Pope Francis’ Commission for the Protection of Minors is considering restructuring when present members’ terms expire next month, and survivors likely will not have a place at the table. They may comprise a separate advisory panel to the Commission.
Voice of the Faithful believes this is a mistake that would put survivors even farther out of the loop in helping to redress the clergy sexual abuse scandal and denigrate the importance of their counsel.
Of the two original survivor members of the Commission, Peter Saunders has been sidelined and Marie Collins resigned. The Commission’s ineffectiveness was a factor in both cases.
While recently citing some successes in educating Church leaders about the catastrophic results of child abuse, Commission member Krysten Winter-Green has said the Commission’s ineffectiveness stems in large part from insufficient resources and the slow and inefficient way the Vatican works, which echoes some of Collins’ comments upon her resignation.
Voice of the Faithful has worked long and hard to educate the laity to the need for reform of Church structures to better promote accountability, transparency, and broad and effective lay input into Church issues. There seems no more effective example of the need for reform than the inability of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors to accomplish its goals with the Vatican bureaucratic cards stacked against it.
Voice of the Faithful Statement, Aug. 23, 2017
Contact: Nick Ingala, email@example.com, 781-559-3360
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.
Consideration of a change in structure for the papal commission comes as the group has in recent months faced public questioning of its effectiveness in stopping future abuse of children and vulnerable people in the Catholic Church. The group now appears to be in the midst of a significant phase of transition. (National Catholic Reporter)
Pope Francis’ commission on clergy sexual abuse is considering whether to restructure itself so that it no longer includes the direct participation of abuse survivors. It is evaluating the possibility of creating instead a separate advisory panel of individuals who have been abused by clergy.
“A member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors revealed the group’s consideration of the idea in an NCR interview Aug. 14, saying that one of the commission’s work groups has been tasked with weighing the pros and cons of such a change.
“The commission appears likely to discuss the possible restructuring at its next plenary meeting in Rome in mid-September, when the original three-year terms of its members are set to expire.
“‘I think that may be a more productive [way] of ensuring the voice of survivors in the work of the commission,’ Krysten Winter-Green, the commission member, said of the potential change. ‘I do not know that it’s critical that a survivor needs to be actually on the commission.'”
By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
Priest sex abusers used confession to assuage their guilt, making it easier for them to repeat their crimes. (Kieran Tapsell in National Catholic Reporter)
The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has just released its Criminal Justice Report in which it deals with many matters relating to the way child sexual abuse within institutions is handled by the Australian criminal justice system. In the course of that report, it recommends mandatory reporting of all suspected child sexual abuse within institutions and the creation of new offences of failing to take proper care to prevent such abuse.
“One recommendation that understandably created some media interest is that there should be no exemption to the reporting requirements for information provided in confession.
“The commission’s report produces convincing evidence, not only in Australia, but also overseas, that priest sex abusers used confession as a means of assuaging their guilt. It made it easier for them to repeat their crimes because confession was always available.”
Commentary by Kieran Tapsell in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
“So, where we were focused on Catholics, we feel we’ll be stronger and have a better chance of accomplishing our goals if we become more inclusive,” she (Barbara Dorris, SNAP president) said. (National Catholic Reporter)
SNAP, the organization that has become synonymous with uncovering the clergy sex abuse scandal, may be outpacing its acronym.
“The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, established in 1988, has been at the forefront of advocating for victims of clergy abuse and at pressing for accountability by church leadership. However, it was evident at a gathering of 300 victims, advocates and supporters Aug. 11-13 in Alexandria, Virginia, that the organization is in the midst of change.
“‘We’re in transition,’ said Barbara Dorris, who took over as president when the group was left leaderless when founder Barbara Blaine and longtime national director David Clohessy, resigned within weeks of each other. Both longtime leaders said their resignations has been in the works for months and were not connected to a lawsuit filed in January in which both were named.
“‘We’ve gone from founder-led into an organization that is going to work more trying to build partnerships with other organizations, to build a stronger voice to protect children and do more outreach,’ said Dorris. She also expressed a willingness to discuss a suggestion advanced by an expert that SNAP do more to connect victims with professional counselors.”
By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
Ex-Catholic bishop of Phoenix accused of sex abuse of boy
“A former bishop who led the Roman Catholic church in metro Phoenix during a worldwide child sexual abuse scandal has been accused of molesting a young boy(link is external) 35 years ago. Retired Bishop Thomas O’Brien is accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing the boy on several occasions at parishes in Phoenix and Goodyear from 1977 to 1982. The Diocese of Phoenix says O’Brien denies the allegation.”
By The Associated Press in The New York Times
Canon expert: Vatican protected bishops for centuries
“The ongoing canonical trial of Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron(link is external) is significant in that it’s only the second time in centuries a bishop has been put on trial by the church, said Thomas Doyle, a Catholic priest and former board member of the Canon Law Society of America. The last archbishop to undergo a canonical trial — Jozef Wesołowski, who was accused of sexually abusing children in the Dominican Republic — was defrocked in 2014.”
By Steve Limtiaco, Pacific Daily News
German abuse report ‘shocking’ and not the end, Church expert says
“Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, a leading anti-abuse expert and a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, called a report documenting hundreds of cases of physical and sexual abuse at a German boys’ choir ‘shocking(link is external),’ and warned that as the taboo lifts in other parts of the world, similar accounts are likely to keep emerging.”
By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com
On abuse: Francis yet to make critical clerical changes
“NCR’s editorial, ‘On Abuse: church has changed but not enough,’ rightly identifies the all-male clerical culture as a critical factor in the sex abuse scandal(link is external), but it fails to point to the failure of Pope Francis to change parts of canon law that embody that culture.”
Commentary by Kieran Tapsell, National Catholic Reporter
Bankrupt archdiocese files objections to creditors’ reorganization plan
“The bankrupt Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis says the latest reorganization plan proposed for the church by creditors would strip it of all assets required to pursue the church’s mission(link is external). The archdiocese filed its objections to the creditors’ plan Friday (Aug. 4) and urged acceptance of its own $156 million settlement. ‘The committee’s plan isn’t a reorganization plan, it’s an unlawful dismantling of the Catholic Church in the Twin Cities,’ read a joint statement from Tom Abood, chair of the Archdiocesan Finance Council and Brian Short, a member of the Archdiocesan Corporate Board of Directors. ‘The committee’s plan is also simply unworkable from a legal or practical basis.’”
By Martin Moylan, Minnesota Public Radio
Click here to read the rest of this issue of Focus …
“I don’t see any sign that the lessons have been truly learned to the point where the institution of the Church is being questioned by those who’ve got the ability to change it,” she (Elizabeth Proust, head of the Australian Catholic Church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council) said. (ABC News Australia)
The senior Australian businesswoman appointed to supervise the Catholic Church’s response to the sexual abuse crisis says she is ‘pessimistic’ about the Church’s willingness to reform.
“Elizabeth Proust, the head of the Church’s own Truth, Justice and Healing Council, fears the institution will emerge from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse only ‘partially cleansed and unreconstructed.’
“‘I fear there’s a view that once the royal commission reports, and the publicity around what will be a fairly dire report all dies down, that life will go back to what it was,’ Ms Proust told The Religion and Ethics Report.
“‘I hope I’m wrong. I’d like to think that the possibility for real transformation of the Church exists, but it’s an institution that’s been very slow to change on a whole range of issues.'”
By Andrew West, ABC News Australia — Read more …
A government commission in Australia on Monday (Aug. 14) said Catholic priests must violate the seal of confession if they hear about the sexual abuse of children. (Cruxnow.com)
Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse says the right to practice one’s religious beliefs ‘must accommodate civil society’s obligation to provide for the safety of all and, in particular, children’s safety from sexual abuse.’ Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne, the president of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said in a statement the inviolability of the seal of confession is a ‘fundamental part of the freedom of religion.’”
By Cruxnow.com Staff — Read more …
The large number of lawsuits is in part due to the actions of lawmakers in September 2016, when they retroactively eliminated the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits involving child sexual abuse. The criminal statute of limitations, which cannot be applied retroactively, was lifted in 2011. (Catholic News Agency)
“Nearly 100 lawsuits have accused Catholic clergy in Guam of sex abuse over a 50 year timespan, alleging assault, manipulation and intimidation of the alleged victims, according to a new report.
“The accused include Archbishop Anthony Apuron, 13 Guam priests, a Catholic schoolteacher, a Catholic school janitor and a Boy Scout leader. The Archdiocese of Agana is a defendant in 96 lawsuits, which concern claims from 1955 to 1994, reports the USA Today Network’s Pacific Daily News.
“‘We care deeply about every person who steps forward and we look forward to a full resolution of all cases,’ the archdiocese said July 28, saying it takes all allegations ‘very seriously.'”
“The large number of lawsuits is in part due to the actions of lawmakers in September 2016, when they retroactively eliminated the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits involving child sexual abuse. The criminal statute of limitations, which cannot be applied retroactively, was lifted in 2011.”
By Catholic News Agency — Read more …
The bishop acknowledged in a 2003 immunity deal that he let church employees accused of sex abuse continue to have contact with children. Weeks after the deal, O’Brien resigned as bishop after he was arrested in the hit-and-run death of a pedestrian. (Associated Press in The New York Times)
A former bishop who led the Roman Catholic church in metro Phoenix during a worldwide child sexual abuse scandal has been accused of molesting a young boy 35 years ago.
“Retired Bishop Thomas O’Brien is accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing the boy on several occasions at parishes in Phoenix and Goodyear from 1977 to 1982. The Diocese of Phoenix says O’Brien denies the allegation.
“O’Brien, now 81, led the diocese in Phoenix as it became embroiled in a global scandal that rocked the Catholic church after allegations surfaced in Boston about pedophile priests going unpunished.
“The bishop acknowledged in a 2003 immunity deal that he let church employees accused of sex abuse continue to have contact with children. Weeks after the deal, O’Brien resigned as bishop after he was arrested in the hit-and-run death of a pedestrian.
“O’Brien’s accuser says the clergyman sexually abused him when he was a child and he had suppressed his memories of it, said Tim Hale, his lawyer.”
By Associated Press in The New York Times — Read more …