Posts Tagged catholic bishop accountability
“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 …
Investigation: Abuse allegations against Catholic bishop ‘credible’ / Associated Press in The Boston Globe
“The findings of retired Judge Peter Velis provide further evidence of the Catholic Church’s continued shameful cover-up of the wholesale sexual abuse of children at all levels no matter what the human cost …,” said attorney Mitchell Garabedian (Associated Press in The Boston Globe)
An independent investigation found that allegations of child sexual abuse by a former Roman Catholic bishop in Massachusetts were ‘unequivocally credible,’ according to an executive summary of the report released Wednesday (Sept. 16).
“Retired Superior Court Judge Peter Velis’s report of abuse allegations against late Diocese of Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon also criticized the way the diocesan review board handled the allegations.
“Velis found that there was a ‘reluctance to fervently pursue an evaluation of allegations against (Weldon) due to his prominence and revered legacy in the religious community.’
“Velis also found that mandatory reporters had not notified law enforcement.”
By Associated Press in The Boston Globe — Read more …
Explainer: What the church has done to fight clergy sex abuse since 2018’s ‘summer of shame’ / America: The Jesuit Review
According to a ProPublica database, 178 dioceses and religious orders in the United States have now released lists of clergy members who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors. The lists name 6,754 alleged abusers in total. (America: The Jesuit Review)
“It has been two years since the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report was published on Aug. 14, 2018, documenting in at times disturbing detail at least 1,000 cases of abuse by 300 predator priests spanning seven decades. Within two months, 13 more states and the District of Columbia had launched similar investigations, and Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, then-archbishop of Washington, who was named in the report as failing to deal adequately with abuse when he was bishop of Pittsburgh.
“The Pennsylvania report came in the middle of what became known as the Catholic Church’s ‘summer of shame,’ which began with the surfacing of accusations of abuse of minors by the now-laicized former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and ended with the release of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano’s bombshell letter accusing church leaders, including Pope Francis, of knowing about Mr. McCarrick’s actions and failing to take action.
“Two years later, the church has taken actions on local and global levels toward greater transparency regarding abuse accusations and investigations, closed loopholes that had allowed bishops who covered up abuse not to face consequences and created universal guidelines for abuse reporting systems to be established in every diocese in the world.”
By Colleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …
While the manual doesn’t have the force of a new law, it goes beyond the current Vatican policy about cooperating with law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and police. (Associated Press)
“The Vatican told bishops around the world on Thursday (Jul. 16) they should report cases of clergy sex crimes to police even when not legally bound to do so, in its latest effort to compel church leaders to protect minors from predator priests.
“The Vatican issued a long-awaited manual for bishops and religious superiors on conducting in-house investigations into allegations of priests who rape and molest minors and vulnerable adults. While the Vatican has had detailed canonical norms in place for two decades, the laws continue to be ignored by some bishops who dismiss allegations by victims in favor of protecting their priests.
“While the manual doesn’t have the force of a new law, it goes beyond the current Vatican policy about cooperating with law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and police. That policy requires bishops and religious superiors to report allegations of sex crimes with minors only where local laws require it.
“The manual says: ‘Even in cases where there is no explicit legal obligation to do so, the ecclesiastical authorities should make a report to the competent civil authorities if this is considered necessary to protect the person involved or other minors from the danger of further criminal acts.’
“And it says church leaders must comply with ‘legitimate’ subpoena requests.”
By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press — Read more …
Abuse allegations against former Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon ‘unequivocally credible,’ investigation finds / The Springfield Republican
The allegations that were investigated and examined are not dubious, vague or ambiguous in any essentials nor are they the product of any chimerical conception, fabrication or schematic design. The unsavory and heinous nature of the offensive behavior attributed to the late bishop is clearly shocking. (The Springfield Republican)
A retired superior court judge’s review of sexual abuse allegations against former Bishop Christopher J. Weldon, who led the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield for more than 25 years, found the accusations to be ‘unequivocally credible.’
“Meanwhile, mandatory reporters in the diocese who first heard the alleged victim’s account failed to report the matter to law enforcement officials, according to the executive summary for a 350-plus page report released Wednesday by the diocese. The report is the product of an investigation by retired Superior Court Judge Peter A. Velis, who was hired a year ago to investigate the matter.
“Velis’ report concluded ‘the allegations of the Complainant of sexual molestation committed upon him by Bishop Christopher J Weldon, both as a principal, and as a ‘coventurer’ that included anal rape, indecent assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress are unequivocally credible. The allegations that were investigated and examined are not dubious, vague or ambiguous in any essentials nor are they the product of any chimerical conception, fabrication or schematic design. The unsavory and heinous nature of the offensive behavior attributed to the late bishop is clearly shocking.'”
By Anne-Gerard Flynn, The Springfield Republican — Read more …
Report on sexual abuse allegations against late Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon could prove pivotal / Springfield Republican
There have been reports that those in the diocesan hierarchy with ties to (Bishop Christopher J.) Weldon — and had sexual abuse allegations made against them — destroyed files related to pedophile priests over the years. (Springfield Republican)
A soon-to-be-released report nearly a year in the making could shed light on decades of sexual abuse by clergy in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield and forever change how one of its most influential bishops is viewed.
“Last July, retired Superior Court Judge Peter A. Velis was asked by Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct made against the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon dating back to the early 1960s. The report is expected to be released before Rozanski is installed as Archbishop of St. Louis on Aug. 25.
“The findings will impact not only the alleged victim — who reiterated to Rozanski a year ago his claim that he was sexually abused as a boy by Weldon and two diocesan priests — but also questions that continue to linger around how early in time the diocesan hierarchy may have participated in, covered up and enabled clergy sexual abuse of minors. It could either encourage or discourage other alleged survivors of clergy sex abuse to continue to come forward.”
By Anne-Gerard Flynn, Springfield Republican on MassLive.com — Read more …
‘Vos Estis’ at one year: Some question pope’s process for investigating bishops / National Catholic Reporter
“You would think by now the church would have learned the lesson that secrecy in these matters does not work,” said (civil and canon lawyer Nicholas) Cafardi, dean emeritus of Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh. “What is done in the darkness will be seen in the light. Maybe not right away, but eventually.” (National Catholic Reporter)
It is a bit early to assess the effect of Pope Francis’ new global system for how the Catholic Church evaluates reports of clergy sexual abuse or cover-up by individual bishops, say canon lawyers who spoke to NCR.
“They also raised questions about the new process, first established in May 2019, which involves the empowering of archbishops to conduct investigations of prelates accused in their local regions.
“Among their main concerns with the procedure, outlined in Francis’ motu proprio Vos Estis Lux Mundi (‘You Are The Light Of The World’): the possible bias that can arise in asking one prelate to investigate another, and whether there has been an appropriate level of transparency about bishops who are being investigated.
“Nicholas Cafardi, a civil and canon lawyer who was a member of the U.S. bishops’ original National Review Board, highlighted the latter point …”
By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
The inquiry rejected Pell’s evidence given by video link from Rome in 2016 that he was deceived and lied to by Catholic Church officials about Australia’s worst pedophile priest … (Cruxnow.com)
Australian Cardinal George Pell knew a notorious pedophile priest had been moved decades ago because he had sexually abused children, and should have removed an unstable priest in another parish who was also a suspected pedophile, a government inquiry concluded.
“A report from the inquiry on child sexual abuse had been released in 2017, but findings concerning Pope Francis’ former finance minister had been redacted until Thursday to avoid prejudicing juries in any future prosecutions.
“The government decided to release the full report after the High Court last month overturned convictions against Pell on charges he molested two choirboys in a Melbourne cathedral in the late 1990s when he was an archbishop.”
By Rod McGuirk, Cruxnow.com — Read more …
BOSTON, Mass., Apr. 7, 2020 – An Australian court today overturned Cardinal George Pell’s sexual abuse conviction. He was the highest ranking Catholic Church leader to have been convicted in the Church’s clergy sexual abuse scandal. The court’s ruling leaves clergy abuse survivors and supporters wondering where justice lies.
As with criminal trials in the United States, court systems in Australia may sometimes yield decisions relying less on presumed guilt or innocence and more on technicalities judges determine to carry more weight than a jury’s decision. In the case of Cardinal Pell, who was tried on a single count rather than facing all the accusers who charged him with sexual abuse, the judges overruled the unanimous judgment of the original jury, as well as a later decision by a lower appeals court, because, they said, the jury should have held doubts about the case.
Pell’s case illustrates, again, the difficulties sex-abuse victims face when they seek justice. No predator invites others to witness the abuse of a child, nor do they advertise their behavior or brag to the general public about their behavior. Clear-cut cases with a wealth of evidence seldom exist. That is why prosecutors typically seek to find more than one accuser. That is why the passage of time for this particular case creates such tremendous obstacles to overcome.
Yet in Australia, despite those hurdles, despite the death of one accuser and the focus on only a single one of the several who came forward, a jury in Australia found unanimously that Cardinal Pell was guilty. Seven justices decided to substitute their assessment for the decision of the 12 jurors, as well as to override the appeals court that first upheld the decision.
No wonder so many Catholics have lost faith in the Church and criminal justice systems here in the United States and in other countries when it comes to clergy sexual abuse of children.
Voice of the Faithful News Release, Apr. 7, 2020
Contact: Nick Ingala, firstname.lastname@example.org
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful’s® mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. VOTF’s goals are to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, to support priests of integrity, and to shape structural change within the Catholic Church. More information is at www.votf.org.
He (Cardinal George Pell) walked free on Tuesday after a panel of seven judges ruled that the jury ought to have entertained a doubt about his guilt. (The New York Times)
“Australia’s highest court on Tuesday (Apr. 7) overturned the sexual abuse conviction of Cardinal George Pell, the highest-ranking Roman Catholic leader ever found guilty in the church’s clergy pedophilia crisis.
“Cardinal Pell, 78, who was the Vatican’s chief financial officer and an adviser to Pope Francis, was sentenced to six years in prison last March for molesting two 13-year-old boys after Sunday Mass in 1996.
“He walked free on Tuesday after a panel of seven judges ruled that the jury ought to have entertained a doubt about his guilt. The judges cited ‘compounding improbabilities’ to conclude that the verdicts on five counts reached in 2018 were ‘unreasonable or cannot be supported by the evidence.’
“In a statement, Cardinal Pell reiterated his assertion that he had committed no crimes. ‘I have consistently maintained my innocence while suffering from a serious injustice,’ he said. ‘This has been remedied today with the High Court’s unanimous decision.'”
By Livia Albeck-Ripka and Damien Cave, The New York Times — Read more …