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Accountability

Beneath the child abuse scandal

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Examining the Crisis

Many people, including bishops, date and label the "Crisis in the Catholic Church" to Jan. 6, 2002 when The Boston Globe began publishing its series about sexual abuse of minors by priests and revealing the conspiracy of bishops in covering up crimes. That was the flash point of a worldwide scandal. The crisis it epitomizes is more profound.

The uncontrollable public exposure and sharp focus on clergy sex abuse shocked everyone, but the fact of a church and priesthood in crisis did not come as a surprise to the United States hierarchy. "It is clear that we are in some kind of a crisis of priestly ministry. The nature of the crisis is not at all that clear." Those were the words Daniel Pilarczyk archbishop of Cincinnati directed at his fellow bishops on June 14, 1986. He went on to provide a checklist of possibilities: "Is it a crisis of image? Is it a crisis of numbers? Is it a crisis of celibacy? -- change? -- lay ministries? -- prayer? -- secularism? -- confidence? It is probably all of these and perhaps other things as well. And we have to respond to the crisis."(1)

Vatican canon lawyer to head Legionaries

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VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI named Italian Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, an expert in church law who specializes in religious institutes, to be his personal delegate with authority over the Legionaries of Christ.

The 74-year-old canon lawyer will act as an interim leader while the Vatican investigation of the Legionaries proceeds.

The Vatican announced the appointment July 9 but provided no specifics of Archbishop De Paolis' role. The Legion said it expected the practical details on how the archbishop will fulfill his duties would be defined in the coming weeks.

Ouellet asked to remove Law from Vatican post

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QUEBEC, CANADA — The promotion of Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet to head the powerful Vatican Congregation for Bishops (Triumph of theologians over diplomats in Vatican) has not been well received by advocates for victims of clergy sex abuse.

In his new job, Ouellet will be appointing bishops worldwide, and this is a particularly sensitive time, as the clergy sex abuse scandal calls into question the actions of bishops around the world and within the Vatican itself.

Outraged over police raid on church offices? Wait for what is revealed

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Commentary

The police raid last week on Catholic offices in Belgium wasn't exactly received with open arms by church officials. All nine of the nation's bishops were detained for nine hours. Their cell phones and the phones of other diocesan personnel were held.

It was "not pleasant," one church staffer said. Another called it "not very agreeable." A third accused law enforcement of "paranoia" and a fourth claimed police showed "excessive zeal."

I was not sympathetic to their plight. Six years ago, I watched closely as another law enforcement raid of a diocesan headquarters took place in my home town of Toledo. The deception it uncovered was stunning. And the evidence it obtained was later used in a trial to convict a murderer.

Belgium a 'perfect storm' on sex abuse crisis

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Analysis

As a remarkable war of words between the Vatican and Belgium heated up over the weekend, one thing has become crystal clear: While there’s no good place for the Catholic church to experience a sexual abuse crisis, few places on earth are quite as combustible as Belgium.

The June 3 raid, which reportedly included drilling holes into the tombs of two deceased archbishops of Brussels to see if any documents lurked inside, illustrates that when it comes to the sexual abuse crisis, Belgium represents a “perfect storm.”

Abuse may lead to exodus of German Catholics

BERLIN -- In the months since news of child sexual abuse scandals roiled German society, barely a week goes by without news of yet another Catholic parish reporting declining membership.

While it may be premature to estimate the long-term impact of the scandal -- especially since many of the cases were decades old -- the latest figures were startling enough to raise concern in the German Conference of Bishops.

Compromised hierarchy needs relational wisdom of women

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Examining the Crisis

What accounts for the fact that bishops and other members of the Catholic church hierarchy responded to cases of sexual abuse by predator priests with nearly the same response, in country after country for decade after decade? As we now know, those priests were most often reassigned to yet another parish where they commonly abused still more children.

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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