7 Dec 2010

Clergy abuse survivor groups troubled, dismayed, insulted by Pope's picks to investigate Irish church

Irish Times - Ireland June 2, 2010

Abuse groups query record of top clerics sent to Ireland

by PATSY McGARRY | Religious Affairs Correspondent

ABUSE GROUPS in the UK and US have questioned the inclusion of the two cardinals and one archbishop among the apostolic visitors to the Irish Catholic Church announced by Pope Benedict on Monday.

They believe the child protection records of the former primate of England and Wales and Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor; of the Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Séan O’Malley; and of the Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, disbar them.

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor has been appointed apostolic visitor to the Armagh archdiocese, Cardinal O’Malley to the Dublin archdiocese and Archbishop Dolan to the seminaries at Maynooth and the Irish College in Rome. The MACSAS (Minister & Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors) group in the UK have said they were “deeply amazed and concerned” at Cardinal Murphy O’Connor’s appointment.

MACSAS founder Dr Margaret Kennedy referred to the cardinal’s decision in 1985, when he was bishop of Arundel and Brighton, to move the priest Fr Michael Hill to a chaplaincy at Gatwick airport. Eighteen months previously the cardinal had removed Hill from ministry because of child abuse allegations but then allowed him back to work at the airport where Hill abused a child. Hill was jailed in 2002.

Dr Kennedy said yesterday that the cardinal’s handling of the case “has never been examined by independent inquiry”. Hill had “abused a very vulnerable, lost, learning-disabled boy. Hill also abused other disabled children.”

Many in the UK survivor movement “would wonder why a bishop with a record of mishandling his own cases could independently look at another bishop’s handling of cases”, she said. It was a “truly farcical and deeply insulting situation” which showed that “the Vatican does not yet fully grasp the notions of ‘justice, truth or accountability’,” she said. “The Armagh people should not accept Cormac Murphy-O’Connor. However, I guess Cardinal Brady is rather happy about it.”

In a statement the US group bishopsaccountability.org has said it was “dismayed by the Vatican’s selection of Boston’s Cardinal Seán O’Malley to advise and monitor the Dublin archdiocese’s handling of child sexual abuse allegations against clergy.”

The cardinal’s “career ascent has been fuelled by his ability to walk into dioceses racked by horrible revelations of child molestation and enshroud them again in silence”, they said. Since 2003 “he has released almost no information about new allegations against Boston priests”, they said.

They also claimed he had reinstated “at least three accused priests [Rev Jerome Gillespie, Rev Eugene Sullivan and Rev Charles Murphy] about whom troubling questions persist” and that in his diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts, the district attorney in 2002 was so disturbed at Cardinal O’Malley’s failure to inform the public of sexual offenders that he himself went public with a list of names of accused priests.

It concluded that “for an apostolic visitation to have any chance of success, the participating bishops cannot be guilty of the same offences they are investigating”.

Barbara Dorris, of the United States’ SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), said that both Cardinal O’Malley and Archbishop Dolan had “troubling track records on abuse”. She said “just a few years ago Boston’s [Cardinal] O’Malley was found in violation of the US bishops’ sex abuse policy for refusing to make sure that all parishes were offering abuse training. And [Archbishop] Dolan let a priest sue his accuser in St Louis and fought against reforming Wisconsin child sex abuse laws.”

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Boston Globe - June 3, 2010

The pope’s pro

Dispatched again to salve wounds in the child abuse scandal, Cardinal O’Malley must add substance to symbolism

By Joan Vennochi | Boston Globe

AFTER SEVERAL months of terrible press, Pope Benedict XVI is getting religion.

It’s the kind that tells him it’s time to call in Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

When scandal strikes the Catholic Church, O’Malley knows how to quiet public outrage over it.

Charming, humble, and accessible, he’s a public relations pro. For a pontiff in dire need of better branding, it’s a good move to name O’Malley to a team of high-ranking prelates who will advise the archdioceses of Ireland about the clergy sexual abuse crisis that outraged that country.

Of course, calming outrage is quite different from fixing an institution that resists owning up to just how broken it is. And it is no substitute for holding child abusers and their enablers accountable for their crimes. Investigating alleged crimes in the religion is a job for outside law enforcement. The Vatican, however, is still allowed to investigate itself.

Dublin represents the fourth time O’Malley has been called upon to rescue the church from the snare of clergy sexual abuse scandals. His record reflects the push and pull between the old forces of secrecy and the new pressure for transparency.

In 2002, he was dispatched to Fall River, a diocese torn apart by the serial abuse of minors by the Rev. James R. Porter. From there, he went to Palm Beach, where two previous bishops acknowledged sexually abusing minors. He arrived in Boston in 2003, to replace Cardinal Bernard F. Law, who resigned after his record as enabler of predator priests became public.

O’Malley is adept at embracing the symbols of openness and transparency and expressing concern. He has met with hundreds of survivors. Over the last seven years, the archdiocese has provided millions to fund counseling and other services for survivors and family members. He conducted a “Pilgrimage of Repentance and Hope’’ in 2006, and in 2008, arranged a meeting between the pope and five Boston sexual abuse victims as part of Benedict’s first visit to the United States.

The Boston Archdiocese now has a host of policies and practices designed to create safe environments in churches and schools, including a commitment to report all allegations of clergy sexual abuse to local law enforcement agencies.

But critics still say he hasn’t done enough, and what he keeps hidden is cause for concern.

The complaints go back to Fall River, when Bristol District Attorney Paul F. Walsh Jr. personally released the names of 20 priests accused of sexual misconduct — a step Walsh said then that he took because of the recalcitrance of church officials, including O’Malley.

Advocates for victims of clergy sexual abuse now want O’Malley to make public a list of all priests in the Archdiocese of Boston who were accused of abuse, along with their assignment records. It hasn’t happened yet, due to the complexities, the archdiocese argues, of disclosing information relating to someone accused of a crime. Three accused priests have also been reinstated, with little information to the public about how those decisions were reached.

“As a Boston Catholic, I have been astonished by how little information he has given the public. Everyone is enchanted by his demeanor,’’ said Anne Barrett Doyle, of BishopAccountability.org, a Waltham-based group that tracks abuse. “He is the master of the beautifully symbolic ritual.’’

For now, there’s no question that the pope is adopting a new, improved approach to managing the latest scandal and O’Malley is part of it.

In March, when fresh revelations about pedophile priests in Germany threatened to ensnare him, Benedict blamed it on enemies of the church. In April, as more details were reported about his involvement in overseeing abuse cases prior to becoming pontiff, the Vatican said the pope was being targeted for his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.

Then, in May, the pope reversed course. He said the child abuse scandal was a product of “sin within’’ the church.

O’Malley and the Dublin team will do their job if, this time, they tell the pope that it isn’t just about sin, it’s about crime.

And it isn’t just about public relations, it’s about the public interest.

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