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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Sistine chapel choir investigation

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Vatican confirms investigation into the Pontifical Choir
Money laundering, serious fraud, embezzlement: The director of the choir of the Sistine Chapel is currently facing serious allegations. The choirmaster is also being investigated due to his dealings with the boys' choir.

The Administrative Director and the head of the choir of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican are being investigated. Media reports were confirmed by the Vatican on Wednesday evening. Pope Francis had "a few months ago, ordered investigations on financial and administrative matters of the choir". These are still in progress, they said.

According to media reports, Administrative Director, Michelangelo Nardella is accused of having deposited funds from concert income from the choir into an Italian account. It concerns the criminal offences of money laundering, serious fraud and embezzlement. It is claimed Nardella's account for concert receipts had been used for personal expenses.

Rude tones

Already at the beginning of July Nardella had been suspended. His lawyer had denied that there were investigations against her client. However, the investigations opened soon after, said the Vatican. In addition, there is currently a visitation of the choir, reports Vatican Insider. The parents of some choir boys complained about the rude tone of the choirmaster, Massimo Palombella.

The Pontifical Choir of the Sistine Chapel (Cappella Musicale Pontificia Sistina) is considered the oldest continuously existing choir in the world. It was founded in its present form in 1471, but its origins date back to Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th century. The four-part ensemble has about 60 singers, with soprano and alto registers populated by boys' voices. Through the elaboration of the liturgical celebrations of the Pope, the music of the "Cappella Sistina" finds a worldwide distribution. In addition, the choir regularly releases recordings or undertakes concert tours to countries around the world.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

German bishops accuse press of irresponsibility for making sexual abuse report public

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Abuse study: Bishops criticise indiscretion
The German bishops want to confront the results of their abuse study. These are "oppressive and shameful". Nevertheless, they are criticising the premature publication.  This is because the planned counselling provision for the victims is not yet available.

The German Bishops Conference regrets that the results of their study on sexual abuse have become known ahead of time as a result of indiscretion. "Especially with regard to the victims of sexual abuse, the irresponsible announcement of the study is a serious blow," said Bishop Stephan Ackermann, the abuse representative of the Episcopal Conference, according to a press release on Wednesday.

The bishops would face up to the content of the study, according to Ackermann. "We know about the extent of the sexual abuse demonstrated by the study's findings, which is depressing and shameful for us." He called for a "responsible and professional working through" of sexual abuse in the church. The study is a measure "that we owe not only to the Church but above all and first and foremost those affected," said the bishop.

"Spiegel" and "Zeit" have published contents in advance

The on-line issues of "Spiegel" and "Zeit" reported on the central statements of the study on Wednesday, two weeks before the planned presentation of the study during the General Assembly of the Episcopal Conference in Fulda on September 25. According to Ackermann, the bishops knew about the content.  However, the Bishops' Conference intends to adhere to the planned release date, regardless of the indiscretions, according to Ackermann.

Ackermann pointed out that the Episcopal Conference wanted to accompany the publication of the study on 25 September with a counselling offer for those affected. For this purpose, a hotline should be set up for people "who are upset because of the reporting and need to talk to someone". However, due to the early release of the study results, this service is not yet ready. Ackermann asked before the activation of the hotline for contact to be made via the telephone and Internet chaplaincy or to the Abuse Prevention Officer in the diocese.

Study documents 3,677 abuse victims

The new Bishop's Abuse Study documents a total of 3,677 victims who were abused by at least 1,670 priests and religious in the years 1946-2014. The study further states that the researchers did not assume that "the sexual abuse of minors by clergy of the Catholic Church is a past topic that has since been overcome".

The study was created by a research consortium led by the Mannheim psychiatrist, Harald Dreßing. Also involved are the Institute of Criminology and the Institute of Gerontology at the University of Heidelberg and the Department of Criminology at the University of Gießen. The aim of the study, in which all 27 dioceses in Germany have participated, is to gain more clarity and transparency about this dark side in our church, for the sake of those affected, but also to see for themselves the wrongdoings and to do anything to ensure they cannot be repeated.

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Report finds massive, previously unreported abuse and cover-up- in German Catholic Church- recommends ordaining homosexuals.

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The Catholic Church in Germany has a massive problem in dealing with the sexual abuse of minors by priests and religious. This is the result of the MHG study, the report of a research consortium of the Universities of Mannheim, Heidelberg and Giessen.

The strictly confidential study ordered by the German Bishops' Conference is to be presented on 25 September by Cardinal Reinhard Marx in Fulda. Der Spiegel has obtained the summary of the results.

Accordingly, more than 38,000 personnel and reference files from 27 German dioceses were examined and evaluated. For the period from 1946 to 2014, the study counts 3677 predominantly male minors as victims of sexual offenses. 1670 clerics are accused of misdeeds.

More than half of the victims, were at the time of the crime, a maximum of 13 years old. In about every sixth case, there were different forms of rape. Three-quarters of those affected were in a church or pastoral relationship with the accused.

These numbers are called conservative assumptions. "Findings about the dark side were not obtained," write the authors of the study: "Thus all frequency information understates the actual proportions".

Numerous files destroyed

Half of all cases would not even have been detected without a request for compensation by the persons concerned, as the personal files of the accused did not contain any information. In many cases they were "destroyed or manipulated". This results in a "reference to the extent of the assumed dark side," write the authors of the study.

Moreover, there is no reason to believe that "the sexual abuse of minors by clergy of the Catholic Church is a topic belonging to the past and now resolved".  The series of abuses continued up until the end of the investigation period.

Conspicuously often, the accused clerics were transferred to another place without the host community being "provided with the appropriate information" about the abuser. Only one third of the perpetrators had to submit to a canon law procedure, at the end of which the sanctions were minimal, if they were put in place at all.

The percentage of those accused within the total number of active clerics is four percent. Typologically they are divided into three categories: "fixed", "narcissistic-sociopathic" or "regressive-immature".

Celibacy as a risk factor?

When asked about the reasons for persistent abuse, the authors of the study are reluctant to comment. However, there are some indications: "It is urgent to rethink the fundamental refusal of the Catholic Church to consecrate homosexual men," it says. In addition, the question must be open whether the obligation to celibacy is "a potential risk factor".

At the moment, Cardinal Marx, Chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, is still working with his PR experts on the communication strategy for the 25 September - the day on which he intends to present the results of the study after a morning sermon at the Cathedral in Fulda. Its official title: "Sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests and male religious in the region of ​​the German Bishops' Conference".

The highest representative of the Catholic Church in Germany certainly will receive public attention in the context of the headlines about the recent abuse scandals in the United States,. For the future, a co-ordinated strategy and a "long-term catalogue of measures" is recommended by the authors of the study. "Lip-service from church leaders", should not be the response.

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