Pope’s brother denies knowledge of sexual abuse in choir he led

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2010/0306/1224265703364.html

DEREK SCALLY in Berlin

POPE BENEDICT’S brother, Mgr Georg Ratzinger, has denied knowing about abuse cases during his time as leader of Germany’s most famous boys’ choir, the Regensburger Domspatzen or “cathedral sparrows”.

The latest revelations in Germany’s widening clerical abuse scandal came to light after former choirboys came forward to say they had been abused during the 1950s and 1960s.

Mgr Ratzinger led the choir from 1964 to 1994. Founded in 975, it is the oldest boys’ choir in the world and is based in a Regensburg boarding school with an emphasis on musical education.

It is here that the abuse took place, according to a statement by the diocese of Regensburg yesterday.

One man, a religion teacher and deputy principal, was removed in 1958 and charged; a second teacher was charged in 1971. The men have since died but a diocese spokesman yesterday said they could not rule out that other abuse cases would come to light.

“We ask all who have learned of sexual abuse of minors in our institution by clerics or other church staff, or those who are victims themselves, to report this to a member of the board,” the spokesman said. “We want to investigate this with complete transparency.”

Mgr Ratzinger told Bavarian public television yesterday that he had no knowledge of abuse in the choir, which performed last year in the Vatican for Mgr Ratzinger’s 85th birthday in the presence of Pope Benedict.

Meanwhile further damaging details have emerged about decades of abuse at the Bavarian Benedictine monastery and elite boarding school Kloster Ettal.

After the resignation of the principal last week, the school was raided by German investigators on Monday.

Yesterday an investigator called in by the school management presented a preliminary report detailing “decades of massive abuse: sexual, physical and psychological” at the school.

Mr Thomas Pfister, a Munich lawyer, said over 100 former students had contacted him “day and night” to tell of a “regime of terror” from the 1960s to the 1990s, involving around 10 different priests.

Pupils said they were sexually abused, forced to hit each other while priests looked on, or were locked in the cellar at night.

Mr Pfister said the faculty was not made up exclusively of “abusing criminals”, but that serious mistakes were allowed to persist because of an “institutional culture of silence, of looking the other way” and a “false sense of solidarity” among management.

One of the monks at Kloster Ettal has admitted downloading child pornography on to a school computer and uploading images of pupils to the internet. The pictures, showing pupils stripped to the waist, were taken during a hiking holiday a decade ago, and found by a former pupil on a gay website.

The abuse cases in Kloster Ettal are likely to have fallen beyond Germany’s statute of limitations, in such cases usually 10 years after the victim turns 18.

Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, head of the German Bishops’ Conference, is to meet Pope Benedict in the Vatican to discuss the cases on March 12th.

Virginia Attorney General orders colleges to stop protecting gays

[One of the comments to the reposting of my article “What is Christo-fascism?” over on TS-SI accused me of prejudice regarding both conservatives and religion.  the words and actions of both conservatives and those Bible thumping touters of right wing fundamentalism actually make my case for me.]

From Raw Story

http://rawstory.com/2010/03/virginia-orders-colleges-stop-protecting-gays/

Daniel Tencer
Friday, March 5th, 2010 — 5:27 pm

Virginia AG orders colleges to stop protecting gays
Officials and student leaders at Virginia colleges are reacting mutedly, so far, to an order from state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli that the schools stop protecting LGBT students.

In a letter (PDF) sent to the state’s public colleges and universities and obtained by the Washington Post, Cuccinelli declared that the schools don’t have the authority to uphold bans on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation when the state itself has no such ban.

“It is my advice that the law and public policy of the Commonwealth of Virginia prohibit a college or university from including ‘sexual orientation,’ ‘gender identity,’ ‘gender expression,’ or like classification, as a protected class within its non-discrimination policy, absent specific authorization from the General Assembly,” the letter stated.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell last month reversed an eight-year-old executive order that banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in Virginia. The governor argued that only the state’s General Assembly had the power to institute such a policy in the first place.

A bill to ban discrimination against gays was introduced in Virginia’s legislature this year, but a Republican-led state House committee killed the bill this week.

The Washington Post reports that the state’s public colleges and universities aren’t jumping at the opportunity to rid themselves of a ban on anti-gay discrimination. So far, the College of William and Mary, Longwood University and Virginia Tech have all not responded to the attorney-general’s request.

A Virginia Tech spokesman told the Roanoke Times that school officials would have to “confer” about the attorney general’s assertion, and insisted the school’s discrimination policy could only be changed by a decision of the board of visitors.

Carl Pucci, student body president at Old Dominion University, told the Post‘s Rosalind Helderman that the move won’t be welcomed by today’s post-secondary students.

“It’s going to be a mess. There’s no doubt about that,” he said. “Our generation is really open-minded. The concept of discrimination, we’re just not interested in that … I think you’re going to see the whole gamut, from angry letters to protests.”

Virginia Democratic congressional candidate Rich Anthony held nothing back in his reaction to the news, calling the move “homophobic bigotry.”

“Virginia’s Attorney General is actually trying to make it easier for people to discriminate against gays and lesbians in Virginia,” he wrote on his blog. “This, despite the fact that the entire country is moving towards granting our GLBT fellow citizens equal rights with everyone else in all areas.”

Anthony added, “I strongly condemn the ever increasing message of intolerance coming from the Republican leadership in Richmond. I encourage them to reconsider their recent actions that have not only harmed our fellow Virginians but also tarnished our beloved Commonwealth’s image.”

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