Posts Tagged sexual abuse
At 53, Scott Cross had waited more than three decades to talk to anyone about the incident in which, he said, his high school wrestling coach sexually molested him.
“By the time he shared his story — with family, prosecutors and then to a packed courtroom — his alleged sexual abuser, Dennis Hastert, had escaped prosecution. Yes, the former coach and U.S. House Speaker was prosecuted, but on a relatively minor financial violation — a wrinkle in the high-profile case that has renewed debate in Illinois and other states over the statute of limitations for cases involving sexual abuse of children.”
Editorial by Chicago Tribune — Click here to read the rest of this editorial
Over the past 14 years, thousands of survivors of sexual abuse by priests and their supporters have maintained a vigil every Sunday at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in downtown Boston. We have protested lies, broken promises, and survivor re-victimization by the Catholic Church and its hierarchy; we have supported men and women survivors in dealing with the horrors of abuse; we have demanded change in a Church that for too long denied and facilitated and covered up the rape of children.
“Yet some parishioners still ask: ‘Why are you demonstrating? What do you want’ …
“The survivors and their supporters who have stood outside the Cathedral every Sunday for 14 years since then are committed to keeping the issue of sexual abuse of children by priests alive. By their presence, they validated the truth of what survivors were saying and made a commitment that survivors would never be alone again. What this meant to survivors needs to be heard.”
By abuse survivors and their supporters, special to Cruxnow.com — Click here to read the rest of this story. Voice of the Faithful started in 2002, shortly after The Boston Globe’s first story about clergy sexual abuse in the Boston Archdiocese and, since then, has supported survivors and provided a lay voice calling for accountability for abusers and their perpetrators and changes in Catholic Church culture and structures that abet the abuse. Visit www.votf.org to read about VOTF’s programs.
Catholic church failed to act on pedophile priests, says Melbourne archbishop / Australian Associated Press in The Guardian
The Catholic church failed to act on the ‘horror story’ of pedophiles in its midst, Melbourne archbishop Denis Hart has told the royal commission.
“‘What is now apparent to me is that there was knowledge and a failure to act,’ Hart told the child abuse royal commission.
“‘Reading the victims’ statements that I have in preparation for the commission, I have just been totally appalled by the extent and the depravity of the offenders and the suffering and ruination of lives of the survivors.’
“Hart said there had been a terrible failure by the church resulting from the passivity or inactivity of his predecessors.
“But he excluded Cardinal George Pell, the Melbourne archbishop from 1996 to 2001, from the criticism.”
By Australian Associated Press in The Guardian — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Shortly after events in the just released feature film “Spotlight” end, Voice of the Faithful was born of out of the anger and frustration of faithful Catholics at what had happened in their Church: the clergy sexual abuse of children and its coverup. Determined to remain faithful, but to address the wrongs, the movement supported abuse survivors and worked to reform Church structures that enabled the scandal.
As Boston Globe Spotlight investigative team member Sacha Pfeiffer said on ABC’s “The View,” “Certainly some Catholics felt that they couldn’t go back to the church. Others tried to change it from within. There’s a group called Voice of the Faithful. They decided to do that.”
VOTF is what happened next in the Church’s life after the movie ends in 2002, shortly after The Boston Globe published its first stories detailing abuse and coverup in the Archdiocese of Boston. VOTF’s efforts changed how the Roman Catholic Church addresses problems, as described in sociologist Tricia Bruce’s in-depth study of VOTF as an intra-institutional social movement, Faithful Revolution: How Voice of the Faithful Is Changing the Church (Oxford University Press 2011).
Several points paraphrased from Bruce’s book show how VOTF:
- Refused to let the issue of abuse and the secrecy surrounding it go unspoken.
- Spoke out through national media and publicized stories of those victimized by clergy abuse.
- Attended meetings of lay Catholic leaders to focus attention on the scandal.
- Introduced discussions about sexual abuse, power, authority, and the rights and offerings of the laity into the conversation within the Catholic Church.
- Reawakened long-dormant conversations about Vatican II.
- Helped tell the history of the scandal and influenced the Catholic Church’s responses after 2002.
- Broadened the Catholic “we” to include not just the ordained and the silent majority obedient to existing structures, but also new communities within parishes emphasizing the leadership and abilities of lay Catholics.
- Expanded the meaning of Catholic identity to contain both faithfulness and challenge to the institution, suggesting it is possible and preferable to keep the faith, but change the Church.
VOTF continues to address the problems of clerically hardened institutional structures, aiming for greater lay input into governance and for healing wounds the scandal has inflicted. Some in the Church’s hierarchy echo this message, especially in light of “Spotlight’s” story.
As one example, Archbishop Michael Jackels of Dubuque, Iowa, was recently quoted in The Boston Globe as saying that, “though failing to report or remove an offender is rare compared with the past, ‘it too still happens, and when it does, a shadow is cast on the church’s efforts to restore trust and to provide a safe environment. And so I suppose the story told by the movie (‘Spotlight’) bears repeating until all of us get all of it right.’”
Voice of the Faithful®: 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 the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.
‘Spotlight’ portrayal of sex abuse scandal is making the Catholic Church uncomfortable all over again / The Washington Post
“‘Spotlight,’ a new film about the Catholic clergy abuse scandal’s explosion in 2002, begs the question: How are things different in 2015?
“Dozens of U.S. church leaders have in the past few days been offering answers in the form of public statements, with some primarily focusing on the survivors and others casting the scandal as fully in the past and framing the church as the leader today in a society that hasn’t fully dealt with the problem.
“‘Spotlight,’ which began playing in U.S. cities Nov. 6, tells the story of Boston Globe investigative journalists who broke the story. (The Globe’s editor at the time was Marty Baron, now executive editor of The Washington Post)
“The range of views in the new statements – which follow a memo of talking points the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ sent to its dioceses in September — show the way the church still wrestles with how to tell its own story.”
By Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post — Click here to read the rest of this story.
When he visits the United States this week, Pope Francis is likely to repeat his acclaimed vow of ‘zero tolerance’ for clergy who sexually abuse minors.
“For most Americans, this will have a reassuring ring. We assume we know what the pope means — that the global Catholic Church now adheres to the same ‘one strike and you’re out’ policy that, at least in theory, has bound all US bishops since 2002.
“That rule says that clergy guilty of ‘even a single act’ of sexual abuse will be ‘removed permanently’ from ministry.
“But this isn’t what the pope is saying. The troubling fact is that zero tolerance still is not compulsory in the global Catholic Church. It exists in the United States only because of the public outrage that engulfed American bishops in 2002, following revelations that they had kept child molesters in ministry. They obtained special permission from the Vatican to adopt a tougher measure.”
By Anne Barrett Doyle, Commentary in The Boston Globe — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Bob Rich was in his 20s when he won an $850,000 settlement from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis — compensation for years of sexual abuse at the hands of the Rev. Robert Michael Thurner … As 49-year-old Rich can attest, though, the pain doesn’t end with a settlement of any amount.”
By Emma Nelson, Star Tribune — Click here to read the rest of this story.
The Catholic Church needn’t wait for a national redress scheme. It can act morally now. / The Guardian
By acting unilaterally to adequately compensate victims of sexual abuse, the Catholic church would send a powerful message …
“The Catholic church is but one of the institutions that failed to take adequate steps to prevent children from being molested and raped. The royal commission has exposed many others including the ultra-Orthodox Jewish institution, Yeshivah, the Anglican church and the Salvation Army. The case for distinguishing the Catholic church rests on at least three propositions.
“First, by virtue of its size, the scale of child sexual abuse within the Catholic church is extraordinary …
“(second) Decade after decade, the church shielded criminals within its ranks assiduously …
“Thirdly, the Catholic church ruthlessly protected its assets from victims seeking redress.”
By Josh Bornstein, Commentary in The Guardian — Click here to read the rest of this story.
A survivor of sexual abuse perpetrated by a Catholic priest hesitates to report his abuse, thinking that he will not be believed. Another survivor knows that she was not the cleric’s only victim but worries that she will be the only person to report his behavior. And many Catholics complain that their church has allowed the media and survivors’ organizations to control, and even manipulate, information in order to make all clergy seem suspect and all bishops seem insensitive.
“Would full disclosure of the names of clergy offenders help these survivors and the countless other men and women who have still not reported their abuse to come forward? Would such disclosures provide comfort to those survivors who were not believed by church officials when they reported these incidents years ago?
“For the past decade, arguments have been made for and against mandated disclosures, and there have been disclosures made and disclosures withheld. Nonetheless, the debate continues.”
By Kathleen McChesney, America — Click here to read the rest of this commentary. McChesney is a former executive director of the the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and former F.B.I. executive.
Pope Francis has created a new Vatican tribunal section to hear cases of bishops accused of failing to protect children from sexually abusive priests, the biggest step the Holy See has taken yet to hold bishops accountable.
“For years, the Vatican has been criticized by victims, advocacy groups and others for having failed to ever punish or forcibly remove a bishop who covered up for clergy who raped or molested children. In April, Francis accepted the resignation of a U.S. bishop who had been convicted of failing to report a suspected child abuser, but that wasn’t a forced removal.
“The Vatican said Wednesday (June 9) that Francis had approved proposals made by his sexual abuse advisory board. They create a mechanism by which the Vatican can receive and examine complaints of abuse of office by bishops and adjudicate them.
“A special new judicial section will be created inside the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ‘to judge bishops with regard to crimes of the abuse of office when connected to the abuse of minors,’ a Vatican statement said.”
By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press — Click here to read the rest of this story.