Tag Archives: clergy sexual abuse

Pope establishes commission for protection of minors, pastoral care of victims

Many in the world are watching the Church and how she is addressing the needs of a contemporary Church. The concerns of the College of Cardinals at the last papal election reflected the concerns of the faithful. With a good sense there a new things happening. One such innovation is Francis creating the Council of Cardinals to advise him on the administration of the Church. This work is being shared. Another innovation was announced today: a special commission will be set up to have oversight on matters pertaining to the protection of children and the pastoral care the victims. Clearly, this move of the Pope is a continuation of the good work of Pope Benedict regarding the sin and crime of sexual abuse. I pray that the commission will act decisively and with mercy and justice. 

Speaking for the Council of Cardinals, Sean Cardinal O’Malley gave this to the press at the Holy See:

At the briefing on Thursday morning, 5 December, at 1 p.m., alongside the Director of the Holy See Press Office, there participated Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, member of the Council of Cardinals, who gave the following Declaration:

“Continuing decisively along the lines undertaken by Pope Benedict XVI, and accepting a proposal presented by the Council of Cardinals, the Holy Father has decided to establish a specific Commission for the protection of minors, with the aim of advising Pope Francis on the Holy See’s commitment to the protection of children and in pastoral care for victims of abuse. Specifically, the Commission will:

1. study present programmes in place for the protection of children.

2. formulate suggestions for new initiatives on the part of the Curia, in collaboration with bishops, Episcopal conferences, religious superiors and conferences of religious superiors.

3. indicate the names of persons suited to the systematic implementation of these new initiatives, including lay persons, religious and priests with responsibilities for the safety of children, in relations with the victims, in mental health, in the application of the law, etc.

The composition and competences of the Commission will be indicated shortly, with more details from the Holy Father in an appropriate document.”

Cardinal O’Malley then quoted some of the lines of action proposed by the Commission under constitution.

* * *

The meetings will conclude tomorrow afternoon [Friday], completing the review of the different Congregations of the Roman Curia initiated during these recent days.

The next round of meetings is scheduled for the 17, 18 and 19 February, preceding the Consistory of the College of Cardinals due to take place on the 20 and 21 of the same month, and the Consistory for the Creation of new cardinals on 22 February, Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, and the solemn Concelebration of Sunday 23.
In addition, the meeting of the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops is scheduled to take place in the days immediately after (24-25 February).

Bearing the wound the clergy inflict

MahoneyMother Church, the sacrament of Jesus Christ on earth bears the wounds inflected on her by her clergy.

I cannot say whether this story, “For Roger Mahoney, clergy abuse cases were a threat to agenda,” published by the LA Times is without bias, but if it is objective in reporting the facts, then we have even more opportunities to pray, and to offer sacrifice for the offenses of the Catholic clergy; our education on the matter is not over, and we ought not to be complacent.

That the reporters and not Church hierarchy has written about this subject is indeed amazing. Say what you will about the media, the Church does owe a debt of gratitude for shedding light on a dark point of our history. I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that if the media didn’t write about the abuse and the attitude of the bishops toward the Church –a la what you see in Cardinal Mahoney– little change would have happened. It must be recognized with a clear voice that the Catholic Church is charting a path to resolution and healing, a path that many secular institutions have yet to walk.

Mercy is required –Jesus the Good Shepherd teaches us this. Pope Francis is the current face of God’s tenderness for the victims and victimizers. Mercy for the victims, law enforcement officials, healthcare professionals, the laity of who give lives to the following Jesus as faithful members of the Church, and the clergy.

In 2007, the then Prefect of the Congregation of the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, wrote a letter to the bishops of the world asking for a spiritual work to aid concrete actions in assisting those affected by clergy sex abuse. To date, few cenacles of prayer have been established. Where I live, Cardinal Hummes’ letter is a dead letter, seemingly completely ignored by the bishops (at least in the USA). So that you know what the cardinal is looking for,

We are asking, therefore, all diocesan Ordinaries who perceive in a special way the specificity and irreplaceability of the ordained ministry in the life of the Church, together with the urgency of a common action in favour of the ministerial priesthood, to become an active part and promote – in the different portions of the People of God entrusted to them – , veritable cenacles in which clerics, religious and lay people – united among themselves in the spirit of true communion – devote themselves to prayer, in the form of continual eucharistic adoration, also in the spirit of genuine and real reparation and purification.

 May the horrible history of Roger Mahoney be an invitation for all of to make conversion a priority.

Pope Benedict defends record

Our emeritus pope Benedict broke a self imposed silence to defend his record against false accusations the he did little to correct the misconduct, particularly sexual abuse behavior of clergy. He did this in Italy’s La Repubblica and it was also picked up by Daily Telegraph in the form of a letter a well-known atheist, Piergiorgio Odifreddi, about this issue (and others) that he originally published in a 2011 book, Dear Pope.

You read the article here and here. The letter is in Italian at the moment.

Here in the USA, the Catholic Church once again has had to deal with the craziness –immorality and criminal behavior– of her priests.

We know from the press several weeks ago a Boston priest was taken out of ministry for constant contact with a prostitute, there’s Scranton priest charged with molesting a teenaged boy he met on Craigslist, a Benedictine monk in Wisconsin who stalks young girls looking for a “quicky” and then we have Curtis Wehmeyer a Minnesota priest who simply is a creep and a criminal. Plus you can call to mind the NJ priests Michael Fugee and Robert Chabak, among others.

Who wouldn’t feel, after reading about pedophile clergy, that the Church has not done enough? That the Church is not too serious about this issue. After all, it is said that the Church has cleaned up her game. Or, so the church and civil authorities claim. In fact, the Catholic Church is a benchmark for cleaning up clergy sex abuse and other misbehavior. The Church record today is vastly different than 10 years ago while civil institutions have yet to address the problem. Nevertheless, you hear that the Vicar General of Wehmeyer’s archdiocese is portrayed as an unfaithful, ignorant, arrogant, incompetent churchman. You can read the story here.

The critics are right to question. Catholics have not left their mind at the door. But the questions of the critics are misplaced if they think that going after Benedict is the right thing to do. He was the pope, not the universal police chief. A pope can only do so much. The local authorities in the Catholic Church are most directly responsible for the faithful and they are to be held accountable. Look at the bishops and various vicars before pointing fingers at the Pope. That’s how the Church has worked for the last 2000 years.

Barbara Dorris of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) sheds no light for the path nor does she adequately convey with exactitude what, in fact, Benedict tried to do in his previous work the CDF, or as the Roman Pontiff. Dorris is good at complaining and stirring the emotions of victims and antagonists but does not speak the truth. Some of SNAP’s tactics lack charity for both victim and victimizer. Remember the Lord does have concern all the sheep and goats of the Kingdom. And yet, SNAP does attempt to keep the toes of some clerics over the fire and honest).

Within his area of pastoral authority Benedict did everything he could to root out the evil, but the bishops and their close collaborators have obstructed the truth and justice from all. Benedict strengthened church law, spoke out against misconduct, removed clergy, heard the stories of victims and responded according to law of charity.

In one address to the Church, the emeritus pope noted that the spiritual decay has happened, and that it unfortunately continues, and we all have to be vigilant. Supervision is not easy. AND, unfortunately, there are lots of priests, bishops and religious superiors who are neither honest nor holy. In time their malfeasance will be dealt with. But the matter of supervising priests and other church ministers is the obligation of all people, even non-believers, not merely the pope.

Benedict to Ireland

Following a tough meeting with the Irish bishops a few weeks on clergy sexual abuse, Pope Benedict wrote to the Church in Ireland. I think it is an amazing pastoral letter–all people should read it. 

The text is here.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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