Posts Tagged Vatican bishops’ summit on clergy abuse
One line in particular from (Cardinal Blase) Cupich (of Chicago) stood out: his claim that the “structural elements” of reform would not be enough unless “we anchor all our deliberations in the piercing pain of those who have been abused and of the families who have suffered with them.” (Commonweal)
In the lead-up to last month’s four-day Vatican summit on the sexual abuse of minors, organizers made a concerted effort to lower expectations. A crisis decades in the making, the full scope of which is still coming into view, would not be solved in one meeting, they insisted. There would be no sweeping policy changes from on high, no declaration from Pope Francis that definitively addressed every concern about how the church handles sexual abuse, no “closure.” But even if such a gathering was never intended to do everything, it’s still fair to ask whether it did enough.
“The unsatisfying answer is that no one knows—yet.
“The effectiveness of the summit may only be revealed in the weeks, months, and perhaps years ahead, after the bishops have returned home and continue—or in some cases, start—the work of responding to, and safeguarding against, sexual abuse. It’s an approach in line with what Francis once described as a “healthy decentralization,” recognizing that bishops in different parts of the world might need to develop different strategies, perhaps above all when it comes to how the church relates to civil authorities. But this shouldn’t be mistaken for a lackadaisical, “hands-off” approach. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will provide the bishops with a handbook that clearly lays out their responsibilities for dealing with accusations of abuse—and, as Austen Ivereigh points out, the 2016 motu propio “As a Loving Mother” makes it clear they’ll be removed if they fail. It was also announced at the summit that special task forces would be created to offer bishops additional support. And there were proposals for how the bishops themselves, along with religious superiors, should be held accountable. Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich offered a framework, rooted in synodality, for discussion and discernment about such reforms.”
By The Editors at Commonweal — Read more …
New report addresses church’s ‘twin crises’ of sex abuse, leadership failure / National Catholic Reporter
The report comes five days after the conclusion of the global summit on sexual abuse Pope Francis held at the Vatican and a month after Leadership Roundtable hosted its own two-day meeting on the clergy sexual abuse crisis. (National Catholic Reporter)
Just days after the close of the Vatican abuse summit, a prominent U.S. Catholic group has released wide-ranging recommendations to address what it calls the ‘twin crises’ of sexual abuse and leadership failures in the church.
“The recommendations were part of a report Friday (Mar. 1) from the Leadership Roundtable, a coalition of laity, religious and clergy to promote best practices in church management. The proposals are aimed simultaneously at reforming the structures and the clerical culture that permitted sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults to persist and go unreported for decades.
“Among the report’s more than 50 recommendations is to place bishops under the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, also known as the Dallas Charter, and strengthen its audit process, as well as …”
By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
BOSTON, Mass., Feb. 27, 2019 – Ever since Catholic clergy crimes of sex abuse became widely known, the Catholic faithful have waited for accountability and healing. Voice of the Faithful is among them; this time waiting for concrete action on clergy sex abuse after bishops from around the world recently concluded a four-day summit at the Vatican to address this festering issue.
A general conclusion is that the summit at least made Church hierarchy in the rest of the world as aware of the seriousness of clergy abuse as the hierarchy in the United States – and in other countries that have long been aware of the abuse and its cover-up. Based on the Pope’s concluding speech, however, the hierarchy has yet to shift its thinking about clergy abuse from sin and forgiveness to crime and punishment. The message from the hierarchy continues to be, “this is intolerable, but …”
Summit participants talked about transparency, responsibility, and accountability. We would like to have seen at least one concrete move to attack the clerical culture at the core of the scandal that was equal to the summit’s rhetoric—one concrete move that would have overcome what summit presenter Sister Veronica Openibo, S.H.C.J., called the hierarchy’s “mediocrity, hypocrisy, complacency.” Of Sister Openibo’s presentation, VOTF trustee Margaret Roylance said, “The bishops had to sit there silent and listen to her—no denials, explanations or blaming others.”
Prior to the summit, there were expectations that the Church might at last achieve true transparency, responsibility and accountability. Then the backpedaling began: maybe expectations were too high; perhaps the summit was just the first step in a global response; its aim was to educate those who still believed this was an American problem, or a gay priest problem, or all in the past, rather than produce immediate corrections.
In one respect, new transparency did take a bow. The Vatican live-streamed all the main presentations; they invited survivors to speak first; and they listened to frank, unadorned descriptions of abuse and misuse of power. In another instance, German Cardinal Reinhardt Marx admitted that the Church had destroyed documents about abuse cases. In yet another, a Vatican spokesperson told the media that the Church does have secret protocols for priests who father children. Perhaps most astonishing for the bishops was hearing in a worldwide forum testimony from survivors of abuse that priests had ordered survivors to have abortions—a claim long whispered within the Church but never openly acknowledged.
Despite these efforts, by the conclusion of the summit, we heard little about steps that would address the crimes of abuse and cover-up. Primary results thus far seem to be a promise that the Vatican will distribute a rulebook to bishops worldwide explaining their juridical and pastoral duties and responsibilities with regard to protecting children. Also promised was a meeting among Vatican summit organizers and Vatican curia to discuss, “What next.” We suggest starting instead with removing from their positions all bishops who participated in cover-ups or molested others.
The Pope in his concluding remarks hit on two issues he cited as being at the root of the problem. One was evil at work and the other the “plague of clericalism, fertile ground for all of these disgraces.” “However, the issue seems still to be recognizing that evil and doing something about clericalism,” said Mary Pat Fox, Voice of the Faithful president. “We all want to believe people we know and trust are good, but in reality that is not always the case, and the Church and the Pope need to get better at recognizing and battling the evil in front of them – the bishops who have moved and protected abusive priests. Yes, the priests who perpetrated these crimes are sick and need to face justice, but the criminals who made this crisis bigger are the bishops who exposed children to already credibly accused priests.”
Eventually, to rebuild trust, the Church must take these steps if it hopes to regain credibility and begin healing the wounds it has inflicted on victims and all members of our global faith community. Much more will be required as well, but that’s the obvious and immediate need.
Anyone who would like to read in detail about the Vatican bishops’ summit on clergy abuse, “The Protection of Minors in the Church,” and listen to presentations and news conferences can visit the Vatican’s website on the meeting, http://www.pbc2019.org.
Voice of the Faithful Statement, Feb. 27, 2019
Contact: Nick Ingala, firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
Cardinal admits to Vatican summit that Catholic Church destroyed abuse files / National Catholic Reporter
Marx’s admission to the church’s destruction of files may have special significance in his native Germany, where an exhaustive September 2018 report on abuse in the country detailed cases involving 3,677 children but said files in at least two dioceses had been changed or destroyed. (National Catholic Reporter)
A top cardinal has admitted that the global Catholic Church destroyed files to prevent documentation of decades of sexual abuse of children, telling the prelates attending Pope Francis’ clergy abuse summit Feb. 23 that such maladministration led ‘in no small measure’ to more children being harmed.
“In a frank speech to the 190 cardinals, bishops and heads of religious orders taking part in the four-day summit, German Cardinal Reinhard Marx said the church’s administration had left victims’ rights ‘trampled underfoot’ and ‘made it impossible’ for the worldwide institution to fulfill its mission.
“‘Files that could have documented the terrible deeds and named those responsible were destroyed, or not even created,’ said Marx, beginning a list of a number of practices that survivors have documented for years but church officials have long kept under secret.
“‘Instead of the perpetrators, the victims were regulated and silence imposed on them,’ the cardinal continued. ‘The stipulated procedures and processes for the prosecution of offences were deliberately not complied with, but instead cancelled or overridden.'”
By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
Pope vows to end cover-ups, fight sex abuse with ‘wrath of God’ / Associated Press in The Boston Globe
But he (Pope Francis) said the sexual abuse of children becomes even more scandalous when it occurs in the Catholic Church, ‘‘for it is utterly incompatible with her moral authority and ethical credibility.’’ (Associated Press in The Boston Globe)
Pope Francis closed out his summit on preventing clergy sex abuse by vowing Sunday to confront abusers with ‘the wrath of God,’ end the cover-ups by their superiors and prioritize the victims of this ‘brazen, aggressive and destructive evil.’
“Francis delivered his remarks at the end of Mass before 190 Catholic bishops and religious superiors who were summoned to Rome after more abuse scandals sparked a credibility crisis in the Catholic hierarchy and in Francis’ own leadership.
“The Jesuit pope noted that the vast majority of sexual abuse happens in the family. And he offered a global review of the broader societal problem of sexual tourism and online pornography, in a bid to contextualize what he said was once a taboo subject.
“But he said the sexual abuse of children becomes even more scandalous when it occurs in the Catholic Church, ‘for it is utterly incompatible with her moral authority and ethical credibility.'”
“No bishop may say to himself, ‘This problem of abuse in the church does not concern me, because things are different in my part of the world,’” (The Boston Globe)
The unprecedented summit on clerical sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has yet to produce major concrete reforms, but, over the past three days, at least one clear message has emerged: No church official, no matter where he comes from, should return thinking this isn’t a problem back home.
“From the beginning of the scandals, there has been a persistent undercurrent of resistance to a major churchwide reckoning from leaders in locations where the crisis has yet to erupt, both in traditional centers of Catholic power, such as Italy, and in newer ones, such as Africa. Those church leaders have often referred to clerical abuse as largely an ‘American,’ or an ‘Anglo-Saxon’ or ‘Western’ problem.
“But that mentality was challenged head-on during the summit.”
By John L. Allen, Jr., The Boston Globe — Read more …
On the opening day, Feb. 21, of the Vatican’s bishops’ summit on clergy sexual abuse and protection of children in the Church, Pope Francis presented 21 ‘reflection points.’ “They are a road map for our discussion,” Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s leading sex crimes investigator, said at a news conference, according to The New York Times. The reflection points were written by various commissions and episcopal conferences. They are:
1.) To prepare a practical handbook indicating the steps to be taken by authorities at key moments when a case emerges.
2.) To equip oneself with listening structures that include trained and expert people who can initially discern the cases of the alleged victims.
3.) Establish the criteria for the direct involvement of the Bishop or of the Religious Superior.
4.) Implement shared procedures for the examination of the charges, the protection of the victims and the right of defense of the accused.
5.) Inform the civil authorities and the higher ecclesiastical authorities in compliance with civil and canonical norms.
6.) Make a periodic review of protocols and norms to safeguard a protected environment for minors in all pastoral structures: protocols and norms based on the integrated principles of justice and charity so that the action of the Church in this matter is in conformity with her mission.
7.) Establish specific protocols for handling accusations against Bishops.
8.) Accompany, protect and treat victims, offering them all the necessary support for a complete recovery.
9.) Increase awareness of the causes and consequences of sexual abuse through ongoing formation initiatives of Bishops, Religious Superiors, clerics and pastoral workers.
10.) Prepare pathways of pastoral care for communities injured by abuses and penitential and recovery routes for the perpetrators.
11.) To consolidate the collaboration with all people of good will and with the operators of mass media in order to recognize and discern real cases from false ones and accusations of slander, avoiding rancor and insinuations, rumors and defamation (cf. Pope Francis’ address to the Roman Curia, 21 December 2018).
12.) To raise the minimum age for marriage to sixteen years.
13.) Establish provisions that regulate and facilitate the participation of lay experts in investigations and in the different degrees of judgment of canonical processes concerning sexual and / or power abuse.
14.) The right to defense: the principle of natural and canon law of presumption of innocence must also be safeguarded until the guilt of the accused is proven. Therefore, it is necessary to prevent the lists of the accused being published, even by the dioceses, before the preliminary investigation and the definitive condemnation.
15.) Observe the traditional principle of proportionality of punishment with respect to the crime committed. To decide that priests and bishops guilty of sexual abuse of minors leave the public ministry.
16.) Introduce rules concerning seminarians and candidates for the priesthood or religious life. Be sure that there are programs of initial and ongoing formation to help them develop their human, spiritual and psychosexual maturity, as well as their interpersonal relationships and their behavior.
17.) Be sure to have psychological evaluations by qualified and accredited experts for candidates for the priesthood and consecrated life.
18.) Establish norms governing the transfer of a seminarian or religious aspirant from one seminary to another; as well as a priest or religious from one diocese or congregation to another.
19.) Formulate mandatory codes of conduct for all clerics, religious, service personnel and volunteers to outline appropriate boundaries in personal relationships. Be specific about the necessary requirements for staff and volunteers and check their criminal record.
20.) Explain all information and data on the dangers of abuse and its effects, how to recognize signs of abuse and how to report suspected sexual abuse. All this must take place in collaboration with parents, teachers, professionals and civil authorities.
21.) Where it has not yet been in place, establish a group easily accessible for victims who want to report any crimes. Such an organization should have a certain autonomy with respect to the local ecclesiastical authority and include expert persons (clerics and laity) who know how to express the Church’s attention to those who have been offended by improper attitudes on the part of clerics.