News Story of the Day

The rebel priest standing up to the Catholic Church

For 62 years, Peter Murnane has been a Dominican priest.

He remained so through the storm after he poured blood on the floor of the US Consul’s office. When he provided a safe house for the asylum seeker Ahmed Zaoui. When he broke into the Waihopai spy base, was prosecuted and acquitted. Even when he gave a sermon explaining why he thought Australia’s top Catholic, Cardinal George Pell, was not a good bloke.

Only now, at 82 years old, have the Dominicans seemingly had enough of their rebel priest after Murnane refused instructions to pulp his new book, Clerical Errors, which clinically examines the Catholic Church’s dismal sexual abuse record, lays out a long treatise on Pell and argues the entire church should be dismantled.

SNAP Shares Letter to Archbishop Cordileone and list of 312 accused clergymen, brothers and laity with connections to the Archdiocese of San Francisco

September 29, 2022

SNAP Communication Manager- Mike McDonnell

SNAP's researched list of accused-

***Click here to view the list of 312 clergymen, brothers, and laity accused of abuse and who have a connection to the Archdiocese of San Francisco***

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, will be hand delivering a letter to Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, again urging him to release a list of those accused of sexual abuse in his archdiocese -- including those names still concealed in the Archdioceses' secret archives -- as most of his peers have done. At the same time, the gathered survivors and advocates will hand him their own list of 312 clergymen, brothers, and laity who have been publicly accused of abuse and who have a connection to the Archdiocese.  

Archbishop Cordileone never responded to earlier suggestions from the survivors' group for him to release his own list. For example, in early 2021, SNAP wrote concerning the lack of a San Francisco list, "Archbishop Cordileone has affirmed that victims need compassion and that the San Francisco Archdiocese stands willing to help them, but he has consistently refused to take this simple step that will both help survivors and their families heal as well as keep today's children safe."

SNAP did extensive research to identify the 312 perpetrators on their list through information from media reports, civil lawsuits, criminal proceedings, and the Catholic Church itself. This task could have been completed with greater ease and with more detail by Archdiocesan officials. However, while the Dallas Charter promised the faithful openness and transparency, the survivors' group maintains that it has seen little of either from the Archdiocese, which is why they embarked on this project.

SNAP hopes that their list of accused will spur Archbishop Cordileone to release his own list. The group also hopes that the Archdiocesan effort will include work histories and photos of the accused, as well as details on when each and every allegation was received and what actions Church officials took in response. SNAP believes that such a list would truly be a step towards openness and transparency.

But whether or not the Archbishop finally takes action, SNAP wants survivors of abuse in the Archdiocese to find comfort in their list, and perhaps even be inspired to come forward and report their own assaults directly to law enforcement.

At the press conference, the survivors and advocates will also address why these lists are important to survivor healing and public safety, the closing California civil window for child sex abuse victims, the California civil window opening in 2023 for survivors of abuse as adults, as well as sharing the insights discerned through the development of their own list. In addition, SNAP will have a Catholic whistle-blower priest who was recently defrocked for supporting survivors to address those gathered.

CONTACT:  Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator ([email protected], 925-708-6175), Joey Piscitelli, SNAP Northern California ([email protected], 925-262-3699), Dorothy Small, SNAP Sacramento ([email protected], 530-908-3676), Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is


Bill eliminating statute of limitations for child sex abuse civil suits heads to Biden’s desk


Posted: Sep 13, 2022 / 03:54 PM PDT

Updated: Sep 13, 2022 / 11:51 PM PDT

Read original story here-

The House on Tuesday passed a bill eliminating the statute of limitations for victims of child sex abuse who seek to file civil claims, sending the measure to President Biden’s desk for final approval.

The chamber cleared the bill, titled the Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act, by voice vote, a strategy reserved for non-controversial, popular measures. The Senate passed the legislation by unanimous consent in March.

The measure calls for removing the statute of limitations for minors filing civil claims relating to a number of sex abuse crimes, including force labor, sex trafficking, sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children.

Under current law, minors who experience sexual abuse are able to file federal civil claims until they turn 28 years old, or until 10 years after the violation or injury is discovered. The bill Congress passed seeks to eliminate those time restraints.

There is no statute of limitations in place for criminal offenses involving child sex abuse.

During debate on the House floor Tuesday, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said survivors of child sex abuse often delay reporting their situations, which could put them at risk of not seeking damages because of the statute of limitations.

“Also common is delayed disclosure, with the tendency of survivors of child sexual abuse to wait many years before disclosing abuse to others,” Nadler said. “This is because survivors of sexual abuse often take a long time to process their trauma and many survivors who were abused as a child may not even recognize the abuse they suffered until much later in life.”

“Unfortunately, because survivors of child sexual abuse often delay reporting, any statute of limitations may prevent survivors accessing justice and seeking damages in civil court,” he added.

The New York Democrat argued that statutes of limitations in place for civil claims of child sex abuse “can serve to protect abusers and enable them to continue to exploit their power by allowing victims’ claims to expire.”

“This bill will enable survivors who are victims of federal child sex abuse offenses, including aggravated sexual abuse, sex trafficking, human trafficking, forced labor, and sexual exploitation, to seek civil damages in federal court regardless of the amount of time that has passed since the abuse,” he added.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) on the House floor Tuesday said the bill “would allow victims of human trafficking or sex offenses to seek civil remedies regardless of when the crime took place.”

Abuse survivors say, Providence Diocese hasn’t done enough

Boston Globe

September 8, 2022

By Amanda Mikovits

Read original article

[Photo above: Claude Leboeuf, left, and Dr. Ann Hagan Webb speak candidly with Globe Rhode Island’s Amanda Milkovits on the Rhode Island Report podcast this week, about their own experiences with abuse, its impact on their lives, and what helps survivors heal. – Carlos Muñoz]

On this week’s Rhode Island Report podcast, Dr. Ann Hagan Webb and Claude Leboeuf talk about starting the first support group in Rhode Island for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Since 2019, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence has published a list of clergy who’ve been credibly accused of sexual abuse of children, and says it encourages victims to come forward.

The two leaders of a new support group for abuse survivors in Rhode Island say the diocese hasn’t done enough. Some parts of this discussion may be upsetting for some listeners:

“No. The simple answer is, no,” Dr. Ann Hagan…

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Families of clergy abuse victims’ new legal precedent paves way for litigation

Families of clergy abuse victims’ new legal precedent paves way for litigation

Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC [Sydney, Australia]

August 26, 2022

By Laura Mayers

Read original article


[Photo above: Ballarat lawyer Ingrid Irwin attends a rally outside Victorian Parliament earlier this year. Supplied: Twitter]

A Supreme Court ruling in relation to a lawsuit levelled against the Catholic Church has been heralded as a potential new precedent for loved ones of alleged victims of clergy abuse.

Key points:

  • Court this week ruled the Catholic Church cannot use “Ellis defence” in a Melbourne lawsuit
  • The Catholic Archdiocese has acknowledged the ruling as the lawsuit proceeds
  • Lawyers across the state say it will “pave the way” for a legal precedent

The court this week ruled the Catholic Church could not use a legal argument pertaining to the so-called Ellis defence.

The defence was named for choirboy John Ellis and prevented abuse survivors from suing unincorporated organisations such as the church.

The ruling came after a lawsuit levelled at the Church and Cardinal George Pell by a father of one of Pell’s accusers, who…

Portugal abuse commission calls victims to testify

The independent commission wants those living abroad to submit testimonies, especially during their summer home visits

Bishop José Ornelas Carvalho of Setúbal, president of the Portuguese bishops' conference

Bishop José Ornelas Carvalho of Setúbal, president of the Portuguese bishops' conference. (Photo: wikimedia)

Published: August 19, 2022 04:54 AM GMT


An independent commission investigating sexual abuse in Portugal's Catholic Church urged more victims to submit testimonies, especially during summer home visits by citizens living abroad.

"In our work as a voice in the silence, we continue appealing to all adults who may have been victims as children," said the commission's chairman, Pedro Strecht.

"We make the same request to all members of the church who can spread this message as they consider appropriate, such as in homilies or on parish door notices."

The child psychiatrist spoke at a Lisbon media conference Aug. 17, nine months after the six-member commission was set up by Portugal's Catholic bishops.

He said he was concerned to reach the 2.3 million Portuguese, 20% of the population, currently living outside the country, a "significant number" of whom visited during summer, especially from Europe.

The commission also asked public figures to submit messages encouraging victims to "give voice to their silence" and said it counted on Portuguese media to publicize its work, added Strecht, whose appeal was reported by Portugal's Catholic Ecclesia news agency.

In July, a former attorney general, José Souto de Moura, reiterated all abuse complaints should be referred to prosecutors. De Moura has been appointed to coordinate child protection committees in Portugal's 21 Catholic dioceses.

Presenting data July 28, Strecht said his commission had received 356 reports of abuse by clergy since starting work in January; 17 had been passed to the public prosecutor's office.

Addressing a Lisbon conference May 10, Bishop José Ornelas Carvalho of Leiria-Fatima, president of the bishops' conference, begged forgiveness from victims of abuse of clergy and said their "liberating courage" in coming forward could help create "a new culture, and a dignified, fair and welcoming future."

In a July 29 open letter, Cardinal Manuel do Nascimento Clemente of Lisbon reaffirmed the church's commitment to a "zero tolerance" policy and denied media claims his office had failed to act against a priest accused of abuse in 1999.

"From the very beginning at Lisbon Patriarchate, I gave instructions for zero tolerance and total transparency to be a rule known to all," Cardinal Clemente added.


"Care and concern for the victims is what should chiefly move us in this matter, and I regret all the suffering the situation may have caused to this victim --- and to all others we know or do not know."

Former FBI Child Sex Abuse Expert on What Parents Should Know About “Grooming”

Sunday, August 07, 2022


Photo: FBI file

A former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) expert on child abuse — and “grooming” — said there are a number of steps parents can take if they have concerns their children could be in danger. 


On Monday, GoLocal unveiled that priest Eric Silva had been reassigned to a Narragansett church after being removed from two other churches earlier in the year for asking children "inappropriate questions" about sex.

On Friday, amidst mounting pressure, Tobin announced he was rescinding Silva's appointment to the parish. 


Kenneth Lanning, who was a special agent with the FBI for more than 30 years and has worked as a consultant in the area of crimes against children, said that while some behaviors of adults interacting with children might not rise to the level of criminality, there are steps parents can take if they believe their child is potentially being “groomed” for abuse. 

Moreover — he has published both books and research on the steps that organizations that work with children need to take to keep children safe. 

“Many effective parental responses to suspected sexual victimization are easy to say but hard to do. The most important thing parents can do is, starting when they are young, establish open communication on diverse topics with their children. Communicate love and caring,” Lanning told GoLocal. 

“Openly and honestly communicate with their child without inferring blame. Parents know their children well but often are not objective. Their own religious belief may even get in the way with a priest,” Lanning continued. “Depending on why their child is in close contact with the priest, the best approach may be to find ways to limit their alone contact. A child has a right to respectfully express discomfort with behavior that is not a crime. Start soft, move to hard if necessary.”

According to parents, Silva asked male children if they were gay and accused them of lying if they said no.

And, Silva reportedly asked females were asked if they were sexually active and, according to reports, similarly accused of lying if they answered in the negative. He made the comments when he was offering confession.

Tobin said at the time, “I have asked Fr. Silva to take this period of leave as an opportunity to reflect on these priestly responsibilities and to engage in additional formation.”

Silva has now been removed from three parishes -- and Tobin has refused to say what Silva's future is in the church. 

Lanning -- who was the 1996 recipient of the Outstanding Professional Award from the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, the 1997 recipient of the FBI Director’s Annual Award for Special Achievement for his career accomplishments in connection with missing and exploited children, and the 2009 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Service from the National Children’s Advocacy Center --- said if parents do not believe the organization’s response is sufficient enough, there are steps they should take. 

“When institutions that are designed to protect your children don't actually do so, parents need to try to be objective and find creative ways to limit contact. In order to be involved in simultaneous sexual relations with multiple victims, a pedophile must know how to manipulate and control children,” said Lanning. “The pedophile uses seduction techniques, competition, peer pressure, child and group psychology, motivation techniques, threats, and blackmail. The pedophile must continuously recruit children into and move children out of the ring without his activity being disclosed. Part of the manipulation process is lowering the inhibitions of the children. A skilled pedophile who can get children into a situation where they must change clothing or stay with him overnight will almost always succeed in seducing them.”


Bishop Tobin

Organizational Accountability 


Lanning also discussed what organizations that work with children need to do when allegations arise. 

The four most important protection practices for organizations are screening; management, and supervision; response to suspicions, allegations, and complaints; and prevention and awareness programs, wrote Lanning in the 2014 publication, “Acquaintance molestation and youth-serving organizations.”

One problematic area, said Lanning, is when organizations utilized their own “experts” to determine whether an adult who has been accused of inappropriate behavior can remain in the organization. 

“These organizations need to have rules and monitoring,” Lanning told GoLocal. “The other big problem is they decide to go out and get their own opinion. They might get a sexual abuse expert — but oftentimes those ‘experts’ don’t really understand these cases involving an acquaintance molester, someone who the child knows who they are.”

“How is the offender able to access the child — that’s what grooming is all about,” says Lanning. “It starts young, and they get better and better.”

Maryland’s clergy sex abuse investigation lacks results, survivors say

Maryland Matters


Maryland’s clergy sex abuse investigation lacks results, survivors say

Archdiocese of Detroit auxiliary bishop accused of sex abuse in lawsuit

Detroit News

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News
Published 6:19 a.m. ET Aug 2, 2022

A man is suing the new Archdiocese of Detroit auxiliary bishop amid claims the religious official sexually assaulted him more than 30 years ago in Massachusetts.

Paul F. Russell, then a priest in the Archdiocese of Boston, is accused of abusing the 12-year-old an estimated 25 times in 1989-90, according to the civil lawsuit filed Monday in Boston’s Suffolk County Superior Court.

Archbishop Paul F. Russell in Detroit, July 7, 2022.

The alleged victim, listed as a John Doe, “has been seriously and permanently injured, and, at the present, continues to suffer from a psychological disease that impairs and affects all aspects of his life,” the court filing said.

Now in his 40s and living outside Massachusetts, the man “still has nightmares about this stuff,” his attorney, Carmen Durso, told The Detroit News.

Reached Monday night, Ned McGrath, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Detroit, said Russell "is shocked and saddened by the claims that have been made, and states that his conscience is perfectly clear. He holds in prayer all those who have ever been victimized by a member of the clergy."

The youth volunteered at a food bank there and Russell lived in the rectory, where the priest “began to groom him and then sexually assaulted him,” Durso wrote.

The complaint also alleges the abuse occurred due to the negligent supervision of the parish supervisor. Archdiocese of Boston officials, who are also named in the suit, “should have known that defendant Russell was not fit to be retained in a position in which he would have access to young children.”

In 2002, the Boston Globe launched a series of reports that used church records to reveal that abusive clergy had long been transferred among parish assignments for years without alerting parents or police. The scandal, recounted in the Oscar-winning film “Spotlight,” led to a U.S. clergy sex abuse crisis. 

Archdiocese of Boston representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the case Monday night.

The Russell lawsuit came less than three months after Pope Francis named him the 31st auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Detroit. A welcome Mass was celebrated last month.

Russell serves Archbishop Allen Vigneron, who leads the archdiocese and its more than 1 million Catholics in southeast Michigan.

He spent part of his youth in Michigan and was appointed Apostolic Nuncio, a Vatican diplomat, to Turkey and Turkmenistan in 2016.

Archbishop Paul Fitzpatrick Russell, then apostolic nuncio to Turkey, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, greets Pope Francis at the Vatican on Sept. 13, 2018.

The plaintiff in the Massachusetts lawsuit “did not have a clue” about Russell’s status and only reached out for legal help in recent years, Durso said. “Male victims of sexual abuse find it the most difficult to come forward and say these things.”

In a statement Monday, officials with Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said they hoped the lawsuit would “help provide hope and healing to this victim and that it will also inspire others who have been hurt to come forward and make a report.”

The group added: “Given Bishop Russell’s high position in the Catholic Church … we believe true transparency and accountability will only come when the files on the clergyman held by the church are publicly disclosed.”

Native American survivors of alleged boarding school sex abuse want justice

Reuters- The Wider Image 

Photography by Callaghan O'Hare

Reporting by Brad Brooks

Filed July 26, 2022, 11:00 a.m. GMT


he United States in May acknowledged the damage inflicted on generations of children at federal Indian boarding schools, a system built to assimilate indigenous kids into white society by cutting them off from their parents and tribes.

Geraldine Charbonneau Dubourt, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, welcomed that admission, part of a report released by the Department of the Interior . But what she really wants is justice.

The septuagenarian has waged a so-far fruitless effort to seek restitution for the rapes and other abuses she says she, her eight sisters and scores of other Native American children endured for years at the former St. Paul's Indian Mission School in Marty, South Dakota.

A 2010 state law barred victims of alleged sexual abuse aged 40 or older from filing civil lawsuits against any institution that knew or should have known about it. That legislation, which amended an earlier state law on sexual abuse, effectively shortened the statute of limitations for victims to seek damages. It was aimed largely at protecting the Catholic Church, whose priests and nuns ran St. Paul's and at least four similar schools in South Dakota - a motive acknowledged by the attorney who crafted the amendment.

Dubourt and other Native Americans want the legislation overturned. They say it penalizes sexual abuse survivors for enduring trauma that often renders them unable to speak out until late in life. For more than a decade, they have held rallies in the capital of Pierre and purchased billboard ads aimed at shaming South Dakota lawmakers into action, to no avail.

At the center of the battle is the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls, whose jurisdiction includes the eastern half of South Dakota, where the old St. Paul's boarding school is located. The diocese has apologized publicly for child sexual abuses it said were committed by some of its priests decades ago. But it has been largely silent on allegations lodged by Native Americans who attended St. Paul's: At least 108 former students have sued the diocese since 2003.

The diocese for years has contended in court proceedings that it's not responsible for any alleged harm done there because it didn't operate the school or have direct oversight of the priests and nuns who staffed it.

It's an argument that has found favor with South Dakota's Supreme Court. Plaintiffs' attorneys and advocates, however, say it's a common legal tactic embraced by Catholic authorities to avoid accountability for allegedly criminal actions of its priests and nuns.

Julia Gonzalez, once a student at the former St. Paul’s Indian Mission School, sits at her dining room table near Lake Andes, South Dakota, U.S., September 12, 2021. REUTERS/Callaghan O'Hare

"Bishops and archbishops have ultimate authority over who operates in their jurisdiction," said Zach Hiner, the executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, which claims 25,000 members worldwide. "All this is a diffusion of responsibility to protect the diocese."

Time is running out for Dubourt and her elderly sisters, known across Indian Country as the 9 Little Girls. Three of the siblings have died in the past year. Those still living are in their 70s and 80s. Dubourt no longer lives in South Dakota full time, spending part of the year in Pennsylvania, where her daughters live.

South Dakota legislators are "waiting for the rest of us to die," Dubourt, 73, says matter-of-factly. She vows to keep fighting.


Dubourt last year traveled by car with a Reuters reporter to provide a glimpse of her past at St. Paul's, which she attended from 1955 to 1967.

She said the abuse began as inappropriate touching by priests and nuns shortly after she arrived as a six-year-old, then escalated. As the SUV descended into a verdant valley of corn and bean fields a towering white steeple came into view. Dubourt's face tightened.

"It's the first damn thing you can see - look at it!" she said.

Perry Little rides a horse near the Marty Indian School on the Yankton Indian Reservation in Marty, September 10, 2021. REUTERS/Callaghan O'Hare

The steeple is part of the Church of St. Paul Apostle of the Nations, situated on the Yankton Indian Reservation. Local residents refer to it simply as St. Paul's Catholic Church. Services are still held there. But adjacent buildings belonging to what was once the Catholic boarding school, founded in the early 1920s, are weathered and rotting.

It was in the church basement that Dubourt says she was raped multiple times at age 16 by a priest and forced to undergo an abortion, according to her deposition for a 2008 civil suit seeking damages. She and her sisters sued four priests, six nuns and two school workers - all now deceased - whom they alleged took part in the abuse. Also named as defendants were the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls and three religious groups whose nuns and priests staffed the school.

The diocese and the religious organizations - Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, the Oblate Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and Blue Cloud Abbey - all denied wrongdoing in court filings. Blue Cloud Abbey was a former Benedictine monastery in South Dakota that organized a nonprofit entity to take over operation of the boarding school from another Catholic group in the 1950s, court documents and state incorporation records show.

To establish that the diocese had some authority over the school, the sisters' lawyers filed hundreds of pages of internal documents from the 1940s to 1960s related to the institution. They included records showing that St. Paul's provided the diocese with an annual count of its students and teachers and information about its finances. There was also correspondence from the Oblate Sisters order to then-Bishop Lambert Hoch, now deceased, reporting on the comportment of nuns at the school and seeking his assistance with personnel matters.

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