Archive for category Clergy Sexual Abuse
In new letter, Benedict blames clergy abuse on sexual revolution, Vatican II theology / National Catholic Reporter
A number of noted theologians took to Twitter overnight to criticize Benedict’s take on the root causes of clergy sexual abuse. (National Catholic Reporter)
Retired Pope Benedict XVI has published a new letter blaming the continuing Catholic clergy abuse crisis on the sexual revolution, developments in theology following the Second Vatican Council, and modern society’s aversion to speaking about God.
“The letter, one of a handful the ex-pontiff has shared publicly since his resignation in 2013, immediately drew criticism from theologians and Vatican watchers. They noted it does not address structural issues that abetted abuse cover-up, or Benedict’s own contested 24-year role as head of the Vatican’s powerful doctrinal office.
“The former pope instead points the finger at a range of esoteric issues, from a supposed societal “mental collapse” brought on by the protests of 1968, to a claim that the sexual revolution declared pedophilia to be “allowed and appropriate,” and to “vehement backlashes” by theologians against a 1993 encyclical by Pope John Paul II.
“‘Among the freedoms that the Revolution of 1968 sought to fight for was … all-out sexual freedom, one which no longer conceded any norms,’ Benedict says at the beginning of his text.”
By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
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 …
The good news is this: if the dignity of all the baptized is genuinely and deeply respected, this rules out every one of the predatory behaviors we have seen in the abuse crisis. (Rita Ferrone in Commonweal)
When Pope Francis wrote to the American bishops concerning the abuse crisis, he observed that ‘many actions can be helpful, good and necessary, and may even seem correct, but not all of them have the ‘flavor’ of the Gospel.’
“By recommending a return to the Gospel as an essential reference point, Francis is on to something. The horror of the abuse cases, the sheer numbers of victims, the longevity of the crisis, its scope, and the fact that it has proved so hard to change the institutional patterns and habits that abet it—all this has been, for many of the faithful, a profoundly shocking and disorienting experience. It has eroded the trust we used to give to our church leaders and structures. It has shamed us in the eyes of the world. We do not taste the Gospel here. Yet we long for it, even when that longing goes unnamed.
“Metaphors of taste and smell have a long history in Christian discourse. The psalmist enjoins the faithful to ‘taste and see the goodness of the Lord.’ The gift of God’s law is perfect and refreshing, ‘sweeter than syrup, or honey from the comb.’ Evil, in contrast, is something that sets one’s teeth on edge. Sour and bitter fruit come forth from wickedness.
“In the New Testament, followers of Jesus are urged to be “salt for the earth” and not to lose their savor. Because the sense of taste is allied with smell, we also find olfactory images in the Scripture. Paul refers to Christians as those who bear “the aroma of Christ.” In the ancient church, catechumens were given salt on the tongue as part of their admission to the catechumenate. Ritual expresses in the body what is believed in faith: Christian life is not bland or flavorless. It tastes like something.
“What does the Gospel taste like? Francis doesn’t say. Perhaps this is because he thinks the bishops already know …”
By Rita Ferrone, Commonweal — Read more …
The law, dated March 26, calls on church authorities to listen immediately to people who say they are victims and to report any credible allegations to prosecutors. (The New York Times)
Pope Francis has issued a highly anticipated law for Vatican City officials and diplomats overseas to tackle sexual abuse, setting up what is intended to be a model for the Roman Catholic Church worldwide by requiring, for the first time, that accusations be immediately reported to Vatican prosecutors.
“The Vatican characterized the law — and accompanying pastoral guidelines — as a reflection of the most advanced thinking on preventing and addressing sexual abuse in the church. The law, dated March 26, calls on church authorities to listen immediately to people who say they are victims and to report any credible allegations to prosecutors.
“Those who fail to report could be subjected to financial penalties and jail time.
“‘Protection of minors and vulnerable people is an essential part of the evangelical message that the church and all of its members are called to spread across the world,’ the pope wrote in a personal edict enacting the law. Francis said he wanted to ‘strengthen the institutional and regulatory framework to prevent and tackle abuses against minors and vulnerable people.'”
By Jason Horowitz and Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times — Read more …
The landmark meeting … is already bringing to the surface debate about the role of the laity in the church and other reforms that are becoming more urgent in the wake of the ever-growing global sexual abuse scandal. (National Catholic Reporter)
The Australian Catholic Church has completed the first phase of its 2020 Plenary Council, in which laypeople will be allowed to vote and decisions could be binding on the nation’s Catholics, once ratified by the Vatican.
“The meeting’s organizers have received more than 20,000 submissions from more than 75,000 Catholics around the country in a 10-month ‘listening and dialogue’ process that finished March 13.
“The landmark meeting that will take place in two Australian cities during 2020 and 2021 is already bringing to the surface debate about the role of the laity in the church and other reforms that are becoming more urgent in the wake of the ever-growing global sexual abuse scandal.
“The Australian meeting will be only the third plenary council to held anywhere in the world since World War II; the Philippines held one in 1991 and Poland in 1993. There were three plenary councils in the United States before 1884, but none since.
“The Australian council was announced in 2017, during the five-year Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.”
By Michael Sainsbury, Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
“We are throwing in the towel because we feel surrounded by a climate of distrust and progressive de-legitimization,” founder Lucetta Scaraffia wrote in the open letter. (Associated Press)
The founder and all-female editorial board of the Vatican’s women’s magazine have quit after what they say was a Vatican campaign to discredit them and put them ‘under the direct control of men,’ that only increased after they denounced the sexual abuse of nuns by clergy.
“The editorial committee of ‘Women Church World,’ a monthly glossy published alongside the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, made the announcement in the planned April 1 editorial and in an open letter to Pope Francis that was provided Tuesday (Mar. 26) to The Associated Press.
“‘We are throwing in the towel because we feel surrounded by a climate of distrust and progressive de-legitimization,’ founder Lucetta Scaraffia wrote in the open letter.
“In the editorial, she wrote: “We believe there are no longer the conditions to continue our collaboration with L’Osservatore Romano.'”
By Associated Press — Read more …
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 …