Posts Tagged clergy sex abuse
“The central question (still confronting Catholic Clergy: What caused us, members of the Catholic clergy culture, to arrive at the point where we could devise a rationale that allowed us to walk away from the incalculable suffering of the community’s children in order to protect those members of the clergy culture who caused the suffering?” (National Catholic Reporter)
The story of Marie Collins, an Irish victim of clergy sex abuse and a witness of unimpeachable integrity, is a dual tale of how far the church has come in acknowledging and handling the scandal and of how wholly and demonstrably incapable the Catholic clerical culture is of dealing with its own sin.
“Collins was one of two survivors of clergy sex abuse who were appointed in 2014 to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, an agency created by Pope Francis. She resigned the commission in March, providing NCR with a long explanatory statement.
“Her decision to leave was not lightly taken. She had rejected the logic of some critics early on that any cooperation with church efforts was selling out to an institution that had generally ignored or re-victimized the abused for decades. She had later defended the work of the commission when its only other victim member, Peter Saunders, openly criticized the group for the slow pace of reform.
“In March, however, three years after her appointment, she wrote: ‘I have come to the point where I can no longer be sustained by hope. As a survivor, I have watched events unfold with dismay.’
“Among the primary reasons for her despair, she listed ‘lack of resources, inadequate structures around support staff, slowness of forward movement and cultural resistance.’
“Those first three are easily remedied: more money, more staff, pick up the pace.
“The last one — ‘cultural resistance’ — is the impenetrable, if invisible, shield, a kind of carapace protecting the clergy culture. It prevents the disturbing, ugly reality of what experts have termed the ‘soul murder’ of children from penetrating the deepest levels of the clerical culture. The awareness inside the encasement can expand only so far before it runs into the resistance of rigid boundaries.”
By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
The Associated Press is reporting from Rome that Jozef Wesolowski, the former Vatican ambassador to the Dominican Republic was found dead in his Vatican apartment this morning. The Vatican press agency says it seems to be natural causes and that the autopsy results will be made public. Here’s the link for more information.
Pope Francis on Monday (Feb. 9) began what could be a key week for his reformist papacy, starting with meetings with his hand-picked kitchen cabinet of nine senior cardinals, who are developing plans to overhaul the Roman Curia, the papal civil service that has been plagued with crisis and dysfunction.
“The three-day gathering was preceded by intense talks among his economic advisers, who are trying to revamp the scandal-plagued Vatican bank as well as instituting other reforms aimed at cleaning up the Vatican’s tangled finances.
“At the same time, the commission Francis set up to tackle the clergy sex abuse crisis held its first full meeting over the weekend, with its 17 members vowing to find ways to finally hold bishops accountable if they look the other way on abuse.
“The week will conclude with two days of closed-door meetings with the entire College of Cardinals — more than 150 scarlet-clad princes of the church — before Francis formally adds 20 members to their ranks at a service in St. Peter’s Basilica on Saturday (Feb. 14).”
By David Gibson, Religion News Service — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Voice of the Faithful® National Statement:
The arrest and initiation of criminal proceedings against a former papal nuncio for child sex abuse may signal the Vatican is ready to take substantive action on clergy sex abuse and cover-ups instead of just talking about needed changes.
The arrest Sept. 23 of former bishop and apostolic nuncio to the Dominican Republic Josef Wesołowski, who is accused of having paid for sex with minors, is just one step. Still needed are penalties for bishops who covered up child sex abuse and shielded priests from criminal prosecution. This problem continues today despite the Church’s constant vows to do better.
If this arrest demonstrates a new resolve by the Church under Francis’ papacy to discipline abusers and abettors of the scandal, Voice of the Faithful® is encouraged the Church may have turned a corner in its handling of clergy sexual abuse, but next steps to discipline other bishops are needed now, not in the distant future.
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 governance and guidance of the Church.
“However it ends, the case will be followed as an indicator of Pope Francis’s commitment to true church reform.”
Roman Catholics and much of the world have been closely watching for evidence that Pope Francis has the wherewithal to buck the resistance to reform from the Vatican’s powerful bureaucracy.
“An encouraging sign emerged last week with the announcement that the Vatican’s former ambassador to the Dominican Republic had been stripped of diplomatic immunity and could be tried there for his alleged soliciting of underage boys for sexual acts. The announcement reversed a devious and secret stratagem engineered by unidentified Vatican officials last year to recall the ambassador, Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, before Dominican authorities could bring criminal charges of child abuse against him.”
Editorial in The New York Times — Click here to read the rest of this editorial.
Kansas City is still waiting for the bishop and the Catholic diocese to do the right thing / The Kansas City Star
The only reassuring news to come out of an arbitrator’s recent finding against the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph is that its Victim Advocacy Program, created in 2008 in response to the priest abuse scandal, is operating well.
“But every other conclusion of the arbitrator — upheld last week by Jackson County Circuit Judge Bryan Round — brought shame to the diocese and provided more than enough reasons for Bishop Robert W. Finn, already convicted of a misdemeanor, to resign.
“In ordering the diocese to pay $1.1 million for violating its agreement with sex abuse victims, arbitrator Hollis Hanover was blunt: ‘Where they (the victims) expected protection, they received desertion; where the assertion of authority on their behalf was required, they received betrayal.’
“He also said he hopes ‘that I am dead wrong in my opinion that this Diocese as presently constituted will not mend its ways.’
“Everyone hopes that. But there’s little reason for optimism.”
Editorial in The Kansas City Star – Click here to read the rest of this editorial.
The directness and urgency with which Pope Francis addressed the problem of sexual abuse of minors by clergy during his May 26 talk with journalists is encouraging. His decision to meet with victims of clergy sex abuse is also a clear signal that Francis understands the gravity of this issue in a way that was not clear earlier. While we understand, and to some extent share, the concerns of victims’ groups that the meeting and Mass with victims could be little more than media theater, we have more hope for the gathering. Francis has given us reason to believe that his pastoral instincts will guide him and that the outcome of this encounter will bring the church to a new place in this decades-long tragedy.”
Editorial by National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this editorial.
POPES and their officials have long benefited from the Vatican’s unique dual status in international law. As the Vatican City State, it can shelter prelates wanted for questioning elsewhere and play host to offshore financial institutions such as the Vatican Bank. But when world leaders visit the pope in Rome it is to meet the absolute ruler of a global entity, the Holy See. As the Holy See, the Vatican engages in diplomacy, holds observer status at the UN and signs most treaties. The Holy See is sometimes called a sovereign entity without territory, although its sovereign, the pope, is also the ruler of the Vatican City State. It is a legal expression of the Catholic church’s leadership, yet American lawyers for the church have successfully argued that the Vatican is not responsible for Catholic clerics’ wrongdoing.
“On May 23rd the Vatican’s split personality will be put to a new test when a UN committee releases the findings of an inquiry into the Holy See’s compliance with the Convention against Torture, which it signed in 2002. Most of the questions put to the pope’s representative, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, in the public hearings were about the sexual abuse of children and adolescents by Catholic clerics. If the committee decides it was torture, a wave of prosecutions of historic offences could follow: there is usually no time limit for bringing torture charges, as there generally is for sex crimes. And if it judges the Holy See accountable for priests’ and bishops’ misconduct, victims’ lawyers may challenge existing jurisprudence and demand compensation from Rome.”
By The Economist — Click here to read the rest of this story.
St. Paul Archbishop Says During ‘Extraordinary Deposition’ He Was Unaware of Most Child Sex Abuse Issues / Star Tribune
Archbishop John Nienstedt said he was not aware that known child sex abusers were working at the archdiocese during his tenure, nor did he track exactly which priests were being monitored, according to testimony released Tuesday (Apr. 22).
“Nienstedt’s extraordinary deposition, ordered by a judge and the first of its kind by a serving archbishop in Minnesota, was taken April 2 as part of a clergy sex abuse lawsuit. The claim is one of dozens brought against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis since a change in state law last year opened a wider window for pursuing child sex abuse claims.”
By Jean Hopfensperger and Chao Xiong, Star Tribune — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Also of interest — Click here to read “Archbishop Nienstedt’s Deposition Draws Mixed Reviews.”
The countless victims of clergy sex abuse have been waiting for 30 years for the Vatican to show it really understands the depth of the problem and is willing to do something real about it. Judging by the latest move, naming members of a pontifical commission, victims will have to keep on waiting. Those who have been deeply involved in this issue for the long haul had little hope the promised commission would make a difference, and we probably won’t be disappointed.”
By Thomas P. Doyle, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this column. Fr, Doyle will lead a workshop on “Survivor Support: What You Can Do” at the Voice of the Faithful® 2014 Assembly April 5.