by David Rothkopf Scroll down to also read of recently emerging evidence and settlements relating to child and adolescent sexual abuse by ordained Catholic men Bishops pose their hands on clergymen during their ordination as bishops during a ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009 (Alessandra Tarantino/AP)
I am beginning to think that John Edwards, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, Octomom, and Jon Gosselin have joined together to form their own public relations firm ... and that their first client is the Vatican. I have come to this conclusion because it is impossible for me to imagine any other group of people giving the Holy See the kind of P.R. advice they seem to be getting.
The evidence came in yesterday's extraordinary statement from the Vatican "defending" themselves against attacks that they have not done enough to combat sexual abuse by priests. Rather than contritely focusing on all they have done to address this cancer on their credibility, they offered a response that will be studied in schools for years to come, whether in classes seeking to offer a lesson in how not to handle a crisis or in those offering an advanced degree in miscalculated chutzpah.
Following a meeting with the U.N. Human Rights Council meant to address concerns that the Church was failing to respond appropriately to a long history of members of the clergy abusing their flocks, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi read a statement that was undoubtedly considered by some spin doctor-equivalent somewhere to advance their case but which actually probably amounted to more convincing proof that the Vatican doesn't get it on this issue than anything discussed behind closed doors with the United Nations.
Among their points: They argued that "available research" showed that only 1.5 to 5 percent of the clergy engaged in child sex abuse. Which is to say that they seemed to think that possibly having one out of every 20 priests taking advantage of the children in their parishes was not really such a big number. After all, it's only 6,000 to 20,000 priests worldwide.
Tomasi then went on to quote statistics suggesting that in the U.S. protestant churches actually had a much worse child sex abuse problem and that sexual abuse was also common in Jewish communities. "They're doing it too," was never a very good defense when I was in elementary school and in this case, it seems a particularly ill-considered line of argument. Compounding the mistake, he also argued that family members, neighbors and babysitters were far more likely to molest children than priests. While all this may be true, it does not exactly sound like they were focused on accepting responsibility for actions within their own organization. Not being a Catholic, I'm not sure of the procedures, but I'm pretty sure that the proper drill at confession is "forgive me Father for I have sinned" and not "well, yes, Father I may have sinned, but I wasn't the only one."
As reported in the Guardian [scroll down to read], the statement then took what was probably its most bizarre turn:
The statement said that rather than paedophilia, it would "be more correct" to speak of ephebophilia, a homosexual attraction to adolescent males.
"Of all priests involved in the abuses, 80 to 90% belong to this sexual orientation minority which is sexually engaged with adolescent boys between the ages of 11 and 17."
Aha. Well, I don't know about you, but now I feel much better about things. Most of the 6,000-20,000 priests who are abusing children at a rate somewhat lower than that of other religious groups are doing it with somewhat older kids. That puts things in a whole different light! I'm sure the whole ephebophilia defense will have altar boy enrollments skyrocketing in no time at all.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the Vatican's response neither satisfied the man accusing it of covering up sex abuse within the Church nor did it sit very well with representatives of other religions. Keith Porteous Wood, of the NGO that charged the Catholic Church with violating several provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, said not enough had been done by the Church to address its internal problems or to open its records to permit civil prosecution of wrong-doers.
Protestant and Jewish representatives were quick to respond condemning the Church's attempt to spread around the blame and defending their own approaches to the problem.
Had these other religious groups asked my advice, I might have told them to simply remain silent and let the Archbishop Tomasi have the limelight and the microphone all to himself. It is hard to imagine what the Church could possibly do to look worse than it already did in the face of a global scandal that has cost it $2 billion in settlements in the United States alone. Hard to imagine ... and yet somehow, that's precisely what it did. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ FORWARD WEEKLY~Edition of Friday, October 16, 2009
Vatican’s New Defense on Child Molestation Charges: Finger-pointing
By Rebecca Dube
The Jews and Protestants are worse.
That appears to be the Vatican’s newest defense of its ongoing child sex-abuse scandal.
Responding to criticism, Catholic Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s representative to United Nations organizations in Geneva, read a statement on September 21 to the U.N. Human Rights Council, noting that reports of sex abuse were common in the Jewish community and that most of the American churches being hit by sex abuse allegations were Protestant.
“As the Catholic Church has been busy cleaning its own house,” Tomasi wrote, “it would be good if other institutions and authorities, where the major part of abuses are reported, could do the same and inform the media about it.”
Tomasi’s statement came in response to an accusation from a representative of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, Keith Porteous Wood, that the Catholic Church had covered up child abuse and was in breach of several articles under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Jewish leaders were dismayed by the Archbishop’s finger-pointing.
“I was shocked by the statement. I don’t believe in comparing abuse. That’s a dangerous path to travel,” said Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, head of the New York Board of Rabbis, the largest interdenominational rabbinic organization in the world. “They have a problem they need to address; we have a problem we need to examine. Every faith community needs to be accountable to its members.”
In his statement delivered to the Human Rights Council, Tomasi estimated that over the past 50 years, as many as one in 20 Catholic clergy has been involved in sexual abuse. The Archbishop cited articles in the Christian Science Monitor and the Journal of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College that estimated abuse rates in the Protestant and Jewish communities matching or exceeding that among Catholics. (No reputable studies exist that quantify rates of child sexual abuse by religious leaders in the Jewish community.)
“One person is too many, so a numbers discussion is not the way to approach it,” Potasnik said.
Over the past decade, thousands of Catholic priests around the world have been accused of molesting children and the Church has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to settle sex-abuse lawsuits. The litigation exposed a far-reaching cover-up of child sexual abuse by the Church hierarchy, which included transferring pedophile priests to new parishes and intimidating victims and their families into silence. In the past few years, revelations of sexual abuse within Orthodox Jewish communities have begun to generate similar allegations and lawsuits.
Tomasi’s statement also drew a bizarre distinction between pedophilia and “ephebophilia,” which he defined as a “homosexual attraction to adolescent males.”
“Of all priests involved in the abuses, 80% to 90% belong to this sexual orientation minority, which is sexually engaged with adolescent boys between the age of 11 and 17 years old,” Tomasi stated.
The organization that originally criticized the Church to the U.N. council, the International Humanist and Ethical Union, characterized Tomasi’s reply as “comprehensively missing the point.”
“No doubt there are abusers in all walks of life, but our point was not the abuse itself but the cover-up in which some of the highest officials of the Church were implicated,” the IHEU said.
Attorney Irwin Zalkin said he was unsurprised by the Vatican representative’s remarks. Zalkin has represented hundreds of victims of sexual abuse in lawsuits against the Catholic Church.
“They just don’t get it. There’s still a complete failure to take responsibility,” Zalkin said. For centuries, he said, Catholic leaders have tried to sweep under the carpet the problem of child sexual abuse. “The sin of scandal far outweighs, in their institutional response, any concern for the safety of children. That has been the problem.”
Zalkin said he has also represented sexual abuse victims in lawsuits against Jewish organizations, Protestant churches, the Boy Scouts and other secular groups, but that the overwhelming majority of people who contact him have claims against the Catholic Church.
“Does [child sexual abuse] exist elsewhere? Of course it does,” Zalkin said. “But not really in the numbers we’re seeing in the Catholic Church.”
Zalkin noted that he is receiving a growing number of inquiries from alleged victims of sex abuse in New York’s Orthodox communities.
“There’s a similar circle-the-wagons attitude, a similar response to that of the Catholic Church,” Zalkin said. “It’s unfortunate.”
In the best-case scenario, Potasnik said, other religions will learn from the Catholic Church’s example and become more responsive to and vigilant about child sexual abuse. Like many other Jewish organizations, the New York Board of Rabbis has crafted guidelines for working with children intended to prevent abuse.
Because of the Catholic scandal, Potasnik said, “The clergy are much more sensitive. There’s a greater sense that we cannot afford to close our eyes.”
Riazat Butt, religious affairs correspondent, and Anushka Asthana
The Vatican has lashed out at criticism over its handling of its paedophilia crisis by saying the Catholic church was "busy cleaning its own house" and that the problems with clerical sex abuse in other churches were as big, if not bigger.
In a defiant and provocative statement, issued following a meeting of the UN human rights council in Geneva, the Holy See said the majority of Catholic clergy who committed such acts were not paedophiles but homosexuals attracted to sex with adolescent males.
The statement, read out by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's permanent observer to the UN, defended its record by claiming that "available research" showed that only 1.5%-5% of Catholic clergy were involved in child sex abuse.
He also quoted statistics from the Christian Scientist Monitor newspaper to show that most US churches being hit by child sex abuse allegations were Protestant and that sexual abuse within Jewish communities was common.
He added that sexual abuse was far more likely to be committed by family members, babysitters, friends, relatives or neighbours, and male children were quite often guilty of sexual molestation of other children.
The statement said that rather than paedophilia, it would "be more correct" to speak of ephebophilia, a homosexual attraction to adolescent males.
"Of all priests involved in the abuses, 80 to 90% belong to this sexual orientation minority which is sexually engaged with adolescent boys between the ages of 11 and 17."
The statement concluded: "As the Catholic church has been busy cleaning its own house, it would be good if other institutions and authorities, where the major part of abuses are reported, could do the same and inform the media about it."
The Holy See launched its counter–attack after an international representative of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, Keith Porteous Wood, accused it of covering up child abuse and being in breach of several articles under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Porteous Wood said the Holy See had not contradicted any of his accusations. "The many thousands of victims of abuse deserve the international community to hold the Vatican to account, something it has been unwilling to do, so far. Both states and children's organisations must unite to pressurise the Vatican to open its files, change its procedures worldwide, and report suspected abusers to civil authorities."
Representatives from other religions were dismayed by the Holy See's attempts to distance itself from controversy by pointing the finger at other faiths.
Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, head of the New York Board of Rabbis, said: "Comparative tragedy is a dangerous path on which to travel. All of us need to look within our own communities. Child abuse is sinful and shameful and we must expel them immediately from our midst."
A spokesman for the US Episcopal Church said measures for the prevention of sexual misconduct and the safeguarding of children had been in place for years.
Of all the world religions, Roman Catholicism has been hardest hit by sex abuse scandals. In the US, churches have paid more than $2bn (£1.25bn) in compensation to victims. In Ireland, reports into clerical sexual abuse have rocked both the Catholic hierarchy and the state.
The Ryan Report, published last May, revealed that beatings and humiliation by nuns and priests were common at institutions that held up to 30,000 children. A nine-year investigation found that Catholic priests and nuns for decades terrorised thousands of boys and girls, while government inspectors failed to stop the abuse. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ THE AGE Melbourne Tuesday October 6 2009
A cross to bear
PETER LAZZARI'S reaction was visceral - the Melbourne physician stared in shock at the image before him. It left him profoundly shaken - a response that was echoed among other readers. On September 15, The Age ran an article ''Sacrificial altar boy'' with a photograph taken in the 1960s of altar boys at St Patrick's Cathedral. It set out the story of Gavan Boyle, raped by Monsignor Penn Jones in 1963, his slow, inexorable path to an early death as an alcoholic near-derelict, and the devastating effect on his wider family - an aspect of sexual abuse that often slips into the background.
''I was shattered when I saw the picture, absolutely shocked,'' Lazzari says. ''It was deeply distressing, I couldn't believe the effect it would have on me.''
Not only had Lazzari sat at the same desk as Gavan Boyle at school, the fate of a close friend from the school where Jones had been chaplain suddenly took on a more sinister hue. Lazzari, a physician with considerable experience with abuse victims, says the friend died at 31 of alcoholism. ''He was a GP in Williamstown. He rang the St Vincent's admitting officer, who was a doctor in those days, to say 'I've got a patient for you'. They said, 'what's his name?' and he said 'it's me'. He died three days later of liver failure.''
Was he abused? Lazzari can never know, but his self-destructive behaviour from his teens until his death and other factors suggest it is a distinct possibility.
''These were vulnerable pubescent or pre-pubescent boys who were exploited appallingly by a monster. They would have done the Catholic thing and not complained and felt guilty, because you were taught to feel guilty about all sorts of things,'' Lazzari says. ''No one was there for them, their families … don't get to know. School mates probably couldn't do anything.''
Lazzari was one of several people who contacted The Age, some to say they were in the photograph, or had endured some sort of unpleasant episode with Monsignor Jones.
It raises questions about what responsibility the church has, once it knows there is an abuser in its midst, to actively seek out other victims and try to help them before their lives disintegrate in a vicious spiral. Should the church report abusers to the police? What can and should it do with abusive priests? How can it balance its responsibilities for justice to both alleged victim and accused?
In Jones' case, the church did not receive an official complaint until he had died, and been honoured with an effusive eulogy by then-archbishop Francis Little in The Age.
But many of the boys under his care knew. He seemed obsessed with talking to boys about erections and sex, and if he could take things further he did, they say.
One, ''Matthew'', sent The Age an email about Jones' attempt to sodomise him, but later asked that details not be quoted as he was too distraught.
Like Gavan, he complained to the Catholic Church, and his account was accepted by independent commissioner Peter O'Callaghan, QC.
''Jack'', an altar boy, knew three others in the photograph and strongly suspects that two or maybe all three of them were abused. ''They were slightly effeminate. I was shattered [by The Age article] because when I first met Penn Jones I thought he was a magnificent priest. I was naive … Jones was a terrible man. He used the confessional as a sounding board. He asked me once, what did I do with my erections. I walked out of the confessional.''
Not every caller had negative memories. Father Grant O'Neill, parish priest at Diamond Creek, one of the altar boys pictured, is wary of the rush to condemn a man now dead and unable to defend himself. ''I was an altar server for six years at the cathedral. I never got a hint of anything going on.''
O'Neill says Gavan Boyle claimed he was abused at a summer camp at Shoreham, but the church couldn't get the campsite in summer - the camps were every May. ''For me it was a real time of [Christian] formation, and the young Christian workers had a profound impact.
''I worked as a prison chaplain for 10 years and was there when some of my ex-priest brothers came there. I vaguely remember Gavan. I can't say it didn't happen to him, but I used to see it in jails all the time: there's a whole series of things why lives fall apart.''
THE Catholic hierarchy also has reservations. A spokesman for Archbishop Denis Hart says the article on the Boyles is ''a flawed and incomplete basis on which to address questions as to how the Melbourne Response operates'' and complains that the report lacked balance.
But given that the church has formally accepted at least two complaints about Jones as true, has the church any responsibility to try to find and help other potential victims?
The archbishop's spokesman says no. The great majority of complaints are about abuse long ago, so it would be impractical to search for victims. Of the 300 or so complaints that have been accepted, 16 per cent happened in the 1950s, 22 per cent in the '60s, 38 per cent in the '70s and 17 per cent in the '80s.
Further, whether a victim wishes to complain is entirely a matter for that person, according to the spokesman. Some do not want to complain, mainly because they do not want to revive the past.
According to the spokesman, the church does not report abusers to the police, but says it always invites and even encourages victims to do so. If the victim does, the church process stops while the police investigate. Often the victim has already been to the police.
So what does the church do? According to the spokesman, if a practising priest is the subject of an investigation likely to lead to charges, he is usually put on administrative leave until after the case is heard. If he is convicted he remains on administrative leave - his faculties to act as a priest are removed. If the complaint does not go to the police and a practising priest admits abuse amounting to criminal conduct, again the archbishop will put him on administrative leave, removing him from public ministry.
But critics, such as , say this is a recent development forced on the church by the public outcry. Until recently, bishops were inclined to move errant priests from parish to parish, where they often re-offended. One of the most notorious Victorian offenders was Father Gerald Ridsdale, now jailed for the third time and convicted of sexual offences against 40 children.
According to court evidence, his superiors in the Ballarat diocese knew certainly by 1971 that he was a danger to boys, but kept him as an active priest until he was convicted in 1993. Broken Rites says the diocese shifted the Ridsdale problem from parish to parish but it never warned parishioners that their children were in danger.
The Melbourne Archdiocese Response was introduced in 1996 by then-archbishop George Pell. Some victims, including Gavan Boyle's family, have criticised it as lacking compassion and accountability, and a senior priest, Father Kevin Dillon, recently called for a review, saying the church was ''too self-protecting for its own good''. Archbishop Hart responded that the protocol had delivered ''compassion, counselling and compensation'' to hundreds of victims, and there was no need for a review.
According to Archbishop Hart's spokesman, the independent commissioner has in the 14 years he has been operating made 300 findings of sexual abuse, involving 58 priests over 60 years. Of those, six have been jailed, three were convicted and given suspended sentences, 30 died before the complaint was made, and 16 no longer function in priestly ministry.
How does the church balance its responsibilities to accused and victim? According to the spokesman, if the victim does not want to go to the police he or she is interviewed by the independent commissioner and given a transcript to amend or qualify as required. This is then given to the accused for his response.
If he denies it, the commissioner conducts a confidential hearing using the same procedures as a magistrates' court. In every case so far, the accused has had his own lawyer, sometimes so has the complainant.
If the accused admits the complaint, it is reported to Archbishop Hart. But often the priest has already been convicted or has died.
Geoffrey Robinson, the Sydney bishop who designed the Towards Healing abuse protocol used in every Australian diocese except Melbourne, says balancing justice for both parties is one of the biggest difficulties.
''You can't call them all guilty instantly. It's often one person's word against another's, and you can't take it any further, but the police have the same problem. Towards Healing has a better clear-up rate than the police because [clergy] will make admissions, but not if they fear there is prison at the end of it.''
Under Towards Healing, offending priests are removed from all ministry. Most end up doing nothing, or perhaps working in a library - but not a school library. ''If you want someone not to offend, then kicking him out on to the street is not the way to do it. There is a duty to get treatment for the person and place him somewhere you can keep an eye on him.''
How difficult is it to seek out other victims? The archbishop's spokesman calls it ''impractical'', and it certainly takes effort and discretion - one cannot simply say to a parent, ''Father X molested another child, are yours all right?'' - but the police manage to do it in their investigations.
Detective Inspector Glenn Davies, head of the Victoria Police sexual crimes squad, says police often find other victims through the first. ''They know the circumstances, they talk to each other. Sometimes we make a public appeal. Often we find them by examining records in the church: who was working, rosters, parish records.''
Davies says the church does not differ much from a football club recently in the news: it naturally wants to protect its reputation. But church authorities are entirely co-operative with police, much more than most institutions, he says.
Police are also used to asking difficult personal questions about people's lifestyles, and have a victim's charter to guide them.
But Davies believes it is essential for victims to come to the police, saying the under-reporting of sexual assault is massive.
''We are the true experts, with legislative support and coercive powers. We will get results if you are looking to have the perpetrator brought to justice. We are the only ones who can do that. The Catholic Church has no coercive powers, and it is not mandatory for the church to report abuse as it is for medical people.''
If there is one thing Peter Lazzari feels strongly about, it is that the church should not be involved.
He tells of a woman of 76 whose recovery began 69 years after she was abused by a relative when she finally opened up in his rooms.
''Even though her life was made a mess by it for 69 years, healing is possible,'' Lazzari says. ''Gavan did not have this opportunity to really heal, he was thwarted at every turn and he ultimately died because of it. These people can be helped, it can be effective, and they can move on. So it is an extremely important process to open it more in the public arena, to encourage people to come forward, not just for the sake of retribution but to reach the stage where they grow in their life and become more complete human beings again.
''To expect the church to help is totally inappropriate. It needs to disentangle the victims from its tentacles. Christians, yes. Catholics, yes, but not the institutional church. Not the biased, self-interested Catholic hierarchy.''
TRAIL OF ABUSE MANY readers contacted The Age after the article ''Sacrificial altar boy'' appeared in the paper on September 15. John Schulze, a former student at Parade College, remembers a number of the altar boys in the photo, and knows that several had troubled years after leaving school.
''My first and only contact with Penn Jones was a compulsory meeting with him acting as chaplain. His first words to me were not, 'Hello, I'm Monsignor Penn Jones' or any other niceties one might have expected with a person of his standing. His first words were, 'Son, do you pull yourself?' I was gobsmacked.
''There were always rumours going around among the boys at Parade regarding unsavoury behaviour by PJ. I also know that all my year 9 friends were asked that same question by PJ.''
''Bill'', now 52, was a bit more streetwise. ''We all knew he was doing it or trying to do it. He'd take small groups of boys to the Christian Brothers school in Abbotsford; they had their own squash court. You'd play squash and everybody had to have a shower. It would be three or four of us, and he stepped in and said something, and one of us, it might have been me, said, 'Don't even f---ing think about it', so he walked away.''
''Bill'' had his first Crown Lager at 14 in Jones' office at the cathedral. ''We played him along. But we knew he was targeting others. We knew straight away what he was up to, it was all too good to be true. 'I'll be your friend'. What bullshit. He was a con artist who used his position to trick parents into giving their kids up. He was just an animal.''
''Richard'' sent his account of Jones' peculiar predilections to victim advocacy group Broken Rites after The Age article appeared. ''I was one of those boys that was called into Jones' office for a chat about spirituality, or about going to Mass on Sundays. It turned out to be something quite different. It was about masturbation, how big the penis becomes, about the penis becoming red … all this told with detail and with strange movements of his hands.
''Despite countless therapy sessions concerning this episode in my life, I have never been able to remember what happened next.''
The Canadian Press ~ September 10 2009
Alleged abuse victim of Catholic priest in court to keep vow to dead brother
By Michael Tutton (CP)
HALIFAX, N.S. Seven years after his brother's suicide, Ronald Martin described a lawsuit that may compensate victims of alleged abuse by Roman Catholic priests as "the fulfillment" of a promise he made to his sibling.
Martin sat quietly Thursday in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court as Justice David MacAdam heard lawyers explain why a settlement valued at more than $13 million should be certified for the alleged decades-old abuse.
If the deal announced in August is certified, up to 70 people may receive a share of the money from the diocese of Antigonish for abuse that allegedly occurred since Jan. 1, 1950.
Claimants would go before retired justice Walter Goodfellow for adjudication of their claims.
For Martin, that possibility is the completion of a heartrending process that began in 2002, when he viewed his brother David's dead body and read his suicide note describing the alleged abuse.
"When I found out about the abuse, I said to him (his body), 'David, I promise you this man will not get away with what happened,' " he said outside court.
"At this time I hadn't known about his abuse, and he hadn't known about mine. But here I was as a victim saying 'I would do this for you, David, and for many others.' " The suicide note named Hugh Vincent MacDonald, a priest, as the abuser, a revelation that Ronald said, "nearly destroyed" him as it brought painful memories flooding back.
MacDonald was charged with multiple sex-related offences in 2003, but died a year later before the court process concluded.
Lawyer John McKiggan told the court he had gone through a protracted and often tough bargaining process on behalf of the plaintiffs with church lawyers over the diocese's responsibility.
McKiggan told the judge the parties believed the deal was "just and fair," and urged him to accept its main terms.
The class-action lawsuit also involves allegations of abuse by four other priests, three of whom have been convicted of multiple counts of sexual assault against children in the care of the diocese. Allegations made in the class action have not been proven in court.
McKiggan said so far, his firm has been retained by 39 claimants and has been contacted by about 50 other people looking for information about the lawsuit. The lawyer said the process will prevent fraudulent claims by having mutually agreed on "nationally renowned experts" on sexual abuse examine the statements of any would-be claimants.
"From my point of view there is no concern about claims that may be fraudulent," he said.
Bishop Raymond Lahey of the Antigonish diocese told a news conference last month that the agreement is the first step in recognizing the alleged abuse of children. At the time, he apologized to "every victim and to their families for the sexual abuse that was inflicted upon those who were instead entitled to the trust and protection of priests."
Martin, a school teacher, said going through the steps of the lawsuit has been an onerous process that weighed on him emotionally and often put his life on hold.
He said the initial suicide note from his 39-year-old brother "tore open" old wounds of his own abuse.
"As a child I suffered abuse, and on many occasions contemplated suicide myself because it's something so awful and so deeply rooted that you think there's no other way to get rid of this," Martin said.
He said as a teenager he suffered depression, he quit university and his early hopes and ambitions to become a teacher were derailed.
But Martin said he has turned his life around, sought counselling and he hopes the lawsuit will lead to similar healing processes for other claimants.
"I've been contacted by dozens of people, and a lot of them will never become part of this case. But they were able to say to me, 'This happened to me,' and in saying that they gained a lot of freedom," he said.
"We've journeyed together and it's like a brotherhood. ... I really think this process is a safe place for them to come."
N.S. church parishes to pay in sex-abuse settlement
Parishes to pool cash first, then look for other ways to raise funds
Roman Catholic parishes in the diocese of Antigonish in Nova Scotia are being told they will fund a $13-million settlement agreement for church members who alleged they were sexually abused by priests.
In a series of meetings held this week in Sydney, Antigonish and Port Hawkesbury, members of parish councils and finance committees met to discuss how they will come up with the money.
The settlement was announced in Halifax last week for people who claimed they suffered sexual abuse going back more than 50 years.
Tom Langley, chair of the legal settlement committee, said the diocese and parishes have enough assets to pay the settlement. He said surveys were taken of the diocese's properties and cash flow in February, months before the settlement was announced.
"The first thing that will occur is that parishes will be asked to pool their cash and liquid resources into a fund to begin the process," he said.
Langley said no churches or glebe houses currently in use will close. The other assets of a church, such as land, may be sold, but Langley said the settlement committee wants the parishes to make their own decisions about what they'll have to give up.
Michael Campbell, a member of the Parish of St. Leonard in New Waterford, said some parishioners are wondering where the money will come from.
"Many would say that parishioners weren't the ones responsible, and that's true," Campbell said. "However, because of our faith and understanding the challenge before us, as a community of Catholics, we will work together to help in any way that we can."
The settlement came out of a class-action lawsuit filed last year. The suit, spearheaded by a New Waterford man who said he was abused by a priest, claimed the church knew that children were being sexually abused and didn't protect them.
Bishop Raymond Lahey also apologized to the victims and their families when announcing the settlement last Friday. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~