Archive for February, 2016
Editorial: Best Picture win for ‘Spotlight’ is fitting humiliation for church / National Catholic Reporter
The public humiliation for the Catholic church is now as thorough as one might expect in a culture where what is on screen is often the most persuasive element in fashioning public opinion.
“In the case of priests sexually abusing children and bishops and others hiding their crimes, the biblical resonance might now finally be felt: the first have been ushered, publicly, to their place in the last seats. The last have been made first — and given a special place (even on stage with Lady Gaga). No longer need victims hide or fear to explain themselves. The mighty, indeed, have fallen from their thrones; the humble have been exalted …
“The movie powerfully illustrated what the church utterly failed to realize about itself: that the act of abuse, horrible as it is in any circumstance, was magnified in its unspeakable specifics because an all-male, celibate culture was so protective of its own status and privilege, so closed in on itself, that it was deaf to the searing pleas of children, parents, congregations and the few souls within its ranks who dared to speak the truth.”
By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff — Click here to read the rest of this editorial.
Pell admits ‘enormous mistakes’ in church’s abuse handling, calls it ‘absolutely scandalous’ / National Catholic Reporter
One of the Catholic church’s highest ranking cardinals, Vatican official George Pell, faced four hours of questioning about his role in the clergy sexual abuse crisis in his native Australia in an extraordinary overnight hearing Sunday, in which he admitted the church ‘has made enormous mistakes’ in its handling of dangerous priests.
“The cardinal, who has been among Pope Francis’ closest advisors in reforming the Vatican and now leads the city-state’s new centralized treasury department, also said that evidence of abuse brought forward by victims in past decades ‘were dismissed in absolutely scandalous circumstances.’
“Pell, who formerly served as an auxiliary bishop and then archbishop of Melbourne and then archbishop of Sydney, was testifying via video-link from Rome in the hours between Sunday and Monday in a hearing taking place in his home country on the church’s historic response to clergy sexual abuse.”
By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.
“‘Spotlight,’ the film that follows The Boston Globe’s investigation into the clergy sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic church, won best picture at the 88th Academy Awards held on Sunday (Feb. 28) night.
“‘This film gave a voice to survivors, and this Oscar amplifies that voice, which we hope will become a choir that will resonate all the way to the Vatican,’ producer Michael Sugar said in accepting the Oscar.
“‘Pope Francis, it’s time to protect the children and restore the faith,’ he added.
“‘We would not be here today without the heroic efforts of our reporters,’ said Blye Pagon Faust, another ‘Spotlight’ producer. ‘Not only do they affect global change, but they absolutely show us the necessity for investigative journalism.'”
By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Archbishop Robert Carlson’s recent caution to his parishes in St. Louis about the “troubling pattern of behavior” of the Girl Scouts is stirring stark recollections of the prelate’s past role in managing accusations against priests for sexually abusing children. In a deposition two years ago, he insisted that he was not certain sexual abuse of a child by a priest constituted a criminal act in 1984, when he was auxiliary bishop for St. Paul and Minneapolis handling sex scandal cases.
“‘I’m not sure whether I knew it was a crime or not,’ Archbishop Carlson testified when asked in the deposition about the 30-year-old case. ‘I understand today it’s a crime.’
“To the contrary, a document released by the alleged victim’s lawyers after the deposition showed the cleric’s clear concern for criminal law. He told his diocesan superiors in 1984 that the parents in another case were considering complaining to the police, noting the law’s statute of limitations was applicable for two more years …”
By Francis Clines, The New York Times — Click here to read the rest of this story.
With ‘Spotlight’ movie an award contender, Catholic reform movement assesses scandal / National Catholic Reporter (‘Spotlight’ received Best Picture Oscar a few days after the post was made)
The critically acclaimed movie ‘Spotlight’ could receive a Best Picture Oscar this Sunday. The film about how The Boston Globe investigated and brought to light clergy sexual abuse of children and its cover up in the Boston archdiocese has brought renewed awareness to the scandal worldwide.
“But many Catholics have had a heightened sense of the crisis all along. Some of those Catholics — determined to remain faithful while addressing the scandal — formed Voice of the Faithful only a couple of months after the Globe’s sensational January 2002 story appeared.
“VOTF continues its work nearly a decade and half later because the scandal remains — ‘a mass psychological dysfunction hidden in plain sight, which has stretched back decades or even centuries and will, unchecked, do precisely the same in the future,’ according to Peter Bradshaw’s “Spotlight” review in The Guardian.
“Amid the passionate indignation the scandal created, VOTF grew rapidly to comprise an international membership. Key to members is to remain faithful Catholics and to help redress and prevent scandal by changing the way the Church operates …”
By Donna B. Doucette, Executive Director, Voice of the Faithful, in National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this commentary.
Hundreds of child sex abuse complaints made against Christian Brothers, royal commission hears / The Guardian
In Australia, 853 people have made a claim or substantiated complaint of child sexual abuse against one or more Christian Brothers, with 75% of victims under the age of 13 at the time, a royal commission has heard.
“The royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse has turned its attention to the Christian Brothers as the third round of its hearings into the diocese of Ballarat began on Monday. A religious community within the Catholic church, the Christian Brothers primarily worked in educational facilities for children.
“In all, 281 individual members of the Christian Brothers in Australia have been subject to one or more claims or substantiated complaints of child sexual abuse, the commission heard, with 45% of that abuse occurring in Tasmania or Victoria.”
By Melissa Davey, The Guardian — Click here to read the rest of this story.
The truth of the clergy sex abuse scandal would never have surfaced without the sustained courage of victims. In the same way, it will take the courage and work of victims, above all, to help return the church to health.
“Marie Collins provides a stunning example of the kind of determination and courage required to get on with that latter phase of dealing with the scandal. It is enough that this abuse survivor from Ireland has dedicated so much of her life to establishing organizations and structures to protect children. That she would accept appointment to Pope Francis’ Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors is a most generous gift to the church. The risks in taking the assignment were both enormous and inherent.
“We are grateful that she initially accepted and that she has decided to stay on through the most recent upheaval involving fellow member Peter Saunders and the commission’s decision that the only other victim on the commission take a leave of absence.”
By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff — Click here to read the rest of this editorial.
Considering convicted priest’s reinstatement and Pope Francis’ pronouncements, what does zero tolerance of clergy sexual abuse really mean?
On the heels of complaints that the Curia is blocking child protection policy reforms already approved by Pope Francis comes word that a priest convicted of child sexual abuse has been reinstated in India and that new bishops have been told they are not required to report child sex abuse to civil authorities. Neither situation conforms to the declarations Pope Francis has made that there must be zero tolerance for child sex abuse.
VOTF is left to wonder, as many Catholics do, whether Pope Francis is simply declaring a zero tolerance policy while allowing the Vatican Curia to block any meaningful child protection reforms.
In the India case, despite the so-called zero tolerance policy, The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reportedly told Bishop Arulappan Amalraj of the Ootacamund Diocese in India that he could return Rev. Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul to ministry, which he did. Jeyapaul pleaded guilty and was convicted in 2012 of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in the Diocese of Crookston, Minnesota. Allegations involving a second teen were dropped in a plea deal.
In the bishops’ case, the Vatican allowed a priest to tell new bishops that reporting child sex abuse was not required, that it was a choice they had. The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, created and supported by Pope Francis, fired back this week with a press release stating that reporting abuse not only is a requirement, it’s also a bishop’s moral and ethical responsibility to do so. The statement went out over the signature of Cardinal Sean O’Malley, chair of the Pontifical Commission. The Commission had prepared a module for teaching bishops how to handle reported abuse—yet none of the commissioners, the proper leaders on the issue, was asked to deliver that message.
VOTF thus asks again, is Pope Francis promulgating recommendations of his own Pontifical Commission “for show” or is he, and the Church, serious enough about zero tolerance to actually enforce it? Seeing bishops who have covered up abuse brought before the new tribunal for bishops would be a step in the right direction. It would at least demonstrate that people who reinstate convicted abusers or tell new bishops to ignore zero tolerance will be held accountable.
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 the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.
The Roman Catholic church in southern India has lifted the suspension of a priest convicted last year of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in the United States more than a decade ago, a spokesman said Saturday (Feb. 13).
“The suspension of the Rev. Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul was lifted last month after the bishop of the Ootacamund Diocese in India’s Tamil Nadu state consulted with church authorities at the Vatican, said the Rev. Sebastian Selvanathan, a spokesman for the diocese.
“Bishop Arulappan Amalraj of Ootacamund had referred Jeyapaul’s case to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the suspension was lifted on the church body’s advice, Selvanathan said.
“‘After Jeyapaul’s release from the United States and his return to India, this matter was referred to Rome, and according to the guidelines of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the suspension against Jeyapaul was removed,’ Selvanathan said.
By CBS News — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Marie Collins said the Curia has shown ‘great resistance’ to proposals made by the the Vatican’s Commission for the Protection of Minors.
The Curia is blocking improvements in the handling of abuse cases, according to a member of the Vatican’s Commission for the Protection of Minors.
“Marie Collins, who was abused when she was 13 by the chaplain at Dublin’s Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin in 1960, has been a member of the abuse commission for two years.
“In an interview with the Irish Times, she has expressed her frustration that little is being done by the Curia to push through proposals made by the commission, despite Pope Francis’s support for action.
“A Vatican tribunal was set up last year to hold bishops to account on the handling of abuse cases, but Collins says it’s implementation has been slow to materialize.”
By David V. Barrett, Catholic Herald — Click here to read the rest of this story.