Posts Tagged sex abuse
The Roman Catholic Church is opposing efforts in New York to allow sex abuse accusers to file lawsuits after the statute of limitations has expired, warning of dire financial consequences if the state allows plaintiffs to sue decades after the purported abuse occurred.
“Currently in New York, victims of child sex abuse have until five years after they turn 18 to file a lawsuit. The same statute of limitations applies to most child sex crimes.
“A bill pending in the state Assembly would eliminate the statute of limitations on abuse cases going forward — and create a one-year window to allow anyone to file lawsuits no matter when the abuse occurred. Supporters gathered Wednesday in Albany to push for the bill.”
By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.
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.
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.”
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
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.
First, the Catholic Church announced it had defrocked six priests accused of sex abuse in the Puerto Rican town of Arecibo. Then, local prosecutors disclosed that at least 11 other priests on the island were under investigation for similar accusations.
“Now, as U.S. authorities acknowledge that they, too, are looking into abuse allegations by priests on this devoutly Catholic island, many are reeling from revelations of abuse involving some of the U.S. territory’s most beloved clerics.”
By Danica Coto, Associated Press on Federal News Radio — Click here to read the rest of this story.
“Pope Francis is creating a new commission to advise the Vatican on how to deal with the ongoing clergy sex abuse scandal, which continues to make headlines in the U.S. Effects from the scandal continue to ripple across the U.S. Catholic landscape … Most Catholics in the U.S. say the sex abuse scandal is one priority they want Francis to address.” By Michael Lipka, Pew Research Center Fact Tank — Click here to read the rest of this news item and to see chart of “Catholics Priorities for New Pope
National Catholic Reporter’s Robert McClory suggests that two cases of clergy sexual abuse he reviews in his story show that, “if in the past, women had held authoritative positions in dioceses allowing them to examine charges regarding sex abuse and if more women were involved now in review boards and given access to evidence of clerical misconduct, the heinous careers of many people like Kownacki could have been interrupted at an early stage and many children spared the horror of abuse.’ McClory says these cases also suggest, ‘that clericalism is so deeply entrenched in many members of the clergy that they refuse to see the evidence of crime when it is right before their eyes.’”
Read the rest of McClory’s story by clicking here.
This is the second in a series of articles, being jointly reported by NCR and GlobalPost.com, that examines the background and the principal players in the Vatican’s investigations of U.S. women religious.
From its palace in Vatican City, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith monitors compliance with Roman Catholic moral teaching and matters of dogma for the oldest church in Christendom. These issues have little bearing on most of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. Faith, for them, rests in parish life and the quality of their pastors. In the 1980s, for example, when the congregation punished theologians who dissented from the papal ban on artificial birth control, the majority of Catholics who believe contraception is morally acceptable did not change their opinion … ” By Jason Berry in National Catholic Reporter
Click here to read the first article in this series, which appeared in GlobalPost.com.
Two incidents on opposite sides of the world have recently underscored the disparity in views on the reform of child sex abuse statutes of limitation, which Roman Catholic Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful® has long sought as a means for abuse victims to receive justice.
In Pennsylvania, the Bucks County district attorney’s Task Force on Child Protection, set up 13 months ago following former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky’s indictment on child molestation charges, completed its report. Nowhere does the report recommend statute of limitation reform, according to news reports, even though experts have repeatedly pointed out the significant time lapse between when child abuse occurs and when adult survivors recall and report abuse. The task force recommended to the state legislature extensive changes in child abuse laws, covering everything from handling information about allegations to training of those responsible for children’s welfare, without ever mentioning statutes of limitation. As a result, the task force missed the single greatest opportunity for gaining justice for abuse survivors. Nor is Pennsylvania the only state where these laws must be changed.
On the other side of the world, in Australia, the president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart, recently stated that no one, not even Catholic clergy, should be allowed to use statutes of limitations to escape justice. Archbishop Hart is reported as saying, “The evil of sexual abuse is so serious and so awful that the only way in which the victims will come to any sense of peace is if their matter can be dealt with by the offender being brought to justice.”
Anne Cossins, a child sexual abuse expert at the University of New South Wales, backed Hart’s opinion when she said, “It might take an 8-year-old 10 years before they feel safe enough to tell people for the first time, particularly given the secrecy that surrounds the abuse and the degree of coercion the children are subject to.”
The vast extent of Australia’s clergy sexual abuse scandal has been unfolding over the past few months, as evidence has been presented to a parliamentary inquiry. Victoria’s police, for example, have accused the Church of failing to report allegations of clergy sexual abuse, destroying evidence and putting its reputation above the welfare of children.
Despite accusations that Australia’s leading prelate, Cardinal George Pell, has displayed an appalling lack of empathy for child abuse victims, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in Australia, under extreme pressure, may be coming around on statute of limitation reform. This is not the case in Pennsylvania where the legislature apparently is yielding to pressure from, among others, Archbishop Charles Chaput and the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, which has steadfastly lobbied against such reform.
Voice of the Faithful® is left wondering when state governments and the Catholic Church will employ such an obvious vehicle for justice and healing.