Archive for February, 2018

Vatican studying ways to speed up sexual abuse cases / Reuters

(Vatican spokesman Greg) Burke said that among the options discussed was to decentralize procedures by setting up regional tribunals that would hear cases under the auspices and guidance of the CDF. (Reuters)

The topic was a main point of discussion in three days of meetings between the pope and a group of nine cardinals from the around the world who gather four times a year at the Vatican to discuss reform, Church finances and other issues.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said they had discussed “various options” to shorten procedures in cases of abuse.

They are currently handled by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the Vatican’s doctrinal department.

Burke said that among the options discussed was to decentralize procedures by setting up regional tribunals that would hear cases under the auspices and guidance of the CDF.

The CDF hears canonical cases, applying Church laws that could lead to the defrocking of accused priests if found guilty. The Church procedures are distinct from criminal procedures in civilian courts in places where the crime is committed.

By Philip Pullella, Reuters — Read more …

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The shocking case that shows how far the Vatican has to go in child protection / Catholic Herald

If this were an isolated act, it would be one thing. But it suggests a culture in parts of the Church which is still not taking abuse seriously enough. (Catholic Herald)

We canon lawyers, unfortunately, spend a lot of time dealing with tragic, disturbing, sometimes appalling situations. It’s all too easy to become inured. But even among canonists who routinely deal with cases of child sexual abuse, the news that Msgr. Pietro Amenta, a senior Vatican judge, has been convicted of possessing child pornography is shocking.

“Msgr Amenta was not a minor figure: he was a prelate auditor (judge) of the Roman Rota, the Church’s final judicial court of appeal. (It does not, thank God, have jurisdiction over abuse cases.) He also appears to have been well-known to the police, having been reported for alleged obscene acts and harassment in 1991 and 2004 respectively. (He was not charged.)

“If this were an isolated act, it would be one thing. But it suggests a culture in parts of the Church which is still not taking abuse seriously enough. Even a cursory examination would have shown that Msgr. Amenta’s appointment should have at least been delayed until matters were properly investigated.”

By Ed Condon, Catholic Herald — Read more …

Also of interest — Vatican judge accused of possessing child pornography accepts plea deal, By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

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Pope revives sexual abuse commission / The New York Times

The first, three-year mandate of the commission (Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors) ended in December, and its lapsing coincided with growing criticism of the pope’s commitment to addressing sexual abuse in the church. The group plans to begin its work in April by hearing the testimony of abuse victims. (The New York Times)

After his spirited defense of a Chilean bishop accused of covering up sexual abuse prompted the greatest crisis of his pontificate, Pope Francis reactivated an abuse commission on Saturday (Feb. 17) that had lapsed into dormancy.

“It was the latest in a series of measures by the Vatican to counter criticism that fighting abuse was not a priority for Francis’ papacy.

“Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston was reappointed as the leader of the group, called the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. A Vatican statement said the panel would include some victims of clerical sexual abuse.

“‘The Holy Father has ensured continuity in the work of our commission, which is to assist local churches throughout the world in their efforts to safeguard all children, young people, and vulnerable adults from harm,’ Cardinal O’Malley said in a statement.

“The Vatican statement said the abuse victims on the commission preferred to keep their histories private.”

By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times — Read more …

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Pope Francis says he meets almost weekly with abuse victims / National Catholic Reporter

“The process they (clergy abuse survivors) go through is very tough,” said the pope. “They are left annihilated. Annihilated!” (National Catholic Reporter)

Pope Francis revealed in a meeting with confreres of his Jesuit order last month that he meets with survivors of sexual abuse on a nearly weekly basis, according to a newly released transcript of the encounter.

“In a Jan. 19 question and answer session during his visit to Peru, the text of which was published for the first time Feb. 15 by Italian Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica, the pope said the Catholic Church must hear from those who have been abused by clergy.

“‘We need to listen to what someone who has been abused feels,’ Francis told the Jesuits, according to the transcript, and continued: ‘On Fridays — sometimes this is known and sometimes it is not known — I normally meet some of them.’

“‘The process they go through is very tough,’ said the pope. ‘They are left annihilated. Annihilated!'”

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

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Pope Francis’ failure to address abuse allegations jeopardizes his papacy / Time magazine

In the Catholic tradition, the Pope is the Vicar of Jesus Christ. In other words, he acts and ministers in his name. If that’s the case, then Francis must end this scandal now. He must apologize to the victims. He must investigate the claims. And he must transform the Church. (Time magazine)

This week (Feb. 6) it came to light that Pope Francis received an eight-page letter from a Chilean man in 2015 that detailed how a priest sexually abused him, and how other priests ignored and concealed the crime, including then-Father Juan Barros, a man Francis had just months earlier appointed to be the bishop of Osorno, Chile.

“This revelation comes weeks after Pope Francis called accusations against Bishop Barros ‘calumny’ and said he had received no credible evidence that Barros had covered up abuse. Francis eventually walked back his claims of calumny and sent a Vatican special prosecutor to Chile to investigate the claims of coverup. But the fact that Francis received the letter from Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, one of the Church’s top-ranking officials, and either did not read the letter or did not act on it, is a stunning development that represents the biggest crisis of Francis’s nearly five year papacy …

“… I can say with conviction that if Francis doesn’t transform his focus and practice on ending the systematic cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, his papacy will be a tragic failure. Sadly, his record on this issue is worse than his immediate predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who despite his many shortcomings on the issue, was the first pope to take the cover-up scandal seriously.

By Christopher Hale, Time magazine — Read more …

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2015 letter belies pope’s claim of ignorance / Associated Press

“When we gave him (Cardinal Sean O’Malley) the letter for the pope, he assured us he would give it to the pope and speak of the concerns,” then-commission member Marie Collins told the AP. “And at a later date, he assured us that that had been done.” (Associated Press)

Pope Francis received a victim’s letter in 2015 that graphically detailed how a priest sexually abused him and how other Chilean clergy ignored it, contradicting the pope’s recent insistence that no victims had come forward to denounce the cover-up, the letter’s author and members of Francis’ own sex- abuse commission have told The Associated Press.

The fact that Francis received the eight-page letter, obtained by the AP, challenges his insistence that he has ‘zero tolerance’ for sex abuse and cover-ups. It also calls into question his stated empathy with abuse survivors, compounding the most serious crisis of his five-year papacy.

“The scandal exploded last month when Francis’ trip to South America was marred by protests over his vigorous defense of Bishop Juan Barros, who is accused by victims of witnessing and ignoring the abuse by the Rev. Fernando Karadima. During the trip, Francis callously dismissed accusations against Barros as ‘slander,’ seemingly unaware that victims had placed Barros at the scene of Karadima’s crimes.

“On the plane home, confronted by an AP reporter, the pope said: ‘You, in all good will, tell me that there are victims, but I haven’t seen any, because they haven’t come forward.'”

By Nicole Winfield and Eva Vergara, Associated Press — Read more …

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Are these 66 Catholic schools, parishes ignoring rules meant to stop sex abuse?

“People don’t care about this until it happens to them, until something happens to their child,” the employee said. (New Jersey Advance Media)

More than six dozen parishes and schools in the Archdiocese of Newark may be out of compliance with a policy meant to protect children from sexual abuse, documents obtained by NJ Advance Media show.

“Sixteen years ago, after the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops passed the historic Dallas charter meant to address the allegations of sexual misconduct in the church, dioceses across the U.S. were required to implement background checks and training for all staffers and volunteers working with children.

“As part of that policy and in order to sustain accountability, parishes and schools were required to submit annual reports to the diocese listing the workers who had completed the screening and training and those who had not.

“Documents obtained by NJ Advance Media show that in the Newark archdiocese, 24 percent of the parishes in 2017 did not submit a compliance report. That means 53 parishes could be fielding teachers, volunteers and other workers who may not have passed a background check, said an employee within the archdiocese.

By Erin Banco, New Jersey Advance Media for NJ.com — Read more …

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