Posts Tagged transparency
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.
Voice of the Faithful Statement, Sept. 20, 2017
Contact: Nick Ingala, firstname.lastname@example.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.
“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 …
“The pope has achieved global popularity for his emphasis on inclusiveness and mercy, but he has come under increased criticism for the slow pace and reported internal resistance to efforts to safeguard victims of sexual abuse by priests and protect children in the church.” (The New York Times)
In an extraordinary statement, the Holy See announced on Thursday (Jun. 29) morning that Pope Francis had granted a leave of absence to Cardinal George Pell of Australia, a top Vatican official, adviser to the pontiff and as of this week the highest-ranking Roman Catholic prelate to be formally charged with sexual assault, so that he could return to Australia to defend himself.
“Speaking at the Vatican press office, Cardinal Pell, wearing simple black clerical cloths and a dangling cross, read a statement declaring his innocence against the charges and what he called leaks by the news media and ‘relentless character assassination.’
“‘I am looking forward finally to having my day in court,’ Cardinal Pell said as he sat next to a Vatican spokesman. ‘I am innocent of the charges. They are false. The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me.’
“The Australian police served the cardinal’s legal representatives hours earlier in Melbourne and have yet to reveal the details of the charges or the ages of the complainants.”
By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times — Read more …
“‘This is not a case about just one man, Cardinal Barbarin, but about a whole institution,’ according to La Parole Libérée’s lawyers. They hope to demonstrate that the failure of the seven (church officials who allegedly covered up abuse) to report the priest’s crimes should be subject to prosecution, contrary to the ruling of the state prosecutor in Lyon.”
“Almost a year after the French justice system decided to drop criminal proceedings against Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the archbishop of Lyon, and six others for failing to report sexual abuse of boy scouts committed by a priest, the case has been reopened.
“The abuses took place between 1978 and 1991.
“‘If we stop now, who will bring the debate into the public domain?’ said François Devaux, the head of La Parole Libérée (‘Lift the Burden of Silence’) an organisation of former Saint-Luc Scout Group members, many of whom who were allegedly sexually abused by the priest who led the group, Bernard Preynat.
“After a preliminary investigation, it was decided in August 2016 not to pursue a case against Barbarin and the other six.
“But the priest’s alleged victims have now come together to bring a civil action against that decision.
“Seven people were yesterday issued summonses to appear before the Lyon criminal court in September.”
By Bénévent Tosseri, La Croix International — Read more …
“Jeff Anderson said this is the first case of a bishop in the United States being sued for coercion.”
A Twin Cities law firm intends to file a lawsuit against a current Minnesota bishop and a Roman Catholic diocese in the state alleging that a survivor of clergy sex abuse was threatened with retaliation if he revealed how he was assaulted as a child.
“St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson, who for many years has pursued many legal cases in connection with clergy sex abuse in Minnesota and elsewhere, said this is the first time a U.S. bishop has been sued for coercion.
“At a news conference scheduled for Tuesday (May 8) at Anderson’s offices, the abuse survivor and a priest from the diocese will speak publicly for the first time about ‘how the bishop threatened retaliation against the survivor and a family member if he disclosed the sexual abuse,’ a statement from Anderson’s law firm read.”
By Paul Walsh, Minneapolis Star Tribune — Read more …
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.
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:
- Eradicate the corrosive culture of clericalism – “an evil . . . in the Church” (Pope Francis).
- 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.
- Appoint women to more senior diocesan positions, such as chancellor and delegate of bishops.
- 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.
- Further remodel priestly formation, including ongoing development, assessment and registration.
- Reconcile publicly and fully with all the persons abused, their families and communities, and commit to just redress.
- 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 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 …