Catholic Church faces its demons in clergy-abuse summit
By Lauren Green | Fox News
ROME – In less than 48 hours, about 200 bishops, the heads of Catholic Conferences from around the world, and prominent clergy, will gather in Rome at the Vatican to begin an unprecedented summit on clergy abuse.
The official title of the three-day event is the Meeting on the Protection of Minors. But another title could be “The Catholic Church Facing its Demons.”
There are two schools of thought about the importance of the meeting.
Some pundits say this event is all for show, a response to critics and victims who claim the Catholic Church is more concerned about itself than really solving the issue of clergy sex abuse.
“Over the last twenty years, the Popes have dedicated countless gestures, speeches and documents to this painful subject. The publication of norms and protocols has not always produced the change of mentality necessary to combat abuse.” – Vatican News
The other attitude is that finally the Church, with Pope Francis as its head, is doing something to end the scourge.
But because of the two disparate ideas, all agree, the stakes are high.
Anne Barrett Doyle, the director of Bishop Accountability, says, “The Catholics of the world are grieving and disillusioned. I know I am.”
Doyle will be one of the presenters at the meeting, and she says she knows what must happen for this to stop:
“Canon law has to be changed, not tweaked, not modified but fundamentally changed so that it stops prioritizing the priesthood of ordained men over the lives of children and vulnerable adults who are sexually assaulted by them.”
The Catholic Church has been actively responding to clergy abuse since the 1980s beginning with The Badgely Report out of Canada. “I was 15 … I had no prior sexual experience”: Ex-Nun Speaks Out
Then in 1987 the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Canadian version of the U.S. Conference of Bishops, issued guidelines for Catholic Dioceses.
A couple of years after that, the Canadian Church faced its biggest sex scandal, and one of the largest globally, involving the Christian Brothers of Ireland in Canada. Read more.
“True safeguarding in the church can only be achieved when those in leadership suffer severe consequences if they fail to protect the vulnerable. For this reason strong accountability measures must accompany any safeguarding policy.” – The Irish Times
Steve Bannon and the Pope’s Sex-Abuse Circus Are Coming to Rome
The Daily Beast | OPINION – Some might say it was doomed from the start.
Even Pope Francis has warned that expectations are far “too high” for his three-day summit on clerical sex abuse being held here from Thursday to Saturday.
The mission of the meeting has been clear from day one: to make sure all dioceses around the world are “on the same page” when it comes to handling clerical sex abuse.
But from the moment it was announced last September, just as the full impact of the now-famous Pennsylvania grand jury report sent shockwaves around the world, those with other agendas were booking flights to Rome.
One such opportunist is Steve Bannon, the former strategist and campaign chairman for U.S. President Donald Trump who confirmed to The Daily Beast that he will be in the Eternal City for the summit this week.
Bannon is an ardent supporter of Pope Francis’ most vocal foe, American Cardinal Raymond Burke, who is not listed as an attendee.
Together they can be expected to use the sidelines of the summit as an opportunity to rail against what they both say they believe is the root cause of clerical abuse: gay priests. And, while doing so, they will hint that Francis’ perceived leniency toward gay Catholics somehow enables the abusers.
Bannon told The Daily Beast last fall that he wants to get involved in the fight against clerical sex abuse.
He envisions a tribunal that runs parallel to the U.S. justice system that would not only put pervert priests on trial, but also seek to smoke out gay priests from their clerical closets.
Bannon is offering logistical support to Burke, who is setting up a sort of Vatican-alternative institution for traditional Catholics and political conservatives inside the 800-year-old Trisulti monastery outside Rome. Read more. (Story continues below … )
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Lone survivor on Vatican abuse commission resigns in frustration
Mar 1, 2017
by Joshua J. McElwee
National Catholic Reporter, VATICAN CITY — The only active member of Pope Francis’ new commission on clergy sexual abuse who is an abuse survivor has resigned from the group due to frustration with Vatican officials’ reluctance to cooperate with its work to protect children.
Marie Collins, an Irishwoman who has served on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors since March 2014, announced her resignation in a press statement Wednesday.
In a separate exclusive statement for NCR explaining her choice, Collins says she decided to leave the commission after losing hope that Vatican officials would cooperate with its work following a failure to implement a series of recommendations.
Collins says her decision to resign was immediately precipitated by one Vatican office’s refusal to comply with a request from the commission, approved by the pope, that all letters sent to the Vatican by abuse survivors receive a response.
“I find it impossible to listen to public statements about the deep concern in the church for the care of those whose lives have been blighted by abuse, yet to watch privately as a congregation in the Vatican refuses to even acknowledge their letters!” Collins writes in the statement.
“When I accepted my appointment to the Commission in 2014 I said publicly that if I found what was happening behind closed doors was in conflict with what was being said to the public I would not remain,” she states. “This point has come. I feel I have no choice but to resign if I am to retain my integrity.” Read more.
Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors
The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors is an institution within the Roman Curia of the Catholic Church instituted by Pope Francis on 22 March 2014. The commission received its statutes on 8 May 2015 as part of the Catholic Church’s efforts to deal with the scandal of sex abuse of minors. Its singular purpose is to propose initiatives that could protect children from pedophiles in the church.
It is headed by Boston‘s Cardinal Archbishop, Sean P. O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap., who was selected by Pope Francis for this task; earlier O’Malley had been sent to Boston to correct troubles relating to the issue under his predecessor, Bernard Cardinal Law.
The creation of the commission was announced in 2013 after Francis was criticized by victims’ groups who questioned his understanding of the full scope of the problem.
Following a slow start, the commission has, as of 2015, begun meeting with bishops and sponsoring training for church staff worldwide. The most significant proposal of the commission, the creation of an in-house Vatican tribunal to judge cases of bishops who are accused of failing to protect victims, was approved by Francis but has not been implemented.
The commission is composed of a maximum of eighteen members including a president, and is assigned a full-time secretary at the Vatican, Father Robert W. Oliver, an American priest from New York and a member of the Brotherhood of Hope, who was appointed by Pope Francis on September 10, 2014. Oliver previously served as the Promoter of Justice (chief church prosecutor) at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which prosecutes sex crimes committed by priests and other church personnel. He also served as a priest consultant to the archdiocesan review board and an ecclesiastical judge of the Archdiocese of Boston, under Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley. Oliver was ordained in 2000 for the Boston archdiocese.
Commission member Marie Collins has criticized the Vatican for failing to sufficiently fund the panel, a problem she claims could jeopardize the commission’s work. The commission has been advised to consider raising its own funds to complete the work.
In December 2014, Pope Francis added new members, including an abuse survivor and more experts (four more women and four more men, from five continents) to the commission, bringing the total to 17 members, according to a December 17, 2014, online news story article by Carol Glatz of Catholic News Service (CNS). The new members are abuse survivor Peter Saunders, the chief executive officer of the UK-based National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC); Krysten Winter-Green; Bill Kilgallon; Precious Blood Sister Hermenegild Makoro; Kathleen McCormack; Religious Sisters of Charity Kayula Lesa; Gabriel Dy-Liacco; Baroness Sheila Hollins and the Luis Manuel Ali Herrera.
Also included is Marie Collins. A native of Ireland, she assisted the Archdiocese of Dublin in establishing its Child Protection Services. She is considered a key addition to the commission, since she herself was abused by a priest when she was a child; Humberto Miguel Yáñez, SJ, Director of the Department of Moral Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University; Hans Zollner, SJ, President of the Centre for Child Protection of the Pontifical Gregorian University and Director and Professor of the Institute of Psychology; Hon. Hanna Suchocka, former Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland and Ambassador of Poland to the Holy See; Claudio Papale, canon lawyer and a civil lawyer, professor of canon law at the Pontifical Urban University, and an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and Catherine Bonnet, a child psychiatrist, psychotherapist, researcher, and author.
Following term expiration of the Commission’s members in December 2017, On February 17, 2018, Pope Francis officially relaunched the commission on February 17, 2018, The new Commission will consist of 16 members, with seven members of the previous returning and nine new members added, and will once again have Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley return as President.
Among the new members are several experts from English-speaking countries: the Hon. Neville Owen from Australia; Sr Jane Bertelsen, FMDM, from the United Kingdom; and Ms. Teresa Kettelkamp from the United States. The commission will included eight men and eight women. Baroness Hollins, who will no longer serve as a member of the Vatican Commission, will chair the working group to research and develop a proposal on the International Survivor Advisory Panel (ISAP) and will lead the presentation to the April plenary meeting.
On 21 April 2015 the Cardinal Secretary of State approved by mandate of the Supreme Pontiff, ad experimentum for three years, the Statute of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, the draft of which had been presented for approval by Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap., President of the same Commission.
The commission received its statutes on May 8, 2015. The statutes include detail on its role as a purely advisory body at the service of the Pope for the purposes of promoting local responsibility in the particular Churches for the protection of all minors and vulnerable adults. The statutes also describe the staffing of the commission, which is composed of a maximum of eighteen members and a President appointed by the Pope for a period of three years, which may be reconfirmed, and a secretary is appointed to the commission by the Pope as well.
The Commission is convened in Plenary Assembly twice each year. On the request of two thirds of the Members, and with the consent of the President, an extraordinary Plenary Assembly can be convened.
The commission may create working groups of its members, who may present proposals to the complete groups.
The languages employed by the Commission are Italian, Spanish and English.
Pope Francis issued a Chirograph for the Institution of a Pontifical Commission for the Protection of minors (22 March 2014)
In it he notes: “Many painful actions have caused a profound examination of conscience for the entire Church, leading us to request forgiveness from the victims and from our society for the harm that has been caused. This response to these actions is the firm beginning for initiatives of many different types, which are intended to repair the damage, to attain justice, and to prevent, by all means possible, the recurrence of similar incidents in the future.”
He asks the Commission to promote local responsibility in churches, uniting their efforts to those of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, currently under the leadership of Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller. He calls for the protection of all children and vulnerable adults, regardless of their religion.
In June, 2015, the commission urged Pope Francis to establish a Vatican tribunal to judge bishops accused of failing to protect children from sexual abuse.
Three members of the commission met in 2015 with the commission’s president, Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, to voice their objection to Francis’ appointment of Bishop Juan Barros Madrid to lead the Diocese of Osorno in Chile.
Barros has been accused of complicity in an abuse case there. Bishop Barros was a close associate of a Santiago priest the Vatican found guilty of sexual abuse in 2011, Fernando Karadima. Father Karadima’s victims claim Barros was aware of the abuse but did not protest, and subsequently failed to support the victims.
In February 2016 the commission met amid increasing criticism that Pope Francis needs to deliver on his promise of “zero tolerance” for sexual abuse and cover-ups by church clerics. The members watched the Oscar-nominated film Spotlight together.
The movie dramatizes the 2001 experience of the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative team at the Boston Globe as they uncovered and exposed systematic sex abuse and subsequent cover-ups by clergy and members of the church hierarchy in Boston.
In February 2017 the lone abuse victim, Marie Collins, left on the commission resigned.