Posts Tagged The Catholic Church

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.

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Catholic church fought sex abuse victim’s claims to deter others, inquiry finds / The Guardian

Cardinal George Pell and the Sydney archdiocese fought a legal claim by an abuse victim, John Ellis, to discourage others from attempting the same, the royal commission has found. It also confirmed the Catholic church repeatedly failed in its dealings with victims of child sexual abuse at the hands of clergy.

“In reports released on Wednesday (Feb. 11) the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse examined the Catholic church’s widely condemned Towards Healing program in dealing with four people, and the handling of complaints by Ellis. All matters had been examined in public hearings over the past two years.”

By Helen Davidson, The Guardian — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Women lead the Church, even as Catholics debate their role /

When Sister Donna Markham, OP, assumes leadership of Catholic Charities USA later this year, three of the Catholic Church’s largest social service groups in the United States — Catholic Charities, Catholic Relief Services, and the Catholic Health Association — will be led by women, a paradox, some say, in a Church that restricts women from the priesthood, and thus from ascending to the highest levels of institutional power.

“’When it comes to the Catholic Church and women, it is really interesting because you have the very visible and hard line: women cannot be priests. Therefore women, by virtue of being women, cannot occupy the positions of power,’ said Kathleen Sprows Cummings, director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame.”

By Michael O’Loughlin, — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Bishop Murphy’s comments on SOL reform are only latest Church salvo against abuse survivors

The Catholic Church has long sought to deny victims of clergy sexual abuse one of their only means of seeking justice—civil lawsuits. By fighting reform of state statute of limitations (SOL) laws, the Church helps prevent survivors from bringing suit against perpetrators and those who cover up the abuse.

Rockville Centre, N.Y., Diocese Bishop William Murphy’s comments in a letter to Long Island parishioners earlier this month are only the latest salvo by the Church against SOL reform.

In fact, the Catholic Church, “through its bishops and state Catholic conferences, is the most powerful institution opposing better child protection legislation in the country, bar none,” according to educator and reform advocate Sister Maureen Turlish.

Murphy’s letter, reprinted in many parish bulletins, sought to influence Catholic voters during midterm elections held Nov. 4. SOL reform was not on the New York ballot; nevertheless, Murphy took the opportunity to say The Child Victims Act, SOL reform legislation sponsored by New York State Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, “seeks to penalize only the Catholic Church for past crimes of child sex abuse.” He said the bill “must be recognized for what it is. Those who support that should be opposed by those of us who know how effectively and permanently the Church has remedied that horrific scourge of the last decade.”

SOL laws are essentially deadlines beyond which victims cannot bring civil suits and prosecutors cannot bring charges. But such suits usually are not brought for many years. Studies have shown that the memory of abuse can be suppressed even into adulthood, and as the crime is steeped in secrecy and shame, decades could pass before a victim seeks justice.

“A vast body of research indicates that the effects of childhood sexual abuse often span a lifetime. The opportunity to seek justice should last just as long,” attorney and writer Jon Wertheim concluded in a 2011 CNN column during the Penn State and Syracuse sports abuse scandals.

Actually, the Markey bill, like other SOL reform laws, does not single out the Catholic Church. The bill covers all private institutions and includes families, where most child sexual abuse occurs. The Catholic Church, however, has fought SOL reform in nearly every state where such laws have been proposed, including New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey and Delaware, even hiring lobbyists and public relations firms in some states to bolster letters to parishioners and admonitions from the pulpit.

This opposition is especially scandalous considering the Church has shielded pedophile priests from prosecution and refused to discipline bishops involved in covering up crimes.

Murphy, who was accused of shielding pedophile priests while vicar general of the Archdiocese of Boston, has been fighting the Markey bill since 2009, and called it an “annual threat” in his letter. As for how “effectively and permanently” the Church has dealt with the “horrific scourge,” Murphy is still a bishop, even though the Massachusetts attorney general reported he “placed a higher priority on preventing scandal and providing support to alleged abusers than on protecting children from sexual abuse.” Revelations of clergy sexual abuse also continue to range from Ireland to Australia, and because of suppressed memory and other factors, we may not know for years whether the Church’s present child protection policies prevent child abuse.

Proponents of such reform, such as Yeshiva University law professor Marci Hamilton, have called SOL reform “the primary front for child sex abuse victims.” She has said that, “if the statute of limitations has expired, there won’t be any justice.”

Always on the moral high ground, the Catholic Church should be first to want justice for clergy sexual abuse survivors. Justice, according to the Church’s catechism is “the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor.” Fr. James Connell, a Wisconsin canon lawyer and a founder of Catholic Whistleblowers, which attempts to expose the cover-up of abuse by Catholic Church leadership, has applied this sentiment to the clergy sexual abuse scandal. He says, “Only by living in the truth, the complete truth, can human action and speech generate justice and healing. Without truth there can be no justice and without justice, no healing.” Connell first made these remarks during the 2012 national conference of the Catholic Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful®.

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Reason to Celebrate?

By Nancy K. Janoch, Nancy Rivet, Susan Dusseau and Harry Grether
Mid-Michigan Voice of the Faithful

This year, the local Catholic organization, Mid-Michigan Voice of the Faithful® (MM VOTF), will be 10 years old. Formed in the tri-city area in 2004, this group is an affiliate of the organization that began in 2002 in Massachusetts as a response to the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. Since then, it has grown to more than 30,000 members in the United States and 21 countries. If many have never even heard of this group in the past years, some may ask how this is relevant to Catholics here in the tri-city area?

When the first people joined together for VOTF, they were shocked, hurt and upset. They saw the great injustice of the sexual abuse by clergy and the following cover-up, and they demanded that changes begin in our Church. VOTF became committed to a mission to provide a prayerful, Spirit-filled way for all Catholics to actively participate in the guidance and governance of the present-day Church. This follows Canon Law, which states that the laity “have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.” (Canon 212 §3)

The local Mid-Michigan Voice of the Faithful® continues to work to fulfill their mission statement. They offer an opportunity for all Catholics to enrich their faith and to become more involved in a meaningful way, within the framework of the Church. This is the reason MM VOTF is relevant to those in the tri-city area. Regardless of views on specific issues, this is an open and safe forum where Catholics may freely, respectfully and prayerfully discuss and learn about challenges that face our Church today. Through understanding of the important issues and by working together, good changes can take place for the future of our Church. This is a great reason to celebrate!

In this context, people believe they can embrace the VOTF goals to support the survivors of clergy sexual abuse, as well as to support priests of integrity. They also feel they can follow the goal that encourages work to shape structural change within the Catholic Church. This group finds that there is a lot to learn about their religion and what has been unfolding in this country and around the world. During monthly meetings, they began to learn more about the Church. By being grounded in prayer and through talks, readings, presentations and sharing information, they developed new understandings. Stories of individuals, clergy, educators and others, all showed a “bigger picture” of events, history and viewpoints.

The Catholic Church is a diverse group. Most individuals seek to understand their place in the Church, even if they are not aware of it. At a deeper level, they want to know God and the value of having a relationship with God. However, this also means that such a relationship requires some responsibility on their part. We, the Church, the people of God, are called to find out what duty we have and how we can open our eyes and continue to grow to remain full members of the Church. Mid-Michigan Voice of the Faithful strives to do that.

The recent closings of many area parishes are causing pain for many people here. Are their stories being heard? Who has listened to them? Is there help for them in their grief and loss, and shaken foundations?

In The New Yorker article, “Who Am I to Judge?” by James Carroll (2013, Dec. 23 &30), Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of, asks what the exploitation of children by priests has done to Catholic families? What of the broken trust between the people and the clergy? How can people work together to “heal the wounds” and to build stronger faith?

The “Religious Landscape Survey” of the “Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project” ( states that “while nearly one-in-three Americans (31%) were raised in the Catholic faith, today fewer than one-in-four (24%) describe themselves as Catholic. These losses would have been even more pronounced were it not for the offsetting impact of immigration.” This is a trend that many would like to see reversed. It will take the commitment of lay Catholics to make such a change and to restore the belief in Catholic Church.

Over the years, the idea of one’s “rights” in the Catholic Church has evolved. The sexual abuse scandal showed that people have a voice when they choose to use it. However, there is much work to be done to establish justice, inclusiveness, accountability and transparency in the leadership of the Church. It is no longer safe to assume that this will occur without the care and participation of the laity.

Father Joseph Daoust of Rome said, in another quote from James Carroll’s The New Yorker article, “Who Am I to Judge?”—“The way we practice our faith affects how we believe. How we believe affects how we practice. There’s a back and forth …”

The local Mid-Michigan Voice of the Faithful® continues to work to fulfill their mission statement. They offer an opportunity for all Catholics to enrich their faith and to become more involved in a meaningful way, within the framework of the Church. This is the reason MM VOTF is relevant to those in the tri-city area. Regardless of views on specific issues, this is an open and safe forum where Catholics may freely, respectfully and prayerfully discuss and learn about challenges that face our Church today. Through understanding of the important issues and by working together, good changes can take place for the future of our Church. This is a great reason to celebrate!

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Where Does the Buck Stop in the Catholic Church? /

You could be forgiven for not knowing where the buck stops in the Catholic Church these days. In any society, organization or Church community, it is important to know who is ultimately responsible in decision making; otherwise, chaos or worse would prevail. In an unprecedented (for a cardinal) cross examination in court last week, Cardinal George Pell of Sydney seemed confused about responsibility in the Sydney Church. He was speaking for the Archdiocese of Sydney which he led from 2001 until his transfer to a job at the Vatican, appearing before the Royal Commission into child sex abuse in institutions, including the Church’s, across Australia.” By Michael Kelly, SJ, Executive Director of — Click here to read the rest of this commentary.

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Clergy Sexual Abuse Scandal Reaches Heavily Catholic Puerto Rico / Associated Press

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.

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Deeply Disappointed in Pope Francis’ Recent Comments on Clergy Child Sex Abuse / Voice of the Faithful

We are deeply disappointed in Pope Francis’ comments on clergy sexual abuse as reported recently in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

Pope Francis said: “The Church has done so much on this road, perhaps most of all. The statistics on the phenomenon of violence against children are impressive, but they also show clearly that the vast majority of abuse occurs in the home environment and the neighborhood. The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution to have moved with transparency and accountability. No one else has done more. Yet the Church is the only one to be attacked.”

Hearing the Pope use the abuse-occurs-elsewhere excuse is truly disheartening. We hope he was referring only to the recent U.N. criticism when he made these comments because much work remains to be done. We hope that the work of his commission on clergy sexual abuse will produce true steps toward healing and reform and the fulfillment of Francis’ obvious commitment to mercy and compassion towards all the suffering in the world.

When considering clergy sexual abuse of minors within the Catholic Church, the Church surely cannot expect the claim that abuse occurs elsewhere to be taken seriously. Of course, child sexual abuse occurs in the home, in families, in the neighborhood and in other institutions. Does that excuse the Church’s failure to report such crimes and its decisions to shield the abusers, as it has done for many decades?

That the Church may have been the only institution attacked, as in the recent U.N. report, does not matter. What matters is that child sexual abuse occurs in the Catholic Church. The evidence from multiple sources over many years and from around the world is that the Catholic Church has a huge problem with clergy sexual abuse. Tens of thousands of children have been abused by thousands of clergy. Instead of being transparent about these crimes, the bishops kept the abuse secret and reported the crimes within the Church instead of to civil authorities.

Worse, the fact remains that the Vatican has never removed or censured in any way any member of the hierarchy involved in the scandal. Those who covered up crimes of clergy sex abuse remain in their positions or were allowed to retire with a dignity that was never accorded to victims. Pope Francis’ comments, made during an interview covering several subjects, seem to continue to defend the institutional Church and the hierarchy rather than to express any concern for the victims of abuse within the Church or to focus on the need for concrete steps to foster the healing of these thousands of victims.

The Vatican claims that the Catholic Church has done more than any other institution in the world with regard to child protection. Yes, the Church has put many policies and programs into place and trained tens of thousands of adults and children to recognize and act upon clergy sexual abuse. But where is the will to see these procedures through to their end? The National Review Board, established by the U.S. bishops to monitor the execution of these programs, for example, remains hampered by the way parishes and dioceses have administered the procedures and by the Church hierarchy. The board’s top administrators have borne witness to this.

In addition, the Church hierarchy, again testified by many around the world, has victimized the abused by accusing them of lying, of somehow causing their own abuse, of “tarnishing” the Church. Victims also were forced time and again to sign confidentiality statements to protect the Church. As adults, these survivors may receive apologies from the Church, but they see no attempt to discipline the bishops who cared more about the abusers than the abused and who chose to hide assets rather than help the victimized.

We are disappointed that Pope Francis, with his care for the marginalized, desire for social justice and focus on clericalism and reform of the Curia, does not see that holding bishops accountable for coverups and a full release of all secret files are essential for true reform and healing.

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 governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at

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What’s the State of the Church’s Child Abuse Crisis / PBS FRONTLINE

He (Bishop Robert Finn, convicted in 2012 of failing to inform police about a priest with child pornography on his computer) is still the bishop of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese, in good standing with the Catholic Church.

“That, say former priests and victims’ advocates, represents the state of the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church today. More than three decades after the initial reports of abuse began to emerge, critics say that many bishops, who have authority over their areas of responsibility, known as dioceses or eparchies, seem more committed to protecting the church than preventing abuse …

“It’s difficult to estimate the full scope of the abuse crisis. While allegations first surfaced in the U.S., the problem has become a global one, with widespread reports of abuse emerging in Ireland, Spain, Germany, Italy, Latin America and elsewhere.

“In the U.S. alone, 16,787 people have come forward to say that they were abused by priests as children between 1950 and 2012, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the organization for the Catholic hierarchy in the country. Those figures are incomplete. The data excludes, for unclear reasons, any people who came forward in in 2003.  The conference also counts only allegations it determined were ‘not implausible’ or ‘credible.’”

By Sarah Childress, PBS FRONTLINE — Click here to read the rest of this article.

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Australian Catholic Church Paid $43 Million to Keep Abuse Secret / The Herald Sun

The Catholic Church has admitted paying at least $43 million in hush money to victims of its pedophile priests, as the church’s barrister outraged victims yesterday (Dec. 9) by quoting from the Bible. In some cases, victims were not even allowed to tell their husbands, wives or children about the secret settlements negotiated through the church’s controversial Towards Healing process.” By Janet Fife-Yeomans, The Daily Telegraph on — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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