Sunday, 25 February 2018

Vatican Monsignor  judge accused of possessing child pornography accepts plea deal
Feb 21, 2018

Pope Francis poses with members of the Roman Rota on the occasion of his annual address to members of the court at the Vatican Jan. 29. The Rota is the highest appeals court in the Catholic Church. (CNS/L'Osservatore Romano)
VATICAN CITY — A judge on a top Vatican tribunal was given a 14-month suspended sentence by an Italian court for possessing child pornography and sexual molestation. He then resigned his position on the Roman Rota, the tribunal.
According to the Italian newspaper La Stampa, Msgr. Pietro Amenta, a judge on the Rota, a court that deals mainly with marriage cases, accepted the terms of plea bargain Feb. 14.
In an email to Catholic News Service Feb. 21, Paloma Garcia Ovejero, vice director of the Vatican press office, said the Italian monsignor "resigned as prelate auditor of the Roman Rota last week" following his conviction.
Amenta was detained by police in March 2017 after he was accused of fondling an 18-year-old man in a public square in Rome. The young man followed him and called the police, who subsequently took Amenta into custody, Italian newspapers reported.
In the investigation that followed, police apparently found pornographic images involving minors on the monsignor's personal computer. The Italian press also said the investigators discovered that Amenta was accused of "obscene acts" in 1991 and sexual molestation in 2004. Neither of those allegations led to a conviction.
Amenta had worked in the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments from 1996 to 2012. According to the Annuario Pontificio, the Vatican yearbook, he was also a member of several special Vatican commissions, including commissions within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for the Clergy.
In early February, the Vatican City State prosecutor, Gian Piero Milano, said that his office was recently made aware of "two cases of different configuration and relevance within the scope of crimes against people, particularly against minors."
"The investigations underway are in the preliminary stages and are being carried out dutifully with absolute discretion out of respect for all people involved, as well as with the firm determination to probe into all the factual, juridical and human aspects regarding the validity and the contents of the alleged crimes, in search of the truth," Milano said Feb. 3 at a session marking the beginning of the Vatican tribunal's judicial year.

Milano did not name either of the suspects in the two cases, but since the Italian court decision was announced, it was assumed that Amenta's case was one of them. The other is presumed to be that of Msgr. Carlo Capella, a former Vatican diplomat recalled from service in Washington in 2017 shortly after the Vatican was notified by the U.S. Department of State "of a possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images by a member of the diplomatic corps of the Holy See accredited to Washington."
An arrest warrant was also issued in Canada for Capella one month later for accessing, possessing and distributing child pornography.

The Vatican promoter of justice, the chief prosecutor for Vatican City State, "opened an investigation and has already commenced international collaboration to obtain elements relative to the case" against Capella, the Vatican said in late September.


Ed Condon Catholic Herard

Everyone in Rome says they want an end to abuse scandals. But will they do what it takes?
We canon lawyers, unfortunately, spend a lot of time dealing with tragic, disturbing, sometimes appalling situations. It’s all too easy to become inured. But even among canonists who routinely deal with cases of child sexual abuse, the news that Mgr Pietro Amenta, a senior Vatican judge, has been convicted of possessing child pornography is shocking.


Mgr Amenta was not a minor figure: he was a prelate auditor (judge) of the Roman Rota, the Church’s final judicial court of appeal. (It does not, thank God, have jurisdiction over abuse cases.) He also appears to have been well-known to the police, having been reported for alleged obscene acts and harassment in 1991 and 2004 respectively. (He was not charged.)
If this were an isolated act, it would be one thing. But it suggests a culture in parts of the Church which is still not taking abuse seriously enough. Even a cursory examination would have shown that Mgr Amenta’s appointment should have at least been delayed until matters were properly investigated.
This is not the only case of basic due diligence being skipped. Bishop Juan Barros denies all the allegations that he turned a blind eye to abuse. But in that story, too, we see the same failure to address concerns before appointing someone to a position of authority. The same goes for other cases. Last year, for instance, a Vatican diplomat was recalled from assignment to Washington, DC, after both American and Canadian authorities opened investigations into alleged child pornography offences.
There is still a great divide in the Church’s response to the sexual abuse scandals. Where these scandals have been most public, like the United States, the response has been clear, systematic, and robust. The creation of the Dallas Charter has brought a new era for the Church in America in which “zero-tolerance” means exactly that – indeed, in some cases the pendulum can be argued to have swung too far the other way. But elsewhere – despite solid and necessary legal reforms by Pope Benedict XVI, especially in the document Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela, which centralised handling of sexual abuse cases and laid out a clear legal procedure to follow – Rome has continued to pursue a policy which in practice often appears little better than “don’t ask.”
Well-intentioned reformers have been baffled and dismayed by this attitude. The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, headed by Cardinal O’Malley and finally renewed this weekend, lost one of their high-profile members, the abuse survivor Peter Saunders, back in 2016 in large part over his frustration at Rome’s failure to respond proactively to growing indications of problems in South America, including in Chile.
Another former member of the Commission, Marie Collins, found progress frustratingly lacking when dealing with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which handles all complaints of sexual abuse. While one has every sympathy with Collins, who speaks with obvious authority in the subject of sexual abuse, the CDF has its own legitimate frustrations. Time and again, what they have been offered is structural reform, new processes, working groups and commissions. What they need is manpower and resources, and a clear mandate to be proactive in their work; what they have got is a Vatican-wide hiring freeze since 2014.
Vatican authorities, including the Pope, must demonstrate to the world that child protection is not only about listening to victims. Listening is, of course, necessary, but as important is doing something about what you hear. Ask anyone in Rome and they will tell you they want to see an end to sexual abuse scandals. Suggest the kind of CDF expansion of manpower, resources, and authority needed to make this happen and you will get a far less enthusiastic response.

Mgr Amenta’s case, awful in itself, could have a been a chance to show initiative. Instead of being allowed to resign, and only confirming this to the press when asked, he should have been immediately and publicly removed from the Rota. His canonical trial should now proceed with all possible speed, and he should have the best canon lawyer that can be found for his defence. While respecting confidentiality of process, the verdict should also be properly publicised. It is time the Vatican spoke a little less about justice and did a lot more of it.


Here we have another high profile case of sexual misconduct at the very heart of the Vatican curia.
Is it any wonder that these things are happening in seminaries and dioceses around the globe when they are also happening at the Vatican.
Pope Francis will be aware of much of this and I imagine those involved will do their best to keep him unaware of other stuff?
This constant stream of scandals is a massive sign that something is very rotten and dysfunctional at the heart of the institutional Church.
Why is nobody, including Francis, not saying that there is TOTAL DYSFUNCTION?
Surely highlighting and acknowledging the problem is the first stage of cure?
The problems reach from Rome to Dromore, from Armagh to Sydney, from Maynooth to Chile and from Dublin to Cape Town.
Who could, with honesty, encourage any young man to give his life to the service of such an organization?

Friday, 23 February 2018




By Claire O'Boyle
Belfast Telegraph

Parents at four Catholic primary schools in Co Down have said they do not want the Bishop of Dromore to officiate at their children's confirmations following recent revelations about paedophile priest Malachy Finnegan.


During an emotional meeting with parents from one school, Bishop John McAreavey - who recently spoke of his regret at celebrating Requiem Mass for Finnegan but refused to step down - is understood to have said he would "reflect" on the issue.
Bishop McAreavey was due to oversee proceedings at the milestone sacrament of confirmation for primary seven pupils in the coming months at St Patrick's Primary School in Hilltown, St Patrick's Primary School in Mayobridge, St Colman's Primary School in Saval and Carrick Primary School, Burren.


At a meeting last Thursday with the board of governors at St Patrick's in Hilltown, which lies in the parish of Clonduff, parents expressed their reluctance to have Bishop McAreavey involved in the ceremony.


This was relayed to the bishop, and he met parents the following day.
During a meeting held at the parish centre in Newry last Friday, the bishop was asked when he would be tendering his resignation, following his decision to speak at the funeral of the child abuser.


Bishop McAreavey is understood to have said he would come to a decision on his part in the confirmations "in the next few weeks".
Headteacher at the school, Una Lawless, did not wish to comment.


A number of parents of children at St Patrick's in Mayobridge are also believed to have said they do not want the bishop to officiate.
Principal Margaret Ryan also declined to comment, saying it was "not a school matter".
Parents of children from St Colman's Primary School in Saval and Carrick Primary School in Burren are understood to have expressed similar concerns.
The headteachers at both schools declined to comment.
In situations where a bishop does not carry out confirmations, parish priests are permitted to conduct proceedings.
A spokesperson for the Diocese of Dromore said yesterday: "Some concerned parents from the Hilltown area whose children are to receive the sacrament of confirmation later this year inquired whether they could meet the Bishop last Thursday.
"That request was immediately responded to and a meeting took place on Friday 16. The parents were met by the bishop, the director of safeguarding and an adviser to the diocese. The adviser chaired the meeting. Parents expressed their reservations about this year's confirmation service in light of the revelations of the Spotlight Programme. The bishop made it clear that he understood their position and that he would not be an obstacle to their wishes when the time came. That remains his position."
Dr McAreavey officiated over Fr Finnegan's requiem Mass in early 2002, despite being aware of abuse allegations.
Later that year he met one of the clergyman's victims, and said it was this meeting that made him realise his part in the funeral was "simply a mistake".He insisted he hadn't intended to "honour" the paedophile by speaking at the Mass.
Earlier this week the bishop said he felt "conflicted" over his role, adding: "I made a decision not to say one word of praise or acknowledgement of his ministry, so in a sense that was how I felt I was balancing the conflict that was in my mind about it."
Dr McAreavey told the Newry Reporter that sex abuse scandals in the church had "challenged his faith" and revealed that three more victims of Fr Finnegan had come forward since a BBC Spotlight programme was screened earlier this month. Previously the bishop said the first allegation against Finnegan, who worked at St Colman's College in Newry from 1967 until 1987, emerged in 1994. He was moved to Clonduff parish in 1988.
Dr McAreavey, who took the reins in the Diocese of Dromore in 1999, said his predecessor's failure to make a public statement on Finnegan's abuse was a "gross error", and admitted that when he took up the position he allowed those arrangements to stand.
He said he had been "on the point" of naming the priest "several times" but said he had received no guidance from the Church on how to deal with the matter. A total of 12 allegations were made against Fr Finnegan.
The Diocese of Dromore reached a financial settlement with victims in October 2017 but details only emerged this month.
Dr McAreavey was not able to confirm an "exact figure" paid out in compensation, and disputed claims that a further 12 cases were pending. He said the number was "much smaller".
Finnegan, who was president of St Colman's College for 11 years, was not defrocked before his death because he started to suffer the onset of dementia from 2000, Dr McAreavey said.


The distraught mother who rang me the other day about the possibility of John McAreavey confirming her children was from one of the four parishes mentioned in THE BELFAST TELEGRAPH.

This mother DOES NOT WANT John McAreavey confirming her children.

She has now be joined by scores of other mothers and fathers from at least 4 Dromore parishes who do not want McAreavey to confirm their children.

I am happy to LISTEN to the worries of these parents and PUBLISH their views here on this Blog which is widely read.



The Church must listen to the voices of concerned parents on this issue.

If John McAreavey does not resign immediately he will divide the diocese of Dromore and its faithful priests and people.
I can be contacted on:

07488 374364

Thursday, 22 February 2018




This mother said three further things to me:




Here is what McAreavey said in this week's NEWRY REPORTER:

'I'm sorry'
21 February 2018 - by

Bishop John McAreavey says he deliberately chose not to say ‘one word of praise or acknowledgment of his ministry’ during Funeral Mass for child abuse priest Malachy Finnegan.

In an exclusive interview with the Newry Reporter following last week’s BBC Spotlight investigation into Finnegan’s trail of abuse, the Bishop (pictured) said he will not be stepping down from his role as he wants to ‘rebuild confidence and trust’ in the Church.

He also spoke about:

* His shock that a nun acting as a counsellor told one of Finnegan’s victims that ‘God would forgive him over time’
* He confirmed that three people have contacted the Diocese about sexual abuse by Finnegan following the BBC investigation. 
* Admitted that the long line of Catholic Church abuse scandals had ‘challenged his faith’.
* And said that he would fully cooperate with a public inquiry into all clerical abuse, including the surrendering of Diocese documents. 

The Bishop of Dromore says he the made the wrong decision to officiate the funeral Mass of a priest who sexually abused a number of former pupils at a Newry school.

John McAreavey made the comments after it emerged that the Diocese of Dromore settled a claim in relation to the sexual abuse of former pupils at St Colman’s College by Fr Malachy Finnegan.

The first allegation against Finnegan – who was employed at the Armagh Road school for over three decades – was in 1994.

Another allegation – which was not in relation to his tenure at St Colman’s - was made four years later, with further claims made following his death in January 2002.

It total, 12 allegations of sexual abuse were made against Finnegan.
In October last year, the Diocese of Dromore settled a claim in relation to the abuse of victims.

In a statement to the Reporter, Bishop McAreavey said he asked the National Board for Safeguarding Children to specifically review the case of Finnegan during a 2011 independent audit of allegations against priests in the Dromore Diocese.

He said the abuse of any child by a priest is a "violation of that child and betrayal of trust" and said the history of the Catholic Church in Ireland in dealing with abuse allegations has been a “tragic one of failure and letdown”.

He added that he made the wrong decision to officiate at Finnegan’s Funeral Mass in 2002.

“In 2011 as the Bishop of Dromore, I welcomed into the Diocese the National Board for Safeguarding Children to conduct an independent audit of all allegations against priests in the Diocese of Dromore from 1975-2011,” said Bishop McAreavey

“Whilst it was outside the remit of the audit, which was looking at cases, where there was possible live risk or child safeguarding issues, I asked the National Board to also review the cases of three deceased priests from the Diocese.

“And specifically I asked them to examine the cases involving Malachy Finnegan. 

“The reviewers remarked in their audit report ‘we noted that these allegations were brought to the attention of the former Bishop of Dromore and we noted the seriousness of the allegations and are satisfied that all have been referred to the statutory authorities’.

“However they also remarked that in their review of the records from that time ‘in some instances the practice followed placed too much emphasis on maintaining the name of the accused priest rather than ensuring the safety of children.’ That was regrettable.

“They further commented that they were satisfied that I as Bishop had reported all allegations in Dromore since 1999 and ‘that I had taken an active personal interest in supporting victims’.

“Since becoming Bishop in 1999, everything I have learned about the abuse of victims I have learned from victim.

“It is their testimonies and their stories, which have impacted most on me. It is through their perspective that I realised that my decision to say the funeral Mass of Malachy Finnegan in 2002 was the wrong one.

“In November 2002 a victim told me how hurt he was by this, I realised that I had made an error of judgement. It is something I regret and will not repeat.”

The Bishop described the actions of Finnegan as “abhorrent, inexcusable and indefensible”.

“He has caused hurt, which in some cases may never be healed:” he added.

“He has devastated families, including his own, and his former colleagues also feel betrayed by his behavior.

“A school should be a place of safety and security for children. It is a place in which parents should have trust and confidence.

“It is a place where children should be able to express their fears, anxieties and indeed aspirations in the knowledge that the structures of the school can provide the appropriate support.”

He encouraged anyone that was abused in a church context to come forward and “receive the support they are entitled to”.

Meanwhile, the Board of Governors at St Colman’s College has condemned “in the strongest possible terms” the physical, sexual and emotional abuse inflicted by Finnegan and said it is with “absolute regret and sorrow” that such abuse happened at the school.

  • Bonitas : to encourage moral uprightness and good citizenship; to develop a rounded personality
  • Disciplina : to instill through the operation of the school's discipline, that self-discipline necessary for success both in school and in the world of work; to equip each student with a set of attitudes and ideals for the shaping of his life
  • Scientia : to encourage the highest academic achievement of which the individual is capable

They said that when informed in October 2017 that a case had been settled by the Diocese of Dromore, the Board of Governors instructed that Finnegan’s image be removed from all photographs which were on display in the College.

“The Board of Governors of St Colman’s College places the highest importance on all aspects of child protection, care, safeguarding and welfare and ensures that St Colman’s College is wholly compliant with all Department of Education (DE) regulations,” the Board said in a statement.
 “Effective child protection, safeguarding, care and welfare measures underpin the professional conduct and behaviour of all members of staff. 

“Safeguarding procedures within the College are and have been subject to inspection by the relevant statutory authorities (Education and Training Inspectorate) which in turn protects the welfare and well-being of all students and staff.

 “The abuse that Malachy Finnegan inflicted is the antithesis of all that the College stands for in terms of its aims, objectives, ethos and culture, and it is a matter of absolute regret and sorrow that such behaviour should ever have occurred in St Colman’s College.”


McAreavey, like Brady before him has lost ALL credibility as a man and a bishop and if he has any decency left in him he should resign immediately.

He has spent a lifetime as a senior Irish canon lawyer covering up for the RC Church in all kinds of ways.

Now Lady Karma has come knocking on his door with the message for him that he has wasted his life protecting a truly evil institution.

If I were McAreavey I would NOT be looking forward to meeting the Lord at the end of my life.

He is in very real danger of receiving from Christ the same reception that Christ gave to the Pharisees of His own day.

Mow McAreavey is wriggling like the worm he is and trying to blame everyone else for the mess he is in - the people for not going to the RUC, the RUC, the Social Services etc.

McAreavey - the buck stops with you.

For Christ's sake JUST GO!

If he does not go I would advise the following:

1. His 20+ priest should write to him telling them that they have no confidence in him and are withdrawing their consent to be governed by him.

2. If he turns up in churches for Mass people should stand up and verbally challenge him.

3. If they do not want to stand up and challenge him verbally they should at least walk out in protest.

4. Parents should NOT allow him to confirm their children.

When? Oh when? will the People of God stand up and challenge these wolves in sheep's clothing?

Wednesday, 21 February 2018



The report apparently was presented to the bishops at an extraordinary meeting in Maynooth last Monday, February 19th.

I have not been told who conducted the report on behalf of the bishops but I have been told that it involved interviews with current seminarians, former seminarians, and ordained priests.

The priests interviewed were both recently ordained and some were long termed ordained.

The extraordinary meeting meant that various bishops had to cancel longstanding commitments to attend Maynooth.

One such bishop was Noel Treanor of Down and Connor who had been due to preside at the Month's Mind Mass for Father Cormican in Glenavy parish in Antrim.


Apparently, the Vatican had asked the Irish Bishops to conduct the investigation into Maynooth after the Summer 2016 Grindr scandal.

Added to that a number of ex-seminarians had written to the Vatican and related Maynooth -centered stories to officials there about a culture of homosexuality between seminarians and seminarians and seminarians and priests.

One Vatican official who replied directly to an ex-seminarian expressed shock that the ex-seminarian had reported various matters to his bishop about the relationship of a seminarian and a priest and the bishop had taken no action.

It seems to me that some Vatican officials have become convinced that The Irish Bishops have not handled the Maynooth scandal well and that they have been too slow to believe complaints and investigate them.

I do know that a Northern Ireland ex-seminarian wrote a long letter to the Papal Nuncio and the Vatican but so far he has not received a reply. I saw the letter before it was posted but I was not given a copy.

I will bring readers any further update I get on these matters.


The other item that is causing much speculation this week is the rumour that the diocesan secretary of Cork and Ross - Father Tom Dennihan has resigned from his position with immediate effect.

Father Dennihan is not only the Cork and Ross bishop's secretary but is also heavily involved in the Catholic education scene in Ireland.

In spite of having good contacts in Cork and Ross, I was able to ascertain if the rumour of the resignation is true?

Maybe Father himself or some of his priestly colleagues in C&R can let us know?



Today the blog has gone over 4 million visitors.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Can you explain what happens at ordination when the “ontological change” happens?

No! (LOL).  If I could explain it, it wouldn’t be what it is!  Seriously, “ontological change” is very meaningful in the context of St. Thomas Aquinas’ medieval theological synthesis of Aristotelian philosophy and Christian theology, a stunning intellectual achievement for both his time and, to some degree, ours.
But once we move out of the Thomistic formulation of questions and the meaning of words in his system, we can find it more than difficult to explain what he meant then, and what it means for us now.  Terms like “ontological change” and “Transubstantiation” need updating for the 21st century.  Jesuit Bernard Lonergan’s work is a great place to start with that task.  Yet, I fear most will find Lonergan quite deep and difficult.  One Jesuit once said to me, “Mugs! Lonergan?  Life is just too short!”
So, what does the idea of “ontological change” try to express?  The catechism states that ordination “confers an indelible spiritual character” which “cannot be “repeated or conferred temporarily” (CCC#1583).  “The vocation and mission received on the day of his ordination mark him permanently” (CCC#1583).  Ordination is done once and for all as are Baptism and Confirmation.  Holy Orders places one in another position (i.e., order or group) in the community, not a better or more privileged place, but a place from which one is called to spend one’s life exclusively in service of the people of God.

Let me try and get at the deeper and more mysterious meanings of priesthood the idea of “ontological change” aims to reveal.  All of us who have been graced to serve the people of God as priests know there is often much more going on in a pastoral situation than we can understand or for which we can take credit.  Someone comes up after a homily and tells you that your words were just what they needed to hear.  And you realize you don’t think you said what they heard… but, hey the Holy Spirit works in ways wonderful and wacky.
A story may help.  When I was a Jesuit scholastic, in my 11th year of preparing for ordained priesthood (Why do Jesuits study for so many years?  Because we need it!), I was leading a parish youth group in confirmation preparation at St Pat’s on Blue Hill and Dudley Avenues in the Roxbury section of Boston.  The agenda for the night was having the group make a poster with symbols of all the sacraments.  The kids came up with a waterfall for baptism, bread and wine (and pizza and Pepsi) for Eucharist, an ambulance with flashing lights in the form of a cross for the sacrament of the sick, etc.  Lots of fun and ingenuity.  They really got stuck when it came to Holy Orders.  They looked at me, and I said, “Nope.  This is your project.  Put what you think being a priest means.”  Little 13 year old Egiberto piped up and said, “Draw an ear!”  We all looked at him like he was a little crazy (which he often was in a harmless 13 year old way).  “What do you mean an ear?  Why an Ear?” we all asked.  Egiberto replied, “Because priests listen.”  I’ve never forgotten that moment.  I think God was trying to teach me something that night.  As Sharon Parks-Daloz taught in her pastoral ministry course, “God gave us two ears and one mouth.  We should use these gifts in the proportion given.”

Getting people like me to shut up and listen is quite a change, ontological or whatever you want to call it.  Whatever happens on the day of ordination, I always remember what we were told by a wise, old Jesuit: “If you’re not a priest the day before ordination, you won’t be the day after.”  Ordination recognizes and brings to fruition a process that has been going on for some time in a person’s life.  That growth in listening to God and the people of God, while trying to facilitate conversations between God and people, continue all the days of a priest’s life.


Those of us are Christians believe that we receive God's graces at different times in our lives and indeed through the sacraments.

Terms like "ontological" and "transubstantiation" were the attempts of philosophers and theologians to explain mysteries to us.

But of course, the essence of mysteries is that it cannot be explained in human terms.

In time the explanations of philosophers and theologians like Thomas Aquinas became doctrines or dogmas.  

In the context of the priesthood, it eventually became to be regarded as a superior state to the state of marriage or just being an ordinary Catholic.

This was one of the building blocks of clericalism and clerics being a superior form of Church life.

I like that saying of the old Jesuit: "If you are not a priest the day before your ordination you will not be a priest the day after it".

I told my mother when I was four that I wanted to be a priest and I have never wavered from that in the past 61 years.

Real priests know and behave like SERVANTS and not like SUPERIORS.