Tuesday, 8 August 2017

GUAM BISHOPS ABUSE



Shattered faith: Nearly 100 sex abuse suits against Catholic priests rock island of Guam
Haidee V Eugenio, Steve Limtiaco and Dana M Williams, Pacific Daily NewsPublished 4:00 a.m. ET Aug. 4, 2017 | Updated 11:06 p.m. ET Aug. 4, 2017

HAGÅTÑA, Guam — It started off innocently: a 15-year-old boy helping out at San Miguel, a local church named for Archangel Michael, the leader of all angels.
There was yardwork and cleaning, followed by invitations to the rectory to eat and watch TV. Soon, there were offers to drink sacramental wine and watch X-rated movies. Then sexual assault.  More than 50 times over three years.  By the parish priest. 
Those jarring allegations come from a recent lawsuit claiming assault from 1985 to 1988. It is one of nearly 100 lawsuits that describe rampant child sexual abuse by some of Guam’s most revered men: the Catholic clergy.  
An investigation by the USA TODAY Network's Pacific Daily News unearthed allegations of decades of assault, manipulation and intimidation of children reared on this remote, predominantly Catholic U.S. territory.  Among the accusations: a boy fondled on the way to his grandmother’s burial, and another molested for the first time on his seventh birthday, then raped or assaulted 100 more times.  

The children's steadfast faith in the island's priests made them vulnerable, the lawsuits say.  Accuser William Payne's parents "had raised him to honor and respect the priest, and told him that he had to do what the priest told him to do," according to his lawsuit.  He had "been instilled with the belief that clergy are never wrong, and that the clergy were like Jesus.”


The lawsuits and other public statements collectively claim that priests preyed on children for nearly four decades, with allegations of wrongdoing reaching the highest levels of the Guam Catholic hierarchy.  

Archbishop Anthony Apuron, 13 Guam priests and others, including a Catholic schoolteacher, a Catholic school janitor  and a Boy Scout leader, are alleged to be sexual predators. Guam's Archdiocese of Agana is a defendant in 96 lawsuits. The complaints detail alleged attacks from 1955 through 1994 and claim some religious leaders knew of the exploitation and ignored it. One retired priest, who admitted in an affidavit that he sexually abused 20 or more boys, still receives a monthly stipend from the archdiocese. The accusations also ensnare the Boy Scouts of America, where that priest also served as a scoutmaster. The scouting group is named as a co-defendant in 52 lawsuits.
While clergy abuse is well documented elsewhere in the U.S. and in cities around the world — even as the subject of the Academy Award-winning movie Spotlight — a similar pattern of allegations in Guam has gone largely unnoticed outside this tiny island. The accusations only recently caught the attention of the Vatican.
In June 2016, Pope Francis suspended Apuron, who has since been accused in four lawsuits of sexually abusing four altar boys in the 1970s. The Vatican is now trying him in a secret procedure that could lead to him being dismissed from the clergy, also known as being laicized. Apuron is among the highest-ranking church officials to be tried by the Vatican for sexual wrongdoings. 

Apuron has denied the abuse charges via statements on video and through written statements issued by the archdiocese. His attorney has filed motions to dismiss lawsuits against him. 
Apuron’s Vatican trial is “very, very rare, and the reason it’s rare is because the Vatican or the popes have protected the bishops,” says Dominican priest Tom Doyle, a specialist in canon, or church, law who advocates for abuse victims.  “They consider them to be the most important part of the church, so they protect them, no matter what they’ve done."
Complaints against the Boy Scouts say the group ignored the priest abuse and enabled clergy to prey on young boys.  At times the church required Guam altar boys join the Boy Scouts, and Boy Scouts were encouraged to serve in the church, according to lawsuits. 
The Guam lawsuits join a steady stream of accusations against Catholic clergy. In June, Pope Francis aide Cardinal George Pell was charged with "historical sexual offenses" by authorities in his native Australia. Pell denied the charges in a Vatican news conference.

The Boston scandal is one of the most high-profile examples of clergy abuse. In 2003, there was a $85 million settlement of 552 lawsuits against the Boston Archdiocese involving more than 150 priests.  Yet, Guam's sexual abuse controversy appears to have seeped more deeply into its smaller community. There are more than 4.7 million people in the greater Boston area, while the population of Guam — an island about 3,800 miles west of Hawaii — is fewer than 163,000 people. Per capita, that’s 12 lawsuits per 100,000 in Boston, compared with 59 lawsuits per 100,000 in Guam. 
Scandal runs deep
Indeed, the accusations touch the personal and professional lives of many here. All eight of Guam's trial court judges, for instance, have recused themselves from at least some lawsuits, saying they have familial or business ties to either the plaintiffs or the defendants, court documents show.
The deluge of Guam abuse claims arrived after lawmakers passed a bill in September 2016 retroactively eliminating the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits involving child sexual abuse. The criminal statute of limitations was lifted in 2011 but can’t be applied retroactively.
Attorneys for the archdiocese, Apuron and the Boy Scouts, as well as two accused clergy members —  retired Saipan Bishop Tomas Camacho and the Rev. David Anderson —  have filed motions to dismiss the lawsuits, arguing that the law lifting the statute of limitations for civil claims in child sexual abuse cases is unconstitutional. As of late July, some of the defendants had not been served with legal papers and had not filed responses, according to court records. 
The archdiocese has said it takes all allegations “very seriously."
"We care deeply about every person who steps forward and we look forward to a full resolution of all cases," the archdiocese said in a July 28 news release.   The Vatican didn’t reply to requests for comment.
The Boy Scouts “deeply regrets that there have been times when scouts were abused” and has developed safeguards, such as not allowing a leader to be alone with a child, scout Aloha Council CEO Jeff Sulzbach said in a statement. 
The lawsuits filed in the District Court of Guam and the Superior Court of Guam claim pervasive incidents of abuse dotted through everyday island life.  Some examples of the allegations: 
·         In the 1970s, Apuron molested Roy Taitague Quintanilla, then 12, and raped Walter Denton, then 13, according to Quintanilla's and Denton's respective lawsuits. Both Quintanilla and Denton said they spoke, separately, with priest Jack Niland, about the alleged abuse. In a 2015 letter to the Vatican, Denton said that after he and another former altar boy told Niland that Apuron raped them, Niland told them, "Well, boys, priesthood is a very lonely life." Niland, now deceased, was accused of child molestation in a separate lawsuit.
·         In 1988, then-priest Raymond Cepeda threw Timothy Ryan Shiroma, then around age 9, to a basilica office floor and got on top of him, according to Shiroma's lawsuit. When Shiroma began to cry, Cepeda allegedly unzipped a backpack, pushed Shiroma’s head inside and sexually assaulted him.  A separate lawsuit filed by a man identified as B.B.J. says that in 1982, Cepeda officiated a funeral Mass for his grandmother, then fondled him during the car ride to the cemetery. Cepeda, who was defrocked in 2009 amid sexual abuse allegations, could not be reached for comment and has not filed a legal response.  
·         Between 1985 and 1988, then-priest Andrew Mannetta is said to have sexually assaulted a victim, identified only as N.Q. in his lawsuit, in the rectory adjacent to San Miguel church.  Mannetta, who was removed from the clergy in 2002 amid abuse allegations, could not be reached for comment, and no response to the lawsuit has been filed.
·         Priest Ray Techaira allegedly molested a plaintiff,  identified only as J.A., on the day J.A. turned 7 in 1984. J.A. claims Techaira then gave him $20 and said what happened should be kept a secret. Techaira, who is now deceased, went on to rape or molest J.A. more than 100 times, according to the lawsuit. No response to the lawsuit has been filed. 
·         Priest and scoutmaster Louis Brouillard is claimed to have raped and molested a victim identified only as A.N.D. during Boy Scout summer jamboree campouts in 1974 and 1975, starting the abuse when A.N.D was about 11.  A.N.D. also says in his lawsuit that two other scout leaders then took turns raping him after he told Brouillard he was going to report him.  

Brouillard, a priest on Guam from 1948 to 1981, has been named as an abuser in 55 lawsuits. He admitted in an affidavit in October 2016 that he sexually abused 20 or more boys on the island. The affidavit, an exhibit in some of the lawsuits, was obtained by an investigator who went to Brouillard’s home in Minnesota. The investigator was hired by David Lujan, the attorney for 75 plaintiffs in the church lawsuits. 
Brouillard said in that affidavit that fellow clergy, including then-Bishop Apollinaris Baumgartner, who is now dead, knew of his actions and told him to “try to do better” and to say prayers as penance.
Reached by the Pacific Daily News by phone after he was named as an abuser in a Guam Legislature hearing last summer, Brouillard said “it’s possible” he abused altar boys on the island.
Brouillard hasn't filed a legal response and couldn’t be reached for additional comment.
The Archdiocese of Agana still provides Brouillard, 96, with a monthly stipend of $550.
Do what the priests say
Catholicism has long been an integral part of life on this Western Pacific island. 
“Since the 17th century, Catholic churches have been the center of village activities,” proclaims the Guam Visitors Bureau on a website describing the culture of its native Chamorro population.
About 85% of its residents are Catholic, populating 26 parishes on an island just 30 miles long. 
Extreme reverence for church leadership, paired with Guam's remote location, left abused children geographically trapped with few places to go for help, says Joelle Casteix, a volunteer regional director of the support group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP. 
Priests used their clout to gain access to the boys, as well as to keep their victims quiet, according to many of the lawsuits. One accuser, described in his lawsuit only as S.A.F., said that in 1975 Brouillard told him, "If you tell anyone, no one will believe you because I am a priest." 
In some cases, they were told that sexual acts were “penance” or were needed to earn Boy Scout badges, according to lawsuits.
Some accusers say they were too terrified to tell their devout parents, while others told adults but weren’t believed, according to the lawsuits.
“I thought about it a million times, but I was scared to tell them, especially my mom,” a man identified only as R.B. in his lawsuit told the Pacific Daily News in a phone interview. “She's a die-hard Catholic. If I tell her a priest did that to me, I don't think she would believe me." 
In at least two lawsuits, accusers said the abuse was reported to local police decades ago. However, the Guam Police Department recently said it has no record of the reports, which would not have been retained because the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution passed long ago.
Even as adults, victims feared discussing what happened, says SNAP’s Casteix, who came to Guam in 2009 to follow up on a call she received from an accuser.
“I was told outright that victims were scared that they would be shunned from their families, kicked out of the church, lose their jobs, or that by speaking out against the church or Apuron, they would threaten the financial security of their loved ones,” she says.  
Some were even concerned their phones might be tapped, she says.
“No one wanted to be seen with me, not even the tipster who initially called me,” she says. “I was told that the church was the most powerful entity on the island, outside of the military. Messing with Apuron was worse than messing with God.”


Power beyond the pulpit
Apuron, 71, wielded much influence.  
“He, as archbishop, had immense power,” says Guam Legislature Speaker Benjamin Cruz, a former judge and Guam Supreme Court justice. 
Apuron, the second native Chamorro archbishop and once an altar boy himself, led the Catholic faithful here for three decades. He officiated thousands of masses, baptisms, weddings and funerals and positioned himself as a fierce defender of morality, local culture and tradition. When “Father Tony” was the pastor, families considered it a source of pride to have their sons serve as altar boys. 
He readily used his stature as spiritual leader to help shape political decisions. In one instance, he threatened to excommunicate any Catholic lawmaker who voted against a measure that outlawed all abortions except when necessary to save the life of the mother. 
Yet, in recent years, Apuron faced detractors who criticized him for how he handled church real estate and finances. In December 2014, disgruntled civic leaders formed Concerned Catholics of Guam, a non-profit group that called for greater financial transparency from the archdiocese and for Apuron’s resignation. 
In May 2016, Concerned Catholics ran a full-page ad in local newspapers including the Pacific Daily News urging sexual abuse victims to come forward. The ad listed specific dates and locations, each corresponding to Apuron’s service dates and parishes. 
Concerned Catholics President David Sablan says the ads were placed at the request of local Catholic issues blogger Tim Rohr, who had encouraged clergy sex abuse victims to come forward via a post on his JungleWatch blog.
Rohr says he posted that blog item after he spoke with three of Apuron’s accusers:  Quintanilla, Denton and Roland Sondia. Like Quintanilla and Denton, Sondia — who is an employee of the Pacific Daily News — has filed a sexual abuse lawsuit against Apuron, the archdiocese and others. 
Nine days after the Concerned Catholics ad came out, Quintanilla held a news conference to accuse Apuron of molesting him. Then Doris Concepcion, the mother of former altar boy Joseph “Sonny” Quinata, said in an interview with the Pacific Daily News that soon before Quinata died, he told her Apuron abused him. The estate of Quinata also has filed a lawsuit against Apuron, the archdiocese and others.
On June 6, 2016, Pope Francisstripped Apuron of his administrative authority and installed a temporary apostolic administrator in Guam. Apuron said the appointment was made at his request. “The holy father has understood the importance of establishing the truth and will allow an independent investigation of these false allegations to proceed,” he said on a video released by the archdiocese.
In October, the pope appointed Archbishop Michael Byrnes of Detroit to run the Guam archdiocese. He is designated as Apuron's eventual successor.
The Vatican tribunal's discovery phase of Apuron's trial has ended, and a group of judges are deliberating on his fate. 
Last week, a federal judge agreed to temporarily halt proceedings in most of the clergy sex abuse lawsuits so they can go through an out-of-court settlement process. The church’s financial arm has identified dozens of its island properties that could be sold to help finance the settlements. The church also has set up a "Hope and Healing Guam" initiative to provide counseling for victims.
Apuron still officially holds the title of archbishop. 
Some still have faith
Some lawsuit plaintiffs say the alleged abuse damaged their spirituality, and at least one abandoned the Catholic Church.  
Yet, many retained their religious beliefs. After the first group of former altar boys filed suit late last year, plaintiff's attorney Lujan said the men "hope and pray that the church flourishes for another 2,000 years.” 
On the island, resident Mae Reyes Ada, 74, says she sometimes feels embarrassed and guilty that she did not speak up when she first heard rumors of clergy abuse in the 1970s.  "The mentality at the time was you don’t say anything bad about the church and the priests,” she says, adding that she didn't have proof. 
“We should have, and we could have, done something a long time ago," says Ada, who joined the peaceful protests to have Apuron permanently removed from the clergy.
Despite the scandal, she says, her religious conviction has only intensified. 
“The church is going through purging and cleansing,” she says. “It takes somebody with a strong faith to fight this war."

And one young island resident — born after the alleged abuse took place —  stands ready to make sure the church flourishes.  
“I’m here to help these people in their fight against the evils that have infiltrated our church,” Jaden Comon, 14, said during a July protest to have Apuron removed.  
Comon's aspiration: to become a priest.   
“As young people, we are the future of the church,” he says.  “It’s our responsibility, especially when we were baptized in the faith, to come and help.”
Contributing: Nichelle Smith, USA TODAY; Eric J. Lyman, USA TODAY

PAT SAYS:

Now it's Guam's turn on the Catholic clergy abuse map and it includes the archbishop who is on trial in Rome.

He could not be tried in Guam because of a statute of limitation.

The Guam case highlights something I have been wondering about for some time.

We have heard about bishops and priests abusing children in their own countries in the West.

But the big untold story is about the abuse of children by priests who went on the missions to places like Africa, South America and Asia.

This includes the Irish missionary priests, brothers and nuns who went on the missions to these areas of the world.

These nations are now coming of age and they have a developing media.

The story of children being abused by missionaries will probably be even bigger than the story of children being abused at home.  

We must now brace ourselves for more horrific stories from the "Missions".







34 comments:

  1. No doubt what you say will prove true. I remember it being roumered years ago that priests on the south American missions had partners because that was the culture. Celibacy was an alien concept

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    1. You are an alien culture

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  2. 'Guam: Remote U.S. territory steeped in Catholicism' The three last words of this caption make me feel physically sick. Literally. Being 'steeped in Catholicism' has, traditionally, little (if anything) to do with Christ, but with a culture of priestly deference and subservience, in other words, 'with clericalism'. Ireland is all-too familiar with it, as are other 'Catholic' countries. And where clericalism is, so, too, will be abuse of various sorts (including sexual).

    Roman Catholic clergy are deeply damaging the Church and will have much to answer for. In the meantime, the damage they cause can at least be reduced and contained by the laity's refusing to pay clerical stipends unless priests' behaviour (including that of bishops) is more typical of Christ. Lay people have enormous power to bring these Iscariots to heel, but seem to lack the will to do so. Which is a pity. If ordinary Catholics (like the Shire horse in Orwell's 'Animal Farm') knew their strength, they would not tolerate these continued clerical abuses a moment longer, but would hold to account the clerical Christ-betrayers.

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    1. A small minority of clergy are abusers!
      . The vast majority are decent upright men trying to live a worthy of their vocation. So when spitting venom bear this in mind.

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    2. The laity are not confident enough to seek God without the guidance of a priest. They pay their money and keep to the laws and hope to get there that way. It's a mixture of timidity and laziness. Some can't separate the institutional from the mystical. A lot of the laity have the spiritual age of a child. They have a child-like faith in the system. If you were to suggest that the system is deeply flawed, arrogant and corrupt, they will accuse you of disloyalty. They also find it deeply, emotionally disturbing. Highly intelligent people do not think about their faith and think all the bishops are saints. I am lucky in that I have a good theological library and can peddle my own canoe. When I was told by a parishioner that Catholics are not allowed to read or meditate...I just gave up!

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    3. 15:39, you have absolutely no idea how great or how small is the percentage of clerical child-sex abusers. None. By its very nature, such abuse is clandestine. We will never know the true number of clerical child molesters and rapists in the Church.

      However, this is beside the point, which you missed: my comment concerns principally CLERICALISM, which, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church, is systemic among the clergy. For heavens sake, non-clerics are so mistrusted by the so-called 'ministerial Church' that few parishes will allow a lay person to preach a sermon!

      Clericalism feeds a priest's vanity and affords him a pleasant sense of superiority over non-clerics; it is not good for the Church as a whole, as sex-abuse (and other) scandals have clearly shown.

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    4. 16:23, yours is a particularly good and perceptive comment, especially your statement that many lay people have 'the spiritual age of a child'.

      When Jesus instructed his disciples to become like little children in terms of trust and dependency, he meant in relation to him, not to Rome.

      Some (too many in the history of Catholicism ) confused the two, an error reinforced by instilled fear of damnation for questioning the use/misuse of authority in the Church.

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    5. You didn't think to inform yourself of the churches' long tradition of promoting both?

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    6. '...the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found that the average time it took between a victim of Catholic sexual abuse being abused and reporting it, or seeking redress, is 33 years.[17] For this reason there is insufficient data to be able to accurately ascertain current rates of child sex abuse, or to claim that abuse in the Catholic Church has fallen in recent decades. The Commission revealed 7% of Australian priests between 1950–2009 were accused of abusing children, and that one Catholic order had 40.4% of their non-ordained members with allegations against them in this period.'
      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_sexual_abuse_cases

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  3. Your prediction is spot on. You've said all along the paedophile revelations come first (which will flare up in 'the missions' next) then the revelations about other sex and money.
    The revelations about priests exported from first world countries will be ongoing for many years to come.
    All this of course was done by a group who preach doing what is right and sex only between one married man and woman.
    And the apologists for the institution's abuse will continue to bleat that this is Catholic bashing, or there were only a few rotten apples, ir Pope Benedict was such a lovely man,or other religions have abuse problems, or some such bollocks.

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  4. You don't hear much about Poland either. It may have been same as Ireland. But then again, maybe the Communist party kept the priests under control. Let’s hope so.

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    1. My Polish friends tell me abuse was ride there.

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    2. Shocking. The Catholic church in Poland must be using their still considerable influence there to suppress everything. Hopefully, some Polish people now settle in UK will expose them sooner or later.

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  5. You really need to get a life and a healthy mind.

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  6. MourneManMichael8 August 2017 at 11:43

    I have little doubt Pat that following this blog you will receive criticism and accusations of "muck raking" in campaigning against the institutionalised RC church.
    Before they start, perhaps those considering such responses ought to consider their motives before answering the question: "would you rather such matters as abusive clerical behaviour were kept hidden ?"
    ......hidden from the naive parishoners who day and daily contribute to the privileged position of many RC clerics?
    .......hidden from the parents whose childrens' voiced concerns about priests' behaviour have been dismissed as inconceiveable?
    And any argument that it is unfair to many good honourable clerics just doesn't count. Perhaps too many of them 'kept their heads down' to avoid rocking the boat?
    MMM

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    1. MMM, I already had a wheel barrow of such abuse overnight.

      Most of it was unpublishable.

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  7. Pat, the story of Guam will be replicated in other Missionary territories. So much good done, particularly by women's religious groups, will be undermined by the behaviour of deviant and abusive clerics and lay people. Priests are called, even in their broken humanity to serve Christ compassionately in and through others, especially the poor and vulnerable. (broken not deviant/abusive).It is totally unacceptable that any abuse is covered up. Totally repugnant. Our task is to ensure it is revealed for its horror and seek justice for all who have been deeply damaged. I sometimes feel that very often each of us can easily make judgments about the unacceptable wrong done by others, including clerics, and yet, we don't do anything in our community to enhance people's lives. I know many people who condemn and criticise the lack of support for many vulnerable people but give nothing of their time getting involved in social justice advocacy groups. Our criticism of Church negligence is admirable, necessary and valid but let us also see the hurt and pain of many in our midst, about whuch we can do something worthwhile. This compassionate response would give our criticism of clergy a greater authenticity. We would not just be critics from the sidelines. It is possible to make a difference by our generous hearts.

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  8. I seen a Dungannon priest on Grindr.

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    1. Young or old looking for old or young? I wonder.

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  9. Have you seen Mission to Prey?
    It was a shocking RTE TV programme that falsely accused a priest of awful deeds while on the missions.
    It must be a nightmare to have been falsely accused. I cannot imagine anything worse.

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    1. I agree with you. The cross this man had to deal with was so sad. Thankfully he was able to get his life sorted and move on. I hope he is happy and content in his life.

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    2. What was that priest's name again?

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    3. He is a saint of a man. He'll be so compassionate and forgiving after the ordeal that he endured.
      At the heart of my faith is forgiveness but I sometimes find it hard to forgive people. I just don't know how it can find it in his heard to forgive the people who injured him.

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    4. Well sometimes you would wonder on this blog if there's any forgiveness. I find that modern society is very tolerant. I expect to get a hounding for saying it but I feel's it true.

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  10. 15.00. What are you doing on grindr? Have you nothing more worthwhile to do in your life, like joining a charity for the poor and homeless, where you could usefully use your energy and gifts, if you have any! You are a lecherous fool.....

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    1. Very wise advice... or he/she could study the rules of grammar!

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  11. Slow news day on the blog. Time to refocus on the strange goings on in the wee north

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  12. I see where Pope Francis sent a blessing to a same-sex couple who had their children baptised.
    Do you do many baptisms, Pat?

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    1. Did Pope Francis do that??? I haven't heard.
      I've lesbian friends who recently gave birth to twins. I must tell them.

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  13. I felt privileged to read about that gay man who sang in the choir from last nights' post.
    and also listen to the Nolan interview of the priest who felt suicidal. I hope he is getting the help he needs.

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    1. That priest on Nolan is now dead a year ago.

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    2. Despite what people say about Nolan he is an excellent interviewer. Whoever that Priest was, he was a well match for him,I never heard Nolan go silent in an interview, that takes something!!

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    3. At 00:18 Is that true? Which diocese?

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  14. “America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance. It is not. It is suffering from tolerance: tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. Our country is not nearly so much overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broad-minded. The man who can make up his mind in an orderly way, as a man might make up his bed, is called a bigot; but a man who cannot make up his mind, any more than he can make up for lost time, is called tolerant and broad-minded.” Fulton Sheen

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