Posts Tagged catholic hierarchy
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 …
“I would characterize these breaches and abuses as grave,” the chief judge in the case, Peter Kidd, said during the sentencing. Speaking directly to Cardinal Pell, he added: “Your conduct was permeated by staggering arrogance.” (The New York Times)
George Pell, an Australian cardinal who was the Vatican’s chief financial officer and an adviser to Pope Francis, was sentenced to six years in prison on Wednesday (Mar. 13), for molesting two boys after Sunday Mass in 1996.
“The cardinal was convicted on five counts in December, making him the most senior Catholic official — and the first bishop — to be found guilty in a criminal court for sexually abusing minors, according to BishopAccountability.org, which tracks cases of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.
“Cardinal Pell, who stood stone-faced with lips pursed when his sentence was read aloud, will not be eligible for parole for three years and eight months.
“‘I would characterize these breaches and abuses as grave,’ the chief judge in the case, Peter Kidd, said during the sentencing. Speaking directly to Cardinal Pell, he added: ‘Your conduct was permeated by staggering arrogance.'”
By Livia Albeck-Ripka and Damien Cave, The New York Times — Read more …
New report addresses church’s ‘twin crises’ of sex abuse, leadership failure / National Catholic Reporter
The report comes five days after the conclusion of the global summit on sexual abuse Pope Francis held at the Vatican and a month after Leadership Roundtable hosted its own two-day meeting on the clergy sexual abuse crisis. (National Catholic Reporter)
Just days after the close of the Vatican abuse summit, a prominent U.S. Catholic group has released wide-ranging recommendations to address what it calls the ‘twin crises’ of sexual abuse and leadership failures in the church.
“The recommendations were part of a report Friday (Mar. 1) from the Leadership Roundtable, a coalition of laity, religious and clergy to promote best practices in church management. The proposals are aimed simultaneously at reforming the structures and the clerical culture that permitted sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults to persist and go unreported for decades.
“Among the report’s more than 50 recommendations is to place bishops under the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, also known as the Dallas Charter, and strengthen its audit process, as well as …”
By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
BOSTON, Mass., Feb. 27, 2019 – Ever since Catholic clergy crimes of sex abuse became widely known, the Catholic faithful have waited for accountability and healing. Voice of the Faithful is among them; this time waiting for concrete action on clergy sex abuse after bishops from around the world recently concluded a four-day summit at the Vatican to address this festering issue.
A general conclusion is that the summit at least made Church hierarchy in the rest of the world as aware of the seriousness of clergy abuse as the hierarchy in the United States – and in other countries that have long been aware of the abuse and its cover-up. Based on the Pope’s concluding speech, however, the hierarchy has yet to shift its thinking about clergy abuse from sin and forgiveness to crime and punishment. The message from the hierarchy continues to be, “this is intolerable, but …”
Summit participants talked about transparency, responsibility, and accountability. We would like to have seen at least one concrete move to attack the clerical culture at the core of the scandal that was equal to the summit’s rhetoric—one concrete move that would have overcome what summit presenter Sister Veronica Openibo, S.H.C.J., called the hierarchy’s “mediocrity, hypocrisy, complacency.” Of Sister Openibo’s presentation, VOTF trustee Margaret Roylance said, “The bishops had to sit there silent and listen to her—no denials, explanations or blaming others.”
Prior to the summit, there were expectations that the Church might at last achieve true transparency, responsibility and accountability. Then the backpedaling began: maybe expectations were too high; perhaps the summit was just the first step in a global response; its aim was to educate those who still believed this was an American problem, or a gay priest problem, or all in the past, rather than produce immediate corrections.
In one respect, new transparency did take a bow. The Vatican live-streamed all the main presentations; they invited survivors to speak first; and they listened to frank, unadorned descriptions of abuse and misuse of power. In another instance, German Cardinal Reinhardt Marx admitted that the Church had destroyed documents about abuse cases. In yet another, a Vatican spokesperson told the media that the Church does have secret protocols for priests who father children. Perhaps most astonishing for the bishops was hearing in a worldwide forum testimony from survivors of abuse that priests had ordered survivors to have abortions—a claim long whispered within the Church but never openly acknowledged.
Despite these efforts, by the conclusion of the summit, we heard little about steps that would address the crimes of abuse and cover-up. Primary results thus far seem to be a promise that the Vatican will distribute a rulebook to bishops worldwide explaining their juridical and pastoral duties and responsibilities with regard to protecting children. Also promised was a meeting among Vatican summit organizers and Vatican curia to discuss, “What next.” We suggest starting instead with removing from their positions all bishops who participated in cover-ups or molested others.
The Pope in his concluding remarks hit on two issues he cited as being at the root of the problem. One was evil at work and the other the “plague of clericalism, fertile ground for all of these disgraces.” “However, the issue seems still to be recognizing that evil and doing something about clericalism,” said Mary Pat Fox, Voice of the Faithful president. “We all want to believe people we know and trust are good, but in reality that is not always the case, and the Church and the Pope need to get better at recognizing and battling the evil in front of them – the bishops who have moved and protected abusive priests. Yes, the priests who perpetrated these crimes are sick and need to face justice, but the criminals who made this crisis bigger are the bishops who exposed children to already credibly accused priests.”
Eventually, to rebuild trust, the Church must take these steps if it hopes to regain credibility and begin healing the wounds it has inflicted on victims and all members of our global faith community. Much more will be required as well, but that’s the obvious and immediate need.
Anyone who would like to read in detail about the Vatican bishops’ summit on clergy abuse, “The Protection of Minors in the Church,” and listen to presentations and news conferences can visit the Vatican’s website on the meeting, http://www.pbc2019.org.
Voice of the Faithful Statement, Feb. 27, 2019
Contact: Nick Ingala, email@example.com, 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.
Cardinal Pell convicted of sexual abuse, will appeal verdict / Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter
Before the appeal, Pell is expected to be sentenced to serve jail time for the five count. (Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter)
An Australian court found Cardinal George Pell guilty on five charges related to the sexual abuse of two 13-year-old boys; sentencing is expected in early March, but the cardinal’s lawyer already has announced plans to appeal the conviction.
“While the appeal is in process, Pope Francis has confirmed the ‘precautionary measures’ prohibiting Pell from publicly exercising his ministry as a priest and from having contact with minors, Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Vatican press office, told reporters Feb. 26.
“The jury’s verdict that Pell, shortly after being named archbishop of Melbourne in 1996, sexually assaulted the two boys was handed down in December, but the court demanded the verdict and details about it not be reported until after a second trial on allegations that he abused several boys in the 1970s.
“The judge lifted the reporting ban Feb. 25 after prosecutors announced they would not proceed with the second trial against the 77-year-old cardinal.”
By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
Cardinal admits to Vatican summit that Catholic Church destroyed abuse files / National Catholic Reporter
Marx’s admission to the church’s destruction of files may have special significance in his native Germany, where an exhaustive September 2018 report on abuse in the country detailed cases involving 3,677 children but said files in at least two dioceses had been changed or destroyed. (National Catholic Reporter)
A top cardinal has admitted that the global Catholic Church destroyed files to prevent documentation of decades of sexual abuse of children, telling the prelates attending Pope Francis’ clergy abuse summit Feb. 23 that such maladministration led ‘in no small measure’ to more children being harmed.
“In a frank speech to the 190 cardinals, bishops and heads of religious orders taking part in the four-day summit, German Cardinal Reinhard Marx said the church’s administration had left victims’ rights ‘trampled underfoot’ and ‘made it impossible’ for the worldwide institution to fulfill its mission.
“‘Files that could have documented the terrible deeds and named those responsible were destroyed, or not even created,’ said Marx, beginning a list of a number of practices that survivors have documented for years but church officials have long kept under secret.
“‘Instead of the perpetrators, the victims were regulated and silence imposed on them,’ the cardinal continued. ‘The stipulated procedures and processes for the prosecution of offences were deliberately not complied with, but instead cancelled or overridden.'”
By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
Pope vows to end cover-ups, fight sex abuse with ‘wrath of God’ / Associated Press in The Boston Globe
But he (Pope Francis) said the sexual abuse of children becomes even more scandalous when it occurs in the Catholic Church, ‘‘for it is utterly incompatible with her moral authority and ethical credibility.’’ (Associated Press in The Boston Globe)
Pope Francis closed out his summit on preventing clergy sex abuse by vowing Sunday to confront abusers with ‘the wrath of God,’ end the cover-ups by their superiors and prioritize the victims of this ‘brazen, aggressive and destructive evil.’
“Francis delivered his remarks at the end of Mass before 190 Catholic bishops and religious superiors who were summoned to Rome after more abuse scandals sparked a credibility crisis in the Catholic hierarchy and in Francis’ own leadership.
“The Jesuit pope noted that the vast majority of sexual abuse happens in the family. And he offered a global review of the broader societal problem of sexual tourism and online pornography, in a bid to contextualize what he said was once a taboo subject.
“But he said the sexual abuse of children becomes even more scandalous when it occurs in the Catholic Church, ‘for it is utterly incompatible with her moral authority and ethical credibility.'”