Posts Tagged sex abuse crisis

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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Australian bishop urges end to clericalism / National Catholic Reporter

“The sex abuse crisis was more than the evil acts of individuals. (Bishop Vincent Long) Van Nguyen said the culture of the church contributed to the crisis in Australia.” National Catholic Reporter

Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen of Parramatta, Australia, speaking to the National Council of Priests of Australia, urged an end to clericalism in the church and expressed hope that a newly revitalized Catholic clergy would emerge from the sex abuse crisis that has wracked the Catholic Church in Australia.

“He spoke Aug. 30 to the National Council of Priests in Australia, which reprinted his remarks in the December edition of The Swag, its quarterly magazine.

“Van Nguyen, 55, a Conventual Franciscan who became bishop of Parramatta last year, declared in a message to a Royal Commission investigating sex abuse in the Catholic Church that he himself had been abused by church members as an adult. He told the priests’ group that ‘we are in a big mess’ as priests ‘bear the brunt of public anger and distrust in the wake of the sexual abuse crisis. It is one of the hardest times to be a priest.’

“He suggested they look to the example of Pope Francis as a vision of priesthood based on a servant, not an authoritarian, model.”

By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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A bishop’s plea for Synod on the Family and reaction to Pope’s sex abuse appointments

Here are two news stories following up on two we posted yesterday. The first is on a diocesan bishop’s plea for the Synod on the Family and the second is about reaction to the Pope’s new appointment to his sex-abuse commission and new chief sex-abuse prosecutor.

Belgian bishop urges real dialogue at Synod

Antwerp Bishop Johan Bonny has published a long letter on the upcoming Synod of Bishops urging the assembly to have the courage to bring the Church’s moral teachings more in line with the lived experience of the laity. ‘The Church must step away from its defensive, antithetical stance and seek anew the path of dialogue’ on moral issues, he wrote in the 22-page letter posted on his diocese’s website in five languages.” By Tom Heneghan, The Tablet — Click here to read the bishop’s entire letter, “Synod on the Family–Expectations of a diocesan bishop.”

Sex abuse survivors slam Pope Francis’ picks for crisis panels

Pope Francis’ decision to appoint two U.S. priests to key positions aimed at tackling the Vatican’s sex abuse crisis drew an angry response from abuse victims. In the shake-up the Rev. Robert Geisinger, a canon lawyer previously based in Chicago, was named chief prosecutor responsible for abuse cases. He replaces his U.S. colleague, the Rev. Robert Oliver, who was named to the Vatican’s anti-abuse commission, created by Francis last year.” By Josephine McKenna, Religion News Service

 

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Voice of the Faithful Distinguished Layperson Award Recipient Analyzes Pope’s New Abuse Commission

The author of the following story, Jason Berry, received the Voice of the Faithful® St. Catherine of Siena Distinguished Layperson Award in 2009. Berry, an author, investigative journalist, and documentary producer, began holding the Catholic Church’s clergy sexual abuse scandal up to the light more than 25 years ago.

News that the Vatican will create a commission to address its global sex abuse crisis comes 11 years after American bishops, amid devastating media coverage from the Boston scandal, met for their summer conference in Dallas, trailed by 700 journalists.

“With help from RF Binder, a Madison Avenue public relations firm specializing in damage control, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops by parliamentary vote enacted a youth protection charter, predicated on ‘zero tolerance.’

“They also announced the formation of a National Review Board of 12 blue-ribbon Catholics to research the crisis and offer an agenda for resolution …

“The report called for transparency and oversight of bishops to halt the practice of concealing and recycling sex offenders.

But as Justice (Anne) Burke (Illinois Supreme Court, member of the U.S. bishops’ initial clergy sexual abuse review board, and featured speaker at Voice of the Faithful 10th Year Conference®) told GlobalPost, “The bishops did not follow our recommendations. They set up barriers for our work from the very beginning.”

Click here to read the rest of Berry’s story “New Catholic Sex Abuse Commission to Contend with ‘Medieval Organization'” on GlobalPost.com.

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