Archive for category Clergy Sexual Abuse

A Grand Jury report of widespread Catholic clergy abuse and coverup in Pennsylvania is no surprise / Voice of the Faithful

BOSTON, Mass., Aug. 15, 2018 – The findings of a grand jury in Pennsylvania that investigated sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy in six dioceses there cannot be called a surprise. Not after grand juries examining clergy sex abuse in two other Pennsylvania dioceses found the same pattern. Not after grand juries in other states and government commissions around the world have unearthed the same crimes and the same failures again and again.

What would be a surprise is if, this time, the Church hierarchy follows up on its numerous promises and expressions of sorrow and finally brings to account all those who participated in the crimes and coverups. Although Church officials can point to the positive efforts made to introduce child protection safeguards and abuse reporting going forward, such efforts cannot substitute for full justice – the Church and the Catholic faithful must hold accountable the many bishops, chancery officials, and even lay persons who knew of abuse, looked the other way, and allowed the predators to claim additional victims.

The latest report goes further than many others in the United States in naming the bishops who allowed abuser priests to escape justice. Now the test for the hierarchy will be whether these bishops face any sanctions for their failures, and whether all priests named as abusers are out of ministry. It is no longer sufficient to say a statute of limitations has passed or that the bishop now knows better. Justice and morality are not defined by legal stipulations. It’s long past time to do what’s right.

Voice of the Faithful has called for such accountability since its founding in 2002. As a lay organization seeking reform within the Church, we work with lay people, priests, and a few brave bishops to bring forward the changes that could guard against such abuses in the future. We promote programs that encourage both transparency and accountability, offer pathways to healing for those damaged by the abuse, and ask all Catholics to exercise vigilance.

However, given the administrative structure of the Roman Catholic Church, such efforts by the Catholic faithful must be endorsed and then implemented by the hierarchy if we are to obtain full transparency and accountability. Recent calls by some bishops, in the wake of news about former Cardinal McCarrick, for lay participation in holding bishops accountable would be a good start. The second step would be to address the clericalism that fosters such systemic failures.

Click here to read excerpts from the grand jury report and access link to full report.


 

Voice of the Faithful Statement, Aug. 15, 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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More than 300 accused priests listed in Pennsylvania report on Catholic Church sex abuse / The Washington Post

The report has helped renew a crisis many in the church thought and hoped had ended nearly 20 years ago after the scandal erupted in Boston. (The Washington Post)

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Tuesday (Aug. 14) released a sweeping grand jury report on sex abuse in the Catholic Church, listing more than 300 accused clergy and detailing a ‘systematic’ coverup effort by church leaders over 70 years.

“State Attorney General Josh Shapiro said at a news conference Tuesday that more than 1,000 child victims were identified in the report, but the grand jury believes there are more.

“The release is the culmination of an 18-month probe, led Shapiro, on six of the state’s eight dioceses — Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Scranton, Erie and Greensburg — and follows other state grand jury reports that revealed abuse and coverups in two other dioceses.

“Shapiro said that the report details a ‘systematic coverup by senior church officials in Pennsylvania and at the Vatican.'”

By Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post — Read more …

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Albany bishop says laypeople should investigate misconduct by U.S. bishops / America: The Jesuit Review

As fallout from Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s resignation continues, at least one bishop is saying what Voice of the Faithful has been saying for the past 16 years: give the laity a voice in the governance and guidance of our Church. This is the way Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany, N.Y., put it in America magazine when talking about a “high-level panel” of the USCCB suggested by Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl to “evaluate allegations or rumors of sexual misconduct by one of its member bishops”: “‘To have credibility, a panel would have to be separated from any source of power whose trustworthiness might potentially be compromised,’ he said … ‘Our laypeople are not only willing to take on this much-needed role, but they are eager to help us make lasting reforms that will restore a level of trust that has been shattered yet again,’ Bishop Scharfenberger said.”

Click here to read the rest of the story by Michael O’Loughlin in America: The Jesuit Review.

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Report: Church leaders pressured victims, cops over abuse / Associated Press

According to the document (court filing), the grand jury concluded that victims were “brushed aside, in every part of the state, by church leaders who preferred to protect the abusers and their institutions above all.” (Associated Press)

 A grand jury investigating clergy sex abuse in six Pennsylvania Roman Catholic dioceses found that church leaders were more interested in preventing scandal than protecting children, in some cases discouraging victims from going to police or pressuring law enforcement officials to end or avoid investigations, according to a court filing.

“The grand jury’s full, nearly 900-page, report is expected to be released in the next two weeks.

“But a court filing made public Friday (Aug. 3), resolving one of many legal disputes over the report, included excerpts from the grand jury’s findings on the role of church leaders in the clergy abuse scandal.

“According to the document, the grand jury concluded that victims were ‘brushed aside, in every part of the state, by church leaders who preferred to protect the abusers and their institutions above all.’

“‘The main thing was not to help children, but to avoid ‘scandal,’ the grand jury report says.”

By Mark Scolforo, Associated Press — Read more …

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Cardinal Wuerl proposes national panel to investigate allegations against bishops / National Catholic Reporter

“We’re at a moment where the shock, because it involves a bishop, impels us now to do at the level of the episcopate what we did so successfully at the level of the priesthood,” the cardinal said in the interview. (National Catholic Reporter)

Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl has proposed that the national conference of U.S. Catholic bishops create a new high-level panel to receive and evaluate any allegations or rumors of sexual misconduct by one of its member bishops.

“In an NCR interview focused on how the American church should address the wider systemic questions raised by the revelations of sexual abuse by his predecessor, now former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Wuerl also suggested that the Vatican could designate one of its offices to act on the proposed panel’s findings.

“Although Wuerl said he had not personally been aware of rumors about McCarrick’s alleged abuse of young men during the former cardinal’s time as a priest and bishop, he acknowledged that others have now brought forward earlier existence of such rumors.

“‘If there were [rumors], and if people heard them, there needs to be some mechanism by which there can be at least an evaluation and review of them,’ said Wuerl, speaking in a phone conversation.

“‘I think it’s very important that we … as bishops enter into that world and say, ‘If there is an accumulation of rumors, ought not something be said?” the cardinal continued.”

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

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Pennsylvania diocese releases full list of clergy accused of sex abuse, strips names of bishops from buildings / America: The Jesuit Review

In addition, “anyone accused of sexual misconduct will have his name removed from any place of honor,” (Bishop Ronald Gainer) said. (America: The Jesuit Review)

In a gesture meant to acknowledge the mishandling of sexual abuse against minors, buildings and rooms in the Diocese of Harrisburg honoring bishops dating back to 1947 will be stripped of their names, Bishop Ronald Gainer announced during a press conference at the diocese’s headquarters on Wednesday morning.

“‘The decision to remove names of bishops and clerics may prove to be controversial, but as bishops, I strongly believe that leaders of the diocese must hold themselves to a higher standard and must yield honorary symbols in the interest of healing,’ Bishop Gainer said.

“‘The leadership of the church did not in every case take adequate measures while handling matters related to offending clerics,’ he said. Bishop Gainer also released a list of every member of the clergy who has been accused of sexual abuse against children dating back to 1947.

“In addition, ‘anyone accused of sexual misconduct will have his name removed from any place of honor,’ the bishop said.

“Bishop Gainer also announced that he was waiving confidentiality agreements in settlements between the diocese and survivors of child sexual abuse. He said that the agreements had not been enforced “for some time,” but he had heard some people still did not feel free to talk about their experiences.”

By Michael J. O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …

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As Catholic clergy abuse scandal intensifies, Voice of the Faithful welcomes increased accountability and transparency

BOSTON, Mass., Jul. 30, 2018 – As the Catholic clergy abuse scandal reaches a new level of intensity, particularly with Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s (credibly accused) and Archbishop Philip Wilson’s (convicted) resignations, Voice of the Faithful, an organization of Catholics advocating for broader influence for lay voices in the Church, welcomes not only these actions, but also what they and other recent events mean for accountability and transparency in the future.

These two events follow a period that included in only a few months:

  • Pope Francis’ removal of three Chilean bishops, allegations of cover-up being brought against two Chilean cardinals and an archbishop and an investigation of the entire Chilean Church;
  • sentencing of a former Vatican diplomat to five years in prison for possession and distribution of child pornography;
  • removal from office of the archbishop of Guam following “certain accusations” of abuse;
  • a cardinal in Australia standing trial for covering up abuse;
  • the Archdiocese of Mexico City partnering with the Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests on child protection efforts;
  • some Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis parishes helping to pay settlements to clergy abuse survivors; and
  • the pending release by mid-August of a grand jury investigation of abuse in six Pennsylvania dioceses.

A critical mass seems to have been reached whereby the horror of the abuse has reached the hierarchy with increased accountability, while additional investigations and survivors’ stories are increasingly shining light into formerly secret abuse. The potential for a new level of transparency going forward is promising.

Voice of the Faithful and all who work for the Church can only hope.


Voice of the Faithful Statement, July 30, 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.

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