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Former priest pleads not guilty to abuse charges in NM after extradition

Santa Fe, N.M., Sep 24, 2018 / 05:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A former priest is back in the United States after he fled to Morocco in 1992 to escape accusations of sexual abuse.

Arthur Perrault, 80, is accused of sexually abusing a child in the early 1990s and was extradited to New Mexico to face charges Sept. 21.

Perrault served in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe from 1973 to 1992, and the alleged abuse occurred while Perrault was serving as a military chaplain in Albuquerque. He is charged with seven counts of aggravated sexual abuse and abusive sexual contact with a minor under the age of 12.

The former priest has pled not guilty to all seven counts against him.

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe stated that “over the past year” it has “fully cooperated with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI during the federal grand jury investigation which ultimately led to these criminal indictments against Perrault.”

“The archdiocese has cooperated fully with all law enforcement agencies investigating the allegations and will continue to support the judicial process as it runs its course. We ask all to cooperate and respect the legal proceedings and for prayers for all victims and those affected by these very serious charges.”

Perrault had been in the custody of Moroccan authorities since October of last year, after the Department of Justice filed an indictment against him Sept. 21, 2017. U.S. Attorney John Anderson for the District of New Mexico stated that Perrault could face a maximum sentence of life in prison for the aggravated sexual abuse charge and a maximum of 10 years for the abusive sexual contact charge.

Only one alleged victim is mentioned in the indictment, but a motion filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Mexico alleges that Perrault is a “serial child molester who abused numerous victims” during his priesthood. The Albuquerque Journal reports that nearly 40 of Perrault’s alleged victims in New Mexico have come forward, as well as the mother of one young man who claims her son committed suicide following abuse.

Perrault had been sent to a treatment center for sexually abusive priests in 1965 after being accused of molesting young men in Connecticut. The center, located in Jemez Springs, N.M., was run by the Servants of the Paraclete. In 1966, a psychologist contracting with the order recommended him for a teaching position at St. Pius X High School.

The Journal also reports that court records suggest that several priests and diocesan leaders were alerted to Perrault’s conduct during his 26 year priesthood in Albuquerque.

By 1992, after two victims reported abuse to the Albuquerque police, the then-archbishop suspended Perrault’s priestly faculties and reported the accusations to Albuquerque civil authorities. The accused priest disappeared from his Albuquerque parish in 1992, just days before an attorney filed two lawsuits against the archdiocese.

Former priest pleads not guilty to abuse charges in NM after extradition

Santa Fe, N.M., Sep 24, 2018 / 05:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A former priest is back in the United States after he fled to Morocco in 1992 to escape accusations of sexual abuse.

Arthur Perrault, 80, is accused of sexually abusing a child in the early 1990s and was extradited to New Mexico to face charges Sept. 21.

Perrault served in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe from 1973 to 1992, and the alleged abuse occurred while Perrault was serving as a military chaplain in Albuquerque. He is charged with seven counts of aggravated sexual abuse and abusive sexual contact with a minor under the age of 12.

The former priest has pled not guilty to all seven counts against him.

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe stated that “over the past year” it has “fully cooperated with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI during the federal grand jury investigation which ultimately led to these criminal indictments against Perrault.”

“The archdiocese has cooperated fully with all law enforcement agencies investigating the allegations and will continue to support the judicial process as it runs its course. We ask all to cooperate and respect the legal proceedings and for prayers for all victims and those affected by these very serious charges.”

Perrault had been in the custody of Moroccan authorities since October of last year, after the Department of Justice filed an indictment against him Sept. 21, 2017. U.S. Attorney John Anderson for the District of New Mexico stated that Perrault could face a maximum sentence of life in prison for the aggravated sexual abuse charge and a maximum of 10 years for the abusive sexual contact charge.

Only one alleged victim is mentioned in the indictment, but a motion filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Mexico alleges that Perrault is a “serial child molester who abused numerous victims” during his priesthood. The Albuquerque Journal reports that nearly 40 of Perrault’s alleged victims in New Mexico have come forward, as well as the mother of one young man who claims her son committed suicide following abuse.

Perrault had been sent to a treatment center for sexually abusive priests in 1965 after being accused of molesting young men in Connecticut. The center, located in Jemez Springs, N.M., was run by the Servants of the Paraclete. In 1966, a psychologist contracting with the order recommended him for a teaching position at St. Pius X High School.

The Journal also reports that court records suggest that several priests and diocesan leaders were alerted to Perrault’s conduct during his 26 year priesthood in Albuquerque.

By 1992, after two victims reported abuse to the Albuquerque police, the then-archbishop suspended Perrault’s priestly faculties and reported the accusations to Albuquerque civil authorities. The accused priest disappeared from his Albuquerque parish in 1992, just days before an attorney filed two lawsuits against the archdiocese.

CRS sells fair trade coffee, supporting Mexican farmers and land

Baltimore, Md., Sep 24, 2018 / 04:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholic Relief Services is now offering fair trade coffee beans that will benefit local farming communities in Mexico and foster better agricultural practices.

“So many of us love coffee, and this is just a really easy way to live out your faith and support the people who work really hard to create the products that we love,” said Meghan Gilbert, communications officer for CRS.

“As Catholics, we have to uphold the dignity of everyone and one really great way to do that is to make sure workers are treated fairly and that they are paid a fair price for what they produce,” she told CNA.

The project is called Mama Tierra, or Mother Earth, and is a joint effort of CRS and Equal Exchange, a fair trade company that looks to provide a just relationship between consumers and producers.

For every bag of coffee sold at retail price, $2 will be given to CRS. If a unit of five bags are sold at wholesale price, then $5 will be donated. CRS will use the money to help educate farmers on practices to improve quantity and reduce waste.  

The coffee sales also support members of a democratically-run cooperative of farmers in Oaxaca. The cooperative is called CEPCO and involves 4,300 farmers. The group provides a fair price for the product and educates farmers to improve cultivation.

Because coffee produces a lot of waste, a major focus of the project is to instruct farmers in environmentally-friendly agriculture, with measures such as reducing water contamination and improving soil quality, said Gilbert.

“We also work with them on how to grow this coffee so it actually puts more nutrients into the soil so it reduces the harm to the land and actually increases their yield,” she said.

“It’s about not just caring for the worker, it’s caring for the environment as well. Because if we don’t care for the environment, these workers won’t be able to produce coffee or some of the other agricultural goods.”

CRS has worked with Equal Exchange for more than 10 years, and this project has been in the works for the past few years, said Gilbert. Since the product is fair trade, the workers and farmers receive a just return on their product, she said, noting this is important because many farmers are not paid justly.

“You look around the world and you hear all these stories – workers getting paid very, very little for the amount of work they do,” she said. “When you make sure that they are paid a fair wage, then workers are treated better and they are able to produce and increase their business.”

Gilbert said fair trade is also important because it cultivates a culture that appreciates the workers on the other side of the products – items which people may take advantage of without recognizing the poor treatment those workers receive.

“I think that is really what ethical trade at CRS and fair trade over all is really trying to get people to think about who is on the other end of that product and who is creating it and making sure that they are treated well, that they are paid a fair wage.”

CRS sells fair trade coffee, supporting Mexican farmers and land

Baltimore, Md., Sep 24, 2018 / 04:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholic Relief Services is now offering fair trade coffee beans that will benefit local farming communities in Mexico and foster better agricultural practices.

“So many of us love coffee, and this is just a really easy way to live out your faith and support the people who work really hard to create the products that we love,” said Meghan Gilbert, communications officer for CRS.

“As Catholics, we have to uphold the dignity of everyone and one really great way to do that is to make sure workers are treated fairly and that they are paid a fair price for what they produce,” she told CNA.

The project is called Mama Tierra, or Mother Earth, and is a joint effort of CRS and Equal Exchange, a fair trade company that looks to provide a just relationship between consumers and producers.

For every bag of coffee sold at retail price, $2 will be given to CRS. If a unit of five bags are sold at wholesale price, then $5 will be donated. CRS will use the money to help educate farmers on practices to improve quantity and reduce waste.  

The coffee sales also support members of a democratically-run cooperative of farmers in Oaxaca. The cooperative is called CEPCO and involves 4,300 farmers. The group provides a fair price for the product and educates farmers to improve cultivation.

Because coffee produces a lot of waste, a major focus of the project is to instruct farmers in environmentally-friendly agriculture, with measures such as reducing water contamination and improving soil quality, said Gilbert.

“We also work with them on how to grow this coffee so it actually puts more nutrients into the soil so it reduces the harm to the land and actually increases their yield,” she said.

“It’s about not just caring for the worker, it’s caring for the environment as well. Because if we don’t care for the environment, these workers won’t be able to produce coffee or some of the other agricultural goods.”

CRS has worked with Equal Exchange for more than 10 years, and this project has been in the works for the past few years, said Gilbert. Since the product is fair trade, the workers and farmers receive a just return on their product, she said, noting this is important because many farmers are not paid justly.

“You look around the world and you hear all these stories – workers getting paid very, very little for the amount of work they do,” she said. “When you make sure that they are paid a fair wage, then workers are treated better and they are able to produce and increase their business.”

Gilbert said fair trade is also important because it cultivates a culture that appreciates the workers on the other side of the products – items which people may take advantage of without recognizing the poor treatment those workers receive.

“I think that is really what ethical trade at CRS and fair trade over all is really trying to get people to think about who is on the other end of that product and who is creating it and making sure that they are treated well, that they are paid a fair wage.”

Irish health minister proposes abortion free-of-charge

Dublin, Ireland, Sep 24, 2018 / 03:03 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Irish Health Minister Simon Harris has announced that he intends to make it possible for women in the Republic of Ireland to have abortions free of charge, following the recent legalization of abortion in the country.

Harris said he didn’t want “cost to be a barrier” to women wanting to obtain abortions, and that it would become part of Ireland’s public health system. Funds to pay for the procedures will be included in this year’s budget, according to local media reports.

Harris stated in a speech in January that an estimated 170,000 Irish women have traveled to other countries for abortions since 1980.

Irish president Michael Higgins signed the repeal of the Eighth Amendment, which was voted on in a country-wide referendum in May, into law Sept. 18. The law had previously provided for equal protection of the lives of both the mother and the unborn child.

In terms of Irish law, the next phase will involve the Health Minister submitting a new law governing abortion, which is expected to reach the Irish legislature in October and could be in force by 2019, according to NPR. Draft legislation suggests that the new law could allow elective abortion up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy.

Prominent Irish doctors have expressed concerns about the government’s quick turnaround to begin performing free abortions, citing safety concerns for the women involved.

Dr Peter Boylan, chair of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and Dr John O Brien, chair of the Irish College of General Practitioners, both stated that talks with the Department of Health about how abortions will be delivered have been lagging.

Boylan also advised against a three-day waiting period for women seeking abortions, claiming the waiting period may “act as a barrier and [make] unwarranted assumptions about women’s ability to make their own decisions.”

Ireland is also facing a potential shortage of doctors willing to participate in abortions; surveys show that roughly seven out of 10 general practitioners in Ireland are unwilling to perform abortions.

Dr Mary Favier, vice president of the Irish College of General Practitioners, told the Oireachtas Health Committee Sept. 18 that “there  are concerns about capacity and resourcing issues such as staffing, facilities, training.”

“They are concerned about the potential lack of appropriate specialist support, the possibility of medical complications for their patients, what will be the public reaction to those who don't provide and those who do,” the Irish News reported Favier stating.

“They have a fear of litigation, they wish to see an acknowledgement of conscientious objection and how to accommodate this in the clinical pathway but also an acknowledgement of conscientious commitment and how to support this.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadker has said that Catholic hospitals will not be permitted to opt out of performing abortions, though individual medical professionals may.

The removal of the Eighth Amendment follows the decisive result of the national referendum held in May. Only one county, Donegal, voted to keep the amendment.

Nigerian priest dies shortly after being kidnapped

Warri, Nigeria, Sep 24, 2018 / 02:24 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A Catholic priest in Nigeria died Sept. 19, just days after escaping from kidnappers, according to local media reports. The exact cause of his death has not yet been made public.

Fr. Louis Odudu was kidnapped Sept. 14 and released the next day, according to the Diocese of Warri, although there are some reports that he escaped. Four days later, Fr. Odudu reportedly complained of pain before being taken to the hospital where he died. Whether or not he died as a result of injuries sustained during his kidnapping ordeal has not been made public by the diocese.

The Nigerian Daily Post reports that five Catholic priests have been abducted in the southern Nigerian state of Delta in 2018 alone.

Fr. Odudu was chaplain of the Seat of Wisdom Catholic Chaplaincy at the Petroleum Training Institute, a training school for the oil and gas industry located in the port city of Warri. Ordained in 1987, Fr. Odudu had been on sabbatical for two years in the United Kingdom before returning to his home diocese in 2018. He was assigned to the chaplaincy about two months before his kidnapping and death.

Members of the Diocese of Warri were already mourning the death of Fr. Stephen Ekakabor, who died in early September following a brain injury sustained during an armed invasion of his rectory in 2017. Members of the diocese were reportedly holding prayer vigils for Fr. Ekakabor on the day of Fr. Odudu’s death.

The governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, offered his condolences Sept. 21 to the Bishop of Warri and condemned the “renewed onslaught against Catholic priests and clergymen, assuring that Government will work closely with security agencies to arrest the ugly trend,” according to the diocese.

The Nigerian bishops speak out frequently to criticize the government for being slow to act in the face of violence against Nigerians for religious and political reasons.

 

Sri Lankan cardinal says religion is best guarantor of 'human rights'

Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sep 24, 2018 / 12:13 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Sri Lanka should not look to the western world's “new religion” of human rights but to its own religious traditions, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo said Sunday during his homily at Mass.

“Human rights have become the new religion of the west as if it's a new discovery, but people in our country have been following religions for centuries,” Cardinal Ranjith said Sept. 23, according to Ada Derana, a Sri Lankan news outlet.

He was speaking during Mass at St. Matthew's parish in Ekala, fewer than 20 miles north of Colombo.

The cardinal seems to have been denouncing the ideological colonization of which Pope Francis has frequently spoken.

“We know we have a short life-span, the longest being around 100 years; so if we get used to this ideology of living a materialistic lifestyle, we'll end our lives in an unfortunate manner at the end,” Cardinal Ranjith reflected.

He said that “there is no need to talk about protecting any of these human rights if we follow our religions properly, because they take us beyond any of these ideas. It is those who are not following any religion who talk about all these human rights issues. We shouldn't get entangled in this spell, and must act intelligently.”

Cardinal Ranjith's words were also reported by Hiru TV, another Sri Lankan television channel.

The Jesuit who survived the KGB

Vilnius, Lithuania, Sep 24, 2018 / 10:40 am (CNA).- When Pope Francis visited a former KGB building in Vilnius, Lithuania Sept. 23, Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevicius was the only bishop to accompany him there. Now housing the Museum of the Occupation and Freedom Fighters, the site was once used for the detention and execution of thousands of Lithuanians. Tamkevicius had personal experience as a prisoner there.

The building, a former gymnasium, served as a headquarters for the Gestapo during World War II. Following the Nazi retreat in 1944, the KGB moved in. More than 2,000 people were executed there, and 300 hundred priests were held prisoner - including Tamkevicius.

“In 8 months I was interrogated 60 times - every other day,” he said.

“The pope wanted to come and visit the roots of our pain,” the archbishop told CNA following the visit.

Born in 1938, Tamkevicius vividly remembers the Soviet occupation, and he told CNA about the campaign of religious repression Lithuanians faced under the communist regime.

“The Soviets wanted to destroy Lithuania and suppress religious freedom - that was non existent. They arrested more than 300 priests, who were not even allowed to teach. They wanted to minimize the Church. It was then that we started to think what we could do to resist the Soviets.”

Tamkevicius played an active part in resisting communist persecution of the Church in Lithuania. With four other priests, he founded in 1978 the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers’ Rights.

He also set up the Chronicle of the Catholic Church of Lithuania, a small magazine - produced on a typewriter - that reported on the situation of the Church and of Catholics in the Baltic state. Tamkevicius edited the Chronicle for 11 years.

Asked about why he felt called to play such a prominent role during a period of active persecution for the Church, Tamkevicius told CNA, “I entered the Church, and I entered it completely.”

As a Jesuit priest, Tamkevicius began his work of resistance by writing a news bulletin to inform the world about the persecution faced by the Church in Lithuania. As one of the younger members of the order, he felt called to take on an active role.

“I was one of the youngest,” he said, “so I made the decision that I could risk something for the Church.” Tamkevicius founded the Chronicle in 1972.

“Every issue of the Chronicle of the Church in Lithuania carried stories about what was happening here. When I started, I had no idea how many KGB collaborators were all around us. It was only thanks to God I could continue to write the Chronicles for 11 years.”

“In that place Pope Francis visited,” he said, “thousands have been killed, while thousands more were sent to into exile in the Soviet Union.” The archbishop was among them.

In 1983, Tamkevicius was arrested and held by the KGB. He was sentenced to 10 years of forced labor and exile. He served some of his sentence in Siberia.

Tamkevicius told CNA that Francis’ visit was an emotional moment for him.

“I dreamed for 35 years that the pope would one day visit the place where I and others were imprisoned, and so I thanked the pope for showing solidarity with our people.”

The pope’s speech was less important to the archbishop than the fact that he was there. He told  CNA that Francis “said nothing in particular, he showed solidarity.” He added that entering the museum building brought back memories, “good and bad.”

Among the good things, he said, was his recollection of “the prayers, never more intense - the Rosary, the reading of the Bible.”  These devotions sustained him during a period in which he was held and questioned by the Soviets.

Tamkevicius was eventually released as part of Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestrojka program. He returned home and was appointed spiritual director of the seminary in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second largest city, in 1989, becoming the rector of the seminary the following year.

In 1991, he was consecrated an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Kaunas, becoming the city’s archbishop in 1996.

Mary shows how to be near those who suffer, Pope Francis says

Aglona, Latvia, Sep 24, 2018 / 10:12 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Mary’s witness of standing beneath the cross of her Son teaches Catholics how to be close to those around them who are suffering, the pope said at Mass Monday in Latvia.

The Gospel of John says Mary stood near the cross of Christ, “close to her Son,” the pope said Sept. 24. “She stood there, at the foot of the cross, with unwavering conviction, fearless and immovable.”

“This is the main way that Mary shows herself. She stands near those who suffer, those from whom the world flees, including those who have been put on trial, condemned by all, deported.” Even those on the very fringes of society: “the Mother also stands close by them, steadfast beneath their cross of incomprehension and suffering,” he said.

Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the Shrine of the Mother of God in Aglona for the third day of a four-day visit to the Baltic states. His last day will be spent in Estonia.

Mary teaches Catholics to stand near others, as she did, he continued. To do so “demands more than simply passing by or making a quick visit… it means that those in painful situations should feel us standing firmly at their side and on their side.”

He stated that those who have been discarded by society can still experience the closeness of their Mother Mary, who sees in all their suffering “the open wounds of her Son Jesus.”

“Like Mary, let us remain steadfast, our hearts at peace in God. Let us be ever ready to lift up the fallen, raise up the lowly and to help end all those situations of oppression that make people feel crucified themselves,” he said.

Francis pointed out that in the Gospel, when Christ asks his Mother to receive John, and John to receive his Mother, they were standing together at the foot of the cross, but “this was not enough, that they had not yet fully ‘received’ one another.”

Many people often do the same, he said, standing at the side of people, even in the same home, neighborhood and workplace, sharing the same faith, contemplating and experiencing the same mysteries, “but without embracing or actually ‘receiving’ them with love.”

He said in the Eucharist we remember Christ’s passion, and “from the foot of the cross, Mary invites us to rejoice that we have been received as her sons and daughters, even as her Son Jesus invites us to receive her into our own homes and to make her a part of our lives.”

“Mary wants to give us her courage, so that we too can remain steadfast, and her humility, so that, like her, we can adapt to whatever life brings,” he stated.

In his homily, the pope also spoke about Venerable Boleslavs Sloskans, who is buried inside the shrine. Born in what is present-day Latvia, he died in 1981 after more than 30 years in exile from his homeland. While a young bishop, he was also arrested twice by the Soviets and imprisoned by them for around five years.

“Sometimes,” Pope Francis said, “we see a return to ways of thinking that would have us be suspicious of others,” or we think we would be better off and more secure by ourselves. “At those times, Mary and the disciples of these lands invite us to ‘receive’ our brothers and sisters, to care for them, in a spirit of universal fraternity.”

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