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David haas wikicommons credit titpao header2.jpg
David haas wikicommons credit titpao.jpg
World News

Hymns dropped by Catholic church as composer accused of abuse

by Cara Bentley

Hymns by David Haas have been cast aside after 38 women accused him of sexual abuse or harrassment. 

Haas, a 63-year-old American composer of Catholic liturgical music, wrote 'Blest Are They,' 'We Are Called,' and 'You Are Mine', with his music being well-know in the Catholic church in America. However, several Roman Catholic archdioceses in the US have now banned him from performing in their churches and many others have stopped playing his music. 

He has been accused of sexual misconduct and harassment over more than 40 years - during which time he was a mentor - including cyberstalking, lewd propositions, forced kissing, groping and other unwanted sexual behavior, with accusations from 38 women collected by Into Account, a survivor group. 

In July, Haas released a statement apologising for his behaviour but not stating exactly what that was, saying: "I have discovered and continue to discover with greater clarity how my actions have wounded those who may have been affected by them. I am learning that, in addition to those who believe they were victimised by my actions, I have also caused additional harm to friends, colleagues and others, leaving many to feel disillusioned, confused, and/or angry. For this, and so much more, I am truly sorry."

No criminal or civil charges have been made but around one in three American archdioceses say they have stopped playing his music. 

Many of the women were aspiring musicians who he mentored, who saw him as an inspiration. Six of them spoke to the New York Times newspaper, with one saying she received innapropriate facebook messages about what she should wear to advance her musical career, one saying she was forcibly kissed by him at a religious music conference and another saying she was forcibly kissed and groped on a walk with him talking about her career. 

Another woman said he grabbed and kissed her at a convention when she was 18 and said he pressured her to commit sexual acts. She said she gave in because he became angry when she refused. 

Ten archdioceses, including Boston and St. Louis, confirmed that they had asked churches not to play his music, pending investigation. Six others warned churches about the allegations, but let them choose what to do about his music. Some banned him from performing, but did not issue guidance regarding music. 

Some churches are allowing the music at private Masses, such as a funerals, but not in public services. 
 

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