CHICAGO -- The roots of the decades-long clergy sex abuse scandal lie not in any set of rules or practices, but are found deep in the culture of the church itself, retired Australian Bishop Geoffrey Robinson said Wednesday in a wide-ranging talk at the historic Newberry Library in downtown Chicago.
The most recent issue of Notre Dame Magazine includes a long piece called “Anything but clear,” about sexual assault at the university, my alma mater. Yet its 3,936 words do not include these two: Lizzy Seeberg. She was the 19-year-old freshman at St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind., who committed suicide in the fall of 2010 after accusing a University of Notre Dame football player of sexual assaulting her.
“The number of sexual misconduct allegations in the 2010-11 academic year was consistent with past averages,” the alumni magazine story says near the top, “but a course of events drew widespread attention at Notre Dame and elsewhere.”
On her way back to St. Mary's College from the University of Notre Dame, just across the street in Notre Dame, Ind., freshman Lizzy Seeberg texted her therapist that she needed to talk ASAP. "Something bad happened," read her message, sent at 11:39 p.m. on Aug. 31, 2010. A sophomore in their dorm bolted from her study group after getting a similar message. When they talked a few minutes later, Lizzy was crying so hard she was having trouble breathing: "She looked really flushed and was breathing heavily and talking really fast; I couldn't understand her. I just heard her say 'boy,' 'Notre Dame,' 'football player.' She was crying and having the closest thing to a panic attack I've seen in my life. I told her to breathe and sit down and tell me everything."
DUBLIN -- Cardinal Sean Brady said the Catholic church will cooperate fully with a government-led investigation into institutional abuse being launched in Northern Ireland.
A similar inquiry in Ireland -- the Ryan Commission -- reported in 2009 and found that physical abuse was widespread and sexual abuse was endemic in many institutions for boys run by members of religious congregations.
Brady, whose Armagh Archdiocese straddles the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, spoke after a meeting Monday with the group Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse in Northern Ireland. He was accompanied by representatives of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Sisters of St. Louis, Sisters of Mercy and the Sisters of Nazareth, all of whom managed institutions for children and vulnerable adults in the region.
"I wish to confirm that we believe the experiences the group shared with us and acknowledge its ongoing impact on their lives," Brady said after the meeting. "We apologize wholeheartedly and without reserve for the abuse that they suffered as children. We remain committed to fully cooperating with the inquiry."
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The transcript of the court ordered deposition of the director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests reveals that attorneys defending clergy accused of abuse cast a wide net in their inquiries, seeking information about how the group handles phone calls with clergy sex abuse victims to how it files its tax returns.
The transcript, which is a record of the Jan. 2 deposition of SNAP’s director David Clohessy, was made public by the victims’ advocacy group this morning (Friday).
The trial for the first church official charged with the cover-up of child sexual abuse is under way in Philadelphia, as jury selection began Feb. 21 for Msgr. William J. Lynn and two codefendants. Lynn faces charges of felony child endangerment and conspiracy.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Attorneys who deposed the director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) in January are requesting he be compelled to give more testimony and allege that the group is not covered by confidentiality protections afforded to rape crisis centers, court filings reveal.
DUBLIN -- Pope Benedict XVI is acutely aware that recent years have been tough for Irish Catholics as a result of the clerical sex abuse scandals, said the new apostolic nuncio to Ireland.
Speaking during a Mass to mark his formal welcome as Pope Benedict's representative in Dublin on Sunday, U.S. Archbishop Charles Brown said the pontiff understands "that these recent years have been difficult for Catholic believers in Ireland."
Brown said the pope was "scandalized and dismayed as he learned about the tragedy of abuse perpetrated by some members of the clergy and of religious congregations. He felt deeply the wounds of those who had been harmed and who so often had not been listened to."
Brown, a former official in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said, "I can tell you from my personal experience that he [Pope Benedict] has always had -- and he continues to have -- a great love for the people of Ireland and a high regard for the Catholic Church in Ireland, with its history of missionary richness and tenacious faith."
This is the second of two-part series looking at clergy sex abuse in Poland. Read part one here.
WARSAW, POLAND -- When Ewa Orlowska, a mother of nine, decided to confront her local priest for sexually abusing her as a child, she had little idea what was to follow. The priest, Msgr. Michal Moskwa, had been the parish pastor for three decades in the southern town of Tylawa, and Ewa had been just one of his victims. But when she’d told her mother about the abuse, her mother beat her and ordered her to apologize.
When the case came to light in 2001, Orlowska reluctantly agreed to give a statement to prosecutors. “I thought: When I stand before God and he asks me what I did for those other defenseless children, still threatened by the priest’s pedophile tendencies, what would I say?” she remembers. “Would I say I lacked courage, hadn’t the strength, was afraid of my own shadow?”
An Irish victim of sexual abuse bluntly told a Vatican summit this morning that her experience of being ignored, and her suffering minimized, by church leaders caused “the final death of any respect” she once felt for ecclesial authority.
Marie Collins said there must be “acknowledgement and accountability for the harm and destruction that has been done to the life of victims and their families” before she and other victims can regain trust in the leadership of the Catholic church.
Collins made the remarks at a four-day summit on the sexual abuse crisis titled “Towards Healing and Renewal” being held at the Jesuit-run Gregorian University.