Archive for September 16th, 2016
Sept. 16, 2016 – Pundits were once again this week debating the effectiveness of Pope Francis’ Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, as news spread that commission members have been speaking with new bishops and Vatican offices about child protection best practices. Voice of the Faithful believes this action is another step in the slow progress of Francis’ papacy toward dealing with the clergy sexual abuse scandal, while not yet the substantial steps needed.
Pope Francis has repeatedly condemned abuse, including bishops who cover up or enable abusers continued access to children. He has often slammed clericalism in the Church, which VOTF has long said is a major factor in the scandal. In early 2014, he set up his child protection commission to develop best practices and to educate the Church about them. This past June, he promulgated an apostolic letter that expanded “grave reasons” for removal from ecclesiastical office to include “negligence of bishops in the exercise of their office, in particular in relation to cases of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults.” This motu proprio also empowered several Vatican dicasteries to investigate allegations against bishops, initiate removal, and report to him. Previously, only the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith handled abuse cases.
The child protection commission also reported this week that members have long been talking with and educating clergy about preventing sexual abuse of children. Their new initiatives include a training program for bishops and a template to help bishops’ conferences and Catholic associations prevent and deal with abuse.
Demonstrating just how desperately bishops need such help, the Catholic Whistleblowers, a network of clergy, religious and laypeople who have reported or support reporting abuse, this week sent a follow-up letter to the Vatican requesting investigation of the U.S. bishops’ abuse policies. They sent the first letter nine months ago and have yet to receive a reply, and apparently none of the bishops investigations they requested more than a year ago have been initiated.
For nearly 15 years, VOTF has sought changes in Church structures to better protect children. No one can tell yet whether these initiatives by the Pope’s commission are the beginnings of such structural change, but in VOTF’s experience, constant, continuing vigilance will be required until such change is achieved.
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. For more information, www.votf.org, or call (781) 559-3360
The Pennsylvania attorney general’s office is looking into allegations of abuse by priests in the Allentown Diocese as part of a bigger statewide investigation, a lawmaker who was called to testify told The Morning Call on Thursday (Sept. 15).
“The Harrisburg Diocese also is under investigation.
‘I can acknowledge that the Diocese of Harrisburg has received a subpoena from the state grand jury,’ spokesman Joe Aponick said Thursday.
“State prosecutors have been taking testimony in Pittsburgh for months in a wide-ranging investigation that started with a scathing March report detailing allegations of abuse by about 50 priests and other religious leaders in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese and a cover-up by church officials. It’s not clear how many of the state’s eight dioceses are being investigated.”
By Steve Esack, Peter Hall and Matt Assad, The Morning Call — Click here to read the rest of this story.
The former Catholic Bishop of Parramatta Bede Heather has told a royal commission he destroyed documents relating to potential legal action against a paedophile priest.
“Bishop Heather told the public inquiry he destroyed documents because he was traumatised by a police search of his office as part of an earlier investigation into sexual abuse by clergy.
“The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard Bishop Heather advised his lawyers Makinson & D’Apice of his actions in a 1996 letter.
“‘Following the police raid on our offices, shortly afterwards I took the precaution of destroying all papers of mine which could have been to the disadvantage of persons with whom I deal,’ he wrote in the letter which was partly read out before the commission.”
By Rachel Browne, The Sydney Morning Herald — Click here to read the rest of this story.
“Eight months without a reply, Catholic advocates for survivors of clergy sexual abuse have hit resend on their request for a Vatican investigation into the abuse policies of U.S. bishops.”
The Catholic Whistleblowers mailed a second letter Sept. 1 to the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, addressed to its prefect Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Canada.
“The brief one-page letter summarizes and refers back to another letter the advocacy group sent at the beginning of the year. That first letter raised concerns that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was not fully implementing its zero tolerance policy toward abusive priests, and as a result putting children and communities at risk while also creating scandal in the church.
“Specifically, Catholic Whistleblowers argues the conference and its bishops have not reported all appropriate abuse allegations to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and lack a mechanism to assure bishops pass such cases to the congregation at all.”
By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.