Archive for category Catholic Bishops

What do the Church’s victims deserve? / The New Yorker

The Catholic Church is turning to outside arbiters to reckon with its history of sexual abuse. But skeptics argue that its legacy of evasion continues. (the New Yorker)

Like many Catholics, I wonder whether this story will ever be over and whether things will ever be set right.

“Often called a crisis, the problem is more enduring and more comprehensive than that. Social scientists report that the gravest period of priestly sexual abuse was the sixties and seventies, and the problem has been in public view for the past three and a half decades. For most American Catholics, then, the fact of sexual abuse by priests and its coverup by bishops has long been an everyday reality.

“Priestly sexual abuse has directly harmed thousands of Catholics, spoiling their sense of sexuality, of intimacy, of trust, of faith. Indirectly, the pattern of abuse and coverup has made Catholics leery of priests and disdainful of the idea that the bishops are our ‘shepherds.’ It has muddled questions about Church doctrine concerning sexual orientation, the nature of the priesthood, and the role of women; it has hastened the decline of Catholic schooling and the shuttering of churches.

“Attorneys general in more than a dozen states are investigating the Church and its handling of sexual-abuse allegations. In February, New York State loosened its statute of limitations for sex crimes, long the Church’s bulwark against abuse claims. And that is just in the United States. Priestly sexual abuse has had grave effects around the world, including in Rome, where the three most recent Popes have been implicated in the institutional habits of concealment or inaction, and where Pope Francis has yet to find his voice on the problem …

“In all of this, a distinctly American solution to the problem has emerged—the commissioning of an independent, secular authority to arrange settlements between the Church and survivors of abuse. This strategy has been taken up by an unlikely advocate: Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, and a traditionalist who generally relishes defending the Church against its adversaries.”

By Paul Elie, The New Yorker — Read more …

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Peru bishop wants excommunication for abuse scandals, not just defrocking / Cruxnow.com

When it comes to cover-up, including the transfer of abusers from one parish to another, Schmalhausen said it has become obvious that civil justice is more proactive than the Church, which has sheltered abusers and allowed them to have access to other potential victims. (Cruxnow.com)

Bishop Kay Schmalhausen of Ayaviri, Peru believes current punishments for both the crime of clerical sexual abuse (usually expulsion from the clerical state) and the cover-up are ineffective, and suggested harsher penalties including excommunication.

“As a former member of a group whose founder has been charged with abuses of conscience, power and sexuality, Schmalhausen told Crux that some key questions need to be asked.

“‘What has been done so far with the perpetrators of such crimes? How is the damage to the victims, along with the scandal caused to the faithful of the Church and in the eyes of the world, being repaired? Is there even a minimum of proportionality and justice in the measures implemented so far?’ he asked.

“‘Clearly the answer today seems to be no …'”

By Elise Harris and John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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Cardinal George Pell of Australia sentenced to sex years in prison / The New York Times

“I would characterize these breaches and abuses as grave,” the chief judge in the case, Peter Kidd, said during the sentencing. Speaking directly to Cardinal Pell, he added: “Your conduct was permeated by staggering arrogance.” (The New York Times)

George Pell, an Australian cardinal who was the Vatican’s chief financial officer and an adviser to Pope Francis, was sentenced to six years in prison on Wednesday (Mar. 13), for molesting two boys after Sunday Mass in 1996.

“The cardinal was convicted on five counts in December, making him the most senior Catholic official — and the first bishop — to be found guilty in a criminal court for sexually abusing minors, according to BishopAccountability.org, which tracks cases of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.

“Cardinal Pell, who stood stone-faced with lips pursed when his sentence was read aloud, will not be eligible for parole for three years and eight months.

“‘I would characterize these breaches and abuses as grave,’ the chief judge in the case, Peter Kidd, said during the sentencing. Speaking directly to Cardinal Pell, he added: ‘Your conduct was permeated by staggering arrogance.'”

By Livia Albeck-Ripka and Damien Cave, The New York Times — Read more …

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One Step Forward / Commonweal

One line in particular from (Cardinal Blase) Cupich (of Chicago) stood out: his claim that the “structural elements” of reform would not be enough unless “we anchor all our deliberations in the piercing pain of those who have been abused and of the families who have suffered with them.” (Commonweal)

In the lead-up to last month’s four-day Vatican summit on the sexual abuse of minors, organizers made a concerted effort to lower expectations. A crisis decades in the making, the full scope of which is still coming into view, would not be solved in one meeting, they insisted. There would be no sweeping policy changes from on high, no declaration from Pope Francis that definitively addressed every concern about how the church handles sexual abuse, no “closure.” But even if such a gathering was never intended to do everything, it’s still fair to ask whether it did enough.

“The unsatisfying answer is that no one knows—yet.

“The effectiveness of the summit may only be revealed in the weeks, months, and perhaps years ahead, after the bishops have returned home and continue—or in some cases, start—the work of responding to, and safeguarding against, sexual abuse. It’s an approach in line with what Francis once described as a “healthy decentralization,” recognizing that bishops in different parts of the world might need to develop different strategies, perhaps above all when it comes to how the church relates to civil authorities. But this shouldn’t be mistaken for a lackadaisical, “hands-off” approach. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will provide the bishops with a handbook that clearly lays out their responsibilities for dealing with accusations of abuse—and, as Austen Ivereigh points out, the 2016 motu propio “As a Loving Mother” makes it clear they’ll be removed if they fail. It was also announced at the summit that special task forces would be created to offer bishops additional support. And there were proposals for how the bishops themselves, along with religious superiors, should be held accountable. Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich offered a framework, rooted in synodality, for discussion and discernment about such reforms.”

By The Editors at Commonweal — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful “Focus” News Roundup


March 1, 2019

TOP STORIES

Pope defrocks Theodore McCarrick, ex-cardinal accused of sexual abuse
Pope Francis has expelled Theodore E. McCarrick, a former cardinal and archbishop of Washington, from the priesthood(link is external), after the church found him guilty of sexually abusing minors and adult seminarians over decades, the Vatican said on Saturday (Feb. 16). The move appears to be the first time any cardinal has been defrocked for sexual abuse — marking a critical moment in the Vatican’s handling of a scandal that has gripped the church for nearly two decades. It is also the first time an American cardinal has been removed from the priesthood.”By Elizabeth Dias and Jason Horowitz, The New York Times

Australian Cardinal George Pell convicted of child sex abuse
A high-ranking Catholic official has been convicted of child sex abuse(link is external)and is due to be sentenced Wednesday (Feb. 27). Australian Cardinal George Pell, a top adviser to Pope Francis who was in charge of Vatican finances until he was accused, was found guilty of five charges of ‘historical child sexual offenses’ that go back decades. A jury in the County Court of Victoria in Melbourne where Pell, 77, was once archbishop, found the cardinal guilty after two days of deliberation in December.” By Richard Gonzales, National Public Radio

After abuse crisis, Holy Spirit planning new ‘season’ for the church
“The laity may be angry over the most recent revelations of the Catholic Church’s sex abuse crisis, but bishops, particularly younger ones, share in that anger and ‘want to move with real force’ toward solutions and it could yield a new season for the church(link is external), said the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Feb. 6.” By Rhina Guidos, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

Why does the Catholic Church keep failing on sexual abuse, By Emma Green
“A few years after Seán O’Malley took over the Archdiocese of Boston in 2003, at the peak of the clergy sexual-abuse crisis in America(link is external), he led novenas of penance at nine of the city’s most affected parishes. At each church he visited, he lay facedown on the floor before the altar, begging for forgiveness. This is how O’Malley has spent his life in ministry: cleaning up after pedophile priests and their apologists, and serving as the Catholic Church’s public face of repentance and reform.” By Emma Green, The Atlantic

How Long, O Lord, Must We Wait
“How long O Lord? How long must we wait for both clergy and laity to recognize that incremental change will not work(link is external)? We need wide-ranging structural reform. We need checks and balances rather than the feudal governance we have now in which each bishop is the undisputed master of his diocesan fief. Catholic patience is (finally) running out. And many Catholics are working to find solutions rather than enable the present moribund clerical system.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

Click here to read the rest of this issue of Focus …

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New report addresses church’s ‘twin crises’ of sex abuse, leadership failure / National Catholic Reporter

The report comes five days after the conclusion of the global summit on sexual abuse Pope Francis held at the Vatican and a month after Leadership Roundtable hosted its own two-day meeting on the clergy sexual abuse crisis. (National Catholic Reporter)

Just days after the close of the Vatican abuse summit, a prominent U.S. Catholic group has released wide-ranging recommendations to address what it calls the ‘twin crises’ of sexual abuse and leadership failures in the church.

“The recommendations were part of a report Friday (Mar. 1) from the Leadership Roundtable, a coalition of laity, religious and clergy to promote best practices in church management. The proposals are aimed simultaneously at reforming the structures and the clerical culture that permitted sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults to persist and go unreported for decades.

“Among the report’s more than 50 recommendations is to place bishops under the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, also known as the Dallas Charter, and strengthen its audit process, as well as …”

By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Vatican should sanction Cardinal Pell immediately

BOSTON, Mass., Feb. 27, 2019 – Cardinal George Pell has become the highest ranking Catholic Church official known to be convicted of child sexual abuse. Pope Francis has prohibited him from publicly exercising his priestly ministry. Voice of the Faithful suggests Pope Francis immediately remove Pell as prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy and his cardinal’s red hat.

Pell, on leave from his role as Vatican treasurer in order to face charges in Australia, actually was convicted in December 2018, but a judicial gag order prevented reporting on the trial and conviction because Pell was awaiting a second trial, which now will not take place. He faces sentencing this week for five charges related to sexual abuse of two boys in 1996. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years, so Pell potentially could face a 50-year sentence.

The Vatican, according to a spokesman, will wait for Pell’s appeal before taking further action. In the prevailing atmosphere of zero tolerance, Voice of the Faithful expects more, especially after the recently concluded Vatican summit where bishops talked about “transparency, responsibility and accountability” and the Pope called for an “all-out battle against the abuse of minors.”


Voice of the Faithful Statement, Feb. 27, 2019
Contact: Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org, 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.

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