09/15/17

Vatican diplomat recalled amid child porn investigation

Share

By NICOLE WINFIELD and MATTHEW LEE

A high-ranking priest working in the Vatican’s embassy in Washington has been recalled after U.S. prosecutors asked for him to be charged there and face trial in a child pornography investigation, Vatican and U.S. officials said Friday.

The diplomat was suspected of possessing, but not producing or disseminating, child pornography including images of pre-pubescent children, a U.S. source familiar with the case said. The source was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Vatican declined to identify the priest, but said he was currently in Vatican City and that Vatican prosecutors had launched their own probe and sought evidence from the U.S.

If the accusations pan out, the case would be a major embarrassment for the Vatican and Pope Francis, who has pledged “zero tolerance” for sexual abuse. The diplomat would be the second from the Vatican’s diplomatic corps to face possible criminal charges for such crimes during Francis’ papacy. And any trial in the Vatican would come as Francis’ own financial czar, Cardinal George Pell, is on trial in his native Australia for alleged historic sex abuse cases.

The State Department said it had asked the Vatican to lift the official’s diplomatic immunity on Aug. 21. It said that request was denied three days later. For the State Department to make such a request, its lawyers would have needed to be convinced that there was reasonable cause for criminal prosecution.

The circumstances that prompted prosecutors to make the request, however, weren’t clear. The Justice Department, which would have brought any charges, didn’t immediately comment, and the Vatican gave no details about what, if any, evidence had been provided to persuade it to recall the priest.

In a statement, the Vatican said the State Department had notified the Vatican on Aug. 21 of a “possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images” by one of its diplomats in Washington.

A U.S. official familiar with the case said the priest was a senior member of the Vatican embassy staff. The Vatican yearbook lists three counselors who work under the nuncio, or ambassador.

The Vatican said recalling the priest was consistent with diplomatic practice of sovereign states. In declining to identify him, the Vatican said the case was subject to confidentiality while still under investigation. It said the Vatican had asked for information about the case from the U.S; it wasn’t clear if any had been provided.

The Vatican has recalled envoys before, including its then-ambassador to the Dominican Republic, who was recalled in 2013 after being accused of sexually abusing young boys on the Caribbean island.

The Vatican justified its decision to remove Monsignor Jozef Wesolowski from Dominican jurisdiction by submitting him first to a canonical court proceeding at the Vatican, and then putting him on trial in the Vatican’s criminal court, which has jurisdiction over the Holy See’s diplomatic corps.

Wesolowski was defrocked by the church court. But he died before the criminal trial got underway. Dominican prosecutors initially balked at the recall, and they never filed charges because of his immunity.

After he was defrocked, Wesolowski lost his diplomatic immunity and the Vatican said he could be tried by other courts. However, it refused to provide Dominican authorities with information about his whereabouts or how even he had pleaded to the charges.

The Vatican doesn’t have extradition treaties.

The Vatican in 2013 specifically criminalized child porn possession, distribution and production in its criminal code. Possession carries a possible jail term of up to two years and a 10,000-euro fine. Distribution can be punished with a term of up to five years and a 50,000-euro fine, while the most serious offense of production can bring a 12-year term and 250,000-euro fine.

The head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, said the case was serious and that he hoped the Vatican would be “forthcoming with more details.”

“We reaffirm that when such allegations occur, an immediate, thorough and transparent investigation should begin in cooperation with law enforcement and immediate steps be taken to protect children,” DiNardo said in a statement.

Francis has a spotty record on handling sex abuse cases. He won praise from advocates of survivors of abuse for having established a commission of experts to advise the church on keeping pedophiles out of the priesthood and protecting children. But the commission has floundered after losing the two members who themselves were survivors of abuse.

Francis’ promotion of Pell to be his finance czar when allegations abounded in Australia about his past conduct, as well other appointments, in-house decisions and his scrapping of a proposed tribunal to prosecute negligent bishops also have raised questions.

Complete Article HERE!

Share
09/14/17

New round of lawsuits filed against ex-Chicago priest convicted of sex abuse

Share

The Rev. Daniel McCormack arrives at the Cook County Criminal Courts Building on July 2, 2007. The Archdiocese of Chicago recently reached an agreement to pay $4.45 million to settle three lawsuits brought by three men who allege they were sexually abused more than a decade ago by McCormack.

By Steve Schmadeke

Three new lawsuits were filed Wednesday against a notorious former priest convicted a decade ago of molesting five boys.

The new allegations against the Rev. Daniel McCormack, who will likely be sent indefinitely to a state facility for sex offenders after a Cook County judge found him last week to be a sexually violent person, mirror those that have already led the Archdiocese of Chicago to pay out millions to victims.

Court records show some 25 boys and young men have alleged McCormack molested them in their youth, most notably at St. Agatha Parish on Chicago’s West Side, where the young priest coached basketball, taught algebra and delivered eloquent sermons. The allegations date to the early 1990s against McCormack, who became a well-known figure in Chicago’s part in the nationwide clergy sex abuse scandal.

At least 14 lawsuits have previously been filed by McCormack’s alleged victims; eight of those are still pending, records show. The archdiocese is selling off unused real estate because its insurance no longer covers such legal costs.

The new lawsuits were filed in Cook County Circuit Court on Wednesday by attorney Eugene Hollander, who said the timing was unrelated to last week’s sexually violent person ruling against McCormack.

“There are still victims out there,” Hollander said. “It’s very difficult to come forward, and everyone has their own time to do so.”

One alleged victim, 32, says in his lawsuit that he was sexually assaulted by McCormack while attending school at St. Ailbe Parish on the South Side from 1991-1996. Another, also 32 now, says he was fondled by McCormack while he played on the basketball team at St. Agatha Parish from 2000-2002. A third said he was sexually assaulted once by McCormack while attending preschool and elementary school at St. Ailbe Parish in the Calumet Heights neighborhood.

The three say they repressed the memories of the abuse until this summer.

McCormack had pleaded guilty in 2007 to sexually abusing five boys and was sentenced to five years in prison. He was later removed from the priesthood

The allegations ranged from inappropriate kissing and touching to sexual assault. According to the court records, one boy said McCormack abused him on the way back from basketball practice, another in the basement of the rectory and still another during the fourth inning of a White Sox game.

As of early 2016, the Chicago Archdiocese said it has paid out a total of $139 million in clerical sexual abuse claims, but it has declined to release the total for the McCormack settlements. So far this year alone, though, the church has agreed to pay more than $7.5 million to settle lawsuits brought by men alleging abuse by McCormack, according to attorneys for those men.

The Archdiocese does not comment on pending legal matters, a spokeswoman said in an email.

Complete Article HERE!

Share
09/13/17

The Catholic Church’s child sexual abuse tragedy revealed in groundbreaking Australian five-year study

Share

Celibacy a key risk factor in child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, report finds A groundbreaking Australian study describes child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church as a global tragedy

Report: RMIT University’s Professor Des Cahill giving evidence at the Victorian parliamentary inquiry into child sexual abuse in 2012.

By

MANDATORY celibacy, the denigration of women and the Catholic Church’s “deeply homophobic environment” are key factors in the church’s global child sexual abuse tragedy, a ground-breaking Australian research study by two former Catholic priests has found.

Mandatory celibacy “remains the major precipitating risk factor for child sexual abuse”, Dr Peter Wilkinson and Professor Des Cahill of RMIT University’s Centre for Global Research found after a five-year study into systemic reasons for child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.

Catholic children, and particularly boys, remained at risk from “psychosexually immature, sexually deprived and deeply frustrated priests and religious brothers”, and the “deeply homophobic environment” within the church and its seminaries “contributes to psychosexual immaturity”, the report released on Wednesday found.

An assessment of 26 key Catholic child sexual abuse studies around the world, including the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into Maitland-Newcastle diocese, a Victorian parliamentary inquiry and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, shows about one in 15 priests commit offences against children.

Rates differ across dioceses and among religious congregations. The risk of offending is much higher among religious brothers with little contact with women, who were educated at male-only schools, appointed to male-only schools and living in all-male communities, the report found.

“The lack of the feminine and the denigration of women within church structures is one key, underlying risk factor in the abuse,” Dr Wilkinson and Professor Cahill said.

Peter Wilkinson and I set out to try to answer the question: Why has the Catholic Church and its priests and religious brothers, more than any other religious denomination, become synonymous with the sexual mistreatment of children? – RMIT University Professor Des Cahill on new report

A decision by Pope Pius X in 1910 to lower the confessional age to seven indirectly put more children at risk of abuse, and popes and bishops created a “culture of secrecy” which led to “gross failures in transparency, accountability, openness and trust”, they found.

The study explored how Catholic organisational policies, practices, processes and attitudes predisposed, influenced and facilitiated individuals to commit sexual and physical abuse against children.

It also explored how the church’s theological frameworks, organisational structures, governance processes and culture contributed to the abuse and church leaders’ inadequate responses.

It included an assessment of the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry in 2013 into offending by priests Denis McAlinden and Jim Fletcher in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese over decades, and the responses of former bishops Leo Clarke and Michael Malone.

The report concluded McAlinden, an Irish Redemptorist priest sent to Australia in 1949 at the age of 26, was one of the country’s “most prolific paedophile priests”, whose transfer from Ireland was because his religious leader “wanted McAlinden out of Ireland, and far-away Australia seemed a good bet”.

Professor Cahill and Dr Wilkinson said the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry, headed by Margaret Cunneen, SC, had “undoubted achievements”, but it was unfortunate that it did not examine all cases of priest offending in the Diocese of Maitland–Newcastle in the post-World War II period.

“It is also unfortunate that, because of its technical and narrow legal focus, it did not examine the personal, family and seminary circumstances of either offender, or the structural and systemic factors that permitted McAlinden and Fletcher to offend for so long without being held accountable,” they found.

The lack of the feminine and the denigration of women within church structures is one key, underlying risk factor in the abuse. – Professor Des Cahill and Dr Peter Wilkinson

The groundbreaking report, Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: An Interpretive Review of the Literature and Public Inquiry, is believed to be the first informed by researchers with significant theological training and knowledge of church practices. Both men trained as Catholic priests and later left the priesthood.

Professor Cahill is Professor Emeritus of intercultural studies in the school of global, urban and social studies at RMIT University in Melbourne. Dr Wilkinson is a founding member of the Melbourne-based Catholics for Renewal group.

“Peter Wilkinson and I set out to try to answer the question: Why has the Catholic Church and its priests and religious brothers, more than any other religious denomination, become synonymous with the sexual mistreatment of children?” Professor Cahill said.

“From any perspective, whether in size, complexity or historical legacy, the Roman Catholic Church is an awesome entity. One may not like the Catholic Church, but no one can ignore it.”

While the global Catholic Church child sexual abuse issue had been described as a crisis, scandal, nightmare or scourge, “the sexual and emotional abuse of children within Catholic settings by priests, religious brothers and sisters, is ultimately a tragedy of immense proportions”, he said.

The report found that by 2015 the number of baptised Catholics in the world was 1.285 billion people, or 17.7 per cent of the world population.

Growth in the church was particularly strong in Africa, while in Asia and the Americas growth was in proportion to the population growth in each continent.

Between 1975 and 2015 the number of priests worldwide increased by just 2.7 per cent. The number of religious sisters and brothers declined significantly, with a 30 per cent drop in the number of sisters, and a 21 per cent drop in the number of brothers.

In 2014 6263 priests were ordained, 4484 priests died and 716 “defected”, or resigned.

There were 136,572 church mission stations around the globe without a resident priest, the report found.

Complete Article HERE!

Share
09/11/17

A decade after settling sex abuse cases, the Diocese of San Diego still copes with the fallout

Share

Ten years ago this week, the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego agreed to pay $198.1 million to settle the lawsuits filed by 144 adults. As children, each had been sexually assaulted.

By Peter Rowe

Whenever Heidi Lynch thinks about priests molesting children, her stomach churns, her head spins and her questions multiply.

“Are they really taking care of the children?” asked Lynch, a 60-year-old San Carlos resident, who between the ages of 8 and 11 was repeatedly raped by a priest. “Are they really taking care of the abusers? Are they still hiding this?”

Ten years ago this week, the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego agreed to pay $198.1 million to settle the lawsuits filed by Lynch and 143 other adults. As children, each had been sexually assaulted by a priest or, in one case, a layman supervising altar boys.

This was a landmark moment in one the largest scandals in the church’s 2,000-year-old history. From Dublin to Manila, Boston to Portland, Ore., Catholic officials were hauled into court and forced to account for shielding predatory clerics, often for decades.

The San Diego settlement was the nation’s second largest, trailing only the Los Angeles diocese’s $660 million. By at least one measurement, though, San Diego’s settlement was more significant. After legal fees, the 508 victims in L.A. averaged a payout of $780,000. In San Diego, the average was $825,000.

Absorbing these damages led the San Diego diocese to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In the end, insurance paid $76 million and the Diocese of San Bernardino, which had part of this diocese, contributed almost $15 million.

Selling properties and tapping its bank accounts, San Diego paid the remaining $107 million. Seven months after going to bankruptcy court, the diocese’s case was dismissed.

The financial hit had been huge, but nothing compared to the blow to the church’s moral credibility.

The scandal, Bishop Robert McElroy said, “was a grave wrong and sin on the part of the church.”

Since assuming leadership of the San Diego diocese in 2015, McElroy has enacted reforms to reduce the chances of clergy preying on children. Every employee, from vicars to janitors to visiting clerics, undergo background checks. Catholic school pupils and their parents are taught to recognize inappropriate behavior and warning signs of predators.

Still, the bishop warns the problem hasn’t vanished.

“It will never go away, it is part of human nature — sadly,” he said. “Here’s the twin problems we face: we are not in the moment of crisis, but we can’t let the lessons we learned during the time of crisis diminish.

“We have to maintain vigilance. I use the word vigilance advisedly. That’s an active stance and we can’t become complacent.”

If the diocese is determined to remember, some victims struggle to forget.

Asked how her life has changed in the last decade, Lynch opens a shoebox she keeps on the kitchen table in her ranch-style San Carlos house. The box is packed with prescription drugs to treat ulcers, colitis, anxiety, insomnia, depression.

“When this happens to you as a child,” she said, “you think you must be the most horrible person in the world.”

Open wounds

Like many Catholic children enrolled in public school, Heidi Lynch attended weekly catechism classes at her local parish, St. Rita’s. While learning church teachings and preparing to receive the sacraments, Heidi descended into a nightmare.

At the age of 8, Heidi and her classmates first received the sacrament of reconciliation. Also known as confession, this became a regular part of the children’s routine. As students queued outside the confessional, Heidi was directed to the end of the line.

“I was always the last,” Lynch said. “Once, we had a new nun and she started wondering why I was always the last one. She asked questions — and then she disappeared.”

Heidi was always last because the priest would usher her into his part of the confessional booth, close the door and sexually assault her.

The girl felt ashamed, unclean, confused. Who could she turn to? She had no allies at home: her parents were alcoholics and her father was also abusing her.

And if a priest was forcing himself on her, how could this be wrong?

Adults who sexually abuse children come from a wide range of professions, often holding positions of authority — teachers, Scout masters, spiritual leaders from virtually every denomination.

“It’s not just priests,” said Msgr. Dennis Mikulanis, San Diego’s vicar for ecumenical and inter-religious affairs.

But within Catholic congregations men of the cloth often are regarded as living saints, beyond normal human failings. “Priests are looked up to with more respect and are expected to have more of a moral commitment,” Mikulanis said. “It’s the Bing Crosby/Pat O’Brien model.”

Enshrined in movies like “Going My Way,” that model has been honored in real life by many priests. Yet others were poorly prepared for this calling’s demands. “Who wants to work in a parish seven days a week, make no money and even if you have strong faith, have no partner and be lonely the rest of your life?” asked John Manly, one of the lawyers who sued the diocese.

Moreover, church officials failed to weed out problem candidates for ministry. This failure was compounded at least through the 1970s, McElroy said, when bishops routinely shipped offenders to church-run centers for months of psychiatric evaluations and counseling.

“And in those years,” McElroy said, “many institutions would say that this person was — I’ve seen the letters — cured.”

They were not. Yet these priests often resumed pastoral duties, often sent to a new parish for a new start. Instead, many resumed their old criminal behavior.

In the 1950s, the Rev. Franz Robier had already undergone at least one round of treatment when he was assigned to Holy Spirit parish in San Diego’s Oak Park. There, he often attended the girls choir’s practices. After ordering other adults out of the church, he would fondle some children and rape others.

“He’d have me sit on his lap. The other girls, he took places,” said one former choir member, who sued the diocese as “Jane Doe Number 5.”

Doe was 9 when these assaults took place. “I felt it was wrong, but I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand it.”

She was especially baffled by the behavior of the choir leader, a nun. Whenever Robier appeared in the choir loft, the sister would leave the premises.

“That nun knew about it,” Doe said, “and she did nothing.”

While this had happened decades ago, McElroy heard this story and similar tales from parishioners while visiting the diocese’s 99 parishes in 2015.

“Most of them have moved beyond that, but they haven’t forgotten it,” McElroy said. “It’s still an open wound in many ways. It’s just hard. It becomes part of the life of the parish.”

Someone who hasn’t moved beyond: Jane Doe, who left the church to become a Mormon.

“There’s a special place in hell for him,” she said of Robier, who died in 1994. “He sure screwed up a lot of lives.”

All she wanted

After the scandal erupted, the diocese made some personnel changes. The victims assistance coordinator, Msgr. Steve Callahan, was replaced by a lay person, Lisa Petronis, a licensed clinical psychologist.

And the Diocesan Review Board — a panel that reviews allegations of child sexual abuse by church employees — received a new member: an adult survivor of this crime.

“We thought that was an important perspective to have,” McElroy said.

Today, McElroy said, every allegation of sexual abuse of a minor is referred to either the police or child protective services. “It depends on whether the minor is still at risk,” he said.

At the same time, allegations are forwarded to a private investigator who has a contract with the diocese. This investigator’s report goes to the authorities and the aforementioned Diocesan Review Board.

“We act as the finder of fact for the diocese,” said Chris Hulburt, a career defense lawyer who chairs the board.

Meeting quarterly, the board includes a prosecutor of sex crimes; a retired judge; a marriage and family therapist; a school nurse; a pastor; and the sexual abuse survivor. McElroy is present when the board hears evidence, including the investigator’s report. Then he leaves the chamber so the board can discuss whether an instance of abuse occurred and, if so, what should be done.

The latter is a recommendation. It’s McElroy’s decision whether to take any action.

“We are an advisory group,” Hulburt said.

In Hulburt’s five years on the board, he’s heard five allegations of new cases and five of cases that allegedly occurred decades ago. None of the former led to the removal of a San Diego priest. One allegation was retracted. Another involved a priest from the Los Angeles diocese. A third stemmed from a priest’s questionable communications, but no physical contact, with a minor.

“It did not rise to the level of a violation,” Hulburt said, but the board expressed its concern to the bishop. “That did raise red flags and we felt it was the sort of thing that should not happen again.”

The five older allegations, all leveled against priests who are now dead, were judged more serious. In several cases, the board recommended the diocese pay for the victim’s counseling. At least once, the board recommended — and the bishop approved — payment to a victim.

While board members include several legal professionals, this is not a legal proceeding. In fact, the board may deliberate while the legal system — including the church’s lawyers — come to grips with civil or criminal cases prompted by the allegation.

“We’re not involved in the church’s legal strategy at all,” Hulburt said. “We are concerned about people — concerned about the people that may have been harmed and the people that are being accused. We are concerned about family members and concerned about the people in the community.”

Ideally, Hulburt said, these private hearings can heal wounds. That’s not what happened during the negotiations that led to the massive 2007 settlement. Victims and family members are bruised from the adversarial experience, saying the diocese stonewalled, destroyed documents, hid assets and acted in bad faith.

The settlement, large as it was, did nothing to heal this rift.

“All she wanted was for him to say he was sorry, ‘Sorry, I did something wrong,’” said Gordon Rister, the widow of Nicki Rister, who was 17 when she was seduced by the Rev. Patrick O’Keeffe.

“But that never happened.”

A lonely teen, Rister was flattered when the handsome priest took an interest in her. Over several months, O’Keeffe introduced her to oral sex, then intercourse, all while professing his love and promising to leave the clergy and marry her.

Then he dumped her, leaving the girl confused, angry, alienated from her faith and family. When she worked up the courage to tell loved ones, her father sided with the priest, refusing to believe his daughter.

O’Keeffe retired in 1994. Five years ago, a fatal heart attack dropped Nicki Rister in the garden of her Kremmling, Colo., home.

Those final years after the settlement “gave her some relief, you’d say,” Gordon Rister noted. “It wasn’t so much peace, I can’t say that for her. It was a matter for her — it was something she really felt strongly about for a long, long time.”

Root of the problem?

Historians note that accusations of child abuse have been leveled at priests and monks since at least the Middle Ages, modern awareness of this scandal grew after the Boston Globe published a 2002 series about that archdiocese failed to shield parishioners from dozens of predatory priests.

Months later, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” ordered “zero tolerance” for these crimes.

At the same time, church figures debated a pivotal question: why was this happening?

Two studies from New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice advanced some answers. Commissioned by the American bishops and conducted by criminologists and other academics, the papers — issued in 2004 and updated in 2011 — argued that most offenders attended seminaries in the 1940s and ’50s. They had been taught to handle their normal sexual desires by repressing them.

Celibacy, the studies concluded, was not the root cause. Nor did the scandal erupt because of a sudden influx of seminarians who were gay — a popular theory among some conservative critics — or especially attracted to children.

“Priest-abusers were not ‘pedophile priests,’” the 2011 report concluded. “The majority of priests who abused were not driven by particular pathologies, and most did not “specialize” in abuse of particular types of victims.”

Instead, they were sex offenders similar to those found among the laity, the report continued.

“They had some motivation to commit the abuse (for example, emotional congruence to adolescents), exhibited techniques of neutralization to excuse and justify their behavior, took advantage of opportunities to abuse (for example, through socialization with the family), and used grooming techniques to gain compliance from potential victims.”

The John Jay studies recommended five steps to decrease the incidence of child sexual abuse, many of which have been adopted by the San Diego diocese:

  • Educate children, parents and priests about how to maintain safe environments and proper boundaries.
  • Take a clear, tough “zero tolerance” line with abusers.
  • To help reduce priests’ stress and reduce isolation, encourage clergy to form “social friendships and suitable bonds with age-appropriate persons.”
  • Offer priests stress-reduction seminars and support groups.
  • Educate priests on appropriate behavior with minors, and about the harm done to victims of abuse.

While the John Jay reports are widely accepted by church leaders, the findings minimize a factor critics say is central to this crisis.

“It’s connected with celibacy,” said Richard Sipe, a sociologist and former Benedictine priest.

Emotional asymmetry

Sipe, now a La Jolla resident, says his studies show that only about 2 percent of priests remain celibate their entire careers. Few are sexually involved with minors, he said, but even sex with consenting adults hinders the church’s ability to eliminate the abuse of children.

“This is my thesis and I am going to hold to it because I think it has proved out,” Sipe said. “The problem is at the top, if you have people at the top who are sexually active and they are in charge of people who are acting out sexually.

“You can’t afford to expose that, lest you be exposed.”

“Celibacy,” said Patrick Wall, a former Benedictine monk who helped prepare the 2007 lawsuits against the diocese, “is an ideal in search of practice.”

During his 11 years in a Minnesota monastery, then-Rev. Wall often heard the confessions of local diocesan priests. “The amount of folks who were in long term sexual relationships in the 1990s, I was just stunned,” he said.

He was also discouraged. “I had gotten to the point where something had to change,” he said. “I knew the vast majority of the guys I was working with were not celibate. The chances of me being able to maintain celibacy and maintain integrity for the rest of my life was very low.”

Within the San Diego diocese, though, officials reject the thesis that the crisis was connected to the church’s insistence that priests, nuns and monks lead chaste lives.

Mikulanis, the monsignor leading the diocese’s inter-religious and ecumenical efforts, noted that children have been sexually assaulted by teachers and others.

“And how many of them are celibate or gay?” he asked. “Saying it’s because of celibacy is nonsense. Because someone is gay? Nonsense. It’s a societal problem.”

Debates, scholarly studies and papers, official pronouncements and policies all continue. In the past, Bishop McElroy said, diocesan leaders focused on their errant colleagues.

“So there was a huge asymmetry emotionally,” McElroy said. “You hadn’t experienced in an emotional way the suffering of the victim…

“It’s devastating. Once you’ve done that, once you’ve sat through one of those encounters where you hear first-hand and understand the depth and dimensions of the damage that can be done with sexual abuse, especially sexual abuse of minors by priests, it changes the whole picture.”

During the four years Heidi Lynch spent suing the diocese, she never felt that diocesan officials understood the damage inflicted on her by one of their own.

“We were not just a bunch of adults looking for money,” she said. “We were here for these kids.”

Every day she went to court, Lynch wore a medallion. One side is engraved with a picture of herself as an 8-year-old girl, the age she was when a priest first raped her.

The reverse side has two words: “Remember Me.”

Complete Article HERE!

Share
09/7/17

Vatican fails to submit report to UN

Share

By Jolene Toves

As sexual assault cases against the Archdiocese of Agana continue to increase, it appears that the Vatican has found itself in trouble with the United Nations.

Three years ago, the Vatican was called to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child which begged the Vatican to take concrete steps to remedy decades of institutional complicity and cover-up of widespread sexual violence.

September 1, 2017 marked the deadline for the Vatican to submit a comprehensive report on their progress, but the Vatican did not submit the report.

According to the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Holy See was provided with committee recommendations aimed at ensuring the protection of children from sexual violence, however the Vatican has not implemented any of those recommendations.

“And children remain at risk while Vatican officials engage in power struggles, finger pointing and deflection,” stated SNAP managing Director Barbara Dorris.

While CCR staff attorney Pam Spees stated, “Church officials are quick to decry efforts to hold them accountable as scapegoating or anti-Catholic sentiment and deflect by pointing to instances of sexual violence in other religious contexts.”

Both SNAP and CCR in a report to the UN argue “that the Holy See has not made substantial progress in genuinely acknowledging, internalizing and implements the full range of policies and practices that would center children’s best interest and protect them against sexual violence.”

Complete Article HERE!

Share