Catholic Bishops Will Not Comply with Abuse Policies

Catholic Bishops Will Not Comply with Abuse Policies

Despite recent cases in which Roman Catholic bishops failed to report or suspend priests accused of child sexual abuse, the bishops head into a meeting in Seattle on today [June 15, 2011] proposing no significant revisions to the abuse prevention policies they passed in 2002 at the height of the scandal.

The bishops had promised they would take a hard look at their policies in light of new accusations in Philadelphia and Kansas City, Mo., that have shaken many Catholics, not just in those dioceses, but across the country as well.

The incidents have led some Catholics to question whether bishops are complying with their own policies, and whether there is any accountability for bishops who do not.

In the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Bishop Robert W. Finn admitted last month he allowed a priest who had taken pornographic pictures of parish girls to continue celebrating Mass and having access to children.

In Philadelphia, a grand jury recently found Cardinal Justin Rigali allowed 37 priests accused of abuse or inappropriate behavior to remain in ministry. The grand jury also indicted the former head of the archdiocesan office for clergy, Msgr. William Lynn, on charges of endangering the welfare of children — the first such indictment of a senior church official.

“A body of bishops as such has no real authority or power to punish or coerce or chastise individual members who don’t go along with the majority, even when it’s an overwhelming majority,” said Mr. Shaw, a former communications director for the bishops. “That’s a question largely in the hands of the Holy See at the present time, and probably can only be addressed in a comprehensive and permanent way by alterations in canon law itself.”

Nicholas Cafardi, the author of “Before Dallas: The U.S. Bishops’ Response to Clergy Sexual Abuse of Children,” said, “Fraternal correction has always been the elephant in the room.”

“Unless the bishops are willing to call each other out,” said Mr. Cafardi, the former dean of the Duquesne Law School, “we will always have individual bishops who think that they can ignore the requirements of the charter.”

Every incident that is a violation of law should be reported to local authorities, no exceptions.
Catholic Church says Child Abuse Cases Rose in 2011

CHICAGO - The number of credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors committed by Roman Catholic priests or deacons in the United States rose 15 percent last year, and the church spent $144 million to deal with the ongoing scandal, according to a church-sponsored audit released on Tuesday.

Related story