Posts Tagged child sexual abuse

How D.C. Catholics are leading the response to the clergy sexual abuse scandal / America: The Jesuit Review

The failure of church leadership to stop clerical sexual abuse hit Catholics in Washington, D.C. hard. (America: The Jesuit Review)

This week marks one year since the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, which detailed the alleged crimes of hundreds of priests over seven decades and brought the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church back into the national spotlight.

“The failure of church leadership to stop clerical sexual abuse hit Catholics in Washington, D.C., hard. Two months before the grand jury report, claims of abuse against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, then archbishop emeritus of Washington, became public. In October, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, then the archbishop of Washington, who had been criticized for his handling of abusive priests during his time as the bishop of Pittsburgh. A few months later, McCarrick was laicized by Pope Francis.

“In the wake of last summer’s news, my parish, Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., embarked on a “Season of Discernment.” We asked: How could a local parish help heal serious wounds—especially wounds of trust born of the scandal—for survivors and their families as well as the broader community of lay faithful? How might we avoid getting stuck in the status quo and move forward to enact meaningful change?”

By Kathleen Coogan, Pastoral Council, Holy Trinity Parish, Washington, D.C., in America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …

Kathleen Coogan will be part of a panel discussion on local responses to clergy abuse during Voice of the Faithful’s 2019 Conference in Boston Oct. 10. Click here for information and registration.

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Unmarked buildings, quiet help for accused priests / Associated Press

And while powerful clerics have publicly pledged to hold the church accountable for the crimes of its clergy and help survivors heal, some of them arranged meetings, offered blessings or quietly sent checks to this organization that provided support to alleged abusers, The Associated Press has found. Though Catholic leaders deny the church has any official relationship with the group, Opus Bono successfully forged networks reaching all the way to the Vatican. (Associated Press)

Stripped of their collars and cassocks, they went unnoticed in this tiny Midwestern town as they were escorted into a dingy warehouse across from an elementary school playground. Neighbors had no idea some of the dressed-down clergymen dining at local restaurants might have been accused sexual predators.

“They had been brought to town by a small, nonprofit group called Opus Bono Sacerdotii. For nearly two decades, the group has operated out of a series of unmarked buildings in rural Michigan, providing money, shelter, transport, legal help and other support to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse across the country.

“Again and again, Opus Bono has served as a rapid-response team for the accused.

“When a serial pedophile was sent to jail for abusing dozens of minors, Opus Bono was there for him, with regular visits and commissary cash.

“When a priest admitted sexually assaulting boys under 14, Opus Bono raised funds for his defense.

“When another priest was criminally charged with abusing a teen, Opus Bono later made him a legal adviser.”

By Martha Mendoza, Juliet Linderman and Garance Burke, Associated Press — Read more …

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Reform or dismantle? Why we need to keep the institutions that keep us / Commonweal

The division of Catholicism into various brands—liberal, progressive, conservative, traditionalist—fosters a spirit of zero-sum competition rather than communion. (Commonweal)

One of the effects of the sex-abuse crisis is the current moment of institutional iconoclasm—the temptation to get rid of the institutional element of the Catholic Church. The failures of the church’s institutions are now on full display, even more so than after the revelations of the Spotlight investigation. It is hypocritical, however, to interpret the abuse crisis as a clerical abuse crisis rather than a Catholic abuse crisis. Obviously, the clergy had a unique role in the crisis, but the moral and legal responsibilities do not belong exclusively to those wearing a Roman collar. We are still reluctant to acknowledge the systemic nature of this crisis as something that affected the entire Catholic world and not just its ordained ministers. We would like to contain it neatly within the hierarchy so as to exempt ourselves from the burden of critical self-reflection.

“American Catholicism has not yet found its way out of the blame game for the abuse crisis. One sees this on both sides of the ideological spectrum. Recent attempts to use the crisis as a pretext for abolishing the priesthood are just a liberal version of conservative attempts to blame sexual abuse on gays or the sixties. All such strategies spare lay Catholics the bother of having to ask ‘What did do wrong?’ The abuse itself damaged the lives of the victims and their families, friends, and communities. Now, the shortcomings of our response to the abuse crisis—our failure to deal with its root causes—is causing another kind of damage. When prominent scholars of Catholicism publicly display their ‘disgust’ for Catholicism, it is clear that the abuse crisis has blurred the line between an ecclesially engaged Catholic theology and the more dispassionate, agnostic religious studies of Catholicism. The abuse crisis has produced two kinds of counter-evangelization:

  • first, the counter-evangelization of the hierarchical church, whose example scandalizes the faithful and repels outsiders;
  • second, the counter-evangelization of those who have used this crisis to self-righteously declare their liberation from what they describe as a morally corrupt institution.

There is a prefabricated quality to at least some of these declarations. They seem less like honest reckonings with new information than shrewdly timed expressions of old resentments. There will always be an appreciative audience for “Why I Left” pieces.”

By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal — Read more …

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U.S. Catholic Church reports big rise in sex-abuse allegations / Associated Press

The findings were evidence of “complacency and lack of diligence on the part of some dioceses,” said a letter included in the report from Francesco Cesareo, who chairs a review board created by the bishops in 2002 to monitor sex abuse prevention efforts. (Associated Press)

Quantifying its vast sex-abuse crisis, the U.S. Roman Catholic Church said Friday (May 31) that allegations of child sex abuse by clerics more than doubled in its latest 12-month reporting period, and that its spending on victim compensation and child protection surged above $300 million.

“During the period from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018, 1,385 adults came forward with 1,455 allegations of abuse, according to the annual report of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection. That was up from 693 allegations in the previous year. The report attributed much of the increase to a victim compensation program implemented in five dioceses in New York state.

“According to the report, Catholic dioceses and religious orders spent $301.6 million during the reporting period on payments to victims, legal fees and child-protection efforts. That was up 14% from the previous year and double the amount spent in the 2014 fiscal year.”

By David Crary, Associated Press — Read more …

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Francis mandates clergy abuse reporting worldwide, empowers archbishops to do investigations / National Catholic Reporter

Under the scope of the new laws, such disclosure (of abuse or coverup) could be rather wide-ranging, even retroactively. Article six of the apostolic letter makes clear that anyone who is serving or has served as a bishop can be investigated for acts committed during the time of their ministry. (National Catholic Reporter)

Pope Francis issued sweeping new laws for the Catholic Church on the investigation of clergy sexual abuse May 9, mandating for the first time that all priests and members of religious orders worldwide are obligated to report any suspicions of abuse or its cover-up.

“The pontiff has also established a new global system for the evaluation of reports of abuse or cover-up by bishops, which foresees the empowering of archbishops to conduct investigations of prelates in their local regions with the help of Vatican authorities.

“The new norms, contained in a brief apostolic letter titled Vos estis lux mundi (‘You are the light of the world’), are exhaustive in scope, applying in some way to every ordained or vowed member of the 1.3 billion-person church. They also encourage lay people to make reports of abuse, and provide for involvement of lay experts in investigations.

“In his introduction to the document, which goes into effect June 1, Francis says he has created the new laws so the church will ‘continue to learn from the bitter lessons of the past, looking with hope towards the future.'”

By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Catholic University sex abuse series wraps with starkly different viewpoints / National Catholic Reporter

The day-long conference at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., was the fourth and final installment of the university’s “Healing the Breach of Trust” series.

Two well-known lay Catholic leaders in the United States presented strikingly different opinions on the cause of the clergy sex abuse crisis, the role of the laity and the centrality of victim-survivors at an April 25 conference at Catholic University of America, titled ‘The Way Forward: Principles for Effective Lay Action.’

”The day-long conference, the fourth and final installment of the ‘Healing the Breach of Trust’ series, was marked by the divergent 25-minute presentations of George Weigel and John Carr, who spoke at different points in the day.

“Weigel, a biographer of Pope John Paul II and senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C., discussed the negative influence of Satan, the sexual revolution and mass media on the current crisis.

“Carr, the founder and director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University and former director of the Department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development at the U.S. bishops’ conference, presented 10 lessons on dealing with clergy abuse he gained from personal experience as both a victim-survivor and in working with the bishops.”

By Jesse Remedios, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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In new letter, Benedict blames clergy abuse on sexual revolution, Vatican II theology / National Catholic Reporter

A number of noted theologians took to Twitter overnight to criticize Benedict’s take on the root causes of clergy sexual abuse. (National Catholic Reporter)

Retired Pope Benedict XVI has published a new letter blaming the continuing Catholic clergy abuse crisis on the sexual revolution, developments in theology following the Second Vatican Council, and modern society’s aversion to speaking about God.

“The letter, one of a handful the ex-pontiff has shared publicly since his resignation in 2013, immediately drew criticism from theologians and Vatican watchers. They noted it does not address structural issues that abetted abuse cover-up, or Benedict’s own contested 24-year role as head of the Vatican’s powerful doctrinal office.

“The former pope instead points the finger at a range of esoteric issues, from a supposed societal “mental collapse” brought on by the protests of 1968, to a claim that the sexual revolution declared pedophilia to be “allowed and appropriate,” and to “vehement backlashes” by theologians against a 1993 encyclical by Pope John Paul II.

“‘Among the freedoms that the Revolution of 1968 sought to fight for was … all-out sexual freedom, one which no longer conceded any norms,’ Benedict says at the beginning of his text.”

By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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