Egan’s Moral Idiocy

I had thought that by now, 2012, it was impossible to be shocked by an example of episcopal moral idiocy regarding the sexual abuse of minors. For every bishop like Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who has self-evidently tried to do the right thing by the victims of this horror, there is a grand jury report, actually two, in Philadelphia cataloguing indifference or worse. For every archdiocese like Washington, where three consecutive archbishops – Hickey, McCarrick and Wuerl – have handled accusations of abuse with swiftness and justice, there is a diocese like Kansas City-St. Joseph, which is under criminal indictment for failing to follow civil law, let alone moral law. And for every brave and decisive bishop like Wilton Gregory, who as chairman of the USCCB in 2002 refused to ignore the gravity of the crisis or accept half-measures to face it, there is a bishop like Fabian Bruskewitz who still refuses to even permit an audit of his diocese’s compliance with child protection procedures. As I say, I thought I was beyond shock.

But, then I read the recently published interview in Connecticut Magazine with Cardinal Edward Egan, the archbishop emeritus of New York. And I was shocked. Before reading it, make sure you allow yourself some time to meltdown after.

The cardinal’s words are those of a narcissist in the extreme. He begins, “You know, I never had one of these sex abuse cases, either in Bridgeport or here (New York). Not one. The newspapers pretend as though what happened under Walter Curtis (Bishop of the Bridgeport diocese from 1961 to 1988) happened to me. Walter was a wonderful, wonderful, dear gentleman. He had gotten very old and they were sitting there. And I took care of them one by one.” Funny, I thought only a teenager could get so many “I’s” into so few sentences.

Speaking of funny, here is what the cardinal had to say about media coverage of the sex abuse crisis: “I’m not the slightest but surprised that, of course, the scandal was going to be fun in the news – not fun, but the easiest thing to write about.” Actually, I know of the writers and editors who first broke the stories – they work here at NCR – and I can assure His Eminence that there was no “fun” in it for them. Nor ease. They, like most normal human beings, were horrified by the tales of child rape, cover-up of child rape, placing child rapists repeatedly in situations where they could perpetrate their crimes again, and then trying to keep it all hush-hush lest there be scandal. The decision to publish these stories was courageous but also heart-wrenching, not least because those who researched the stories, wrote the stories and edited the stories were also those who loved the Catholic Church. If all bishops had reacted with the courage of Tom Fox, with the appropriate disgust of Tom Roberts, and with the clear understanding that cover-ups are always a bad idea like Jason Berry, the bishops would not have found themselves in this mess.

The extraordinary lack of human empathy in this man shines through when the reporter observes that one of the criticisms of Egan’s time as bishop of Bridgeport was his failure to actually meet with the victims. Egan replies, “First of all, I couldn’t apologize for something that happened when I wasn’t there. Furthermore, every one of those cases was in litigation before a court, or threatened to be, and every one was handled correctly.” The defensiveness of the reply is shocking – as if Egan things the worst thing that could happen to a person is not sex abuse but getting a less than stellar wikipedia entry. His defensiveness if only matched by his inability to recognize that a bishop is a pastor, not a lawyer. Other bishops have met with victims – Pope Benedict has met with victims. Others have apologized on behalf of the Church for crimes they did not commit but for which, as the successor of those who did, they take responsibility. Certainly, in Bridgeport, Egan did not decline to use the cathedral because it has been built by a predecessor. He did not foreswear the use of duns raised by his predecessors. Ah, but risking a moment of human empathy by actually meeting with a victim – that is too much, that belongs to his predecessor.

I used the word “victim” above, but of course, that is my word not Egan’s. Indeed, in the entire interview, there are two words that are conspicuous in their absence: victim and children. He talks about what he did. He talks about the perpetrators. He talks about the lawyers. He talks about the media. But, not a word for the victims. No recognition of the children whose lives were maimed by these crimes. If this is not moral idiocy, I do not know what is. How this man reached such a high office is beyond me and only further tarnishes the reputation of Bl. Pope John Paul II who, for all his gifts, was a singularly bad judge of character.

Egan’s interview comes at an especially inauspicious moment. His successor as Archbishop of New York, Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, has been out front in the USCCB’s fight against the Obama administration’s recent decision to require Catholic institutions to pay health insurance that covers abortifacients, sterilization and contraception. Dolan, rightly, argues that this is an unwarranted attack on the Church. Some Catholics perceive the decision as part of a “war on Catholics,” and while I do not go that far, certainly this is a time when the U.S. hierarchy needs to marshal its moral and intellectual credibility. But, I can think of really no insurance mandate from Obama, and no anti-immigrant legislation from a GOP-dominated legislature in Arizona or Alabama, that can do more harm to Catholics than the continued moral idiocy of Cardinal Egan. He not only undermines us with our critics, he undermines the bishops with loyal Catholics. He makes a mockery of his office. If there were a way to strip him of his red hat, it should be pursued. If there is a way to kick him out of his tony condo, it should be enacted.

Send him away. Send him to a place where he can listen to the victims of sex abuse describe the horrors that were perpetrated on them. Send him to a place where he can listen to the victims’ families. Actually – don’t let him anywhere near a victim because he might cause them further harm. But, send him to a place where he can no longer harm the Church, as he has done in this interview and as he did for years as a bishop. He should, just go. Far away. And repent.

Complete Article HERE!

Vatican holds summit to tackle sex abuse by priests

Roman Catholic leaders have begun an unprecedented summit in Rome on how the church should tackle the sexual abuse of children by priests.

In a Vatican statement, Pope Benedict said “healing for victims” should be a major concern as much as “profound renewal of the Church at every level”.

The summit aims to produce guidelines on tackling abusive priests and helping police to prosecute paedophile crime.

Victims’ groups, who were not invited, have dismissed it as a PR exercise.

“You don’t need a jolly in Rome to learn what the right thing to do is,” said Sue Cox of Survivors Voice, a coalition of victim support groups covering Britain, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and the US.

“This is just a PR stunt. It’s just theatre really. It’s no use whatsoever,” Ms Cox, herself a victim of abuse by a priest, told the AFP news agency.

‘Few apologies’
Bishops from more than 100 countries and 32 heads of religious orders are among those taking part in the four days of discussions.

Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the senior Vatican official in charge of investigating the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests, said bishops had already been sent a “very clear message” that they must follow civil law on paedophile cases.

“When crime has happened and the civil authorities justifiably ask for co-operation and request co-operation, the church cannot decline that co-operation. Concerning reporting mechanisms, our strong advice is to follow the law of the country concerned,” he said.

The summit would consider ways to help bishops and other church workers with that process, including establishing an e-learning centre on the internet with advice in several languages, he said.

The Vatican is under pressure to concentrate more on protecting victims of sexual abuse rather than, as in the past, rallying to the defence of priests accused of these crimes, the BBC’s David Willey in Rome reports.

Only one victim – Marie Collins from Ireland – has been invited to attend the summit.

She said her decision to attend was not an easy one.

“Despite apologies for the actions of the abusers, there have been few apologies for protection given to them by their superiors,” said Ms Collins, who was raped at age of 13 by a hospital chaplain in Dublin.

“There seems to be a lack of penalty for any of these men in leadership who deliberately or negligently covered up for abusers.”

Complete Article HERE!

Vatican vows to face up to sex-abuse scandals

Really? You’re going to get serious about this NOW? And with a symposium, no less. You guys are really pulling out all the stops, huh?

Denial is no longer an option, official says ahead of major symposium on pedophilia.

The Roman Catholic Church has sometimes been in denial over the sexual abuse of children by clergy but must now move forward to face up to the scandal, the Vatican’s top official for the issue said Friday.

Monsignor Charles Scicluna said in an interview he hoped a major symposium on pedophilia to be held next week in Rome would encourage church leaders from around the world to listen more to the victims.

“Denial is a very primitive way of coping with very sad things,” said Scicluna, whose formal title is Justice Promoter.

“Denial will never be a good response. I will not deny that we have been in denial. I think that people know that. But people need to know that we have to move forward from that very primitive coping mechanism. It doesn’t work,” he said.

The four-day symposium next week at the Jesuit Pontifical Gregorian University, called Towards Healing and Renewal, will bring together about 200 people including bishops, leaders of religious orders, victims of abuse and psychologists.

The participants will discuss how the worldwide church can become more aware of the problem, make a commitment to listen to victims and prevent future cases of abuse. Scicluna said the symposium would stress that this “was not only a sin but a crime.”

“Sharing the same hurt, suffering, anger and at times frustration, is also a very important step in taking a determined outlook and determined standpoint, which can be also a good and beneficial example to others,” he said.

The Vatican has for years been struggling to control the damage that sexual abuse scandals in the United States and several European countries, including Pope Benedict’s native Germany, have done to the church’s image.

Groups representing abuse victims say the church must do more to own up to the past, when known pedophile priests were shuttled from parish to parish instead of being defrocked or turned over to authorities. It must also make greater efforts to prevent future cases, they say, accusing the church and the Vatican of a cover-up.

Scicluna said the church had sent out “a very clear message” that bishops must follow civil law on pedophilia cases. “Jurisdictions differ concerning the way that you report crime. When crime has happened and the civil authorities justifiably ask for co-operation and request co-operation, the church cannot decline that co-operation. Concerning reporting mechanisms, our strong advice is to follow the law of the country concerned,” he said.

At the symposium, the church will unveil ways it plans to turn to the Internet with an e-learning centre to help safeguard children and the victims of molestation.

The learning centre will work with medical institutions and universities to develop what the church hopes will be a constant response to the problems of sexual abuse.

It will be posted in German, English, French, Spanish and Italian and help bishops and other church workers put into place Vatican guidelines to protect children.

Complete Article HERE!

Bevilacqua leaves sad, mixed legacy amid sex abuse


Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, the former leader of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia who faced criticism for his handling of allegations of sexual abuse of children by priests, died Tuesday at the age of 88, the diocese said.

Cardinal Bevilacqua’s death came a day after a state judge reaffirmed he was legally competent to testify as a witness in a criminal trial of three priests charged in connection with alleged abuse of children during his tenure as archbishop from 1988 to 2003. Defense attorneys for the priests had argued Cardinal Bevilacqua wasn’t competent to testify because he was senile. He provided videotaped testimony in November that may be played at the trial, scheduled to start later this month. Cardinal Bevliacqua wasn’t charged with any wrongdoing in connection with the abuse allegations. On Wednesday, the cardinal’s lawyer wasn’t available to comment. A spokesman for the diocese said he couldn’t address abuse allegations because the judge in the coming trial has issued a gag order.

A spokesman for the archdiocese didn’t provide a cause of death. According to a 2011 court document, Cardinal Bevilacqua’s lawyer said he suffered from dementia and cancer. The diocese said in a statement that he died in his sleep at the Philadelphia seminary where he lived.

Cardinal Bevilacqua, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., led the nation’s sixth-largest Catholic diocese from 1988 to 2003. In a statement, the diocese highlighted his efforts to bring nonpracticing Catholics back to the church, and for speaking out against racism. He was ordained a priest in 1949, and he held various posts in the Brooklyn diocese before serving as bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh from 1983 to 1987. He also had a law degree and taught immigration law from 1977 to 1980.

In 2002, a state court grand jury began an investigation into allegations of clergy sex abuse in the diocese amid rising allegations of priest abuse around the country.

The investigation resulted in a 2005 report outlining numerous cases of abuse allegations against Philadelphia area priests dating back several decades. The report said Cardinal Bevliacqua was aware that some priests in the diocese were engaged in “massive amounts of child molestations and sexual assaults” over many years. The report accused him of hiding the allegations from parishioners and police, and of taking steps to avoid any legal liability for him and the diocese.

At that time, however, prosecutors said they were powerless to bring any new criminal charges because the statutes of limitation had expired. Before the 2005 report came out, the grand jury did bring abuse charges against one priest, who pleaded guilty.

In 2011, Philadelphia prosecutors charged three priests and a lay teacher with rape, indecent assault and related charges, in connection with allegations they abused boys in the 1990s. The statutes of limitation for the cases brought last year hadn’t yet expired because they were referred by the church to the district attorney after the 2005 report was released.

Prosecutors also levied child-endangerment charges against Msgr. William Lynn, who served as secretary for clergy under Cardinal Bevilacqua, responsible for fielding abuse allegations. Msgr. Lynn, the highest-ranking church official to be charged criminally since abuse allegations exploded nationally a decade ago, was accused of transferring the priests to parishes despite prior allegations of abuse.

Msgr. Lynn and the other accused men have pleaded not guilty to the charges. A trial for Msgr. Lynn and two priests is due to start later this month; a separate trial will be held for another priest and the lay teacher.

The grand jury that recommended charges against Msgr. Lynn and the other men said in a 2011 report that it chose not to recommend charges against Cardinal Bevilacqua because the evidence didn’t establish that he was aware of all the information that Msgr. Lynn had received. But the report said Cardinal Bevilacqua endangered thousands of children during his tenure by failing to properly respond to abuse allegations.

Cardinal Bevliacqua’s successor, Cardinal Justin Rigali, retired last year and was succeeded by Charles Chaput, former leader of Denver’s Catholic archdiocese.

Complete Article HERE!

SNAP Accuses Archbishop of Sweeping Abuse Case “Under The Rug”

Local clergy abuse victims are accusing St. Louis’ Archbishop of sitting on the sidelines Colorado police investigate a sex abuse allegation levied there against a priest who used to work here.

Father Charles Manning, who used to work at parishes in Bridgeton, Glencoe and Imperial was suspended from his St. Gabriel the Archangel parish in Colorado Springs last weekend, while police investigate an allegation that he sexually abused a minor. Even though no charges have been filed and there are no allegations against him in St. Louis, Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests Director David Clohessy believes Archbishop Robert Carlson should be pro-active, “Anytime a priest is suspended because of child sex abuse allegations, but especially when there’s a pending police investigation, Catholic officials have a civic duty, plus a moral duty, to aggressively seek out any other victims, witnesses, whistleblowers.”

Clohessy was asked if he knows if the Archbishop is helping police in their investigation, behind the scenes, “We’ve seen no evidence that he has and the easiest way, of course, to help is to simply use church bulletins, church websites, church pulpits to let parishioners know that Fr. Manning has been accused and suspended and let them know there is, in fact, a pending criminal investigation.

Clohessy also questions why Manning, who was ordained in St. Louis, was transferred to Colorado in 2007. He also wants to know why Manning was not listed in the Official Catholic Directory in 2002.

The Archdiocese has issued the following release:

The Archdiocese of St. Louis has been made aware of a complaint of sexual abuse of a minor involving Fr. Robert Manning, a priest of the Archdiocese who was, at the time of the alleged incident, serving as a priest in the Diocese of Colorado Springs. This is the only allegation of abuse involving Fr. Manning during his years of service as a priest, the last five of which have been in the Diocese of Colorado Springs. While the police are investigating this allegation, Fr. Manning has been placed on administrative leave. He is residing in a monitored environment and will not be permitted to exercise any form of public ministry.

Complete Article HERE!