CATHOLIC SEX ABUSE SCANDAL
“Victims Group Forced to Open Files.” By Ben Kesling and Mark Peters. Wall Street Journal. August 14, 2012. Missouri’s Supreme Court let stand a lower-court ruling that a support group for alleged victims of the Roman Catholic Church sexual-abuse scandal must open its records in a case raising questions about the privacy rights of crime victims. The high court on Tuesday denied a petition filed by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, forcing the group to comply with a subpoena to turn over more than two decades of records sought by lawyers for the Rev. Michael Tierney. The Kansas City-area priest has been accused in civil court of sexually abusing a minor in the early 1970s. He denies the accusations. The group, known as SNAP, has been fighting the subpoena since last year, saying it is an invasion of the privacy of victims and jeopardizes the group’s work. “We’ll continue to do everything possible to protect the privacy and safety of victims,” said Barbara Dorris of SNAP. “We’re in uncharted waters for us, and we’re taking it a step at a time,” she said. Nearly two dozen groups, including the National Organization for Women Foundation and National Center for Victims of Crime, jointly said in an amicus brief that the subpoena “has the capacity to set the survivor community back a minimum of 10, if not 20, years.” This lawsuit and other cases pending against Father Tierney hinge upon the alleged victims claiming to recall repressed memories, which could lead to an extension of the statute of limitations. Lawyers for Father Tierney, who isn’t actively serving in the church, argue that SNAP’s records might prove that the statute of limitations has expired and the cases should be dismissed. The lawsuits filed against Father Tierney are part of the larger sexual-abuse scandal in the Catholic Church that has unfolded in Kansas City and other cities across the U.S., after first being widely exposed in Boston a decade ago.
“Secret tapes reveal church reluctance to report abuser.” By Rory Callinan and Richard Baker. Sydney Morning Herald. August 18, 2012. A secret police bugging operation caught a senior Catholic figure on tape saying it was not up to him to report a paedophile priest and encouraging a victim not to go to the authorities for fear of bad publicity. Abuse victim Peter Murphy has told the Herald that police wired him up to record a meeting between the church leader and victims as part of a 1994 investigation into the paedophile priest Father Peter Chalk in Melbourne. Murphy, who was abused by Chalk, said he met the head of Chalk’s order, Father Brian Gallagher, and the victims to discuss what the church was doing about the allegations. The existence of the tapes, which have remained a secret since the 1990s, comes as the Church faces allegations in NSW and Victoria of failing to assist in bringing paedophile priests to justice and as a Victorian parliamentary inquiry into abuse of children by religious orders and other organisations gets under way. Chalk was accused of abuse while working as a priest in Melbourne for the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, an international Catholic order that operates schools and parishes in Australia. Mr Murphy said during the meeting the missionaries’ then head, Father Gallagher, told victims that Chalk had admitted to abusing up to eight Victorian children during the 1970s and early 1980s in the outer-east Melbourne suburb of Park Orchards. Despite Chalk’s admissions – which Mr Murphy reported to senior leaders in 1987 – neither Father Gallagher nor anyone else reported the priest to police. Police did not pursue Chalk, who moved to Japan in 1981. However, his details were given to Australian immigration officers so he could be detained if he returned to Australia. He left the order in 1995, changed his name and became a teacher. He died in 2010 after being confronted by media about the allegations.
“Woodburn priest’s arrest focuses attention on Mount Angel Abbey.” By Nancy Haught. Oregonian. August 18, 2012. Angel Seminary was quiet Friday morning, awaiting the return of students this weekend. The sound of men chanting early Friday morning drifted across the grounds of Mount Angel Abbey, where monks gathered for morning Mass as they have on this hilltop near Silverton for 130 years. Mount Angel Seminary, housed in a half-dozen buildings clustered around the abbey, was waiting. On Aug. 19, new students will arrive as Oregon’s only Catholic seminary grapples with a dark accusation about a prominent alumnus: the Rev. Angel Armando Perez, the pastor at St. Luke Parish in Woodburn, who now faces a charge of sex abuse involving a child. The seminary, which has trained 80 percent of the 150 current and retired parish priests in western Oregon, has drastically altered the way it accepts and trains candidates for the priesthood since Perez was ordained near the height of the Catholic Church priest abuse scandal a decade ago. People at Mount Angel, which enrolls about 200 students annually, say they have wracked their brains in the past week over whether they did all they could when preparing Perez for the priesthood. But they also say that they have gone to great lengths to ensure new priests emerging from the seminary are on solid ground, both spiritually and psychologically. “Child abuse is horrific,” says the Rev. Joseph V. Betschart, the current president rector of Mount Angel Seminary. “Our policies, procedures and training do everything that we can to prevent it from happening. When it does, it’s tragic and unacceptable. We need to keep redoubling our efforts. And we will.”
“Civil Society Squeezed on All Sides.” By Carey L. Biron. Interpress Service (ipsnews.net). A year and a half after the international wake-up call of the Arab Spring uprisings, the room for civil society organisations is being increasingly constricted across the globe, experts in Washington warned on Tuesday. “Unfortunately, the trends have been against democracy, against expansion of that space of civil society,” Maina Kiai, the United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of assembly, told a panel discussion here. “With more and more restrictions coming up to take away these rights, we are at a point where we have begun the fight again. This time it’s much more subtle, much more ‘rule by law’ than ‘rule of law’, and it’s very scary.” Kiai highlighted anti-NGO legislation currently pending or recently passed in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Russia and elsewhere. In May, Freedom House, a U.S.-based watchdog, highlighted four countries as being at particular risk for democratic “backsliding”, Hungary, South Africa, Turkey and Ukraine. It also called on international actors to step up a range of efforts to ensure that several other countries – including Bahrain, Cambodia, Egypt, Myanmar and South Sudan – are able to consolidate democratic gains. Freedom House put particular emphasis on the United States, stating that the country “should be stepping up its support for democracy promotion now, rather than cede the initiative to authoritarian rulers … (President Barack Obama’s) request for democracy and human rights activities for FY 2013 is $2.8 billion, a 9% increase over FY 2012 levels. Yet, funding for these initiatives continues to be the smallest amount when compared to other priorities in the budget.” Another report from this year, “The State of Civil Society 2011”, an inaugural work released in April by CIVICUS, the World Alliance for Citizen Participation, an international alliance based in South Africa, suggested that “2011 marked a critical juncture for civil society”, in part for the fallout from the Arab Spring, a learning experience on both public protest and the resulting international response.
“Yoga Guru Detained at Anti-Graft March.” By Krishna Pokharel. Times of India. August 13, 2012. Indian police detained but later released yoga guru and antigraft campaigner Baba Ramdev as he led thousands of supporters toward the nation’s Parliament in an attempt to shine a spotlight on the country’s corruption problems. Mr. Ramdev, who first came to prominence through his yoga classes, has become a thorn in the Congress party-led government’s side through his regular protests against graft. Corruption has become a hot-button issue in India, one that has hurt the government’s popularity as it tries to deal with mounting economic problems.
“Corrupt politicians control country’s destiny: Team Anna.” No by-line. Times of India. August 15, 2012. Erstwhile Team Anna on Wednesday alleged that the country’s destiny was controlled by a few “corrupt” politicians and corporates and it requires right leadership to take on the challenges posed by them. Activists Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi took to micro-blogging site twitter to comment on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s address to the nation on the occasion of Independence Day. “Today our destinies are controlled by few corrupt politicians, officials and corporates…Hope some day we would have true democracy,” Kejriwal said. He hoped that there would be much more in laws for those who have much less in life and people would directly make laws rather than just elect some people once in five years. “Hope some day, we would get true independence when people would control their own destiny, when politics would be a means to serve rather than make money,” he said. Commenting on Singh’s speech, Bedi said, “The Prime Minister says we have passed Lokpal Bill etc. Does not say what kind of bill? One which weakens CBI further! Banks on people’s legal illiteracy.” She said what people need is a “measurement tool” of performance of the government from their Prime Minister in which a commoner becomes a stakeholder. “PM’s speech indicates what may be done. Problem is in the how, the who and even the when (with eye on votes)? Huge Trust deficit!” she said. None of programmes and assurances are possible without integrity and administrative willingness. How does that happen is the key challenge, she said, adding country has two key challenges before it. “Political corruption and bureaucratic insensitivity. Both require right leadership for change,” she added.
“Best bits: The Olympic legacy for the voluntary sector; Our latest online debate discussed how to maintain an Olympic legacy for the voluntary sector. Here are our expert panelists’ views.” By Abby Young-Powell. Guardian. August 7, 2012. The Olympics will inspire a new generation of volunteers: They will also engage local communities outside of London. It is important that we encourage this sense of community and inspire young people to continue volunteering. I know many first time volunteers involved in the Olympics and we need to capitalise on their enthusiasm and experience. We need to create and develop opportunities that are not just sporting related: We must develop cultural and community-based opportunities. I believe that as a sector we have to get organised, as well as reach out and develop ways that people can get involved using all the tools at our disposal. We must be creative, positive and enthusiastic about using the Olympics as a way of increasing volunteering like never before. The Olympic volunteering programme has taught us the importance of brand: I am increasingly interested in the idea of “brand” when it comes to volunteers. The sense of pride and engagement people feel when they are part of a movement is a great concept that we should think about when designing roles and developing programmes.
“We volunteered for the Games, but not for the Big Society; Volunteering at the London Olympics was a glorious one-off, but a one-off nonetheless.” By Mary Dejevsky. Independent. August 16, 2012. When Jacques Rogge and Lord Coe closed the London Olympics, the loudest cheer was reserved not for the athletes – though the roar was deafening – nor for the organisers, who received an almost equally generous hand, but for the volunteers – all 70,000 of them. Or should I say, immodestly, us? The warm public embrace in which we volunteers have luxuriated – and which will surely last through the Paralympics – became a phenomenon of the Games. And the big question now – as big as David Cameron’s Big Society – is whether the volunteering, like the sport, can “inspire a generation”. Why was there so much public enthusiasm? Pleasant surprise might be one explanation. For the Olympics, you have to have athletes, you have to have venues, and you have to have organisers. But the volunteers seemed to appear out of nowhere as a sort of bonus. The capital was suddenly speckled with clusters of pink- and-purple people, who were welcoming and polite – and the delight was mutual. London was transformed from an impersonal and at times threatening mega-city into somewhere more manageable and humane. You can say what you like about our uniforms, but you can’t say you could not see us, and our kit conferred a certain sense of responsibility. Volunteers came from all ages and backgrounds. There might never have been such a cross-section of people cooperating since National Service was abolished. We really were a mirror of Britain. Some of my favourites were the mostly young people staffing the pedestrian crossings, trying to dissuade the huge crowds from trying to compete with a London bus. With their loud-hailers, cries of “Lad-eez and Gentlemen, careful now”, “Wait for the green man”, they were a splendid advert for young Britain, proof that courtesy, wit and a sense of responsibility has been hidden somewhere beyond the rioters and the Neets. They perfectly illustrated the notion that if you make people feel useful, they will rise to the occasion. But will that spirit last? Will the volunteer army of the Olympics stick around to help build Mr Cameron’s Big Society, and even if its foot soldiers don’t, might they not have set an example that others will follow? And here, I regret to say – despite the reported surge in people volunteering to help with sports clubs in the immediate wake of the Olympics or offering a “Jubilee hour” of their time – I am less optimistic.
“Working Models: The Prince’s Trust deserves praise for helping young people to help themselves.” No by-line. Times of London. August 18, 2012. A recession can be blind and pitiless in picking its victims. Many casualties have done little more to merit the misery of joblessness than to be born in the wrong place, or to work in an industry stranded by the shifting tide of technology or tastes. And nowhere is the sting of unemployment more brutishly felt in Britain today than among its young. Already more than a million of them are out of work. Not all the teenagers who have just completed their schooling will join the jobless. But the fact that a fifth of young people told a survey conducted for the Prince’s Trust that they do not look forward to their future — and that one in five currently without work regards landing a job in the next year as “unachievable” — is not just a measure of the depth of the curse of youth unemployment. It is a measure, too, of the despair corroding the hopes, ambitions and happiness of a generation on whose shoulders Britain’s future prosperity rests. The Prince of Wales has marshalled the resources of the Prince’s Trust to rebuild those hopes, to nurture potential and to help ten of thousands of young people to set up their own businesses. In doing so, young men and women have found not just a purpose, but a work ethic and the strength to transform their lives by their own wits. They, in turn, offer others inspiration and an example. Most potently, they learn the habit of work. The danger of a long recession is that, when the jobs return, many young people have no experience of the rhythm and language of the workplace. By offering young people avenues for employment, while also challenging businesses to offer others work experience, training or mentoring support, the Prince’s Trust is making an invaluable contribution in keeping the language of work alive.
“Best bits: Forming a charity consortium; Our latest online debate discussed building a voluntary sector consortium. Here are our expert panellists’ views.” By Abby Young-Powell. Guardian. August 16, 2012. Many consortia are finding it hard to access investment without the relationships in place with commissioners: And commissioners won’t commission to consortia that don’t have the capacity. There is a significant amount of interest from local authorities in supporting consortia: We’ve developed a project that starts with commissioners and seeks to support them to reach out to the sector and possibly support development of a consortium in a service area matching their interest.