“Burke, chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court and a justice of the court’s First Judicial District, formerly served as interim chair of the National Review Board for the U.S. bishops’ conference; she last addressed Voice of the Faithful in 2012. At that time, she saw reason for optimism that the bishops were willing to address the sex abuse crisis.
Archive for category Catholic Bishops
Abuse allegations against former Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon ‘unequivocally credible,’ investigation finds / The Springfield Republican
The allegations that were investigated and examined are not dubious, vague or ambiguous in any essentials nor are they the product of any chimerical conception, fabrication or schematic design. The unsavory and heinous nature of the offensive behavior attributed to the late bishop is clearly shocking. (The Springfield Republican)
A retired superior court judge’s review of sexual abuse allegations against former Bishop Christopher J. Weldon, who led the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield for more than 25 years, found the accusations to be ‘unequivocally credible.’
“Meanwhile, mandatory reporters in the diocese who first heard the alleged victim’s account failed to report the matter to law enforcement officials, according to the executive summary for a 350-plus page report released Wednesday by the diocese. The report is the product of an investigation by retired Superior Court Judge Peter A. Velis, who was hired a year ago to investigate the matter.
“Velis’ report concluded ‘the allegations of the Complainant of sexual molestation committed upon him by Bishop Christopher J Weldon, both as a principal, and as a ‘coventurer’ that included anal rape, indecent assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress are unequivocally credible. The allegations that were investigated and examined are not dubious, vague or ambiguous in any essentials nor are they the product of any chimerical conception, fabrication or schematic design. The unsavory and heinous nature of the offensive behavior attributed to the late bishop is clearly shocking.'”
By Anne-Gerard Flynn, The Springfield Republican — Read more …
Report on sexual abuse allegations against late Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon could prove pivotal / Springfield Republican
There have been reports that those in the diocesan hierarchy with ties to (Bishop Christopher J.) Weldon — and had sexual abuse allegations made against them — destroyed files related to pedophile priests over the years. (Springfield Republican)
A soon-to-be-released report nearly a year in the making could shed light on decades of sexual abuse by clergy in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield and forever change how one of its most influential bishops is viewed.
“Last July, retired Superior Court Judge Peter A. Velis was asked by Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct made against the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon dating back to the early 1960s. The report is expected to be released before Rozanski is installed as Archbishop of St. Louis on Aug. 25.
“The findings will impact not only the alleged victim — who reiterated to Rozanski a year ago his claim that he was sexually abused as a boy by Weldon and two diocesan priests — but also questions that continue to linger around how early in time the diocesan hierarchy may have participated in, covered up and enabled clergy sexual abuse of minors. It could either encourage or discourage other alleged survivors of clergy sex abuse to continue to come forward.”
By Anne-Gerard Flynn, Springfield Republican on MassLive.com — Read more …
‘Vos Estis’ at one year: Some question pope’s process for investigating bishops / National Catholic Reporter
“You would think by now the church would have learned the lesson that secrecy in these matters does not work,” said (civil and canon lawyer Nicholas) Cafardi, dean emeritus of Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh. “What is done in the darkness will be seen in the light. Maybe not right away, but eventually.” (National Catholic Reporter)
It is a bit early to assess the effect of Pope Francis’ new global system for how the Catholic Church evaluates reports of clergy sexual abuse or cover-up by individual bishops, say canon lawyers who spoke to NCR.
“They also raised questions about the new process, first established in May 2019, which involves the empowering of archbishops to conduct investigations of prelates accused in their local regions.
“Among their main concerns with the procedure, outlined in Francis’ motu proprio Vos Estis Lux Mundi (‘You Are The Light Of The World’): the possible bias that can arise in asking one prelate to investigate another, and whether there has been an appropriate level of transparency about bishops who are being investigated.
“Nicholas Cafardi, a civil and canon lawyer who was a member of the U.S. bishops’ original National Review Board, highlighted the latter point …”
By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
“At every stage, critics argue, Australia’s courts exhibited a penchant for secrecy and insular decision-making that resembled the Catholic Church’s flawed and damaging response to sexual abuse within its ranks.” (The New York Times)
Cardinal George Pell walked out of prison on Tuesday after Australia’s highest court reversed his 2018 conviction for molesting two choirboys decades earlier — liberating the most senior Roman Catholic cleric to ever face trial over child sexual abuse.
The world may never be able to assess whether the court’s reasoning was sound.
The panel of seven judges ruled that the jury lacked sufficient doubt about the accusations against Cardinal Pell, the former archbishop of Melbourne and treasurer for the Vatican. Jurors, the court argued, ignored “compounding improbabilities” caused by conflicting accounts from the cardinal’s main accuser and other witnesses.
But no one outside the court case can test that comparison. The central evidence — the testimony of the main accuser, on which the case “was wholly dependent,” the judges wrote — has never been released, not in video, audio nor even redacted transcripts.
By Damien Cave and Livia Albeck-Ripka, The New York Times — Read more …
“For better or worse, he (Bishop Malone) had become the lightning rod for all that was wrong, and we really weren’t going to make any progress toward healing and reconciliation as long as he remained,” said John J. Hurley, the president of Canisius College. (The New York Times)
First, a whistle-blower revealed that Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo had kept files about abusive priests that he hid from the public. Then leaked recordings showed that he was reluctant to remove a parish priest whom he called a “sick puppy.”
“On Wednesday (Dec. 4), after months of pressure from priests and lay leaders, the Vatican said in a statement that it had accepted the resignation of Bishop Malone, effective immediately. Since the Vatican did not specify the reasons behind the resignation, it was unclear whether Bishop Malone had been forced to quit.
“Bishop Malone, in a statement, described his resignation as an early retirement that had been accepted by Pope Francis. He said he had made the decision to step down ‘freely and voluntarily’ after being made aware of the conclusions of a recent Vatican investigation into the crisis in his diocese, which has been in turmoil over his handling of clergy abuse cases.
“‘I have concluded, after much prayer and discernment, that the people of Buffalo will be better served by a new bishop who perhaps is better able to bring about the reconciliation, healing and renewal that is so needed,’ he wrote.
By Sharon Otterman, The New York Times — Read more …
Argentine court finds two Catholic priests guilty of sexually assaulting deaf children; first convictions in long-alleged abuse / The Washington Post
The three-judge panel in the northwestern Argentine province of Mendoza ruled against the three defendants in 25 instances of abuse between 2004 and 2016. (The Washington Post)
“The three-judge panel in the northwestern Argentine province of Mendoza ruled against the three defendants in 25 instances of abuse between 2004 and 2016.”
By Anthony Faiola, Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli, The Washington Post — Read more …
Cardinal Pell granted final appeal of conviction on sexual abuse charges / National Catholic Reporter
He (Cardinal George Pell) is the first Vatican official charged by authorities on abuse allegations, the first convicted, and the first sentenced to jail. (National Catholic Reporter)
Australia’s highest court has granted Cardinal George Pell leave to appeal his landmark conviction for sexually assaulting two choirboys in the 1990s, setting the stage for a new round of hearings next year to evaluate the historical conduct of the Vatican’s former No. 3 official.
“The High Court of Australia announced the decision to allow the cardinal a final appeal the morning of Nov. 13 in Canberra. Pell, who was sentenced to six years in prison in March, will remain in jail pending the court’s decision on his appeal, expected to come in 2020.
“Pell was long the highest-ranking Catholic in Australia but was brought to Rome in 2014 by Pope Francis to restructure the Vatican’s finances. He is the first Vatican official charged by authorities on abuse allegations, the first convicted, and the first sentenced to jail.
“The court of appeal in the Australian state of Victoria had rejected an earlier appeal by the cardinal in a 2-1 verdict in August. The appeal granted by the high court Nov. 13 will be Pell’s last opportunity to contest his conviction.”
By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
“The people of this diocese would be very upset and angry to think he (Bishop Bransfield) would be participating in decisions that might well affect them,” Bishop Brennan explained. (Catholic News Service)
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in consultation with the members of the USCCB Administrative Committee, has taken the highly unusual step of disinviting a fellow bishop from the conference’s fall general assembly.
“The decision affects Bishop Michael J. Bransfield, retired bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, who left his position in September 2018 under a cloud of allegations of sexual and financial misconduct. Pope Francis accepted Bishop Bransfield’s resignation Sept. 13, 2018.
“The USCCB meets Nov. 11-13 in Baltimore.
“The action comes under one section of the recently adopted “Protocol Regarding Available Non-Penal Restrictions on Bishops.”
“Bishop Mark E. Brennan, who succeeded Bishop Bransfield, said he initiated the process under the protocol soon after he was installed Aug. 22 to head the West Virginia diocese.”
By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service — Read more …
Catholic bishops back ordination of married men as priests in Amazon region, a milestone / The New York Times
It is the first time a grouping of bishops convened by a pope has endorsed such a historic change to the tradition of a celibate priesthood. (The New York Times)
A summit of Roman Catholic bishops meeting at the Vatican recommended on Saturday that Pope Francis allow the ordination of married men as priests in the Amazon region, which would lift a roughly 1,000-year-old restriction and potentially revolutionize the priesthood.
“It is the first time a grouping of bishops convened by a pope has endorsed such a historic change to the tradition of a celibate priesthood. The proposal is limited to remote areas of South America where there is a scarcity of priests but could set a precedent for easing the restriction on married priests throughout the world.
“If Francis, who has already signaled an openness on the issue, accepts the bishops’ recommendation, he will turn the remote areas of the Amazon region into a laboratory for a Catholic Church looking to the global south for its future, with married priests and indigenous rites mixing with traditional liturgy.
“The pope is expected to respond to the proposals by the end of this year.”
By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times — Read more …
Illinois chief justice distrusts church hierarchy to police itself on abuse / National Catholic Reporter
“Unfortunately, the hope I extended to you in 2012 has been severely eroded,” she (Illinois Chief Justice Anne Burke) said. “I no longer have faith in the hierarchy.” (National Catholic Reporter)
Don’t count on the bishops to clean up sex abuse in the church, Anne Burke told the annual gathering of Voice of the Faithful here Oct. 19.
“‘Unfortunately, the hope I extended to you in 2012 has been severely eroded,’ she said. ‘I no longer have faith in the hierarchy.’
“Voice of the Faithful was founded in 2002 in response to the sex abuse crisis in the Boston Archdiocese, where this year’s convention was held. The group now boasts affiliates around the country, which monitors progress on transparency by the church hierarchy on sex abuse and finances.
“‘I am disheartened to say we continue to learn of new instances of clerical misconduct and discover anew that some members of the hierarchy have engaged in secrecy and cover-ups,’ Burke said.
“The cover-ups, Burke said, have a long history. In her time at the National Review Board, she encountered stiff resistance among some bishops.”
By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …