Posts Tagged bishop accountability

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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Pope Francis’ exhortation for prayer and fasting are appropriate, but more wll be needed following Pennsylvania grand jury report / Voice of the Faithful

BOSTON, Mass., Aug. 20, 2018 – Pope Francis issued a letter today addressed to all the People of God in response to last week’s grand jury report of long-term Catholic clergy sexual abuse and its coverup in six Pennsylvania dioceses. The Pope abjectly apologized for the abuse, pointed out the spiritual failings, Church structures and culture of clericalism that led to it, and he exhorted Catholics to prayer and fasting for conversion.

With these words, Pope Francis seems at last to understand how corrupting clericalism has been and how terrible the evil perpetrated by abusers and the bishops who covered up. But prayer, fasting and penance, while essential, will not fix the problems. A good deal of prayer, penance and fasting has occurred but has not stopped the abuse, or the coverups, or fix clericalism. Although we applaud the Pope’s expressions of regret and sorrow, as always, we find ourselves anxiously anticipating action to back up his words.

This time, all the people of God must be involved in a systemic solution, as several bishops have pointed out over the past few days since the grand jury report was released. It is impossible to think of a conversion of our activity as a Church, which Pope Francis is calling for, that does not include the active participation of all God’s people. VOTF has long called for greater lay input into the governance and guidance of the Church and for accountability now so clearly essential to addressing this systemic evil.

The Pope also correctly and emphatically points out the evils of clericalism. He says it is an approach that “not only nullifies the character of Christians, but also tends to diminish and undervalue the baptismal grace that the Holy Spirit has placed in the heart of our people. Clericalism, whether fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons, leads to an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today.”

We agree. Clericalism, as VOTF has said since our 2011 response to the John Jay College report on clergy sexual abuse, is at the root of the problem within the church today. The priests, the hierarchy and the laity all play a role in creating the culture of clericalism, and we must all play a role in tearing it down. The first step must be to hold accountable those bishops that covered up the abuse. This is not just to point out that some bishops are guilty. It also is meant to be a call to action for the lay people.

The Church is the People of God, and we all must right these wrongs:

  • We must stand for nothing less than a full account of those who allowed this abuse of children in the Church to continue and who covered it up, and the Pope must remove from ministry those found guilty of committing or covering up these crimes.
  • We must call for a change in statutes of limitations so that victims can seek justice in our courts, and the church must support those changes—not stand in the way.
  • We must work together to root out clericalism and make the Church as an organization answerable to all the People of God.

Click here to read Pope Francis’ letter in response to Pennsylvania grand jury report.(link is external)


Voice of the Faithful Statement, Aug. 20, 2018
Contact: 
Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org(link sends e-mail), 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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Francis admits ‘serious mistakes’ in handling of Chile abuse cases / National Catholic Reporter

“I have made serious mistakes in the assessment and my perception of the situation, especially due to a lack of truthful and balanced information,” Francis says in the letter. (National Catholic Reporter)

Pope Francis has admitted making ‘serious mistakes’ in his handling of clergy sexual abuse cases in Chile, telling the country’s bishops in a lengthy letter that he feels ‘pain and shame’ for the ‘crucified lives’ of those who suffered abuse.

“But Francis has not revealed whether he will sack a Chilean prelate accused of covering up abuse, whom he has previously defended to the outrage of abuse survivors. Instead, Francis has asked the country’s bishops to come to Rome en masse for a meeting at some point soon.

“In a letter released late April 11, Francis is reporting to the bishops about the mission of Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna, whom the pope sent to Chile in February to interview abuse victims and look into the case of Bishop Juan Barros Madrid.

“‘I have made serious mistakes in the assessment and my perception of the situation, especially due to a lack of truthful and balanced information,’ Francis says in the letter.

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

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Exclusive: Marie Collins responds to Cardinal Muller’s allegations about abuse commission / National Catholic Reporter

“Marie Collins of Ireland is a clergy sexual abuse survivor who resigned March 1 from Pope Francis’ Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gave an interview shortly following Collins’ resignation. Collins has written an open letter to Müller in response to that interview.”

… Finally, with respect, Cardinal, I do not know what the motivation is in regard to any difficulties put in the way of the pontifical commission. All it wishes to do is bring better protection to children and vulnerable adults wherever in the world the Catholic Church is present. If there are problems, nothing is gained by maintaining a pretense that all is well.

“I would ask that instead of falling back into the Church’s default position of denial and obfuscation, when a criticism like mine is raised the people of the church deserve to be given a proper explanation. We are entitled to transparency, honesty and clarity.

“No longer can dysfunction be kept hidden behind institutional closed doors. This only succeeds as long as those who know the truth are willing to remain silent.”

By Marie Collins in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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In sign of resolve, Pope taps O’Malley for Vatican office handling abuse cases / Cruxnow.com

In a move likely to be read as an attempt by Pope Francis to show resolve in the fight against clerical sexual abuse, the pontiff has named Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, widely seen as the leading reformer in the Catholic hierarchy, as a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the powerful Vatican department that handles abuse cases.

“The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, traditionally known as the “Holy Office,” is headed by German Cardinal Gerhard Muller. Its main responsibility is defending Catholic teaching, but since 2001, it’s also played lead in prosecuting cases under Church law for priests charged with sexual abuse.

“Last June, Pope Francis also announced that the congregation would house a new legal section designed to impose accountability not only on abuser priests, but also on bishops and other Catholic superiors who covered up that abuse.

“Since then, however, the launch of the new tribunal has been delayed amid legal and administrative wrangling, and O’Malley’s appointment may well reflect a desire by Francis to kick-start the process.”

By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Do the U.S. bishops get it? / Religion News Service

It’s been 30 years since Jason Berry broke the Catholic sex abuse story by courageously reporting on the case of serial abuser Fr. Gilbert Gauthe in Louisiana. When national publications refused to touch the story, Berry published his investigation in the Times of Acadiana, and that little paper proved to be the mouse that roared. The National Catholic Reporter immediately took the plunge and before long the mainstream media lost its fear of reporting how bishops systematically put the protection of their clergy and their church’s reputation ahead of the protection of minors.

“NCR marked the anniversary last month with a tough editorial, which has drawn an appropriately non-confrontational response from Bishop Edward J.  Burns of Juneau, Alaska, chairman of the Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops. To his credit, Burns acknowledges that the church’s considerable effort to establish a safe environment for children should not be taken as ‘a sign that we have somehow put this scandal behind us, nor is it an occasion for self-congratulation … Rather, our shepherds, myself included, need to face and repent of the betrayal of trust. Authentic and heartfelt repentance by the shepherds of our church is not a distraction from our mission: It is the mission at this moment in the life of the church and her leaders.’

“So what’s wrong with this?”

By Mark Silk, Religion News Service — Click here to read the rest of this commentary.

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Pope Francis is mulling proposal on bishop accountability / Cruxnow.com

Marie Collins of the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors was the featured speaker April 18 at the Voice of the Faithful 2015 National Assembly.

The Vatican’s special commission on clergy sexual abuse has given Pope Francis a proposal on how to punish bishops who failed to protect minors from sexual abuse by clergy under their oversight.

“Marie Collins, a member of the panel — formally known as the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors — and herself a survivor of clergy sexual abuse, said she couldn’t reveal details of the proposal, but that personally, she believes some bishops must be removed from office.

“Among those she cited was Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, convicted in 2012 of failing to report suspected child abuse to civil authorities.”

By Michael O’Loughlin, Cruxnow.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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