FaithWorld

Canadian police charge senior Orthodox prelate with sex crimes

Canadian police have charged a senior Orthodox  prelate with sexually assaulting two boys during the 1980s, the latest in a tide of such charges worldwide involving church officials. Winnipeg police said on Thursday that Archbishop Kenneth William Storheim, 64, flew from Edmonton, Alberta, to Winnipeg to turn himself in and was charged with two counts of sexual assault.

Storheim is the archibishop of the Archdiocese of Canada of the Orthodox Church in America but has been on a leave of absence since October 1, according to a statement on the church’s website. Storheim, who was raised a Lutheran and was an Anglican rector before being received in the Orthodox Church in 1978, worked at a church in a poor Winnipeg neighborhood from 1984 to 1987 and later moved to Edmonton and Ottawa.

According to his biography on the church’s website, Archbishop Seraphim (as he is known in the Orthodox Church) “serves in a number of administrative capacities in the Orthodox Church in America. He is secretary of the Holy Synod of Bishops, chairman of the Department of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations and chairman of the Board of Theological Education. As chair of the Department of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations, he has represented the OCA at numerous events in Russia, Ukraine, the Middle East, and throughout Europe. He also is co-chairman of the Bishops’ Dialogue (North America) between the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas [SCOBA] and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. Most recently, he was appointed Administrator of the Metropolitan See of the Orthodox Church in America upon the retirement of Metropolitan Herman on September 4, 2008.”

The archbishop’s temporary replacement, Bishop Irénée of Quebec, announced his leave of absence in a letter to the faithful here.

Police released Storheim on a promise to appear in court.

Charges of child sexual abuse against officials of Christian churches have made headlines around the world over the past two decades. Since 1992, the Roman Catholic Church has paid $2 billion in settlements to victims in the United States alone.

Selected quotes from new book by Pope Benedict

pope massHere are some quotes from the English translation of Pope Benedict’s new book, “Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Sign of the Times”. The book, in question and answer format with the German Catholic journalist Peter Seewald, is due to be published on Tuesday in several languages. (Photo: Pope Benedict at Mass at the Vatican November 21, 2010./Tony Gentile)

On condoms to fight the spread of AIDS:

“There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralisation, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanisation of sexuality.”

Condoms, Pius XII, sex abuse and other main points in pope book

benedictPope Benedict says in a new book, Light of the World, that condoms may be used in certain limited cases to prevent the spread of AIDS. He also addressed several issues facing the Church in the book, which is based on a long interview with German Catholic journalist Peter Seewald. (Photo: Pope Benedict, 17 Nov 2010/Max Rossi)

Here are some of the main points in the new book:

* CONDOM USE – Pope Benedict says the Church does not see condom use as “a real or moral solution” to the AIDS problem. But it could be justified in some cases, such as a prostitute who uses one to reduce the risk of infection and thus take responsibility for his actions (see an excerpt here).

Catholic bishops must take more action on sexual abuse – Vatican

vatican 2The Vatican has told Roman Catholic bishops around the world that they will have to take more responsibility to prevent sexual abuse of children by priests. It also said in a statement issued after a day-long meeting of cardinals on Friday that it was preparing new guidelines for bishops on how to deal with the sexual abuse, including cooperation with local authorities. (Photo: A picture of a clergy abuse victim at a news conference by SNAP (Survivors Networks of those Abused by Priests) in Rome November 19, 2010/Alessia Pierdomenico)

Roman Catholic cardinals from around the world held a rare gathering to discuss religious freedom, sexual abuse of children by priests and accepting converts from the Anglican church.

Cardinal William Levada, the American head of the doctrinal office headed by Pope Benedict before his election, spoke of “greater responsibility of bishops for the protection of faithful entrusted to them,” the statement said.

World cardinals hold rare Vatican meeting on abuse, converts

consistoryRoman Catholic cardinals from around the world met in a rare gathering at the Vatican on Friday to discuss religious freedom, sexual abuse of children by priests and accepting  Anglican converts. The debate on religious freedom unfolded against the backdrop of a fresh Vatican conflict with China’s communist government over the ordination of a bishop without papal permission. (Photo: Pope Benedict meets cardinals at the Vatican November 19, 2010/Tony Gentile)

The closed-door meetings were taking place on the eve of a ceremony known as a consistory at which the pope will create 24 new cardinals, including 20 who are under 80 and thus eligible to enter a secret conclave to elect his successor.

The existing cardinals and cardinals-elect will also hear reports about the sexual abuse scandal which has rocked the Church in a number of countries.

Spokesman for embattled Belgian archbishop quits, cites loss of trust

mettepenningen2The spokesman for Belgium’s Roman Catholic leader quit on Tuesday, citing a loss of trust in the archbishop who has caused a storm with harsh comments on AIDS and caring words for some paedophile priests.

Jürgen Mettepenningen, a theologian who became Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard’s spokesman in August, announced his decision only days after the prelate agreed to stop speaking in public until Christmas to calm the storm engulfing the Church. (Image: Jürgen Mettepenningen, 2 Nov 2010/screengrab RTL video)

His resignation reflected growing criticism of Léonard within his own church, where bishops have cautiously spoken out against their leader and lay Catholics are turning increasingly caustic. Politicians have also stepped up criticism of him. It also highlighted the damage that scandals of clerical sex abuse of minors have done to the Church in Europe, especially in Belgium and Ireland where bishops reacted in defensive ways that further angered Catholics and public officials.

Top Belgian Catholic vows silence after uproar

leonardBelgium’s Roman Catholic leader has sworn off public remarks until Christmas after outraging public opinion twice this month with jarring comments about AIDS and a call for mercy for retired paedophile priests.

Brussels Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard, already under fire because of the scandal of sexual abuse of minors by priests, caused a storm two weeks ago when he said in a new book that AIDS was “a sort of inherent justice.” Politicians, abuse victims and some leading lay Catholics rounded on him again this week after he said that prosecuting retired priests for abuse they committed long ago was “a kind of vengeance” that they should be spared. (Photo: Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard, October 15, 2010/Thierry Roge)

“We’re in a very serious crisis and the last thing we need is more commotion,” Leonard’s spokesman, Jürgen Mettepenningen, told Belgium’s VTM television on Thursday evening. “I’ve agreed with Archbishop Léonard that there should now be as much radio silence as possible until Christmas” so that the Church can concentrate on overcoming the crisis and carrying out its main task of preaching the Gospel, he said.

Waiting to know what’s in the next pope interview book

seewaldBy Josie Cox

What’s a journalist supposed to do with a successful author who declares that his next book about Pope Benedict will “go down in history” — but refuses to give any details of what’s in it?

When he says it will “shed new light” on the sexual abuse rocking the Roman Catholic Church — but says none of that will illuminate issues that abuse victims want to know about? (Photo: Peter Seewald at the Frankfurt Book Fair, 6 Oct 2010/Josie Cox)

When the most he will say about the revelations in his sure-fire bestseller is that it will reveal “the secret behind the famous episcopal miter”?

Dutch prosecutors admit were wrong to drop Catholic abuse cases

maastrichtDutch public prosecutors wrongly dropped two clear cases of sexual abuse of minors by two Roman Catholic priests in the 1980s but it was not a cover-up, a spokeswoman for the prosecutors office said on Wednesday.

A new book published earlier in the day reported that both priests had confessed and numerous witnesses had testified for the defence, but prosecutors closed their inquiries after contacts with the Catholic hierarchy.

The book Vrome zondaars (“Pious Sinners”) by journalist Joep Dohmen also accused prosecutors of turning away victims trying to report abuse and working to deflect any discredit from the Church.

Belgium’s Catholic sex abuse scandal prompts questions on mandatory celibacy

mechelen 1Three Roman Catholic bishops in Belgium, reacting to damaging sexual abuse scandals in their ranks, have taken the rare step of urging their Church to consider easing its ban on married men in the priesthood.

The three are all from Flanders, the Dutch-speaking region shocked by the resignation of a prominent local bishop who had sexually abused his nephew. About 85 percent of cases in a recent report on abuse in the Church were also from Flanders. (Photo: St. Rombouts Cathedral, seat of the primate of Belgium, and main marketplace in Mechelen,  23 July 2010/Ad Meskens)

The head of the Belgian Church, Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard of Brussels, has put out the message that the priority for the embattled Belgian Church is to help its victims.