Africa has seen the biggest growth in the Catholic population in recent years.

UN data leads us to look at Africa as the continent where countries have more people under 18 than on any other continent in the world.
The fact that clergy sexual abuse is a global crisis and there is very little information or reports coming out of the countries in Africa about clergy sexual abuse or sexual violence, is very troubling.
These two statistics make it urgent for us to provide an awareness campaign to the growing need to protect children especially in Africa and in particular in Uganda. Also we know that misbehaving clergy are often transferred from Africa to countries like Jamaica, without any prior notice of their wrong doings from their respective African countries provided to their host country.

Leona Huggins and Bernadette Howell are members of ECA from Vancouver, Canada and were attendees at the ECA gathering in Rome in late February 2019 during the time of Pope Francis historic summit of clergy abuse.

On the weekend  of June 8, 2019, both Leona and Bernadette attended the final meeting of a committee gathered by the Archbishop of Vancouver, Michael Miller (British Columbia, Canada) in this Archdiocese’s first ever historical sexual abuse case review committee.  For the last nine months this committee have gathered monthly to  review historic files. Still early days as the recommendations proposed by this committee are about to be submitted, received (and it is sincerely hoped) enacted upon.

Archbishop Miller played a role in the advancement of tackling the issue of clergy sexual abuse when he funded (in part) Leona and Bernadette’s travel to Rome in February 2019 during the time of Pope Francis summit on clergy abuse.

The Vancouver Archdiocese Clerical Abuse Case Review committee was struck nine months ago by the Archbishop on the advice and prompting of these two victim-survivors as well as others searching for justice. It is hoped that based on the work of this committee, the Archdiocese of Vancouver will lead by example with courage and conviction to name the names of predator priests credibly accused and pave the way for other dioceses across Canada to follow suit with the foundational work done by this committee.

Canada’s recent document “Protecting Minors from Sexual Abuse” (Sept 2018) produced by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) was recently hailed by Jesuit priest Frederick Lombardi (chosen to chair the historic Feb 21-24 2019 summit on clergy Abuse at the Vatican) as a model for others to follow quoting its “ precise and detailed recommendations and action points”.

We all wait and watch with anticipation to see what the Archdiocese of Vancouver will do by way of leadership.

Leona is also currently liaising with some media contacts who are interested in getting a response from survivor advocates once the report of the case review is made public. In addition Leona has been working on creating a stronger network of Canadian survivor-advocates and activists some of which want to lobby for a royal commission.
Thanks to the efforts of Attorney Nadia Debbache, François Devaux, President of the Association La Parole Libérée and the team, Cardinal Barbarin was convicted by a French tribunal on March 7 on charges of failing to report allegations of sexual abuse committed by a priest of his diocese.

The next efforts are to bring Ladaria to justice with the common concern of the Vatican’s use of diplomatic immunity to hinder investigations to bring wrong doers to justice.

Besides Ladaria, the Vatican is also not cooperating in an UK clergy sex abuse investigation using the shield of diplomatic immunity and has refused to allow the US to bringing a Vatican diplomat to justice for downloading and sharing child pornography while in the US, citing diplomatic immunity.

A disturbing pattern by the Vatican is clearly visible and preventing national efforts to deal with these crimes.

As we all know in Rome, Pope Francis’ February Summit and his words signaled more openness and accountability but these actions give lie to the words.

A suggestion is that in further support of your efforts that we send a letter to Pope Francis and at the same time hold a joint press conference in France calling on Francis to waive diplomatic immunity in these specific cases and in all cases involving the sexual abuse of minors by clergy. The purpose would be to get Francis to respond one way or the other on this issue. If he acts favorably, wonderful. But if he refuses to respond or is negative (which is more likely) then this will show to the world once again his failure to lead and act honorably and give our justice departments more reasons to intervene and to be creative in responding to his failures.
Because the Barbarin case is heading to appeal’s court, summoning Ladaria to testify as to the letter re: his knowledge of the case and hence the cover-up, may bolster the prosecutor’s case, since from the reports, the account by the one victim in the case is probably going to be further scrutinized with the characteristic intention to discredit and cast doubt.

“In a search of the offices of the Archdiocese of Lyon, investigators found a letter from Ladaria, who was then secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, advising Barbarin to take “appropriate disciplinary measures” against Preynat “while avoiding public scandal.”

This action to summon Ladaria would perhaps then set a precedent that heads of state cannot hide behind “immunity of jurisdiction.”

So generally those that have diplomatic immunity can get away with crimes unless the government itself gives them up. So the Vatican would need to offer up Ladaria to the courts. We find this highly unlikely given Francis’ track record.

“International law grants heads of state and ministers immunity of jurisdiction for actions relating to their role when it is linked to the sovereignty of a state.”

What this action would actually do is bring into the conversation that whole issue of diplomatic immunity in the cover-up of sex crimes and we could then shine the light on the US Ambassador’s role in the files of alleged pedophile priests serving in the US that are delivered to the Vatican via diplomatic pouch.
Since ECA’s campaign in Rome, news broke in Jamaica of Denise’s involvement in the campaign and her story made national front page headlines for 3 days and was the topic of Jamaican national and international conversation for many days afterwards. It highlighted that children and vulnerable adults in Jamaica were not spared from clergy abuse and it also showed the deep resolve of the Catholic Church to preserve it’s innocence by casting aspersions on the victim. Given that in the Guinness Book of World Records, Jamaica is stated to have the most “churches” per square mile of any country in the world, with over 1,600 “churches” all over Jamaica, it is no wonder that Jamaicans are reluctant to receive anything that will cast doubt on the holiness of their clergy.

Due to the publicity of the conversation on clergy sexual abuse in Jamaica since February 2019, 3 survivors have contacted Denise to reveal their stories of clergy abuse.

Denise has since been in conversations with Jamaicans for Justice, which is a non-profit, human rights and social justice organization working to increase access to justice for vulnerable groups in Jamaica.
New Zealand is in the second year of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions < >, expected to complete its findings by December 2023.

Our national network (the Network of Survivors of Abuse in Faith-based Institutions and Their Supporters), an unincorporated group of survivors and advocates, has led the efforts to make The Catholic Church in New Zealand open to forensic investigation by this Royal Commission made up of five Commissioners and a Senior Counsel Assisting.
This iteration of the Catholic Church, despite its media personnel’s efforts to claim the contrary, were dragged kicking and screaming into the ambit of this Royal Commission and is doing everything in its power to obfuscate, block, impede and conceal the degree of sexual abuse of children in its ranks. It has instituted another brick in its defensive  castle walls and more water in its defensive moat through its Organising Committee (Te Rōpū Tautoko), a group of six from the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference (NZCBC) and the Congregational Leaders’ Conference Aotearoa New Zealand (CLCANZ), chaired by a church insider, with not a single non-official lay member involved.
The bishop in this group. Bishop Charles Drennan of Palmerston North and Secretary of the NZCBC has openly expressed his distain for lay involvement to our Network and the head of the FMS Marist Brothers, Brother David McDonald, a Maori, on being asked to comment on the rape of a twelve year old Maori boy by a confrere in the 1970s responded :”No comment”. The Provincial of the Society of Mary, Father David Kennerley SM had the nickname “Psycho” when a young priest for his penchant for caning boys often and harshly. This group will do everything in its power to muddy the waters over child sexual abuse in an effort to protect assets and institutional reputation.
Our Network has actively exposed paedophiles in the ranks of this institution and seeks reparation and justice for survivors. Recently we exposed the eulogizing of a confessed paedophile and the celebration of his life in a requiem mass in Auckland attended by the Bishop of Auckland, Patrick Dunn and the luminaries of the Society of Mary. His offending was dismissed as an “allegation”.
In similar vein, the Network led a book launching (The Catholic Boys) of three boys sexually molested by a Father Frank Green on the steps of  the Church of Our Lady of The Assumption, that witnessed a Maori traditional cleansing and a ribbon tying on the iron fence there, only to have the ribbons slashed down as it was claimed children had been frightened by the messages written on these ribbons, This included the horrifying message, “Love Conquers All”. In response to the outrage this evoked in survivors, some ribbons were retrieved and retied.
We have grave fears over the efficacy and success of the Royal Commission which has yet to hold public hearings but we hope to expose the degree of sexual abuse by officials of this institution by constant media focus on its behaviour.
I am delighted to report that the support of ECA Global and our involvement with ECA has had a demonstrable effect in the media here and Rome was a typical example of that.<>
We are exhausted fighting a NZD 4 billion organisation but unbending in our determination to prevail against seemingly overwhelming odds.
With ECA Global support, this outcome might yet be achieved.


Uganda Report by Tim Law

For the past 6 months ECA representatives have been meeting with Ugandan human rights activists to explore how ECA could assist Uganda to bring attention to and education about the crimes of the sexual abuse of children. The lead Ugandan activist is Janet Aguti and the ECA representatives are Tim Law, Denise Buchanan, and Benjamin Kitobo.

Janet Aguti is a Uganda woman introduced to us by Matthias.

She is part of a German sponsored organization in Uganda called the Social Innovation Academy (SINA) which educates former orphans, street children, refugees and other disadvantaged youth in Uganda to become job creators and social entrepreneurs with the ability to turn challenges into solutions.

Janet is a survivor sexually abused as a child by a family member and she was chosen by SINA to live in community at the SINA campus in Mpigi, Uganda and with other young people to be trained to be social activists. With the help of SINA, Janet created what she now calls Totya Platform to provide support to both women and men who have been sexually abused as children or young adults.

I met Janet last June in Uganda and Denise and Peter Isely met her in Germany in September as part of a symposium that Matthias had invited them in Berlin.

Since December, Denise, Benjamin and I have met regularly with Janet and her colleague Stella on Zoom to explore how we can collaborate.

Janet, with funding from ECA USA, is developing a hotline in Uganda for people to speak about their sexual abuse as children. Janet through Totya Platform is now providing counseling in online text-based platforms via toll SMS and WhatsApp. This allows for anonymous interaction with individuals enabling them to speak about their experiences while receiving emotional care and self-help tools. The service is anonymous, free and available to all genders.

Janet is educating a team of counselors to assist victims who contact their hotline and to hold community workshops to help victims of child sexual violence. She also appears on TV and radio to speak on this topic.

Speaking openly about clergy sexual violence is still very dangerous in Africa. Nearly 45% of Ugandans are Catholic and the African Catholic Church has been reluctant to admit there is an issue of clergy sexual abuse. However, when the Pope stated in Rome in February that clergy abuse is a world-wide problem even in Africa this gave permission for the issue to be discussed. This was an important statement for the people of Africa to hear and Janet is now hoping to be able to speak more openly. ECA will help her in this effort.

Denise and Tim will be with Janet in July (12th – 24th) to meet her team. We will be there while the 500 bishops of Africa are meeting in the capital of Uganda, Kampala.

We are discussing having a press conference in Mpigi and Kampala to give prominence to Janet and Totya Platform’s work on the issue of child sexual abuse and to call upon the bishops to openly discuss this issue. ECA’s efforts in Uganda and Africa are exploratory at this time but we see this as a great opportunity to be part of the conversation and active in assisting our African survivor/activists.
ECA Global is being represented by Founding Member Peter Isely at the Spring and Fall general assemblies of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington DC. He represented ECA at the US bishops retreat in Chicago in January. ECA’s actions, statements and press events with US survivors were widely covered in the US and global media.

ECA joined the largest US organization of survivors, SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), one of the premier human rights organizations in the US, calling for a US Federal investigation of abuse and cover up in the church. The effort was launched in a global press event outside the Vatican embassy in Washington, DC. ECA members also met with US Ambassador to the Holy See, Calista Gingrich, to urge action and ECA is in ongoing talks with her office. Since then, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) has several active investigations now underway in the US.

ECA is vocal on the accountability and transparency of US Bishops to report the names of accused clergy and for the dioceses to stop lobbying against the elimination of the statute of limitation laws.

ECA will join with SNAP in submitting a joint letter to all 50 Attorney General offices in the country to address the concerns of the Bishop’s approved third party system for reporting abuse.

ECA is collaborating with Bishop, is the leading global research organization that tracks abuse cases worldwide.

Peter Isely has been invited to be one of the featured speakers at the 2019 Aspen Ideas Festival, which will take place at the Aspen Institute in Aspen, Colorado, June 23-29, 2019. He will be discussing the recent blizzard of high-profile cases exposing patterns of child sexual abuse in America and ECA’s work around the prevention of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Aspen’s Ideas Festival is the nation’s premiere public gathering for insightful dialogue on the today’s most critical issues.

Founding/Board Member Tim Law along with his wife Chris, through their non-profit ECA USA*, have been the main donors for over 14 ECA Global campaigns, projects and activities to date in Poland, Chile, Peru, Geneva, USA, Ireland, Rome/Italy, France, Argentina and Uganda. Building on the success of these ventures, they are actively seeking donors for upcoming ECA local and global projects which further the mission of ECA and encourage all ECA members to do the same.

*To date, the financing for ECA (Global) has come from the US non-profit corporation established by Tim Law and his wife Chris, called ECA USA. The source of the funds have come from their personal monies and gifts raised from personal contacts with Seattle donors and very small amounts through our PayPal account, also a gift from Barbara Blaine’s foundation, a gift from a foundation solicited by Peter Isely and a gift from a foundation facilitated by Denise Buchanan.