Archive for category Clergy Sexual Abuse

Buffalo bishop resigns after scandal over secret list of abusive priests / The New York Times

“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 …

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Catholic Church could be hit by a deluge of lawsuits thanks to new state laws / Time

AP interviews with more than a dozen lawyers and clergy abuse watchdog groups offered a wide range of estimates but many said they expected at least 5,000 new cases against the church in New York, New Jersey and California alone, resulting in potential payouts that could surpass the $4 billion paid out since the clergy sex abuse first came to light in the 1980s. (Time)

A wave of new laws in 15 states that allow people to make claims of sexual abuse going back decades could bring a deluge of lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Church that could surpass anything seen so far in its clergy abuse crisis.

“Associated Press reporting found it could result in thousands of new cases against the church and more than $4 billion in payouts.

“It’s a financial reckoning playing out in such populous Catholic strongholds as New York, California and New Jersey, among the eight states that go the furthest with ‘lookback windows’ that allow sex abuse claims no matter how old.

“That has lawyers fighting for clients with TV ads and billboards asking, ‘Were you abused by the church?’ And Catholic dioceses are considering bankruptcy, victim compensation funds and even tapping valuable real estate to stay afloat.”

By Bernard Condon and Jim Mustian, Associated Press, in Time — Read more …

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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)

An Argentine court on Monday (Nov. 25) found two priests and a lay worker guilty of the sexual abuse and rape of 10 former students of a Catholic institute for the deaf, the first legal victory for a string of hearing-impaired victims stretching from Italy to the Andes whose denunciations against one of the clerics to church officials including Pope Francis went unheeded for years.

“The landmark verdict related to the Provolo Institute for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Children in the western Argentine city of Luján de Cuyo is the latest stain on the church’s handling of sex abuse cases in Francis’s native Argentina. Argentine prosecutors last week requested an international arrest warrant for Catholic Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta — a longtime associate of the pope accused of sexually abusing two seminarians.

“A Washington Post investigation this year found years of inaction by the church in the case of at least one of the accused priests. The Vatican did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

“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 …

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Church sex abuse boards often undermine victims, help clergy / Associated Press

The AP checked all the roughly 180 dioceses in the U.S. for information, reviewed thousands of pages of church and court records and interviewed more than 75 abuse survivors, board members and others to uncover a tainted process where the church hierarchy holds the reins of power at every stage. (Associated Press)

Facing thousands of cases of clergy sex abuse, U.S. Catholic leaders addressed their greatest crisis in the modern era with a promised reform: Mandatory review boards.

“These independent panels with lay people in each diocese would review allegations fairly and kindly. And they would help bishops ensure that no abusive priests stayed in ministry.

“But almost two decades later, an Associated Press investigation of review boards across the country shows they have broadly failed to uphold these commitments. Instead, review boards appointed by bishops and operating in secrecy have routinely undermined sex abuse claims from victims, shielded accused priests and helped the church avoid payouts.

“The AP also found dozens of cases in which review boards rejected complaints from survivors, only to have them later validated by secular authorities. In a few instances, board members were themselves clergy accused of sexual misconduct. And many abuse survivors told the AP they faced hostility and humiliation from boards.”

By Reese Dunklin, Mitch Weiss and Matt Sedensky, Associated Press — Read more …

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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 …

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‘By the Grace of God’ explores the church’s inimaginable betrayal of child victims of sexual abuse / Minneapolis Star Tribune

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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.

“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.

“‘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 …

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