National Catholic Reporter

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Accountability

Irish cardinal asks pope for help to deal with abuse

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DUBLIN -- The head of the Catholic Church in Ireland has asked Pope Benedict XVI to appoint a bishop to assist him in dealing with the fallout of clerical sexual abuse allegations.

Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh, Northern Ireland, said in a statement May 17 that he had asked the pope "for additional support for my work at (the) episcopal level."

200 claims of church-related abuse received

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DUBLIN -- A new report from a church-funded body set up to improve child protection procedures and policies reported nearly 200 new allegations of church-related child abuse in a year.

Ian Elliott, chief executive officer of the National Board for the Safeguarding of Children in the Catholic Church, said publication of two prominent reports on church abuse might have increased the number of victims coming forward to complain of abuse and that the number of allegations may well be down by the end of this reporting year in March 2011.

Media 'panic' over pedophilia mars prevention

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ROME -- A lack of expert opinion in media coverage of the clerical sex abuse scandal has led to a climate of "moral panic," which does nothing to help people understand the tragedy of abuse or keep children safe, said an influential Jesuit journal.

By presenting existing problems as being brand new and not providing accurate statistics, media outlets have helped create a sense of alarmism, and the resulting "moral panic doesn't help anybody," said La Civilta Cattolica.

The media "distort people's awareness of the problem and compromise the effectiveness of measures meant to solve it," the journal said.

Bishops have learned how deeply abuse victims hurt

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WASHINGTON -- Bishops in the United States have learned that the injury to victims of priestly sexual abuse "is deeper than nonvictims can imagine" said the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People.

U.S. bishops also learned that Catholics have been hurt by the "moral failings of some priests" and have been hurt and angered "even more by bishops who failed to put children first" when reports of abuse surfaced, said Bishop Blase J. Cupich of Rapid City, S.D.

Dutch bishops, religious approve sex abuse inquiry

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UTRECHT, Netherlands -- The Dutch bishops' conference and the conference of Dutch religious have approved a "broad external and independent inquiry" into cases of clerical sexual abuse and how they were handled by the church.

The two conferences issued a joint press statement May 11 saying the number of abuse cases reported to a church-sponsored victims' assistance office since February "necessitates a thorough investigation."

Dublin prelate discouraged by reluctance to renew church

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DUBLIN, Ireland -- The lack of willingness in the Catholic Church to begin "a painful process of renewal" in the wake of the clerical abuse scandals has left Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin "disheartened and discouraged."

In a talk to the Knights of St. Columbanus on the future of the church in Ireland, the archbishop said the most obvious source of his discouragement was "the drip-by-drip, never-ending revelation about child abuse and the disastrous way it was handled."

'The days of cover-up are over,' Schˆnborn

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Rome -- In a rare breach of normal etiquette at senior levels of the church, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna has directly accused another cardinal of complicity in the cover-up of sexual abuse allegations against his predecessor as the most important figure in the Austrian church.

In a session with Austrian journalists in late April, as summarized by the Austrian Catholic news agency Kathpress, Schönborn said that Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano, at the time the Secretary of State under Pope John Paul II, blocked an investigation of sexual abuse claims against the late Cardinal Hans Hermann Groër of Vienna.

Accused Catholic priests left in legal limbo

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Somewhere in the Vatican, there is a thick file with Fr. James Selvaraj's name on it. It's been there since 2006.

A native of southern India, Selvaraj was a guest priest in the Diocese of Trenton, N.J., when he was accused of endangering the welfare of a child in late 2005. Shortly thereafter, Trenton Bishop John Smith removed Selvaraj from ministry.

Within three months, a grand jury declined to indict the priest, citing insufficient evidence. New Jersey's attorney general expunged the charge from Selvaraj's record.

But more than four years after secular authorities exonerated Selvaraj, Smith and the Vatican have refused to restore his salary, priestly duties, or -- most importantly, Selvaraj says -- his reputation.

Church wins appeal in German court

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The Catholic church in Germany has won its appeal against the decision of a lower court to allow a retired canon lawyer to avoid paying church tax and remain a member of the church.

In a court decision on May 3, the Higher Administrative Court, Baden Wuerttemberg, overruled an earlier decision of the Administrative Court, Freiburg, to allow the application of Professor Hartmut Zapp, to leave the church.

For background on this story, see: German court upholds church tax challenge

In Germany, the church is both a legal tax-raising statutory body as well as a community of faith. A Catholic who objects to paying church tax has to formally leave the church, and is subsequently excommunicated.

Zapp had added a rider to his application to leave the church, stating he was only leaving the statutory body not the community of faith.

This morning's court decision states it is not possible for a Catholic wishing to leave the German church to restrict the application to its legal status.

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September 12-25, 2014

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