National Catholic Reporter

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Accountability

Background: Wisniewski v. Diocese of Belleville

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Robert McClory's news story about Belleville diocese's appeal of clergy sex abuse case is here, Braxton battles on against abuse case. Following is more details about the case and Fr. Raymond Kownacki's tenure in the Belleville, Ill., diocese.

Wisniewski v. Diocese of Belleville got virtually no press coverage when the trial was held in the circuit court of St. Clair County, Ill., in August 2008. Belleville is a largely rural diocese near St. Louis, and the public by then was tiring of clerical abuse stories.

But the trial still deserves notice, because of the huge award ($5 million) the jury gave the plaintiff, James Wisniewski, because it is only one among a handful of abuse claims against U.S. Catholic dioceses that have been allowed to go to trial, and because the Belleville bishop is still battling to overturn the verdict.

It's particularly important too because of the shocking admissions that emerged during the trial.

Text of Irish prime minister's address on the Cloyne report

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Following is the full text of the address to parliament by Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny on a judicial inquiry into the Cloyne diocese and its handling of clergy abuse cases. The address was delivered July 20, 2011.

Statement by the Taoiseach on the Dáil Motion on the report of the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Diocese of Cloyne, in Dáil Éireann.

The revelations of the Cloyne report have brought the Government, Irish Catholics and the Vatican to an unprecedented juncture.

It's fair to say that after the Ryan and Murphy Reports Ireland is, perhaps, unshockable when it comes to the abuse of children.

But Cloyne has proved to be of a different order.

Irish PM: Vatican has 'calculated, withering' abuse stance

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DUBLIN -- Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has accused the Vatican of adopting a "calculated, withering position" on abuse in the wake of a judicial report that accused the Holy See of being "entirely unhelpful" to Irish bishops trying to deal with abuse.

During a July 20 parliamentary debate, Kenny said an independent judicial investigation into the handling of clergy sexual abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne "exposes an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic as little as three years ago."

"And in doing so, the Cloyne Report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and the narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day," he said.

The John Jay Study: What it is and what it isn't

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ANALYSIS

Editor’s Note: Much has already been written about the “The Causes and Contexts of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010,” commissioned by the U.S. bishops, conducted by the John Jay College of Criminology and released in May. Much of that has looked at the report from a particular stance toward clergy sex abuse, namely either an institutional view or an advocate’s view. That is why when Mary Gail Frawley O’Dea approached NCR to write a “dispassionate” review of this study, from a clinician’s viewpoint, we said yes.

Irish priests reject suggestion that they break seal of confession

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DUBLIN (CNS) -- The group that represents Ireland's Catholic priests says the secrecy of confession must be protected, despite government indications that confessions would not be exempt from rules on mandatory reporting of child abuse.

"The point is, if there is a law in the land, it has to be followed by everybody. There are no exceptions, there are no exemptions," said Irish Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

Irish report reveals abuse, bishop's mismanagement

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DUBLIN -- A judicial report into the handling of allegations of child sexual abuse against clerics in the Diocese of Cloyne has concluded that the church's own guidelines were "not fully or consistently implemented" in the diocese as recently as 2008.

The report, released by Judge Yvonne Murphy, also said Cloyne Bishop John Magee admitted to what has been described as inappropriate behavior with a young man. It said the bishop embraced him, kissed him and told the young aspirant for the priesthood that he loved him.

The 400-page report also records for the first time stark disagreement among Irish bishops over whether Bishop Magee -- a former secretary to three popes -- should quit as bishop of Cloyne after December 2008, when the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church said he was using child safeguarding policies that were "inadequate and, in some respects, dangerous."

At an emergency meeting of the Irish bishops' conference in January 2009, just weeks after the report critical of Bishop Magee, "there were strong opinions on both sides" as to whether the bishop should quit.

Episcopal bishop defends record in abuse case

WASHINGTON -- The Episcopal Church is rejecting charges that its top leader, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, mishandled the ordination of a former priest who is now accused of sexual abuse.

Jefferts Schori has remained silent on the matter, which surfaced after an alleged victim filed suit last month against a Benedictine monastery in Missouri where the priest, the Rev. Bede Parry, once lived.

Parry, a former Catholic monk, was ordained as an Episcopal priest in Nevada in 2004, when Jefferts Schori was the local bishop before her 2006 election as presiding bishop.

Summit to spotlight 'Meat Loaf' strategy on abuse

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ANALYSIS

Even by the fractious standards of conversation about almost anything these days, debate over the Catholic sexual abuse crisis is remarkably polarized. Defenders say the church has cleaned up its act to such an extent that it’s now a model for child protection, while critics rip purported reforms as sound and fury signifying little.

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September 12-25, 2014

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