Archive for July, 2014
The Roman Catholic archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, under fire for the way his diocese has dealt with sexually abusive priests, apologized Wednesday (July 30) for his conduct but rejected calls for his resignation.
“The archbishop, John C. Nienstedt, acknowledged errors in his diocese’s response to abuse allegations, writing in a column for the diocesan newspaper that ‘it is very clear that we did not handle all complaints the way we should have in the past’ and that he had only recently removed from ministry several priests accused of abuse.”
By Michael Paulson, The New York Times — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Also, “Twin Cities Archbishop Nienstedt vows to ‘continue serving as I have been called to do,'” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter– Click here to read this story.
This story reports on Voice of the Faithful’s efforts toward more meaningful lay input into the selection of local Catholic bishops. Please note that VOTF takes exception to the diocese’s spokesperson’s implication in the story that we would edit individual Catholic’s remarks to the Apostolic Nuncio. As our web portal, votf.org/bishop, says, “Your input will be transmitted directly to the Apostolic Nuncio, the Vatican’s representative in the U.S., who advises the Congregation for Bishops on bishop selection.” As faithful Catholics, we would expect to be taken at our word.
A national organization advocating change within the Roman Catholic church wants local parishioners to use the group’s website to tell church fathers who should be the diocese’s next bishop. ‘Church law encourages all Catholics to express their views on Church matters that concern them, and this includes who their new bishop may be,’ Nick Ingala, a spokesman for Voice of the Faithful, said Tuesday (July 29).”
By Bill Dolan, The Times, on nwi.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.
The Milwaukee archdiocese has filed for bankruptcy, but is it too broke to pay its legal bills?
“Currently, the archdiocese has paid or owes just shy of $14 million in legal and professional fees related to the bankruptcy. As the debtor, the archdiocese is required by federal law to pay the legal expenses of those who have filed claims as well as its own lawyers. Lawyers for the archdiocese filed a 63-page statement to back up a $204,451 bill for the month of June alone.
“The legal bills are far greater than the $4 million the archdiocese offered survivors of sex abuse before filing for bankruptcy on Jan. 4, 2011. That prompted Peter Isely, the Midwest director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and one of the Milwaukee claimants, to question whether the archdiocese’s actions are consistent with what Pope Francis has said.
‘Although it is unclear what this pope is doing or not doing on the issue, one thing that is perfectly clear is that paying lawyers three to four times what they have offered victims is directly opposite to this pope’s pontificate,’ Isely said. ‘He has said that victims have a right to and must be justly compensated.’”
By Marie Rohde, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Revelations concerning Cardinal Sean Brady’s involvement in a 1975 canonical inquiry into Fr Brendan Smyth’s abuse of Brendan Boland have sparked fresh calls for the Catholic Church’s most senior churchman to stand down. Marie Kane, who was one of six survivors who met Pope Francis two weeks ago in the Vatican, has threatened to write again to the Pope if Dr Brady does not offer his resignation.”
By Sarah MacDonald, Irish Independent — Click here to read the rest of this story
Also regarding this story, “Priests tried to ‘blame and shame me’ at meeting in front of Brady, claims abuse victim,” By John Spain, Irish Independent, and “Calls for Cardinal Brady’s resignation over cover-up,” By Sarah MacDonald, The Tablet
Church law has procedures and penalties for effectively dealing with allegations of clerical sexual abuse, but the Vatican is working to revise a section of the Code of Canon Law to make those norms and procedures clearer and, therefore, more effective, said the president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.
“‘We want to make this delicate material more accessible, more understandable and easier for bishops to apply,’ Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, council president, told the Vatican newspaper …
“If a bishop does not react by imposing a punishment on a priest guilty of the crime of sexual abuse, he said, ‘in some way that would be, or would seem to be, consenting to the evil committed. A negative act necessarily must be condemned; it requires a reaction.’”
By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Charges of church negligence in handling of sexually abusive priests will be heard by a jury this fall.
The clergy sex abuse lawsuit against the Twin Cities archdiocese will move to a jury trial, a Ramsey County district judge ruled Monday.
“Attorneys for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona had asked the court for a summary judgment that would dismiss the case.
“But Judge John Van de North said a jury trial would proceed, now set for Sept. 22.
“‘This case needs to be tried,’ said Van de North. The alleged victim ‘deserves a day in court, at least on the negligence claims.’”
By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune — Click here to read the rest of this story.
When Pope Francis met earlier this month with victims of rape and sexual abuse by priests, he vowed to hold bishops accountable for covering up the scandal instead of confronting it.
“A good place to start is with the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese, where calls are mounting for the resignation of Archbishop John Nienstedt, a warrior against same-sex marriage who, it turns out, is facing accusations that he indulged in improper sexual conduct in the past with priests, seminarians and other men.
“The archbishop has denied the accusations as ‘entirely false,’ saying they date back over 10 years and do not involve minors or criminal conduct. But he felt obliged to hire a law firm to investigate them.
“Meanwhile, his handling of the pedophilia scandal is under fire from all sides. This week (week of July 14), an affidavit from Jennifer Haselberger, the former canon law chancellor for the archdiocese, accused the archbishop and his ranking prelates of systematically ignoring warnings about abusers in a five-year period, while failing to inform civil authorities of possible criminal acts.”
Editorial by The New York Times — Click here to read the rest of this editorial.
For the better part of 40 years in churches across the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester, clergy ceded the floor to laypeople for the delivery of the homily — the sermon that follows the reading of the Gospel at Mass.
“The practice, which dated to the mid-1970s and was simultaneously derided by the faithful for running afoul of church law and praised for its inclusiveness, has come to an end.”
By David Andreatta, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Voice of the Faithful® posted a link here several days ago to Minnesota Public Radio’s documentary Betrayed by Silence. The station’s expanded story about the Catholic clergy child sexual abuse and cover-up scandal in Minnesota’s Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is available now in four chapters on its website. Click on the titles below for individual chapters in the Betrayed by Silence story.
Betrayed by Silence
For decades, leaders of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis have been reassigning, excusing and overlooking sexually abusive priests among their ranks. Some received additional retirement benefits. In August, a top church lawyer, shocked at what she saw, brought the story to MPR News. What happened next is still unfolding.
It all began in Lafayette
After clergy sex abuse rocks a Louisiana diocese, a newly appointed bishop develops the tactics he’ll later use in Minnesota.
The church protects its own
With the abuse scandal threatening to spread beyond control, an archbishop and a victims’ attorney become adversaries.
Archbishop makes vow, breaks it
Harry Flynn helps craft the U.S. church’s tough-sounding response to the abuse crisis, but then he disregards it at home.
Cover-up unravels from the inside
A new archbishop’s top adviser wants no part of the decades-long effort to protect abusive priests and keep their crimes secret.
It is time for Archbishop John Nienstedt to go.
Reading the affidavit of Jennifer Haselberger, the former chancellor of the Archdiocese of St. Paul, is grim. Caveat: A lawyer friend told me that a good defense attorney could drive several trucks through the document and that may be true. But, even if a quarter of what is asserted in that document is true, it is obvious that the Archdiocese of St. Paul has failed to live up to the bishops’ own requirements regarding the protection of children. Instances of suspected child abuse were not reported to the civil authorities. Clergy were not removed from active ministry as required by the Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children. Almost every page of Haselberger’s affidavit illustrates a clerical culture that, when confronted with evidence of proven or potential sexual abuse of a minor, instinctively reacted with the thought, ‘poor Father.”’
By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this commentary.