News Story of the Day

San Diego Diocese to file for bankruptcy in the wake of hundreds of abuse claims

KPBS [San Diego CA]

June 14, 2024

By City News Service


The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego announced today that it will file for bankruptcy in the wake of hundreds of legal claims from alleged sexual abuse victims.

In a letter to parishioners and clergy, Cardinal Robert McElroy wrote that bankruptcy would help the Diocese fulfill its goals going forward, while also compensating abuse victims.

Last year, McElroy announced the possibility of bankruptcy in a separate letter, as he wrote then that the Diocese “must face the staggering legal costs” in response to lawsuits alleging abuse dating back as far as 1945.

Angry Catholics Wanted to Burn the Church. He Came to Save It.

New York Times [New York NY]

June 13, 2024

By Norimitsu Onishi


The Rev. Gérard Tsatselam boarded the ferryboat and settled in his usual place, on a reclining seat, at the back of a cold, unlit room that would have been packed in summer. Uneasy, he sat shrouded in his large, black coat as high winter winds delayed the boat’s arrival in the village where he was trying to save the church.

Except for a quick stopover for a funeral, he had not visited his parish — in Unamen Shipu, an Indigenous reserve on the frigid, isolated coast of northeastern Quebec — in months. Mold had invaded the presbytery and left him scrambling for lodging on each visit.

Another reason behind his unease was the enduring fallout from the accusations of sexual and other abuse by a predecessor, a Belgian priest. Though the transgressions dated back decades, during what Father Gérard called the Roman Catholic Church’s “colonial” era, dealing with the parishioners’ anger and distrust had fallen to him — a priest and missionary from the Central African nation of Cameroon.

Father Gérard had been Unamen Shipu’s priest for four years, and his predecessor long dead, when the accusations were leveled in 2017.

“The moment they came out, the dynamics changed,” he had said before boarding. “There’s a before and an after.”

He had watched, helplessly, as most of his parishioners broke with the church.

Now, returning to Unamen Shipu, Father Gérard planned to comfort his dwindling flock and restore the faith of those who had left. He would try to assuage the rage that had fueled threats to burn down the presbytery and to cast his predecessor’s body into the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

“It’s a complex terrain,” Father Gérard said. “People are still Christian. They’re religious, they believe, they still have faith. But they’re really hurting a lot.”

“Too much,” he added after a pause, so softly it was easy to miss.

La. Supreme Court reverses previous decision, upholds law for childhood sex abuse lawsuits

June 12, 2014


In a stunning reversal of its decision earlier this year, the Louisiana Supreme Court has upheld a state law giving survivors of childhood sex abuse more time to file lawsuits, a ruling that holds particular significance for Roman Catholic dioceses across the state and hundreds of survivors of childhood abuse by priests and deacons.

In an opinion issued Wednesday, the state’s high court ruled 5-2 that the “lookback window,” which was unanimously approved by the legislature several years ago, is constitutional, giving abuse survivors a three-year window to file damage suits for the past abuse, regardless of how long ago it occurred.

"Given Louisiana's legitimate interest in protecting its citizens who were sexually abused as minors and in providing them with the ability to seek redress in the courts ... it is clear that defendants have failed to satisfy the heavy burden of proving the unconstitutionality" of the law, Chief Justice John Weimer wrote for the majority.

Joining Weimer in the majority were Justices William Crain and Jay McCallum, who supported the law in March, and also Justices Scott Crichton and Piper Griffin, who reversed their earlier stances.

Advocate Stephen Jimenez reflects on progress in honoring Child Victims Act

Spectrum News [New York NY]

June 6, 2024


Back in April, a state appeals court ruled that the insurance company Chubb may move forward with its lawsuit against the Archdiocese of New York.

Chubb is arguing its policies shouldn’t cover claims of child sexual abuse that may have been enabled and covered up by church officials.

However, advocates of child victims are pushing back and accusing Chubb and other insurers of denying and delaying payment to survivors to protect their own profits.

They are now calling on lawmakers and the State Attorney General’s office to intervene and investigate those insurance companies.

Stephen Jimenez, an advocate and survivor of childhood sexual abuse who helped pass the Child Victims Act five years ago, joined NY1 political anchor Errol Louis on “Inside City Hall” Thursday to discuss more.

Brownsville priest indicted on child sexual abuse charges

May 14, 2024

The indictment filed on May 8 shows Fernando Gonzalez Ortega, 52, faces three charges of sexual assault of a child, one charge of sexual abuse by a clergyman, a charge of continuous sexual abuse of a child and a charge of indecency with a child.

Abuse victim advocates pushing Missouri AG to investigate Christian boarding schools

Amanda Householder, center, speaks outside the St. Louis office of Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey on Monday, May 13, 2024, as David Clohessy, right, listens. They were among a group of people urging Bailey to take action in response to allegations of child abuse at Christian boarding schools in southern Missouri. (AP Photo/Jim Salter)

Amanda Householder, center, speaks outside the St. Louis office of Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey on Monday, May 13, 2024, as David Clohessy, right, listens. They were among a group of people urging Bailey to take action in response to allegations of child abuse at Christian boarding schools in southern Missouri. (AP Photo/Jim Salter)

EXCLUSIVE: Sex offender allowed to help lead CLE Catholic church masses; News 5 Investigation leads to change

Photo by: source: St. Thomas More, Brooklyn, OH

By: Jonathan Walsh

May 09, 2024

Offender was part of service lead by Bishop Malesic

CLEVELAND — Groups that assist sexual abuse victims are outraged that the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland allows a convicted sex offender to help lead masses for months. The advocacy groups question how this can happen in light of the church’s documented history with pedophile priests.

“I will praise you Lord,” could be heard in song on video of a mass from April 28 of this year. It was the voice of Keith Kozak, 44, from Brooklyn. News 5 Investigators found he has been on the alter at St. Thomas More Church, leading the congregation in prayer and song. “I shall not die but live...,” he sang during a mass there on April 21.


“I thought that this had to be a mistake. There’s no way. There just couldn’t be any way,” said Claudia Vercellotti from the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP. She told us she doesn’t have an issue with Kodak’s right to worship, but Kozak has been doing this for a while now. “Week after week, normalizing a convicted sex offender…” said Vercellotti. “Normalizing him as a church leader.”

‘It wasn’t a big deal’: secret deposition reveals how a child molester priest was shielded by his church

A black and white photo of a priest

Ramon Antonio Vargas in New Orleans and David Hammer of WWL Louisiana

Thu 9 May 2024

Lawrence Hecker pleaded the fifth 117 times as he detailed how the Catholic church protected him for more than two decades after he admitted to molesting children

Longtime New Orleans Catholic priest Lawrence Hecker received a special honor from the Vatican nearly 25 years ago despite having confessed to molesting children. Then, for another two decades, church leaders in the city strategically shielded him from law enforcement and media exposure – while also providing him with financial support ranging from paid limousine rides and therapeutic massages to full retirement benefits, according to his own, previously unreported testimony.

A sworn deposition Hecker gave in private in 2020 shows exactly how high-placed Catholic church officials in New Orleans let him keep his elevated position for years, even after they had been advised to oust him from the clergy and – much later – publicly acknowledged that he was a child predator.

“It wasn’t a big deal in those days,” Hecker said at the deposition about how his archdiocese coddled him despite his acknowledged abuse of children.

The scale of the cover-up shocks the conscience. As Hecker walked into New Orleans’ historic St Louis Cathedral in early January 2000 to receive the honorary, Vatican-bestowed title of monsignor, he had already confessed to molesting children he met through his ministry.

Candidate for SBC president stirs a storm by saying sexual abuse cases are a ‘distraction’

Mark Wingfield | May 7, 2024

In a six-man race for the Southern Baptist Convention presidency, one candidate made headlines over the weekend for his stance on the 42 sexual abuse lawsuits reportedly pending against the denomination.

Critics pounced when David Allen, a seminary preaching professor, called those lawsuits a “distraction” from the gospel imperative.

This set off a chain of social media posts, mainly on X, with Allen’s supporters and critics parsing what he did or didn’t say.

Sexual abuse survivor advocate Tiffany Thigpen shot back on X: “Actually, we ARE distractions because unlike you all, we refused to sit in the pit of despair. We believe in God’s justice and mercy We are reaching back despite our suffering to keep it from happening to others We ARE ministry. We ARE distracting the show. THAT is your problem.”

Clergy sexual abuse survivor David Pittman tweeted: “Thank you for exposing your heart by referring to us as distractions.”

Dallas Diocese priest arrested for indecency with a child

Credit: Garland Police Department

Ricardo Reyes Mata, 34, was arrested Monday by Garland police. 

2:20 PM CDT May 7, 2024


GARLAND, Texas — Garland police arrested a priest with the Catholic Diocese of Dallas on two felony counts of indecency with a child, police said in a release Tuesday. 

Ricardo Reyes Mata, who is also a Dallas resident, was arrested based on reports of inappropriate contact with juvenile victims at a residence in Garland. Garland detectives are communicating with the Diocese of Dallas about the case.

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