The Independent - Ireland May 17, 2011
Victims furious over new Vatican abuse guidelines
By John Cooney Religion Correspondent
VICTIMS of paedophile priests reacted with fury yesterday after new guidelines from the Vatican insisted bishops, rather than gardai, should deal with child abuse cases in the first instance.
A document drawn up by Cardinal William Levada, the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, concludes that the responsibility for dealing with child abuse cases within the church "belongs in the first place to bishops".
In the past, there have been repeated accusations of cover-ups by the church and claims that bishops around the world have shielded child abusers.
The Vatican claimed that the document, to be circulated to all clergy worldwide, was "an important new step" to cleanse the church of recurring child abuse scandals and urged bishops to co-operate with police in reporting priests who rape and molest children.
Cardinal Levada, head of the Vatican's doctrinal watchdog, instructed bishops to send their updated national guidelines for preventing abuse by May 2012.
The guidelines are aimed at "facilitating the correct application" of rules that Pope Benedict XVI issued last year on handling sex abuse.
Besides repeating that suspected crimes should be reported to police, it called on bishops to "investigate every allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by a cleric".
It also made distribution of child pornography a crime in canon law.
There was no immediate reaction from Irish church leaders Cardinal Sean Brady and Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin.
But this latest Vatican instruction highlighted the continuing gulf between Rome and Irish abuse victims.
Maeve Lewis of the One in Four survivors' support group welcomed the new guidelines but said they were dangerously flawed and that bishops had little expertise or experience in recognising child abuse.
"It is not acceptable that reporting an allegation is at the discretion of a bishop," she said.
"The Vatican has missed an opportunity to deal definitively with the sex abuse scandal and to protect thousands of children throughout the Catholic world."
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Monday, May 16, 2011
New Vatican child sex abuse guidelines; SNAP responds
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
Where’s the beef? There’s no enforcement here. There are no penalties for bishops who don’t come up with guidelines or who violate their own guidelines, just like right now, there are no penalties for bishops who ignore or conceal heinous child sex crimes. Until that happens – until top church officials who hide and enable abuse are severely disciplined – top church officials will continue to hide and enable abuse.
Words on paper don’t protect kid. Decisive action protects kids. This isn’t decisive action. This is yet another unenforcible “recommendation” that gives untrustworthy bishops continued power to abuse their power.
There’s no “zero tolerance” or “mandatory reporting” requirement here. There’s no insistence that bishops warn their flock about child molesting clerics. There’s nothing that will make a child safer today or tomorrow or next month or next year.
There is the hint of perhaps glacial “baby steps” to come later, but no assurance that any policy by a single bishop anywhere will, in fact, ever be followed.
To anyone unfamiliar with the church hierarchy’s long-standing secrecy surrounding child sex crimes and cover ups, these “guidelines” may seem decent. To those, however, who realize that, right now, across the world, kids are being molested by priests and crimes are being concealed by bishops, these “guidelines” are woefully inadequate.
“Guidelines” are for people who don’t understand and need education. Bishops, however, are well-educated men with staffs and resources. They understand that child sexual abuse is hurtful and illegal. Most of them, unfortunately, lack the courage to break from centuries of sexual secrecy and take real steps to prevent child sex crimes and oust those who commit and conceal it.
Giving these bishops voluntary “guidelines” is essentially worthless.
Our standard can’t be “what has been.” Our standard must be “what is needed.” We sell out and endanger and hurt kids – and ensure that more of them will be sexually violated – if we content ourselves with vague pledges instead of real reform.
Statement by David Clohessy, Director of SNAP
Ten reasons the Vatican’s new abuse guidelines will change little
They don’t impact the crux of the crisis: the virtually limitless power of bishops -
Bishops ignore and conceal child sex crimes because they can (because of archaic, predator-friendly laws, the deference of civill authorities, the devout faith and deep confusion of victims). So any “reform” that doesn’t diminish bishops’ power and discretion is virtually meaningless.
They're just "guidelines" -
They aren't binding or mandatory, just suggestions. (Unlike the new rules or "instructions” the Vatican just issued about the Latin mass.)
Such voluntary "guidelines" have been widely ignored for years in the past -
A notable example: throughout the 1990s, US bishops almost entirely ignored their own similar voluntary guidelines on abuse (adopted in 1993)
The “guidelines” won't even require bishops to call police when they know of or suspect child sex crimes -
This is, perhaps, the single most effective step a bishop can take to protect kids.
In the handful of nations with allegedly mandatory church abuse policies, those policies are unenforced -
For instance, the 2002 US policy, which is supposedly "church law," is increasingly being violated (especially the provisions around "transparency") with no consequences whatsoever to the wrongdoers.
The most egregious recent example is of course the Philadelphia archdiocese, which, according to prosecutors and grand jurors, kept dozens of credibly accused predator priests in ministry for years until just two months ago.
Even if Benedict wanted to enforce the guidelines, the church STRUCTURE is a huge obstacle -
he allegedly oversees 4,400 bishops across the planet, an inherently unworkable structure
Even if Benedict wanted to enforce the guidelines, the church CULTURE is a huge obstacle -
centuries of self-serving secrecy can't be easily reversed. . .look at how powerful prelates like Sodano protected Maciel for so long
Few, if any, church officials are apparently pushing for real reform -
if there were a vocal contingent, however small, of bishops who were strongly advocating truly effective prevention measures, some Vatican officials might feel some pressure to compromise with them. But there evidently, is no cadre of truly brave, outspoken bishops
Wrongdoers keep being promoted and whistleblowers keep being ostracized, so why would more vague words on paper bring any change in how bishops deal with abuse and cover up -
Bishops like Martin in Ireland, Robinson in Australia and Gumbleton in the US are increasingly isolated by their peers while prelates like Law and Rigali are tolerated and even promoted. (Just last month, Benedict tapped America's most widely-discredited prelate, Rigali of Philadelphia, to be the Pope's special representative at a big church celebration in the Czech Republic next month.) In the US, a number of highly controversial and compromised church officials - Coyne from Boston, Cistone from Philadelphia, Gomez from San Antonio) have been recently elevated by Pope Benedict.
They're a very belated move -
Top church staff have known of clergy sex crimes and cover ups for decades, if not centuries.
They're a very begrudging move -
The guidelines are being written now only because the crisis has reached the Pope's doorstep (due to investigative reporting on his own role concealing cases and due to increasing numbers and success of civil lawsuits).
TIME - May 18, 2011
Vatican Gets Tough on Child Abuse, but Not Tough Enough
By Stephan Faris
When the Vatican issued a letter on Monday ordering bishops across the world to draw up tough guidelines for dealing with priests who rape or molest children, it addressed only half the scandal that has been rocking the Catholic Church.
To be sure, when it comes to the abusive clerics, the Vatican's new edict takes a firm stand, obliging local bishops to cooperate with local law enforcement in reporting sex crimes and recommending that policies be put in place to exclude accused priests from public ministry if they pose a continued danger to minors or could be a "cause of scandal for the community."
But what Monday's letter fails to do is put in place any sanctions on the bishops who oversee those clerics, should they fail to follow through with the recommendations. Child abuse is by no means unique to the Catholic Church. What sets the scandal apart is the sustained and widespread effort by church authorities to cover up for and protect the accused. And, in this regard, the new guidelines change little. "No threat of penalty will deter a child molester from committing a child sex crime," says David Clohessy, national director of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), which criticized the proposal as too lax. "But penalties can deter bishops from ignoring or concealing those crimes."
In drafting its directive, the Vatican has had to walk a fine line between ensuring its bishops cooperate with officials in the just prosecution of sex offenders under their authority while also ensuring their autonomy from civil authorities, especially in repressive regimes in East Asia or the Middle East, where the church can often have an antagonistic relationship with the state. Indeed, in the handling of individual cases, the letter specifically elevates the judgment of bishops over the civilian review boards that have been introduced in some countries, including the U.S. and Ireland.
But in its effort to make sure bishops retain their independence, the Vatican risks perpetuating what victims' groups say is a pattern that sees church officials place the protection of their priests over the well-being of their parishioners with few repercussions. For whatever reason, until recently, bishops have preferred to deal with clerical abuse internally — often transferring abusive priests from parish to parish — instead of handing them over to civil authorities. "The best explanation I can come up with is a profoundly misguided idea of what is in the good of the church," says Phil Lawler, editor of CatholicCulture.org. "They were paying more attention to its public image than to the spiritual, emotional and physical welfare of the faithful."
Doubly worrying is that the Vatican's new guidelines seem modeled on those set in 2002 in the U.S., where even with similar policies in place, the church continues to get hit with scandalous revelations. In February, a grand jury accused the Archdiocese of Philadelphia of covering up decades of wrongdoing and keeping up to 37 priests who were suspected of child abuse in active ministry. The Archbishop, Cardinal Justin Rigali, at first denied the accusation, but he later suspended 24 of the accused priests. "There were all the procedures in place for handling credible allegations," says Lawler. "But it was the bishop and his subordinates who were responsible for deciding what was a credible allegation."
And while the priests who allegedly committed the abuse face punishment, the man who failed to bring them to account has yet to suffer any sanction. Indeed, a few months later, Rigali was chosen to represent the church in a celebration in the Czech Republic in June. "As long as church officials who ignore and conceal abuse are tolerated and promoted, then nothing will change," says SNAP's Clohessy. "There simply have to be penalties for dreadful wrongdoing."
This article was found at:
Patheos - God vs Gavel May 12, 2011
Eliminate Statutes of Limitation in Childhood Sexual Abuse Cases: A Litmus Test for the Vatican
If the Pope believes in truth and protection for the vulnerable, his letter to the bishops will endorse statutes of limitations reform.
By Marci A. Hamilton
According to the Vancouver Sun, the Vatican will soon be releasing a letter to Catholic bishops around the world dealing with child sex abuse. I know I'm excited.
After their persistent dithering and bobbing and weaving, it is hard to gin up much interest in this latest memo to the bishops. This is an institution that recently condemned a bishop for suggesting that women could be priests and priests should be married, but has been nearly mute about another bishop who publicly admitted, almost laconically, that he sexually abused two nephews. How can the Vatican claim any moral authority on the issue of child sex abuse when it has demonstrated such a lackluster response to disgusting, intrafamilial abuse by one of its own priests?
So how will we know when the Vatican is serious about protecting children from its pedophile priests? Actually, there is a litmus test.
Right now, the greatest comfort to a bishop who is looking over his shoulder and hoping no one can document his callous cover-up of child predators are the short statutes of limitations in many countries that keep the victims out of court.
So if they are sincere about changing the world to be a better place for children, or even the lesser goal of proving their mettle to protect children, they will endorse the elimination of childhood sexual abuse statutes of limitations (backwards and forwards), and encourage all victims to go to court. That is correct —they will have to embrace justice for the victims.
Without this legal change, the bishops' massive, inhumane, and orchestrated cover-up of child sex abuse will continue to fester. The vast majority of victims will continue to wonder how we could let them suffer so much, and the bishops will keep checking their backs to see who has learned what. Until they welcome the justice system and its values for every victim, they will have done less than is demanded by simple humanity.
(Of course, real justice can be achieved without the bishops' permission. That is what legislators are for—doing what is right for us even if those with a vested interest oppose it. And two states, California and Delaware, have done the right thing despite the bishops' opposition. Hawaii is on the verge of joining their distinguished ranks on child protection. In other states, the bishops continue to win the battle against victims in the state legislatures.)
It is obvious that it will take the Vatican to change the tortured course of this institution's opaque dealings with pedophiles. Even the most highly educated of Catholics in this country—distinguished academics - apparently still don't understand that the Church will have no moral authority on most issues until it does something spectacular on this issue, like endorsing legal justice for child sex abuse victims.
Speaker of the House John Boehner is scheduled to deliver the commencement address at Catholic University, and an impressive list of Catholic academics signed a letter castigating him, because "your voting record is at variance from one of the Church's most ancient moral teachings." Imagine the small rustlings of hope inside my soul as I thought that finally a powerful group of Catholics was going to remind those in power that Jesus taught first to do no harm to children.
Well, the letter is about harm to children, but it is about money, not abuse. The letter castigates Boehner for his record in voting for cuts to the Maternal and Child Health grants, Women Infants and Children, Medicaid, and Medicare. Repeatedly, the letter castigates Boehner for not following the Church's teaching to protect the vulnerable.
The academics tell Boehner that "Catholic social doctrine is not merely a set of goals to be achieved by whatever means one chooses. It is also a way of proceeding, a set of principles that are derived from the truth of the human person." They then quote Pope Benedict: "Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way....the word 'love" is abused and distorted, to the point where it comes to mean the opposite."
I would have paraphrased the Pope's words as follows: "Without truth about child sex abuse, there is suffering, suicide, and devastation." That is far too often the life of the victim who was abused by a pedophile priest, who, in turn, was aided by bishops more concerned with staffing than crimes.
A victim can never get to the bottom of the truth, so long as bishops succeed in lobbying to ensure that he or she can never get to court.
Congress itself has a shameful record on the clergy abuse crisis. Boehner may have voted to reduce funding for the poor into the future, but he has done nothing for the victims of sex abuse by clergy, past or present.
The members of Congress have seen no evil, heard no evil and spoken not at all since the Boston Globe first broke the news of the fraud perpetrated on one Catholic family after another by Catholics' own bishops. The letter ignores the elephant in the Capitol, where high-flown rhetoric about the sexual degradation of children is not unusual. It is only abuse by clergy that Congress has chosen to ignore.
If the Pope believes in truth and protection for the vulnerable, his letter to the bishops will order them to become advocates for children in the legislatures by endorsing statutes of limitations reform. If his letter lacks this legislative agenda, the Vatican will have failed the litmus test for the protection of children. Again.
Marci A. Hamilton is the Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University and author of Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children (Cambridge, 2008) and God vs. the Gavel: Religion and the Rule of Law (Cambridge, 2005, 2007).
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Vatican tells bishops to root out sex abuse
by PHILIP PULLELLA
VATICAN CITY— Reuters
The Vatican told bishops around the world on Monday that they must make it a global priority to root out sexual abuse of children by priests.
The headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church told bishops in a letter that they should cooperate with civil authorities to end the abuse that has tarnished its image around the world.
“This is telling the world that we mean business. We want to be an example of prevention and care,” said one Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The letter is intended to help every diocese draw up its own tough guidelines, based on a global approach but in line with local criminal law. These must be sent to the Vatican for review within a year.
“The responsibility for dealing with delicts (crimes) of sexual abuse of minors by clerics belongs in the first place to the diocesan bishop,” the letter says.
It incorporates sweeping revisions made last year to the Church’s laws on sexual abuse, which doubled a statute of limitations for disciplinary action against priests and extended the use of fast-track procedures to defrock them.
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.
“This goes beyond what was done before,” the Vatican official said. “It is setting up a standard of best principles, best policy to be followed globally. It makes protection of minors a paramount principle and takes a long-term view because it talks about the formation of future priests.”
The scandal has led to the resignation of bishops in several countries. Last year, Benedict begged forgiveness from God and from abuse victims, and said the Church would do everything in its power to ensure that it never happened again.
The Vatican official said that if local criminal legislation requires that bishops report sex offenders directly to civil authorities, they are obliged to do so and the guidelines will include this.
Victims groups said they were not satisfied.
“There’s no “zero tolerance” or “mandatory reporting” requirement. There’s no insistence that bishops warn their flock about child molesting clerics. There’s nothing that will make a child safer today or tomorrow or next month or next year,” said SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
In an exclusive interview with Reuters Television, the Vatican’s “Justice Promoter”, Monsignor Charles Scicluna, responded to the accusation.
“This is a long-term planning procedure. It has taken some time for the Church to recognise that there have to be clear guidelines. It is a good day for people who expect that the Church gives the good example, even when it comes to the protection of minors,” Scicluna said.
The letter tells bishops they must be prepared to listen to the victims and their families and be committed to their spiritual and psychological assistance. Bishops must be more careful in choosing candidates for the priesthood in order to weed out early those who are or could become sex abusers.
It says that while those accused of being sexual abusers have to be treated fairly and with due process, those who are known to be abusers must be excluded from the public ministry.
In many of the cases of sexual abuse around the world, local bishops allowed known abusers to be moved from parish to parish instead of being defrocked.
This article was found at:
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