Archive for September, 2018

Bishops’ plan to addrress abuse falls short on accountability / National Catholic Reporter

The U.S. church should invite a Vatican-appointed apostolic visitation team, assisted by competent lay experts, to review all documents at all levels of the church, to take testimony in parishes and chanceries, and to visit every seminary and formation house in the country. (National Catholic Reporter)

After a horrible summer of depressing news about how the church hierarchy has mishandled the sexual abuse crisis and misled the faithful willfully and through neglect, expectations were high for the action plan the leadership of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops promised to deliver this fall. The four points outlined are, for the most part, good beginnings.

“Given the intensity of feelings on this subject, probably no plan could satisfy Catholics in pews, but even with that caveat, we had hoped the plan would be stronger and more specific than what was delivered.

“1. A confidential, third-party reporting system will be created to receive complaints of sexual misconduct and abuse by bishops toward minors or adults and “will direct those complaints to the appropriate ecclesiastical authority and, as required by applicable law, to civil authorities.”

“This appears to be a rather straightforward proposal, and it is especially important to include the requirement of reporting to civil authorities. Unclear, however, is “the appropriate ecclesiastical authority.” Who is that authority, and where is that office housed? The tribunal Pope Francis authorized in 2015 to hear such cases would fill this need, but it was never implemented …”

By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff — Read more …

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For real change, we must get at four roots deeper than church structures / National Catholic Reporter

There must be repentance. There must be accountability. There must be reform. Good. And that looks like what? (Joan Chittister in National Catholic Reporter)

In the midst of the angst that has accompanied the revelation of unparalleled amounts of sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church, the cry for reform gets louder by the day.

“For some, it’s a call for the elimination of celibacy as an unnatural and therefore impossible way of life. For others, it’s about barring homosexuals from the priesthood, as if homosexuality was in essence a model of immorality rather than simply another state of nature — just like heterosexuality with its own immoral aberrations. For many, it’s about a lack of psychosocial development in seminaries; for others, it’s about the liberalization of the church since the Second Vatican Council, no matter that the bulk of assaults happened, apparently, before the end of the council.

“Indeed, there are as many explanations for this crisis in morals, spirituality, church and trust as there are people, dioceses, parents, priests, lawyers, whomever. But there is one element on which everyone seems to agree: There must be repentance. There must be accountability. There must be reform.

“Good. And that looks like what?”

By Joan Chittister, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Over half of Dutch bishops shielded priest-abusers, according to report / Cruxnow.com

The Dutch report is just the latest in a series of abuse scandals to hit the Church this year. (Cruxnow.com)

A sensational new report on sexual abuse in the Netherlands claims over half of the bishops in the country from 1945-2010 were involved in either covering up abuse or abusing children themselves.

“The report appearing in NRC Handelsblad, the Netherlands’ most prestigious newspaper, charges the Dutch hierarchy had a ‘policy of transfers and turning a blind eye’ to abusive priests in the country.

“The story was published on Friday (Sept. 14), just days after the German media outlets Spiegel Online and Die Zeit published a leaked report on sexual abuse inside the Catholic Church in Germany detailing 3,677 abuses cases by clergy between 1946 and 2014.

“Last month, a report detailing the alleged abuse of over 1,000 child victims by 300 priests in Pennsylvania put pressure on the Church in the United States to come clean about decades of abuse and cover-up in the country.

“The NRC Handelsblad report claims 20 of 39 bishops during the period are implicated in at least covering up abuse, with four auxiliary bishops suspected of abusing minors themselves.”

By Charles Collins, Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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The Catholic Church’s unholy stain / The New York Times

It is devouring the Roman church — erasing trust in its hierarchs, dismaying the faithful and blackening its image. (The New York Times)

Pope Francis has summoned senior bishops from around the world for the first global gathering of Roman Catholic leaders to address the crisis of clerical pedophilia. The action is long overdue, and the outcome cannot be yet more apologies and pledges of better behavior. The unending revelations of clerical sexual abuse and cover-ups demand radical, public, convincing systemic change.

“The latest barrage of revelations and developments — including a gut-wrenching report by a grand jury in Pennsylvania detailing seven decades of sexual abuse of at least 1,000 children, and probably thousands more, by more than 300 Catholic priests — has left no question that Pope Francis’ legacy will be decided by how he confronts this crisis. It is devouring the Roman church — erasing trust in its hierarchs, dismaying the faithful and blackening its image. To be meaningful, any further response must include openly addressing allegations that the pope was himself party to a cover-up.

“The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, met with the pope on Thursday to demand a full investigation into how the former archbishop of Washington, Theodore McCarrick, rose to high rank despite a long and apparently well-known history of sexual predation. As if to underscore the importance of the meeting, it coincided with an announcement that Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of a bishop in West Virginia, Michael Bransfield, and ordered an investigation into allegations that he had sexually harassed adults.”

By The New York Times Editorial Board — Read more …

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‘Elitist, clericalist’ church allows abuse to thrive / Catholic News Service via National Catholic Reporter

The root of the problem, he (Pope Francis) said, is elitism or clericalism. The two attitudes foster “every form of abuse. And sexual abuse is not the first. The first abuse is of power and conscience.” (National Catholic Reporter)

Sexual and physical abuse by priests and religious and the scandal of its cover-up by church authorities thrive in countries where the Catholic Church is “elitist and clericalist,” Pope Francis told Jesuits in Ireland in August.

“‘There is something I have understood with great clarity: this drama of abuse, especially when it is widespread and gives great scandal — think of Chile, here in Ireland or in the United States — has behind it a church that is elitist and clericalist, an inability to be near to the people of God,’ the pope told the Jesuits during a meeting Aug. 25 in Dublin …

“The root of the problem, he said, is elitism or clericalism. The two attitudes foster ‘every form of abuse. And sexual abuse is not the first. The first abuse is of power and conscience’ …

“In confronting abuse and the church culture that allows it to fester, Pope Francis told the Jesuits, ‘Courage! Be courageous!'”

By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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More Meetings?

BOSTON, Mass., Sept. 13, 2018 – When Pope Francis met today with two U.S. cardinals, one archbishop and one monsignor, one obvious face was missing: a lay person. Once again the 99.9 percent of the Catholic faithful worldwide are asked to wait while the .1 percent meets to decide what to do about clerical child abuse. That omission will be repeated in February when the presidents of all bishops’ conferences worldwide will meet at the Vatican with Pope Francis. The February meeting is said to be unprecedented.

At the meeting, prelates will discuss child abuse prevention, perhaps to attain consensus on child protection guidelines worldwide. Laudable and long overdue, that effort still does not address another significant omission in the hierarchy’s response to abuse crimes and their coverups—thus far, no church-wide meeting has been announced to discuss bishop accountability for the abuse made known by successive government and grand jury reports.

Child sex abuse by clergy affects children, families, faith communities: lay people. Should we not also be included in discussions about preventing such abuse? Should we not also discuss and hold accountable the bishops who enabled coverups and subsequent abuse?

Bishops and hierarchal officials alone cannot restore the trust that their actions have destroyed. Nor can they alone reform the structures that enabled the crimes and abuse.

Voice of the Faithful suggests setting a second precedent at the February meeting: have lay people, selected entirely by lay people, attend that same meeting. Recognize that we have a much higher stake in the outcome even than the clergy.


Voice of the Faithful Statement, Sept. 13, 2018
Contact: 
Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.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.

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