A metro-east man is accusing a former Catholic priest of sexual abusing him when he was a child, and he wants to hold church officials accountable.
The Breese man filed a lawsuit against the Belleville Catholic diocese alleging Robert J. Vonnahmen sexually abused him at a church camp in the Ozarks in the early 1970s.
In the 1990s, Vonnahmen was one of more than a dozen priests in the Belleville Diocese removed for alleged sexual abuse of children. Vonnahmen was formally defrocked by Rome in 2007.
The lawsuit claims the diocese failed to investigate complaints about Vonnahmen from other children.
The former bishop of the Belleville Diocese says he may sell the $2.2 million home he had built in Atlanta's toniest neighborhood.
Archbishop Wilton Gregory apologized to parishioners late Monday for building the 6,000 square foot, Tudor-style mansion in Buckhead. Gregory wrote on the website of the archdiocesan newspaper that he hadn't considered the impact his residence would have on parishioners who were giving to the church and struggling to pay their own bills.
Gregory was bishop of Belleville from 1994 to 2003, when he was named Archbishop of Atlanta.
A year after severing ties with Rome, St. Stanislaus Kostka Church is looking for an affiliation that will allow it to keep its Catholic ties. Reverend Marek Bozek tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the church wants to have options.
Bozek tells the paper he's partial to the Episcopal Church because it's in full communion with the Old Catholic Church of Utrecht. The European body separated from Rome more than 100 years ago over issue of papal infallibility, but its sacraments are seen as valid by the Vatican. Bozek says they don't actually want to become Episcopalian, but would like to work toward becoming an Old Catholic parish.
St. Stans is also talking with the Ecumenical Catholic Church, the Polish National Catholic Church, and even some more marginal groups, like Roman Catholic Womenpriests.
The church just north of downtown had governed its own finances since the 19th century. It's been in a battle for its survival and autonomy since 2003, when the archdiocese first asked the parish to hand over control of its property and assets. Church officials refused and were excommunicated, as was Rev. Bozek.
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The leader of Poland's Catholic Church has come under a wave of condemnation by appearing to suggest that children are partly to blame for being sexually abused by priests.
Archbishop Jozef Michalik, head of Poland's influential Episcopate, was commenting this month on revelations about Polish pedophile priests. A child from a troubled family, Michalik told reporters, "seeks closeness with others and may get lost and may get the other person involved, too."
The words triggered an immediate uproar — one that Michalik tried to stamp out the same day by apologizing and saying he had been misunderstood. He had not, he said, meant to suggest that child victims were in any way responsible.
But the damage was done.
Ordinary citizens joined prominent politicians in expressing outrage, and intense debate continues more than two weeks later. The media pointed out that Michalik had supported a parish priest convicted in 2004 of child sex abuse, and one of the priest's victims said she was horrified by Michalik's latest remarks.
"Archbishop Michalik's words make us feel fear and revulsion," Ewa Orlowska said.
The archbishop's comments forced the Episcopate's spokesman, the Rev. Jozef Kloch, to state that Poland's church has "zero tolerance" for pedophilia but that it needs to learn how to approach and talk about the matter. The controversy has since led bishops under Michalik to apologize for "priests who have harmed children."
It all comes amid a tide of allegations that Poland's church is sweeping cases of sex abuse under the carpet, putting it at odds with Vatican efforts since 2001 to punish abusers. The scrutiny has also further undermined the church's status in Poland as a moral and political leader — cemented by Polish-born Pope John Paul II through his critical role in inspiring the fight against communism. The church's defenders say that priests are being singled out for condemnation when teachers and sports coaches have also been caught sexually abusing kids.
John Paul himself came under criticism for a reluctance to heed accusations against priests. While the Vatican in 2001 ordered bishops to submit cases of alleged pedophilia to the Holy See's review, it was largely the initiative of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. After the church sex abuse scandal erupted in 2002 in the United States, Ratzinger pressed for faster ways to permanently remove abusers from the church.
The crackdown against pedophile priests gained intensity once Ratzinger became Benedict XVI. In 2011, Benedict instructed bishops' conferences around the world to submit their own guidelines for keeping molesters out of the priesthood and to protect children.
Poland's Episcopate has issued guidelines for the church's punishment of priests and support for the victims. But it sees no need to report priests to state investigators and says that the financial compensation rests with the wrongdoer, not with the church. That approach may soon be tested by a man who is readying Poland's first sex abuse lawsuit against the church.
In several countries, including the U.S., Canada and Australia, the church has been paying millions in compensation over sex abuse cases.
Michalik also recently raised eyebrows by saying that the roots of pedophilia lay in pornography and divorce, both of which are "painful and long-lasting wounds."
The debate started last month after Dominican Republic investigators revealed child sex abuse allegations against two Polish clergymen: Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, the Vatican's ambassador, and Rev. Wojciech Gil, a parish priest. Wesolowski has been forcibly removed by the Vatican. Gil has denied sex abuse and suggested that Dominican drug mafia is taking revenge on him for his educational work.
Some 27 Polish priests have been tried for sex abuse since 2001, but most cases ended in suspended prison term — indicating a general leniency for the church in Poland, where religion is taught in schools and senior church officials attend state ceremonies.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Entities affiliated with the Roman Catholic church have contributed more than $300,000 toward a Missouri ballot initiative that would authorize state tax credits benefiting private schools.
Records at the state Ethics Commission show the group Missourians for Children's Education was established this past week to support the potential 2014 ballot initiative.
It was launched with a $300,000 contribution from the Archdiocese of St. Louis and more than $11,000 from the Missouri Catholic Conference.
The initiative would allow a 50 percent tax credit for businesses and individuals who donate to nonprofit organizations that provide scholarships for children to attend private schools or that provide financial aid for public school programs.
Up to $90 million of tax credits would be allowed annually.
The Supreme Court invalidated parts of the Defense of Marriage Act, but the Archdiocese of St. Louis is standing firm on its opposition of gay marriage.
The Archdiocese says in a statement that "marriage predates both the U.S. government and Western civilization". The statement also states the ruling does not change the Archdiocese "responsiblity to defend marriage as being between one man and one woman".
Wednesday's ruling allows same-sex couples to receive the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples.
The full statement from the Archdiocese is below:
The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and to dismiss the California Proposition 8 appeal does not change the reality of marriage, nor does it change the Archdiocese of St. Louis's responsibility to defend marriage as being between one man and one woman. It is important to note that marriage predates both the U.S. government and Western civilization.
From a Catholic perspective, it is not enough to offer the Church’s position on same-sex union without also saying how it fits into a broader understanding of the sacrament of marriage, human sexuality, and the Gospel of Life as taught by Blessed John Paul II. The vocation to serve God and society through married life is a sacred union in which man and woman become one flesh. The Catholic Church does not condemn individuals for having same-sex attraction. She teaches that all people are called to responsibility regarding sexuality. The sexual union of a man and woman, when not obstructed by contraceptives, is the kind that is open to life even if new life is not the result.
We understand that married persons imitate the way Christ offers His body completely and permanently to the Church so that we might have life, and have it abundantly. This truth is written into our bodies as well as on the pages of the Old and New Testaments. While the law can allow other things to be called marriage, it cannot make them into the kind of union that is marriage.
OGDEN, Utah (AP) - Doctors say a Utah man shot in the head by his son-in-law during a Father's Day Catholic Mass is expected to survive.
Dr. Barbara Kerwin of McDay-Dee Hospital in Ogden says James Evans is still in critical condition but expected to live. She says the bullet went through his jaw and cheek, missing the brain.
Police say 35-year-old Charles Richard Jennings Jr. walked into Mass hand-in-hand with his wife, Evans' daughter. Authorities say Jennings went up to Evans and shot him near the back of the Saint James the Just Catholic Church in Ogden.
Jennings was captured Sunday afternoon after fleeing in a stolen pickup truck.
Ogden police don't yet know the motive of the shooting.
The Rev. Eric Richsteig says Jennings had previously made threats but didn't elaborate.
Only a handful of popes have ever done so.
The last was Pope Gregory XII, who stepped down in 1415 in a deal to end the Great Western Schism, a dispute among competing papal claimants. The most famous resignation was Pope Celestine V in 1294; Dante placed him in hell for it.
Benedict is saying farewell this morning to his closest advisers in Clementine Hall at the Apostolic Palace. Then shortly before 5 p.m., he will leave the palace for the last time as pope and fly by helicopter to the papal retreat at Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome.
Benedict Greets Cardinals on Last Day As Pope
Exactly at 8 p.m. — when his resignation takes effect — the doors at Castel Gandolfo will close and the papacy that began on April 19, 2005, will come to an end.