CATHOLIC SEX ABUSE SCANDAL
“Child abuse by Roslindale priest alleged.” No by-line. Boston Globe/Associated Press. August 15, 2011. The Archdiocese of Boston has placed a Roslindale priest on administrative leave following an allegation of sexual abuse of a child. Both church officials and law enforcement are investigating the allegation against the Rev. John M. Mendicoa of Sacred Heart Parish, the archdiocese said in a statement released yesterday. The abuse is reported to have happened in the 1980s. “My prayers and concern are with all people who are impacted by this matter,’’ Cardinal Sean O’Malley said in a prepared statement. “I remain committed to doing everything possible to protect our children, while at the same time furthering the healing process and rebuilding trust.’’
“Bishop in Missouri Waited Months to Report Priest, Stirring Parishioners’ Rage.” By Laurie Goodstein. New York Times. August 14, 2011. In the annals of the sexual abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church, most of the cases that have come to light happened years before to children and teenagers who have long since grown into adults. But a painfully fresh case is devastating Catholics in Kansas City, Mo., where a priest, who was arrested in May, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of taking indecent photographs of young girls, most recently during an Easter egg hunt just four months ago. Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has acknowledged that he knew of the existence of photographs last December but did not turn them over to the police until May. A civil lawsuit filed last week claims that during those five months, the priest, the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, attended children’s birthday parties, spent weekends in the homes of parish families, hosted the Easter egg hunt and presided, with the bishop’s permission, at a girl’s First Communion. “All these parishioners just feel so betrayed, because we knew nothing,” said Thu Meng, whose daughter attended the preschool in Father Ratigan’s last parish. “And we were welcoming this guy into our homes, asking him to come bless this or that. They saw all these signs, and they didn’t do anything.” The case has generated fury at a bishop who was already a polarizing figure in his diocese, and there are widespread calls for him to resign or even to be prosecuted. Parishioners started a Facebook page called “Bishop Finn Must Go” and are circulating a petition. An editorial in The Kansas City Star in June calling for the bishop to step down concluded that prosecutors must “actively pursue all relevant criminal charges” against everyone involved.
“N.J. diocese to pay $1m to settle abuse case.” No by-line. Boston Globe. Associated Press. August 17, 2011. Five former altar boys who say a priest sexually abused them in the 1970s and 1980s have settled with the Catholic Church for about $1 million, lawyers announced yesterday. In confirming the settlement, the Diocese of Trenton said it found allegations against the priest to be credible and called for other victims to speak out, a reflection of the church’s resolve to avoid the appearance of trying to cover up abuse. The five victims, now middle-aged, say they were molested from ages 11 to 16 by the Rev. Ronald Becker of Incarnation Church in Ewing. He died in 2009. One of the boys was molested about 150 times, and some of the abuse occurred during trips with the priest, lawyers say. “He would tell them it was a physical act that would show the love of God,’’ said Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston lawyer who has represented hundreds of clients accusing priests of abuse. One abuse victim, a plant supervisor now living in Pennsylvania, said he was 11 when Becker started molesting him. He thanked his son for giving him the support he needed to come forward. “The question remains: Where were the supervisors?’’ said Garabedian. “There’s no telling how many children were molested by Father Becker.’’
“Vatican Releases Files in Bid to Rebut Claims of Coverup.” By Stacy Meichtry. Wall Street Journal. August 18, 2011. The Vatican published a cache of internal files on Wednesday documenting the Catholic Church’s handling of allegations of sexual abuse against a U.S. priest—an unusual attempt by the Holy See to rebut claims that it sought to cover up the alleged abuse. Vatican lawyer Jeffrey Lena said in a statement that the Holy See decided to post the cache on the website of Vatican Radio after a federal court in Portland, Ore., ordered the Vatican to turn over the documents by Friday to lawyers of a man who alleges he was abused by the late Rev. Andrew Ronan in the 1960s. The alleged victim, who is named John V. Doe in court filings, brought a lawsuit against the Vatican in 2002 alleging the Holy See acted as the late priest’s employer, overseeing plans to transfer Father Ronan from Ireland—where his religious order said it had received complaints of abuse from parents of children—to archdioceses in the U.S. The move to release the documents is a rare step for the Vatican, a sovereign city-state that has often said that its internal affairs and archives are off-limits to foreign authorities. The Vatican has often been slow to respond to allegations of sexual abuse by priests, including the thousands of allegations that emerged in Europe and other parts of the world last year, rocking the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI.
“Portland case forces Vatican to release priest abuse documents for first time.” The Oregonian. August 17, 2011.
“Vatican City: Priest’s Files Online.” New York Times/Associated Press. August 17, 2011.
“Dutch Investigate ’50s Deaths at Catholic Institution.” Wall Street Journal. August 17, 2011
“Dublin Catholics face levy as church faces bankruptcy; Leaked document shows many parishes in Irish capital close to financial collapse due to child abuse compensation payments.” Guardian. August 18, 2011.
“How the civic groups that once defined America are thriving abroad, and what it means for us.” By John Gravois. Washington Monthly. July/August 2011. One sweltering day last spring, out of curiosity and a long-standing interest in the old-fashioned American institutions of civic engagement, I stepped out of my apartment building in the nation’s capital and walked over to attend a nearby conference of the Toastmasters. Founded in a Southern California YMCA basement for the betterment of tongue-tied young men, the Toastmasters have been offering “practice and training in the art of public speaking” along with “sociability and good fellowship” since the mid-1920s. In my mind, the group harked back to a half-imagined America of bowling leagues, church barbecues, and Rotary signs on the edge of town. What was funny was that my apartment resided in a sandy, congested neighborhood of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Under the Arabian midday glare, I scurried across one of the city’s sprawling six-lane boulevards—past a billboard that months earlier had advertised the local Krispy Kreme’s “Ramadan Dozen” special—to reach the campus of a local women’s college that was hosting the event. When I arrived at the main auditorium, I found it humming with a 300-horsepower murmur. The place was packed with men and women in off-the-rack power suits, plus a few starched white robes and black abayas. The room was decked end-to-end with gold silk banners, each, to my amazement, representing a different local chapter of the Toastmasters. By itself, Abu Dhabi—a young boomtown of global migrants roughly the size of Milwaukee—harbors seventeen active chapters of the group, I learned. The UAE as a whole, with a population of about eight million people, has seventy-one chapters. When I first heard that the Toastmasters had a presence in Abu Dhabi, I pictured a small roomful of ill-adjusted American expatriates draining their water glasses, trading a few speeches, and then adjourning to a bar. Suffice it to say, my imagination had failed me. At the conference, I found only one fellow American in the crowd. In fact, I found only one other native speaker of English in the crowd. Instead, the group drew from a pretty representative sample of Abu Dhabi’s usually rather fragmented society: there was a strong majority from the Indian subcontinent, small contingents of Filipinos and Arabs from abroad,and a few actual citizens of the UAE—all guffawing warmly at speeches delivered in broken English about following dreams, learning lessons from failure, seeing through appearances, and other themes of uplift worthy of a motivational poster. Curious, I called up the Toastmasters headquarters in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, to find out whether the United Arab Emirates was some kind of anomaly. It isn’t. The organization reports hotspots of growth throughout Asia and the Middle East. “Within India and Sri Lanka,” said Daniel Rex, the Toastmasters’ executive director, “we’re organizing about a chapter a week.” Then, on a hunch, I began poking around to see how similar organizations were faring overseas—groups like Rotary, the Boy Scouts, the Lions, and the Kiwanis, which all came into existence during the same early-twentieth-century period that gave rise to the Toastmasters. Most of these groups have been bleeding members in the United States for decades. And yet, as I discovered, many have been growing nonetheless.
“Fading In America, Civic Clubs Thrive Abroad.” Here and Now/National Public Radio. August 18, 2011.
“Feels like teen spirit: Thousands of young people flock annually to a Christian camp in rural France.” Independent. August 20, 2011. The Christian community of Taizé in Burgundy attracts 100,000 teenagers a year. Services with periods of silence are one of its attractions. This summer, some 100,000 young people from around the world – mostly between the age of 15 and 30 – will gather outside a village in the middle of France. They’ve been arriving here since June, to pitch tents, strike up friendships, enjoy plenty of music, and they’ll continue to come until September. But this isn’t some Gallic Glastonbury – it’s a Christian community, and the crowds will sing psalms, not pop songs. At the heart of Communauté de Taizé, named after the small village near the site, are over 100 monks, who live together very simply, in a life devoted to prayer, singing and silence. Drawn from over 30 different countries, the community is ecumenical, with Catholics and Protestants worshipping together. And, even more unexpectedly, since the end of the Fifties, Taizé has been attracting young people in ever larger numbers, and from ever more far-flung destinations. Teenagers and young adults make the pilgrimage, usually for a week, joining the brothers in prayer three times a day, attending bible groups and helping out with chores. During the summer months, there will be a population of 3,000 to 4,000 at any one time, drawn from about 70 different countries, camping or staying in basic barracks, very cheaply (it’s just eight euros a night for bed and board). At a time when church attendance is falling in western Europe and religious leaders fret about their ability to attract young people, why are believers flocking in such vast numbers to a monastery in rural Burgundy? What is it that Taizé offers the teen spirit?
“India Against Corruption; Social activist Anna Hazare and his associates detained, protests across India. TOI brings you the latest news right here.” No by-line. Times of India. August 18, 2011. The Lokpal is a body with a chairperson who is or was a Chief Justice of India and eight other members. The Lokpal Bill, an effort to rein in the pervasive corruption in public life, was first floated in the late 60s, but failed to become law despite successive attempts. Implementation of the Lokpal bill will hopefully reduce corruption in India. The basic idea of the Lokpal is borrowed from the office of the ombudsman in other countries. It provides for filing complaints of corruption against ministers and members of parliament with the ombudsman. The government’s Lokpal Bill has kept the Prime Minister and the judiciary as well as conduct of MPs in Parliament out of the ambit of the anti-corruption watchdog. The PM, however, will come under the purview of Lokpal after he demits office. The bill gives permission to Lokpal to probe any Union minister or officials of Group ‘A’ and above rank without any sanction. According to the government’s draft, the body will have a chairperson and eight members, including four judicial members – who will be former or sitting judges of Supreme Court or chief justices of the high court. The Lok Ayuktas in the states does not come under the purview of this bill as the Centre cannot intervene in the powers of the state. The Lokpal will have its own prosecution and investigation wing with officers and staff necessary to carry out its functions.
“Ramdev backs Hazare against allegations.” Times of India. August 14, 2011.
“India corruption: Hundreds held over Hazare protest.” BBC News. August 16, 2011.
“Leader of Corruption Protest Arrested in India.” New York Times. August 16, 2011.
“India Against Corruption Social activist Anna Hazare and his associates detained, protests across India; India unites: Protests, fasts across nation in support of Anna Hazare.” Times of India. August 16, 2011.
“No magic wand to tackle corruption.” Times of London. August 16, 2011.
“India Against Corruption Social activist Anna Hazare and his associates detained, protests across India; It is Parliament’s job to make laws, Anna’s fast misleading: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.” Times of India. August 17, 2011.
“India Against Corruption Social activist Anna Hazare and his associates detained, protests across India; Ramlila Maidan likely to be Anna Hazare’s fast venue.” Times of India. August 17, 2011.
“India Against Corruption Social activist Anna Hazare and his associates detained, protests across India. TOI brings you the latest news right here; BJP slams PM’s statement on Anna’s arrest.” Times of India. August 17, 2011.
“India Against Corruption Social activist Anna Hazare and his associates detained, protests across India; Kiran Bedi, Swami Agnivesh join protest outside Tihar.” Times of India. August 17, 2011.
“Deal Would Free Indian Activist and Allow Protests.” New York Times. August 17, 2011.
“Rallies Grow Across India for Jailed Activist.” Interpress Service (ipsnews.net)/Al Jazeera. August 18, 2011.
“Indian activist wins right to fast in public, prepares to leave jail.” Washington Post. August 18, 2011.
“India Activist Nears Deal for Release; Aide to Anticorruption Advocate Says Police Agree to Terms for Hunger Strike.” Wall Street Journal. August 18, 2011.
“Indian activist Anna Hazare to leave jail for public fast.” Times of London. August 18, 2011.
“Indian activist Anna Hazare allowed 15-day hunger strike; Anti-corruption activist strikes deal with police as authorities try to quell demonstrations.” Guardian. August 18, 2011.
“India corruption: Anna Hazare accepts release offer.” BBC News. August 18, 2011.
“Unlikely Echo of Gandhi Inspires Indians to Act.” New York Times. August 18, 2011.
“Indian Activist to Launch Protest.” Wall Street Journal. August 19, 2011.
“Join campaign for a strong Lokpal law to make India corruption-free; Will not leave Ramlila Ground till Lokpal Bill is passed: Anna Hazare.” Times of India. August 19, 2011.
“India Against CorruptionSocial activist Anna Hazare and his associates detained, protests across India; ‘Brothers of Anna’ to join his protest fast.” Times of India. August 19, 2011.
“Varun Gandhi to present Jan Lokpal as private member’s bill.” Times of India. August 19, 2011.
“Thousands hail Indian activist’s return from prison; Government officials grant Anna Hazare the right to continue his anti-corruption fast for up to two weeks at a large venue.” Los Angeles Times. August 19, 2011.
“Anna Hazare leaves jail to begin public hunger strike.” Guardian/Associated Press. August 19, 2011.
“Activist Fasts To Fight Indian Corruption.” All Things Considered/National Public Radio. August 19, 2011.
“Corruption in India: ‘All your life you pay for things that should be free’; As Anna Hazare leaves prison to continue his protest, residents in Delhi explain how bribery forms part of everyday life.” Guardian. August 19, 2011.
“Indian Activist Begins Delhi Protest.” Wall Street Journal. August 20, 2011.
“Fast spreads as city’s tiffin wallahs join the strike.” Times of India. August 20, 2011.
“Will not give up, will keep fighting till Jan Lokpal Bill is passed: Anna Hazare.” Times of India. August 20, 2011.
“Parliamentary panel seeks public opinion within 15 days on Lokpal Bill.” Times of India. August 20, 2011.
“Govt wants broad national consensus on Lokpal Bill: Manmohan.” Times of India. August 20, 2011.
“Anna Hazare: In the footsteps of Gandhi; Corruption in India is a way of life. But finally it is being challenged thanks to the resolve of an extraordinary 74-year-old.” Independent. August 20, 2011.
“Antigraft Activists in India Intensify Drive for Reform.” New York Times. August 20, 2011.
“Firebrand in Gandhi garb leads middle India to revolt; With his carefully cultivated image and anti-corruption zeal, Indian campaigner Anna Hazare has electrified the nation.” Times of London. August 21, 2011.
“30,000 to take part in new national service.” By Richard Ford. Times of London. August 15, 2011. David Cameron today announced the expansion of his cherished National Citizenship Service — a modern answer to 1950s-style National Service — to take in 30,000 young people next year, as one strand of a wide-ranging fightback against Britain’s “slow moral collapse”. The extension of the voluntary scheme, in which some 10,000 teenagers took part in character-building community work and outdoor activities this summer, is seen as critical to restoring a sense of “purpose, optimism and belonging” among disaffected youth, particularly those who brought mayhem to the streets last week. The Prime Minister blamed a litany of social ills — unemployment, fatherless families, failing schools, human rights laws shackling the courts, police bureaucracy, weaknesses across the welfare state — for contributing to a breakdown in society that has allowed riots to explode “literally on our doorsteps”. At the speech at Base 33, a youth trust offering help to troubled youngsters, in the Prime Minister’s Witney constituency, he launched an “all out war” on Britain’s gang culture and pledged to bring family back to the centre of Government policy, saying it was the foundation stone of a stable society. Among the audience were about 30 young people, who criticised the Prime Minister for his focus on problem families and lone parents. Meanwhile, at a school about 100 miles away in North London, the Labour leader Ed Miliband accused the Tories or engaging in “knee-jerk” politics and reaching for “shallow and superficial answers, not the lasting solutions the country needs.” The Prime Minister described the five nights of mayhem that scarred cities across Britain last week as a “wake-up call for the country” to the “slow-motion moral collapse” that has taken hold over several generations.
“Former head of troubled charity lands top job at gangmaster quango.” By David Brown. Times of London. August 13, 2011. MPs approved the appointment of a quango head 24 hours before the collapse of the government-backed immigration charity she had managed. Margaret McKinlay was interviewed by the Environment Select Committee last month for the position of chairman of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority. The quango regulates the supply of labour in farming, shellfish gathering and food processing, all of which have large immigrant workforces. She will work 6-8 days a month, earning £330 a day plus travel expenses. The MPs endorsed her appointment the day before the Immigration Advisory Service, where she had been chief executive, went into administration after being accused of misspending millions of pounds of legal aid during her year in charge. She told the select committee that when she joined the charity it had been in a “perilous state”. Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, formally appointed Ms McKinlay as chairman of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority four days after the committee gave its approval. Ms McKinlay, 60, was appointed managing director of the Immigration Advisory Service in September 2009, was promoted to acting chief executive in December 2009 and left in September last year, three months after the end of her contracted period. She told The Times that she had no idea that the charity was on the brink of being placed into administration when she was questioned by the MPs. Ms McKinlay said that during her time in charge the charity’s internal audits found that about 10 per cent of the legal aid claims were incorrect and she was surprised to learn that an external review completed after she left had discovered that the errors related to almost a third of cases, totalling £4.4 million.
“Joan Smith: A-level results that should shock us; Pupils at private schools, which educate only 6.5 per cent of children, achieved 30 per cent of A* grades at A-level this year.” Independent. August 19, 2011. They’re the kind of teenagers we can’t get enough of at this time of year: girls with long, glossy hair embracing each other on a lawn with mellow stone buildings in the background. Yesterday’s A-level results produced the usual crop of celebratory photographs, along with a fanfare of announcements about how well candidates have done: it’s been another record year for pass rates, which have risen to 97.8 per cent, and boys have achieved as many top grades as girls. This year’s big story is about the scramble as aspiring students rush to get into university before next year’s hike in fees, leaving 185,000 candidates competing for 29,000 unfilled places on degree courses. One angry young woman didn’t improve her chances when she went on Twitter to describe the Ucas website, which crashed under the weight of disappointed candidates trying to find alternative courses, as “literally the worst thing in the world”. Someone please book that girl on to the next available flight to Somalia. This year’s A-level results are impressive, and no doubt a lot of young adults have worked very hard. But there’s another story here, about class and the north-south divide, which doesn’t reflect anything like as well on the UK’s educational system. The annual ritual of publishing A-level results contains within it an absolutely shocking story about the impact on life chances of privilege and geography. Pupils at private schools, which educate only 6.5 per cent of children in the UK, achieved 30 per cent of A* grades at A-level this year. That’s the same proportion as last year, and yesterday’s results are not expected to show a fairer distribution in the effect of location on results. Last year pupils in the affluent south-east of England, which accounted for 19 per cent of A-level entries, achieved 23 per cent of A* grades; the north-east produced only three per cent of A*s from four per cent of entries.