Pope orders investigation of bishop as U.S. Church leaders meet on abuse crisis
admin • September 14, 2018 • 2902
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Pope Francis has ordered an investigation of an American bishop accused of sexual misconduct with adults and accepted his resignation, the Vatican and U.S. Church officials said on Thursday (September 13).
The announcement was made as the pope was meeting U.S. Catholic Church leaders to discuss the fallout from a scandal involving a former American cardinal and demands from an archbishop that the pontiff to step down.
Reuters correspondent Philip Pullella said, “it seems that every day there is a new surprise.”
The bishop who resigned is Michael J. Bransfield, 75, of the diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia. The Vatican said the pope had appointed Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore to run the diocese until a new bishop is appointed.
The Catholic Church worldwide is reeling from crises involving sexual abuse of minors. Surveys show plummeting confidence in the Church in the United States, Chile, Australia, and Ireland where the scandal has hit hardest, as well as in other countries. — Reuters
Two Vatican officials charged with investigating accusations of sexual abuse by clergy will visit Mexico for a fact-finding mission later this month, the Church said on Tuesday (March 3).
Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu will meet with church leaders and alleged victims during their week-long visit to the world’s second largest Roman Catholic country, the Mexican bishops’ conference said.
Auxiliary Bishop Alfonso Miranda Guardiola, general secretary of the bishops’ conference, told a news conference in Mexico City that the Church had requested aid from the Vatican in order to help the youngest and most vulnerable in Mexico.
Scicluna and Bertomeu are part of a taskforce created last year by Pope Francis to assist in countries where the Church had no guidance for dealing with sexual abuse cases. The two led the Vatican’s 2018 investigation into sexual abuse in Chile, producing a 2,300-page report that sparked the resignation of several of the country’s top bishops.
Scicluna also conducted the Vatican’s investigation into Father Marcial Maciel, the late founder of Mexico’s Legionaries of Christ Catholic religious order. Maciel was accused of sexually abusing at least 60 boys, some as young as 12.
Allegations of pedophilia have long plagued the Church in Mexico. Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera Lopez, President of the Mexican bishops conference, said 271 Mexican priests have been accused of sexual abuse to date.
The bishops’ conference said it does not have an estimate of the number of victims. Advocates say there are many more victims than those who have come forward with accusations. (Reuters Connect)
Grief, fear and anger have enveloped the town of Chunian in Pakistan’s eastern, Punjab province after the bodies of three missing children were found in a district which has seen numerous cases of child abuse and abductions in recent years.
Police said on Monday (September 23) they had made twenty arrests as they investigated the suspected murders and sexual assault of the boys.
The body of Muhammad Faizan had been found the previous week, a day after he went missing.
Faizan, 8, had failed to return home with his brother when the two went to nearby shops to buy snacks.
His body and the remains of two more boys were later found on a deserted section of an industrial estate.
“The animal brutalized my child. I cannot bear this. I want justice,” Faizan’s mother, Amtal Salam. The family home overlooks the grave of her young son.
Local media reported three other children from the area have been missing since the middle of the year and another child had disappeared late last week after the bodies were found.
Videos of hundreds of local children being sexually assaulted were caught circulating in 2015, which a senior child protection official at the time called the largest child abuse scandal in Pakistan’s history.
Last year, the body of a 7-year-old girl was found in a garbage dumpster, which police said was the twelfth incident of a girl being abducted, raped and killed in the district in a year, and sparked violent protests. A man was convicted of the murder and was executed.
Hundreds more protested last week, blocking off streets and damaging shops.
Families in the area are fearful of the welfare and safety of their children.
“Now the children are afraid to go to the mosques, they are afraid to go to school. Announcements have been made that parents should escort their children to school,” said Shehnaz Bibi, a housewife from a neighboring village.
Police are continuing to investigate the suspected murders and disappearances and are also looking into the possibility of a serial killer. (REUTERS)
Former Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell returned to prison on Wednesday (August 21) after losing his appeal against his conviction for sexually abusing two 13-year-old boys.
Pell will remain in prison for at least another three years, a court ruled.
Pell, the highest ranking Catholic worldwide to be convicted of child sex offenses, was sentenced in March to six years in jail after being found guilty on five charges of abusing the two boys at St. Patrick’s Cathedral while he was Archbishop of Melbourne in the late 1990s.
Pell appealed his conviction to Victoria’s Court of Appeal on three grounds, but mainly on the argument that the jury’s verdict was unreasonable based on the evidence at the trial.
Pell had also appealed on the grounds that the trial judge was wrong to have blocked the defense from showing a video animation to back up its closing argument and that Pell should have entered his plea while in front of potential jurors rather than by a video link in the court house.
The three appeal judges decided to only grant leave to hear the first ground of appeal, that the jury verdict was unreasonable, and that was then dismissed on a 2-1 verdict.
Under the terms of his sentencing, Pell will be eligible for parole in October 2022, when he will be 81. (Reuters)
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