Posts Tagged coverup

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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What do the Church’s victims deserve? / The New Yorker

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 …

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The law that could hold Catholic bishops accountable / The Rivard Report

We don’t know the details of the many ways in which church authorities covered up the scandals, often leading pedophiles to be transferred to other parishes where they were free to victimize more children. (The Rivard Report)

The list of credible sexual abuse cases listed by the Archdiocese of San Antonio last week (Feb. 1) was long and depressing. It was also incomplete.

“It included the names of 54 priests and one deacon whose alleged crimes ranged from six decades ago to recent. The details were sterile. They did not include accounts of the actual abuses, but the bare bones of where the men served and how they were dealt with: sent to Mexico for treatment, suspended from priestly duties, or in a very few cases, referred to law enforcement and prosecuted.

“Missing was any account of how bishops and other church authorities actively covered up sex crimes involving minors, often leaving the perpetrator to victimize more children.

“Yet these church authorities are as responsible for the devastation of lives that now confronts the church as the perpetrators themselves. And they should be held just as accountable.

“We don’t know the details of the many ways in which church authorities covered up the scandals, often leading pedophiles to be transferred to other parishes where they were free to victimize more children. But here is one example of such efforts, and of a law passed by a young San Antonio legislator in an attempt to pierce the secrecy.”

By Rick Casey, The Rivard Report — 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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Cardinal Pell, top advisor to Pope Francis, found guilty of ‘historical sexual offenses’ / America: The Jesuit review

The cardinal is the most senior churchman yet to be convicted of such offenses, though he is not the third-ranking Vatican official, as some media have reported. His conviction is a grave blow not only to the church in Australia but also to the Vatican and to Pope Francis … (America: The Jesuit Review)

An Australian jury has found Cardinal George Pell, 77, guilty on five charges of “historical child sexual offenses” that go back decades, according to various media reports and confirmed by America. The 12-member jury gave their unanimous verdict in the County Court of the State of Victoria in Melbourne on Tuesday, Dec. 11.

“The judge decided that the sentencing will take place in early February 2019 and released the cardinal on bail.

“Little is known about the nature of the charges on which Cardinal Pell has been condemned because the entire trial and a second trial that has yet to take place are covered by a strict suppression order issued by the presiding judge, Peter Kidd. The order prohibits reporting on the case in any of the country’s media until the second trial has taken place to avoid prejudicing his case in both instances. The judge has prohibited the publication of the number of complainants in either of the two trials as well as the number and nature of the charges, except for the fact that the charges relate to ‘historical child sexual offenses.’

“The cardinal is the most senior churchman yet to be convicted of such offenses, though he is not the third-ranking Vatican official, as some media have reported. His conviction is a grave blow not only to the church in Australia but also to the Vatican and to Pope Francis, who placed great trust in him by nominating the Australian prelate to his nine-member Council of Cardinal Advisors (he was the only cardinal from Oceania at that time, and Francis chose one cardinal from each continent) and by appointing him as prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy with a sweeping mandate to reform Vatican finances.”

By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …

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Finding hope and healing in the face of the abuse crisis / America: The Jesuit Review

The abuse crisis exposes an enormously frightening reality: People, even without a direct experience of abuse, may recognize that they have entrusted the care of their souls to unreliable leadership. (America: The Jesuit Review)

In February of next year, Pope Francis will meet with presidents of episcopal conferences throughout the world to talk about the Catholic Church’s response to clerical abuse. The U.S. bishops met in November of this year and discussed the same topic. In many dioceses, parishes have been or will be hosting listening sessions for concerned parishioners. All these meetings are meant in some way to address the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church.

“The current round of gatherings and news coverage strikes many people as sadly familiar—a replay of what happened in the early 2000s. But this is different. Today’s conversations have shifted. The focus now falls on bishops who were negligent, incompetent or downright devious in dealing with clergy who had perpetrated abuse against minors. This new scrutiny of abuse in the church, one earnestly hopes, will lead to necessary structural realignments. Reforms may include new paths for accountability and transparency, a more rigorous application of existing church law or its amendment if needed, and closer cooperation with civil authorities to deal with criminal activity and any related cover-up.

“Structural reform and renewal are absolutely necessary to reclaim a measure of integrity for the church and—some would even say—for her very survival. These changes, however, are not enough to bring healing. The abuse crisis is about more than just logic and reason. The current crisis has revealed the unreliability of church leaders in protecting the flock entrusted to their care. And that matters very much to everyone with or without a direct experience of abuse. I would argue that any effective healing must take the experience of reliability versus unreliability as a central focus.”

By Louis J. Cameli, America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …

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Women survivors speak of church authority structure facilitating their abuse / National Catholic Reporter

The three harrowing accounts were part of a Nov. 27 testimony-sharing and panel discussion event in Rome, held less than a mile east of the Vatican and meant to raise up women’s voices in the revived discussion of clergy sexual abuse after a spate of revelations globally this year. (Global Sisters Report in National Catholic Reporter)

“Three women survivors of clergy sexual abuse shared deeply personal stories during a Nov. 27 storytelling event, each revealing layers of pain, sadness and hurt exacerbated by the realization that they were trapped within a male-dominated structure that ignored their stories and demanded silence.

“Peruvian Rocio Figueroa Alvear, once the head of the women’s branch of a burgeoning but now disgraced lay religious movement, recounted being forbidden to speak of her abuse by its male second-in-command, and threatened with publishing of false claims against her own conduct should she disobey.

“American Barbara Dorris, long known as a leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests or SNAP, spoke publicly for the first time about her rape by a priest as a 6-year-old girl, and how it continued for years afterward.

“Saying she did ‘everything in my power’ to hide her pain from her devout parents and family, Dorris only came forward as a parent when she recognized warning signs in the behavior of another priest on a playground with children.

“And German Doris Wagner tells of the calamitous fifth year in her mixed-gender religious order, when a male superior came into her room at night and raped her.

“‘Instantly, I knew … that if I spoke about this, the community would blame me and not him,’ she says. ‘And so I kept silent.'”

By Joshua J. McElwee, Global Sisters Report, in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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