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Keene resident accused of using different names to get multiple identifications, police say

KEENE, N.H. — Ian B. Freeman, a radio host and minister, is accused of using different names to get multiple identifications from the New Hampshire Department of Motor Vehicles, state police said.

Freeman, a 33-year-old Keene resident and minister for the Shire Free Church, was arrested and charged with unsworn falsification and prohibitions Friday at 3:21 p.m., police said.

Freeman is scheduled to be arraigned May 14 at Keene District Court.


Alan Gates elected Saturday

BOSTON — The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts has a new bishop.

Clergy and lay delegates from parishes and missions across the diocese on Saturday voted for Alan Gates to succeed retiring M. Thomas Shaw, who has led the church since 1994.

Gates is currently serving as rector of St. Paul’s Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

He was among seven candidates during polling at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston.

Clergy and lay delegates voted separately. A majority of votes on the same ballot from both clergy and laypersons was required for election.

The diocese says online that Gates was elected in the fourth round of voting.

Gates is scheduled to be consecrated on Sept. 13 to lead the diocese with 185 congregations in the eastern part of Massachusetts.


Cardinal will advise Pope Francis on protecting children

Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot

VATICAN CITY — Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley has been appointed by Pope Francis to a commission created to advise the Catholic Church on how to protect children from sexual abuse.

Francis named the initial members of a commission to advise him on sex abuse policy Saturday, tapping lay and religious experts – and an Irish woman assaulted as a child by a priest – to start plotting the commission’s tasks and priorities.

The Boston Globe reports that O’Malley is the only American on the commission, but he will not have to move to Rome and will continue to serve as the Archbishop of Boston.

The eight members, four of them women, were announced after Francis came under fire from victims’ groups for a perceived lack of attention to the abuse scandal, which has seriously damaged the Catholic Church’s reputation around the world and cost dioceses and religious orders billions of dollars in legal fees and settlements.

The Vatican in December announced that Francis had decided to create the commission to advise the church on best policies to protect children, train church personnel and keep abusers out of the clergy. But no details had been released until Saturday and it remains unknown if the commission will deal with the critical issue of disciplining bishops who cover up for abusers.

In a statement, the Vatican hinted that it might, saying the commission would look into both “civil and canonical duties and responsibilities” for church personnel. Canon law does provide for sanctions if a bishop is negligent in carrying out his duties, but such punishments have never been imposed on a bishop for failing to report a pedophile priest to police.

The eight inaugural members include Marie Collins, who was assaulted as a 13-year-old by a hospital chaplain in her native Ireland and has gone on to become a prominent campaigner for accountability in the church.

Also named was O’Malley, one of Francis’ key advisers and the archbishop of Boston, where the U.S. scandal erupted in 2002.

Two other members are professors at Rome’s Jesuit Pontifical Gregorian University, which in 2012 hosted a seminar for bishops from around the world to educate them on best practices to protect children. Several participants from that conference are now founding members of Francis’ commission, including Baroness Sheila Hollins, a British psychiatrist.

During that 2012 conference, Collins told the bishops of her own ordeal, of the hospitalizations, anxiety and depression she endured after Irish church authorities didn’t believe her when she reported her attacker, and then blamed her for the assault.

“I was treated as someone with an agenda against the church, the police investigation was obstructed and the laity misled. I was distraught,” Collins said at the time.

The Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the institution of the commission was evidence that Francis believed “the church must hold the protection of minors among her highest priorities.”

But in a March 5 interview with Corriere della Sera, Francis appeared defensive about the issue, complaining that the church had been unfairly attacked.

He acknowledged the “profound” wounds abuse leaves and credited Pope Benedict XVI with turning the church around. Benedict in 2001 took over handling abuse cases because bishops were moving pedophiles around rather than punishing them.

In his final two years as pope he defrocked nearly 400 abusive priests.

Francis added: “The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution that has moved with transparency and responsibility. No one has done more. And yet the church is the only one that has been attacked.”

The initial group named Saturday will define the scope, statutes and priorities of the commission and propose other members to better reflect the church’s geographic diversity.

Other members include:

-Catherine Bonnet, a French consultant in child and adolescent psychiatry.

-Claudio Papale, an Italian canon lawyer and official of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles sex abuse cases.

-Poland’s longtime former ambassador to the Vatican, Hanna Suchocka, a constitutional lawyer.

-Rev. Humberto Miguel Yáñez, an Argentine Jesuit who studied with Francis as a seminarian and currently is head of moral theology at the Gregorian.

-Rev. Hans Zollner, the vice-rector of the Gregorian, a psychologist and psychotherapist who organized the Gregorian seminar and also serves on the German government’s round table on child abuse.


Church leaders headed to Arizona
Cardinal Sean O'Malley

Cardinal Sean O’Malley talks with reporters at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Palm Sunday, March 24, 2013.

Liam Martin/WCVB-TV

BOSTON — The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Boston will travel to Arizona to join a group of seven other bishops on a tour of the U.S.-Mexico border and celebrate Mass on behalf of the nearly 6,000 migrants who have died in the U.S. desert since 1998.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, one of Pope Francis’ key advisers, will join bishops from around the country during a trip intended to highlight “the human suffering caused by a broken immigration system, an aspect of the national immigration debate which is often ignored.”

The eight prelates are members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration. They will be in Nogales, Ariz., from March 30 to April 1.

Seattle Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo heads the committee. He says immigration is primarily about human beings, not social or economic issues.


Jennifer Teixeira was innocent victim

BROCKTON, Mass. — A Brockton man who fatally shot an innocent woman who had just left church has been convicted of second-degree murder.

Frank Webb III was convicted after an eight-day trial Tuesday in Brockton Superior Court of the June 2011 killing of 51-year-old Jennifer Teixeira.

Prosecutors say an argument inside a cellphone store that involved Webb spilled onto the sidewalk. They say Webb opened fire at another man, but struck Teixeira in the back as she left the Mount Moriah Baptist Church where she had just volunteered at a donation drove.

Teixeira was a mother of four and grandmother of 12.

Webb’s lawyer had questioned the reliability of some witness testimony.

Webb received a mandatory sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years.


st patricks day 2014

When I was young I only remember going to a few Boston Parades here and there.  The thing I enjoyed most was all the different people and colors that I saw.  I’m almost certain that I wasn’t always aware of the purpose or message that was being given if there was one. The most important thing that was obvious was that everyone enjoyed themselves in some ways. I always thought that parades were meant for all people.  I know the definition of parade is “a public procession, especially one celebrating a day or event and including marching bands and floats.” Its synonyms are processionmarchcavalcademotorcadespectacledisplay,pageant.  No where in its definition do you find words of exclusion of any person or group.  As for St. Patrick’s Day itself, while it is said to be “a cultural and religious holiday celebrated on 17 March which is named after Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461), the most commonly recognised of the patron saints of Ireland.” We know that not only people in the Catholic faith celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. A great deal of interracial marriages have occurred over the years. Therefore resulting in a number of various religions celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.  This also means that some of those celebrating the day may not be heterosexuals. You don’t see those celebrating Gay Pride day saying that only gay people can take part in their parade. A parade should be in place allowing all interested parties to take part and attend as long as they don’t mean harm to those taking part in the celebration.

It is a shame that who gets to take part in this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is even up for debate, especially when the debate comes from a school or house of faith. We all have our beliefs and are committed to them and no one should or can take that away from us.  However, there are several times and occasions where we should all be able to put aside our feelings and if so needed, our beliefs, so that we ALL have the opportunity to celebrate holiday’s whether by a parade, march, breakfast, dance, day of observation, etc. We essentially all came from the same place, and should deserve the same rights. We were all created equal. This can not be used or said when it is convenient, it has to apply at all times otherwise we are all hypocrites.

If you have pride in who and what you are and what you believe in stand up for that, but not in a way that takes away from someone elses pride or beliefs.  We can all be happy and celebrate together. For more information on how Boston will be celebrating click here.

By Felina Silver Robinson


Immaculate Heart of Mary School pulls out of St. Patrick’s Day parade

Deal could allow gays in Boston St Pat s parade

HARVARD, Mass. — A Catholic school in Harvard will not march in this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade in Boston after learning that a gay military veterans group will be allowed to participate in the parade.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary School’s band and students have marched in the annual South Boston parade for nearly 25 years along a float depicting the culture and faith of Irish people around the central figure of Saint Patrick.

“The familiar scene of Saint Patrick joyfully giving his blessing to the crowds has, sad to say, come to an end. In the footsteps of Saint Patrick, IHM does not condone and will not appear to condone the homosexual lifestyle,” Principal Thomas Dalton said.

Organizers of the parade have decided to ease its two-decade ban on gay organizations, a MassEquality official said Saturday.

A group of gay military veterans will be allowed march under its banner in a tentative deal brokered by Boston Mayor Martin Walsh. Marchers from the gay rights group would not be allowed to wear clothing or hold signs that refer to sexual orientation.

Walsh had threatened to boycott the city annual parade unless gay groups are allowed to march. He met parade organizers Saturday and hopes that a solution that works for all involved.

“We must stand firm with the Church which states in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, promulgated by Pope John Paul II, that ‘homosexual acts are acts of grave depravity’ and ‘are intrinsically disordered…Under no circumstances can they be approved,’” Dalton said.

The parade draws an estimated 1 million spectators to South Boston every year.


Official says wallet taken during church service 

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Two Manchester churches were targeted by thieves two weekends in a row this month.

During a service at Grace Episcopal Church on Feb. 2, a cellphone was taken from a coat and a wallet taken from a purse, police said. Several people gave a description of a suspect.

“The woman had come in in the middle of worship,” said the Rev. Marjorie Gerbracht-Stagnaro. “She had started looking at the prayer book, and the individual whose wallet she had taken was actually helping her get accustomed to the service.”

Gerbracht-Stagnaro said she believes she saw the woman later buying cigarettes at a nearby gas station.

“I got a call from my parishioner, and she said, ‘My card was just used,’ and I was able to finish the sentence. ‘I know. I witnessed the card being used,’” Gerbracht-Stagnaro said.

A week later across the street, St. Joseph’s Cathedral was hit. Police said someone tried to break into the safe where the parish offerings were kept.

“The damage that was done was really quite disappointing,” said Monsignor Anthony Frontiero. “We now have to repair the doors, the glass and windows.”

From witness reports, police said they believe a man cased the church the night before and took note of where the collections were stored.

In both cases, church officials said that if those people had reached out, they would have helped them.

“Obviously, these folks are so desperate that they would do something like this to a church or any business,” Frontiero said. “It’s a violation, and it’s heartbreaking.”

Police said they believe the crimes may be fueled by drugs. Investigators said they are following up on some leads.


Vatican: Hundreds of Priests Defrocked for Molestation 

For the first time the Vatican has revealed details on the specific numbers of priests removed in 2011 and 2012.

By John Heilprin and Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press

A document obtained by The Associated Press on Friday shows Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests over just two years for sexually molesting children.

The statistics for 2011 and 2012 show a dramatic increase over the 171 priests removed in 2008 and 2009, when the Vatican first provided details on the number of priests who have been defrocked. Prior to that, it had only publicly revealed the number of alleged cases of sexual abuse it had received and the number of trials it had authorized.

While it’s not clear why the numbers spiked in 2011, it could be because 2010 saw a new explosion in the number of cases reported in the media in Europe and beyond.

The document was prepared from data the Vatican had been collecting and was compiled to help the Holy See defend itself before a U.N. committee this week in Geneva.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s U.N. ambassador in Geneva, referred to just one of the statistics in the course of eight hours of oftentimes pointed criticism and questioning from the U.N. human rights committee.The statistics were compiled from the Vatican’s own annual reports about the activities of its various offices, including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles sex abuse cases. Although public, the annual reports are not readily available or sold outside Rome and are usually found in Vatican offices or Catholic university libraries.

An AP review of the reference books shows a remarkable evolution in the Holy See’s in-house procedures to discipline pedophiles since 2001, when the Vatican ordered bishops to send cases of all credibly accused priests to Rome for review.

Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger took action after determining that bishops around the world weren’t following church law to put accused clerics on trial in church tribunals. Bishops routinely moved problem priests from parish to parish rather than subject them to canonical trials — or turn them into police.

For centuries, the church has had its own in-house procedures to deal with priests who sexually abuse children. One of the chief accusations from victims is that bishops put the church’s own procedures ahead of civil law enforcement by often suggesting victims keep accusations quiet while they are dealt with internally.

The maximum penalty for a priest convicted by a church tribunal is essentially losing his job: being defrocked, or removed from the clerical state. There are no jail terms and nothing to prevent an offender from raping again.

According to the 2001 norms Ratzinger pushed through and subsequent updates, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reviews each case sent to Rome and then instructs bishops how to proceed, either by launching an administrative process against the priest if the evidence is overwhelming or a church trial. At every step of the way the priest is allowed to defend himself.

The Congregation started reporting numbers only in 2005, which is where Tomasi’s spreadsheet starts off. U.N. officials said Friday that the committee has not received the document.

In 2005, the Congregation authorized bishops to launch church trials against 21 accused clerics, and reported that its appeals court had handled two cases. It didn’t say what the verdicts were, according to the annual reports cited by the spreadsheet.

In 2006, the number of canonical trials authorized doubled to 43 and eight appeals cases were heard. And for the first time, the Congregation revealed publicly the number of cases reported to it: 362, though that figure includes a handful of non-abuse related canonical crimes.

A similar number of cases were reported in 2007 — 365 — but again the Congregation didn’t specify how many were abuse-related. Vatican officials, however, have said that it received between 300-400 cases a year in these years following the 2002 explosion of U.S. sex abuse cases in the U.S. In 2007, 23 cases were sent to dioceses for trial.

By 2008, the tone of the Vatican’s entry had changed. Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, traveled to the scandal-hit United States that year and is quoted in the annual report as telling reporters en route that he was “mortified” by the scale of abuse and simply couldn’t comprehend “how priests could fail in such a way.”

That year’s entry was also notable for another reason: For the first time, an official Vatican document made clear that nothing in the church process precluded victims from reporting abuse to police.

There was also another first in 2008, a critical year as abuse lawsuits in the U.S. naming the Holy See as a defendant were heating up: For the first time, the Vatican revealed the number of priests who had been defrocked: 68. Some 191 new cases were reported.

A year later, the number of defrocked priests rose to 103, while some 223 new cases were received, the vast majority of them abuse-related.

The year 2010 was another milestone in the sex abuse saga, with the explosion of thousands of cases reported in the media across Europe and beyond. Some 527 cases were reported to the Congregation. No figures were given that year for the number of defrocked priests, rather the Congregation described new church laws put in place to more easily and quickly remove them.

By 2011, with the new streamlined laws in place, the number of defrocked priests rose dramatically: 260 priests were removed in one year only, while 404 new cases of child abuse were reported. In addition to those defrocked, another 419 priests had lesser penalties imposed on them for abuse-related crimes.

In 2012, the last year for which statistics are available, the number of defrockings dropped to 124, with another 418 new cases reported.


Man admits to stealing Swampscott copper downspouts

John Atwater/WCVB-TV

SWAMPSCOTT, Mass. — A remorseful copper thief first confessed to NewsCenter 5 Thursday before turning himself into Swampscott police.

Steve Marshall, 36, called NewsCenter 5 to invite a reporter to meet him at the Swampscott police station and identified himself as one of the people police said was suspected of stealing hundreds of dollars’ worth of copper downspouts from the Town Hall, churches and houses.

View surveillance photos

“Honestly, it was just money hanging off the side of the building,” said Marshall. “I couldn’t find work and it was the quickest and easiest way to get money.”

Marshall said he was one of the robbers caught in the act by surveillance cameras at Swampscott Town Hall at about 2:49 a.m. Tuesday.

“It’s nothing I’m proud of. I have shamed myself,” Marshall said. “I have shamed my family. I am trying to make it right. I am embarrassed.”

Marshall was charged by Swampscott police for his alleged involvement in six thefts of copper.

Marshall, who would not discuss whether he had a prior criminal record or had committed other thefts, said he expected to be punished.

“I definitely know I’m going to jail,” he said.

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