Archive for category Clergy Sexual Abuse

A historic resignation / Commonweal

“The disclosure that the pope had ‘asked for’ the bishop’s resignation, appearing in a statement from the Diocese of Crookston, marked a significant advance in the long effort to hold prelates accountable for concealing clergy sexual abuse.”

Commonweal

“When Msgr. Roger Grundhaus wanted to baptize his niece’s baby in the cathedral of a nearby diocese, there was the simple matter of getting a letter from his bishop affirming that he was a priest in good standing.

“Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner of Crookston in northwest Minnesota obliged the retired priest, a former vicar general of his diocese. ‘He is a person of good moral character and reputation,’ he wrote in 2012. ‘I am unaware of anything in his background which would render him unsuitable to work with minor children.’

“But contrary to that blanket statement, Hoeppner had already heard allegations directly from a diaconate candidate, Ron Vasek, that Grundhaus had molested him in the early 1970s. And so, attorney Jeff Anderson confronted the bishop with the letter during a deposition: ‘That’s a lie, isn’t it?’

“‘Counsel, can you rephrase in a non-argumentative way?’ the diocesan lawyer interjected, and there was no admission from the bishop in settling the lawsuit.

“This letter was part of a trail of evidence leading to the announcement that Pope Francis had asked for and received Hoeppner’s resignation as bishop, a first in the United States under the 2019 Vatican regulations designed to prevent cover-ups of clergy sexual abuse. The disclosure that the pope had ‘asked for’ the bishop’s resignation, appearing in a statement from the Diocese of Crookston, marked a significant advance in the long effort to hold prelates accountable for concealing clergy sexual abuse.”

By Paul Moses, Commonweal — Read more …

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Pope asks U.S. bishop to resign after cover-up investigation / Associated Press

Hoeppner was the first bishop known to be investigated by the Vatican under a 2019 law that Francis approved laying out the procedures to conduct preliminary investigations against bishops accused of sex abuse or cover-up.

Associated Press

“Pope Francis asked a bishop in the U.S. state of Minnesota to resign after he was investigated by the Vatican for allegedly interfering with past investigations into clergy sexual abuse, officials said Tuesday.

“The Vatican said Francis accepted the resignation of Crookston Bishop Michael Hoeppner on Tuesday (Apr. 13) and named a temporary replacement to run the diocese. Hoeppner is 71, four years shy of the normal retirement age for bishops.

“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Crookston said in a statement that the pontiff asked Hoeppner to resign following the Vatican probe, which it said arose from reports that the bishop ‘had at times failed to observe applicable norms when presented with allegations of sexual abuse involving clergy.’

“The Vatican had tasked St. Paul-Minneapolis Archbishop Bernard Hebda with conducting a preliminary investigation. Last year, Hebda’s office announced that the Holy See had authorized a more in-depth probe.”

By Associated Press — Read more …

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Cologne Catholic Church Failed in Handling Sex Abuse Claims, Report Finds / The New York Times

“A Roman Catholic archbishop in Germany offered his resignation and two other high-ranking officials were suspended in the wake of a report that found decades of ‘systematic cover-up’ in the church’s handling of accusations of sexual abuse at the hands of clergy members.”

The New York Times

“The 800-page report, examining the years 1975 to 2018 at the Archdiocese of Cologne, was released on Thursday (Mar. 18) after five months of intense investigation. It was critical of the actions of Stefan Hesse, who had worked at the Archdiocese of Cologne and is now the archbishop of Hamburg.

“Archbishop Hesse said he would offer to step down. “To prevent damage to the office, of the archbishop or the Diocese of Hamburg, I am offering Pope Francis my resignation and ask him to immediately relieve me of my duties,” he said in a statement.

“The archbishop said that he had always sought to act responsibly in his handling of abuse allegations and denied any intention to hide wrongdoing during his tenure in Cologne, but said that he would accept the consequences of the findings.”

By Melissa Eddy, The New York Times — Read more …

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McCarrick report shows former cardinal’s character: ambitious, brazen, untouchable / National Catholic Reporter

The content of the Vatican report on McCarrick will burn the varnish off your desk … The most shocking parts (dealing with minors) come in its final 12 pages, but the whole document is nothing short of remarkable. At times, it reads like a novel or a screen play.

National Catholic Reporter

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Seventeen!

“That’s the most shocking number in the Vatican’s 449-page report on ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. McCarrick appears to have molested 17 ‘postpubescent boys or young men’ over the course of his career (Page 440). Some victims were as young as 12 years old. Some he molested repeatedly. Many were children in families that he knew well and visited frequently. He was trusted as a ‘member of the family.’

“The Vatican report does not reveal names or discuss the individual cases. However, it does lay out his typical pattern of grooming and molesting his victims. He used his power to gain access to their families. He forged strong relationships with their parents. He insisted that the boys call him “Uncle Ted” and he referred to them as his “nephews,” an easily exposed lie since McCarrick was an only child. He plied his victims with gifts, favors, trips and liquor. Then he took them to bed in isolated places where they had no hope of help or recourse, typically his beach house on the Jersey Shore or an apartment at a hospital in New York.

“New lawsuits are still being filed, including one in November in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, alleging repeated “rape” by McCarrick of a boy beginning at the age of 12. The plaintiff is now 47 years old.”

By Fr. Peter Daly, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Archdiocese must be held accountable for priest abuse

“After a two-year investigation, the Vatican recently released a 450-plus-page report about now-defrocked Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and how the Catholic Church hierarchy failed to stop his predatory sexual behavior. Now, local Catholics are owed a similar in-depth investigation into the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and its complicity in failing to protect children from predatory sexual behaviors of local priests, such as Geoffrey Drew.

“Although the Drew story is a microcosm of McCarrick’s, the system that allowed both men to go unpunished for decades, in spite of countless complaints, exists in every Catholic diocese, including our own. Drew, former pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish, was arraigned on nine counts of rape in July 2019, finally halting his access to children.

Shortly thereafter, Concerned Catholics of Cincinnati was joined by over 1,500 area Catholics in petitioning the Vatican and 80 Catholic leaders to investigate the handling of the Drew case by the Archdiocese. In a well-researched document, our group cited complaints about Drew spanning 30 years, three counties and four parishes. These complaints were both in writing and in personal meetings with then-Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Binzer. Even Butler County Prosecuting Attorney Mike Gmoser warned the Archdiocese to “keep an eye” on Drew, to assign him a monitor and to keep him away from children.”

By Teresa Dinwiddie-Herrmann and Jan Seidel, committee members of Concerned Catholics of Cincinnati; Dan Frondorf, Cincinnati chair of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP); and Kethy Weyer, chair of Cincinnati Voice of the Faithful, in the Cincinnati Enquirer on Cincinnati.com. They can be reached at concernedcatholicsofcincy@gmail.com — Read more …

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The U.K. is reckoning with a clerical sex abuse crisis. Again. / America: The Jesuit Review

“The government-mandated Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church in the United Kingdom revealed that along with systemic sexual abuse, the church rushed more quickly to save its image than it did to respond to the plight of survivors. According to the report, over a half-century, the Catholic Church in England and Wales had received complaints alleging more than 3,000 instances of child sexual abuse against 936 people associated with the church, among them priests, vowed religious and volunteers.” (America: The Jesuit Review)

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“On the night before her confirmation, Sue Cox was sexually abused by a Catholic priest at a convent where she was attending summer school to improve her catechism. She was 10. When she was 13, the same priest again raped her in the bedroom of her own home.

“My mother caught him and told me to pray for him and to offer it up,” Ms. Cox, who is from Warwickshire, England, told America. Listening to the advice her adoptive mother gave after she walked in on the priest, “I felt sacrificial,” she said.

“‘We were told that he could do no wrong,’ and that he had ‘sacred hands,’ said Ms. Cox, an award-winning addiction specialist and acupuncturist. ‘Worse than that, we were told that priests were next to God—that they were ontologically changed at ordination.’

“Ms. Cox, who is 73 years old and today describes herself as an atheist, said that this was the belief that her ‘fiercely superstitious Catholic family’ ingrained in her as a young child. ‘Well,’ she added. ‘I can tell you that a child is ontologically changed when she is abused at that age.'”

By Ricardo da Silva, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …

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Who’s at fault? New reports on clergy sex abuse offer different views. / Sojourners Magazine

“On the same day last week (Nov. 10), two reports on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church made headlines. The first report, released by the Vatican, is the so-called ‘McCarrick report’ … The second report was released by an independent commission in the U.K … What the reports have in common is long lists of sexual abuse victims and their broken families. The testimonies of survivors are instructive for the quality of their demand for justice and yet, to paraphrase Tolstoy, each unhappy survivor story ‘is unhappy in its own way.’ Each story is unbearable in its details of the physical and psycho-spiritual torture and the chronic wounds that remain.

“Both reports released last week reveal water made toxic by clericalism, or the misuse, overreach, or outright idolatry of clergy’s authority. This leads to abuse of power, which leads to religious violence, sometimes in the form of sexual abuse, but most often in the form of spiritual and moral domination of women, laity, children, and other vulnerable or dependent adults. ‘Clericalism is our ugliest perversion,’ Pope Francis told seminarians in 2018.

“The abuse of power within the Roman Catholic hierarchy has caused many who seek God “to stumble” (see Mark 9:42). Not only is the Church’s moral authority to address key social issues undermined, but individual souls seeking a spiritual anchorage are left adrift — or they reject God altogether.”

By Rose Marie Berger, Senior Editor, Sojourners Magazine, on Sojo.net — Read more …

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Vatican court hears unprecedented sexual abuse trial / National Public Radio

“An unprecedented trial is underway this month at the Vatican, the result of a whistleblower going public.

“A young priest is charged with sexually abusing an altar boy over a five-year period inside Vatican City walls. An older priest is charged with covering up the abuse.

“It’s the first criminal trial for sexual abuse to take place in the Vatican court.

“The first hearing of the trial, held earlier this month, lasted just eight minutes — enough for the Vatican court to hear graphic descriptions of the charges. The alleged victim, identified by his initials, LG, was forced “to undergo carnal acts, acts of sodomy and masturbation at different times and in different places inside Vatican City,” according to charges read out by the court clerk.

“The alleged abuse took place from 2007, when the victim was 13, until 2012.”

By Sylvia Poggioli, National Public Radio — Read more …

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Justices review priest abuse lawsuit’s ruling on time limits / National Catholic Reporter

“Pennsylvania’s highest court on Tuesday (Oct. 20) grappled with whether a woman’s lawsuit on claims of sexual abuse by a priest decades ago should be allowed to proceed — a lower-court ruling that has launched many other lawsuits since it was issued a year ago.

“In oral argument, the justices focused questions on whether the plaintiff, Renee Rice, waited too long to sue the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.

“Rice has argued that a 2016 grand jury report alerted her to allegations that church officials’ silence about a priest who she says molested her amounted to fraudulent concealment.

“The 2016 report in Altoona-Johnstown preceded the wider 2018 report that found decades of sexual attacks on children by priest in other Pennsylvania dioceses.”

By Mark Scolforo, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Ruling allows victims to sue archdiocese over millions transferred to parishes

“A U.S. bankruptcy judge in Albuquerque has ruled that lawyers for clergy sex abuse survivors can file lawsuits alleging the Archdiocese of Santa Fe fraudulently transferred an estimated $150 million in assets to parishes in an attempt to avoid bigger payouts to victims.

“The decision by Judge David T. Thuma in the Chapter 11 reorganization case opens the door to what could be a multimillion-dollar boon to hundreds of alleged victims. Or it could set off protracted, costly legal appeals that would tap funds that could have paid valid abuse claims.

“Lawyers for the 94 archdiocese parishes, several of which predate the archdiocese by many decades or even centuries, predicted at a court hearing in August that the “decimation” of certain parishes would result if the lawsuits into the transfers go forward.”

By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal — Read more …

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