Posts Tagged clergy sexual abuse

SNAP in the crosshairs II / Thomas Doyle

Photo of Tom DoyleRev. Thomas P. Doyle, who has a doctorate in canon law and five master’s degrees, sacrificed a rising career at the Vatican Embassy to become an outspoken advocate for church abuse victims. Since 1984, when he became involved with the issue of sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy while serving at the Embassy, he has become an expert in the canonical and pastoral dimensions of this problem. The first part of his commentary on SNAP was published earlier in this blog.

As soon as the media announced that the two leaders of SNAP had resigned and that a former employee had filed a lawsuit, the usual suspects came out of the woodwork to hammer SNAP, Barbara Blaine, David Clohessy and several others who have been connected with SNAP in one way or another. The information they broadcast about SNAP and its problems all came from the complaint that initiated the lawsuit. No one has any “inside information.”

A complaint in a lawsuit is exactly that: a list of things with which the plaintiff took issue. The purpose of the legal process is to determine whether these complaints are true.

The complaint about SNAP and its central leadership tries to give the impression that the entire organization is somehow corrupt and working against sex abuse victims. Nothing could be further from reality. Nor is the national leadership the totality of SNAP, and vice versa. Thus, while the lawsuit names SNAP, the fact is that it’s really about less than a handful of members.

Most of the news stories triggered by the lawsuit have not vilified SNAP or its leaders. The exceptions come primarily from two notorious sources: David Pierre and Bill Donohue. Both of these individuals consistently deny the scope of clerical sex abuse and attribute the actions of survivors and their supporters to anti-Catholic sentiments instead of to a thirst for justice.

Pierre operates a web site called the Media Report, which I have read only once or twice and was singularly unenlightened each time.

Donohue has complained for years that SNAP promotes anti-Catholicism, and he endorses the baseless claim made in the lawsuit that SNAP leaders have a “pathological hatred of the Catholic Church.”

It’s a silly accusation. Yes, of course a lot of sex abuse survivors and those who support them are highly critical of the institutional church—and of bishops in particular. It’s a natural response to being abused and then having to endure the lying, cover ups, demonization, and manipulation by their trusted shepherds. Whether Donohue likes it or not, sexual molestation of innumerable minor boys and girls by Catholic clerics is a reality. No amount of spin or bombastic raving or charges of anti-Catholicism can make it go away. (The other reality is that the number of false accusations is miniscule.)

The ultimate anti-Catholic behavior, in my view, is the lying, cover up, demonization, and manipulation of victims by the bishops. Indeed, the prime cause of scandal, anger and “Catholic bashing” has not been the sex abuse itself but the behavior of the hierarchy world-wide.

Bishops who have secretly transferred sex abusers from parish to parish, protected them, and then lied about it not only deserve severe criticism but also, according to the Church’s own law enacted last May by Pope Francis, dismissal from office. Why? Because tolerating, protecting and enabling the molestation of children violates teachings that come from the core of the Church’s belief system: the Gospels of Jesus Christ.

Vilifying the victims of the Church’s ministers and attacking those who support them as “anti-Catholic” may generate headlines, but it cannot erase those basic truths. Catholic clergy abused children for decades (centuries); the bishops covered it up; and the Church still has not fully come to terms with that massive failure.

Contrary to the wishful thinking of many in Church leadership, it is not “over.” Victims of clergy abuse are still coming forward. In numerous other countries, the victims are organizing and standing up to the institutional Church just as they did in the U.S. Victims no longer will cower in the shadows. That era ended almost 40 years ago.

The forces who demand honesty, accountability, and transparency will continue hacking away at the False-Church facade so that the real thing, the “People of God,” can emerge to its rightful place.

A final thought about the lawsuit. A number of people who have read the complaint seem to believe there’s something fishy about it. One wonders if the real purpose has nothing to do with justice or whistleblowing but, like some of the other lawsuits aimed at SNAP, aims to use the legal process to force SNAP out of business.

April 20, 2017

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Atlanta archbishop says clericalism continues to hinder sex abuse reforms / America

If only clericalism could be quashed and the Vatican II promise of a broad, deep, significant, and effective participation of equal lay and ordained in the Church could be fulfilled — but we don’t see this happening anytime soon.

Archbishop Wilton Gregory, who led the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops during the tumultuous years when the wide scope of the clergy sexual abuse scandal was brought to light, said in a new interview that clericalism is still hampering efforts to address the issue, even at the highest levels of the church.

“‘I would say there is a resistance to do the hard thing,’ the Atlanta archbishop told NPR affiliate WABE in a March interview broadcast on April 10. ‘I think it’s culturally driven as much as it is ideologically driven.’

“Archbishop Gregory addressed allegations by Marie Collins, an Irish laywoman and survivor of sexual abuse who resigned from the pope’s child protection commission. She complained that the Vatican refuses to implement recommendations from the group, even with the backing of Pope Francis himself. Ms. Collins, the archbishop said, ‘has touched on a truism.’

‘”‘It is the ugly face of clericalism that unfortunately still has too much influence in our church,’ Archbishop Gregory said. ‘Marie Collins is a very brave woman, and she is a very determined woman, and I believe she’s a grace for the church.’

By Michael O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …

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Pope makes appointments amid criticism of sex abuse response

Pope Francis

Wikimedia/Casa Rosada

“Collins’ departure laid bare the cultural chasm between the commission’s (Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors) outside experts, who proposed best-in-class ideas for protecting children, and the reality of the Vatican bureaucracy and its legal and administrative limitations.”

Pope Francis on Tuesday (Apr. 4) named a new official to oversee the Vatican office that processes clerical sex abuse cases amid mounting criticism over a yearslong backlog of cases and Francis’ handling of the problem.

The promotion of Monsignor John Kennedy to head of the discipline section of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith was the second abuse-related appointment in recent days. Francis named the Rev. Hans Zollner, one of the Catholic Church’s top experts on fighting abuse and protecting children, as an adviser to the Vatican’s office for clergy on Saturday (Apr. 1).

Francis and the Vatican have come under fresh scrutiny over their response to the abuse crisis since Irish survivor Marie Collins resigned from the pope’s sex abuse advisory commission on March 1, citing “unacceptable” resistance to the commission’s proposals from the Vatican’s doctrine office.

Collins’ departure laid bare the cultural chasm between the commission’s outside experts, who proposed best-in-class ideas for protecting children, and the reality of the Vatican bureaucracy and its legal and administrative limitations.

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press — Read more …

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Open Letter to the Bishops of Australia / Catholics for Renewal

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.

Dear Bishops

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:

  1. Eradicate the corrosive culture of clericalism – “an evil . . . in the Church” (Pope Francis).
  2. 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.
  3. Appoint women to more senior diocesan positions, such as chancellor and delegate of bishops.
  4. 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.
  5. Further remodel priestly formation, including ongoing development, assessment and registration.
  6. Reconcile publicly and fully with all the persons abused, their families and communities, and commit to just redress.
  7. 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

The Open Letter can be signed by Australian Catholics by clicking here or by downloading this PDF, printing, signing, and mailing it.

 

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Child sex abuse: Catholic bishops ‘must meet Pope Francis to push for urgent change’ / The Syndy Morning Herald

Catholic Bishop“The push for an Australian delegation to the Vatican comes only days after the church’s most prominent spokesman throughout the royal commission hearings, Francis Sullivan, returned from Rome to say he was ‘astounded by the resistance in some quarters of the church’ to tackling the child sex abuse crisis.”

Australia’s bishops must lead an urgent delegation to Pope Francis seeking changes to some of the church’s most fundamental views on women, celibacy, governance and the handling of child sex cases, according to Australia’s peak Catholic reform group in a call to arms to Catholics across the country.

In an open letter sent to all parishes, Catholics for Renewal has urged bishops and archbishops not to “defer to the Holy See”, or wait for the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, before acting on serious issues identified by the commission that contributed to the child sexual abuse crisis.”

By Joanne McCarthy, The Sydney Morning Herald — Read more …

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French TV inquiry accuses 25 bishops of abuse cover-ups / National Catholic Reporter

“The inquiry found 339 victims, 228 of whom were under 15 at the time of the abuse. Only 165 of their cases were eventually reported to justice authorities. Of the alleged abusers, 28 were transferred to another parish or to a foreign country once accusations against them surfaced, it said. Significantly, the inquiry found that 16 of the 32 alleged abusers were accused after 2000, the year the bishops’ conference decided to tighten its abuse guidelines and require that abusive priests be turned over to the authorities.”

A hard-hitting French television investigation has accused 25 Catholic bishops of protecting 32 accused clerical sex abusers in France over the past half century and often transferring them to other parishes or even other countries when they were singled out for sexual abuse of minors. The French bishops’ conference declined an invitation to participate in the France 2 television program aired March 21. A conference spokesman accused journalists of trying to blackmail the church, an allegation the program’s editor vigorously refuted.”

By Tom Heneghan of The Tablet in National Catholic Reporter — 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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