National Catholic Reporter

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Accountability

Catholics still wait for final accountability

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COMMENTARY

What to do when bishops do bad? That’s a question that has gone unanswered ever since the clergy sex abuse scandal first became public back in the mid-1980s after NCR began focusing on it.

From the start it was horrific to discover priests were sexually abusing children. It was more horrific to learn from coast to coast bishops enabled the abuse, more concerned with image and self-preservation than the protection of children.

Human rights report lists Vatican for failure to protect children

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VATICAN CITY -- Amnesty International named the Vatican in its annual report on human rights' concerns for not sufficiently complying with international mandates on protecting children from abuse.

It marked the first time the Vatican was named in the group's Annual Report on the state of human rights around the world. The 2011 Annual Report covered human rights in 157 countries, looking particularly at rights abuses and restrictions and at failures to implement international rights' agreements.

The report, released May 13, said, "The Holy See did not sufficiently comply with its international obligations relating to the protection of children," specifically regarding sex abuse.

The Vatican is party to the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Article 19 of the convention says that states parties "shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse."

Poll: Phoenix Catholics side with hospital

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Catholics in the Phoenix diocese overwhelmingly side with St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center and Mercy Sr. Margaret Mary McBride in their handling of a case involving a severely ill pregnant woman, according to a recent survey.

Of the 651 Catholics in the diocese who were polled, 72 percent said that when they first heard of the case, they favored the action recommended by McBride; 13 percent favored the action taken by Bishop Thomas Olmsted, who declared that McBride had excommunicated herself; and 16 percent didn't know whom they favored. McBride was a member of the hospital ethics committee that recommended that the pregnancy be terminated in order to save the life of the mother.

According to the hospital, the fetus was dying as a result of the mother's illness, and the mother would have died had the action not been taken.

Priest: 'Signs of grace' in abuse scandal

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -- A priest-psychologist said he sees "signs of grace" amid the darkness of the clergy sexual abuse crisis.

Msgr. Stephen Rossetti, clinical associate professor of pastoral studies at The Catholic University of America, said one positive outcome of the abuse crisis has been the continued implementation of the U.S. bishops' 2002 document the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People."

He called it "a miracle of grace the charter is still strong and so insightful."

Msgr. Rossetti made his remarks May 2 in a keynote address at the National Safe Environment & Victim Assistance Coordinator's Leadership Conference in Burlington.

The priest, former president and CEO of St. Luke Institute, a treatment center in Maryland for priests and religious with addictions or psychological problems, was a consultant to the U.S. Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse that drafted the charter adopted by the bishops at their Dallas meeting in 2002 and revised three years later.

Vatican investigating bishop guilty of having child porn

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VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican will continue its process against a Canadian bishop who pleaded guilty in a civil court to possession of child pornography, the Vatican spokesman said.

Bishop Raymond Lahey of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, pleaded May 4 to the charge of possession "for the purposes of importation child pornography in the form of graphic computer images." However, he told the judge he was not guilty of possession with the intent to distribute.

His plea was in response to his arrest at the Ottawa, Ontario, airport Sept. 15, 2009. Court documents had stated that the bishop's evasive behavior, coupled with a passport stamped with exotic locations known for child pornography, prompted a Canadian Border Services agent to examine the contents of his laptop.

Jesuit Father Frederico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, issued a statement May 4 saying, "The Catholic Church condemns sexual exploitation in all its forms, especially when perpetrated against minors."

Bp Morris: 'Youíve got to stand in your truth.'

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The Advent Pastoral Letter of 2006, cited as the beginning of the controversy that resulted in the recent forced retirement of Australian Bishop William Morris, deals primarily with plans to provide diocesan leadership in a future with dwindling access to the Eucharist and priests.

In the letter, Morris informed local Catholics that, as things stood at the time, by 2014 his rural diocese of Toowoomba would have only six priests 65 years and younger in parish-based ministry, with three aged 61-65, and eight 66-70.

In diocesan ministry in 2014, Morris projected two priests 65 and younger; two priests 66-70 and a bishop in the 71-75 age range.

Oregon diocese named in sex assault lawsuit

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Fact-finding and behind-the-scenes legal wrangling continue in the Baker, Ore., diocese, where a lawsuit filed early this year claims the diocese’s largest parish is “vicariously liable” for a situation in which a 12-year-old boy sexually assaulted twin 5-year-old girls in the parish school’s music room during a young adult weekend retreat nearly two years ago.

In a response dated April 1, the diocese counters that St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Bend, Ore., and the Baker diocese have no legal liability in the case. It asked the complaint “be dismissed with prejudice” and that costs incurred be awarded to the diocese and parish.

The case, in which the attacker confessed guilt, “is not related to the parish or the diocese in any way,” attorney for the diocese Gregory Lynch told NCR.

Do lawsuit allegations touch diocese's noncompliance issues?

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Allegations in a lawsuit recently filed against the Baker, Ore., diocese might sharpen focus on the core reason the diocese is only one of two in the United States currently not in compliance with the U.S. bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

According to the 2009 audit by the bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection, the Baker diocese did not meet the requirements of the charter’s Article 12, which deals with safe-environment training. The diocese declined to be audited in 2010.

In its 2009 report, the secretariat said that Bishop Robert F. Vasa “feels it’s inappropriate to provide any type of sex education to any prepubescent child.”

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August 15-28, 2014

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