criticizes other countries over human rights.
(6/9 Canadian Press)
The trial is the first resulting from a new wave of abuse charges that were laid in 1996. The seven men face a total of 59 charges of physical and sexual assault for incidents involving 17 former residents that allegedly occurred between 1950 and 1964. 9 brothers have already been convicted of abusing boys in their care during the 1970s.
Of the 14 brothers who worked at Mount Cashel between 1953 and 1958, 5 are dead, 5 others, including Barry, are facing facing charges, 3 could not be located and another was interviewed.
All but one of the accused in these newest cases were Christian Brothers.
The other was an employee of the orphanage. 4 of the accused now live in
the United States. Two have come forward and are scheduled to stand trial
later this year. John Evangelist Murphy was arrested by
U.S. marshals and a judge there was to determine whether he could be extradited
to Canada to stand trial. Police are also still trying to extradite Thomas
(6/2 Canadian Press)
GUATEMALA CITY -- Officials questioned Fr. Mario Orantes Najera, and a church cook, in relation with the brutal murder of senior Guatemalan cleric and prominent human rights crusader, Bp. Juan Gerardi. He was battered to death with a concrete block in the garage of his residence this spring. At the time, right-wing death squads were suspected.
Najera, who had found the body, was hauled into court in handcuffs. He
told reporters the allegations were "absurd." A possible motive
was unclear, and the investigating judge imposed a gag order on all involved.
(7/24 Associated Press)
NAPLES -- The Italian government and the Vatican have become embroiled in the most serious dispute since the investigation into whether the Vatican Bank had been used to filter bribes in a corruption scandal that led to the Banco Ambrosiano crash in the 1980s.
The Vatican has protested to the government after police searched the offices of the Archbishop of Naples as part of an investigation into loansharking, extortion and criminal association in and around the southern port.
Cardinal Michele Giordano who had often spoken out against organized crime in Naples, has denied any wrongdoing and said he was guilty only of trying to help his cash-strapped brother, arrested earlier this month as part of the same investigation.
The cardinal said he had given a series of blank checks -- which when cashed amounted to some 70-90 million lire ($40-50,000)-- to his brother, who had plunged into debt after failing to sell apartments he had built. Prosecutors are now investigating whether money Giordano gave his brother was used in the loansharking schemes.
Among the reported Vatican complaints: Investigators had made an unnecessary
spectacle of the search, had failed to inform the cardinal's superiors beforehand,
and had tapped phone calls dealing with confidential religious matters and
church business. The intercepted calls reportedly included conversations
on nominations for bishops.
(9/2 Reuters, Associated Press)
VILNIUS -- A colorful priest who also owns a major private art collection has disappeared and the art is missing from his Lithuanian home, authorities said.
Fr. Ricardas Mikutavicius was reported missing from his apartment in Kaunas, Lithuania's second-largest city, by his maid, officials said.
The art collection is valued at about $4 million. The paintings had been carefully cut from their frames. The Kaunas police Chief said the disappearance was being investigated as a possible kidnapping as well as other possibilities, which he declined to detail.
Mikutavicius is a controversial figure, criticized by the church hierarchy
for such acts as last winter's baptizing of three tiger cubs at the Kaunas
ACAPULCO -- Prosecutors were considering whether to file charges against a priest arrested in connection with the kidnapping and killing of a 7-year-old-boy from Chicago who suffocated when he was gagged to stifle his cries.
Fr. David Chavez Valencia was among 5 people arrested
in the case. One suspect told reporters that she and her boyfriend were
responsible for the kidnapping and that the others were innocent.
(7/9 Associated Press)
KIGALI -- A Rwandan priest, Fr. Denis Sekamana, was sentenced on September 4 by the southern prefecture of Butare to a four-year jail term for his role in the Rwandan 1994 genocide, which led to the death of about 800,000 people, mainly Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
However, the priest was immediately released because he had already spent four years in jail. Sekamana was jailed in 1994 after the arrival to power of the Rwandan Patriotic Army.
Sekamana was found guilty of participating in the genocide by "manning road-blocks" at which Hutu militias killed Tutsis. Sekamana checked on identity papers so as to select Tutsis to be killed by the Hutu militias.
The sentencing of Sekamana follows that of two other priests: Frs. Jean-Francis-Emmanuel Kayiranga and Emmanuel Nturiye in April. The two were sentenced to death by the court seating in the western town of Kibuye. They were accused of taking part in the massacre of 60 people and that of 2,000 other Tutsi who had taken refuge at a Catholic church.
In neighboring Burundi, friends, colleagues and relatives of late Archbishop Joachim Ruhuna have commemorated the second anniversary of his death.
Ruhuna was killed two years ago while travelling through a rebel infested
area in central Burundi. Though his killers are not known, 10 people including
a deacon are in jail in connection with his death.
For more on clergy involved in the Rwandan genocide, see also Hearts of Darkness.
BRADFORD, England -- A Roman Catholic priest has pleaded guilty to 12 indecent assaults on boys under 16. Fr. David Crowley, 44, also pleaded guilty at to 3 charges of indecency with a child. Sentencing was deferred to a later date.
The offenses took place while Crowley worked in West Yorkshire, northern
England, and Devon in the south, between June 1981 and August 1992. He was
currently at a parish in Bradford -- also in the north. He was immediately
suspended by the Bishop of Leeds, who said said he had betrayed the diocese.
(6/26 Associated Press)
HARARE -- Zimbabwe's former president Rev. Canaan Banana denied charges of sodomy, but one of his former guards said the 62-year-old cleric had laid on alcohol and ballroom music before sexually attacking him.
Banana, the southern African state's first but largely ceremonial president after independence from Britain in 1980, is facing 11 charges of sodomy, attempted sodomy and indecent assault in a high-profile trial in Harare.
He pleaded not guilty to all the charges, which the state said would be backed by 40 witnesses, including top government officials. Chief state prosecutor said the former head of state had abused his authority by homosexually attacking some of the presidential staff.
The Methodist priest has been charged with two counts of sodomy, 3 of attempted sodomy and 6 of indecent assault, including that he sexually molested a gardener and a job seeker he picked on the streets. The trial is expected to last a month.
Out of court Banana has dismissed the charges and all suggestions that he is homosexual as "a mortuary of pathological lies and a malicious vendetta of vilification and character assassination."
He retired in 1987 when then prime minister Robert Mugabe became executive