National Catholic Reporter

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Bishops at center of abuse scandal, and potential reform


WASHINGTON -- A sweeping new report on the clergy sex abuse scandal compares the Roman Catholic Church to police departments, with similar hierarchies, moral authority and isolated working environments.

And because the church, like the police, has "historically 'policed itself,"' as the report says, some lay Catholics and victims' advocates say even a stack of damning reports will not change a church that has been historically resistant to reform.

A recent grand jury report that found dozens of accused priests still in active ministry in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, critics say, gives them little evidence for hope.

The study by New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, released Wednesday, portrays the abuse scandal as largely confined to the past. More than 90 percent of nearly 10,700 allegations against Catholic priests occurred before 1990, according to the report.

Researchers said the abuse of minors correlated to a jump in deviant behavior in society at large, such as premarital sex, experimental drug use and crime.

Report spreads blame for Catholic sex abuse


NEW YORK -- Nearly a decade after revelations of widespread sexual abuse of minors rocked the Catholic Church in the U.S., a comprehensive report on the scandal is set for release on Wednesday (May 18), hoping to provide answers about a crisis that has raised myriad questions despite years of attention.

Was celibacy to blame for the abuse? Gays in the priesthood? The social revolution of the ‘60s, or the benighted seminary education of the repressive 1950s?

The truth turns out to be far more complex, according to a copy of the report by researchers at John Jay College of Criminal Justice that was provided by a church leader who believes the findings accurately reflect the causes of the church’s sexual abuse crisis, for good and for ill.

Catholics still wait for final accountability



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


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


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


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


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.'


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.


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August 28-September 10, 2015


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