Posts Tagged Catholics
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 …
“It was probably not until the very late 1980s and early 1990s, however, the bubbling controversy in liturgical matters came to a boiling point.” (National Catholic Reporter)
Pope Francis’ Sept. 9 announcement that he was decentralizing the Vatican’s authority over translations of liturgical texts, turning that duty back over to local bishops, created quite a buzz in Catholic circles because, for some, it capped a story that spans more than 50 years. It is the story of the ‘liturgy wars.’
“Consternation over the liturgy has roiled through the Catholic community since sweeping reforms were introduced by the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) — although truth be told, many of the changes that came in the 1960s rose out of liturgical reform movements in the 1940s and ’50s.
“It was probably not until the very late 1980s and early 1990s, however, the bubbling controversy in liturgical matters came to a boiling point.
“If one wants to point to a time and event when controversy turned to conflict and the tagline ‘liturgy wars’ could be applied to what was happening, a secret meeting in the Vatican in 1997 might be that point and time.”
By James Dearie and Dennis Coday, National Catholic Reporter (story contains links to others in NCR series on the Magnum Principium) — Read more …
In nearly 400 pages, the report traces the history of child sexual abuse in the global church and tries to identify factors that have contributed to it, with a particular focus on Australia. (The New York Times)
A study that examines child sexual abuse worldwide in the Roman Catholic Church has found that the Australian church has done less to safeguard children in its care than its counterparts in similar countries have.
“The report, released on Wednesday by the Center for Global Research at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, also found that the church’s requirement that priests be celibate was a major risk factor for abuse. And it said that the possibility of abuse in Catholic residential institutions, like orphanages, should be getting more attention, especially in developing countries.
“Experts said the report could put pressure on Pope Francis, and particularly the church in Australia, to do more to prevent abuse. The Australian church was rocked in June when Cardinal George Pell, an Australian who is one of the pope’s top advisers, became the highest-ranking Roman Catholic prelate to be formally charged with sexual offenses.
“Desmond Cahill, the report’s lead author, said its findings pointed to an urgent need to rethink the priesthood in the 21st century. He said the church should reconsider the celibacy requirement for priests.”
By Jacqueline Williams, The New York Times — Read more …
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 …
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 …
“Jeff Anderson said this is the first case of a bishop in the United States being sued for coercion.”
A Twin Cities law firm intends to file a lawsuit against a current Minnesota bishop and a Roman Catholic diocese in the state alleging that a survivor of clergy sex abuse was threatened with retaliation if he revealed how he was assaulted as a child.
“St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson, who for many years has pursued many legal cases in connection with clergy sex abuse in Minnesota and elsewhere, said this is the first time a U.S. bishop has been sued for coercion.
“At a news conference scheduled for Tuesday (May 8) at Anderson’s offices, the abuse survivor and a priest from the diocese will speak publicly for the first time about ‘how the bishop threatened retaliation against the survivor and a family member if he disclosed the sexual abuse,’ a statement from Anderson’s law firm read.”
By Paul Walsh, Minneapolis Star Tribune — Read more …
Catholics for Renewal has drafted this letter in consultation with many Catholics strongly committed to the teachings of Jesus and their Church. People of the Church have been distressed by the increasing failings of our Church, particularly in the context of the evidence before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Australian Catholics are invited to consider and sign below the following Open Letter to the Bishops of Australia. The Open Letter provides an opportunity, consistent with the Church’s Code of Canon Law, for the faithful – lay people, religious, priests, all members of the Church – to seek renewal of the Church.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has exposed grave governance failures in our Church, failures that undermine its very mission. We, the undersigned Catholics of Australia, write to you as Pilgrim People of God, accepting shared responsibility for our Church, expressing our sense of faith which Vatican II recognised as critical to the life of the Church, and asking you our bishops to listen and to act decisively, executing necessary reforms now.
Over several decades we have seen our Church declining steadily to its now shameful state. Countless Catholics have been alienated, particularly younger generations who are our Church’s future. The Royal Commission has now exposed dysfunctional governance, an entrenched culture of clericalism, and a leadership not listening to the people. Too many bishops have denied the extent of clerical child sexual abuse and its systemic cover-up, and even protected paedophiles ahead of children.
The Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry also found that the Church’s governance contributed to coverups and further abuse. Yet the failings go beyond the scandal of child sexual abuse. Archbishops have admitted to “a catastrophic failure of leadership”, and some have spoken of ‘criminal negligence’. Church credibility has been squandered. To rebuild trust, there must be reform of governance based on Gospel values, reflecting servant leadership and engagement with the faithful. There has to be accountability, transparency, and inclusion particularly of women.
Changing processes is not enough. We ask each and every bishop to act now on these reforms:
- Eradicate the corrosive culture of clericalism – “an evil . . . in the Church” (Pope Francis).
- Become truly accountable with full involvement of the faithful, including diocesan pastoral councils, and diocesan assemblies or synods; with pastoral plans and annual diocesan reports.
- Appoint women to more senior diocesan positions, such as chancellor and delegate of bishops.
- Hold diocesan synods/assemblies in 2018, with deanery and parish listening sessions, to develop the agenda for the national 2020 Plenary Council; and as part of normal diocesan governance.
- Further remodel priestly formation, including ongoing development, assessment and registration.
- Reconcile publicly and fully with all the persons abused, their families and communities, and commit to just redress.
- Send an urgent delegation, including laity, to Pope Francis:
- urging him to purge child sexual abuse from the Church: legislating civil reporting of abuse, and ensuring effective discipline, major canon law reform, and review of priestly celibacy;
- advising him of the Royal Commission’s exposure of the Church’s global dysfunctional governance; particularly its clericalist culture and lack of accountability, transparency, and inclusiveness, especially the exclusion of women from top decision-making positions; and
- requesting immediate reform of bishop selection processes, fully including the faithful in identifying the needs of dioceses and local selection criteria.
None of the above proposals requires deferral to the Holy See or awaiting the Royal Commission’s report before acting. All these actions are within your own competence. We ask you to lead the reform of our Church now, acting promptly and decisively – anything less would be a betrayal of the Gospel.
We pray that the Spirit guide us all at this critical time.
Catholics of Australia