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Germany to form government clergy sex abuse panel

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Munich, Germany

I met with an archdiocesan official here this week who said he could not speak on the record but insisted the church officials can investigate past clergy sex abuse cases on their own -- and truthfully. This official essentially said, "We can be trusted to do a competent job." I replied that competent or not, no one would trust the results short of a truly independent outside investigation.

Now, it seems, the early stages of such an investigation are taking root.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet is meeting today and plans to establish an expert panel to respond to the sex abuse allegations that have erupted here since January.

The proposed panel is to be led by the ministries of Justice, Family and Education and will meet April 23. It is to include 40 experts from the government, the church, charities and educational institutions.

Merkel has said that the panel should examine past abuses and should also reevaluate Germany's current statute of limitations on sex crimes.

It appears church officials are not going to have it their way.

'Sex abuse cover-up was intuitive, needed no Vatican direction'

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This author argues that a clerical stuctural order of secrecy has existed throughout the church and so no Vatican order was necessary to cover up the clergy sex abuse scandal. "An explicit Vatican policy that demanded secrecy in the sex abuse matters would be much easier to overturn than a culture which took it for granted."

"No ban may have been intended on denouncing the crimes to civil authorities, but neither was any explicit ban necessary. The denunciations never came. In Catholic terms, the church was structurally sinful."

Try if they like, inevitably the force for an assessment for examination, from inside and out, is only bound to grow. Without such a assessment, the church is likely to continue to implode as the once faithful walk and take their children and money with them. With an honest evaluation, leading to structural change and accountability, there is hope, that an instrument for preaching the light of the gospels will not perish from out lands.

Getting back at Stupak

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First the Susan B. Anthony List stripped Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak of previously bestowed "Defender of Life" awards. Now the Illinois Catholic Prayer Breakfast organizers have dis-invited him as this year's keynote speaker.

All because Stupak voted for the health care reform bill that included a executive order to impose restrictions on abortion, rather than the amendment he originally proposed.

With that compromise, Stupak has gone from pro-life role model to a liar, traitor and baby-killer who deserves to rot in hell.

I'm sure he can't wait to work with pro-lifers again soon.

Latest German press reactions to clergy sex abuse

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Munich, Germany

The German press in the past two days has editorialized on church sex abuse following Pope Benedict’s letter to the church in Ireland. The following are excepts as selected by Spiegel Online:

Conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:
The pope "has done little to indicate the way forward for churches in Ireland or Germany, so that they may atone for past wrongs as well as avoid doing harm in the future. Nonetheless, the experiences of churches in North America and England provide a clear blueprint. It includes lessons regarding the standards for the training of priests; the necessity of breaking with the widespread past practice of showing more concern for the perpetrators than for the victims; and establishment of reporting centers that are institutionally independent of the church."

USCCB Statement on Health Care Law

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The USCCB has issued a statement, approved unanimously by their administrative committee which met in Washington today, on the health care reform bill that President Barack Obama signed into law today. In a word, the statement is balanced.

The bishops’ statement begins with praise for those parts of the law that extend coverage to millions of previously uninsured Americans. They are almost fulsome in their commendations for the effort to provide universal coverage: “We are bishops, and therefore pastors and teachers. In that role, we applaud the effort to expand health care to all.”

Haiti & mental health challenges

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"Clearly, mental health has never been a priority in this country [Haiti]."

In early February 2010, I wrote a column on the post-earthquake mental health challenges for Haitians."

The next day The Wall Street Journal reported on the pending revamp of the U.S. manual on mental health, which could dramatically impact the delivery of mental health services in the U.S.

Saturday's New York Times carries a jarring story about the state of psychiatric care in Haiti.

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August 15-28, 2014

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