Posts Tagged abuse survivors

Dolan program opens gates to dozens of clergy abuse claims / Associated Press

“Yet victims’ advocates are wary, noting that the archdiocese hasn’t given any estimate of the payouts or the total it will spend. Some activists see the program as a church tactic to shield information about the handling of problem priests and counter pressure to let decades-old child sexual abuse cases go to court.”

“It took 30 years for a former student to be ready to report he’d been sexually abused by a respected Roman Catholic priest on high school trips. But it didn’t take long to realize the priest wouldn’t be held accountable in court.

“Though the church said investigators found the allegations credible, the accuser couldn’t sue or press criminal charges, mainly because of the passage of time.

“Instead, he’s looking to a new compensation process set up by the Archdiocese of New York, potentially the most extensive effort of its kind to date. Some 46 people have filed claims in under two months, and the total could at least triple.

“The program lets people take claims, often too old for court, to a noted outside mediator while keeping painful details private.

“Yet victims’ advocates are wary, noting that the archdiocese hasn’t given any estimate of the payouts or the total it will spend. Some activists see the program as a church tactic to shield information about the handling of problem priests and counter pressure to let decades-old child sexual abuse cases go to court.”

By Associated Press on Cruxnow. com — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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All Victim Survivors Deserve a Full Measure of Justice

Statement from the Catholic Coalition of Conscience
on the Archdiocese of NY Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program

The Catholic Coalition of Conscience and its participating groups (listed below) welcome the announcement by the Archdiocese of New York of the formation of an “Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program” designed to help victim-survivors of clerical sexual abuse. Although such an initiative has been delayed for too long, as acknowledged by Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the effective implementation of this program could bring much needed aid to victim-survivors who have been denied justice by New York State’s Statute of Limitations (SOL) restrictions governing sexual abuse of children.

Mr. Kenneth R. Feinberg, the independent mediator charged with reviewing cases and making monetary awards, said in the press conference announcing the program that it would be a “model.” Having worked for SOL reform over several years in New York State in the face of strenuous opposition from the Catholic Church, the Catholic Coalition of Conscience respectfully asserts that this program will only be a “model” if it reflects five key principles:

Transparency: The workings of the program are governed by “protocols” which were reviewed and approved by members of its Independent Oversight Committee: former NYC Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Judge Loretta A. Preska and Dr. Jeanette Cueva, M.D. Presumably these protocols cover such issues as mandatory non-disclosure agreements. These protocols must be disclosed to the public, so that victim-survivors contemplating participation in the program can understand the ground rules under which it will operate.

Inclusion: If the aim of the program is to promote reconciliation, why have no members of the victim-survivor community been invited to join the Oversight Committee to help guide and shape the operation of the program? The commission on sexual abuse formed by Pope Francis includes victims of abuse; should not this archdiocesan program be at least as inclusive?

Generosity: The awards made by the program must be made public, so that the Catholic community at large can evaluate the fairness of the awards in light of similar settlements made by other dioceses and entities of the Catholic Church. The awards must be generous, given the many years that victim-survivors have had to wait before receiving any meaningful response from the Catholic Church. The program should also allow victim-survivors more than two months (to the end of January 2017, according to published reports) to decide whether or not to participate in the first phase of the program. Given Cardinal Dolan’s own admission that such a program should have been implemented long before now, a two-month deadline is demeaning to victim-survivors who face the complex and potentially irreversible decision on whether or not to participate.

Accountability: The names of any sex abusers and enablers who are identified as part of the program should be published. If accusations against these accusers are credible enough to merit monetary awards, the Catholic community of New York and the general public need to know the names of the abusers. Further, the Archdiocese of New York should renounce all opposition to SOL reform legislation in the State of New York. The new archdiocesan program in no way negates the need for comprehensive SOL reform, which is urgently needed so that all children can be better protected from sexual abuse, and all victims denied access to the courts by archaic SOL limits can have the opportunity to seek redress.

Reconciliation: The goal of the program must be to achieve true Christian reconciliation between victim-survivors and the Catholic faithful. This demands more than monetary awards. Victim-survivors have repeatedly said that what they want most is to be heard and not dismissed or feel violated anew by aggressive court proceedings. Church leaders and members must meet with victim-survivors who are willing to re-engage with the faith community, and listen to their stories with compassion and understanding. The damage done by sexual abuse lasts a lifetime; programmatic support for victim-survivors should be strong and ongoing, not a one-time event. Beyond monetary awards, the Catholic Church must humbly ask forgiveness in this year of mercy from victim-survivors and their families, including those who lost a loved one to suicide.

The Catholic Coalition of Conscience calls on the Archdiocese of New York and Mr. Feinberg to revise the operation and procedures of the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program immediately in accord with these principles, so that victim-survivors of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church receive the full measure of justice they deserve.

October 20, 2016
Call to Action Metro New York
Call to Action Upstate New York
Voice of the Faithful New York

Media Contact: Francis X. Piderit, Voice of the Faithful New York Leadership Team, 917-916-7575 (Cell Phone), PideritVOTF@piderit.com

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Child Victims Act sunsets within week of bishops’ abuse report / Voice of the Faithful

BOSTON, Mass., May 25, 2016 – Recent heightened public scrutiny of Catholic clergy sexual abuse has reinforced the urgency for the Church to address the scandal adequately, according to abuse victims’ advocate and Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful.

Within only a week, the “window” in the Minnesota Child Victims act expired, even as the U.S. Catholic bishops made their annual abuse report.

On May 24, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the three-year window created by the 2013 Minnesota Child Victims Act for reporting old claims of child sex abuse would expire May 25. During the three-year period, more than 500 claims were made against Minnesota Catholic clergy, according to the Star Tribune, which said, “In the three years since the law’s passage, the local church has witnessed an archbishop’s resignation, two bankruptcies and the public naming of more than 100 priests credibly accused of child sex abuse.”

The same day, the Associated Press reported that lawyers for abuse victims were accusing the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese of hiding more than $1 billion in assets “to avoid big payouts to abuse survivors as part of the church’s bankruptcy case.”

On May 20, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released its 2015 annual audit report on the implementation of its Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The report was not entirely complimentary of the Church’s efforts. The report showed a sharp increase in the number of new claims primarily from adults reporting past abuse. Francesco Cesareo, chairman of USCCB’s National Review Board, said the audit showed progress in creating safe environments for children but that very progress threatens complacency in implementing the charter’s guidelines.

As VOTF has pointed out before, the audit relies on self-reporting to assess compliance with those guidelines with little or no verification of the reported data.

Voice of the Faithful believes this focus on the scandal reinforces calls to action VOTF has made many times, including:

  1. everyone in the Church, lay and clergy alike, must be constantly vigilant in order to prevent abuse and its coverup and to report suspected cases promptly to civil authorities;
  2. the Church must stop blocking state statutes of limitation reforms that allow sufficient time for abused children to report the crimes;
  3. the Church must hold accountable not only the abusers, but also those who fail to report the crimes;
  4. the Church must provide abuse survivors and all those harmed by the scandal with resources necessary for healing.

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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Francis rails against child sexual abuse, saying abusers must be ‘severely’ punished / National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis railed against the sexual abuse of children in a weekly address in St. Peter’s Square Sunday (May 1), calling any such abuse a ‘tragedy’ and saying the church cannot tolerate the matter and ‘must severely punish the abusers.’

“Greeting members of an Italian association that has worked to raise awareness against pedophilia and to report sexual abuse crimes, who were present in the Square for the recitation of the Regina Coeli prayer, the pontiff thanked them for their work before departing from his prepared text.

“‘This is a tragedy,’ said Francis off the cuff, his voice raised and his arm extended from the window of the Vatican’s apostolic palace above the Square. ‘We must not tolerate the abuse of minors. We must defend minors. And we must severely punish the abusers.’

“The Catholic church around the world has been embroiled in scandals over its handling of sexually abusive clergy for decades, with survivors, advocates, law enforcement agencies, and some local jurisdictions saying members of the hierarchy covered up crimes in order to protect the institution at the risk of children’s well-being.”While Francis did not specifically mention the church or its response to abuse on Sunday, he spoke in the plural using a remarkably forceful tone.”

By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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We’re survivors of clergy sexual abuse and their supporters. What do we want? / Cruxnow.com

Over the past 14 years, thousands of survivors of sexual abuse by priests and their supporters have maintained a vigil every Sunday at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in downtown Boston. We have protested lies, broken promises, and survivor re-victimization by the Catholic Church and its hierarchy; we have supported men and women survivors in dealing with the horrors of abuse; we have demanded change in a Church that for too long denied and facilitated and covered up the rape of children.

“Yet some parishioners still ask: ‘Why are you demonstrating? What do you want’ …

“The survivors and their supporters who have stood outside the Cathedral every Sunday for 14 years since then are committed to keeping the issue of sexual abuse of children by priests alive. By their presence, they validated the truth of what survivors were saying and made a commitment that survivors would never be alone again. What this meant to survivors needs to be heard.”

By abuse survivors and their supporters, special to Cruxnow.comClick here to read the rest of this story. Voice of the Faithful started in 2002, shortly after The Boston Globe’s first story about clergy sexual abuse in the Boston Archdiocese and, since then, has supported survivors and provided a lay voice calling for accountability for abusers and their perpetrators and changes in Catholic Church culture and structures that abet the abuse. Visit www.votf.org to read about VOTF’s programs.

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Ahead of Pope Francis’ visit, survivors of sexual abuse take stock / The New York Times

Dan Ogrodowski stayed silent into middle age. He expected to go to the grave, he said, without speaking out about the Milwaukee priest who had raped him as a child. But now, embittered by what he calls the Roman Catholic Church’s continued betrayal of abuse survivors, he is publicly describing his childhood torment for the first time, hoping that Pope Francis will prioritize the needs of victims and will hold priests and bishops accountable during his visit to the United States this month.”

By Vivian Yee, The New York Times — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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As Pope visits U.S., Voice of the Faithful hopes he hears lay voices

When Pope Francis visits the United States next month, U.S.-based Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful hopes this reform-minded pontiff will hear a wide spectrum of lay voices, particularly about healing wounds from clergy sexual abuse and holding dioceses financially accountable.

We applaud the steps Pope Francis has taken towards needed structural reform: addressing Vatican bank problems, overhauling the Vatican bureaucracy and appointing a council of cardinals outside the Curia as advisors. More importantly, we take hope in steps aimed at bringing justice to survivors and holding bishops accountable: approving a child abuse trial against an archbishop, accepting resignations from four bishops involved in the clergy sexual abuse scandal, accepting two more bishops’ resignations for financial malfeasance, establishing the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and setting up a tribunal to judge bishops involved in the clergy sexual abuse scandal.

But VOTF sees discontinuities within this reform environment, principally two areas where lay voices can focus needed attention: healing wounds from clergy sexual abuse and shedding light on diocesan finances.

Despite decades of sex-abuse revelations, the Church’s response thus far has conspicuously lacked meaningful healing. So, VOTF is using the Healing Circle model of Restorative Justice to help all those harmed by clergy sexual abuse: the victims/survivors, their family members, faith communities, clergy and the Church itself. We are inviting Pope Francis to participate in a Healing Circle to experience its potential directly.

We also call on Pope Francis and all the faithful to see how the harms from clergy sex abuse will continue until past harm is addressed, all current abuses are exposed and future child protection is ensured. It’s not “over” until all three are accomplished. Directing bishops to take a pastoral approach to the settlement of abuse cases, rather than using legal weapons, would be one significant advance, as would the release of all relevant documents previously shielded and the immediate funding of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Regarding diocesan finances, we note that Pope Francis has preached loud and long on the injustice of economic inequality, for example, in his climate encyclical and during his trip to Argentina. With that attitude, perhaps the Pope could endorse a system providing Catholics with a clear idea of where their donations go. As a step in this direction, VOTF has developed a public Internet database to help Catholics do just that, so they can help thwart malfeasance like theft, fraud, donations being spent for purposes other than intended by contributors and paying for sex abuse victims’ silence.

Pope Francis will be welcomed by millions during his U.S. visit, and VOTF would be pleased to see a papal nod toward these issues.

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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