Posts Tagged priests

Feds open clergy abuse probe in Pennsylvania / Associated Press

“It’s groundbreaking if we’re going to see one of the U.S. attorneys pursuing the Catholic cases,” said Marci Hamilton, a University of Pennsylvania professor and chief executive of Child USA, a nonprofit think tank focused on preventing child abuse. “The federal government has so far been utterly silent on the Catholic cases.” (Associated Press)

The U.S. Justice Department has opened an investigation of child sexual abuse inside the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania, using subpoenas to demand confidential files and testimony from church leaders, according to two people familiar with the probe.

“The subpoenas, served last week, follow a scathing state grand jury report over the summer that found that 301 ‘predator priests’ in Pennsylvania had molested more than 1,000 children over seven decades and that church leaders had covered up for the offenders.

“Now federal prosecutors are bringing the Justice Department’s considerable resources to bear, according to two people who were not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

“‘It’s groundbreaking if we’re going to see one of the U.S. attorneys pursuing the Catholic cases,’ said Marci Hamilton, a University of Pennsylvania professor and chief executive of Child USA, a nonprofit think tank focused on preventing child abuse. ‘The federal government has so far been utterly silent on the Catholic cases.'”

By Maryclaire Dale and Eric Tucker, Associated Press — Read more …

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Want to address priest sexual abuse? The Catholic Church needs to overhaul its seminaries / The Washington Post

Young men who feel called to priesthood, although well intentioned, often have enormous gaps in their prior formation and upbringing. (The Washington Post)

Although clergy sexual abuse scandals aren’t new, the ones that have rocked the Catholic Church this summer revolved around a group seldom focused on before: seminarians. The sexual harassment and abuse of seminarians, and the response of seminary leaders, have been at the center of the case of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, whose removal from ministry in June began months of focus on abuse.

“Many Catholics share a heightened, even unprecedented, level of concern for the well-being of Catholic seminarians. They rightly wonder, as well, whether our seminaries can not only screen out potential sexual predators, but also rise to the challenge of preparing for life and ministry men who are emotionally mature, and psychologically and sexually healthy. This requires training for contemporary American society.

“The convergence of these concerns invites a long-needed conversation about reform in American seminaries.

“Many of us who have labored in seminary formation for years consider 2018 a watershed moment, in fact, to insist on long-overdue adjustments and enhancements to seminary training. In retrospect, many of our institutions have too often failed miserably in preparing men for ministry, and many still fall far short of the goal of forming happy, healthy, holy priests. The church urgently needs new approaches to preparing men for priestly ministry given today’s sexualized, secularized culture and the personal challenges facing seminarians.”

By Rev. Thomas V. Berg, The Washington Post — Read more …

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A Grand Jury report of widespread Catholic clergy abuse and coverup in Pennsylvania is no surprise / Voice of the Faithful

BOSTON, Mass., Aug. 15, 2018 – The findings of a grand jury in Pennsylvania that investigated sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy in six dioceses there cannot be called a surprise. Not after grand juries examining clergy sex abuse in two other Pennsylvania dioceses found the same pattern. Not after grand juries in other states and government commissions around the world have unearthed the same crimes and the same failures again and again.

What would be a surprise is if, this time, the Church hierarchy follows up on its numerous promises and expressions of sorrow and finally brings to account all those who participated in the crimes and coverups. Although Church officials can point to the positive efforts made to introduce child protection safeguards and abuse reporting going forward, such efforts cannot substitute for full justice – the Church and the Catholic faithful must hold accountable the many bishops, chancery officials, and even lay persons who knew of abuse, looked the other way, and allowed the predators to claim additional victims.

The latest report goes further than many others in the United States in naming the bishops who allowed abuser priests to escape justice. Now the test for the hierarchy will be whether these bishops face any sanctions for their failures, and whether all priests named as abusers are out of ministry. It is no longer sufficient to say a statute of limitations has passed or that the bishop now knows better. Justice and morality are not defined by legal stipulations. It’s long past time to do what’s right.

Voice of the Faithful has called for such accountability since its founding in 2002. As a lay organization seeking reform within the Church, we work with lay people, priests, and a few brave bishops to bring forward the changes that could guard against such abuses in the future. We promote programs that encourage both transparency and accountability, offer pathways to healing for those damaged by the abuse, and ask all Catholics to exercise vigilance.

However, given the administrative structure of the Roman Catholic Church, such efforts by the Catholic faithful must be endorsed and then implemented by the hierarchy if we are to obtain full transparency and accountability. Recent calls by some bishops, in the wake of news about former Cardinal McCarrick, for lay participation in holding bishops accountable would be a good start. The second step would be to address the clericalism that fosters such systemic failures.

Click here to read excerpts from the grand jury report and access link to full report.


 

Voice of the Faithful Statement, Aug. 15, 2018
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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More than 300 accused priests listed in Pennsylvania report on Catholic Church sex abuse / The Washington Post

The report has helped renew a crisis many in the church thought and hoped had ended nearly 20 years ago after the scandal erupted in Boston. (The Washington Post)

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Tuesday (Aug. 14) released a sweeping grand jury report on sex abuse in the Catholic Church, listing more than 300 accused clergy and detailing a ‘systematic’ coverup effort by church leaders over 70 years.

“State Attorney General Josh Shapiro said at a news conference Tuesday that more than 1,000 child victims were identified in the report, but the grand jury believes there are more.

“The release is the culmination of an 18-month probe, led Shapiro, on six of the state’s eight dioceses — Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Scranton, Erie and Greensburg — and follows other state grand jury reports that revealed abuse and coverups in two other dioceses.

“Shapiro said that the report details a ‘systematic coverup by senior church officials in Pennsylvania and at the Vatican.'”

By Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post — Read more …

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Sex-abuse report looms over Catholic dioceses / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

But if the past is any indication, the investigation is likely to yield a report horrific in detail and blistering in its censure of church authorities who may have failed to protect victims as far back as the mid-20th century. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Since July 2016, a grand jury seated in Pittsburgh has been quietly hearing testimony on alleged rape and sexual abuse of children by priests and others associated with the Roman Catholic Church.

The scope of the investigation spans seven decades and from one end of Pennsylvania to the other.

What is expected in the coming weeks is a report that could be the most comprehensive and geographically expansive official report ever produced in the United States on the enormity of the scandal.

The 40th Statewide Grand Jury had an 18-month term, extended by four months to the end of April, according to those familiar with its work.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro is refusing to confirm anything about the grand jury beyond the single indictment it has yielded so far — that of a Greensburg priest, the Rev. John Sweeney, who faces a June trial on a charge of sexually abusing a 10-year-old boy in the 1990s.

But if the past is any indication, the investigation is likely to yield a report horrific in detail and blistering in its censure of church authorities who may have failed to protect victims as far back as the mid-20th century.

By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful endorses U.S. priests’ statement on priestly formation

BOSTON, Mass., Apr. 11, 2018 – Voice of the Faithful, a movement of Roman Catholics whose major goals include supporting priests, endorses the recent statement made by the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests that calls for revisions in the training of men for ordination to the priesthood to ensure greater adherence to the tenets of the Second Vatican Council and teachings of Pope Francis.

The impetus for AUSCP’s statement stems from the 2016 mandate of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy that each bishop’s conference update its Program for Priestly Formation.

“Our study and reflection persuade us that a new Program of Priestly Formation needs more than minimal editing … It needs in-depth revisions,” the priests said in a letter to Cardinal Joseph Tobin, who leads the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on the Consecrated Life and Vocations. “Our comments are made in response to the significant challenges facing the Church in the United States.”

The priests include among these challenges fewer Catholics actively participating in the Church, fewer priests and candidates for the priesthood, fewer converts, fewer Church weddings, fewer baptisms, fewer parishes, and more people identifying themselves as “spiritual” rather than “religious.”

The AUSCP statement, “Preparing the Sixth Edition of the Program of Priestly Formation,” points to six overriding concerns: faithfulness to Vatican II, call to service, pastoral model of priestly formation, psychosexual development and celibacy, discernment processes, and faculty formation. As stated in their letter, these thoughts are “grounded” in Vatican II, in the writings, statements, and actions of Pope Francis, and in their own experiences. In their statement, the priests make recommendations to help address each of these concerns. Use this link to read the AUSCP’s entire letter and statement.

In endorsing this statement, VOTF points out it has long sought greater emphasis on Vatican II values, including less “clerical,” more pastoral priests, who place service as their highest calling. VOTF also sees as immensely valuable a greater emphasis on psychosexual training for the priesthood, which may have helped avert or at least ameliorate the clergy sexual abuse scandal.

The priests conclude their statement by pointing out that the “current seminary model was established nearly 500 years ago.” As its motto, “Keep the faith, change the Church,” suggests, VOTF would agree that time for change is here.


Voice of the Faithful Statement, Apr. 11, 2018

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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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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