Click here to read: “Pope Forms Commission to Advise on Sex Abuse,” by Associated Press, Dec. 5, 2013, Time.com
Excerpt: “Pope Francis is assembling a panel of experts to advise him on sex abuse in the clergy — a task that will involve looking at how to protect children from pedophiles, how to better screen men for the priesthood and how to help victims who have already been harmed.
But it remains unclear if the experts will take up one of the core issues behind the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal: how to make bishops who shelter abusive priests accountable.”
Editor’s Note: If I were on that commission, my first piece of advice would be “less talk – more action.” Holding Bishops accountable would solve a whole host of sex abuse problems within the Church.
29 thoughts on “Pope Begins Work on Sex Abuse”
Exactly, Susan. Want bishops to act differently? “Promote” Finn (KC), Myers (Newark), Listecki (Milwaukee) an others; give THEM basilicas in Rome to manage.
I do NOT mean this literally but… revolutionaries know the power of a public execution.
May I suggest that we are dealing with criminal acts on the part of perpetrators and criminal negligence on the part of those in authority who have chosen to follow the path of failure to respond to the cries of victims and to attack the “media” as an evil instrument of “attacking the Church” when in reality their actions have totally destroyed all moral accountability of the hierarchy. This same hierarchy can get all bent out of shape on issues such as same sex marriage or refusing communion to divorced and remarried people and politicians who vote for issues of conscience. Until this commission works with the criminal justice system and seriously takes responsibility for negligence, there will be no serious change in structure or attitudes in these issues.
Monsignor Steve Rosetti, former president of St. Luke’s Institute in Maryland as a resident facility for Sexual Abusers and Addictions, has written a book, “The Joy of Celibacy”.
I think the real problem is found right here in this issue of enforced celibacy. When one enters priesthood at 25 0r 26, most have been totally isolated from any real idea of relationships. Most diocesan priests do not have any real community to support them and in the rectories most of the relationship there is not one of real growth. As a priest, I have many “war stories” of fellow priests who were really beaten out of ministry by the nastiness of the pastor or the miserable state of rectory living. There is “no joy” in this living of celibacy.
So we have perpetrators and those failing to “hear the cry of the victims” and we have a living situation where maturity in relationships is stunted and even destroyed.
One can hear the music from the movie” jaws” as perpetrators are allowed to circle and circle seeking their next victims and those who are to protect the waters are simply “busy about many things”.
Informative and important insights there, Father. This book, “The Joy of Celibacy”…..what is your critique of this work? I’ve had some email correspondence with Msgr. Rosetti in the past.
Back to the points in your post, the priest/celibacy/rectory life appears to this outsider to be one that is a difficult one for a young man to thrive, learn, grow and mature in all wordly matters, just not those taught in the seminary to ensure knowledge and understanding of the religion and faith.
“How often do we hear from the local diocesan people—the bishop, the communications director, the victim assistance coordinator, and others—that this abuse is not restricted to clergy, but, rather, it is a societal problem? It does occur outside in the public realm. When was the last time you heard of a sex offender not being held accountable for his actions once caught? The Church treated the abuse as a sin only and nothing more. Out in society, sex offenders are not moved to another community quietly. “But protest that priests are ‘no worse’ than other groups or than men in general is a dire indictment of the profession. It is surprising that this attitude is championed by the Church authorities. Although the extent of the problem will continue to be debated, sexual abuse by Catholic priests is a fact. The reason why priests, publicly dedicated to celibate service, abuse is a question that cries out for explanation. Sexual activity of any adult with a minor is a criminal offense. By virtue of the requirement of celibacy, sexual activity with anyone is proscribed for priests. These factors have been constant and well-known by all Church authorities” (Sipe 227−228).”
― Charles L. Bailey Jr., In the Shadow of the Cross
The pope can assemble committees , panels , groups, etc, it does nothing but confirm his intent to support the status quo ! I knew this was coming, you want change then change the Laws , eliminate the SOL / Open a Window for Victims. The pope continues to deny Justice to Victims by protecting the enablers and abusers ! Child Abuse is a crime that the rcc was skillfully able to avoid prosecution by circumventing the Inadequate Laws! It is time the rcc, pope along with all its enablers and abusers face the Judicial System and do their penance ! This is a disgrace !
Pope Francis has taken many praiseworthy actions. Until he actually fires a bishop or other hierarch, his stand on sex abuse largely theoretical. We’ve already had enough talk. What we need is action.
SO they are still going to leave it up to the Bishops and Archbishops to decide what to do with the crimes committed against children. This is hardly leadership. As I have stated before nothing will happen until Benedict passes away and the other two are made saints. What I need and want to hear is the Vatican taking some responsibility for their complicity in destroying the lives of innocent children. Unless and until they admit their sins in this matter, nothing has truly changed.
Oh they’re pretty good at admitting sins, but of others not themselves.
I couldn’t believe a comment written by a Franciscan with scriptural platitudes towards illigitimate children .. “it remains sadly true that the sins of the fathers are revisted on the children.
With clerical kids, it’s the church who burdens these illigitimate children by refusing fathers rescripts of their vows when requesting them giving them a name and inheritance rights.
This all looks good on paper,as it was only a couple of days ago they said they wouldn’t be providing any information requested by the UN on the “alledged” sex-abuse of children by priests, nuns, or monks and only part of what was required.
Included was whether they ever investigated complaints of torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment of girls in the Magadine laundries in Ireland and how it dealt with allegations that young boys who were part of the Legion of Christ, were being separated from their families.
They also wanted to know whether they still labelled children born out of wedlock as illigitimate; and how it is working to prevent child abandonment and trace infants” identities when church run facilities receive unwanted children, including through so-called “baby boxes”
The committee also asked the Vatican to explain what measures it took to “avoid retaliation against child victims of pornography”, and whistleblowers, and whether the Vatican ever investigated the recently discovered allegations of thousands of babies being “sold for adoption over the past decades in Spain by a network of doctors, nun and priests.
It is interesting to note, it was only in his recent papacy that he decried the clergy who refused to baptize them, considering he was the ecclesiastical authority with a corridor to the Vatican to deal with it long before.
Newington, you are right about that……..the Vatican, in response to inquiries from the United Nations, claimed that they are not legally responsible for ensuring that laws are enforced (this is my summary, albeit unclear) and now, with the Pope’s announcement of a Commission to study clergy sexual abuse, are they trying to show some responsibility (a Public Relations ploy for sure) to manage the problem (for which they are not responsible).
Will someone please rescue the remaining Catholics from this horrific web of deceit, spin, deception, double-speak and clearly un-Christlike conduct and behavior of certain high-ranking Catholic Church leaders, both here in the US and abroad in the Vatican?
If they are to continue with this Campaign of Treachery, will they please supply us with boots and shovels?
Since three’s a charm and all are within 5 minutes, here’s my solution to the debacle:
Following a Council of Cardinals meeting at the Vatican, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston said that Pope Francis had accepted the cardinals’ proposal for a special commission established for the protection of children. Cardinal O’Malley said that the commission will survey child protection programs and work with bishops and religious.
Wow, I am certainly relieved…..it’s like an early Christmas present…….another commission. I think I get it………we set up the COMMISSION to cover up all of the OMISSIONS of Catholic Church leadership here in the USA and around the world re child sexual abuse and predation.
My idea??……forget the COMMISSION and bring on the HANDCUFFS.
Response to Michael Skien…… ( etc). Thank you for your questions and your response. I consider myself to be a friend of Steve Ros… In fact I spoke with him before Thanksgiving.
My critique of the book is based on my own experience as a priest and knowing others who are in ministry and are really having a terrible time with this issue. I do believe that we are in a whole different era of human life and the whole issues of sexuality and intimacy have to be re=evaluated. Celibacy was “fun” for my earlier years as I was so busy that I hardly thought of this as a problem. But then the reality of loneliness and deep friendships began to touch base with me. I have married so many former priest friends and I can see that their love and what they have learned since their marriages would have been so much more fruitful to the faith community than anything I could ever offer.
I do think this issue is not a “spiritual gift” but it is a “financial Issue” based on the fact that the community of the church would have to support a married clergy with children and “heaven” knows how the health care insurance plans would cover “birth control” if the clergy were to apply for coverage. (What would the bishops do then to change or stop “the AHCA( Affordable Health Care Act). Also think of the educational responsibilities for the children which the church would incur.
I do not believe that there is any “Joy in (of) Celibacy” Steve and I part paths on this issue.
Speaking of vocations, the priesthood vs, married life, here are some interesting thoughts and beliefs from the newest of US Catholic Church leadership, Andrew Cozzens, (see bottom of posting)
The ordination of Andrew Cozzens to the Episcopacy will take place on December 9, the transferred Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. The ceremony will take place at the Cathedral of Saint Paul and will begin at 2 p.m.
Certainly, this spectacular event will be well-received in the midst of the implosion of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis under the capable control of Bishop Nienstedt and the recently published lists of credibly accused priests.
Oh, but I digress. Back to the Bishop-elect comments at a forum held some time ago at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. Yes, that fine institution that has offered to the US Catholic faithful details of the sexual conduct of Father Michael Keating and such behavior described as “inattentive seductiveness.” Now who would use such an enlightened phrase to describe such sexual impropriety with a female adolescent……it would be Father Kevin McDonough, the person in charge of the Safe Environment Program for the archdiocese.
Finally, Bishop-elect Cozzens comments:
Cozzens said that marriage is something that should be valued and appreciated but stood firm in his belief that a consecrated life is superior.
“It doesn’t mean of course that a married person is automatically going to have a less relationship with Christ than a consecrated person, but the relationship is going to be different because of the necessity to give my heart to another person in marriage,” Cozzens said.
Senior seminarian Garrett Ahlers said he thought both arguments were thought provoking but said that he agreed with Cozzens more.
“I think the arguments in the tradition of the Church are in favor that the consecrated vocation is of the superior sort,” Alhers said.
Father Wintermyer, sorry for the extended (and rambling) response but I’ve been overwhelmed with all of the good news lately (Vatican Commission on Clergy Sexual Abuse, pending weekend nuptials between Thomas Williams, ex-Legion of Christ member and moral theologian and Elizabeth Lev Glendon, daughter of the former Ambassador to the Holy See, and the recent disclosure of the Minneapolis-St. Paul AND Winona Dioceses lists of credibly accused priests.)
“Raised to the honors of the altar” and “reduced to the lay state.”
Our language is trace evidence of what we believe. I think Francis might call this clericalism.
I’m sure he’s aware they can have it two ways, married or not to either.
The book Our Fathers written by John O’Carroll, and the former religious affairs editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, and contributor the NCR and Chris McGillon, interviewed several priests in long term relationships with women.
And we had a full ear from a once advocate for the Melbourne Archdiocese on their sex abuse issues stating categorically the laity’s expectations are not the same as the hierarchy.
If the priestood stands superior, then it doesn’t say much for the women passing through the facility in place by the archdiocese in situations created by clergy to preserve it.
And it hasn’t been just in Australia, either, it’s rampant throughout Catholic Christendom.
I have wondered at times about the fellow priests (who strongly suspected the abuse of children but did not engage in it) who said nothing…did not act. In terms of authority, one has to focus on the bishops, but my above point is often ignored because of the bishops.
Geoff. What about their fellow priests? What did they do? They enabled it.
They voluntarily participated in a conspiracy of silence, and in the tactics which led to countless cases of sex abuse. This participation was/ is a requirement for remaining in the priesthood.
These men chose to stay at their posts year after year, taking part in the game of shuffling pedophiles, using their vows of obedience as an excuse to tolerate the violation of children, and rationalizing it all as “the RCC’s unfortunate cost of doing business.”
There was a case in NSW where it was alledged, a past Pesident of the Catholic Bishops Conference was challenged when as a priest he often saw a brother priest brazenly walk past him on several occasions with a young boy on arm on their way upstairs to his bedroom to do his “his dastardly deeds” who should have at least suspected what was going on.
Archbishop Answers Abuse Accusations ABC Adelaide.
” handling of abuse claims challenged ABC News.
Hi, Crystal. Someone in this forum once recommended Heffernan’s book Willful Blindness. I then read it and highly recommend it. Martin
Want to read a book that will blow your freakin’ mind away? I sh!t you not, it’s one of the most disturbing books I have ever read, and I was compelled to contact the author some way, some how, and eventually did talk to him on the phone several times.
I asked him if I could do anything to help. I was thinking maybe I could talk to people about it or recommend the book, or blog about it, or just something proactive. He asked me for paperclips. Paperclips! That’s how damaged this guy is from what happened to him.
The book: The White House Boys by Roger Kiser
You need an iron-lined stomach, a case of tissues, maybe a vomit bag, and a whole lot of determination to read it if you’re an abuse victim, or even a non-victim I think. Some books of 300 – 400 pages that I find very interesting I’ll read in one sitting in one night. The White House Boys took me over a month to get through.
I think people should read this book though. It’s important. It’s available for the Kindle, but I bought the paperback a few years ago before I even knew what a Kindle was. lol
Have a copy signed, send it to Francis special delivery and lets see if he offers his renowned “personal touch”.
Rich, good to “hear” your voice. Can’t say I am looking forward to it but will read this book. Thanks. Martin
Thanks Martin! Apparently 2 people don’t think it’s so good to hear my voice. LOL
Oh well… screw ’em!
Thanks Martin and Rich for the book recommendations. I will gladly read them. Just when you think you know it all about human behavior, childhood, the RCC…..it’s amazing how much truth is buried under layers of BS we have been conditioned to believe. The book I’ve read most recently directly on the topic of childhood sex abuse was “Miss America by Day.” I have to say I’m still disturbed by it…but it certainly was an eye opener.
Do you know how many priests abused me, Geoff? All of them!
Most occurrences of child sexual abuses are absolutely preventable. The reality of prevention has been ignored and these crimes continue uninterrupted and incessant. Instead of intervening with credible, factual evidence placed in front of them, and even seeing the abuses occur with their own eyes, non-abusers and those in authoritative positions continued the path of destruction and failed to react and implement prompt and corrective action to mitigate current and future circumstances that has proven to compound the epidemic of childhood sexual abuse instead of working righteously and heavenly to curb it. The perpetual silence of the supposedly “good” priests has only benefited the abusive priests, and a chapter in my book will be a search for logic and reason on this particular topic, and the question I have yet to discover a legitimate answer to, “Why anyone would protect the predator instead of the little child?!”
For over two decades before my initial contact with him, the priest who sexually, physically, and psychologically tortured and tormented me roamed the halls of all-boys’ schools without hindrance despite plausible allegations, conclusive evidence of guilt, and the numerous shattered lives he left behind from his reign of sexual terror he committed upon young boys. He was a known sexual predator and the “good” priests didn’t care. According to information uncovered by attorneys who investigated and worked tirelessly to expose the truth, Rev. John M. McDevitt could have been stopped after abusing his first known victim, but nobody cared. Not even the “good” priests.
I was abused by “everyone” who had prior knowledge that McDevitt had a deviant propensity toward young boys, as well as the indubitable certainty of guilt by the leadership of his own religious order, other church hierarchy, and the remonstrances directly reported by the boys he victimized many years before he began victimizing me.
I have never been able to release or even limit the persistent anger and rage pumping vigorously through my veins. I carry with me such a massive amount of hate for this evil priest, the so-called “good” priests who remained silent, (and still remain silent today) and the immoral system that allowed (and continues to allow) such cruelty to flourish. The only emotion I have to shut off this rage is the overwhelming sadness I feel along with an incredibly dreadful sense of self-loss, my quest to understand if I have any self-worth at all, and the perplexity of my mind racing through the curiosity to determine what my part is in this world, and if I’ll ever be free from this struggle.
Those “good” priests are on the same level as the Mike McQueary’s of the world, or the wives who strangely believe that maintaining a decent marriage or trying to repair a broken one by ignoring an absent husband in bed in the middle of the night and the screams of terror and pain echoing from their child’s bedroom is an acceptable trade-off, because they don’t want to rock the boat. I cannot understand anyone knowing such horror is occurring only to turn around and walk out of the locker room, or roll over and go back to sleep. Honestly, the more I think about it, the more certain I become that I don’t even care to understand such cowards. I sincerely feel more anger and rage toward the non-abusers who knew and did nothing to protect me or other kids. I believe child sexual predators are inherently evil and non-abusers who ignore a child suffering, in that moment, become evil.
I will be the difference. I will always be there, because nobody was there for me. I will always help, because nobody helped me. I will never turn my back and walk away from a little kid who needs my help. I promise. I just wish there were more heroes to prevent the monsters from winning.
This Commission is vainglory. Vainglory is pride. It is pride in their goodness and taking special satisfaction in their own virtue. My impression is this Pope is seeing himself only as loving and well-intentioned. Yet this is pride and is the inability to admit that they, the clergymen, are all hurting. There is this inability to acknowledge their suffering and their neediness. It is like they are all terrified how the church is breaking down. They cannot allow people to see how sad and lonely they are. This pride prevents them from allowing people to see that they are in pain, it prevents them from allowing people see they need anything or that they are trying to get something from others. This pride, vainglory, is also called denial and particularly the loss of contact with qualities of real love.
I respect what everyone says here. In fact I am sad that I did not find this site sooner. I may not have self-excommunicated myself from the catholic church knowing that there is support from within even if I did not receive it from the church itself. I have blamed one reason on the continued actions of the church because of its parishioners. There are those out there who believe that this can be wished away and everything will be fine. There are those who are in complete denial to this day and believe that all priests and the church can do no wrong. I have been told from these Catholics although my abuse happened decades ago “I should just get over it” I only wish it could be that simple but its not. These are the people who the church still relies on for support and these will be the same Catholics who will destroy the catholic church. But a start to its real change and healing would be people like those here who are tired of the same old same old come forward and speak with Bishops and Archbishops and pastors and tell them you are tired and want change. You are the church, parishioners are those who make up the church not priests and pastors. An example would be to create boards of laity that would sit not only at the archdiocese but smaller groups that would be at each parish. This is only one idea that I have, others have different ideas, but if we are to think an outbreak like this will never happen again we are only kidding ourselves. I think if I told someone fifty years ago the Catholic Church and its priests would be known for abusing children and then try to cover it up with lies and destruction of evidence I would be looked at as a nut.
I don’t have all the answers but you guys are great and your words by many enforce there is still humanity in this world.
I am sorry that you were subjected to such suffering.
Yes, we are the church and you were kind and did not say bluntly what is implicit in your message: we are the people responsible for your abuse. Catholics could demand change of pastors and bishops; we don’t and so it continues. I guess the vast majority of those in the pews on Sunday are not tired of the same ole, same ole. This dumbfounds me.
A few Catholics, like people here, are trying to change things to make bishops accountable by external authorities.
Building on what you said the people could take “we are church” seriously. In the 18th century lay trustees ran the parishes in Philadelphia. These trustee boards were disbanded when parishioners insisted on having the authority to pick pastors. Can you imagine what would happen if the parishoners took the church checkbook away from the pastor?
The woman parishioner who is in her eighties spits on the shoe of the young man who dares to question her church’s response to childhood sexual abuse by the clergy in her church. And still the children suffer. The priest who knows that one of his fellow priests is molesting altar boys and does nothing. And still the children suffer. The pastor who is overworked and underpaid and just wishes that this whole sordid mess would just go away. And still the children suffer. The monsignor who languishes in a state prison cell, proclaiming his innocence and asserting that he was just following orders. And still the children suffer. The Archbishop who claims that he inherited the mess and works with all his heart to defeat any SOL legislation. And still the children suffer.The pope who is new to the job and claims that it is not his job to deal with the sexual abuse of children by members of his clergy. His role is only judicial. And still the children suffer.Dear God, I have not really prayed to you since I was a twelve year altar boy who was molested after serving Mass by a Catholic Priest. I really started to believe then that you really didn’t exist. You were kind of like Santa Claus. To this day, I still question your existence. But if you are real, please make it so the children will no longer suffer.