Southern Religion

Haggard says Long deserves fair hearing: Pictures released

Bishop Eddie Long

One of the Eddie Long pictures released by plaintiffs' attorney, B.J. Bernstein

Mara Gay of AOL News writes:

Disgraced pastor Ted Haggard cautions that no one should rush to judge Atlanta megachurch Bishop Eddie Long, who is accused of coercing three young men into sex.

“Nobody’s guilty until the court says he’s guilty,” Haggard, the former head of a 14,000-member congregation in Colorado, told AOL News in a phone interview Wednesday.

Three young men from Long’s 25,000-member New Birth Missionary Baptist Church filed lawsuits this week claiming he exploited his position and used cash, cars and expensive trips to pressure them into sexual relationships.

Of the pictures, one author suggested:

On Thursday, pictures hit the Internet like a whirlwind and no one knows how the photos surfaced which show the Bishop wearing spandex and workout clothes which is stated to have been sent to an accuser in November of 2008. According to attorney B.J. Bernstei who is representing the three men suing Eddie Long, they received dozens of emails from Long, but “they are not overly sexual.”

September 23, 2010 Posted by | children, Churches, Crime | , , , , | Comments Off on Haggard says Long deserves fair hearing: Pictures released

Ecumenical epidemic of empty pews as attendance dies out

The Southern Baptist Convention isn’t the only once-robust denomination afflicted by an apparently incurable shrinking disease.

Dan Horn of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes:

Almost two out of three Catholics in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky won’t go to church this weekend to celebrate Mass, an event they have been told since childhood is the center of their spiritual lives.

The church’s most recent count of people in the pews found that about 290,000 Catholics in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and 60,000 in the Diocese of Covington skip Mass in a typical week.

The annual attendance count begins again next month, but church officials don’t expect dramatic improvement.

Mass attendance has been falling steadily for decades across the country as a growing majority of Catholics find other things to do on Sundays, from shuttling their kids to soccer games to hitting the snooze button and sleeping in.

. . .

“There are serious problems, structural problems, all up and down the line,” said William D’Antonio, who has studied Mass attendance for almost 25 years at the Catholic University of America. “If you’re asking what are the future trends, they’re bleak.”

. . .

D’Antonio said national surveys he’s conducted since 1987 show sharp generational differences, with older Catholics attending Mass far more often than younger Catholics. He said just 20 percent of Catholics born after 1978 regularly attend Mass

. . .

D’Antonio said unless young Catholics such as Patton can be brought back into the fold, attendance will keep falling as the older, church-going generations fade away.

Read the rest here.

September 23, 2010 Posted by | Catholic, Churches, SBC | , , , , , | Comments Off on Ecumenical epidemic of empty pews as attendance dies out

Deaf victim of abuse by a Roman Catholic priest sues Pope Benedict XVI

Terry Kohut, a deaf victim of sex abuse by a Catholic priest, is suing Pope Benedict XVI. His story is emblematic of the horror of clerical sexual abuse. Scott Bronstein of CNN writes:

Father [Lawrence C. Murphy] Murphy is believed to have picked out victims who were especially vulnerable, or had been through tragedy already in their young lives. Terry Kohut fit that pattern. His older brother was electrocuted and died when he was just 10 years old. The next year, their father hanged himself. And the following year Kohut’s only close companion, his dog, died. “It all really tore me up…. I saw Father Murphy and I thought that he could be a second father. But to my shock he took advantage of that.”

Minnesota attorney Jeff Anderson is the lead lawyer in Kohut’s lawsuit. Anderson has filed hundreds of lawsuits for sexual abuse victims of priests, and has obtained a massive trove of internal Vatican documents to build his case against the pope. He says numerous abuse cases show that Vatican officials all the way to the top, including then Cardinal Ratzinger, did little to help the victims, and were mostly interested in protecting the church from scandal.

Father Murphy was “one of the worst pedophiles” in U.S. history, says Peter Isely, a leader in SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Isely, of Milwaukee, says he himself was raped repeatedly by a priest as a child. He has led groups of victims to Rome to criticize the church and demand accountability – especially in the case of Father Murphy.

“This is the story of a man raping and assaulting 200 deaf children,” he says. “To think that there are all these children being raped -– these disabled deaf children – who can’t even scream out, can’t speak out. It’s monstrous.

Read the rest of Kohut’s story here.

September 23, 2010 Posted by | Catholic, children, Crime, Pope Benedict XVI | , | Comments Off on Deaf victim of abuse by a Roman Catholic priest sues Pope Benedict XVI