Posts Tagged catholic bishop accountability

Archbishop Philip Wilson sentenced to 12 months’ detention for child abuse cover-up / Australian Broadcasting Corporation News

Wilson is one of the few clerics to have been charged with concealing child abuse and he is believed to be the first Australian clergymen convicted of the offence. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation News)

The most senior clergyman in the world to be convicted of concealing child sex abuse, Adelaide’s Catholic Archbishop Philip Wilson, has been sentenced to 12 months’ detention.

“Magistrate Robert Stone adjourned the matter to August 14 while Wilson is assessed for home detention.

“He will be eligible for parole after six months.

“In May, the 67-year-old was found guilty of concealing the sexual abuse of children between 2004 and 2006 at the hands of paedophile priest Jim Fletcher in the 1970s.

“In sentencing, Mr Stone said ‘there is no remorse or contrition showed by the offender.'”

By Nancy Notzon, Australian Broadcasting Corporation News — Read more …

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At last, bad news is good news in the Catholic sex abuse scandal / National Catholic Reporter

In this sense, we should be happy to see more bad headlines because it means more bad actors are being caught. (National Catholic Reporter)

In the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandals, what seems like bad news for the church — seemingly daily headlines about clergy being disciplined — is actually good news.

“The truly bad news of the scandal, of course, has been the horrible abuse of children, which will have negative effects on them for the rest of their lives. The good news is that perpetrators have been caught and exposed. Accusations are being investigated and the guilty are being punished. When the abuse scandal was first uncovered in the United States some 30 years ago, bishops in other countries denied they had a problem. What is clearly a worldwide problem is now getting attention at the highest level in the church, thanks to Pope Francis.

“In this sense, we should be happy to see more bad headlines because it means more bad actors are being caught.

“Some of the cases that have received media attention in recent months include …”

By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter — 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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Retired Washington cardinal out of ministry after credible abuse accusation / National Catholic Reporter

He is likely the first cardinal to step down from active ministry for sexually abusing a minor. (National Catholic Reporter)

“In a shocking announcement, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who served as the archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., before retiring in 2006, has announced that he is stepping down from active ministry after allegations of sexual abuse were found ‘credible and substantiated.’

“‘The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, at the direction of Pope Francis, has instructed Cardinal McCarrick that he is no longer to exercise publicly his priestly ministry,’ according to a statement from the New York Archdiocese where the complaint was lodged.

“He is likely the first cardinal to step down from active ministry for sexually abusing a minor.

“‘I realize this painful development will shock my many friends, family members, and people I have been honored to serve in my sixty-years as a priest,’ McCarrick said in a statement.

“The incident of sexual abuse of a teenager occurred 47 years ago, when McCarrick was a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, the statement said. No other details about the allegations were given.”

By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Pope removes Chile bishop accused of abuse cover up / Cruxnow.com

The removals come ahead of a pastoral visit by two papal investigators to Osorno to “advance the process of reparation and healing.” (Cruxnow.com)

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of a controversial Chilean bishop accused of covering up clerical sexual abuse, making it the first such accepted resignation since all the country’s bishops offered to step down in May.

“The pontiff had appointed Bishop Juan Barros to the southern diocese of Osorno in 2015, causing uproar both among the locals and the victims of the country’s most infamous pedophile priest.

“The Vatican announced Francis’s decision on Monday, and said Bishop Jorge Enrique Concha Cayuqueo, an auxiliary bishop from the capital Santiago, would serve as apostolic administrator of the diocese.

“Two other bishops also had their resignations accepted: Archbishop Cristián Caro Cordero of Puerto Montt and Bishop Gonzalo Duarte García de Cortázar of Valparaíso.

“Barros was only 61; the other two bishops were 75, the mandatory retirement age for bishops in the Church.

“The removals come ahead of a pastoral visit by two papal investigators to Osorno to ‘advance the process of reparation and healing.'”

By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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Francis should seize momentum of Chile resignations / National Catholic Reporter

The shock of these mass resignations creates an opportunity and momentum that Francis should seize upon to implement the tribunal he proposed three years ago. No more delays. He should act now. (National Catholic Reporter)

Recent weeks have seen several milestone events in the Catholic Church’s decades-long struggle to come to terms with the scandal of clergy sexual abuse and its cover-up by the hierarchy. The headline event was the mass resignation of the Chilean episcopate May 18. While at press time Pope Francis had not yet formally accepted any of the resignations and the full implications of the resignations are still being sorted out, the significance of the event cannot be in doubt.

The contrast between the meeting of Chile’s bishops and Francis in mid-May and Francis’ encounter with journalists in late January could not be starker. In January, Francis twice, very publicly, dismissed the testimony of abuse survivors. He accused them of ‘calumny’ against bishops they accused of ignoring reports of abuse and covering up for abusing clergy.

Within days of making those statements, however, Francis had appointed Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta to investigate the situation in Chile. By April, Francis had received a 2,300-page report, and in an extraordinary public letter, the pope admitted — confessed may be a more appropriate word — making “grave errors” in judgment about Chile’s sex abuse scandal. He invited the survivors he had disparaged to Rome to beg their forgiveness and he summoned the bishops to discuss repairing the damage from the scandal.

By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff — Read more …

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Australian prelate convicted of covering up sexual abuse / Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

The witness (a former altar boy) alleged (Archbishop Philip) Wilson told him he was telling lies because (Fr. James) Fletcher “was a good bloke.” The witness said Wilson had ordered him out of the confessional and told him to recite 10 Hail Mary prayers as an act of contrition. (AP on Cruxnow.com)

An Australian archbishop who was the most senior Roman Catholic cleric in the world charged with covering up child sex abuse was convicted Tuesday (May 22) and faces a potential two years in prison.

“Magistrate Robert Stone handed down the verdict against Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson in Newcastle Local Court, north of Sydney, following a magistrate-only trial.

“Wilson, 67, had pleaded not guilty to knowing of the crimes of a pedophile priest in the 1970s. He denied under oath in court last month that two former altar boys ever told him that they had been sexually abused by a priest.

By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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