Posts Tagged child protection

Amid child porn scandal, Vatican pushes back for child safety online

“As the Vatican deals with criticism of its handling of the case of a papal diplomat recalled to Rome from Washington facing allegations of child pornography use both in the U.S. and Canada, it’s backing a major summit at Rome’s Jesuit-run Gregorian University this week designed to tackle the growing problem of child vulnerability in an internet age.” (National Catholic Reporter)

On the heels of its own child pornography scandal involving the computer of a papal diplomat, the Vatican is lining up behind a major summit this week at Rome’s Jesuit-run Gregorian University devoted to the broader theme of keeping children safe in an internet-saturated age.

“Titled ‘Child Dignity in the Digital World,’ the Oct. 3-6 conference brings together leading experts on child protection, law enforcement officials, executives of Internet and social media companies, NGOs, and others, to discuss how to promote child welfare online.

“The idea is for those various players to hammer out a plan of action, which will be presented to Pope Francis on Friday (Oct. 6) when conference participants meet him in an audience.”

By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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Parish priest removed for inappropriate questioning / Voice of the Faithful

For once, the child protection system worked.

Child protection procedures mean little if those required to execute them fail to do so. But we are reassured to learn that “the system” can work, as it did recently in a parish in Nebraska.

We offer our support and appreciation to the children and parents at St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic School who alerted the principal, Mrs. Sandra Suiter, to improper conduct in the confessional by Rev. Nicholas Mishek, an associate pastor at St. Robert Bellarmine parish in Omaha, Nebraska.

Mrs. Suiter immediately informed the pastor, Rev. Steven Stillmunks, upon learning about Fr. Mishek’s inappropriate behavior, and for that action, we say thank you. We also single out Fr. Stillmunks as modeling precisely the sort of response appropriate upon hearing such news. Being away when he heard, he immediately returned to the parish, calling the Omaha diocesan chancery enroute. Arriving at the parish, he immediately removed Fr. Mishek from his duties and asked him to leave the parish grounds.

The “right steps” did not stop there. A letter co-signed by Mrs. Suiter and Fr. Mishek was quickly sent to all elementary school parents informing them of precisely what had happened, what steps had been taken, and what steps were next in the effort to address the case.

As a result, by the time the Omaha World-Herald reported the story, parents had already been alerted, the Chancery had been direct in its response, and there were no attempts to cloud the issue.

The Church, at least in its communities that comprise the Faithful, can—as the parish of St. Robert Bellarmine demonstrated—take the right steps to protect our children. We are grateful for their actions.

This situation stands somewhat in contrast to the way the higher levels within the Church often react, as Fr. Tom Reese recounts in a recent column for the National Catholic Reporter.

Click here to read Mrs. Suiter and Fr. Stillmunks’ letter to parents.


 Voice of the Faithful Statement, Sept. 20, 2017
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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Australian Catholic Church falls short on safeguards for children, study finds / The New York Times

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 …

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Head of Vatican child protection commission pledges pope’s continuing commitment to rooting out clergy sex abuse / National Catholic Reporter

“Let there be no doubts: no other topic is more important for the life of the church,’ Cardinal Sean O’Malley said.”

“In the midst of a month in which the effectiveness of Pope Francis’ measures to fight clergy sexual abuse has come into question, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley pledged Thursday (Mar. 23) that the pontiff is still ‘thoroughly committed to rooting out the scourge of sex abuse.’

“O’Malley, the head of Francis’ Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, told participants of an education seminar hosted by the group that ‘there is simply no justification in our day for failures to enact concrete safeguarding standards for our children.’

“‘Let there be no doubts: no other topic is more important for the life of the church,’ said the cardinal. ‘If the church is not committed to child protection, our efforts at evangelization will be to no effect; we will lose the trust of our people and gain the opprobrium of the world.’”

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

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How the church is combatting sexual abuse / America magazine

‘The impression that Pope Francis is not hard enough on perpetrators is wrong. The general line of judgment and sentence has not changed,’ Hans Zollner, S.J., president of the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, told ‘America’ in this interview in which he explains what the pope and the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) are doing to combat child abuse and ensure the protection of children in church institutions worldwide.”

By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review — 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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Marie Collins’ resignation today from Vatican commission is a blow to the Church’s child protection efforts

MarieCollinsWebShadowVoice of the Faithful is disheartened at Marie Collins’ resignation today from the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. The lone clergy abuse survivor left on the commission she expressed her frustration at the inability of the commission to move the Catholic Church to more universal and effective child protection measures and healing from its clergy sexual abuse scandal.

VOTF has known Collins to be dedicated to the protection of minors and a stalwart force against the Church’s intransigence in addressing clerical sex abuse. As the featured speaker at VOTF’s 2015 National Assembly, she expressed great hope in the Commission’s work and a willingness to be patient while the church worked to implement child protection measures globally. She also has supported VOTF’s Broken Vessels™ Healing Circles that offer a path towards healing for abuse victims/survivors.

“Marie Collins is strong, courageous, and persistent,” said Donna B. Doucette, VOTF executive director. “If she has lost hope because the Vatican bureaucracy is thwarting progress on child protection, Pope Francis should respond by firing all the Curia department staff who refuse to implement or delay programs that protect children. The Church cannot ignore modern-day prophets like Marie and still claim to care about removing clerical sex abusers.”

In announcing her resignation, Collins expressed dismay at the Commission’s progress, saying, “I believe the setting up of the Commission, the bringing in of outside expertise to advise him (Pope Francis) on what was necessary to make minors safer, was a sincere move. However, despite the Holy Father approving all the recommendations made to him by the Commission, there have been constant setbacks. This has been directly due to the resistance by some members of the Vatican Curia to the work of the Commission.”


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. Contact: Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org, 781-559-3360

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