National Catholic Reporter

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Accountability

Irish abuse report demands decisive action

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On Wednesday, May 20, the government of Ireland issued a 2,600-page report on the nine-year investigation into Catholic church-operated schools and reformatories. The report came from the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse and covered a 60-year-period from 1936 to the present. It raised serious questions about Catholic institutions that permitted and fostered climates of sustained abuse by priests and nuns.

U.S. Dominican Fr. Thomas Doyle, a canon lawyer and advocate for those abused by priests, offers this reflection on the report.

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Thus far the reaction to the publication of the Report of the Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse has been quite consistent. Most who have read news accounts of the 30 page executive summary have expressed shock, horror, disgust, anger and other like sentiments. Presuming that the executive summary is exactly that, a summary one can therefore presume that the full report is more of the same horror except in more detail.

Advocates want public rebuke for Christian Brothers

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U.S. victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy say the Vatican should publicly rebuke the religious order that fought to keep abusers' names out of a damning report that details thousands of crimes against minors in Ireland.

The 2,600-page report, released May 20, describes sexual and violent crimes committed against thousands of young Catholics who lived in residential schools run by religious orders between 1930 and 1990.

Dominican Fr. Thomas Doyle, a canon lawyer and advocate for those abused by priests, described the report as “horrifying” even to someone with his long experience in dealing with cases of sex abuse because as it is presented in the report “this brutal and unspeakable behavior by religious and clerics toward children … was not random but institutionalized.”

Eight chapters of the report were devoted to institutions run by the Irish Christian Brothers, whose schools cared for more boys than all the other religious-run institutions put together.

Thousands of children abused in Irish institutions

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Thousands of children suffered physical, emotional, and sexual abuse over several decades in some 200 residential institutions run by religious congregations, a long-awaited report by the Irish government states.

The devastating report published yesterday describes how children lived in “a climate of fear” in the institutions and finds that “sexual abuse was endemic in boys’ institutions”. Cases of sexual abuse were hidden by the congregations that ran the institutions and offenders were transferred to other locations where they were free to abuse again, the report says.

The 2,600-page report, covering a 60-year-period from 1936 to the present, represents a scathing critique of Catholic church-operated schools and reformatories, raising serious questions about Catholic institutions that permitted and fostered climates of sustained abuse by priests and nuns.

Most of the sites investigated had closed by the late 1980s.

Methodist bishops agree to pay cut

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Bishops in the United Methodist Church have voted themselves a pay cut after "recognizing the financial challenges facing the church."

The United Methodist Church's 50 active U.S. bishops voted to give up their planned pay raises for next year and instead reduce their salaries to the 2008 level, dropping their annual pay from $125,650 to $121,000 according to United Methodist News Service.

Bishops urged to restore civility in pro-life efforts

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WASHINGTON

Calling the Obama presidency a new moment in U.S. history, Jesuit Fr. John P. Langan of Georgetown University warned April 27 of a current “three-way impasse” on abortion. He urged U.S. bishops seeking real change to act with caution, pastoral care and “civil respect for those with whom they disagree.”

“The bishops are certainly right to condemn the moral evil of abortion and to warn us against the individualism, selfishness and greed which have had such a devastating effect on American culture and family life as well as on our financial institutions,” he said.

SEC probe of Fla. company freezes church money

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NEW ORLEANS -- The federal government has seized the assets of a Florida investment firm holding $5 million from the storm-damaged Archdiocese of New Orleans, charging it lied to the church and others about how it was investing more than half a billion dollars of its money.

In addition, a federal judge in Fort Myers, Fla., appointed a receiver to sort out what happened to an estimated $550 million investors placed with Founding Partners Capital Management Co., of Naples, Fla.

Irish Catholics brace for 'shocking' abuse report

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The Archbishop of Dublin, Ireland, used a Holy Thursday sermon to brace the country’s Catholics for what he said would be a shocking report on the extent of clergy sexual abuse in the archdiocese during a 30-year period beginning in 1975.

The results of a three-year investigation are expected to be released as soon as next month, according to Irish press reports.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said that the imminent report will show that thousands of children were sexually abused by Catholic priests, including many serial offenders. The report, he said, “will shock us all” and “will make each of us and the entire church in Dublin a humbler church,” according to reports in the Irish Independent and the Irish Times newspapers.

The extensive investigation of parishes in the Irish capital was conducted by the government and follows a similar investigation into abuse in the Diocese of Ferns. The Ferns Report, released in 2005, rocked the country with revelations that between 21 and 28 priests raped and sodomized young boys and girls in the diocese over a 40-year period.

Former Paraguayan bishop, now president, fathered child

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ASUNCION, Paraguay
Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo, the former bishop who was elected in 2008, admitted April 13 that he had fathered a child, now nearly two years old, who was born before Lugo was laicized.

In a televised statement, Lugo said, "It is true that there was a relationship with Viviana Carrillo. I assume all responsibilities that could result from that, acknowledging paternity of the child."

Bishop Mario Medina Salinas of San Juan de las Misiones, a member of the permanent council of the Paraguayan bishops' conference, told the Paraguayan newspaper ABC Digital that Lugo's admission was an "act of courage and sincerity."

The case came to light April 8 when two lawyers filed a paternity suit on Carrillo's behalf. The woman distanced herself from the lawsuit later that day, but Paraguayan newspapers reported that Lugo, 57, was a friend of her godmother's family and had met Carrillo, now 26, 10 years ago, when she worked as a maid in her godmother's home.

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Disagreement on why abuse warnings were ignored

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Two priests who have played prominent roles in attempting to understand the clergy sex-abuse crisis come to very different conclusions about why the early warnings regarding sexually abusive priests by Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, founder of the Servants of the Paracletes, went unheeded.

Msgr. Stephen J. Rossetti, president and CEO of St. Luke Institute, a facility that treats problem priests, believes Fitzgerald was ignored because he was a lone voice speaking out of an emotional reaction to the abuse, not from scientifically sound information. Dominican Fr. Thomas Doyle, on the other hand, long a critic of the church’s handling of the crisis, said Fitzgerald was ignored because the bishops preferred not to confront the problem.

During the 1950s and 1960s when Fitzgerald headed the Paracletes, an order founded to assist wayward priests, he repeatedly pleaded with U.S. bishops and the Vatican not to allow them to return to their ministries, firmly holding that they would offend again.

Yet Fitzgerald’s insistent warnings never seemed to make the necessary impression and never were taken into consideration as bishops formed policy.

N.Y. bill lifts limits on suing church over abuse

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- The New York State Catholic Conference has mounted a statewide campaign to educate Catholics about a bill that would temporarily waive the state's civil statute of limitations on suing individuals and private institutions over child sexual abuse.

The Child Victims Act of New York -- also known as the Markey bill -- also would lengthen the period in which alleged victims may sue individuals and private organizations for child sexual abuse in the future.

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