National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Accountability

Unfinished work: Examining 10 years of clergy sex abuse

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Ten years after widespread news coverage of sexual abuse by priests rocked the U.S. Catholic church, hierarchical response to the continuing crisis indicates the church has “lost its ability to be a self-correcting institution,” Jesuit Fr. Tom Reese told a symposium of experts on clergy abuse Friday.

Reese delivered the keynote speech this morning at a daylong conference titled “Clergy Sexual Abuse Ten Years Later,” being held at Jesuit-run Santa Clara University. Following Reese is a series of panel discussions from a wide-range of sex abuse experts.

27-year-old letter clouds L.A. archdiocese's timeline of abuse

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A recently uncovered letter from 27 years ago muddies the record of when officials with the LA archdiocese knew of alleged abuse by clergy there, say victims’ advocates, and the LA county district attorney’s office is seeking a copy in order to “review it and make a determination on what it means,” a spokesperson said.

Hierarchy's inability to mourn thwarts healing in church

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COMMENTARY

The Catholic hierarchy from the papacy on down seems to be roiling through a series of manic episodes in which they execute perverted power plays against those perceived as enemies. This kind of mania often is exhibited by large identity groups whose power has been threatened and who are unable to respond adaptively to that loss through a process of healthy mourning.

Chaput removes five Philadelphia priests from ministry

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Five of the 26 Philadelphia priests suspended in the wake of sexual abuse allegations revealed in last year's grand jury report will be removed from public ministry, Archbishop Charles Chaput announced Friday at a press conference.

Three of the 26 will be returned to ministry, while 17 cases are still pending in various stages of the investigation process, Chaput announced.

Chaput said the fate of the five priests determined "unfit for ministry" is still unknown. Each has the option to appeal the decision to the Vatican. If they decline or fail in their appeal, they could face laicization, life under supervision or a life of prayer and penance.

The type of conduct each was found guilty of -- sexual abuse or a violation of boundaries -- will likely dictate their fates. Of the five, only one, Fr. John Reardon, was accused of sexually abusing a minor, according to documents released by the archdiocese.

In Philadelphia, a church at the crossroads

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First Person

In the tumult that followed last year’s second grand jury report to allege a staggering history of sex abuse and cover-up in the Philadelphia archdiocese, the most striking response I heard from a reeling faithful came not from any cleric, staffer or abuse survivor, but from my mother.

Over a late-night cup of coffee as the revelations were still sinking in, all Mom could bring herself to say was, “It just feels like there’s been a death in the family.”

What she was implying seemed clear, but I wanted to be sure. “You mean your trust in the wider church, outside the parish?”

“That’s exactly what I meant,” she shot back.

If that was how Mom, a South Philly Italian named for a nun, now a lay minister and caretaker for my ailing grandmother -- in other words, a pillar of the faith -- felt at the start of a year whose turns since have read like a surrealist novel, one could forget about finding credibility anywhere else.

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