Posts Tagged U.S. bishops

Latest USCCB abuse audit report shows cover-up’s extent, 4,400 new allegations last year

BOSTON, Mass., Jun. 26, 2020 – The numbers tell the story. According to the USCCB’s 2020 Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, more than 4,400 allegations of Catholic clergy sexual abuse were reported over the single year ending Jun. 30, 2020, the period of the report, which was released yesterday.

The report said the actual number of child sexual abuse survivor allegations over the past year was 4,434, more than three times the 1,451 allegations in the 2017-2018 reporting period.

The numbers show like none since the 2002 revelations in the Boston Archdiocese the extent of the cover-up the Church’s hierarchy has perpetrated. This increase in allegations has brought to light thousands of concealed clergy abuse cases from victims/survivors just now coming forward as a result of recent reforms of state statutes of limitations, nationwide civil investigations prompted by the August 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report, increases in lawsuits and victim compensation plans employed by several dioceses. How many abuses will remain hidden by diocesan bankruptcies may never be known, and many victim/survivors agreeing to compensation plans will never get their day in court.

The USCCB’s National Review Board chairman, Francesco Cesareo, Ph.D., pointed out in a letter prefacing the report that activities and “a growing desire among the laity for greater involvement in addressing this issue has led many to question whether the audit is sufficiently adequate to determine if a culture of safety within dioceses has taken root.”

Equally if not more troubling is the report’s reference to current rather than historical cases. Thirty-seven 37 new abuse allegations have been made since last year. Cesareo made the magnitude of the problem perfectly clear. As much at 30 percent of dioceses have recurring difficulties pointing to a “lack of diligence that puts children’s safety at risk.”

“The current year’s Annual Report” he said, “highlights concerns also noted in previous years that speak to the issue of complacency. We continue to see the failure to publish reporting procedures in the various languages in which the liturgy is celebrated; poor recordkeeping of background checks; dysfunctional Diocesan Review Boards; lack of a formal monitoring plan for priests who have been removed from ministry; failure to update policies and procedures in light of the 2011 Charter revisions.”

And, with the Charter still not requiring parish audits, the need for continued vigilance is obvious.


Voice of the Faithful Statement, Jun. 26, 2020
Contact: 
Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org(link sends e-mail), 781-559-3360
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful’s® mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. VOTF’s goals are to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, to support priests of integrity, and to shape structural change within the Catholic Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

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Abuse allegations against former Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon ‘unequivocally credible,’ investigation finds / The Springfield Republican

The allegations that were investigated and examined are not dubious, vague or ambiguous in any essentials nor are they the product of any chimerical conception, fabrication or schematic design. The unsavory and heinous nature of the offensive behavior attributed to the late bishop is clearly shocking. (The Springfield Republican)

A retired superior court judge’s review of sexual abuse allegations against former Bishop Christopher J. Weldon, who led the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield for more than 25 years, found the accusations to be ‘unequivocally credible.’

“Meanwhile, mandatory reporters in the diocese who first heard the alleged victim’s account failed to report the matter to law enforcement officials, according to the executive summary for a 350-plus page report released Wednesday by the diocese. The report is the product of an investigation by retired Superior Court Judge Peter A. Velis, who was hired a year ago to investigate the matter.

“Velis’ report concluded ‘the allegations of the Complainant of sexual molestation committed upon him by Bishop Christopher J Weldon, both as a principal, and as a ‘coventurer’ that included anal rape, indecent assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress are unequivocally credible. The allegations that were investigated and examined are not dubious,  vague or ambiguous in any essentials nor are they the product of any chimerical conception, fabrication or schematic design. The unsavory and heinous nature of the offensive behavior attributed to the late bishop is clearly shocking.'”

By Anne-Gerard Flynn, The Springfield Republican — Read more …

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Report on sexual abuse allegations against late Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon could prove pivotal / Springfield Republican

There have been reports that those in the diocesan hierarchy with ties to (Bishop Christopher J.) Weldon — and had sexual abuse allegations made against them — destroyed files related to pedophile priests over the years. (Springfield Republican)

A soon-to-be-released report nearly a year in the making could shed light on decades of sexual abuse by clergy in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield and forever change how one of its most influential bishops is viewed.

“Last July, retired Superior Court Judge Peter A. Velis was asked by Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct made against the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon dating back to the early 1960s. The report is expected to be released before Rozanski is installed as Archbishop of St. Louis on Aug. 25.

“The findings will impact not only the alleged victim — who reiterated to Rozanski a year ago his claim that he was sexually abused as a boy by Weldon and two diocesan priests — but also questions that continue to linger around how early in time the diocesan hierarchy may have participated in, covered up and enabled clergy sexual abuse of minors. It could either encourage or discourage other alleged survivors of clergy sex abuse to continue to come forward.”

By Anne-Gerard Flynn, Springfield Republican on MassLive.com — Read more …

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Buffalo bishop resigns after scandal over secret list of abusive priests / The New York Times

“For better or worse, he (Bishop Malone) had become the lightning rod for all that was wrong, and we really weren’t going to make any progress toward healing and reconciliation as long as he remained,” said John J. Hurley, the president of Canisius College. (The New York Times)

First, a whistle-blower revealed that Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo had kept files about abusive priests that he hid from the public. Then leaked recordings showed that he was reluctant to remove a parish priest whom he called a “sick puppy.”

“On Wednesday (Dec. 4), after months of pressure from priests and lay leaders, the Vatican said in a statement that it had accepted the resignation of Bishop Malone, effective immediately. Since the Vatican did not specify the reasons behind the resignation, it was unclear whether Bishop Malone had been forced to quit.

“Bishop Malone, in a statement, described his resignation as an early retirement that had been accepted by Pope Francis. He said he had made the decision to step down ‘freely and voluntarily’ after being made aware of the conclusions of a recent Vatican investigation into the crisis in his diocese, which has been in turmoil over his handling of clergy abuse cases.

“‘I have concluded, after much prayer and discernment, that the people of Buffalo will be better served by a new bishop who perhaps is better able to bring about the reconciliation, healing and renewal that is so needed,’ he wrote.

By Sharon Otterman, The New York Times — Read more …

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Church sex abuse boards often undermine victims, help clergy / Associated Press

The AP checked all the roughly 180 dioceses in the U.S. for information, reviewed thousands of pages of church and court records and interviewed more than 75 abuse survivors, board members and others to uncover a tainted process where the church hierarchy holds the reins of power at every stage. (Associated Press)

Facing thousands of cases of clergy sex abuse, U.S. Catholic leaders addressed their greatest crisis in the modern era with a promised reform: Mandatory review boards.

“These independent panels with lay people in each diocese would review allegations fairly and kindly. And they would help bishops ensure that no abusive priests stayed in ministry.

“But almost two decades later, an Associated Press investigation of review boards across the country shows they have broadly failed to uphold these commitments. Instead, review boards appointed by bishops and operating in secrecy have routinely undermined sex abuse claims from victims, shielded accused priests and helped the church avoid payouts.

“The AP also found dozens of cases in which review boards rejected complaints from survivors, only to have them later validated by secular authorities. In a few instances, board members were themselves clergy accused of sexual misconduct. And many abuse survivors told the AP they faced hostility and humiliation from boards.”

By Reese Dunklin, Mitch Weiss and Matt Sedensky, Associated Press — Read more …

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USCCB president disinvites Bishop Bransfield from fall assembly / Catholic News Service

“The people of this diocese would be very upset and angry to think he (Bishop Bransfield) would be participating in decisions that might well affect them,” Bishop Brennan explained. (Catholic News Service)

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in consultation with the members of the USCCB Administrative Committee, has taken the highly unusual step of disinviting a fellow bishop from the conference’s fall general assembly.

“The decision affects Bishop Michael J. Bransfield, retired bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, who left his position in September 2018 under a cloud of allegations of sexual and financial misconduct. Pope Francis accepted Bishop Bransfield’s resignation Sept. 13, 2018.

“The USCCB meets Nov. 11-13 in Baltimore.

“The action comes under one section of the recently adopted “Protocol Regarding Available Non-Penal Restrictions on Bishops.”

“Bishop Mark E. Brennan, who succeeded Bishop Bransfield, said he initiated the process under the protocol soon after he was installed Aug. 22 to head the West Virginia diocese.”

By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service — Read more …

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Bridgeport Diocese report on sex abuse among priests blames former Archbishop Edward Egan; nearly 300 individuals allegedly abused by 71 priests since 1953 / Hartford Courant

The report concluded Egan was “profoundly unsympathetic, inadequate and openly inflammatory,” whose primary responsibility was “preserving the assets and reputation of the diocese” rather then the well-being of sexual abuse survivors. (Hartford Courant)

A scathing report released Tuesday (Oct. 1) by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport on the alleged sexual abuse of hundreds of victims by clergy since the early 1950s blames former bishops Edward Egan and Walter Curtis for violating state law, destroying records and either outright ignoring or inadequately responding to “an unfolding crisis.”

“As the number of priest abuse victims piled up, church leaders were more concerned about protecting assets and avoiding “scandalous news articles” than protecting children and removing priests, the report found.

“The report, compiled by former state Superior Court Judge Robert Holzberg, was particularly harsh on Egan, who went on to become Archbishop of New York. The report found 281 victims allegedly abused by 71 priests or about 5 percent of the total number of priests that have served in the diocese. More than $56 million was paid to victims in legal settlements.

“‘The priests who committed these ghastly acts engaged in criminal acts,’ Holzberg said at a Bridgeport press conference Tuesday. A total of 10 priests, including Laurence Brett, Raymond Pcolka and Martin Federici, accounted for 61 percent of the abuse cases.

By Dave Altimari and Amanda Blanco, Hartford Courant — Read more …

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Bishop’s secret list of accused priests leaves him besieged / The New York Times

Perhaps no bishop in the United States “as become as embroiled in scandal over the past year as Bishop Malone of Buffalo, one of the largest dioceses in the Northeast.” (The New York Times)

Bishop Richard J. Malone kept a secret black binder in a closet with a list of Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse. He was recorded in a conversation expressing more concern about his own reputation than about removing a priest whom he called dangerous and a “sick puppy.” And some of the bishop’s own clergy are circulating a letter of no-confidence in him.

“Numerous Catholic bishops across the United States have become involved in controversies over their handling of clergy sexual abuse. But perhaps none has become as embroiled in scandal over the past year as Bishop Malone of Buffalo, one of the largest dioceses in the Northeast.

“In an extraordinary turn of events in the hierarchical church, Bishop Malone is approaching persona non grata status in his own diocese. Some organizations are canceling events that he was set to attend, and he is declining other invitations, local Catholics said …

“But despite revelations from whistle-blowers and calls from lay leaders and priests for him to step down, Bishop Malone has declined to do so.”

By Sharon Otterman, The New York Times — Read more …

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Vatican authorizes ‘Vos Estis’ investigation into Minnesota bishop Hoeppner / Catholic News Agency in The Pilot

(Bishop Michael) Hoeppner has been accused of pressuring Ron Vasek, a former diaconal candidate in the diocese, to recant the allegation that he was molested in 1971 by a Crookston priest. (Catholic News Agency in The Pilot)

Bishop Michael Hoeppner is the first sitting U.S. bishop to be investigated under new misconduct protocols introduced by Pope Francis earlier this year.

“Hoeppner, Bishop of Crookston, Minnesota, will be investigated by Minneapolis’ Archbishop Bernard Hebda, on charges that Hoeppner thwarted a police or canonical investigation of clerical sexual misconduct in his diocese.

“‘I have been authorized by the Congregation for Bishops to commence an investigation into allegations that the Most Reverend Michael Hoeppner, the Bishop of Crookston, carried out acts or omissions intended to interfere with or avoid civil or canonical investigations of clerical sexual misconduct in the Diocese of Crookston,’ Hebda told CNA Sept. 10.

“Law enforcement has been notified of the allegations. The allegations were reported to me under the procedures set out in Pope Francis’ recent legislation addressing bishop a’ccountability, the motu proprio ‘Vos estis lux mundi.'”

By J.D. Flynn, Catholic News Agency, in The Pilot — Read more …

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Wyoming bishop’s decades of abuse destroyed lives, traumatized families / Cruxnow.com

This is part one of Crux’s three-part investigative series into Bishop Joseph Hart, who could become the first U.S. bishop to face criminal prosecution for sexual abuse. Part two will run tomorrow. (Cruxnow.com)

As parishioners attended the Feast of the Assumption Mass inside Guardian Angels Catholic Church on August 15, members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) gathered outside on the sidewalk for a press conference marking an occasion that many believed would never come.

“Less than 24 hours earlier, police in Cheyenne, Wyoming recommended to prosecutors that a one-time Guardian Angels priest, who would go on to become a beloved Catholic bishop, face criminal charges for the sexual abuse of minors.

“Prior to being named a bishop, Joseph Hart had served in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph for the first two decades of his priesthood, following ordination in 1956. Although his ecclesial career has spanned over five decades, serving in two states where he was widely popular, he has been trailed by allegations of serial abuse – which he has consistently denied – dodging both civil and canonical adjudication for more than two decades.

“Now, in the twilight of his life he not only faces criminal charges, where he could become the first U.S. bishop ever to face criminal prosecution for abuse, but also the possibility of being stripped of his title of bishop and removed from the clerical state as a church trial in the Vatican is also underway.”

By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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