Fr Stephen Smuts

Posts Tagged ‘Sex Abuse Scandal

Church of England Braced for New Sex Abuse Claims

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Via the BBC:

Fresh allegations of child sex abuse against the Church of England (CofE) are likely to surface, the Archbishop of Canterbury has warned.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said he was braced for an abuse inquiry to reveal “bad stories” about the Church.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that he dealt with the issue daily and that the Church needed to be transparent.

It comes after the Home Office backed Baroness Butler-Sloss as the right person to lead that inquiry.

Concerns have been raised about her over a previous review role in which she is alleged to have told an abused choirboy that she wanted to exclude some of his allegations in order to protect the CofE.

She has said she never put institutions before victims.

Archbishop Welby said abuse survivors needed to be shown justice and called for transparency from the Church in how it dealt with the issue.

Asked if he was prepared for more “bad stories” of child abuse within the establishment, the archbishop told the BBC: “I would love to say there weren’t, but I expect there are. There are in almost every institution in this land.

“This is, it’s something I deal with every day and it is becoming clearer and clearer that for many, many years things were not dealt with as they should have been dealt with.”

He added that the Church needed to apologise and explain how “utterly devastated” it was about the “terrible things” that were done in the past.

There is more here.

 

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

July 13, 2014 at 18:46

Australia: Sex-abuse Victim Sentenced for ‘Revenge’ Burglaries at Catholic Churches

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Sounds more like a copout:

A man sexually abused by a priest as a six-year-old who exacted revenge – unleashing his “deeply entrenched hatred” for the Catholic order by burgling dozens of its churches across suburban Melbourne – was today jailed for a maximum of four years.

A judge earlier heard the man’s “rancour and rage” against the Catholic Church surfaced 20 years ago in South Australia when he was first convicted of the offence of “sacrilege”.

His barrister told the County Court earlier this month that after his client’s removal a year ago as a worker with the St Vincent de Paul Society, the “rage and anger that has so dominated his life took over and he became unstable”.

The barrister Mark Regan said the man, now 44, had a “deeply entrenched belief system of the wrong perpetrated against him” by the priest and the Catholic Church which he resented.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to 59 charges of mostly aggravated burglary, burglary and theft that involved more than 30 churches, parish houses, a respite school and a presbytery.

Prosecutor Catharine Sedgwick detailed how the man offended against “soft targets” over seven months from Camberwell to Dandenong, Essendon to Ringwood and Epping, Balwyn and Coburg until his arrest last May.

Ms Sedgwick said he ransacked offices and stole money from safes, cash boxes, donation envelopes and raffle payments, sometimes while priests slept.

He told police he felt his crimes were “payback” for being molested and was handed a phone book in custody to mark the churches he burgled.

Mr Regan distinguished the nature of the burglaries from domestic-related, residential targets and submitted the man acted covertly and avoided confrontations.

His mother confirmed in evidence her son was about six when he told her a priest had molested him by “playing with parts of my body he shouldn’t be touching”.

She reported the matter to police but “nothing was ever done” and told the judge much of his obsessiveness and unresolved anger stemmed from that.

“I should have done a lot more than I did,” she lamented.

The judge today told the man he had harboured a great resentment against the church.

She said that on the balance of probabilities, there was “force behind” his assertions about being molested as a young child.

The judge said that the man cannot keep “utilising” his past as a reason for offending.

She described the offences as non-confrontational, and the impact had been of property loss only, but the seriousness was in the repitition of the offences.

He was ordered to serve a minimum of two and a half years.

But yes, it would indeed seem as if there are various ways in which one can exact your ‘revenge’ Down-Under…

 

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

November 29, 2012 at 06:37

Archbishop Phillip Aspinall: Priests ‘Can Report Child Abuse’

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The spiritual leader of Australia’s 3.5 million Anglicans, Phillip Aspinall, believes that priests may be able to report child abuse revealed during the rite of confession without breaking the seal of the confessional, putting him at odds with Catholics.   

The Australian reports:

The Anglican Primate says the sanctity of the confessional should be examined by the royal commission into child sexual abuse called this week by Julia Gillard, which he regards as being a decade overdue.

Dr Aspinall’s predecessor as Archbishop of Brisbane, Peter Hollingworth – who lost his job as governor-general after a scandal erupted over his handling of sex-abuse cases in the diocese – also backed the inquiry.

Dr Hollingworth warned yesterday that the abuse of children was “more widespread than previously thought”, and welcomed the royal commission as an important national initiative and a means to help victims.

Dr Aspinall told The Weekend Australian that pastoral guidelines for Anglican priests already stipulated that anyone who admitted sexually abusing a child during confession would not receive forgiveness unless they agreed to go to the police.

If the penitent refused, the confession was incomplete and, arguably, the seal of the confessional would not apply.

Only specified, senior priests could hear such confessions in the  Anglican Church, Dr Aspinall said. “These priests are specially trained  to require the penitent to report the matter to the police and even go  with them to support them while they do that,” he said.

“If they don’t do that, forgiveness will not be granted to them.”

Dr Aspinall is credited with cleaning house after taking over as  Archbishop of Brisbane in 2002 in the teeth of allegations that the  diocese had failed to deal properly with sex abuse cases in the 1990s  under Dr Hollingworth’s leadership.

Dr Aspinall, who was later elected Primate, said the announcement of a  national royal commission into child abuse came 10 years after he first  asked John Howard to call such an inquiry.

“Of the nearly 3.6 million Australians who call themselves Anglican,  statistically one in four women and one in eight men are victims of  abuse, so it is something that affects our church on many levels,” Dr  Aspinall said in a statement yesterday.

His support for the royal commission to review confessional sanctity  is in sharp contrast to the position of Australia’s most senior  Catholic, George Pell, who this week declared that the confessional was  “inviolable”, even for murder.

The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney said he would not hear the  confession of a pedophile priest if he had prior notice of it, but, were  it made, the seal of the confessional would remain.

In response, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, a Catholic, said he  struggled to understand how such information could not be reported to  police, while federal Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Bill  Shorten called for the royal commission to address priestly privilege.  Interviewed by The Weekend Australian, Dr Aspinall said mandatory  reporting of child sex abuse was policy in the Anglican Church.

He said the rite of confession was less frequently practised by  Anglicans, and was different from what took place in the Catholic  Church.

Senior priests had told him they hadn’t heard a confession for years, let alone one involving child sex abuse.

But he acknowledged that opinion was divided among Anglicans on what the confessional seal covered.

“Some people would say that anything said in a formal confession remains secret and sacrosanct,” Dr Aspinall said.

“Others would say, no, if the penitent has not followed through and  taken the appropriate action and received forgiveness, then the  confession is incomplete and the seal of confession does not apply.

“In that instance the person either reports the matter to the police themselves or the priest is free to do so.”

Asked for his personal view, Dr Aspinall said: “My view is that every  instance of child sexual abuse should be reported to the police.”

In nearly 25 years as a priest, he had never been put in the predicament of hearing the confession of a child abuser.

“I don’t think I ever will, because the reality is child sex abusers  hide what they do; they don’t come forward to reveal it,” Dr Aspinall  said.

Pressed on what he would do if someone confessed such a crime to him  and refused to have it reported to police, he admitted it would pose “a  real dilemma of conscience”.

“My heartfelt conviction is that all these matters should be reported to the police,” he said.

“If I found myself in a position of having to break canon law to do  it, I’m not sure what I would do. But my conscience, I think, would move  me to find a way for … proper action to be taken.”

While Cardinal Pell attacked sections of the media for exaggerating  the incidence of sex abuse by Catholic priests and for vilifying the  church, Dr Aspinall said reporting of the issue had mainly been  reasonable.

He praised the courage of victims in coming forward.

Dr Aspinall conceded that trust in the church had been affected.

“I think people are more shocked when it’s a clergy person or a  church worker who engaged in this behaviour because they have very high  expectations of people in the church,” he said.

“And I think that is right and proper.”

 

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

November 16, 2012 at 17:12

Australian Cardinal: Confessional Seal is Inviolable, Even in Abuse Cases

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Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia, has said that while the Church will cooperate with a federal commission investigating child abuse, priests will not break the seal of confession.

Someone who confesses sins involving abuse will not be reported to police by his confessor, the cardinal said. He explained that while an admission made outside the confessional would be reported, “the seal of confession is inviolable.”

Cardinal Pell said that if a priest is aware that someone has been guilty of abuse, “the priest should refuse to hear the confession.”

The cardinal said that he welcomed the federal investigation because it will “clear the air” and “separate fact from fiction” regarding the Church’s response to sex-abuse complaints. He has said that media reports have portrayed the Church’s role unfairly.

Source

 

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

November 14, 2012 at 14:50

Hollywood Developing Movie About Catholic Church Sex Abuse Scandal

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Over at The Deacon’s Bench:

Details:

Variety reports that Win Win director Tom McCarthy is directing an untitled drama about the reporters at the Boston Globe who uncovered the original conspiracy to keep these deeds quiet. Not exactly lighthearted material to help close out the week, but since it’s the “story behind the story” that’s being put in the spotlight here, it should be more interesting than just another damning exposé.

The story will follow Michael Rezendes, Sacha Pfeiffer, Matt Carroll, Walter “Robby” Robinson, Ben Bradlee Jr. and Marty Baron, the team of reporters at the Boston Globe who investigated thousands of pages of documents and conducted a myriad of interviews in the New England area to expose a scandal that rocked the Catholic Church. McCarthy has been working on this project in secret for over a year because of the “sensitivity of the subject matter,” and the tone of the screenplay by “The West Wing” writer Josh Singer is said to be similar to the classic Hoffman/Redford journalism film All the President’s Men.

Read more.

 

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

October 19, 2012 at 21:48

Archbishop John Hepworth the Martyr?

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UPDATEFr Smuts trashes Archbishop Hepworth by Deborah Gyapong.

An interesting choice of words… But the gloves are mercifully not off… I must however add that I was simply responding to the flawed comments of a one ‘undisclosed Roman Catholic person’ on Fr Anthony Chawick’s blog. Up until this point (his posting), the line had been drawn in the sand. I’m not in the business of trashing anyone, but at the same time one cannot sit idly by while fanciful ecclesiastical legerdemain is left unchecked.  Now instead of emotive responses, what we need is to remain objective and simply stick to the facts, as they stand…

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Fr Anthony Chadwick has the following posted today:

I have updated the TAC Archive , in its September 2012 page with material recently published in the Australian press concerning Archbishop Hepworth.

An undisclosed Roman Catholic person sent me this reflection:

Well, I think +John’s going to the Catholic authorities is what salvaged the little we have for TAC folks going into the Catholic Church. Without John Hepworth’s finding an ally in Cardinal Pell for pursuing the sexual abuse allegations and the findings of the Melbourne independent commission, which brought Archbishop Hart onside, the TAC would have remained entirely discredited as an organization led by a charlatan who would go so far as to make up sex abuse allegations, because that’s what the Adelaide diocese was spreading around with the help of megaphones like NNN. The destruction of his reputation went into full force after the AC came out and that’s when the TAC was effectively barred from any meaningful participation in implementation and Hepworth was out of the loop.

He has fought a bloody battle not only to regain his reputation which was in shreds but to get justice for those of us still standing. Thus we do have a TAC ordinary in Australia and a supportive bishops’ conference (…). I hope this all comes out some day.

There is no provision for comments on this posting.

Fine. Fortunately I have a blog of my own so I’ll comment over here (and anyone else who would like to comment is also more than welcome). See, you don’t get to post such, err… let me say, ‘stuff’, left unchallenged…

The above is all part of an increasing trend that I’ve noticed of late on the blogs that is intended to paint Archbishop John Hepworth as some kind of a martyr who sacrificed himself for the cause of the Ordinariate, which, if I may add, even I could buy into if he was to accept the Church’s judgment and in humility and obedience, be reconciled with the Catholic Church (as a layman) as he so promised (and is expected to do). But as late as June, he was trying to form a dissident ‘Saint Benedict Fellowship’, some kind of quasi-grouping with the intention of joining in ‘sacramental fellowship under the patronage of Saint Benedict, in order to minister to and sustain each other and those Anglicans who share [a] desire for the full, global implementation of the Apostolic Constitution…’ May I remind you that the formation of an Ordinariate in Australia was at this point, already well underway and he knew exactly where he stood in relation to it.

What is very clear is that Archbishop John Hepworth will never be a part of any Ordinariate. He is a Catholic priest who abandoned his priesthood. Laicization is his. To date, he has been unwilling to humble himself and follow through on his convictions and a previous public profession to be prepared to sacrifice his episcopal interests for the sake of unity with Rome. While some may have, we have not forgotten.

Secondly, he has refused to be reconciled with the TAC College of Bishops in a Church that he formally led. By now, it is common knowledge that Archbishop John Hepworth stands accused of financial irregularities and the misappropriation of Church funds. Since his suspension, I have yet to hear of any cooperation or willingness to work with the College of Bishops on his part.

Archbishop Hepworth is indeed ‘out of the loop’ and in no-man’s-land. But that is in and of his own making. The sex abuse allegations dating to over four decades ago, in which he claims to have been raped by three priests, has nothing to do with the TAC or the Ordinariate. It is a personal matter. The timing of his revelation is what was most surprising and questionable… Why, when you are raped by three men as a 24-year-old, do you wait until you are well into your 60’s before laying charges? Contrast if you will, the opinionated comments of our ‘undisclosed Roman Catholic person’ (above), with this:

‘CONTROVERSIAL Anglican Archbishop John Hepworth has offered to drop demands for action over rape allegations against a senior priest identified in Parliament.

In exchange he would like help to return to the Catholic Church.’

Yes, we are all entitled to our opinions, no matter how wide of the mark they may be…

And, btw. if you’re looking for the ‘bloody battle’ fought, then look no further than this.

 

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

September 17, 2012 at 21:59

Archbishop John Hepworth to Ask Peter Slipper to Step Down

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UPDATE:  Unbelievable: Peter Slipper Could Still Be Parish Priest (!) - Archbishop John Hepworth.

We reported on the gross allegations of sexual harassment against Fr Peter Slipper yesterday.

Archbishop John Hepworth – who has been very quiet of late – has now come out and is to ask Slipper to step down as Priest:

Embattled MP Peter Slipper will be asked to stand down from his role as a priest in the Traditional Anglican Communion while allegations he sexually harassed a male adviser and misused taxpayer money are investigated.

Australian leader of the Traditional Anglican Communion John Hepworth said yesterday Mr Slipper, an ordained priest, would be asked to stand down in the wake of the allegations made by James Ashby.

As chancellor of the breakaway TAC, Mr Slipper is the chief legal adviser to Archbishop Hepworth.

The move to suspend Mr Slipper from his church role came yesterday, soon after the Queensland MP stood aside as Speaker of the House of Representatives.

“It is right for anyone accused of serious misconduct in public life, whether in church life or political life, to stand aside until the processes of justice reach a conclusion,” Archbishop Hepworth said.

“Ministers of the crown and cardinals of the church have followed this sound principle in recent years in Australia; otherwise, the integrity of our core institutions is eroded, and our expectations of public morality further decay.

“As Peter Slipper’s archbishop, I applaud his decision to stand aside as Speaker, and am seeking a similar decision in relation to his public functions in the church.”

Archbishop Hepworth said it was not a decision he had taken lightly, but it was appropriate given the gravity of the allegations against the senior MP. “I have agonised over it because we have been friends for a long time and I greatly respect his work both in the church and in the parliament,” he said.

“I am a longstanding friend of both Peter and his wife, Inge, about whom I am extremely concerned. I also greatly respect his voting record in parliament on a range of contentious moral issues.”

Mr Slipper was ordained a priest of the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia, a member church of the Traditional Anglican Communion, in 2008 after serving as a deacon since 2003. While he is a priest, it is understood he is licensed by the church to celebrate only private masses.

Mr Slipper faced calls to stand aside as Speaker by Tony Abbott and Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie.

Federal Court documents show Mr Ashby has accused Mr Slipper of making “unwelcome sexual advances” and “unwelcome sexual comments”.

The Australian Federal Police will also be asked to investigate allegations Mr Slipper misused Cabcharge dockets.

In a statement yesterday, Mr Slipper denied the allegations but said it was appropriate to stand aside as Speaker while the allegations were resolved.

Last year, he backed the move by the Traditional Anglican Communion to join the Catholic Church, but would probably have been forced to choose between his roles in the church and state when the union was complete.

Ag nee man, sies!

Oh and could someone please explain what: ‘While he is a priest, it is understood he is licensed by the church to celebrate only private masses’ means?

You may also wish to look at: Peter Slipper RESIGN or GET SACKED you are an embarrassment at Aussie Criminals and Crooks.

 

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

April 22, 2012 at 16:43

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