Thursday, July 30, 2009

KOREA Angry Parishioners Disrupt 'Reconciliation' Mass

July 30, 2009
Original Article

SEOUL (UCAN) -- A Sunday Mass turned into a protest as parishioners vented their anger over what they believed to be their archbishop protecting a former parish priest who allegedly misappropriated money from the cathedral.

During the July 26 Mass in Imdong Cathedral in Gwangju (Kwangju), presided over by Archbishop Andreas Choi Chang-mou and 15 other concelebrants, some of the 400-strong congregation shouted as the priest involved, Father Raymundus Shin Dong-sul, recited a prayer.
Parishioners arguing with Mass celebrants at
ImdongCathedral after the July 26 Mass -- Photo by John Choi

The protestors accuse their former parish priest of misappropriating some 250 million won (US$200,000) since 2001. Father Shin was transferred to another parish in 2007 and made archdiocesan procurator in 2008.

In his message at the end of the Mass, archdiocesan chancellor Father Chrysostomus Kim Kye-hong said the Mass was intended by the archbishop to be an act of "reconciliation" between the priest and his accusers.

Father Kim also said the allegation that the archbishop was protecting Father Shin was groundless and that the prelate had been impartial and is urging the two sides to pursue "clear and objective fact-finding."

However, halfway, through his message, protesters turned off his microphone and the lights in the building. Others walked out of the cathedral and later argued with Archbishop Choi and the Mass concelebrants as they tried to leave.

Father Kim told UCA News on July 28 that it is unimaginable that parishioners would resort to disrupting a Mass whatever grievances they might be nursing. He said groundless rumors have aggravated the situation.

"Anyway, it is shameful that priests are involved in such a situation. Excited parishioners should calm down and solve the problem though dialogue with us," he said.

Father Kim, however, managed to complete reading out his message during the Mass despite the disruption.

The message said that after the parish pastoral council had lodged a formal complaint with the police against a parish official allegedly involved in the misappropriation of funds, Archbishop Choi had said the archdiocese would abide by the police investigation.

Father Kim said that Father Shin and Father Jacob Song Chong-eui, the priest who replaced him at the cathedral, and who had also accused him of the misdeed, were ordered to leave their posts for a "vacation to reflect upon themselves".

The parish's pastoral council is now automatically dissolved according Canon Law, said Father Kim. For the time being, Father Kim himself will fill in for the two priests.

However, members of the parish pastoral council took a different view.

"We as Catholics well know we should not disturb a Mass. But it was spontaneous as we were very disappointed and angry at the archbishop who has tried to conceal the truth," one of them told UCA News.

He said the council issued "an appeal to parishioners" on July 23, saying that Father Shin, along with a parish official, had misappropriated money in connection with several repair and remodeling contracts on church buildings.

But the archbishop still insists on defending Father Shin and is not listening to the parishioners, the council member stated.

The member, who requested anonymity, said the archbishop had rejected their requests for dialogue as well as the financial report of a certified public accountant for the parish.

Another council member told UCA News that they cannot accept Father Song's enforced "vacation" because it is Father Shin who is in the wrong. "Some parishioners have been holding a sit-in outside the archdiocesan office for a week now. We will stay there until the archdiocese accepts the truth," she added.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Report Abuse or Lose job, Employees of State Warned

Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Original Article
By Mary Regan and Noel Baker

TEACHERS, gardaí, nurses and other State employees could lose their jobs if they fail to report suspicions of abuse under a range of child protection measures which Minister for Children Barry Andrews said he will take personal responsibility for implementing.

Abuse survivors warned the Government it must ensure the €25m required is made available for new plans to safeguard children, with some describing the measures as too little too late.

But Mr Andrews personally guaranteed the implementation of the recommendations in the Ryan report into clerical abuse.

The Government last night reiterated its call on religious institutions to "produce an offer of a substantial contribution by way of reparation for the suffering of children in residential institutions".

One of the 18 orders involved in the redress scheme has still not produced a statement by the Government as agreed following the publication of the report. The "adequacy" of the other 17 statements will be assessed by a three-man panel chaired by Frank Daly, former chairman of the Revenue Commissioners.

Under the 99-point plan to implement the Ryan report recommendationsannounced:

* 270 vacant social work positions will be filled in the HSE.

* All residential centres, including those for disabled children and those seeking asylum, will be independently inspected by 2010.

* A national monument will be constructed as areminder of neglect and abuse of children in institutional care, and an annual "day of atonement" will be established.

* Children First guidelines on identifying and reporting child abuse will be put on a statutory basis, meaningemployees of State-run or State-funded organisations will be legally obliged toreport abuse.

* Certificates will be provided to victims of abuse stating they do not have a criminal record arising from their referrals to institutions.

Child protection groups gave the plans a guarded welcome but said they do not go far enough and did nothing to improve vetting procedures for those working with children

Former mayor of Clonmel Michael O’Brien, who confronted the Government with an emotional outburst on RTÉ’s Questions and Answers after the Ryan report was published, told Mr Andrews: "I feel ashamed as a member of this State that something was not done years ago to protect the innocence of children."

Survivors also said the Church and State have done nothing to compensate women held in Magdalene laundries and children and teenagers detained in adult psychiatric institutions. Both of these groups were excluded from the report.

This story appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Read more:

Radical Group Claims Responsibility for Vandalism of Churches in Barcelona

Original Article

Barcelona, Spain, Jul 28, 2009 / 02:29 pm (CNA).- The group known as “La Gallinaire” has claimed responsibility for the vandalizing the walls of some 20 churches in Barcelona with slogans such as “The Church Stinks,” “Revolution,” and “Stop Clerical Sex Abuse.”

The radical group released a statement on Sunday claiming responsibility for the vandalism and saying their actions were part of the “continuing struggle” which began with what is known in Spain as the “Tragic Week” of 1909.

The Archdiocese of Barcelona lamented recent acts of vandalism and recalled that the right to freedom of religion and worship is a fundamental right protected by the Spanish Constitution.

Police are investigating the incidents but no arrests have been made as of yet.

In July of 1909 protests erupted in Barcelona and the surrounding cities over the government’s plan to call up reservists for Spain’s military conflict in Morocco, resulting in dozens of deaths and church burnings. The clashes between the mainly blue collar workers and the army were fomented by several socialist and anarchist groups.

Sinners Have Shamed Land of Saints and Scholars

By Aine Kerr
Original Article
Wednesday July 29 2009

THE world no longer sees Ireland as the land of saints and scholars.

It was a simple summation of the impact of the Ryan report, and it stood out amid the angry outpourings from the victims of clerical abuse yesterday. Their anger has not diminished since the report shone its light onto the litany of abuse they endured as children.

With quivering lips and breathless hoarseness, the victims yesterday gave the Government another honest and stark appraisal of the terrible wrongs which can never be amended.

Michael O'Brien, whose previous contribution on RTE's 'Questions and Answers' opened the dams of pent-up frustration and anguish, told of the television interviews he has conducted worldwide since that moment of catharsis.

We are no longer the island of saints and scholars in the eyes of the international community, he said. "I had to bear my soul on 'Questions and Answers'. The Taoiseach's office was opened immediately. Everything else is happening immediately. Let it be done and let us get it over with," he told the Children's Minister Barry Andrews in Government Buildings yesterday.

"The ball is in your court, minister. It's up to you to grab that ball. I want you to run with it and make sure that when you get to the goal posts, that you score."

Every speaker who took the microphone was equally emphatic. All had advice for the minister, solutions to the problems, and alternatives to the Government's proposals. Of primary concern to John Kelly, of Irish Survivors of Child Abuse, was the failure of the religious orders to dole out more money in compensation to victims and share the financial burden equally with the State.

"It would appear they are dragging their feet. We feel the Government needs to put more pressure on them to come up with a figure," he said. "There isn't any point in the Taoiseach being in office if he's not in power. He needs to have the power to say to the religious that criminal acts will go before the judicial system."

At times yesterday, however, an impatient friction between the various campaign groups erupted.

Some, such as Paddy Doyle, who wrote 'The God Squad', turned to accusing the others of having "no mandate" to speak on behalf of victims.

"Many people here are setting themselves up as spokespersons but they don't have a mandate...when you're meeting with them, minister, you need to be asking them: 'Who are you? Who are your members? When did you last hold a meeting?" he said.

Michael Waters told Mr Andrews that sometimes people listen but don't actually hear anything.

"There is no such thing as a bad child," he said to applause from fellow campaigners.

Each time he was invited to respond to their angry but yet measured contributions, Mr Andrews spoke in soft, solemn tones, agreeing with some of their points but still hammering home the Government's proposed direction, saying at the conclusion: "I believe we have come a long way. I think we have to accept there is a sea change ... .and the deference that was at the core of the problem is no longer there, the deference to the State, the deference to religious institutions. That undue deference is no longer there."

- Aine Kerr

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Not Over for ‘Lewd’ Priest

Original article
Cebu Daily News

First Posted 10:23:00 07/28/2009
A catholic priest who was earlier accused of inappropriately touching young female students during a religious school activity is not off the hook yet.

The seven students whose case was earlier dropped by the Department of Justice (DOJ) have decided to file a motion for reconsideration contesting the resolution of Acting Justice Secretary Agnes Devenadera, who earlier cleared Fr. Benedicto Ejares of acts of lasciviousness charges.

“The DOJ should have considered the effect of the incident to the victims, not on the accused,” said lawyer Gerardo Carillo, the girls' counsel.

Carillo said he was in the final stages of preparing the motion for reconsideration.

The seven girls, all students of the Abellana National School in Cebu City, maintained that the priest stroked their arms, backs and toyed with their bra straps while he heard their confessions during a Life in the Spirit seminar on Nov. 14, 2006 at the Cebu City Sports Center.

In his counter-affidavit, Ejares said he never “sexually abused” the complainants, and that his actions during the confession were intended to make the students feel at ease.

After a preliminary investigation, the investigating prosecutor recommended that that the seven acts of lasciviousness charges against Ejares be dropped for lack of evidence. Instead, prosecutors recommended charging the priest with seven counts of unjust vexation.

The DOJ reversed the recommendation of the prosecutor, but cited that the allowed time between the commission of the offense and the filing of charges had already prescribed, resulting in the charges being dropped.

Carillo earlier said that the priest's alleged offense caused long-term trauma on the victims, which should be given consideration. /Reporter Ador Vincent Mayol

Monday, July 27, 2009

Medjugorje Priest, Under Investigation, Defrocked

Priest, investigated by Vatican, chose to leave order and priesthood
Original article

MONDAY, JULY 27, 2009
Pope Benedict XVI has defrocked a priest at the center of alleged apparitions at the Bosnian town of Medjugorje, according to a report by the Catholic News Agency.

Fr. Tomislav Vladic reportedly decided to leave the priesthood and his religious order during an ongoing investigation of his role in the claims of apparitions, including an accusation of sexual misconduct for getting a nun pregnant.

Fr. Vladic was at odds with the Vatican and the local bishop of Medjugorje when he predicted that the Virgin Mary would appear in Bosnia. In 1981, the apparitions allegedly began, and the local bishop accused him of fabricating the phenomenon. Fr. Vladic claimed to be the spiritual advisor of six local children who claimed to be receiving the visions. They now allege that the Virgin Mary has visited them 40,000 times in the past 28 years.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith suspended Fr. Vladic last year, after three separate investigations of the visionaries’ claims failed to turn up any evidence supporting an apparition.

Despite condemnation from the local bishop, Medjugorje has attracted an estimated 30 million pilgrims. Some Catholics had hoped that the Vatican would override the local bishop to legitimize the apparitions.

Bishops in Dublin Protect Priests Accused of Child Abuse

Monday, July 27th, 2009
Original article

The new report on clerical child abuse in the Irish capital of Dublin contains allegations that certain priests were moved from parish to parish to protect them from the law.

Officials at the Irish Department of Justice say they have been shocked by findings in the report, which was submitted by the Dublin Diocese Commission, on how the Catholic Church in Dublin handled the claims.

The report, which was commissioned in 2006, is forthright with its findings and describes how certain priests were moved from one parish to another in an effort to keep them one step ahead of the law.

Submitted to the Minister of Justice, Dermot Ahern, last week, the report has no confirmed publication date, as two priests named in the document are to be prosecuted for child abuse offenses, and the Attorney General is looking into the legal ramifications of publication.

Archbishop of Dublin Dr. Diarmuid Martin has said that people will be horrified by the report, which looks at 46 cases of alleged abuse since 1940 and the way which the heads of the Church in Dublin managed them.

The report covers the period from when Archbishop John Charles McQuaid ministered the community right up to Cardinal Desmond Connell.

Last year, Cardinal Connell tried to stop Archbishop Martin providing “privileged documents” to the Commission, but he subsequently decided to not pursue this objection.

500 Irish Priests 'Having Regular sex With Women'

By Tom Peterkin, Ireland Correspondent Last Updated: 12:51AM GMT 22 Jan 2006

At least 500 women in Ireland are conducting clandestine affairs with Roman Catholic priests, according to the leader of a support group set up to look after those in forbidden relationships.

An indication of the extent of illicit sexual relationships within the church was given after it was disclosed that Fr Maurice "Mossy" Dillane, 73, had fathered a child with his 31-year-old girlfriend.

Pedophile Priest Terrence Melville Pidoto Refused Appeal Request

Original article

July 27, 2009 04:18pm

A PRIEST jailed for more than seven years for raping and sexually abusing four boys has been refused leave to appeal his convictions.

A Victorian County Court jury in 2007 found Catholic priest Terrence Melville Pidoto guilty of 11 charges including rape and indecently assaulting a child under 16.

He was jailed later that year for seven years and three months, and ordered to serve a minimum of five years before being eligible for parole.

Today, the Court of Appeal refused him leave to appeal his convictions.

His lawyers had argued the judge made errors during his trial.

But Justices Peter Buchanan, Frank Vincent and Julie Dodds-Streeton said the trial judge had acted appropriately.

“We are far from persuaded that any of the verdicts could be regarded as unreasonable,'' they said in their judgment.

Pidoto was ordained in 1971 aged 26 and began his sordid sex activity just a year later, the jury heard during his trial.

They heard he took one 14-year-old boy to the Corpus Christi seminary, in Melbourne's east, where he raped and abused him on several occasions between 1972 and 1973.

Assaults on two 15-year-old boys occurred at St Clare's Catholic parish in Box Hill in 1978 and 1979, while Pidoto was an assistant parish priest.

A 12-year-old boy became Pidoto's fourth victim after the priest officiated at the boy's sister's wedding.

Pidoto had denied all charges.

Priest Facing sex Allegations

Original article
The Archdiocese of Boston has barred a Brazilian priest from performing public ministry following allegations against him of “adult sexual misconduct,’’ church officials said yesterday in a statement.

The Rev. Pedro J. Damázio had been serving as parochial vicar of St. Anthony of Padua in Cambridge and has also served the immigrant Brazilian community throughout the Archdiocese of Boston for more than 10 years, said Kelly Lynch, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese. Lynch said she could not give any details about the timing, nature, or source of the allegations against Damázio. Law enforcement officials are investigating the matter and the archdiocese has also begun an internal investigation, Lynch said.

The archdiocese said it has informed Damázio’s home diocese in Santa Catarina, Brazil, of the allegations. “The decision to suspend Father Damázio’s faculties represents the archdiocese’s commitment to the safety of all parties and does not represent a determination of Father Damázio’s guilt or innocence as it pertains to these allegations,’’ the statement said.

O Globo, a major newspaper in Brazil, reported that Damázio received a letter dated July 10 from the archdiocese informing him that he had been accused of improper behavior. The paper also reported that he returned to Brazil on July 12, because he wanted to be the first to give the news to his mother.

In an e-mail to a supporter dated July 16, Damázio defended his long record as a priest who worked to draw thousands of Brazilian immigrants into the archdiocese. (The e-mail, obtained by the Globe, was written in Portuguese and its contents have been translated.) “I ask for forgiveness from friends and people who have been or could be affected by this situation,’’ Damázio wrote. “At the same time, I am not going to dismiss the 13 years of work that I did with so much affection with all the immigrants, adults, youths, old people, and children in the Archdiocese of Boston.’’

He wrote that he arrived in Boston in March 1997 and struggled to adapt to life here, even as he helped other immigrants find work, housing, and information. He said he has been a priest for 25 years, served the Massachusetts area for nearly 13 years, and had never been censured in all that time. While he did not rebut the allegations in the e-mail, he wrote that he thought the accusations, which surfaced as he returned from a vacation to visit his sick 86-year old mother in Brazil, were strange, given his record.

Members of the Brazilian community interviewed yesterday said they were surprised and saddened to hear about the allegations.

“I know he was respected in the community,’’ said Heloisa M. Galvão, president of the Allston-based Brazilian Women’s Group, who remembered first meeting Damázio more than 10 years ago. Galvão, a Catholic who did not attend Damázio’s church, said she would call him for information about the Brazilian diaspora.

Francisco Carvalho of Tyngsborough, a community activist in Lowell who had not heard about the allegations until told about them by a reporter, said he had held Damázio in high regard. Carvalho, who conferred with the priest on fund-raisers and social events for the community, said: “It is shocking. It causes a lot of hurt within the community, and it takes time to heal, especially if it’s someone who is trusted,’’ he said. “Until proven differently, I still think he is a nice guy.’’

Ilma Paixao, a Brazilian fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who knew Damázio well, said the priest often made jokes but tended not to “watch his words very carefully.’’

“He would use his words freely. A lot of times those words can get misunderstood,’’ she said.

“I would like to know the facts before we make a lot of judgments,’’ she said.

By Nandini Jayakrishna and Maria Sacchetti, Globe Correspondent Globe Staff

© Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

Priest set to be Arraigned Today on Child-Abuse Charges

Denis Lyons will be arraigned Wednesday on charges of molesting boy in church's rectory and sacristy in 1990s.


SANTA ANA -- A retired priest with a history of abuse allegations is behind bars today on new charges that he molested a young boy in the rectory and sacristy of a Costa Mesa church in the 1990s.

Denis Lyons, 75, of Seal Beach is being held on $100,000 bail at Orange County Jail and is expected to be arraigned today on charges of molesting the victim when he was in second and third grade from January 1992 and December 1995 at St. John the Baptist Catholic School, according to the Orange County District Attorney's office.

Lyons assaulted the boy four times in the school's adjoining church, prosecutors said.

Lyons – who was removed from ministry in 2002 -- was taken into custody while playing cards at a community center near his Seal Beach home Monday, prosecutors said.

He has been charged with four felony counts of lewd conduct with a child younger than 14, along with a sentencing enhancement of committing substantial sexual conduct. If convicted of the charges, Lyons faces 14 years in prison.

Lyons has been criminally charged with molestation in the past.

In 2003, he was charged with molesting another male youth between 1978 and 1981 at St. John the Baptist. Prosecutors also accused him of assaulting two other male victims to corroborate that case.

But those charges had to be dismissed because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that invalidated prosecutions of some older sex crimes.

"Our community has waited a long time for justice as to this defendant," said Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas at a news conference this morning.

Lyons, who now resides in the retirement community of Leisure World in Seal Beach, was pastor at St. John's when, in 1993, he admitted to inappropriate behavior with two adults in 1979.

The Diocese of Orange placed him into counseling, but then placed on administrative leave from the diocese in 2002 – when he was assigned to St. Edward Church in Dana Point. He was removed from ministry that year.

The priest has been a financial liability to diocese, which has paid out more than $4 million in settlements of sex-abuse claims since 2001.

The most recent settlement came in February, when the diocese settled a lawsuit brought by Jonathan Kirrer, 24, of Fountain Valley for an undisclosed amount.

Kirrer, a student at St. John the Baptist, alleged he was abused in 1994 and 1995. Kirrer claimed that Lyons abused him four times – twice in the parish rectory and twice in the church's sacristy.

He reported the abuse to Costa Mesa police soon after filing the lawsuit in March 2008. Lyons denied the allegations.

Prosecutors and Kirrer's lawyer, V. James DeSimone would not comment on whether Kirrer was the victim in this case. Typically, alleged victims in criminal cases remain anonymous unless they otherwise choose to identify themselves.

DeSimone commended prosecutors for bringing charges against Lyons, and also criticized the diocese for not removing Lyons from ministry sooner.

"There are many victims who have brought forth allegations against Father Lyons,'' DeSimone said.

He mentioned the case of Karl Romahn, a former Navy Seal who accused Lyons of molesting him and his brother in 1979.

Romahn came forward in 1994 and told Msg. John Urell of the allegations, DeSimone said.

The diocese ended up settling that lawsuit, he added.

"The diocese had credible allegations brought by two brothers who wanted nothing more than for Father Lyons not to harm other children,'' DeSimone said. "Several individuals could have been saved from having to go through what they did but the diocese turned a blind eye toward those allegations."

Ryan Lilyengren, a spokesman for the diocese, said today that Lyons "was removed from ministry April 24, 2002 and was committed to a life of prayer and penance. Rev. Lyons has not been permitted to return to ministry or the Diocese of Orange in any public capacity since his removal."

He added that the diocese cooperated with authorities in the investigation.

"We remain committed to ensuring the events of the past are never repeated and encourage all to pray for the victims of sexual abuse and their families,'' he said.

Lyons' three lawyers who handled the Kirrer lawsuit could not be reached.

Authorities ask other potential victims of Lyons to call them at: 714-754-5360 or 714-347-8558.

Ireland Braces Itself for Another Report on Clerical Child Abuse

Original article

A report into clerical child abuse in Dublin released later today will “shock and horrify” the whole of Ireland, a leading figure in the Catholic church has admitted.

The Dublin Diocese Commission will name up to 15 priests they say were guilty of abusing children in the Irish capital over a 35-year-period.

Up to 450 victims have also been identified by the commission which will present the report to the Irish justice minister Dermot Ahern.

The Irish government now has to decide whether it should publicly name the clergy identified in the report.

“The report will shock and horrify Ireland,” according to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, who played a key role in setting up the investigation and is seen by the Vatican as someone determined to reform the image of the Catholic church in Ireland.

It will name 15 priests, 11 of whom have been convicted through the Irish courts and four who are already well known.

The report was established in March 2006 and examined child sex abuse allegations against 46 priests and how each case was handled by 19 Dublin bishops between 1975 and 2004.

Part of the report will heavily criticise a so-called power culture among the Dublin bishops who have been accused of not taking the allegations seriously.

Ahern is understood to be preparing to hand over the report to the Republic’s attorney general for legal advice.

The report deals with three men currently facing court cases and in two instances these men have served sentences in connection with child abuse, while a third has pleaded guilty to the latest charges against him. The men are not likely to go on trial until April next year.

In order to avoid prejudicing the cases the attorney general Paul Gallagher may publish the report but give the three men in question pseudonyms.

Of the 19 bishops investigated in the report, seven are deceased.

Release Date of Abuse Report is Delayed

26 July 2009
Original article
By John Burke
The report into clerical sex abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese will not be published before the end of August at the earliest, The Sunday Business Post has learned.

The report is understood to detail the widespread cover-up of child abuse in the archdiocese, with a number of abusers moved from one ministry to another after church figures were informed of complaints by parents and victims.

However, it is understood that the Commission of Investigation was surprised by the relatively small number of people who presented themselves for interview to the inquiry team during its investigations.

One source who has viewed sections of the report in a preliminary form described it as ‘‘harrowing’’, but said it was unlikely to have the same impact on the public as the Ryan report into clerical abuse in industrial schools and detention centres.

The inquiry team, headed by Judge Yvonne Murphy, sent copies of the report to Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern, Attorney General Paul Gallagher and Minister for Children Barry Andrews last week.

Ahern will not decide what action he may take in relation to publishing the report until he receives advice from Gallagher.

Two advocacy groups, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and One In Four, have written to Ahern asking him to delay publication of the report due to the pressure on their help services following the release of the Ryan report.

The Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation was set up in March 2006. It has investigated how child sex abuse allegations against a representative sample of 46 priests were handled by 19 bishops in Dublin between January 1, 1975, and April 30, 2004.

The report contains separate chapters on each of the 46 clerics. Three chapters of the report relate to three clerics against whom criminal charges have been brought recently.

The three criminal cases are not expected to be concluded before early next year.

Among the government’s options are to obscure the names of the clerics and their parishes; to give them pseudonyms; or to publish 43 chapters of the report and delay the final three for later publication after the men’s cases have been processed through the courts.

Ahern has said he is anxious that the matters dealt with in the report ‘‘are put into the public domain as quickly as possible’’.

PMO Looking into CBI's 'Vulgar' Language Against nun: Brinda Karat

First Published: 19:34 IST(25/7/2009)
Last Updated: 19:37 IST(25/7/2009)
Original Article
Indo-Asian News Service

The Prime Minister's Office has taken serious note of the "vulgar" language used by the CBI to describe a woman accused in the murder of a Kerala nun, said CPM leader Brinda Karat.

Karat, who wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday urging that all probe agencies be asked to maintain minimum standards of respect to the dignity of women, said: "I followed up the matter. I spoke to Prithviraj Chavan (Minister of State in the PMO). He told me they are looking into it."

"Usually, the PM doesn't reply as he is very busy with other administrative matters," Karat told IANS.

"The language used in the CBI charge sheet against an accused, Sister Sephy, is obscene, vulgar, unscientific," Karat had said in a letter to the Prime Minister.

In its charge sheet filed last week in a Kochi court in the 1992 murder case of the Catholic nun, Sister Abhaya, the premier investigation agency said Abhaya had discovered Sister Sephy, an accused, in "suspicious circumstances" along with two Catholic priests, who are the other accused.

Fearing that Abhaya would "reveal" the incident to others, the accused hit her with a blunt object and after she fell unconscious threw her into a well in Kottayam. Her body was found later, says the CBI charge sheet.

Sister Sephy was subjected to medical examination by the CBI at T.D. Medical College, Alappuzha, to ascertain whether she was a virgin. The CBI used objectionable language in its report to describe her.

New 'Shock' Report into Church Sex Abuse

July 21, 2009
Original Article
Article from: Agence France-Presse

A SHOCKING new report has identified hundreds of victims of child sex abuse by Irish Catholic priests, officials and clerics say, two months after a landmark study found "endemic" mistreatment.

A Government-appointed commission of investigation headed by a judge has been probing allegations of abuse by priests in the archdiocese of Dublin - the country's biggest - since March 2006.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has warned that the report - being presented to Justice Minister Dermot Ahern on Tuesday - would "shock us all".

It is the first time the state has investigated how the once-powerful Church in mainly Catholic Ireland has run its affairs.

It probed whether the Church reported abuse allegations or attempted to "obstruct, prevent or interfere with the proper investigation" of complaints.

A spokeswoman for the archdiocese said the Church authorities had identified between 400 and 450 people that allege they were abused by one of 152 Dublin priests since 1940.

"I would like to stress that that is a very conservative estimate and is likely to rise," she said.

It is not yet clear when the report will be published. "The minister will refer the report to the Attorney General Paul Gallagher to see how best to proceed," the justice spokesman said.

In May Ireland was rocked by a landmark report that concluded sexual, physical and emotional abuse was "endemic" in Church-run industrial and reformatory schools, orphanages and other childcare institutions dating back to the 1930s.

Prime Minister Brian Cowen said it contained a "shattering litany of abuse of children in care in this country over many decades".

He told Parliament the report was the gravest in the history of the country and contained "such horrific stories that it is difficult to know where to begin in talking about it".

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Pope Deprived of the Dignity of the Priest- Pedophile

23.07.2009. 17:01
Original Article

The Pope Benedict XVI deprived of the dignity of 71- summer German priest- pedophile from the Catholic order of " Missionaries of saint ofsemeystva". Against it was not excited criminal case because of the time expiration of remoteness. In the 70's the priest worked as educator in the Catholic boarding school and raped 16 pupils.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ireland Braces for new 'Horrifying' Child Abuse Report

Published Tuesday, July 21, 2009, 9:10 AM
Updated Tuesday, July 21, 2009, 11:44 AM

Original Article

Report names priests and focuses on 'culture of power' among bishops

Ireland was today bracing for a new "shocking and horrifying" report into clerical child abuse.

Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin - who is trying to reform the Irish church - said the report would name up to 15 priests who abused at least 450 children over a 35-year period in Dublin.

In addition, the report will also reveal - in detail - how Irish church authorities responded to the original allegations.

Archbishop Martin said the report from the Dublin Diocese Commission will "shock and horrify" the whole of Ireland.

Eleven of the 15 priests have already been convicted while the other four are said to be well-known, with three of those men already before the courts.

The report was set up in March 2006 to examine the allegations of child sex abuse against 46 priests in a massive file dating back to 1940.

The report also examined how the church handled the priests who served under a succession of Archbishops from John Charles McQuaid to Cardinal Desmond Connell.

Last year, Cardinal Connell attempted to prevent Archbishop Martin from handing over what he called "privileged documents" to the Commission. Connell later withdrew his challenge.

The report is damning about a "power culture" among 19 bishops who were accused of not taking the allegations seriously. The 19 bishops include four archbishops of Dublin; Most Rev John Charles McQuaid, Most Rev Dermot Ryan, Most Rev Kevin McNamara and Cardinal Desmond Connell.

The other bishops include Bishop Joseph Carroll (deceased), Bishop Brendan Comiskey (resigned as Bishop of Ferns in 2002), Bishop Martin Drennan (Bishop of Galway), Bishop Patrick Dunne (deceased), Bishop Ray Field (auxiliary Bishop in Dublin) and Bishop Laurence Forristal (Bishop of Ossory to 2007), Bishop James Kavanagh (deceased), Bishop Jim Moriarty (Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin), Bishop Donal Murray (Bishop of Limerick), Bishop Dermot O'Mahony (retired), Bishop Fiachra Ni Ceallaigh (auxiliary bishop in Dublin), Bishop Eamonn Walsh (auxiliary bishop in Dublin and apostolic administrator to Ferns from April 2002 to April 2006) and Bishop Desmond Williams (deceased).

Ireland's Justice Minister Dermot Ahern is expected to hand over the report to the Irish attorney general Paul Gallagher for legal advice.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Former British Priest John Mountford Murdered Amid Child Abuse Claims

July 21, 2009
From Times Online
(Chaiwat Subprasom/Reuters)
John Mountford said he was being blackmailed

A British former priest has been founded murdered in Libya after telling friends that he was being blackmailed over claims that he had sexually abused children.

John Mountford, 53, is reported to have been stabbed to death shortly after returning to Tripoli, where he was teaching English at a school for the children of foreign oil workers.

The former Anglican chaplain at The Blue Coat School in Edgbaston, Birmingham, told friends that he had been threatened by people preparing to reveal that he had been accused of abusing a boy at a leading Australian private school. They had also threatened to spread allegations that he was sexually assaulting children in Libya.

Mr Mountford’s employers reported him missing to the British Embassy in Tripoli on Thursday last week soon after he returned from visiting relatives in Britain. The Foreign Office was informed last night that his body had been found.

Mr Mountford moved to Libya two years ago after the collapse of a prosecution for sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy at St Peter’s College in Adelaide, where he was chaplain, in 1991 and 1992.

The charges were withdrawn days before the start of his trial in August 2007 after his accuser, David Martin, claimed that he had been intimidated by private detectives working for the defence and attempted to kill himself. Mr Martin is reported to have a received a record $A500,000 (£248,000) compensation in an out-of-court deal in February.

After the settlement Mr Mountford e-mailed an Australian newspaper to insist that he was innocent.

Mr Martin’s lawyer, Peter Humphries, said today said that the news of Mr Mountford’s death had brought no joy.

“There is, however, a sense of considerable relief that the events that have caused the family such distress over the years can finally be put behind them,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Mr Mountford was attached to The Blue Coat School from 1987 until he left for Australia in 1990. The co-educational boarding and day prep school has 550 pupils aged 2 to 11.

The abuse claim had received widespread coverage in Australia after allegations that a senior figure in the Anglican church had advised Mr Mountford to leave the country to avoid prosecution.

The Archbishop of Adelaide, the Most Rev Ian George, resigned in June 2005 after being discredited by an inquiry he had initiated into the church’s handling of allegations of sexual abuse.

After fleeing Australia in 1992, Mr Mountford went to Indonesia, before moving to Thailand, where he worked at the Harrow International School in Bangkok, which is linked to the British public school of the same name, from 1998 to 2002.

He was extradited from Thailand to Australia in 2004 to face five charges of indecent assault, two of procuring the commission of an act of gross indecency and one of unlawful sexual intercourse.

The current Archbishop of Adelaide, the Most Rev Jeffrey Driver, said the church was trying to confirm reports that Mr Mountford had been found dead in his apartment at the weekend.

“If they are true then for Mr Mountford’s family and friends there is a great shock, but at the same time I would want to recognise that perhaps for some in the community these reports will bring some mixed emotions,” he told ABC.

Philip Grutzner, principal of St Peter’s College, said: “The school is obviously most concerned about the murder of anyone; it’s such a tragic event. We are also very concerned about people who have been affected by this event and events associated with Mr Mountford over the past 17 years.”

Mr Mountford had lived openly at St Peter’s College with an Indonesian boyfriend he had brought back from a holiday on Bali and who was also accused of a “sustained sexual assault” on Mr Martin.

Ireland: Report Shows `Horrific Acts of Depravity'

7/21/2009– 2 hours ago
Original Article


DUBLIN — A new report by investigators into the Catholic Church's cover-up of child abuse in Dublin details "horrific acts of depravity" that went for decades without prosecution, Ireland's justice minister said Tuesday.

The report to Justice Minister Dermot Ahern comes two months after publication of an even bigger investigation into how scores of church-run schools, orphanages and reformatories harbored child abusers in religious orders from the 1930s to 1990s.

Irish taxpayers have already paid out nearly euro1 billion ($1.4 billion) to more than 12,000 victims from that system.

Ahern said he would publish the new report, which probes how the Dublin archdiocese's bishops dealt with scores of priests accused of child abuse from 1975 to 2004, after Attorney General Paul Gallagher vets it for legal problems.

The justice minister suggested that the government might be advised to censor details involving criminal cases against three Catholic priests expected to face trial in Dublin next year. The Justice Department said the review could take several weeks.

"I am anxious that the matters dealt with in the report are put into the public domain as quickly as possible," Ahern said.

The Dublin report took three years to produce under the direction of a Dublin High Court judge, Justice Yvonne Murphy.

It covers the cases of 46 priests implicated in abusing hundreds of children — and, in almost all cases, being transferred to new parishes by bishops who didn't tell police or other child-protection authorities about the crimes or dangers. The 46 cases were drawn from a much larger pool of priests suspected of harming children.

Several of the cases are already well known to the Irish public, thanks in part to a former altar boy, Andrew Madden, who in the early 1990s became the first abuse victim to sue the church in Dublin for protecting sex-abuser priests. The Dublin archdiocese paid him a confidential out-of-court settlement — but he went public with the deal after church leaders claimed they had admitted no wrongdoing in his case.

The priest who raped Madden, Ivan Payne, was convicted in 1998 of raping at least eight boys and removed from the priesthood.

Madden predicted that the Dublin report would fire a new wave of anger at the church.

"The thing that will really shock people this time is simply seeing how many senior church people in Dublin knew exactly what was going on," he said in an interview. "They had so much evidence of the dangers these priests were posing to children, but they just kept moving them on to new parishes."

In Madden's case, the priest who sodomized him was sent to a different part of Dublin — where he was placed in charge of that parish's altar boys.

Catholic abuse scandals have done exceptional damage to the church's standing in Ireland, a once-devout nation where Mass attendance has slumped over the past two decades.

On the Net:
Dublin abuse commission,:

Former St Peter's College Chaplain John Mountford Murdered

July 22, 2009 12:01am
Original Article

DISGRACED Anglican priest John Mountford gave a thumbs up and a smug smile as he left Australia in August 2007 after child-sex charges against him were dropped.

The controversial former St Peter's College chaplain might have escaped justice in the courts but could not flee his final shocking ordeal – found murdered in his home in the Libyan capital of Tripoli with a knife lodged in his back.

Libyan police broke into Mountford's apartment after the British citizen failed to show up for work at a school where he taught English to oil workers.

The family of one of Mountford's victims yesterday said they took no joy in the alleged child molester's murder but hoped his death could help bring a close to their 17-year ordeal.

Mountford's murder culminated a life plagued by persistent allegations that he molested the very boys he was trusted to foster and care for – claims Mountford continued to vehemently deny.

The family of David Martin – the man Mountford, 52, allegedly abused in the early 1990s – yesterday said news of his death would not erase the irreparable damage the Anglican priest had inflicted.

"None of this really relieves all the nightmares that David continues to have . . . I don't know if ever he will be the same," Mr Martin's mother, Jan, told The Advertiser.

"Only families who have been through this will understand what we have been through and continue to go through." Mountford's appointment as chaplain at St Peter's College was clouded by allegations of impropriety from the outset.

In 1990, former St Peter's headmaster Tony Shinkfield received a letter from then Anglican archbishop of Adelaide, the reverend Keith Rayner, warning the school that Mountford allegedly had wanted to show pornographic movies to students at a Papua New Guinea college where he was teaching.

After Mountford wrote a letter assuring Dr Shinkfield the allegation was "totally untrue", the principal wrote back saying he was welcome to teach at the elite private school.

"In a way it was just as well that these silly accusations were completely cleared before you came here, I am only sorry that they ever hit the light of day," Dr Shinkfield's letter said.

More than a decade later, Mountford's alleged abuse and his subsequent departure from the country would lead to the resignation of Anglican Archbishop of Adelaide Ian George.

He resigned after weeks of public pressure over allegations he had spoken to Mountford shortly before he left the country for Thailand in June 1992 – a day after he allegedly admitted trying to have sex with a Year 10 boarder in his house on the school grounds, which he shared with a Balinese "man servant".

Mountford's sudden departure coincided with Mr Martin being admitted to a psychiatric hospital because of the persistent abuse he claimed to have suffered.

In official statements, Mr Martin said he began to collapse at school because of the continued abuse and took to stealing from city department stores and spent three months in Fullarton Private Hospital when he was 15.

While at the time Mr Martin regarded Mountford as a "special" person in his life, he came to believe "Reverend Mountford destroyed my life by abusing me".

"I was a young boy and he was an adult . . . and he should have known what he was doing was illegal."

In January last year, Mr Martin was awarded an out-of-court civil settlement of more than $500,000 after he sued St Peter's College for failing to act on allegations against Mountford and for failing to provide a safe school environment.

Mountford was defiant as he left Australia in August 2007, after the Director of Public Prosecutions dropped the charges because Mr Martin was psychologically and physically unable to continue with the prosecution.

Moments before flying out of Adelaide Airport Mountford said: "How would you feel? Relieved to be leaving and going back to my family but angry that I haven't been given the opportunity to demonstrate my innocence of these dreadful allegations with hard evidence."

St Peter's College headmaster Philip Grutzner yesterday said the school was "most disappointed" that the criminal charges were dropped.

"The school will continue to extend its care to any member of our school community who has been affected by the events surrounding Mr Mountford and encourages those affected to come forward so the school can assist them," Mr Grutzner said.

Premier Mike Rann yesterday said Mountford had brought "disgrace" upon himself, his profession and the church.

Libyan police said robbery did not appear to be a motive in the murder of Mountford, who was still on an Interpol watchlist for suspicions of child abuse.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Catholic Priest Faces six More Sexual Assault Charges

Original article

More charges have been laid against a Catholic priest, accused of sexually assaulting young boys in the Newcastle area between 1980 and 1991.

The 47-year-old man from Raymond Terrace was arrested last Thursday as part of Strike Force Georgiana, which is investigating individuals over the sexual assault of young boys in the Newcastle area in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

He was charged with six offences and now faces 19 charges, which allegedly took place at Maitland, Muswellbrook, Cessnock and Windale.

He was released on conditional bail and will appear in Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday.

Catholic Clergy Braced for Fallout From Abuse Report

Original article

CATHOLIC clergy are preparing for an onslaught of criticism in the long-awaited report on the hierarchy's handling of paedophile priests, due to be given to the government this week.

The report will scrutinise how some of the country's most senior prelates handled child abuse allegations. It may be some time before it is published as the Minister for Justice, Dermot Ahern, is expected to refer the 1,000-page document to the attorney general for legal advice because criminal proceedings are in train against three priests.

The contents have already been described as 'shocking' by the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, who has warned priests and parishioners to expect the worst.

Clergy are preparing for the fall-out by ensuring that child protection officers are working in every parish, while circulating special prayers throughout the diocese.

Fr Joseph Mullen, chairman of the Council of Priests, which advises the archbishop, said parishes are working to ensure the responses are in place to deal with the hurt, vulnerability and anger that may follow.

"What we know and what we have communicated to priests is that heinous crimes have been committed against children by priests in the archdiocese. We must seek to uncover and know the truth," he said. Senior clergy have repeatedly been accused of failing to report paedophile priests to the Garda, moving them from parish to parish, and often encouraging victims and their parents to keep matters quiet.

The Government set up a state inquiry, led by Judge Yvonne Murphy, as a result of the lack of confidence in the hierarchy's handling of complaints against priests.

Archbishop Martin has already disclosed from diocesan records that about 400 children were abused by 152 priests since 1940.

The inquiry examined a representative sample of 46 priests reported for sexual abuse to the Catholic authorities over 24 years up to 2004.

Most attention will focus on Cardinal Desmond Connell, who was archbishop of Dublin from 1988 to 2004, along with his predecessors, Dr Dermot Ryan, and Dr Kevin McNamara.The former chancellor of the archdiocese, Monsignor Alex Stenson, was also a key figure in the diocese. He dealt with the vast majority of complaints that came to the diocese.

It is understood that his notes and records of interviews with suspected abusers and their victims made up a large part of the 65,000 diocesan documents that Archbishop Martin released to the commission of inquiry last year.

Cardinal Connell contested the release of some of the documents in a High Court action which he later withdrew.

Cardinal Connell has been publicly accused in the past of failing to report suspect priests to gardai after allegations against them were made.

In 1996, Cardinal Connell refused to confirm to gardai a priest's admission to a dioscesan official that he had abused a Dublin woman, Marie Collins. The official was Monsignor Stenson.

Archbishop Kevin McNamara insured the archdiocese to protect its finances from claims from people who had been abused by priests.

But he did not reveal the scale of clerical sex abuse to the authorities.

Support groups believe that victims of clerical abuse in the Dublin archdiocese were slow to come forward to the Commission.

Maeve Lewis, director of One in Four, has asked for publication to be delayed so that more resources are put in place to deal with the expected upsurge in calls.


A Secret Shame: Inside the Latest Scandal to Rock the Catholic Church

Original article

When Todd Carpunky was 16, he joined the Legion of Christ. I his six years with the Catholic order, he bore witness to a culture of sexual abuse that rocked the Church. Here, he talks candidly to Peter Stanford about the secretive world created by the order's founder while the papal authorities looked the other way

Carpunky says: 'I thought he was looking into my soul. Now I think he was checking me out'


Carpunky says: 'I thought he was looking into my soul. Now I think he was checking me out'

The papal plane is heading for Mexico and John Paul II is busy preparing for the first of his many overseas trips. It is January 1979. At his right hand, briefing him, is the Mexican-born Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the ultraconservative Legion of Christ, one of the youngest but fastest-growing religious orders in the Catholic Church. This dapper, well-connected priest, worshipped by his adoring followers as "Nuestro Padre" ("Our Father") shares with the Polish pontiff a conviction that the liberal reform of Catholicism in the 1960s needs to be halted, especially in Latin America.

That trip was the first public sign of the extraordinary bond between Maciel and the man in charge of a church of 1.2 billion souls. In the subsequent 26 years of John Paul's reign, the Legion was regularly lauded by him for its unwavering fidelity to church teaching, its intolerance of dissent, and its conviction that only Catholicism could save the world. Maciel was a prince of the Church, in the papal inner circle, sitting on the most important Vatican committees and running his own congregation of 800 priests and 2,500 seminarians, plus the 70,000 lay members of the associated Regnum Christi movement, as it spread around the globe, including a base in London.

Much has been made of the power wielded by the secretive Opus Dei under John Paul II, not least by Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code, but many Vatican-watchers believe that the Legion of Christ was bigger, richer (annual budget £435m), more influential, and even more sinister.

Parents of youngsters recruited as Legionaries described it as a cult that targeted the young and naive in particular, some of them just 13, and then "brainwashed" them. But it is Maciel himself who has proved most controversial. Nuestro Padre was, according to one biographer, "a narcissistic sociopath" with a taste for flights on Concorde and five-star hotels. He is acknowledged by the Legion to have fathered at least one child – a 23-year-old daughter said to be called Norma Hilda and now living in Madrid.

It has also been alleged that he was a paedophile. The first accusation came in 1976 from the former head of the Legion in the US. By 1998, the Vatican had received sworn statements from eight men, all detailing how Maciel had abused them when they were young recruits.

Throughout the 1990s, a series of allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests that had been covered up by the church authorities shook Catholicism in America, Canada, Australia, Ireland, the UK and other countries. At least two cardinals were forced to retire, dozens of paedophile priests were jailed for their crimes, and the Church paid out millions of pounds in compensation to victims. The damage to its reputation in the eyes of its own congregations has been huge, and bishops have struggled to convince sceptics that they have put into place procedures rigorous enough to ensure that such a betrayal never happens again.

Yet in Maciel's case, it took 30 years – until 2006, after John Paul's death – for the new pope, Benedict XVI, finally to issue a public rebuke, and then it was simply an order that he should see out his days in private prayer rather than face a court. The long delay is evidence, some have suggested, that the Vatican still does not take the issue of paedophile priests sufficiently seriously.

A year after Nuestro Padre's death in 2008, the Vatican announced an investigation into the Legion. An unnamed official told America's National Catholic Reporter newspaper that the total number of Maciel's abuse victims was "more than 20 and less than 100". As a team of cardinals opens the locked cupboards of an organisation that prided itself on secrecy – all new recruits had to take a unique private vow (abolished by Benedict in 2007) never to speak ill of the founder and to report to superiors anyone who did – the Catholic Church is once more mired in a scandal about the sexual abuse of minors, and the abuse of power.

Ex-priests and nuns are often easy to spot. It is something to do with how uneasy they look in civvies, and their reluctance, learnt in the seminary and the convent, to look anyone in the eye. But Todd Carpunky, a corporate lawyer in the City of London, gives few outward clues of his past as a Legionary of Christ when we meet in a bar near Liverpool Street station. Tall, blond and open-faced in his well-cut suit, this Illinois-born 34-year-old has an easy sense of humour, both about the world around him, and his six years in the Legion. "My grandmother raised me," he explains. "She was great, but so Catholic she makes the Pope look like the anti-Christ. The rest of my family was just nuts. I wanted to get away from them, and the Legion knew that."

Founded by the then 21-year-old Maciel in Mexico in 1941, almost four years before he was even ordained as a priest (he had been asked to leave more than one seminary), the Legion of Christ spread rapidly, supported by bishops who felt embattled by government anti-clericalism in Mexico, the result of a church-state spilt in 1917. Soon it was running schools and universities. Its militant, old-style Catholic spirituality was directed mainly at the wealthy with the result that it members were known as "the Millionaries of Christ".

By the 1950s, it had gone international with branches in Spain, Chile, Italy, Ireland and the United States. Carpunky came across one of its recruitment drives in the early 1990s via his grandmother. "They began visiting me at home and invited me on a summer programme. It was fun and my grandmother was delighted. She's still upset I'm a lawyer." He went to one of the Legion's boarding schools in Connecticut at the age of 16, seeing it as a means of escape from an unhappy home life. "Our contact with home was strictly limited, but that suited me. All our mail was reviewed. Even the Catholic newspapers were censored. They would have great holes in them where articles had been cut out. It was to protect our vocation, we were told."

Life at the school followed a strict schedule. "We'd get up early in the morning, shower with our bathing suits on, even though there were curtains, because apparently it was faster and more chaste. We slept in our swimming trunks under our pyjamas. There was meditation – usually on the writings of Nuestro Padre. It was all very regimented. We were not allowed free time. It was cult-like. Maciel played mind games."

All of this, Carpunky acknowledges, is said with the benefit of hindsight. At the time, he quickly moved into the noviciate and was sent to Spain to train as a priest. "I felt part of something. I was happy. I didn't rationalise."

What was Maciel like? "He had charisma. He told great stories. He was the great conspiracy theorist. According to him, he had left the seminaries in Mexico because he was misunderstood and was trying to save the Church. The Jesuits, he said, were very jealous of him. He used conspiracy theories to explain away all of these things. He had been persecuted because he was just too holy, too clever, too Catholic. He actually claimed never to have said no to God – which implies he never sinned."

Maciel was also, Carpunky claims, intent on controlling every aspect of the life of every Legionary. "We had a green book of rules of etiquette and social norms," he recalls. "We'd have classes about not piercing a vegetable with a fork when we were eating, or how to eat a banana with a knife and fork."

Carpunky was singled out for attention by Maciel. "When he came to Madrid, I was asked to serve his meal. I took it as a great honour. I thought he was a living saint. So when he would follow me with his eyes, I thought he was looking into my soul. Now I think he was checking me out because apparently he liked blonds."

The first major question mark was raised over Maciel's personal conduct as early as 1956, when he was suspended by the Vatican while charges that he was addicted to pain-killing drugs were investigated. Two years later, the inquiry was dropped and he was reinstated. Then, in 1976, Father Juan Vaca, who had joined the Legion as a 10-year-old in Mexico and risen to be its US director, but subsequently left to work as a priest in a Catholic diocese on Long Island in the States, formally reported Maciel to his bishop for sexually abusing him from the age of 12. This was a time before the sexual abuse of minors by priests had been exposed. In 1978, fearing that his accusations had been swept under the carpet, Vaca sent a long statement about what had happened to him direct to the Vatican, and even received an acknowledgement. And then, nothing.

In 1998, eight other former members of the Legion (one now dead) filed sexual-abuse charges against Maciel in the Vatican's Court of Canon Law, but Rome seemed to delay. It was only in 2004 that an official investigation, headed by canon lawyer Monseigneur Charles Scicluna, was set up. That led, in 2006, to the decision to discipline Maciel.

Was Carpunky sexually abused? "I am one of the few people who has been in Maciel's bedroom without... you know... because he has a bedroom in each of the Legion's houses, reserved for him. In the American house at Cheshire in Connecticut, he even had his own Mercedes reserved for him 'because of his back problems'. He always had these weird things. He could only drink Evian water. For medical reasons, he'd eat only steak or a specific type of chicken that had to be obtained from Spain. I wasn't sexually abused, though a friend of mine in seminary had been molested by a Brother in the Legion in his early teens. When the rector found out, he told Maciel, and within 24 hours that Brother was sent to Rome, where he was later ordained as a priest."

It raises the suggestion of a culture of sexual abuse inside the Legion, taking its lead from the founder and covered up by the "private vow". Carpunky is not convinced. "Maciel was a monster and others were abused, but they were more the exceptions than the rule."

Consider, though, the experience of Stephen Dougan – not his real name – from Belfast. Now a university student, he was wooed by the Legion as a 14-year-old. "It was hard not to be enthused by what you were shown," he recalls. "As their guest, I enjoyed good food, went on hikes, played table tennis, watched movies and did sport with happy seminarians. When I actually joined [in the early 1990s at the Legion's Dublin seminary], I did not have even a vague idea of the Legion's spirituality or its rules, only that, as I was being told, I had been called as part of God's plan."

Around the time of his 18th birthday, Dougan was summoned one night to the bedroom of his novice master. "He said he had severe cramps in his stomach. He unbuttoned his pyjama top, poured oil on his stomach and asked me to massage him. I did. Very soon he unbuttoned his pyjama bottoms and poured on more oil. He asked me to 'do it deeper'. He meant lower down. His penis was erect. I was shocked and confused. I can remember my hands in his pubic hair. I closed my eyes and prayed."

Dougan's abuse by the Father almost exactly mirrors allegations against Maciel, made by Fernando Perez, one of the eight to file charges, about what happened to him at 14. Maciel even told his victims, one reported, that he had a special dispensation from the Pope to allow him to be masturbated because of the pains he suffered as a result of his "delicate" health.

Dougan never spoke while in the Legion about what had happened, though he has subsequently reported it to the police. "The vow I had taken meant that no Legionary could in any way criticise the defects or mistakes of any superior. This included internal – in your mind – criticism." Eighteen months after the incident, he was told that he didn't have a vocation and asked to leave. "It was hard for me to adjust to normal life," he admits. "I am still battling with the belief that God has spat me out of his mouth because I left. I have been in counselling on and off ever since."

Not all ex-members – some of whom belong to the support group, ReGain – have unhappy memories. Adam Dunbar – he is not willing to use his real name because he is still in touch with former colleagues from in the Legion – is a 62-year-old bookkeeper and grandfather from Dublin. He was among the first recruits to the Legion's Irish mission which started in 1960. "What attracted me as a youngster was the energy of it, the ability to inspire, and the fact that they used young men to recruit young men and filled us full of idealism." Maciel, he reports, was "gentle, considerate, patient. My memories of him are sweet. I never had any experience of anything irregular nor did I see anything that in retrospect might be judged as misbehaviour."

Matthew Muggeridge, the 39-year-old grandson of the celebrated writer and broadcaster Malcolm, is currently working as a lawyer in the US. He joined the Legion in 1990 because he saw it as "dynamic, challenging and growing. It enthused me about my faith – and you don't get that with ordinary diocesan seminaries." Though he left six years later, he did so, he says, with no regrets and remains a supporter of the order and its defence of traditional Catholic values.

He was part of Legion plans to establish a base in London. Still a seminarian, he was sent to the affluent parish of St James, Spanish Place, in Marylebone, central London, along with an Irish Legionary priest. However, Cardinal Basil Hume, head of the local Westminster archdiocese, was not keen on their presence, Muggeridge recalls. "He tended to equate the Legion with Opus Dei, about which he also had well-recorded concerns, but we were not the same. We were so visible, whereas Opus Dei tends to act behind the scenes." The Legion is still thought to have ambitions on London. In the past year, one of its priests has been calling on parishes in wealthy areas of the capital.

Maciel had prepared himself a tomb in Our Lady of Guadalupe, the church he built in Rome in the 1950s. In the event, he was laid to rest in January 2008 in his family's modest crypt in his hometown in Mexico. The past 18 months have been a traumatic time for Legionaries. The secrecy rules meant they knew nothing of the charges against Nuestro Padre. The first they heard was when, a year after Maciel's death, Father Alvaro Corcuera, his hand-picked successor, confirmed the existence of Norma Hilda.

The Legion is tight-lipped about its current predicament. Jim Fair, its communications director, declined even to discuss the issues raised by the former Legionaries in this article. In brief written answers to questions I submitted, he said that the Legion was "grateful" for the present Vatican investigation and "sad" about the "aspects of our founder's life of which we were not aware". On the charge that the order has a cult-like approach, Fair wrote: "We listen carefully to what former members have to say. At the same time we listen to the voice of the Church and to the principles of religious life throughout the centuries as a guideline."

Adam Dunbar feels the revelations will have had a profound effect on his friends still in the Legion. "Imagine, after half a century of being told that Maciel was a living saint, you discover that this is a hall of smoke and mirrors. Who is the victim then? Apart from the sexual abuse, if it existed, what about this abuse of lives?"

Back in the City of London, Todd Carpunky has, he says, put the Legion (and his Catholicism) behind him. His doubts began when he contracted a liver infection because painful gallstones had gone untreated. His superiors advised him instead to swim and pray to Mary. Later, he was made to wait several months for an operation on a disc problem in his back that had left him disabled, because Nuestro Padre couldn't decide what to do with him. "The final straw came when I was sitting in a doctor's office and the Legionary with me admitted they had been lying about not being able to find a surgeon to see me. I was told, 'Just obey.' That's when I snapped and realised they were crazy. I checked my brain back in and left."

For him, the story of the Legion is not just another aspect of clerical sex abuse. "It really comes down to the fact that they cared more about building the Kingdom of Maciel than the Kingdom of God. The Legion calls itself Catholic but it is inhumane and really damages people. That is what distinguishes it from other religious orders."

A catalogue of abuse

Britain Father Michael Hill (pictured) was convicted in 1997 of sexual abuse of nine children. It emerged that his local bishop, the future Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, had been aware that concerns had been raised about Hill's behaviour, but had moved him to another parish.

US Allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests were first made public in 1984. In September 2003, the archdiocese of Boston paid $85m in compensation to 552 victims. Many other dioceses have made similar payments – to an estimated total of $1bn. In 2004 the archdiocese of Portland declared itself bankrupt as a result.

Austria Cardinal Hans Hermann Groër was dismissed as Archbishop of Vienna by Pope John Paul II in 1995 after it emerged that he had abused young boys at Catholic schools over a 40-year period. One expert suggested he may have had 2,000 victims.

Ireland In May 2009, High Court judge Sean Ryan published a report of his nine-year investigation detailing the beating, rape and humiliation of thousands of children by priests and nuns in the schools they ran.

Australia In July 2008 in St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney, Pope Benedict XVI made an unprecedented apology for the crimes of priests against minors. "I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering the victims have endured and I assure them that, as their pastor, I too share in their suffering." PS