Sex abuse: Church of England, Catholic Church of Ireland

Not to say that The Episcopal Church is without fault, but cases of sex abuse and mismanagement by bishops are in the news again: the two cases receiving attention today are in the Church of England and in the Catholic Church of Ireland.

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Vatican releases some sex abuse documents on-line

The Vatican published on-line some internal files about a priest accused of molesting youngsters in Ireland and the U.S. in advance of a deadline set by an Oregon federal district court judge. The plaintiff's lawyers demanded the documents in a lawsuit in which a victim of sexual abuse is attempting to hold the Holy See vicariously liable for the action of a now deceased priest. The move may be designed to avoid turning over more documents in the discovery phase of the trial.

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Lawsuit alleges mistreatment at St. John's Military School

A lawsuit filed on behalf of former attendees of St. John's Military School in Salina, Kansas, has apparently misnamed the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas as a co-defendant.

The suit, brought by parents of former students, alleges mistreatment at St. John's in the form of negligent supervision, intentional failure to supervise, intentional infliction of emotional distress or outrage, breach of fiduciary duty, and conspiracy to assault and batter.

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Clergy sexual abuse: how should it be disclosed to the church?

This may be a matter that is of narrow concern, but I would like to seek the wisdom of our readers on this nonetheless. I’ve had professional reasons in recent years to make a bit of informal study of how various churches, dioceses and parishes have handled the difficult task of informing members about instances of clerical sexual abuse. There don’t seem to be any agreed upon best practices, and it seems that there should be.

I am aware of instances in which church leaders have made a full disclosure of the nature and scope of the abuse (withholding certain details so as not to become too clinical, but conveying just how serious was the nature of the abuse), apologized to the community for this breech of trust, asked other victims to come forward, and promised to keep the community apprised of future developments.

I am also aware of church leaders who have not informed their church communities of the abuse and simply let them learn about it through the mainstream media.

And, finally, I am aware of church leaders who do their damnedest to suppress as much information as possible.

Assuming that a parish, a diocese, or the folks at church center are in possession of corroborated reports of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy or a bishop, how fully and through what channels should they release this information?

I would especially like to hear from members of Episcopal Communicators on this issue, and we can be more liberal than we usually are in granting our commentors' anonymity if that makes it easier for them to tell their stories.

The wild Catholic career of the Rev. Bernard Lynch

Peter Stanford of The Independent profiles the Rev. Bernard Lynch, whose career is the Roman Catholic Church as a whistleblower, advocate for LGBT people, and, as it turns out, married gay man, would be dismissed as implausible were it proposed as fiction.

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Catholic Archbishop reported to advocate equal treatment for homosexuals in long-term relationships

Interesting news out of Germany-- the Catholic Archbishop of Berlin has reportedly come out in favor of treating those in long-term homosexual relationships equal to those in heterosexual relationships.

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Penn State and the culture of silence

If there is one thing that is comes up over and over again whenever we hear news of churches and schools that fail to protect children from sexual abuse or women from abuse and harassment, it is this: institutions encourage a culture of silence and official denial.

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Franciscan characterizes sex-abuse victims as seducers

Writing in the National Catholic Reporter, Tom Robert rightly slams Franciscan leader Fr. Benedict Groeschel for remarks that place blame for clergy sexual abuse squarely at the feet of young victims:

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Diocese of Chichester reports on child sex abuse failures

The initial results of an inquiry into the diocesan child protection policies in the Diocese of Chichester in the Church of England was published yesterday.

The Huffington Post reports:

Rape 101: A primer for people of faith

Elizabeth Keaton reminds religious leaders and people of faith what rape is and the best way for the Church to respond.

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Bishop: Credibility of Catholic hierarchy 'shredded' on issue of sexual abuse

The credibility of Catholic bishops on the issue of sexual abuse is "shredded," according to Bishop R. Daniel Conlin,who serves as chairman of the bishops' Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People. While he personally believes the Catholic hierarchy has adopted a new "entirely different spirit of openness and accountability," no one seems to be buying into that view, he notes. From USA Today:

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Protecting a pedophile's priesthood at all costs

Why did Kansas City's Bishop Robert Finn, convicted in criminal court Thursday of failing to report child abuse, work so hard to ignore the sins of pedophile priest Shawn Ratigan? According to testimony, he had wanted “to save Father Ratigan’s priesthood.” One tragic downside to allowing only celibate men to serve as Catholic priests is that it greatly reduces the pool of available priests. I can't begin to stretch my imagination around protecting the priesthood of someone like Fr. Ratigan, but that does seem to be the driving motivation of many church leaders who choose to ignore not just civil law, but what is now canon law of the Catholic church in cases of child sexual abuse.

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Boy Scouts helped cover for child molesters

The Los Angeles Times uncovers a pattern of not reporting molesters and helping them cover their track:

Over two decades, the Boy Scouts of America failed to report hundreds of alleged child molesters to police and often hid the allegations from parents and the public.

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Dealing with the "Poor Father" syndrome

Mark Silk at Religion News Service writes about clergy sexual abuse and misconduct in Dealing with the "Poor Father" Syndrome:

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Marginalizing the abused

Boz Tchividjian lists six ways the church marginalizes sexual abuse survivors.


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As World Cup approaches, churches launch campaign to protect children

Churches in Brazil are working together to battle child sex abuse during the World Cup games, which begin June 12. From Religion News Service:

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A doctor responds to George Will rape column

Dr. Jen Gunter, OB/GYN, responds to George Will's column on "rape hysteria." Talking Points has the letter:

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Pope apologizes to church abuse victims

In a private meeting with several victims of clerical abuse, Pope Francis asked for their forgiveness, and said that the Church had been wrong in its handling of the crisis. This is his first meeting with abuse survivors since becoming pope.

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