Posts Tagged bishops

Why the ‘Metropolitan Plan’ doesn’t work — Exhibit A: Bishop Bransfield / Commonweal

As if by an act of divine providence, however, the first trial run of a metropolitan-centered strategy to contain abusive bishops has provided a spectacular public demonstration of how this plan can fail. The case I am referring to, of course, is that of Bishop Michael Bransfield of the diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, who has been suspended from ministry over multiple allegations of sexual harassment and misuse of diocesan funds. (Commonweal)

The now-glaring weakness of the USCCB’s 2002 Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was that it made no provision for dealing with bishops who engage in sexual misconduct. In the wake of the scandal surrounding Theodore McCarrick, who had escaped the consequences of his abuses for decades, the American bishops realized this gap had to be closed. Without some mechanism for holding bishops accountable, the trust that the hierarchy hoped to rebuild after the devastating revelations of clergy abuse of children could never be achieved.

“In the course of discussions in the months following the McCarrick revelations, two proposals emerged: an independent lay-run board could investigate a bishop and report to Rome, or a case could be referred to the metropolitan bishop of the region (a metropolitan is the bishop of the chief see of an ecclesiastical province, usually an archdiocese), who would oversee the investigation and send his findings to Rome. In either case, the pope would make a final determination of the fate of the bishop.

“Not surprisingly, the latter option (first proposed by Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago) was the one favored by most American bishops and the Vatican. It decentralizes the work of investigating accusations. It avoids thorny practical questions about who chooses the members of the lay board. And, critically, it sidesteps the canonical ‘problem’ of lay people in the church being placed in a position of authority over bishops.

“The guidelines issued this spring by Pope Francis endorsed the ‘metropolitan plan.’ At their June meeting in Baltimore, the American bishops adopted it, though with some debate over whether lay involvement in the process should be mandatory or optional. They made it optional.

“As if by an act of divine providence, however, the first trial run of a metropolitan-centered strategy to contain abusive bishops has provided a spectacular public demonstration of how this plan can fail. The case I am referring to, of course, is that of Bishop Michael Bransfield of the diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, who has been suspended from ministry over multiple allegations of sexual harassment and misuse of diocesan funds.”

By Rita Ferrone, Commonweal — Read more …

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Vatican defrocks ex-U.S. Cardinal McCarrick over sex abuse / Associated Press in The Boston Globe

The officials ‘‘imposed on him the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state.’’ (Associated Press in The Boston Globe)

Pope Francis has defrocked former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick after Vatican officials found him guilty of soliciting for sex while hearing Confession and sexual crimes against minors and adults, the Holy See said Saturday (Feb. 16).

“The punishment for the once-powerful prelate, who had served as the archbishop of Washington and had been an influential fundraiser for the church, was announced five days before Francis is set to lead an extraordinary gathering of bishops from around the world to help the church grapple with the crisis of sex abuse by clergy and systematic cover-ups by church hierarchy. The decades-long scandals have shaken the faith of many Catholics and threatened his papacy.

“Defrocking means McCarrick, 88, who now lives in a friary in Kansas after he lost his title of cardinal last year, won’t be allowed to celebrate Mass or other sacraments.

“The Vatican’s press office said that on Jan. 11, the Holy See’s doctrinal watchdog office, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, had found McCarrick guilty of ‘solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession, and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power.'”

By Frances D’Emilio and Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in The Boston Globe — Read more …

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Cardinal Pell, top advisor to Pope Francis, found guilty of ‘historical sexual offenses’ / America: The Jesuit review

The cardinal is the most senior churchman yet to be convicted of such offenses, though he is not the third-ranking Vatican official, as some media have reported. His conviction is a grave blow not only to the church in Australia but also to the Vatican and to Pope Francis … (America: The Jesuit Review)

An Australian jury has found Cardinal George Pell, 77, guilty on five charges of “historical child sexual offenses” that go back decades, according to various media reports and confirmed by America. The 12-member jury gave their unanimous verdict in the County Court of the State of Victoria in Melbourne on Tuesday, Dec. 11.

“The judge decided that the sentencing will take place in early February 2019 and released the cardinal on bail.

“Little is known about the nature of the charges on which Cardinal Pell has been condemned because the entire trial and a second trial that has yet to take place are covered by a strict suppression order issued by the presiding judge, Peter Kidd. The order prohibits reporting on the case in any of the country’s media until the second trial has taken place to avoid prejudicing his case in both instances. The judge has prohibited the publication of the number of complainants in either of the two trials as well as the number and nature of the charges, except for the fact that the charges relate to ‘historical child sexual offenses.’

“The cardinal is the most senior churchman yet to be convicted of such offenses, though he is not the third-ranking Vatican official, as some media have reported. His conviction is a grave blow not only to the church in Australia but also to the Vatican and to Pope Francis, who placed great trust in him by nominating the Australian prelate to his nine-member Council of Cardinal Advisors (he was the only cardinal from Oceania at that time, and Francis chose one cardinal from each continent) and by appointing him as prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy with a sweeping mandate to reform Vatican finances.”

By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …

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Pope cuts two cardinals from cabinet named in abuse scandal / Associated Press

Their continued presence on the C-9 had been a source of scandal for Francis, given the explosion of the abuse and cover-up crisis this year. (Associated Press)

Pope Francis has removed two cardinals from his informal cabinet after they were implicated in the Catholic Church’s sex abuse and cover-up scandal, shedding embarrassing advisers ahead of a high-stakes Vatican summit on abuse early next year.

“The Vatican said Wednesday (Dec. 12) that Francis in October had written to Chilean Cardinal Javier Errazuriz and Australian Cardinal George Pell thanking them for their five years of service on the so-called Group of Nine, or C-9.

“Francis also bid farewell to Congolese Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, who hasn’t been implicated in the scandal but at age 79 recently retired as archbishop of Kinshasa.

“Errazuriz, 85, has been accused by Chilean abuse survivors of having covered up for predator priests while he was archbishop of Santiago, a charge he has denied. Pell, 77, took leave from his job as the Vatican’s economy minister to stand trial in his native Australia on historic charges of sex abuse, which he denies.

“Their continued presence on the C-9 had been a source of scandal for Francis, given the explosion of the abuse and cover-up crisis this year.”

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press — Read more …

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U.S. bishops must lead in accountability for clergy abuse / Voice of the Faithful

BOSTON, Mass., Nov. 13, 2018 – Voice of the Faithful believes the U.S. Catholic bishops must take the lead in accountability for clergy abuse regardless of direction coming from the Vatican as the bishops meet in Baltimore this week.

The Vatican has told the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops not to vote on measures they have proposed recently regarding clergy sexual abuse of children and its coverup. Voice of the Faithful would like bishops to do what is morally right rather than hide behind Vatican directives.

Clergy sexual abuse of minors and its coverup is morally reprehensible, and VOTF and others have repeatedly listed what bishops can do, none of which require Vatican approval and most of which have been done by at least one bishop. For example, bishops can:

  • list publicly all abusers in a diocese and open secret files;
  • report every case of clergy abuse to civil authorities regardless of the diocese’s estimation of credibility;
  • cooperate with civil investigations;
  • resign if guilty of abuse or coverup and hold the guilty within diocesan administration accountable;
  • investigate the extent of abuse and coverup in their dioceses and hold perpetrators and abettors accountable; or
  • remove honorifics awarded previous prelates or diocesan administrators credibly accused of abuse or coverup.

“Bishops also must lead the battle against clericalism, which has led to secrecy and coverup of clergy abuse and resulted in such profound mistrust from the laity,” said Mary Pat Fox, VOTF president. “Regaining the trust of the laity will be difficult at best and will not happen without greater transparency and lay leadership, including involvement in the Pope’s meeting of bishops’ conferences in February. It’s clear from the fact that investigations have been launched by attorneys general in 17 states and the District of Columbia that the Dallas Charter did not go far enough to ensure accountability for the coverup or the protection of children.”

If U.S. bishops implemented practical activities like those mentioned and discussed additional, stronger measures at their meeting, submitting them to the Vatican regardless of its response, their status in the eyes of the faithful would rise measurably. The longer the bishops delay in dealing with the immorality of this crisis, the greater their loss of what little moral credibility they have left.


Voice of the Faithful Statement, Nov. 13, 2018
Contact: 
Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org(link sends e-mail), 781-559-3360
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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DiNardo, USCCB head, was bishop during years diocese hid priest’s abuse / National Catholic Reporter

The supervisors of (Rev. Jerome) Coyle (who admitted he sexually abused dozens of Iowa boys), now 85 years old, included (Cardinal Daniel) DiNardo, who served as bishop in Sioux City from 1998 to 2004. (National Catholic Reporter)

The Diocese of Sioux City admitted Oct. 31 that it had concealed for decades the identity of a priest who had abused dozens of Iowa boys, as reported by the Associated Press. One of the bishops during that period was Daniel DiNardo, now cardinal archbishop of Galveston-Houston and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“The Associated Press obtained a Feb. 12 letter written by the diocese vicar general. According to the letter, AP reports that ‘in 1986, (Rev. Jerome) Coyle reported his ‘history of sexual attraction to and contact with boys’ to Sioux City’s bishop, revealing that he had victimized approximately 50 youths over a 20-year period while serving in several Iowa parishes.’

“Bishop R. Walker Nickless of the Diocese of Sioux City, Iowa, acknowledged Oct. 31, in answer to an Associated Press inquiry, that ‘police were not contacted when Coyle self-admitted, but policies have changed since 1986.’

“The supervisors of Coyle, now 85 years old, included DiNardo, who served as bishop in Sioux City from 1998 to 2004.”

By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Failure at the top / The Boston Globe

American bishops promised reform after the clergy sexual abuse scandal exploded in Boston. But they largely ignored the misdeeds of one group: themselves. (The Boston Globe)

Bishop Robert Finn wasn’t going anywhere.

“He never alerted authorities about photos of young girls’ genitals stashed on a pastor’s laptop. He kept parishioners in the dark, letting the priest mingle with children and families. Even after a judge found the bishop guilty of failing to report the priest’s suspected child abuse — and after 200,000 people petitioned for his ouster — he refused to go.

“‘I got this job from John Paul II. There’s his signature right there,’ Finn had told a prospective deacon shortly after the priest’s arrest in 2011, pointing to the late pontiff’s photo. ‘And that’s who I answer to.’

“Sixteen years after the clergy sexual abuse crisis exploded in Boston, the American Catholic Church is again mired in scandal. This time, the controversy is propelled not so much by priests in the rectories as by the leadership, bishops across the country who like Finn have enabled sexual misconduct or in some cases committed it themselves.

“More than 130 US bishops — or nearly one-third of those still living — have been accused during their careers of failing to adequately respond to sexual misconduct in their dioceses, according to a Boston Globe and Philadelphia Inquirer examination of court records, media reports, and interviews with church officials, victims, and attorneys …”

By By Jenn Abelson, Thomas Farragher of the Globe Staff, Jeremy Roebuck, Julia Terruso and William Bender of the Philadelphia Inquirer Staff — Read more …

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