Vatican abuse commission member responds to leave of absence controversy / National Catholic Reporter

As a survivor of child clerical sexual abuse I spent many years silent, then many years speaking out to expose the way the Catholic Church had protected itself and abandoned children to the abusers in its midst. The anger I felt at the continuing reluctance by many Church leaders to report the perpetrators, to cooperate with civil authorities, to treat survivors with justice was overwhelming.

Then came the Pope’s decision in 2013 to set up the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and my own appointment to that body. This Commission was being put in place to work on devising policy and structural change which could be recommended to the Pope to improve child protection in the future and ensure that all church leaders would implement these policies.

I had to decide if there was any hope that this Commission, through its advice to the Pope, would bring about permanent change within the universal Church or would it be a wasted effort, just a PR exercise. In the end I decided that if there was any hope at all, of protecting children in the future better than in the past, then I should take part.

By Marie Collins, member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, in National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this statement.

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Priest abuse victim is suspended from Vatican panel / The New York Times

A high-profile Vatican commission on the prevention of child sexual abuse voted on Saturday (Feb. 6) to temporarily suspend one of its members, an outspoken victim of clerical abuse who accused the church of failing to deliver on its promises of reform and accountability.

“But the suspended member, Peter Saunders, said at a news conference in Rome on Saturday (Feb. 6) that he would stand his ground. ‘I have not left, and am not leaving my position on the commission,’ Mr. Saunders said. ‘I was appointed by His Holiness Pope Francis, and I will talk only with him about my position.’

“The public blowup could undermine confidence in the pope’s efforts to rebuild the Roman Catholic Church’s credibility on the child abuse issue. When the 17-member commission was created by Francis in his first year as pope, many victims and their advocates hoped that the presence on the panel of Mr. Saunders and another victim would spur the commission to act forcefully. But Mr. Saunders, who founded the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, in England, has complained that the commission has failed to produce tangible results.”

By Elisabetta Povoledo and Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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The movie ‘Spotlight’ and the Church’s need for outsiders / Association of Catholics in Ireland

Warned by media and friends to compare the movie Spotlight with the 1976 classic All the President’s Men I am now intensely grateful for that misdirection. It meant that Spotlight was a complete surprise, and a stunning reminder of the Catholicism that for most of my own lifetime did not want to look closely at clerical sexual abuse of children …

“So far none of the reviews of Spotlight that I have read have noticed that at every level this 2015 movie not only overturns the Hollywood clichés of All the President’s Men, it defies the Hollywood star-as-hero convention also, and obliges us – if we are paying close attention – to re-examine all of our own assumptions about heroes and villains and the triumph of good over evil. Those who find the 1976 movie superior need to think again.

“To start with, few will come out of Spotlight remembering the individual names of the team who finally exposed the scale of concealment of clerical child sex abuse in Boston. The reason is the superior understanding on the part of writers, director and cast of the haphazard nature of ‘heroism’ – and of the even more important fact that no one is always a hero, or always necessarily a villain either.”

By Sean O’Conaill, Association of Catholics in Ireland — Click here to read the rest of this review. Sean O’Conaill also is a member of Voice of the Faithful in Ireland.

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We’re survivors of clergy sexual abuse and their supporters. What do we want? / Cruxnow.com

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.comClick 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.

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Former diocesan leader alleges Muller thwarted investigation of choir boy abuse / National Catholic Reporter

A former chairman of the lay diocesan council in Regensburg, Germany, has alleged that Vatican Cardinal Gerhard Müller ‘systematically’ prevented the investigation of abuse in Germany’s famous ‘Regensburger Domspatzen’ boys’ choir during his time as Bishop of Regensburg.

“The allegations against Müller, who is now the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, coincided with 60 further alleged abuse victims coming forward since Ulrich Weber, an independent lawyer, published an interim report in January which showed that three times as many boys had been abused between 1953 and 1992 than reported by the diocese.”

By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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From the collection basket to the bank: Lax practices mean lost money / National Catholic Reporter

Sin and the Trinity.

“These are two elementary points of Catholic theology in the work of Michael W. Ryan, a retired U.S. Postal security specialist, who has spent more than two decades alerting church authorities to fixing accounting lapses in parish collections.

“First, sin.

“Ryan has focused since 1988 on what he calls the point ‘between the collection basket and the bank deposit.’ The resident of Milton, Mass., worked for the postal service in security, and knew from first-hand experience that, even with top-of-the-line procedures in place, there will be at least some postal employees tempted to embezzle.

“‘It only takes a second to scoop up a bunch of twenties,’ warns Ryan.

“There are parallels between the neighborhood post office and the local Catholic church. Both deal in cash payments. Both involve people with access to cash. But, says Ryan, ‘there is much more control over a postal clerk.’

“Ryan notes that there are people who will steal from the collection basket.”

By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story. Michael Ryan is a Voice of the Faithful® trustee. Click here to read about VOTF’s extensive work on financial accountability and transparency in Catholic parishes and dioceses.

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Archbishop controversy shows blind spots remain in Catholic hierarchy / MLive.com

What were they thinking?

“Did the officials in Catholic Diocese of Kalamazoo really see it as no big deal to bring in John Nienstedt, the former St. Paul and Minneapolis archbishop, as a visiting priest at St. Philip parish in Battle Creek?

“They truly didn’t anticipate this would blow up into a big controversy, one likely to end badly?

“Nobody considered whether this would underscore — once again — the inexplicable obtuseness of Church officials in regards to issues around clergy sex abuse?”

By Julie Mack, MLive.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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