One area that remains in dispute in the sex abuse crisis in the United States involves statutes of limitations preventing alleged victims from seeking redress after a certain age.
The public outcry over recent revelations in the ongoing saga of clergy sex abuse has elicited unprecedented response from the highest levels of the church. Twice in recent days, Pope Benedict XVI has promised that the church will act to stem abuse and bring justice to priests who abused children.
The unknown, of course, is exactly what measures the Vatican would put in place beyond the guidelines it posted in early April instructing bishops to report sexual abuse of children to civil authorities. Moreover, many critics believe that the pope’s concerns don’t go far enough in addressing reform of a system that protected abusive priests, sometimes for decades, while keeping their crimes hidden from the wider community.
March 30, 2010
The intention of the archbishop of Munich and Freising to take the Pope out of the firing line has apparently failed and claimed a victim: the former Vicar General, Dr. Gerhard Gruber. When talking to him on the phone last Saturday I learned the following facts:
About three weeks ago, Gerhard was summoned to the archbishop`s office where he was presented with a document which had been prepared for him to sign and over whose text he was permitted no influence. It contained a declaration that he would take responsibility for the manner in which the case of abuse which had come to light had been handled at the time.
The following day, the press officer of the archdiocese announced on German television that the former Vicar General Gerhard Gruber had acted “on his own authority” at that time. Gerhard complained about this aggravating expression to the archbishop’s office.
VATICAN CITY -- A recent "open letter" by Swiss Fr. Hans Küng to the world's bishops is off target in its criticism of Pope Benedict XVI and shows a lack of charity, an article in the Vatican newspaper said.
Fr. Pier Giordano Cabra, the former editor of Küng's works in Italian, said Küng's letter focused almost exclusively on reforming church structures rather than on renewing the hearts of church members and promoting their ongoing conversion.
Küng, in a letter distributed by The New York Times Syndicate April 16, said Pope Benedict has worsened relations with Anglicans, Jews and Muslims and failed to give adequate responses to modern problems such as AIDS and the challenges of new scientific discoveries.
Regarding the sex abuse crisis, Küng said many people expect a personal apology from Pope Benedict, who he said had helped engineer a "worldwide system of covering up cases of sexual crimes committed by clerics" when he headed the Vatican's doctrinal congregation.
Msgr. Gerhard Gruber, the former vicar general of the Munich archdiocese, has denied a published report he was pressured to assume responsibility for assigning a pedophile priest to do local parish work during the tenure of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as archbishop.
Gruber was responding to an earlier report that appeared in another German publication, Der Spiegel, in which he said he took sole responsibility for the assignment after coming under great pressure from unnamed church sources “take the pope out of the firing line.” The report said Gruber expressed unhappiness to friends at being given the sole blame in public
Dr Gerhard Gruber
Retired Cathedral Dean
Apr 8 2010
Statement about the events in the archdiocese of Munich and Freising in connection with the acceptance of a pedophile priest 30 years ago
On March 12, the press office of our archdiocese released a statement on the above issue. It also contains my own statement, quoted verbatim.
The manner in which events were presented, above all the public accusation in another context that I “acted on my own authority” have given some of you the impression that I was not fairly treated.
I myself felt great resentment which I communicated to some of you. FM Walter Romahn and FM Klaus Wyrwoll wanted to confront that in their circulars of March 30 which you have received via email.
It sprang from a most sincere intention to support me, but had by no means been arranged with me.
I learned of the circular from one of the recipients.
Unfortunately the circular contains not only several inaccuracies but also some grave misrepresentations which may be due to the fact that Walter Romahn deeply misunderstood some things in our telephone conversation.
Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the former Vatican official who sent a letter in 2001 praising a French bishop for sheltering an abusive priest, had earlier intervened, against the wishes of a U.S. bishop, on behalf of an American abuser priest, according to documents that were part of a lawsuit.
Castrillon pressured Bishop Manuel Moreno, who was bishop of Tucson, Ariz., from 1982-2003, to allow a priest sex abuser to take a pension and work outside the diocese, despite allegations that would later jolt the diocese and cost millions to resolve. Fr Robert Trupia "sexually abused dozens of minor boys" before he was defrocked in 2004, according to documents in the civil case.
LONDON -- The bishops of England and Wales are asking Catholics to carry out acts of penance each Friday in May to help atone for clerical abuse crimes.
In a statement to be read at all parishes April 24-25, the bishops assured Catholics that effective child protection procedures are in place. However, they said, it is "time for deep prayer and reparation for atonement" of the sins of priests and other Catholics who have abused children.
VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of Bishop James Moriarty of Kildare and Leighlin, Ireland, who said he should have challenged the culture of silence in the Irish church when priests were accused of sexually abusing minors.
The Vatican announced April 22 that the pope accepted the resignation of the 73-year-old bishop under a provision in canon law for retiring before age 75 "because of ill health or some other grave cause."
In a statement April 22, Bishop Moriarty again apologized to victims of clerical sex abuse and said it was blatantly un-Christian of bishops to argue about their degree of responsibility for the scandal when the victims were in such pain.
Bishop Moriarty announced Dec. 23 that he had offered to resign, saying at the time, "I fully accept the overall conclusion" of an independent commission "that the attempts by church authorities to 'protect the church' and to 'avoid scandal' had the most dreadful consequences for children and were deeply wrong."
In his April 22 statement, the bishop said the decision to resign was "the most difficult decision of my ministry."
VATICAN CITY -- A retired Vatican cardinal said the late Pope John Paul II had approved his congratulatory letter to a French bishop who refused to report a sexually abusive priest to police.
Spanish newspapers reported that Colombian Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos told an audience at a Catholic university in Murcia, Spain, April 16 that he consulted with Pope John Paul and showed him the letter. He said the pope had authorized him to send the letter to bishops worldwide.
Cardinal Castrillon's letter resurfaced recently in the coverage of recent disclosures of sexual abuse by priests. He wrote it in 2001, when he was head of the Vatican's Congregation for Clergy.
"I congratulate you for not denouncing a priest to the civil administration," Cardinal Castrillon wrote to Bishop Pierre Pican of Bayeux-Lisieux. "You have acted well and I am happy to have a colleague in the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and of all other bishops in the world, preferred prison to denouncing his son, a priest."