KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Bishop Robert W. Finn escaped a second criminal indictment for failing to report suspected child abuse by agreeing to give a county prosecutor near-total oversight of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese’s handling of sex abuse cases for the next five years.
It is rare, if not unprecedented, that the Catholic church could take a lesson from a secular university's football program. But the recent events surrounding Penn State's vaunted football culture is indeed instructive on several levels.
For one, it helps explain why the child sex abuse scandal in the church seems never-ending. It also illustrates anew that while legal and administrative responsibilities toward children are ignored at an institution's peril, our moral obligation toward children is paramount and self-evident even in an avowedly nonreligious setting.
Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach at Pennsylvania State University, has been charged with sexually abusing eight young boys over a 15-year period. Two university officials, former athletic director Tim Curley and former finance official Gary Schultz, have been charged with failing to report Sandusky to police after they were told of an incident in 2002.
The parallels between what happened at Penn State and what has happened for decades throughout the Catholic community in the United States and in other countries are striking.
MANCHESTER, England -- A British court has ruled that the Catholic Church can be held legally liable for the crimes of abusive clergy.
The Nov. 8 ruling by the High Court in London for the first time defined in British law the relationship of a priest to his bishop as that of an employee to an employer, instead of seeing the priest as effectively self-employed.
This means that a bishop and a diocese can be punished for the crimes of a priest. Survivors' groups hope that it will also mean that many people who claim to have been abused by clergy will be able to claim compensation more easily.
The court granted the trustees of the Diocese of Portsmouth extra time to appeal the decision.
The case involves a 47-year-old mother of three, referred to only by the initials JGE, who claims she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by Father Wilfred Baldwin as a 7-year-old girl in The Firs children's home in Waterlooville, in southern England, in the early 1970s.
She claims that she also was attacked in the dressing room of a church on the day she made her first Communion.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- "This diocese is in desperate need of healing, and I do not believe that can happen until Bishop [Robert] Finn is held accountable” for his mishandling of clergy sexual misconduct cases, a former victims' advocate for the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., said today.
Mercy Sr. Jeanne Christensen, who served as the diocesan victims' advocate from 2000-2004, spoke at a press conference hosted by the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests this afternoon.
Christensen is thought to be the first former diocesan advocate to publicly criticize her diocese over its response to allegations of abuse, according to SNAP members.
Updated with video
MILWAUKEE -- Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, a retired auxiliary bishop of Detroit, revealed for the first time yesterday details about his removal as a parish pastor in 2007. NCR published a report of the talk Gumbleton delivered at pre-conference meeting of Call to Action in Milwaukee.
See Retired bishop asked to leave Detroit parish for testimony for that story. More video here.
Following are more of the background that led up to Gumbleton's dismissal.
Gumbleton had followed the sex abuse crisis in the press, especially the church's response. "I thought they were starting to move along."
The bishops had developed the Dallas Charter in 2002, outlining policies for dealing with sexual abuse cases.
Updated with video
MILWAUKEE -- Because he violated "communio episcoporum" (the communion of bishops) and other canons by speaking in support of extending the statute of limitations for cases of sexual abuse by clergy, retired Detroit auxiliary bishop Thomas Gumbleton said he was forced to discontinue his role as pastor at a Detroit parish. It was the first time Gumbleton revealed details about his removal as a parish pastor in 2007.
VATICAN CITY -- Child abuse prevention policies will never work without accountability and an unwavering commitment to children's welfare, said the Vatican's top investigator of clerical sex abuse.
"No strategy for the prevention of child abuse will ever work without commitment and accountability," especially from the world's bishops, said Msgr. Charles Scicluna, promoter of justice for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
DUBLIN, IRELAND -- In yet another sign that the beleaguered Catholic Church in Ireland has a long and arduous road to a brighter future, almost half of Irish people polled say they now have an unfavorable view of the church.
Once famously described by Pope Paul VI as the "most Catholic country in the world," Ireland's church has taken a battering over the past two decades and lost credibility because of the cover-up of clerical sexual abuse.
The U.S. bishops should quietly persuade Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., to resign in the wake of his Oct. 14 criminal indictment for failure to report a priest for sexual abuse of minors, said Nicholas P. Cafardi, an expert in civil and church law.
LONDON -- At the request of the Vatican, a bishop has conducted a review of child protection procedures at a Benedictine abbey following a number of high-profile child abuse cases.
Auxiliary Bishop John Arnold of Westminster and Abbot Richard Yeo, president of the English Benedictine Congregation, conducted the apostolic visitation at Ealing Abbey and the neighboring St, Benedict's School during September.
They have already made their report to the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which ordered the visitation.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, confirmed to Catholic News Service Oct. 25 that Bishop Arnold was asked by the doctrinal congregation to conduct the apostolic visitation.
The congregation, he said, has competency for handling "questions regarding the sexual abuse of minors."
"When the final report of the visitation is ready, it will be given to the congregation, which will take the appropriate steps," Father Lombardi said.