Posts Tagged child sex abuse

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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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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Pope admits Catholic Church waited too long to respond to clergy abuse crisis / National Catholic Reporter

“Maybe the old practice of moving people around, of not facing the problem, kept our consciousness asleep,” the pope suggested. “Thanks to God, the Lord sent prophetic men and women in the church … who got others involved and began this work to face the problem head-on.” (National Catholic Reporter)

Pope Francis has admitted that the Catholic Church waited too long before taking reports of clergy sexual abuse seriously, suggesting that the former practice of moving priests accused of abuse to new ministries instead of reporting them to authorities kept the church numb to the scope of the situation.

“In his first formal meeting Sept. 21 with the now three-year-old Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, the pontiff also called ‘prophetic’ the men and women who urged the church for decades to face the problem.

“‘I know it has not been easy to start this work,’ the pope told the members of the commission in off-the-cuff remarks notable for their frankness. ‘You have had to swim against the current because there is a reality: the church has taken consciousness about these crimes in a delayed manner.’

”When the consciousness is delayed, the means for resolving the problem are delayed,’ said Francis. ‘I am aware of this difficulty. But it is a reality. I’ll say it so: We have come to this late.'”

By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — 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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Vatican diplomat to the U.S. recalled amid child pornography investigation / America: The Jesuit Review

“In declining to identify the priest, the Vatican said the case was subject to ‘investigative confidentiality,’ as ‘applicable to all preliminary inquiries according to the laws of the Vatican City State.'” (America: The Jesuit Review)

A Vatican priest working in the Holy See’s embassy in Washington has been recalled after U.S. officials flagged possible violations of child pornography laws, the Vatican said on Sept. 15.

“In a statement issued to the media, the Vatican press office revealed that the U.S. State Department had notified the Vatican on Aug. 21 ‘of a possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images by a member of the diplomatic corps of the Holy See accredited to Washington.’

“The Italian news agency ANSA has named the Vatican diplomat as Monsignor Carlo Alberto Capella, 50, who was sent to the nunciature in Washington less than a year ago. A New York Times story confirmed the report.

“The Vatican has not identified the diplomat, but said Friday (Sept. 15 he was currently in Vatican City and that its promoter of justice, an office equivalent to a prosecutor or investigating judge, has opened an investigation into possible violation of U.S. laws relating to child pornography.

“Subsequently, it said, ‘the Promoter of Justice opened an investigation and has already commenced international collaboration to obtain elements relative to the case.’ In other words, the Vatican and the U.S. authorities are collaborating on this case.”

By Gerard O’Connell, Associated Press, in America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …

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Catholic sexual abuse partly caused by secrecy and mandatory celibacy, report finds / The Guardian

“The patriarchal nature of Catholic institutions meant that abuse went unchallenged and, while a small number of nuns were abusers, the report found the risk of offending was much higher in institutions where priests and religious brothers had minimal contact with women. The report estimated about 7% of clergy had abused children between about 1950 and 2000.” (The Guardian)

Mandatory celibacy and a culture of secrecy created by popes and bishops are major factors in why such high rates of child abuse have occurred in the Catholic church, a comprehensive study has found.

“The report, which looked at the findings of 26 royal commissions and other inquiries from Australia, Ireland, the UK, Canada and the Netherlands since 1985, found that while the endangerment of children in institutions has been considerably lowered in Australia, children remained at risk in Catholic parishes and schools and Catholic residential institutions in other countries across the world, especially in the developing world where there are more than 9,000 Catholic-run orphanages, including 2,600 in India.

“The patriarchal nature of Catholic institutions meant that abuse went unchallenged and, while a small number of nuns were abusers, the report found the risk of offending was much higher in institutions where priests and religious brothers had minimal contact with women. The report estimated about 7% of clergy had abused children between about 1950 and 2000.”

By Melissa Davey, The Guardian — Read more …

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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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