Posts Tagged clerical sexual abuse

Pope’s abuse prevention commission prioritizes survivors, education / Catholic News Agency

According to an April 22 communique from the commission, the first day of their plenary was dedicated to hearing thoughts and testimonies from survivors of clerical sexual abuse, many of them members of the Survivor Advisory Panel (SAP) of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission of England and Wales. (Catholic News Agency)

Pope Francis’ commission for the protection of minors met in Rome last week to listen to survivors of clerical sexual abuse, and to discuss abuse prevention education and policy, and ways the Church might work more closely with abuse survivors.

“According to an April 22 communique from the commission, the first day of their plenary was dedicated to hearing thoughts and testimonies from survivors of clerical sexual abuse, many of them members of the Survivor Advisory Panel (SAP) of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission of England and Wales.

“Those who attended voiced appreciation for being listened to, and described the encounter as ’empowering.’

“One of the survivors, according to the communique, voiced hope that their visit would help the commission “develop a wider network of survivors who are willing to advise and support” the commission’s work in a similar manner.”

By Elise Harris, Catholic News Agency — Read more …

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All Victim Survivors Deserve a Full Measure of Justice

Statement from the Catholic Coalition of Conscience
on the Archdiocese of NY Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program

The Catholic Coalition of Conscience and its participating groups (listed below) welcome the announcement by the Archdiocese of New York of the formation of an “Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program” designed to help victim-survivors of clerical sexual abuse. Although such an initiative has been delayed for too long, as acknowledged by Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the effective implementation of this program could bring much needed aid to victim-survivors who have been denied justice by New York State’s Statute of Limitations (SOL) restrictions governing sexual abuse of children.

Mr. Kenneth R. Feinberg, the independent mediator charged with reviewing cases and making monetary awards, said in the press conference announcing the program that it would be a “model.” Having worked for SOL reform over several years in New York State in the face of strenuous opposition from the Catholic Church, the Catholic Coalition of Conscience respectfully asserts that this program will only be a “model” if it reflects five key principles:

Transparency: The workings of the program are governed by “protocols” which were reviewed and approved by members of its Independent Oversight Committee: former NYC Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Judge Loretta A. Preska and Dr. Jeanette Cueva, M.D. Presumably these protocols cover such issues as mandatory non-disclosure agreements. These protocols must be disclosed to the public, so that victim-survivors contemplating participation in the program can understand the ground rules under which it will operate.

Inclusion: If the aim of the program is to promote reconciliation, why have no members of the victim-survivor community been invited to join the Oversight Committee to help guide and shape the operation of the program? The commission on sexual abuse formed by Pope Francis includes victims of abuse; should not this archdiocesan program be at least as inclusive?

Generosity: The awards made by the program must be made public, so that the Catholic community at large can evaluate the fairness of the awards in light of similar settlements made by other dioceses and entities of the Catholic Church. The awards must be generous, given the many years that victim-survivors have had to wait before receiving any meaningful response from the Catholic Church. The program should also allow victim-survivors more than two months (to the end of January 2017, according to published reports) to decide whether or not to participate in the first phase of the program. Given Cardinal Dolan’s own admission that such a program should have been implemented long before now, a two-month deadline is demeaning to victim-survivors who face the complex and potentially irreversible decision on whether or not to participate.

Accountability: The names of any sex abusers and enablers who are identified as part of the program should be published. If accusations against these accusers are credible enough to merit monetary awards, the Catholic community of New York and the general public need to know the names of the abusers. Further, the Archdiocese of New York should renounce all opposition to SOL reform legislation in the State of New York. The new archdiocesan program in no way negates the need for comprehensive SOL reform, which is urgently needed so that all children can be better protected from sexual abuse, and all victims denied access to the courts by archaic SOL limits can have the opportunity to seek redress.

Reconciliation: The goal of the program must be to achieve true Christian reconciliation between victim-survivors and the Catholic faithful. This demands more than monetary awards. Victim-survivors have repeatedly said that what they want most is to be heard and not dismissed or feel violated anew by aggressive court proceedings. Church leaders and members must meet with victim-survivors who are willing to re-engage with the faith community, and listen to their stories with compassion and understanding. The damage done by sexual abuse lasts a lifetime; programmatic support for victim-survivors should be strong and ongoing, not a one-time event. Beyond monetary awards, the Catholic Church must humbly ask forgiveness in this year of mercy from victim-survivors and their families, including those who lost a loved one to suicide.

The Catholic Coalition of Conscience calls on the Archdiocese of New York and Mr. Feinberg to revise the operation and procedures of the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program immediately in accord with these principles, so that victim-survivors of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church receive the full measure of justice they deserve.

October 20, 2016
Call to Action Metro New York
Call to Action Upstate New York
Voice of the Faithful New York

Media Contact: Francis X. Piderit, Voice of the Faithful New York Leadership Team, 917-916-7575 (Cell Phone), PideritVOTF@piderit.com

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Vatican abuse commission member responds to leave of absence controversy / National Catholic Reporter

As a survivor of child clerical sexual abuse I spent many years silent, then many years speaking out to expose the way the Catholic Church had protected itself and abandoned children to the abusers in its midst. The anger I felt at the continuing reluctance by many Church leaders to report the perpetrators, to cooperate with civil authorities, to treat survivors with justice was overwhelming.

Then came the Pope’s decision in 2013 to set up the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and my own appointment to that body. This Commission was being put in place to work on devising policy and structural change which could be recommended to the Pope to improve child protection in the future and ensure that all church leaders would implement these policies.

I had to decide if there was any hope that this Commission, through its advice to the Pope, would bring about permanent change within the universal Church or would it be a wasted effort, just a PR exercise. In the end I decided that if there was any hope at all, of protecting children in the future better than in the past, then I should take part.

By Marie Collins, member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, in National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this statement.

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O’Malley urges more accountability in sex abuse cases / Cruxnow.com

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston (who leads the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors) made a pitch to Pope Francis and his team of cardinal advisers Wednesday (Apr. 15) on the need to hold bishops who fail to report sexual abuse accountable.

“O’Malley’s talk came three days after two survivors of clerical sexual abuse met with him to protest the pope’s naming of a bishop in Chile linked to a notorious abuser.

“According to a Vatican spokesman, O’Malley brought the issue to the attention of the pontiff’s ‘G9’ commission of cardinal advisers, a body whose meetings the pope attends. O’Malley is a member …

“The Rev. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said O’Malley emphasized to his fellow cardinals the need to establish appropriate procedures and methods to evaluate and judge cases of ‘abuse of office’ by bishops or priests — especially in cases in which they mishandled abuse allegations against a cleric or other church personnel under their supervision.”

By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Angry protest over new bishop in Chile

Hundreds of demonstrators dressed in black barged into a cathedral in a city in southern Chile on Saturday and interrupted the installation ceremony for the city’s new Roman Catholic bishop, Juan Barros, whom they accuse of complicity in a notorious case of clerical sexual abuse, blocking his passage and shouting, ‘Barros, get out of the city!’

“The scene inside the Cathedral San Mateo de Osorno was chaotic, with television images showing clashes between Barros opponents, carrying black balloons, and Barros supporters, carrying white ones. Radio reports said several protesters tried to climb onto the altar where Bishop Barros was standing. After the ceremony, he left the cathedral through a side door escorted by police special forces. Outside, about 3,000 people, including local politicians and members of Congress, held signs and chanted demands that he resign.”

By Pascale Bonnefoy, The New York Times — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Vatican revising canon law on abuse penalties, cardinal says / Catholic News Service

Church law has procedures and penalties for effectively dealing with allegations of clerical sexual abuse, but the Vatican is working to revise a section of the Code of Canon Law to make those norms and procedures clearer and, therefore, more effective, said the president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

“‘We want to make this delicate material more accessible, more understandable and easier for bishops to apply,’ Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, council president, told the Vatican newspaper …

“If a bishop does not react by imposing a punishment on a priest guilty of the crime of sexual abuse, he said, ‘in some way that would be, or would seem to be, consenting to the evil committed. A negative act necessarily must be condemned; it requires a reaction.’”

By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Bishops that Left Abuse Unreported Face Police / The Scotsman

Church officials have warned that Catholic dioceses and bishops who ignored complaints over alleged sexual abuse by priests will be reported to police for prosecution. Complaints of clerical sexual abuse stretching back almost 70 years are the subject of a review by the Catholic Church in Scotland, which insists any serious complaint since 1947 must be passed on to the police even if both alleged victim and priest are dead.”

By Stephen McGinty, The Scotsman — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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