Archive for June, 2016
Catholic church leaders fight efforts to open old child sexual assault cases / North Country Public Radiio
There is a growing effort around the country to make it easier to prosecute or bring civil lawsuits against people who sexually abuse children. Many states have already extended or eliminated the statute of limitations for reporting sex crimes against kids.
“But the push to punish pedophiles has met fierce opposition from Roman Catholic organizations, who say they could be unfairly targeted and their institutions could be bankrupted.
“These proposed laws don’t just target pedophile priests …”
By Brian Mann, North Country Public Radio — Click here to read or listen to the rest of this story.
A Senate committee on Tuesday (Jun. 28) voted to remove the most controversial provision of a bill that would let child sex-abuse victims sue their attackers.
“By a near unanimous vote, the Judiciary Committee passed an amendment that bars the law from being applied retroactively, a move that would have enabled lawsuits by victims who were abused as far back as the 1970s.”
By Maria Panaritis, Philly.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Voice of the Faithful Advisory Board member Paul Lakeland elected Catholic Theological Society of America vice president
Voice of the Faithful advisory board member Paul Lakeland, Ph.D., has been elected vice president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. VOTF is the Catholic Church reform movement started in 2002 at the height of the Boston, Mass., clergy sexual abuse crisis.
Lakeland was elected during the society’s 2016 annual meeting, which was held in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He serves as vice president for the next year. In June 2017, he will become president-elect and then president in June 2018. In 2019, he will be past president for a final year in his four-year presidential service.
Lakeland is the Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J., chair of Catholic Studies and director of Fairfield University’s Center for Catholic Studies, Fairfield, Conn. He has written and taught Catholic ecclesiology, liberation theology, and religion and literature for more than 30 years. Among Lakeland’s several Catholic Press Association awards is one for best book in theology for The Liberation of the Laity. Fairfield University awarded him the Robert E. Wall Faculty Research Award for the 2015-16 academic year.
“We congratulate Dr. Lakeland on his election as vice president and president-elect of the Catholic Theological Society of America,” said Mary Pat Fox, VOTF’s president, “and we feel fortunate and honored to have such an internationally renowned scholar and theologian advising us on Catholic issues. Over the years, he has been most generous with his time and talent on behalf of VOTF.”
VOTF’s Advisory Council advises its board of trustees on issues relative to the organization’s mission and goals, offers analysis and recommendations as solicited by the board, and counsels the board on issues it feels are pertinent to VOTF’s success. Council members combine their knowledge and experience in theology and institutional church dynamics with a unique understanding of VOTF’s origin, development and purpose.
The 1,300-member Catholic Theological Society of America, founded in 1946, is the largest professional society of theologians in the world and promotes theological research in the Roman Catholic tradition that is attentive to contemporary problems faced by the Church and the world.
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.
(Photo at Fairfield.edu)
BY KATHY KANE
Many people believe that the legislative battle in Pennsylvania right now is a matter of money. The belief that victims want civil suits for financial compensation and that the Church wants to protect its finances. What many do not realize is that victims/survivors often seek to bring civil suits for the truth that is revealed in the documents and records that are ordered to be disclosed. Along with the finances, the Church also wants to protect the evidence, but it makes for a more complicated sound bite.
The March 2016 Grand Jury report of clergy abuse in the Altoona Johnstown Diocese disclosed much previously unknown information. One thing I found in reading the document was a patient who was at the St John Vianney Treatment center in Sept /October 2012. The write up of this child predator priest, who actually was profiled by the FBI, was the…
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Archbishop of Chicago Blase Cupich offers his interpretation of Pope Francis’ apostolic letter on bishop accountability, Come una Madre Amorevole (Like a Loving Mother).
A year ago this July, as Pope Francis apologized to a group of victims of sexual abuse by members of the clergy, he said the church must ask for ‘the grace to weep before the execrable acts of abuse which have left life-long scars.’ He told them that his heart weeps in anguish when he recognizes that what was done to victims was ‘something more than despicable actions. It is like a sacrilegious cult, because these boys and girls had been entrusted to the priestly charism in order to be brought to God.’ He also pledged decisive action that would bring this sense of horror, utter violation and sacrilege to the structure of church leadership by issuing policies that would hold bishops and religious superiors accountable. This spring, Pope Francis did just that, with the publication of ‘Like a Loving Mother.’
“This decree has received wide coverage by the media and commentators. The major part of the decree outlines a process for the removal of church leaders for acts that do grave damage to the church. As a result, most reports and comments (whether favorable or not) have framed this decree as a tool to punish church leaders.
“Those who applaud it note that finally church leaders will be held accountable. Those who criticize it object that nothing has changed. They decry that there is no tribunal as originally announced, and they question if handing this task off to four different Vatican offices will dilute the resolve to dismiss bishops for negligence, as the new document promises.”
By Archbishop Blase Cupich in America: The National Catholic Review — Click here to read the rest of this article.
Click here to read: “Applauding local religious leaders for acknowledging ‘a great sin,'” by the Lancaster Online Editorial Board, June 20, 2016
Excerpt: Earlier this month, Lancaster County religious leaders from a mix of Christian denominations added their names to a letter to the state Senate Judiciary Committee. They urged quick passage in the Senate of House Bill 1947, which was approved overwhelmingly in the state House in April. The bill would abolish the statute of limitations for future criminal cases of child sexual abuse, and extend by 20 years the time for victims to bring civil suits against their assailants and an agency whose negligence enabled the abuse. Victims would have until age 50 to initiate civil cases under the bill. The proposed law would be retroactive, meaning victims now 30 to 50 years old could still bring civil suits. The retroactive provision in the bill is strongly opposed…
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“Victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Switzerland may now seek financial compensation and other forms of reparation in cases that have exceeded the statute of limitations. This follows the launch of an independent sexual abuse commission. However, payments are likely to remain symbolic.”
The fight against sexual abuse within the Catholic Church took a step forwards on Tuesday (Jun. 21) with the official launch of CECAR, a sexual abuse commission that is ‘neutral and independent of the authorities of the Catholic Church.’
“CECAR is the result of almost six years’ negotiations and agreement between victims’ groups, parliamentarians and the Swiss Bishops Conference. The initiative is aimed at victims who were minors at the time of the incidents, but whose cases have encountered legal time limits.
‘Exceeding the statute of limitations does not wipe out suffering,’ said Charles Morerod, the Bishop for Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg at a news conference in Lausanne. He was one of the co-signatories of an accord in 2015 between the Catholic Church and the victims’ group SAPEC that led to the creation of CECAR.”
By Simon Bradley, SwussInfo.ch — Click here to read the rest of this story.
When it comes to holding bishops and religious superiors responsible for the cover up of clergy sex abuse, Pope Francis’ June 4 apostolic letter on ecclesial accountability is not only a distinct improvement over the proposal made a year ago to establish a tribunal to hold bishops accountable, it is possibly the most positive and hopeful signal to come out of the Vatican to date.
“Canon lawyer Kurt Martens — among others — told NCR, ‘Everyone seems to be excited about the new [apostolic letter] but there is really no change.’ However, there is something breaking with this pronouncement — the official recognition by the church’s highest authority of hierarchical negligence in dealing with sex abuse by clerics. It is not only acknowledged but named as a crime.
“The apostolic letter, or motu proprio known by its Italian title, Come una madre amorevole (‘As a loving mother’), has some remarkable positive points that deserve mention …”
by Thomas P. Doyle, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this article.
“Church accused of using ‘mob boss approach’ to pressure lawmakers who support bill that would give victims of sexual abuse more time to sue abusers.”
The Catholic church in Pennsylvania has been accused of employing ‘mafia-like’ tactics in a campaign to put pressure on individual Catholic lawmakers who support state legislation that would give victims of sexual abuse more time to sue their abusers.
“The lobbying campaign against the legislation is being led by Philadelphia archbishop Charles Chaput, a staunch conservative who recently created a stir after inadvertently sending an email to a state representative Jamie Santora, in which he accused the lawmaker of ‘betraying’ the church and said Santora would suffer “consequences” for his support of the legislation. The email was also sent to a senior staff member in Chaput’s office, who was apparently the only intended recipient.
“The email has infuriated some Catholic lawmakers, who say they voted their conscience in support of the legislation on behalf of sexual abuse victims. One Republican legislator, Mike Vareb, accused the archbishop of using mafia-style tactics.”
By Stephanie Kirchgaessner, The Guardian — Click here to read the rest of this story.
More than a year after the conclusion of the Vatican’s apostolic visitation of US communities of women religious, the Vatican has begun asking more than a dozen orders to send their superiors to Rome to discuss concerns that surfaced.
“‘We did a very positive report at the conclusion of the visitation,’ a report that looked at the life of women’s congregations in the United States as a whole and was released in December 2014, said Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
“But ‘there remained about 15 — more or less — congregations that we needed to speak with about a few points,’ the cardinal told Catholic News Service on June 14. The cardinal had attended a news conference about a new document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith looking at the relationship between the hierarchy and communities or movements that arise from ‘charismatic gifts.'”
By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in Catholic Herald — Click here to read the rest of this story.