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Accountability

Take abuse cases out of clerical hands

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If the recently released report of the investigation of the Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., diocese were reduced to its core, it would read: Diocesan officials -- priests and bishops -- should never investigate accusations of other priests (see story).

That point might seem glaringly obvious, and one that has been made repeatedly in other circumstances. Nonetheless it is helpful to see it once again in writing as a central conclusion to an elaborate study.

Polish Catholic journal criticizes church over abuse

WARSAW, Poland -- A Catholic journal has criticized the Polish church's handling of sexual abuse by priests, following repeated claims that local church leaders failed to confront the problem.

"The harm caused by sexual molestation of children is unquestionable, but the evil is much greater when pedophilia occurs in the community of faith, and when, in a falsely conceived defense of the church, the authorities hide the facts, conceal the perpetrators and ignore the suffering victims," the Wiez bimonthly said in an editorial in its August-September edition, dedicated to clergy sexual abuse.

The journal questioned whether the Polish church's handling of abuse claims complied with Vatican instructions and whether the good of the church meant "the good name of clergy or the good of the weakest."

"In Poland, church superiors react in different ways. Sometimes sentences are passed on the quiet against priest-pedophiles in secular courts. Sometimes, everything is consistently denied," it said.

Sex abuse flap riles Irish

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ANALYSIS

DUBLIN, Ireland -- The self-described conservative Catholic mother of four said simply, “The Vatican is up on its hind legs.” That was one reaction -- and a not uncommon one -- to a Vatican report issued Sept. 3 countering Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s sharp accusations in July that top church officials had tried to keep the lid on the Irish bishops from forthrightly reporting sexual offenders to the civil authorities.

Philadelphia urgently needs truth, compassion and healing

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[Editor's Note: Charles Chaput was installed as the archbishop of Philadelphia on Thursday. Sept. 8. You may want to read the text of Chaput's homily, see Homily of the Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, before reading the following editorial.]

Philadelphia is an archdiocese in which the people have been deeply wounded by a significant number of their priests and the last three cardinal archbishops. It is a place where children, mostly boys, have been raped and molested, in some cases repeatedly and over years. It is a place where the wounds of the priest sex abuse crisis are perhaps the most exposed of any diocese, and where, with each new revelation of testimony by former archdiocesan officials, the wounds are scored open anew.

Victims, justice and the new archbishop

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COMMENTARY

[Statement by the author:

I am a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, an international community of women, writing in my own name from the depths of conscience. As a Sister of Notre Dame I take to heart that --

"We are called to listen to the mourning of our fragmented world, of those impoverished by the growing divide between rich and poor and of the sexually exploited, trafficked, marginalised and abused women and children -- especially girls." (Calls, 2008 Chapter)


-- but the thoughts, opinions and recommendations having to do with the widespread sexual exploitation of children and the subsequent cover-up are very much my own.]

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, who headed the Denver archdiocese, was installed today as the 13th head of the Philadelphia archdiocese in a ceremony held at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.

I welcome the archbishop to the city and church of my birth where I lived, studied and worked before entering the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, and where I taught in parish grade schools and chaired departments in two archdiocesan high schools.

In Kansas City, it's dÈj‡ vu all over again

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COMMENTARY

Here's how The Kansas City Star reported the new development:

"Allegations that a priest has molested a child can no longer be kept secret within the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph [Mo.]," according to a policy approved by Kansas City's Catholic bishop.

"The new policy on sexual misconduct -- at 29 pages, about five times thicker than the old one -- spells out the diocese's legal obligation to report to state investigators cases involving alleged victims under age 18 ..."

Archbp. Martin comments on Vatican response to Irish gov't

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Press Release
Saturday 3 September 2011
Immediate

Comments of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on the response of the Holy See to the Government of Ireland

The Vatican response to the Irish government is detailed and comprehensive. It is serious, sober in tone and it addresses broader questions of Church policy on child safeguarding.

My hope is that it will be understood and received as such and not be an occasion just for added polemics. Polemics really do very little for the protection of children and the support of survivors.

Honest cooperation between Church and State on child safeguarding issues is particularly important in this country where the Church still plays an important role in communities. The primary role and responsibility of the State in ensuring the protection of children must, however, be unambiguously recognised by all.

Oblates settle abuse suits, paying $24.8 million

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WILMINGTON, Del. -- The Oblates of St. Francis de Sales have settled all 39 lawsuits against the order and its Salesianum School in Wilmington under the Delaware Child Victims Act for charges of sexual abuse of minors by its priests.

According to the settlement announced Aug. 4, the plaintiffs in the Delaware Superior Court lawsuits will share $24.8 million paid on behalf of the order with significant contributions from insurance carriers.

Oblate Father James J. Greenfield, provincial of the Wilmington-Philadelphia province, which includes 170 priests, brothers and seminarians, said that while he is grateful the suits are settled, he knows there is more work to be done toward healing and reconciliation.

"We hope that through authentic conversations with those who have been hurt, we can reach this goal together," Father Greenfield said in a statement. "The pain of the survivors is real. Their stories are real. And our response is real.

"I am sorry in the name of all Oblates for anything that an Oblate has done to violate a trust or to harm a person. We are committed to the restoration of trust."

German Catholics are 'weary,' says Jesuit

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In January 2010, Jesuit Fr. Klaus Mertes, headmaster of the prestigious Jesuit-run Canisius College in Berlin, sent a letter to former students of the school informing them that two former priests had been accused of sexual misconduct with students. In the letter, he wrote that he was deeply shaken and ashamed because he had learned that “systematic abuse had taken place at the school over the years.”

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