Tag Archives: sexual abuse

Sovereign Immunity Does Not Exist In USA

The sad case of sexual abuse of children by priests can never have anything other than a conclusion which does not please anyone. The United States Supreme Court refused to hear a request from the Vatican that it be granted “sovereign immunity” from prosecution in a case involving a man known as “John Doe.” Mr. Doe alleges that he was abused in Portland, Oregon by a priest named Father Andrew Ronan and nothing was done to prevent these actions. At the heart of the Doe case is a charge that Father Ronan had abused children in Ireland, then in Chicago, and then in Portland because instead of being taken away from contact with children, the church allowed him to pursue his activities in order to avoid embarrassment. The Court refused to recognize the concept of sovereign immunity and allowed a trial to proceed.

There is no doubt Pope Benedict opposes priests who have engaged in sexual abuse and is attempting to prevent future occurrences. At this point, the best policy to be pursued is allowing cases to come to trial, place priests on the witness stand, and allow them to suffer the consequences of their actions.

Sad Times For Belgian Catholic Church

Thee is a sadness in each new report concerning allegations of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. One is sometimes left with the impression that each and every priest has been engaged in sexual abuse. As in any organization, a minority has created an image. Police raided headquarters of the Catholic Church in Belgium, seized computers and files and left with the sense a new story of sexual abuse is about to emerge. A police spokesperson said: “the police have received accusations of connected with sexual abuse of children.” As one who worked in a Catholic college with some wonderful people, the tragedy is failure to be open concerning those who abused children which only resulted in greater harm than good.

The real question is when will the church develop a strategy that enables this issue to be addressed and resolved once and for all.

Pope Promises Action On Abuse

It was the first overseas trip for Pope Benedict XVI since the latest outburst of stories dealing with allegations of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. He had a tearful meeting with eight men who had been sexually abused as children by priests. The Pope expressed his “shame and sorrow” and promised to implement “effective measures” to ensure there would be no further incidents of sexual abuse. There is no question Pope Benedict is sincere, but the reality is words will not make sexual abuse disappear. There was no indication he was thinking about a much more extensive investigation that would involve all levels of the Church and identify new approaches in dealing with relations between priests and members of their parish, particularly younger boys and girls.

The issue is not whether the Pope is sincere, the issue is not whether he supports such behavior, of course he does not. But, issues such as celibacy, the absence of women from leadership positions might well be confronted at a church meeting.

British Catholics Bewildered By Catholic Church

One increasingly receives the impression members of the Vatican are securely locked into the world of medieval times while the rest of planet Earth is on 2010 time. Several days ago, the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarclisio Bertone told a Chile audience celibacy had nothing to do with child abuse in his church and it was all due to some homosexuals who somehow got loose and were giving the church a bad name. Father Marcus Stock, general secretary of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales felt the need to remind the good Italian cardinal that he may speak for himself, but he does not speak for all Catholics. He made clear, “there is no empirical data which concludes that sexual orientation is connected to sexual abuse.” He made clear the evidence leaned in the direction that sexual abuse stems from the sexual fixation, not the sexual orientation of the individual.

There is a desperate need for Catholic leaders to come together and have open discussions concerning the issue of sexual abuse without being defensive, but fixed on how to proceed in a modern direction.

“I Don’t Remember Anything”About Sexual Abuses

The ongoing saga of sexual abuses by priests being reported is met by the ongoing saga of Vatican officials who do not remember anything. Bishop Joseph Windle in Canada, disclosed he had sent a letter to the Vatican many years ago in which he reported cases told him by altar boys who were sexually molested by Farther Bernard Prince. Windle wrote: “Were he to be honored in any way, it could easily trigger a reaction among the victims of others who are aware of his previous conduct.” One would assume any official receiving such a communication would conduct an investigation in order to either, protect the reputation of the accused priest or protect the lives of young boys. A reporter contacted the papal nuncio who received the letter and was told: “I just don’t remember anything” and he hung up.

Oh, Father Prince was given a position in the Vatican and became a good friend of then Pope John Paul II. End of story

Archbishop Of Canterbury Blasts Irish Catholic Church

There are times in life when a visit is ill timed and best could be delayed to a more appropriate time, but Pope Benedict XVI is not delaying his trip to England to meet with bishops of the Church of England. Even as he prepared to leave Italy, Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of the Anglican Church let loose some bluntly critical remarks concerning behavior of the Irish Catholic Church regarding cases of sexual abuse of children. He said leaders of the Irish Catholic Church had lost “all credibility” and the events represented a “colossal trauma” for all involved in church leadership. His comments were greeted with scorn by Irish Catholic leaders. “Those working for renewal in the Catholic Church do not need this comment on the Easter weekend and do not deserve it.” If not now, when?

Rowan Williams does not expect many Anglicans do be attracted by offers from the Pope and returning to the bosom of the Catholic faith. This is not the right time for Catholics to reach out to other Christians and seek their return to the Church. Another time, another leadership, might result in a different reaction.

Silence Of The Catholic Lambs?

The Toronto Star in Canada sent out an inquiry to all 225 Catholic priests in the city in order to find out which ones would actually discuss with parishioners the sexual abuse issue confronting the Church. About 20% responded but only ten provided information about their Easter sermon and of those, three said they would discuss the issue. The vast majority said they were busy and spoke from notes rather than wrote out a sermon. The Rev. Michael McGourty provided an excerpt of what he would say: “there is a real danger in these times in which we are barraged by media reports about human weaknesses that we might miss the real message of Christianity. Christians have never claimed that human beings are perfect.”

I trust the Father McGourty remembers his words the next time he denounces females who have abortions.

Sex Abuse? Pope Attacked? No Problem, Anti-Semitism!

My father escaped persecution in Russia at the turn of the 20th century and whenever anything adverse happened in his life, a bad week at the butcher shop, the stove went out, he would raise his eyes to the sky, and say firmly, “anti-Semitism.” Little did I know that one day the Vatican would employ a similar explanation in order to deal with sex abuse charges. Father Raniero Cantalamessa told a religious group, including Pope Benedict XVI, the alleged priest scandal dealing with sexual abuse reveals “the most shameful aspect of anti-Semitism!” He quoted from a letter received from a “Jewish friend”(who shall remain nameless) who “followed with disgust the violent and concentric attacks against the Church.” According to this Jewish person, “the use of stereotypes, the shifting of personal responsibility and guilt to a collective guilt remind me of the most shameful aspects of anti-Semitism.”

Numerous priests have been charged with sexual abuse, not by non-Catholics, but by members of the Church. How the hell did we get from point A to point Z? Does one get the feeling the Catholic Church has hired Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as their image consultant?

Church Sanctuary, A Modern Twist

In Medieval times a thief could seek sanctuary from arrest by fleeing to the safety of a church. In modern times, the thief would never risk his safety by seeking refuge in a Catholic church, but those who violate the law as members of the Catholic Church retain the sanctuary of being safe from prosecution by being members of the clergy. Four more cases in Denmark have come to the surface and X number of victims are somewhere in Denmark hiding from the glare of publicity, and, most probably, so are the priests who abused them.Father Niels Engelbrecht took the responsibility of seeking out victims only to learn most remain silent and live with the long term impact on their sex lives of having been abused.

It is fascinating the Catholic Church of Denmark does not regard it has a legal responsibility to report all cases of sexual abuse to authorities. The process of healing begins when those who abuse confront their own lives as well as the lives they have damaged.

Sexual Abuse Is A Religious, Not A Secular Issue

One would assume if evidence was uncovered that person X was involved in sexually abusing young people, this information should be reported to the police. But, in Denmark, Bishop Czeslaw Kozon, the highest ranking Catholic official in the country has a different take on such situations. He has been advised by a lawyer that he is not obligated to immediately report cases of sexual abuse by members of the clergy in the Catholic Church. Such cases are initially handled by a special ethics committee composed of a priest, lawyer and social worker. The Bishop emphasizes, “my conduct in those kinds of cases would be dependent on what the ethics committee recommends.” He did note that all members of the church have received guidelines on how to conduct themselves in issues pertaining to sexual abuse.

It is clear how members of the Catholic Church should conduct themselves when abusing children, have a discussion with an ethics committee. I confess-not to a priest, that is, my confusion about why it is justified not to report a crime to the police.