Posts Tagged catholic hierarchy

Cardinal Law’s complex role in the contemporary history of clergy sexual abuse / National Catholic Reporter

Cardinal Bernard Law’s scandalous cover-up and resignation led to a phenomenon that was not expected nor clearly obvious at the time, but it was real. (National Catholic Reporter)

Public awareness of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy actually dates from 1984. It was triggered by the public exposure of widespread sexual violation of children by a single priest in the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana, and its systemic cover-up by the church’s leadership that lasted well over a decade.

Cardinal Bernard Law, who went from in 1974 being bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to in 1984 being named archbishop of Boston, became the most powerful and influential Catholic bishop in the United States. This all came to a screeching halt in 2002. In one day Law became the face of hierarchical treachery and dishonesty when The Boston Globe revealed the systemic cover-up of widespread sexual abuse by Boston priests, most of it his doing. He remained the face of the hierarchy’s disgraceful attitude towards the violation of minors and the vulnerable. Even in death he remains the focal point of the anger and rage of countless victims of sexual abuse by clergy — certainly Boston victims, but also others worldwide.

Law’s role in the history of clergy abuse is more than the systemic cover-up in Boston. What is little known is the influential part he played in the early days when the extent and depravity of this evil was first exposed. In those very early days in 1984 and 1985, I believed that when the bishops realized the nature of sexual abuse and potential plague before them, they would lose no time in doing the right thing.

By Thomas P. Doyle, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Archbishop Wilson stands trial in Newcastle / Australian Associated Press on 9news.com

(Adelaide Archbishop Philip) Wilson, 67, the most senior Catholic official in the world to be charged with concealing child sex assault, sat quietly in court behind his team of lawyers during the prosecutor’s opening address. (Australian Associated Press on 9news.com)

Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson has been accused of covering up child sex abuse by the Catholic clergy for nearly three decades.

“Crown prosecutor Gareth Harrison told the Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday (Dec. 6) that Wilson had allegedly been involved in a number of cases where he had tried to prevent abuse claims being reported to police from between 1976 and 2004 to protect the Catholic Church.

“In his opening address on the first day of Wilson’s trial where he is accused of concealing information about the abuse of an altar boy by now-dead pedophile priest James Fletcher in the NSW Hunter region, Mr Harrison said the evidence would show Wilson had failed to report widespread child abuse by the Catholic clergy and a teacher.”

By Australian Associated Press on 9news.com — Read more …

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Trial begins for Catholic archbishop accused of protecting pedophile priest / The Australian

The most senior Catholic cleric in the world to be charged with concealing the child-sex-abuse offences of another priest will face a two-week hearing starting today (Nov. 28 in Australia).

“In what is seen as a test case for the potential prosecution of others accused of not disclosing such crimes, the Archbishop of Adelaide, Philip Edward Wilson, faces up to two years in jail if convicted of ‘concealing a serious indictable offence.’

“It is alleged the 67-year-old had information he knew or believed about Hunter Valley priest James Fletcher that he failed to pass on to investigating police between April 22, 2004, when Fletcher was charged with child sex offences, and July 7, 2006, when Fletcher died in jail. Prosecutors say Archbishop Wilson, a former president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, knew Fletcher had abused a 10-year-old boy in 1971 but failed to notify police. He has denied the allegation.

“Since he was charged in March 2015, Archbishop Wilson has made three attempts to have the charge against him dismissed or permanently stayed …”

By Sam Buckingham-Jones, The Australian — Read more …

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University report lifts the lid on child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church / National Catholic Reporter

“The research team’s conclusions in this highly readable 379-page document confirm the view of the psychologist Philip Zimbardo that if you find many bad apples in a barrel, there has to be something wrong with the barrel. The pattern of abuse and cover up was the same all over the world.” (National Catholic Reporter)

“The most comprehensive report ever published on the systemic reasons behind child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has recently been released.

“The August 2017 report, Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: An Interpretive Review of the Literature and Public Inquiry Reports, examined 26 commissions of inquiry, scientific research and literature since 1985 to find common features in the culture, history and structures of the church and the psychological, social and theological factors that contributed to the tragedy.

“The report, five years in the making, comes from a research team at the Centre for Global Research at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University headed by Desmond Cahill and Peter Wilkinson.

“The research team’s conclusions in this highly readable 379-page document confirm the view of the psychologist Philip Zimbardo that if you find many bad apples in a barrel, there has to be something wrong with the barrel. The pattern of abuse and cover up was the same all over the world.”

By Kieran Tapsell, National Catholic Reporter — Read more … 

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Sex abuse and the seal of the confessional / National Catholic Reporter

Priest sex abusers used confession to assuage their guilt, making it easier for them to repeat their crimes. (Kieran Tapsell in National Catholic Reporter)

The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has just released its Criminal Justice Report in which it deals with many matters relating to the way child sexual abuse within institutions is handled by the Australian criminal justice system. In the course of that report, it recommends mandatory reporting of all suspected child sexual abuse within institutions and the creation of new offences of failing to take proper care to prevent such abuse.

“One recommendation that understandably created some media interest is that there should be no exemption to the reporting requirements for information provided in confession.

“The commission’s report produces convincing evidence, not only in Australia, but also overseas, that priest sex abusers used confession as a means of assuaging their guilt. It made it easier for them to repeat their crimes because confession was always available.”

Commentary by Kieran Tapsell in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Cardinal Pell of Australia takes leave to fight sexual abuse charges / The New York Times

“The pope has achieved global popularity for his emphasis on inclusiveness and mercy, but he has come under increased criticism for the slow pace and reported internal resistance to efforts to safeguard victims of sexual abuse by priests and protect children in the church.” (The New York Times)

In an extraordinary statement, the Holy See announced on Thursday (Jun. 29) morning that Pope Francis had granted a leave of absence to Cardinal George Pell of Australia, a top Vatican official, adviser to the pontiff and as of this week the highest-ranking Roman Catholic prelate to be formally charged with sexual assault, so that he could return to Australia to defend himself.

“Speaking at the Vatican press office, Cardinal Pell, wearing simple black clerical cloths and a dangling cross, read a statement declaring his innocence against the charges and what he called leaks by the news media and ‘relentless character assassination.’

“‘I am looking forward finally to having my day in court,’ Cardinal Pell said as he sat next to a Vatican spokesman. ‘I am innocent of the charges. They are false. The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me.’

“The Australian police served the cardinal’s legal representatives hours earlier in Melbourne and have yet to reveal the details of the charges or the ages of the complainants.”

By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times — Read more …

 

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More power for Catholic bishops? Not so fast / Huffington Post

Could giving more autonomy to Catholic bishops make things worse for progressive Catholics? 

A lot has been written about Pope Francis’s goal of making the church more democratic, with less control by the Vatican and more power to individual bishops. In an ideal world, not only would the Vatican have less say in choosing bishops, but priests and laity would have a larger role in the selection of their leaders.

“However, unless the institutional church actually reaches that goal, and power truly devolves to the grassroots, giving more autonomy to Catholic bishops might make things worse, not better, at least for progressive Catholics.

“While Pope Francis’s appointments of often have elevated reformers to power, he cannot replace every powerful leader in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

“And the bishops now leading U.S. Catholics skew conservative. Indeed, in 2014, one bishop speaking on background confided that only about a third of American bishops were totally on board with Francis’s agenda, about a quarter were definitely against, and the rest were still figuring out where they stood. Not much appears to have changed in the intervening years.”

By Celia Wexler, Contributor, Huffington Post — Read more …

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