Archive for March, 2014

Where Does the Buck Stop in the Catholic Church? /

You could be forgiven for not knowing where the buck stops in the Catholic Church these days. In any society, organization or Church community, it is important to know who is ultimately responsible in decision making; otherwise, chaos or worse would prevail. In an unprecedented (for a cardinal) cross examination in court last week, Cardinal George Pell of Sydney seemed confused about responsibility in the Sydney Church. He was speaking for the Archdiocese of Sydney which he led from 2001 until his transfer to a job at the Vatican, appearing before the Royal Commission into child sex abuse in institutions, including the Church’s, across Australia.” By Michael Kelly, SJ, Executive Director of — Click here to read the rest of this commentary.

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The Fight to Reveal Abuses by Catholic Priests / The New York Times

Cardinal Edward M. Egan, the former Roman Catholic archbishop of New York, is in no way the principal face of the sexual abuse scandals that have buffeted the church and its priesthood almost without pause for three decades. But he embodies a certain mind-set among some in the highest clerical ranks. It is an attitude that has led critics, who of late include the authors of a scathing United Nations committee report, to wonder about the depth of the church’s commitment to atone for past predations and to ensure that those sins of the fathers are visited on no one else.

By Clyde Haberman, The New York Times — Click here to read the rest of this story and click here to watch the companion video “The Shame of the Church,” part of a documentary series called the “Retro Report” that is presented by The New York Times.

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Sex Abuse Survivor Now Papal Adviser Tells Associated Press Her Top Priority Is to Punish Bishops Who Covered Up

Marie Collins is not your ordinary papal adviser.

“Sexually assaulted as a child by a hospital chaplain, Collins went onto become a leading Irish activist demanding justice for the victims of priestly abuse and a fierce critic of the Catholic Church’s handling of the scandal.

Now she has been named to Pope Francis’ commission on setting sex abuse policy, one of eight people — half of them women — who will help craft the panel’s scope and advise the church on best practices to protect children.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Collins said her top priority was for the Vatican to punish those bishops who have covered up for priests who raped children.

By Associated Press — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Former Altar Boy Fights for Better Sex Abuse Laws


Click here to read, “Alleged victim targets accused pedophile priest 30 years later,” by Jason Sickles, Yahoo News, March 28, 2014


“…the Philadelphia Archdiocese conspired to shield Brzyski and 62 other priests who had molested hundreds of children over three decades. The hierarchy “excused and enabled the abuse” by burying reports and “covering up the conduct…to outlast any statutes of limitation.”

Because the time to file criminal charges had lapsed, neither Brzyski nor the other priests were ever charged.

Delaney, who had shared his abuse in graphic detail with the grand jury, rain into the same roadblock in civil court. His lawsuit was thrown out because at age 34 he was 14 years beyond the cutoff.

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Will Francis Tend to Those Most Impoverished by the Church? / National Catholic Reporter

Carl grew up in a devout Catholic family free of mental illness, substance abuse or any kind of violence. His older sister and younger brother are successful professionals and happily married with children. Carl was a straight-A student and a gifted athlete until the seventh grade, when Fr. L, Carl’s parish priest, asked him to work in the rectory on Saturdays. His folks were delighted that their priest had shown an interest in Carl, and encouraged him to accept the offer.

“Within a few weeks, Fr. L invited Carl to his room, where he ran his hand along the boy’s thigh, brushing his genitals, while praising him for being a good worker. Afterward, he told Carl he could help himself to beer kept in the rectory’s kitchen.”

By Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea, author of “Perversion of Power: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church” and a psychologist who has been working with sexual abuse survivors for 30 years, in National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this column.

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In Rare Move, One Roman Catholic Diocese Sues Another over Transfer of Priest Accused of Sexually Abusing Boys / Associated Press

In a rare legal move, a Roman Catholic diocese in Minnesota is suing a diocese in Ireland, alleging it transferred a priest to Minnesota without warning that the man had been accused of sexual abuse. A report by Minnesota Public Radio News and KARE-TV said the Diocese of New Ulm filed the lawsuit in February against the Diocese of Clogher in Ireland and the Servants of the Paraclete religious order.” By Associated Press in Star Tribune — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Pope’s New Abuse Commission Is Another Promise to Be Broken / National Catholic Reporter

The countless victims of clergy sex abuse have been waiting for 30 years for the Vatican to show it really understands the depth of the problem and is willing to do something real about it. Judging by the latest move, naming members of a pontifical commission, victims will have to keep on waiting. Those who have been deeply involved in this issue for the long haul had little hope the promised commission would make a difference, and we probably won’t be disappointed.”

By Thomas P. Doyle, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this column. Fr, Doyle will lead a workshop on “Survivor Support: What You Can Do” at the Voice of the Faithful® 2014 Assembly April 5.

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Pope Accepts Resignation of High-Spending German Bishop / The New York Times

Pope Francis on Wednesday accepted the resignation of Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, the bishop of Limburg, whose extravagant spending on renovations for his personal residence angered his congregation and ran afoul of the pontiff’s message of humility and modesty for the Roman Catholic Church.” By Melissa Eddy, The New York Times — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Member of Vatican Abuse Commission Says ‘Put Victims First’ / The Boston Globe

Pope Francis on Saturday named eight people with reputations as reformers in the fight against child sexual abuse as members of a new “Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors,” a line-up that includes German Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner, who’s long been on the front lines of the church’s recovery efforts …

“Zollner spoke to the Globe on March 22 about the Vatican’s new anti-abuse commission.”

By John L. Allen, Jr., The Boston Globe — Click here to read the rest of this interview.

Allen will be a guest speaker at the Voice of the Faithful® 2014 Assembly: Turning Talk into Action on April 5 at the Connecticut Convention Center, Hartford, Connecticut.

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Pope’s New Commission a Positive Step on Clergy Sexual Abuse / Vocie of the Faithful

When Vatican initiatives involve clergy sexual abuse, Catholic Church reform-minded, survivor-supporting movements like Voice of the Faithful® react with guarded optimism. This is the case once again regarding the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which was instituted this past Saturday, Mar. 22, having been originally announced Dec. 5, 2013.

A major reason for optimism this time is the commission’s initial composition. Five of the eight members are lay people, and four of those are women. One, notably, is an outspoken, internationally known clergy sexual abuse survivor, Ireland’s Marie Collins. In addition, the sole American on the commission, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston has one of the better records on clergy sexual abuse among the Church’s hierarchy. He also has considerable experience supervising settlements and trying to clean up dioceses damaged when the extent of clergy sex abuse was revealed.

According to the Vatican, the eight newly named members of the Pontifical Commission are to prepare its statutes and define its tasks and “competencies.” From VOTF’s point of view, the principal tasks of the commission must include full transparency, a reckoning of all those involved in the scandal. Also, the commission’s statutes must guard against future secrecy and provide discipline for offending hierarchy.

VOTF has been working to accomplish these goals for 12 years; SNAP, the international abuse survivor group, has called for justice for the past 25 years; and canon lawyer and survivor supporter Fr. Thomas Doyle presented his first report on clergy sexual abuse from his position in the Vatican embassy as long ago as 1984. Announcement of this new Vatican commission is long past due.

The Vatican announcement also stated that Blessed John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had declared the importance of rooting out such scandal, establishing the full truth and taking necessary steps to prevent such crimes from ever being committed again. Pope Francis, the announcement said, is following in their footsteps, and he “has made clear that the Church must hold the protection of minors amongst Her highest priorities.”

Perhaps this time the Vatican will match action to its rhetorical support for justice. VOTF sees the use of lay specialists on sex abuse and the inclusion of a survivor on the new commission as a critical first step. Next steps will be equally critical. VOTF will continue its part in healing the Church.

Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in governance and guidance of the Church. Click here for more information.

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