Posts Tagged catholic priests

Editorial: The Lessons of Opus Dei Fr. McCloskey’s Downfall / National Catholic Reporter

It is, indeed, the clergy culture that is at the heart of the church’s problems. It is in dire need of radical reform.

“It is time for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to issue a standard sign to be posted in every chancery office in the country, just outside the bishop’s door, reading:

“IT’S THE CLERICAL CULTURE!

“It is time to be done with the breathless wonderment at whatever new revelations show one more holy and wonderful priest has been, in a hidden life, abusive of children, or women, or seminarians, or just a liar about what he knew or didn’t know, did or didn’t do.

Opus Dei priest Fr. C. John McCloskey III, for whom the prelature paid a $977,000 settlement to a woman who accused him of sexual misconduct, is the latest to cause former associates and friends to go all aflutter with ‘How could he have?’ And ‘How did we not know?’ And ‘Why didn’t those who did know speak up?’ And ‘How could someone like that also do so much good?’

“The answers to the other questions reside primarily in understanding the culture in which all of those actors, McCloskey included, operated: the Catholic clerical culture. It is highly secretive, highly privileged, believed to be distinctive from the rest of human kind, allegedly celibate and, until recently, enjoying from members of the Catholic community as well as from civil authority in this country a level of deference that is normally reserved for the highly privileged.”

By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff — Read more …

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Curb the crisis: 10 essential lessons for investigating church leaders / National Catholic Reporter

Based on my many years of supervising and teaching how to do complex investigations, and having closely followed the investigation of (former St. Paul-Minneapolis Archbishop John) Nienstedt and conduct related to it, I have identified 10 of the most important lessons to be learned from the initial success and then ultimate failures surrounding that investigation. (National Catholic Reporter)

“The Catholic Church is in serious and deepening crisis, primarily as a result of grave sins and failed leadership involving clergy sexual misconduct. This tragedy is most recently exemplified by the alleged abusive, long-standing behavior of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. In order for the church in the United States to determine and learn from how it failed to address McCarrick’s decades of alleged misconduct, new guidelines and procedures must be established and implemented for investigating him and any high-ranking church leader.

“For the last five years, the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese has grappled with this challenge, having had to investigate its former Archbishop John Nienstedt for alleged personal sexual misconduct and failed leadership involving abuse by other clergy.

“Many painful lessons were learned from that investigation, which was prematurely terminated and never resumed. Egregious clergy abuse by an archdiocesan priest and the failed leadership that permitted that abuse to occur ultimately led to criminal charges being filed against the archdiocese and Nienstedt’s abrupt resignation. Those lessons should be examined and heeded by every American cardinal, archbishop and bishop to avoid their repetition elsewhere …

“Based on my many years of supervising and teaching how to do complex investigations, and having closely followed the investigation of Nienstedt and conduct related to it, I have identified 10 of the most important lessons to be learned from the initial success and then ultimate failures surrounding that investigation.”

By Hank Shea, 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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Voice of the Faithful welcomes federal probe of Catholic Clergy abuse in Pennsylvania

BOSTON, Mass., Oct. 19, 2018 – Voice of the Faithful, a movement of Roman Catholics working since 2002 to expose clergy abuse of minors, welcomes the U.S. Justice Department’s investigation into the decades-long coverup of clergy sexual abuse in Pennsylvania dioceses and hopes that such investigations expand nationwide.

The Church’s hierarchy has too long hidden crimes of abuse behind secret financial settlements and non-disclosure agreements, treating young victims as throwaway objects and sources of scandal rather than as God’s and society’s most vulnerable. They have violated God’s law, their own canon law and civil law in an attempt to portray the institution of the Church as above reproach and themselves as “handling the problem.”

“The priests who commit these crimes are criminals and sick, but the bishops who moved them around committed the bigger crime by exposing more and more children to abuse,” said VOTF president Mary Pat Fox. “They must be held accountable. The actions of the hierarchy not only caused additional harm to children, but also cast shadows on good priests doing good work and on Catholics everywhere.

Voice of the Faithful also is deeply saddened that failures by our bishops have passed the point where anyone has confidence that the Church can police itself. Instead we must rely on civil authorities to accomplish what the Church should have done decades, if not centuries, ago: act first to protect the faithful rather than to hide their crimes.

We cannot abide any excuses from prelates, such as following the generally accepted recommendations at the time for treatment of abusers, rather than reporting their crimes to police. Fox said, “When you read the latest grand jury report, you say to yourself―how can someone have this letter from the pastor of the parish about a priest that is abusing children, letters from parents and notes about meetings with the priest and make a decision to send the priest to rehab for a month and then reassign him to another parish! I wonder how a bishop could be so de-sensitized when reading something like this. Shouldn’t it seem just as outrageous to him as it does to me?”

In the wake of this latest effort by civil authorities, bishops have an opportunity to live up to their calling by throwing open secret files and owning up to the sins of the past. We are grateful for the great attention now paid to child protection throughout the U.S. Church, but the abuse that still haunts thousands of survivors and others affected over decades needs to be disclosed so that we all can heal and move on.


Voice of the Faithful Statement, Oct. 19, 2018
Contact: Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org, 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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Feds open clergy abuse probe in Pennsylvania / Associated Press

“It’s groundbreaking if we’re going to see one of the U.S. attorneys pursuing the Catholic cases,” said Marci Hamilton, a University of Pennsylvania professor and chief executive of Child USA, a nonprofit think tank focused on preventing child abuse. “The federal government has so far been utterly silent on the Catholic cases.” (Associated Press)

The U.S. Justice Department has opened an investigation of child sexual abuse inside the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania, using subpoenas to demand confidential files and testimony from church leaders, according to two people familiar with the probe.

“The subpoenas, served last week, follow a scathing state grand jury report over the summer that found that 301 ‘predator priests’ in Pennsylvania had molested more than 1,000 children over seven decades and that church leaders had covered up for the offenders.

“Now federal prosecutors are bringing the Justice Department’s considerable resources to bear, according to two people who were not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

“‘It’s groundbreaking if we’re going to see one of the U.S. attorneys pursuing the Catholic cases,’ said Marci Hamilton, a University of Pennsylvania professor and chief executive of Child USA, a nonprofit think tank focused on preventing child abuse. ‘The federal government has so far been utterly silent on the Catholic cases.'”

By Maryclaire Dale and Eric Tucker, Associated Press — Read more …

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Want to address priest sexual abuse? The Catholic Church needs to overhaul its seminaries / The Washington Post

Young men who feel called to priesthood, although well intentioned, often have enormous gaps in their prior formation and upbringing. (The Washington Post)

Although clergy sexual abuse scandals aren’t new, the ones that have rocked the Catholic Church this summer revolved around a group seldom focused on before: seminarians. The sexual harassment and abuse of seminarians, and the response of seminary leaders, have been at the center of the case of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, whose removal from ministry in June began months of focus on abuse.

“Many Catholics share a heightened, even unprecedented, level of concern for the well-being of Catholic seminarians. They rightly wonder, as well, whether our seminaries can not only screen out potential sexual predators, but also rise to the challenge of preparing for life and ministry men who are emotionally mature, and psychologically and sexually healthy. This requires training for contemporary American society.

“The convergence of these concerns invites a long-needed conversation about reform in American seminaries.

“Many of us who have labored in seminary formation for years consider 2018 a watershed moment, in fact, to insist on long-overdue adjustments and enhancements to seminary training. In retrospect, many of our institutions have too often failed miserably in preparing men for ministry, and many still fall far short of the goal of forming happy, healthy, holy priests. The church urgently needs new approaches to preparing men for priestly ministry given today’s sexualized, secularized culture and the personal challenges facing seminarians.”

By Rev. Thomas V. Berg, The Washington Post — Read more …

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German Catholic priests abused thousands of children / Deutsch Welle

The victims in Germany were predominantly male and more than half of them were 13 years of age or younger. Every sixth case involved a rape, and in three-quarters of the cases, the victim and perpetrator knew each other through the church. (Deutsch Welle)

A study commissioned by the German Bishops Conference examined 3,677 cases of abuse allegedly perpetrated by clergy nationwide, German magazine Der Spiegel reported on Wednesday. The universities of Giessen, Heidelberg and Mannheim were involved in the research, which implicated 1,670 priests in sexual abuse spanning from 1946 to 2014.

“The report comes amidst a resurfacing of abuse and cover-up allegations against the Catholic Church around the world. Pope Francis has apologized and pledged to support victims in their search for justice, but he has also been singled out for inaction against abuser priests in the past.

“The victims in Germany were predominantly male and more than half of them were 13 years of age or younger. Every sixth case involved a rape, and in three-quarters of the cases, the victim and perpetrator knew each other through the church.”

By Deutsch Welle — Read more …

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