CHILD ABUSE NEWS IN BRIEF FROM RECENT PRESS ARTICLES – Abridged By Brian Hennessy

CHILD ABUSE NEWS IN BRIEF FROM RECENT PRESS ARTICLES

Abridged By Brian Hennessy

An interview with Sarah MacDonald, a journalist based in Dublin

Irish clerical abuse survivor Marie Collins has said she hopes 2016 will see results from

the work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, despite the

“frustratingly slow” pace of the reforms being developed by it. Collins, a member of the

Pontifical Commission, admitted that she has found Vatican bureaucracy “very difficult.”

She warned that “there is still resistance” within the church to safeguarding protocols and

that is why the commission’s work is “essential.”

“In some countries, there is still an attitude that clerical child sexual abuse “is not a

problem and never will be problem, or that it is a Western problem or a problem within

English-speaking countries, or it is being exaggerated, or that it would never happen in

our country because of our culture,” she said. “It is very difficult to convince people to

put safety measures in place if they think it is never going to happen. They can’t see the

point,” Collins commented. In countries where the church is tackling the issue, she

detects an attitude of “When will this be all over and we can stop having to put all of

these provisions and policies in place? When can we go back to being the way we were?’

You have to try to get through that and say you can never go back to where you were.”

Marie Collins believes that it will be survivors of abuse in Africa and Asia who will force

the church there to implement change. To date, in countries where abuse has been

uncovered and better safeguarding practices have been implemented, it has been a

survivor-led movement. “It is not that the church wanted to listen, it is they were made to

listen by survivors and I don’t think anything will change in that respect,” Collins said.

“You are still dealing with some people in the church – I am not saying everybody – who

have those defensive attitudes that survivors exaggerate, are looking for money, or they

are trying to destroy the church,” Collins said. “What is important is the work and trying

to make children safe in the future.” she said. But in Collins’ opinion, the bishops “have

to balance their duties towards their members against the duty towards children or minors

in their care.” Referring to the paramountcy principle, which would require people to put

the welfare of the child first, she told National Catholic Reporter, “If you always make

your decisions on that basis, then you are much clearer about what the priority is: The

priority is that children or young people must be kept safe. So it is not a question of

balancing equal rights, and I think that is a point that is missed a lot. If it comes to a

situation where you are thinking about their rights and the rights of children, you have to

put the safety of the child first.” Under Pope Francis, she believes, the Catholic church

has been a less judgmental church. “It is wonderful that we have a more humble church,

because my problem with the leadership has always been the arrogance and putting

themselves up on pedestals.”

Page 1 of 8

CHILD ABUSE NEWS IN BRIEF FROM RECENT PRESS ARTICLES

(Abridged by Brian Hennessy)

An interview with Marie Collins by Sarah Mac Donald,

a journalist based in Dublin.

Irish clerical abuse survivor Marie Collins has said she hopes 2016 will see results from

the work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, despite the

“frustratingly slow” pace of the reforms being developed by it. Collins, a member of the

Pontifical Commission, admitted that she has found Vatican bureaucracy “very difficult.”

She warned that “there is still resistance” within the church to safeguarding protocols and

that is why the commission’s work is “essential.”

“In some countries, there is still an attitude that clerical child sexual abuse “is not a

problem and never will be problem, or that it is a Western problem or a problem within

English-speaking countries, or it is being exaggerated, or that it would never happen in

our country because of our culture,” she said. “It is very difficult to convince people to

put safety measures in place if they think it is never going to happen. They can’t see the

point,” Collins commented. In countries where the church is tackling the issue, she

detects an attitude of “When will this be all over and we can stop having to put all of

these provisions and policies in place? When can we go back to being the way we were?’

You have to try to get through that and say you can never go back to where you were.”

Marie Collins believes that it will be survivors of abuse in Africa and Asia who will force

the church there to implement change. To date, in countries where abuse has been

uncovered and better safeguarding practices have been implemented, it has been a

survivor-led movement. “It is not that the church wanted to listen, it is they were made to

listen by survivors and I don’t think anything will change in that respect,” Collins said.

“You are still dealing with some people in the church – I am not saying everybody – who

have those defensive attitudes that survivors exaggerate, are looking for money, or they

are trying to destroy the church,” Collins said. “What is important is the work and trying

to make children safe in the future.” she said. But in Collins’ opinion, the bishops “have

to balance their duties towards their members against the duty towards children or minors

in their care.” Referring to the paramountcy principle, which would require people to put

the welfare of the child first, she told National Catholic Reporter, “If you always make

your decisions on that basis, then you are much clearer about what the priority is: The

priority is that children or young people must be kept safe. So it is not a question of

balancing equal rights, and I think that is a point that is missed a lot. If it comes to a

situation where you are thinking about their rights and the rights of children, you have to

put the safety of the child first.” Under Pope Francis, she believes, the Catholic church

has been a less judgmental church. “It is wonderful that we have a more humble church,

because my problem with the leadership has always been the arrogance and putting

themselves up on pedestals.”

Page 2 of 8

Catholic Whistleblowers’ Petition to the Vatican by Brian Roewe,

a National Catholic Reporter staff writer.

After years of raising concerns to U.S. bishops about potential holes in their clergy sexual

abuse policies to little avail, a group of Catholic advocates has requested Vatican

intervention.

Catholic Whistleblowers, in a formal request for investigation, alleges the U.S.

Conference of Catholic Bishops has not followed through fully on its policy of zero

tolerance toward abusive priests and deacons, in part because its guidelines lack a

mechanism to assure that bishops send the necessary cases to the Vatican’s Congregation

for the Doctrine of the Faith. In addition, the organization argues that the conference uses

a higher bar than church law to determine which cases require review by Rome. “In a

deliberate and ongoing way, the US Catholic Conference of Bishops reneges on its

commitment to zero tolerance. The conference does not exercise the leadership necessary

to assure that known sexually abusive priests and deacons are removed from the

community and that the community is warned about the sexually abusive priests and

deacons,” Fr. James Connell, a canon lawyer and a member of Catholic Whistleblowers,

said in the letter.

The 13-page letter, dated Jan. 4, is addressed to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the

Congregation for Bishops, and was mailed to more than 450 U.S. bishops. It requests a

formal investigation into the U.S. bishops’ practices, arguing that the U.S. bishops’

conference has caused harm and scandal through its policies and behavior to address

sexual abuse.

Since July, Catholic Whistleblowers, a network of priests, religious and laypersons, has

asked the Vatican to investigate Archbishop John Myers of Newark, N.J., and Cardinals

Justin Rigali and Raymond Burke. In 2014, it asked for review of Bishop Robert Finn,

then head of the Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., diocese. Last fall, it joined other

organizations in appealing to President Barack Obama to convene a national commission

investigating all sexual abuse of children.

Their petitions follow Pope Francis’ approval in June of a five-point accountability

system for bishops handling abuse allegations. The first point states that “there is the duty

to report all complaints” to the appropriate Vatican congregation. The new system also is

to establish a tribunal housed in the doctrinal congregation that will rule on bishops’

abuse of office pertaining to child sex abuse. The petition regarding the U.S. bishops’

conference outlines three major concerns:

 Resistance to statute of limitations reform;

 A higher bar for bishops to report allegations to Rome, one that “dilutes the

Church’s process” in identifying such cases;

 A flawed audit process that prevents verification that all cases that should be sent

to the Vatican are sent.

Page 3 of 8

The second concern addresses the difference between “sufficient evidence” in U.S.

bishops’ policies and “semblance of truth” in universal church law. Point six of the Dallas

Charter’s “Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of

Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons” mandates that preliminary investigation

of an allegation should take place “When there is sufficient evidence that sexual abuse of

a minor has occurred, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith shall be notified,” it

says. In contrast, Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela – the universal church law

promulgated in 2001 by Pope John Paul II and revised in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI –

states on moral crimes including sexual abuse: “Whenever the Ordinary or Hierarch

receives a report of a grave delict, which has at least the semblance of truth, once the

preliminary investigation has been completed, he is to communicate the matter to the

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”

Connell, a Canon Lawyer, said, “Sufficient evidence that the abuse occurred, we are

saying, is a higher standard to be met, without there being a trial. Beyond setting a

potentially higher bar, Catholic Whistleblowers says the U.S. bishops’ Essential Norms

provide no way of assuring that bishops pass any cases to the doctrinal congregation

because of its placement outside the audited portion of the charter. “As a result, no one

checks to verify that all the allegations of clergy sexual abuse of a minor or of a

vulnerable adult that ought to be sent to the CDF actually are sent,” Catholic

Whistleblowers said in the petition.

At times, Connell said, he’s received the impression that some bishops believe that by

apologizing to abuse survivors they have fulfilled what is expected. That’s not the case,

Connell said, explaining if he gets into a car accident, he can say sorry and the other

driver can forgive him, but there’s still the matter of fixing the car. In the case of clergy

sexual abuse, the bishops must take steps to repair the harm done by clergy, religious

orders and the church, he said. “It takes seconds to apologize; it might take years to repair

the damage. And reparation is called for in justice,” he said.

Msgr Lynn of the Philadelphia Archdiocese by Ralph Cipriano, Author and former

reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Los Angeles Times,

He may have won a new trial, but Msgr. William Lynn — the Philadelphia archdiocese’s

secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004 – isn’t any closer to getting out of jail.

Lynn, convicted in 2012 on a single count of endangering the welfare of a child, has been

serving a three- to six-year prison sentence. He was the first Catholic administrator in the

country to be sent to jail for failing to adequately supervise a sexually abusive priest.

Williams, a Philadelphia District Attorney, told reporters that he has filed an appeal

seeking to re-argue the case before all nine judges of the state Supreme Court. In 2013,

the same panel of Superior Court judges unanimously reversed Lynn’s conviction,

Page 4 of 8

prompting an appeal by the district attorney to the state Supreme Court. The state

Supreme Court subsequently reversed the reversal of Lynn’s conviction.

Lynn, who had been out of jail on house arrest, was ordered last April to return to prison

by the trial judge, M. Teresa Sarmina. “We will fight to keep Msgr. Lynn in state

custody, where he belongs,” Williams said. And if there’s a new trial, “we’re fully

committed to empaneling a jury and going to trial again.” Judge Sarmina sentenced Lynn

to three to six years in prison. She has denied bail – expressing fears that if released, Lynn

might flee to the Vatican.

Meanwhile, Lynn continues to work six days a week in the prison library, checking out

books for fellow inmates for a salary of 19 cents an hour. In jail, he will be waiting out

the appeal process until he knows for sure what’s going to happen next.

231 Choir Boys Abused in Germany by Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, the Austrian

correspondent for the London-based weekly Catholic magazine The Tablet.]

Two hundred and thirty-one young members of the famous German “Regensburger

Domspatzen” boys choir were abused between 1953 and 1992, three times the official

number published in the diocesan report of February 2015, according to an independent

lawyer.

At a press conference in Regensburg on Jan. 8, Ulrich Weber, an independent lawyer

called in by the diocese in May 2015 to undertake further investigations of the abuse

scandal, said he feared that the estimated number of unrecorded cases was far higher. It is

highly probable that every third pupil at the preparatory school for the boys’ choir was

exposed to physical abuse consisting of violent beatings, withholding fluids for up to five

days, forced feeding and sexual abuse “from fondling to rape” during those years. Weber

spoke of a “system of fear” which prevailed for decades at the school. The perpetrators

were a small circle of priests, teachers and employees which included, Fr. Johann Meier,

headmaster of the preparatory school from 1953-1992, Weber said.

Weber’s figures are significantly higher than those officially published by the Regensburg

diocese in February 2015 which found that 72 former members of the choir had been

abused. Regensburg Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer apologized for the abuse at the time and

offered each victim 2,500 euros (US$2,730) compensation.

Georg Ratzinger, emeritus Pope Benedict XVI’s older brother, was the musical director

and conductor of the “Domspatzen” from 1964-1994, for most of the period during which

the abuse occurred. The “Domspatzen” is Germany’s oldest and most famous boys choir.

It celebrated its 1,000th anniversary in 1976. Ratzinger conducted the choir at his

brother’s consecration as Munich archbishop in 1977, and also when it sang in honor of

Queen Elizabeth II’s state visit in 1978 and Pope John Paul II’s visit to Munich in 1980.

Page 5 of 8

In 2010, when the first accusations of abuse were made, Ratzinger admitted in an

interview for the Passauer Neue Presse that he knew that boys were beaten when he was

chorus master but said that up to 1980, corporal punishment was allowed in Germany. He

himself had sometimes slapped boys but he had never “beaten them black and blue,” he

said. Ratzinger, who will be 92 on Jan. 15, told the Passauer Neue Presse on Jan. 10 that

he had no knowledge of any sexual abuse at the time. Beatings and slapping were usual

“in all educational fields and in families in those days,” he said. Ratzinger said he knew

that Meier’s slaps to the face and boxes on the ear were violent, but he had never seen any

traces of violence on any of the boys. He also said that on account of his “brutal

pedagogical methods,” Meier had been forced to retire in 1992.

Jesuit Fr. Klaus. Mertes was the pioneer whistleblower of the priestly sex abuse crisis

which swept across Germany, Austria and Switzerland in 2010, which Austrian Cardinal

Christoph Schönborn of Vienna called a “tsunami. People’s first reaction was to adopt a

defensive stance against the victims. They did not want to hear what the victims had to

say. Five years after the priestly sex abuse “tsunami” of 2010, it is “outrageous” for those

responsible in the church “merely to go on and on apologizing” as that was not sufficient,

Mertes said. “Continually looking for scapegoats, traitors who were fouling their own

nests or blaming the press must stop and those responsible in the church must now really

accept their responsibility – including the responsibility for hushing things up,” he said.

“But now we not only have to clarify the sexual abuse but also why it was hushed up at

the time and then get down to finding out why the hushing up was hushed up,” Mertes

said.

Spotlight by Fr. Peter Daly is the pastor of St. John Vianney parish

in Prince Frederick, United States

“Spotlight” is a very good movie. “Spotlight” is a very sad story”. Spotlight” was a

tragedy brought on by sins of priests and bishops. The damage is not yet finished and the

perpetrators of these crimes have never been held fully accountable. The movie is the

story of The Boston Globe investigation of the priest pedophilia scandal in the

Archdiocese of Boston. The scandal exploded into public awareness in 2002. The

investigative team of the Globe, known as “Spotlight” had generally investigated

corruption in government or the police. But they turned their attention to the Archdiocese

of Boston with devastating effect. While the scandal broke in 2002, it had been

simmering below the surface for years.

As a parish priest I found it painful to watch. I was ashamed. I went to see the movie

alone. When the movie was over I sat in stunned silence in the theater and waited for

everyone else to leave. I did not want to have to talk. Above all I did not want to run into

any parishioners. Our church behaved horribly. Every seminarian should see this movie.

The US Catholic Conference of Bishops should spend an evening watching it together

and discussing it. The only disinfectant that will really lead to cleansing is the bright light

of truth. The Archdiocese of Boston would never have reformed without the Globe

stories.

Page 6 of 8

At one point in the movie the reporters interview Richard Sipe, the former priest and

psychologist, over the telephone. He has spent 40 years treating and studying the sexual

behavior of priests. Sipe’s character in the film points out what I have long felt to be true:

the root problem is celibacy. It creates a culture of secrecy and mendacity. People lie to

themselves and the church about their abstinence from sex. They become accustomed to

not telling the truth. Bishops are caught up in that clerical culture of mendacity. Sipe

points out that 6% of priests act out sexually with children, which was nearly 90 priests in

Boston.

The movie captures well the clannish and insular atmosphere of Catholic Boston – where

53% of the Globe readership was Catholic. The resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law was

one result of the stories. The movie hints at the arrogant clericalism in Boston, that led

priests and bishops to think they were above the law and accountable to no one. Just

before the final credits roll in the movie, a few words on screen mention that Cardinal

Law resigned but was never held accountable. He was reassigned to Rome at St. Mary

Major in a cushy sinecure. No American bishop has ever gone to jail for covering up

these felonies on their watch.

As good as the movie is – it tells only the first part of a continuing story. There is a need

for a follow-up movie to tell the story of the enormous payouts of cash and huge

settlements to victims, the stonewalling of many bishops, and the bankruptcy of eight

U.S. dioceses. That movie could also tell about the many people who have stopped going

to church and how parish after parish has closed. Maybe the next movie could be called

“Fallout.”

Thirteen years after the scandal broke many people have still not gotten the message.

There is a new clericalism and arrogance among many of the younger clergy today.

Several years ago, at a meeting of priests in our archdiocese, a bishop said to us,

“Gentlemen, after the scandals of 2002, priests no longer get the benefit of the doubt.”I

remember leaning over to the priest sitting next to me and saying, “The bishop only gets

half the message. After the scandals of 2002, bishops don’t get the benefit of the doubt

either.”

Two Bishop Resignations

by Brian Roewe, an National Catholic Reporter staff writer.

Two U.S. bishops who prematurely resigned their posts amid clergy sexual abuse

scandals each have found new landing spots outside their previous dioceses.

A southern Michigan parish announced over the weekend that Archbishop John

Nienstedt, formerly head of the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese, will help out

temporarily in the coming months, while Bishop Robert Finn, former head of the Kansas

City-St. Joseph, Mo. diocese, began last month as chaplain for a Nebraska community of

women religious.

Page 7 of 8

Within the span of two months last spring, Finn, 62, and Nienstedt, 68, stepped down —

years before the traditional age of 75 when bishops must submit their resignations to

Rome – as shepherds of their respective dioceses, both of which teemed with anger and

anguish for their church’s handling of child sexual abuse allegations. In the case of Finn,

it was a 2012 misdemeanor conviction for failing to report suspected child abuse that

drew a probationary sentence in civil court but no recourse from the church. For

Nienstedt, his abdication, along with Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piché, came just 10 days after

the Ramsey County prosecutor brought criminal charges against the archdiocese for its

handling of abuse allegations. Both Finn and Nienstedt now have new homes.

Nienstedt has agreed to assist in pastoral ministries at St. Philip Roman Catholic Church

in Battle Creek, Mich., in the Kalamazoo diocese. The Kalamazoo diocese in a statement

said Nienstedt is welcome in the diocese, while reiterating its commitment “to providing

safe environments for all people.” “As is the case for any priest or bishop ministering in

the Diocese, Archbishop Emeritus Nienstedt begins his temporary ministry at St. Philip

Parish as a priest in good standing, having met the Church’s stringent standards required

to attain that status,” it said. It remains unclear, though, if the Kalamazoo diocese was

made aware of, or given access to, the investigation to alleged sexual improprieties by

Nienstedt with seminarians and other adults, which extended to his time in Michigan in

the early 1980s.

David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, objected

to Nienstedt’s move and urged people in Kalamazoo to educate themselves on the abuse

crisis in Minnesota. “This decision shows that Catholic officials still put the wishes and

needs of their brother bishops ahead of nearly every other consideration, including the

safety of the flock,” he said in a statement.

As for Finn, in December he began as chaplain of the School Sisters of Christ the King in

the Lincoln, Nebraska diocese, appointed to the position by Lincoln Bishop James

Conley. Both his former and current dioceses announced the new role in their diocesan

newspapers. Finn will reside at the School Sisters’ Villa Regina Motherhouse. In a story

published Friday morning, Conley told the Lincoln Journal Star that Finn has been well

received in the diocese, and that in the Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis, Finn

deserves mercy, as well. According to JD Flynn, Lincoln diocesan spokesman, Finn had

to pass a background check and complete child protection training before beginning his

chaplaincy. In addition, Conley consulted with several ecclesiastical officials before

making the appointment.

“Of course, Bishop Finn has faced legal issues related to administrative decisions. He’s

addressed them appropriately, and they’ve been resolved. The faithful of our diocese can

be confident that his ministry as a chaplain to the School Sisters of Christ will be a grace

for all of us, and a witness to God’s enduring mercy,” Conley told the newspaper. Flynn

added that Finn made an administrative mistake – one he has since paid for – in not

immediately reporting former priest Shawn Ratigan to police for possession of child

pornography, and questioned those who continue to harp on the bishop’s past. “It doesn’t

Page 8 of 8

strike me as particularly Christian to search out a person who made a mistake and

continue to hound him about it,” Flynn told the Journal Star.

While rumors have floated in Kansas City that Finn might also teach at the St. Gregory

the Great Seminary, in Seward, Neb., attended by several Kansas City seminarians, its

rector, Fr. Jeffrey Eickhoff, told National Catholic Reporter that the bishop is currently

not teaching, and at this point nothing further has been determined.

ENDS

1 of 8

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