Posts Tagged National Review Board

Annual audit of church abuse allegations shows work still needed / Catholic News Service

“Deacon Bernie Nojadera, executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection, said the audits show that even with all of the work being done to fulfill the requirements of the bishops’ charter, developed in 2002, allegations involving current minors have still occurred.”

The 14th annual report on diocesan compliance with the U.S. Catholic Church’s ‘Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People’ shows that church leaders have taken steps to help many find healing as victims of clergy sexual abuse, but there is still work to be done.

“Introductory remarks in the 2017 report urge church leaders not to assume that ‘sexual abuse of minors by the clergy is a thing of the past and a distant memory. Any allegation involving a current minor should remind the bishops that they must rededicate themselves each day to maintaining a level of vigilance,’ wrote Francesco Cesareo, chairman of the National Review Board, which oversees the audits …

“Deacon Bernie Nojadera, executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection, said the audits show that even with all of the work being done to fulfill the requirements of the bishops’ charter, developed in 2002, allegations involving current minors have still occurred.”

By Carol Zimmerman, Catholic News Service — Read More …

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Child Victims Act sunsets within week of bishops’ abuse report / Voice of the Faithful

BOSTON, Mass., May 25, 2016 – Recent heightened public scrutiny of Catholic clergy sexual abuse has reinforced the urgency for the Church to address the scandal adequately, according to abuse victims’ advocate and Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful.

Within only a week, the “window” in the Minnesota Child Victims act expired, even as the U.S. Catholic bishops made their annual abuse report.

On May 24, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the three-year window created by the 2013 Minnesota Child Victims Act for reporting old claims of child sex abuse would expire May 25. During the three-year period, more than 500 claims were made against Minnesota Catholic clergy, according to the Star Tribune, which said, “In the three years since the law’s passage, the local church has witnessed an archbishop’s resignation, two bankruptcies and the public naming of more than 100 priests credibly accused of child sex abuse.”

The same day, the Associated Press reported that lawyers for abuse victims were accusing the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese of hiding more than $1 billion in assets “to avoid big payouts to abuse survivors as part of the church’s bankruptcy case.”

On May 20, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released its 2015 annual audit report on the implementation of its Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The report was not entirely complimentary of the Church’s efforts. The report showed a sharp increase in the number of new claims primarily from adults reporting past abuse. Francesco Cesareo, chairman of USCCB’s National Review Board, said the audit showed progress in creating safe environments for children but that very progress threatens complacency in implementing the charter’s guidelines.

As VOTF has pointed out before, the audit relies on self-reporting to assess compliance with those guidelines with little or no verification of the reported data.

Voice of the Faithful believes this focus on the scandal reinforces calls to action VOTF has made many times, including:

  1. everyone in the Church, lay and clergy alike, must be constantly vigilant in order to prevent abuse and its coverup and to report suspected cases promptly to civil authorities;
  2. the Church must stop blocking state statutes of limitation reforms that allow sufficient time for abused children to report the crimes;
  3. the Church must hold accountable not only the abusers, but also those who fail to report the crimes;
  4. the Church must provide abuse survivors and all those harmed by the scandal with resources necessary for healing.

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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Voice of the Faithful writes USCCB’s NRB about distress at Bishop Finn ordinations

Roman Catholic Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful wrote today to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Review Board, which oversees the Church’s child protection policies, declaiming its distress that disgraced Bishop Robert Finn will preside at ordinations this month in his former diocese. In doing so, we add our voices to those of SNAP and other organizations that believe public support for abuse survivors and endorsement of strong child protection policies is essential for the Church.

Here is the text of the letter:

Dear NRB Members,

Voice of the Faithful urges you, as the office charged with ensuring the protection of children, to speak out immediately on the recent that Bishop Robert Finn, who recently resigned from the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, is scheduled to confer ordinations there later this month.

Bishop Finn, as you no doubt know, was convicted three years ago for the crime of failing to report the discovery of child pornography on the computer of a priest in his diocese. Despite that conviction, Bishop Finn was permitted to attend USCCB meetings. No other bishop publicly criticized his presence, and only when the Vatican announced his removal was there any consequence to his public failure to observe the 2002 Dallas Charter requirements or the laws protecting children in Missouri.

To have Bishop Finn preside at ordinations sends a compelling signal to the Faithful of cronyism and coverup, of clerical preference at the expense of a strong commitment to protecting children. Bishop Finn, who by his conviction is no longer legally eligible to teach children, does not embody the qualities needed for leaders and teachers of the faith and surely should not be in the position of ordaining future pastors and spiritual guides.

In the name of abuse survivors and our children and grandchildren, we pray you speak out against this misguided plan to have Bishop Finn confer ordinations. Your message would be a significant demonstration that it’s not “business as usual” for the coverup of child sex abuse. If you fail to act, the message delivered instead is that “courtesy” to bishops matters more to the USCCB than its own promises about protecting children from sex abuse.

Sincerely,

Mark Mullaney, President

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Bishops Talk Sex Abuse Complacency, Not Accountability at Annual Meeting / National Catholic Reporter

Urged not to get complacent on clergy sexual abuse of minors, the nation’s Catholic bishops spoke little of holding one another accountable for failures in protecting children at their annual spring meeting. The chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Review Board, which advises the bishops on child protection policies, told those gathered Wednesday  (June 11) in New Orleans that the church ‘continues to slowly make progress’ on the abuse issue and asked bishops present to ‘resist complacency’ and ‘remain committed’ to the work still ahead of them.”
By Brian Roewe, Joshua J. McElwee — Click here to read the rest of this story.

Other news concerning the U.S. bishops’ 2014 spring assembly, which is taking place in New Orleans:

U.S. Bishops Seek to Match Vatican in Shifting Tone
“Fifteen months into the pontificate of Pope Francis, the Roman Catholic bishops of the United States find themselves unsettled in ways large and small, revisiting both how they live and what they talk about in light of the new pope’s emphasis on personal humility and economic justice. Over the last several days as the bishops gathered here for their semiannual meeting, they grappled with the substantive and stylistic implications of a still-new papacy.” By Michael Paulson, The New York Times

At Spring Assembly, U.S. Bishops Urged to Promote, Support Families
“The U.S. bishops, gathered in New Orleans for their spring general assembly June 11-13, were urged to promote and support Catholic families. At the close of the morning’s session June 11, the bishops were advised to pay close attention to the Vatican’s extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family Oct. 5-19 and to promote the World Meeting of Families September 2015 in Philadelphia.” By The Catholic Sun

U.S. Bishops Open Assembly by Voting to Stay the Course
“The nation’s Catholic bishops during their annual summer assembly voted to stay the course they have set for themselves over the last several years, focusing on issues of religious liberty, same-sex marriage, and participation in the U.S. political sphere. In one of only three public deliberations at the event, the prelates voted to renew their efforts in addressing concerns over religious liberty, granting another three-year term to a special bishops’ committee organized on the issue. The bishops are gathered in New Orleans until Friday (June 13) for their spring meeting, one of two annual plenary assemblies of the U.S. bishops’ conference.” By Brian Roewe and Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

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Pope Apologizes for Clergy Sexual Abuse As Former Abuse Commissioners Tell of Struggles with Bishops

Pope Asks Forgiveness for Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal, by David Gibson, Religion News Service

“In his strongest personal remarks yet on the clergy sex abuse scandal, Pope Francis on Friday (April 11) asked forgiveness ‘for the damage’ that abusive priests have inflicted on children and pledged that the Catholic Church ‘will not take one step backward’ in efforts to address the crisis.”

Click here to read the rest of Gibson’s story.

Past Members of Sex Abuse Commissions Tell of Struggles with Bishops, by Jason Berry, National Catholic Reporter

“Commissions set up by church officials to advise church officials on clergy sexual abuse have a checkered history. No one knows this better than Catholics who answered their bishops’ call to serve but found themselves and their advice rejected or ignored.

“The U.S. bishops named a 12-member blue-ribbon panel of lay advisers amid the firestorm of media coverage in 2002.

“‘A lot of American bishops would not want to see any of us of the original review board named to this [pontifical] commission,’ said Nicholas Cafardi, who served on the National Review Board from 2002 to 2004.”

Click here to read the rest of Berry’s story.

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Why Aren’t Errant Bishops Held Accountable?

Voice of the Faithful® has called repeatedly over many years for accountability for bishops who have covered up clergy sexual abuse. Why? Read Nicholas Cafardi’s article Accountability Gap, which appears in the June 11, 2013, issue of Commonweal magazine. Cafardi is a civil and canon lawyer, dean emeritus and professor of law at Duquesne University School of Law and one of the original members of the USCCB’s National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Youth.

When the spotlight of the national press was on them, it appeared that the bishops had acted responsibly. But, as an inaugural member of the bishops’ National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Youth, I had a different perspective. When the board went looking for national data about the phenomenon of sexual abuse by clergy, the California bishops, led by Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles (now retired), strongly resisted the audits. By Nicholas Cafardi, Commonweal

Read Cafardi’s entire article in Commonweal by clicking here.

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USCCB 2012 Audit Shows Major Weaknesses Remain in Child Protection Process

The Catholic Church’s process for protecting children from clergy sexual abuse still has major weaknesses.

Annual audits assessing compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People still do not allow fully independent auditors complete access to all information. And auditors still are discovering weaknesses in compliance at the parish level. Everyone knows it, and no one is doing anything about it.

In a news release today, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops outlined the results of its 2012 annual diocesan audit, from which the folling is taken:

StoneBridge (Business Partners) cited limitations, including “the unwillingness of most dioceses and eparchies to allow us to conduct parish audits during their on-site audits.” It said that “the auditors must rely solely on the information provided by the diocese or eparchy, instead of observing the program firsthand.”

Another limitation is staff turnover in diocesan child abuse prevention programs. As a result, “records are often lost, and successors to the position are often placed in key roles without formal orientation,” StoneBridge reported.

Al J. Notzon, III, chairman of the National Review Board (NRB), which oversees the audits, echoed StoneBridge concerns in a letter to Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Notzon highlighted the importance of good record-keeping “and the great significance of involving parishes in the audit process.”

Voice of the Faithful® began calling for fully independent audits with full access to all information soon after the Charter was promulgated in 2002. And VOTF’s early child protection efforts saw the same problem of compliance in parishes cited above, where already overburdened staffs were hardpressed to assume the paperwork burden required by new child protection guidelines and programs.

That was more than a decade ago. Heightened awareness and attempts to create more secure environments may have made children safer, but while these discrepancies in the Church’s audits remain, what are we to believe when Cardinal Dolan says in USCCB’s news release, “We seek … to assure that our audits continue to be credible and maintain accountability in our shared promise to protect and our pledge to heal.”

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