Posts Tagged Cardinal Theodore McCarrick

Sanctions, sex abuse and silence: a primer on the pope saga / Associated Press

Here is a look at the scandal, which has split the U.S. Catholic hierarchy and further tarnished Francis’ record on abuse. (Associated Press)

Two weeks after Pope Francis’ papacy was thrown into crisis by accusations that he covered up sexual misconduct by ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Francis has refused to respond, his accuser has changed his story and a host of new characters have entered the fray.

“Cardinals, bishops, priests and ordinary faithful are demanding answers, given that the Vatican knew since at least 2000 about allegations McCarrick had bedded seminarians.

“Francis is coming under increasing pressure to respond to claims by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano that he rehabilitated McCarrick from sanctions Pope Benedict XVI had imposed.

“Here is a look at the scandal, which has split the U.S. Catholic hierarchy and further tarnished Francis’ record on abuse.”

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press — 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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Cardinal Theodore McCarrick Resigns Amid Sexual Abuse Scandal / The New York Times

Cardinal McCarrick appears to be the first cardinal in history to step down from the College of Cardinals because of sexual abuse allegations.  (The New York Times)

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, from the College of Cardinals, ordering him to a ‘life of prayer and penance’ after allegations that the cardinal sexually abused minors and adult seminarians over the course of decades, the Vatican announced on Saturday (Jul. 28).

“Acting swiftly to contain a widening sex abuse scandal at the highest levels of the Roman Catholic Church, the pope officially suspended the cardinal from the exercise of any public ministry after receiving his resignation letter Friday (Jul. 27) evening. Pope Francis also demanded in a statement that the prelate remain in seclusion “\’until the accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial.’

“Cardinal McCarrick appears to be the first cardinal in history to step down from the College of Cardinals because of sexual abuse allegations. While he remains a priest pending the outcome of a Vatican trial, he has been stripped of his highest honor and will no longer be called upon to advise the pope and travel on his behalf.”

By Elisabetta Povoledo and Sharon Otterman, The New York Times — Read more …

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Change the clerical culture / Commonweal

Why is predatory behavior by priests permitted?


“The problem is with those bishops, and others with influence in the church, who at best are asleep at the wheel and at worst willing to excuse predatory behavior … More important is changing a clerical culture that prizes secrecy and loyalty over truth and transparency.” (Commonweal) (Also see Voice of the Faithful’s study of the 2010 John Jay College clergy abuse report for its discussion of clericalism)

Emerging details about the scope and duration of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s sexually abusive behavior once more underscore the fact that an institutional sickness afflicts the Catholic Church. A predator priest can ascend to princely rank only if the clerical culture around him enables those who are complicit by their silence and failure to act.

“The behavior of “Uncle Ted,” as the cardinal insisted he be called by his preferred victims, was something of an open secret at elite levels of the church. As the New YorkTimes noted, multiple reports about McCarrick’s sexual encounters with seminary students were made between 1994 and 2008—to American bishops, to the pope’s representative in Washington, and even to Pope Benedict XVI. Two dioceses secretly made settlement payments to alleged victims. This didn’t slow a swift rise: McCarrick became a global ambassador dispatched to conflict zones, a prolific fundraiser, and the honoree of numerous Catholic institutions eager to present him with awards. He even played a prominent role as a spokesperson for the church’s “zero-tolerance” policy on sexual abuse.”

By John Gehring, Commonweal — Read more …

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Top cardinal demands Vatican get tough with bishops on sex abuse / Reuters

(Cardinal Sean) O’Malley said he was “deeply troubled” by the case of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and that it and others “raise up the fact that when charges are brought regarding a bishop or a cardinal, a major gap still exists in the Church’s policies on sexual conduct and sexual abuse.” (Reuters)

A leading Roman Catholic cardinal and key adviser to Pope Francis called on Tuesday for the Vatican to ‘swiftly and decisively’ adopt strict policies for cases of sexual abuse involving bishops and top clergy.

“Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston issued the appeal with the Church in the United States still reeling from allegations that another cardinal was involved in abuse of minors and sexual improprieties with adult seminarians years ago.

“O’Malley said he was ‘deeply troubled’ by the case of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and that it and others ‘raise up the fact that when charges are brought regarding a bishop or a cardinal, a major gap still exists in the Church’s policies on sexual conduct and sexual abuse.’

“His forceful statement also comes as the Vatican has been hit by a major scandal that has engulfed the Church in Chile.

“Last month, the Vatican ordered McCarrick, 88, the retired archbishop of Washington, D.C., to cease public ministry after finding that allegations he sexually abused a teenager almost 50 years ago were credible.”

By Philip Pullella, Reuters — Read more …

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Addressing abuse, church must address the betrayal of community / National Catholic Reporter

To fully grasp the sense of betrayal ordinary Catholics feel toward their hierarchy, you must fully grasp the horror of this detail: James was abused by the man who baptized him. The man who stood in persona Christi at the baptismal font, at the family dining table, around the backyard family pool, abused a child of God. (National Catholic Reporter)

A particularly heart-freezing detail emerges in a 60-year-old man’s account of how he was abused as a boy by then-Fr. Theodore McCarrick.

“As described in a July 19 story in The New York Times: ‘The connection between Father McCarrick and James’s family was deep.’ James’ uncle had been McCarrick’s best friend in high school, and the young priest grew up with the family sharing meals and free time with the family. That intimacy was reinforced sacramentally. ‘James,’ the Times records, ‘was baptized by Father McCarrick on June 15, 1958, two weeks after he was ordained as a priest.’

“‘It was explained to us how Jimmy was special to Father McCarrick, because of that very special thing that happened, that he was his first baptism,’ the man’s sister told the Times. James had told Karen and his other siblings of the abuse only days before. James had kept silent for some 40 years.

“To fully grasp the sense of betrayal ordinary Catholics feel toward their hierarchy, you must fully grasp the horror of this detail: James was abused by the man who baptized him. The man who stood in persona Christiat the baptismal font, at the family dining table, around the backyard family pool, abused a child of God.”

By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff — Read more …

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Catholic clergy sexual abuse: moving toward accountability?

Recent events revolving around Catholic clergy sexual abuse suggest the proverbial tide may be turning in the scandal from the Church’s knee-jerk closing of institutional ranks to action against perpetrators and abettors, both by the Church and civil authorities.

A marked example of how far the institutional response has progressed toward accountability is retired Cardinal Theodore McCarrick stepping down from active ministry after the Vatican determined that allegations of sexual abuse were found “credible and substantiated.” The abuse occurred nearly 50 years ago when he was a priest in the Archdiocese of New York. Nothing additional was known about the incident at the time of this writing, but McCarrick is likely the first cardinal to step aside because of sexual abuse.

Another obvious evidence of a change in the Church’s attitude is the change in Pope Francis. Over just a few weeks he has shifted from calling Chilean abuse survivors’ allegations “calumny” to removing three bishops, after he met with Chilean abuse victims and Vatican investigator Archbishop Charles Scicluna turned in his report. Chilean police and prosecutors also raided Catholic Church offices in the Osorno Diocese of Bishop Juan Barros. Scicluna and his colleague, Father Jordi Bertomeu Farnos, have returned to Chile to help ensure “adequate responses to each case of sexual abuse of minors.”

The Archdiocese of Mexico City’s response has been a partnership with the Survivors of those Abused by Priests on programs to protect children. To date, SNAP has been so critical of the Church for its handling of the scandal that it has become anathema to most bishops, particularly in the United States.

Throughout the scandal’s history, many Catholics have taken a jaundiced view of survivor settlements. Yet, in St. Paul-Minneapolis, which rose out of bankruptcy only recently with a $210 million settlement with survivors, parishioners are actually contributing to the settlement. “It’s the right thing to do,” said Father Daniel Griffith at Our Lady of Lourdes. “We’re all part of the archdiocese, and we all need to be part of the solution.”

States’ attorneys general have long tried to pry open the scandal, with limited results, but momentum is building, most visibly in Pennsylvania. A report is due at the end of this month from a grand jury investigation covering six dioceses (Greensburg, Allentown, Scranton, Erie, Harrisburg, Pittsburg — As of this writing, the Pennsylvania Supreme court has tempoarily blocked release of the report). Those close to the report tout conclusions as the worst ever. Legislators there are hoping the report finally will prompt changes in the state’s statute of limitation for sexual assault, which devastating grand jury reports in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese and Philadelphia Archdiocese were unable to achieve; although the 2011 report in Philadelphia resulted in the convictions of two priests.

Where the law allows, national governments have investigated institutional abuse of minors. The Church has figured highly in these investigations, which, for example, have taken place in Ireland, Scotland, Australia, and The Netherlands, and a statutory inquiry in the United Kingdom and Wales is ongoing. At least in Australia, the inquiry has led to changes in the law that include attempting to force priests to break the seal of confession where clergy sexual abuse of a minor is involved.

Speaking of Australia, the scandal has ensnared two highly placed prelates there. Cardinal George Pell is now standing trial on multiple counts of historic sexual abuse, while on leave from his position as Vatican treasurer. Archbishop Philip Wilson’s trial for covering up clergy abuse recently resulted in his conviction, and he is to be sentenced next month.

Guam’s Archbishop Anthony Apuron is now appealing his Vatican conviction earlier this spring for “certain accusations” of sexual abuse of minors. He has been removed from office. The Church and lawyers there are attempting to settle more than 170 civil suits brought by abuse survivors (184 people in Guam have said they were abused by clergy or others associated with the Church).

Predicting where all this will lead is risky. These events, however, are not the same as the apologies and promises that too often in the past have not resulted in change. They are examples of the Church and civil authorities actually taking action.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge, president of Australia’s bishop conference told Cruxnow.com that the atmosphere today in the Vatican is totally different than in 2002. Now, “there is a determination to work with all the local churches in really trying to, first of all, understand the phenomenon and the scale and the complexity, and then to tie action, not just wring the hands or have another discussion, but to actually take action … There is absolutely no room for complacency, but there is room for encouragement.”

As Voice of the Faithful was recently quoted in a PennLive.com article on the Pennsylvania scandal, perhaps “we’ve come to a point where the Church has realized this cannot go on.”

(For many more examples of how the tide may be turning on the clergy abuse scandal see Voice of the Faithful’s most recent “Focus” news roundup column.)

Reprinted from Voice of the Faithful’s In the Vineyard e-newsletter.

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