23 Feb 2011

Inquiry finds US Catholic hierarchy still endangering children and fighting justice for clergy abuse survivors

New York Times - February 14, 2011

More Shame


The Roman Catholic hierarchy in this country has promised accountability and justice for children sexually abused by priests. We fear it has a long way to go. A new inquiry has found that nearly a decade after the scandal engulfed the American church, children are still in peril and some leaders are still stonewalling investigations.

A grand-jury report released Feb. 10 accused three priests and a teacher in the Philadelphia Archdiocese of raping two young boys in the 1990s. It also accused a senior church official of knowingly endangering thousands of children by shielding accused priests for years. [see related links below]

The Philadelphia district attorney brought sexual-assault charges against the priests and teacher, and charged Msgr. William Lynn, with two counts of child endangerment, apparently the first time a church leader has been criminally charged with covering up abuse.

Monsignor Lynn was secretary of the clergy under retired Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, responsible for investigating abuse allegations from 1992 to 2004. Instead, according to the grand jury, he shuffled credibly accused priests among unsuspecting parishes, putting “literally thousands of children at risk of sexual abuse.”

The report said at least three dozen accused priests remain in active ministry in the archdiocese, nearly all unidentified. The grand jury asked the archdiocese for its records on the accusations against those priests; months later, the archdiocese has not fully complied.

These are not the first accusations against the Philadelphia Archdiocese. A blistering grand-jury report in 2005 exposed the abuse of hundreds of children by more than 60 archdiocesan priests, lamenting that the church’s cover-up had succeeded since the statute of limitations made it impossible to prosecute the predators.

The recent grand jury said it had no doubt that the scale of the crimes and the extent of the official cover-up went far beyond the cases of sodomy and rape it documented in horrifying detail. It cited continued institutional weaknesses that allowed such crimes to go undetected or unpunished — an obsession with secrecy, a concern for abusers over victims, the inherent conflict in having “victim assistance coordinators” who are supposed to help stricken families but who are church employees with divided loyalties.

The grand jury has implored the current leader of the archdiocese, Cardinal Justin Rigali, to fully cooperate with its investigation and institute reforms, beginning with opening its files on abuse accusations, swiftly removing credibly accused priests from ministry and financing truly independent investigations.

It also urged Pennsylvania to suspend for two years the civil statute of limitations on sexual abuse claims.

States across the country should do the same. There will be no justice or healing until all victims’ voices are heard and the church finally shows true accountability.

This article was found at:


Three Philadelphia priests and teacher charged with raping boys, Monsignor charged with failing to protect children

Summary of 2010 US legal reform of statutes of limitations related to child sex abuse 

Catholic church spends millions protecting predators and keeping victims out of court by fighting time limits law reform

New York priest defrocked for child sex abuse after 8 year church judicial process that excluded victim's rights

Catholic church fights New Jersey bill that would reform statute of limitations and expand liability to supervisors of children

New Jersey childhood sexual abuse statute of limitations law upheld 

Catholic Conference fights law reforms across the U.S. that would extend statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases

U.K. Catholic child protection head says Vatican response inadequate, statute of limitations ignore long term effects of abuse

Law suits against Catholic church for fraud and negligence in sex abuse cases attempt to overcome restrictive statute of limitations

Documents in Nova Scotia clergy abuse case reveal why statute of limitations for child sexual abuse should be eliminated

Victims of sex abuse in Quebec revictimized by statute of limitations and lack of therapy services

Canadian Supreme Court rules woman's lawsuit against Catholic Church can proceed despite expired time limit

Brooklyn Bishop Avidly Opposes Bill Extending Time to File Child-Abuse Suits 

Bill on Childhood Sexual Abuse Suits Is Amended to Add an Age Limit 

Wisconsin considers law to remove age limit for child sex abuse suits, Milwaukee Archbishop objects

Priest sex abuse case in Illinois dismissed due to statute of limitations

Australia's Anglican leader fights sex abuse statute plan

Australian Anglican Church votes down internal push by clergy to drop the statute of limitations

Brooklyn Bishop endorses politician who played key role in defeating statute of limitations bill 

Pope Benedict promises to better protect children in future, while New York Bishops fight to deny compensation to past victims

Wisconsin considers law to remove age limit for child sex abuse suits, Milwaukee Archbishop objects

Tennessee clergy abuse survivors seek justice for crimes committed by pedophile priests and end to time limits

Episcopal bishop who covered up youth minister's sex abuse of minor reinstated due to church time limits

Child sex abuse inquiry finds Ontario church and gov't institutions revictimized survivors seeking help

Australian clergy abuse survivors say they are being re-victimized by compensation process and Catholic hierarchy

U.S. clergy abuse survivors group, SNAP, goes global to address worldwide crisis of abuse and cover-up

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