Posts Tagged U.S. bishops

What do the Church’s victims deserve? / The New Yorker

The Catholic Church is turning to outside arbiters to reckon with its history of sexual abuse. But skeptics argue that its legacy of evasion continues. (the New Yorker)

Like many Catholics, I wonder whether this story will ever be over and whether things will ever be set right.

“Often called a crisis, the problem is more enduring and more comprehensive than that. Social scientists report that the gravest period of priestly sexual abuse was the sixties and seventies, and the problem has been in public view for the past three and a half decades. For most American Catholics, then, the fact of sexual abuse by priests and its coverup by bishops has long been an everyday reality.

“Priestly sexual abuse has directly harmed thousands of Catholics, spoiling their sense of sexuality, of intimacy, of trust, of faith. Indirectly, the pattern of abuse and coverup has made Catholics leery of priests and disdainful of the idea that the bishops are our ‘shepherds.’ It has muddled questions about Church doctrine concerning sexual orientation, the nature of the priesthood, and the role of women; it has hastened the decline of Catholic schooling and the shuttering of churches.

“Attorneys general in more than a dozen states are investigating the Church and its handling of sexual-abuse allegations. In February, New York State loosened its statute of limitations for sex crimes, long the Church’s bulwark against abuse claims. And that is just in the United States. Priestly sexual abuse has had grave effects around the world, including in Rome, where the three most recent Popes have been implicated in the institutional habits of concealment or inaction, and where Pope Francis has yet to find his voice on the problem …

“In all of this, a distinctly American solution to the problem has emerged—the commissioning of an independent, secular authority to arrange settlements between the Church and survivors of abuse. This strategy has been taken up by an unlikely advocate: Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, and a traditionalist who generally relishes defending the Church against its adversaries.”

By Paul Elie, The New Yorker — Read more …

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Despite denials, D.C. Cardinal Donald Wuerl knew of sexual misconduct allegations against Theodore McCarrick and reported them to Vatican / The Washington Post

McCarrick’s case is reportedly about to be decided in one of the highest-profile clergy sex abuse trial processes to come before Rome. (The Washington Post)

Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl knew of sexual misconduct allegations against ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick and reported them to the Vatican in 2004, church officials confirmed Thursday evening, despite portraying himself since last summer as unaware of any complaints surrounding McCarrick.

“Robert Ciolek, a former priest who reached a settlement with the church in 2005 after accusing clerics including McCarrick, told The Post he recently learned that the Pittsburgh Diocese has a file that shows that Wuerl was aware of his allegations against McCarrick. The file includes documentation that Wuerl, who was bishop of Pittsburgh at the time, shared the information with then-Vatican ambassador Gabriel Montalvo.

“The content of the document, which Ciolek told The Post he saw in December, clashes sharply with Wuerl’s public statements about McCarrick since the older cleric was suspended in June due to a complaint that he groped an altar boy decades ago.

“The explosive allegations against McCarrick, which include two other accusations of abusing minors as well as those of harassment of seminarians, tipped off a full-blown crisis in the Catholic Church in the United States. All along, Wuerl has largely rejected charges that he played a role in it.”

By Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post — Read more …

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Vatican appears likely to empower archbishops on abuse claims against bishops / National Catholic Reporter

The possibility of empowering archbishops to investigate allegations made in their provinces was raised at the annual meeting of the bishops’ conference in November, when the prelates were considering a number of proposals to respond to this year’s spate of revelations of clergy sexual abuse. (National Catholic Reporter)

One of the proposals made at last month’s meeting of U.S. Catholic bishops for investigating future allegations of misconduct by prelates appears likely to receive Vatican approval, according to several eminent canon lawyers and theologians.

“The suggestion to empower the nation’s metropolitan archbishops to examine accusations made against bishops in their regions of the country corresponds both with the way the church handled such issues in earlier centuries and the current Code of Canon Law, they say.

“Nicholas Cafardi, a respected civil and canon lawyer, noted that the current version of the code already says the Vatican can give archbishops ‘special functions and power’ in their regions ‘where circumstances demand it.’

“‘This function could be to receive and investigate accusations of sexual impropriety … and then to report to the Holy See on the results,’ said Cafardi, who has advised bishops and dioceses on canonical issues for decades.”

By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Investigators raid offices of president of U.S. Catholic Bishops / The New York Times

The scene outside the archdiocesan offices in Houston on Wednesday (Nov. 28) morning was extraordinary, with police cars lined up on the street and about 50 uniformed officers headed inside, some carrying boxes to hold evidence. (The New York Times)

“Dozens of local and federal law enforcement officers conducted a surprise search of the offices of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston on Wednesday (Nov. 28), looking for evidence in a clergy sexual abuse case that has ensnared the local archbishop, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, who also serves as president of the United States Catholic bishops’ conference.

“The raid in Houston is the latest sign of crisis in the church, with prosecutors growing more aggressive in their search for cover-ups of abuse, and the bishops — led by Cardinal DiNardo — hamstrung by the Vatican in their efforts to carry out reforms.

“The church is under a barrage of investigations around the country. Attorneys general in at least a dozen states have opened inquiries, and the Justice Department has told bishops not to destroy any documents that could relate to sex abuse cases. Last month, the attorney general in Michigan executed search warrants on all seven Catholic dioceses in that state.”

By Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times — Read more …

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U.S. bishops must lead in accountability for clergy abuse / Voice of the Faithful

BOSTON, Mass., Nov. 13, 2018 – Voice of the Faithful believes the U.S. Catholic bishops must take the lead in accountability for clergy abuse regardless of direction coming from the Vatican as the bishops meet in Baltimore this week.

The Vatican has told the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops not to vote on measures they have proposed recently regarding clergy sexual abuse of children and its coverup. Voice of the Faithful would like bishops to do what is morally right rather than hide behind Vatican directives.

Clergy sexual abuse of minors and its coverup is morally reprehensible, and VOTF and others have repeatedly listed what bishops can do, none of which require Vatican approval and most of which have been done by at least one bishop. For example, bishops can:

  • list publicly all abusers in a diocese and open secret files;
  • report every case of clergy abuse to civil authorities regardless of the diocese’s estimation of credibility;
  • cooperate with civil investigations;
  • resign if guilty of abuse or coverup and hold the guilty within diocesan administration accountable;
  • investigate the extent of abuse and coverup in their dioceses and hold perpetrators and abettors accountable; or
  • remove honorifics awarded previous prelates or diocesan administrators credibly accused of abuse or coverup.

“Bishops also must lead the battle against clericalism, which has led to secrecy and coverup of clergy abuse and resulted in such profound mistrust from the laity,” said Mary Pat Fox, VOTF president. “Regaining the trust of the laity will be difficult at best and will not happen without greater transparency and lay leadership, including involvement in the Pope’s meeting of bishops’ conferences in February. It’s clear from the fact that investigations have been launched by attorneys general in 17 states and the District of Columbia that the Dallas Charter did not go far enough to ensure accountability for the coverup or the protection of children.”

If U.S. bishops implemented practical activities like those mentioned and discussed additional, stronger measures at their meeting, submitting them to the Vatican regardless of its response, their status in the eyes of the faithful would rise measurably. The longer the bishops delay in dealing with the immorality of this crisis, the greater their loss of what little moral credibility they have left.


Voice of the Faithful Statement, Nov. 13, 2018
Contact: 
Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org(link sends e-mail), 781-559-3360
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.

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Vatican’s delay of US bishops’ abuse measures leaves even some prelates confused / National Catholic Reporter

The prelates had been set to vote Nov. 14 on two specific proposals: a new code of conduct for bishops and creation of a “special commission” to review complaints made against bishops. (National Catholic Reporter)

A surprise Vatican request that the annual gathering of U.S. Catholic bishops delay planned votes on proposals to address clergy sexual abuse has evoked outcry, even leaving some of the prelates at the meeting confused.

“Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the bishops’ conference, announced the request at the opening of the gathering Nov. 12. He told the some 250 prelates taking part that he was ‘disappointed’ but said the Vatican asked for the delay because of Pope Francis’ upcoming February summit on child protection with the heads of all the global conferences.

“The U.S. bishops are facing intense scrutiny over their handling of abuse allegations after revelations this year about the conduct of now ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick and the release of the shocking Pennsylvania grand jury report.

“The prelates had been set to vote Nov. 14 on two specific proposals: a new code of conduct for bishops and creation of a ‘special commission’ to review complaints made against bishops.”

By Joshua J. McElwee and Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Open Letter to U.S. Catholic Bishops: It’s Over / National Catholic Reporter

As a class of religious rulers, the loudest among you have become quite good at applying the law and claiming divine authority in marginalizing those who transgress the statutes. The prolonged abuse scandal would suggest, however, that you’ve not done very well taking stock of yourselves. (National Catholic Reporter)

Dear brothers in Christ, shepherds, fellow pilgrims,

“We address you as you approach this year’s national meeting in Baltimore because we know there is nowhere left to hide.

“It’s over.

“All the manipulations and contortions of the past 33 years, all the attempts to deflect and equivocate — all of it has brought the church, but especially you, to this moment.

“It’s over.

“Even the feds are now on the trail. They’ve ordered that you not destroy any documents. The Department of Justice is conducting a national criminal investigation of how you’ve handled the clergy sex abuse scandal. It is a point in our history without precedent. We want you to know that you aren’t alone in this moment, you’ve not been abandoned. But this time it must be different. This time it won’t be easy.

“From fable to sacred text, we know how this goes. The point is reached where all realize the king wears no clothes, the righteous accusers read the writing in the sand and fade away, the religious authorities receive the Master’s most stinging rebukes. As a class of religious rulers, the loudest among you have become quite good at applying the law and claiming divine authority in marginalizing those who transgress the statutes. The prolonged abuse scandal would suggest, however, that you’ve not done very well taking stock of yourselves.”

By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff — Read more …

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