Clergy Pedophile Abuse in USA
- (...) some bishops consistently reassigned pedophile priests to new
parishes, where the priests continued to prey on children. Then,
bishops covered for the priests while doing their best to ignore or
silence victims and their families.
On the Net:
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: http://www.usccb.org/
Top Stories - AP
Bishops to Discuss Clergy Sex Abuse
By RACHEL ZOLL, AP Religion Writer
In a private retreat this week, U.S. Roman Catholic bishops will
discuss some internal church rifts that have become uncomfortably
public over the clergy sex abuse crisis and, separately, Holy
Communion and politics.
Bishops disagree on whether Catholic lawmakers at odds with church
teaching should receive the sacrament. They've sparked a national
debate on the issue as a Catholic who supports abortion rights John
Kerry (news - web sites) is poised to become the Democratic nominee
The bishops also will decide whether to override the objections of
some U.S. church leaders and authorize a second round of audits of
American dioceses reviews that are aimed at determining whether the
dioceses are doing enough to combat the molestation scandal.
Bishops hope to emerge from the weeklong meeting, which starts Monday
in Englewood, Colo., with a more unified message on both fronts,
church observers say.
"When everybody looks at the Catholic Church, they equate it with the
hierarchy, and they think the hierarchy speaks with one voice or one
mind," said David Gibson, a former Vatican newsman and author of "The
Coming Catholic Church." "What these various controversies has shown
is the reality that they're not united, that they have enormous
differences of opinion within their own ranks."
Each bishop decides policy on interacting with politicians for his
own diocese, and even officials in the Vatican have noted the
Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis has said he would not give the
sacrament to Kerry. Other bishops have said Kerry should not attempt
to take Communion, but would not be denied if he did. Bishop Michael
Sheridan of Colorado Springs, Colo., even those who vote for Catholic
politicians who support policy contrary to church teaching should
refrain from taking Communion.
Yet several prelates have said Communion should not be used as a
A task force, led by Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, is
looking into the situation and will give an interim report at this
week's meeting, but may not release its final guidelines for church
leaders until after the November election.
Meanwhile, more divisions have come to light over the abuse audits,
which were part of the bishops' toughened policy on sex abuse
approved two years ago.
Bishops in Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and
elsewhere sent confidential letters to the U.S. Conference of
Catholic Bishops asking for the diocesan reviews to be delayed.
When their objections were made public last month, victim advocates
and leaders of the National Review Board, the lay watchdog panel the
bishops created, accused church leaders of abandoning a central
An agreement on future audits and on authorizing a psychological and
sexual study of the Catholic priesthood was reached following the
uproar, but details won't be released until bishops give their final
OK this week.
Resentment toward the board lingers, despite the accord.
Bishop Donald Pelotte of Gallup, N.M., said the Denver meeting would
likely lead to a "reformulation" of the panel.
Illinois Justice Anne Burke, who leads the board, said none of the
bishops have spoken with her about changes beyond appointing
replacements for her and three other members of the 12-person group
who are leaving.
"In a way, the recent controversies and tensions were predictable,"
said Russell Shaw, a Catholic writer and former spokesman for the
U.S. bishops. "The Review Board represents the introduction into the
polity and governance of the Catholic Church a principle we're really
not familiar with: institutional accountability."
The Rev. Thomas Reese, editor of the Jesuit magazine America, said he
was saddened by the public fight, because it had obscured much of the
progress bishops have made since the abuse crisis began in early
In February, the bishops released extensive reports on the scope of
the scandal since 1950 and its origins, and conducted a first round
of diocesan audits, which found widespread compliance with the abuse
"Nobody likes to be audited, but when you're all done and
everything's fine, it helps people have confidence in what you're
doing," Reese said. "They got so much good press out of the first
audit, bring it on again. That ought to be their response."
This week's meeting is a special spiritual assembly that bishops hold
every five years behind closed doors, with some time set aside for
business. Even though there are no public sessions, protests are
planned by groups representing abuse victims, lay reformers, anti-
abortion activists who want bishops to take a harder line against
pro-abortion rights politicians and advocates for optional celibacy
Some groups have criticized the bishops for not opening at least part
of the business sessions.
"I would be willing to grant them talking up to a certain point in
executive session. Maybe they need the privacy, but all of it? No,"
Shaw said. "The matters are just too important and too public to be
handled in that manner."
From the June 3, 2004, editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Editorial: Vatican sends wrong signal
From the Journal Sentinel
Posted: June 2, 2004
Groups that represent sufferers of clergy sexual abuse worry
constantly that Catholic Church officials do not take seriously
enough the needs and concerns of victims. If experience is any
indication, these groups have good reason to worry. After all, some
bishops consistently reassigned pedophile priests to new parishes,
where the priests continued to prey on children. Then, bishops
covered for the priests while doing their best to ignore or silence
victims and their families.
The church, to its credit, has taken serious steps to change its
ways, curb the scandal and get help to victims. But last week's
announcement by the Vatican that former Boston Cardinal Bernard Law
has been appointed to a largely ceremonial but highly visible and
prestigious position in Rome is not one of those steps - and the move
can't help but heighten the concerns of victims.
Law's former archdiocese in Boston became the center of the church's
most recent incarnation of the pedophile scandal. Law resigned as
head of the Boston archdiocese in 2002 amid a furor over the
discovery that for decades, he and other bishops had shifted
pedophile priests from one parish to another.
Last fall, the archdiocese reached an $85 million agreement to settle
lawsuits filed by more than 500 victims of clergy sexual abuse. Last
week, two days before the Vatican announced Law's appointment, Boston
church officials disclosed that the number of parishes in the
archdiocese would be reduced by 65.
Declining collections, a shortage of priests and fallout from the
scandal are being cited as the primary reasons for scaling back the
number of parishes. Hardly a legacy in which Law, or the church in
general, can take much pride.
Yet for Law, the consequence for leaving such a legacy is an
appointment as archpriest of St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome. As a
warning to other bishops involved in the sexual abuse scandal, the
Vatican's decision may not be very effective. And as a message to
victims, it can't be very comforting.
A priest in the Boston archdiocese was more blunt, calling the
appointment "an utter disgrace." As one of those who will be working
to help clean up the mess Law left behind, the priest should know.
FIND LAW's LEGAL COMMENTARY
Why Ensuring Accountability for Clergy Sexual Abuse of Children Has
Proved So Difficult,
Even Though It Remains So Crucial
By MARCI HAMILTON
Thursday, May. 06, 2004
When the Boston Globe finally spotlighted the issue of sexual abuse
of children by clergy, everyone agreed something had to be done. But
sadly, the solutions have so far have been neither far-reaching nor
What happened? The story dropped from the headlines. And the
solutions often got lost in the machinations of the legislatures and
the powers that be. It takes incredible doggedness to keep political
institutions focused on an issue, especially when the media's
attentions have shifted elsewhere.
The record to date for legislatures and prosecutors dealing with
clergy abuse is mixed, at best. As the following examples make clear,
bringing the Catholic Church to account for the thousands of children
who were raped and sexually molested is still going to take enormous
fortitude on the part of activists and far-sighted public leaders.
Despite the time that has passed since the Globe's revelations
sparked public outrage, much remains to be done.
It has become evident, also, that addressing the Catholic Church's
problem alone -- difficult as that will be -- will still not be
enough. Six thousand victims of Jehovah's Witnesses clergy recently
made themselves known. Meanwhile, the Lutheran Church just settled a
multi-million-dollar clergy abuse lawsuit.
This is a public health, criminal, and civil law crisis of staggering
proportions that few, if any, have fully comprehended. The actions
taken now will reverberate throughout the United States in years to
come. That makes it all the more important that these actions be
appropriate, prompt, and effective.
But so far, they have fallen woefully short of the mark -- as I will
explain in discussing a Wisconsin law passed last week, the
disappointing lack of enforcement of the New Hampshire settlement
agreement, and an Illinois case of alleged abuse by a priest who
appears to a recidivist -- a case in which the Church refuses to
comply with court ordered discovery.
Wisconsin's Statute of Limitations Debate: A Huge Disappointment
Statutes of limitations on childhood sexual abuse are far too short.
In far too many states, the statute of limitations typically ran
before the victims were even psychologically capable of filing
charges or suing for damages. And this legal reality doubtless
enabled accusers to continue with their predations.
Getting rid of the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse
should be a top priority. Maine and Alaska wisely have no statute of
limitations for such abuse. Other states should follow suit and
abolish -- or at least dramatically lengthen -- theirs. There is no
excuse for a statute that begins to run before the victim is a well
into adulthood with the maturity to be able to withstand the gauntlet
of prosecution and litigation.
Statutes of limitations are not mandated by the Constitution, nor are
they set in stone. They are merely procedural, technical rules.
Granted, the state cannot make its criminal statute of limitations
retroactive, as the Supreme Court held in Stogner v. California. But
that particular rule--grounded in the Ex Post Facto Clause -- does
not apply to civil statutes of limitation.
As the Court has held in Landgraf v. USI Film Products and Chase
Securities Corp. v. Donaldson, legislatures have broad latitude to
choose whatever statute of limitations serves the interest of
fairness -- including having no statute of limitations at all. In the
latter case, the Court explained:
"Statutes of limitations find their justification in necessity and
convenience rather than logic. They represent expedients, rather than
principles . . . . They are by definition arbitrary . . . [and] have
come into law not through the judicial process but through
legislation. They represent a public policy about the privilege to
litigate . . . [and are] good only by legislative grace, [subject] to
a relatively large degree of legislative control."
Statutes of limitations have a worthy goal: to increase the
likelihood that the evidence in court will be reasonably reliable.
But there are other ways to serve that goal -- such as the rules of
evidence, which will be applied at any child sexual abuse trial, as
they will at any other trial. We can count on judges to keep
unreliable evidence out of court; we need not presume, through a
statute of limitations, that evidence, like milk, must have a sell-by
And they have one goal that makes little sense in the context of
child sexual abuse: To permit potential defendants to "rest easy," at
some point, in the knowledge that they will not be prosecuted.
This goal makes sense when a crime is very minor (people should not
lose sleep over their past littering forever) or when it might not
have been a crime at all (people should not have to worry forever
about that dicey tax deduction). But it makes no sense for the sexual
abuse of children.
Indeed, when pedophiles "rest easy," we should all be afraid.
Pedophiles rarely have only one victim; giving them a "bye" for past
abuse, simply because the abuse occurred a certain number of years
ago, only puts other victims in danger. Consider the Catholic
Church's now well-publicized practice of providing pedophile priests
one set of children after another to terrorize and harm.
So states have all abolished their statutes of limitations for child
sexual abuse, right? Wrong.
Consider Wisconsin's example. In fall 2003, I testified before the
Wisconsin state legislature. There, a bill was pending that would
have extended the criminal and civil statutes of limitations for all
future victims of abuse. But victims of past abuse (who filled the
room and testified for hours) also implored the legislature to extend
the civil statute of limitations retroactively.
As I explained (on behalf of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by
Priests), such a statute would have been entirely constitutional. The
Supreme Court has been clear: Criminal statutes of limitations cannot
be retroactively extended; the Constitution's Ex Post Facto Clause
prevents it. But it's plain that that clause does not apply to civil
statutes of limitations. Moreover, Wisconsin, like other courts, had
evolved from an earlier rule prohibiting retroactive civil statutes
of limitations into a rule that permitted the legislature broad
latitude where the circumstances warranted. The victims implored the
members to add to the bill a provision that would have extended the
civil statute of limitations retroactively.
Despite the clear precedent, some members pressed the incorrect
argument that there was a constitutional problem with a retroactive
change to the civil statute of limitations. And sadly, last week,
Wisconsin's Governor Jim Doyle signed a version of the law that
addresses only future, not past victims. The new law is without
question a step in the right direction, but it is woefully deficient.
The current law extends the statute of limitations for childhood
sexual abuse into the future, and the clergy will now be required to
report known child abuse. Past victims, however, were provided no
means of bringing the Church to accountability for the decades of
harm it knew about and fostered.
Green Bay Bishop David Zubik could not have been more exuberant in
his praise for the bill, which he said would "bring justice to
those harmed." From a shortsighted perspective, he has reason to be
happy, but the reason has nothing to do with justice. The bill
protects the Church's coffers from the many victims it permitted to
be abused -- and in effect, protects the Church from the heinous
mistakes it made during the long era of secrecy. At the same time, it
gives the Church a remarkable public relations moment.
The appearance of progress in Wisconsin masks the reality of
The New Hampshire Agreement's Bright Start and Murky Present
Like the Wisconsin legislature's focus on clergy sexual abuse, New
Hampshire's agreement with the Bishop of Manchester seemed very
In New Hampshire, everything seemed to go as it should: The
prosecutors were aggressive, and the Church did not offer flimsy
First Amendment excuses to try to avoid complying with the
investigation; instead, it opened its files for the authorities.
Finally, the Church entered into a settlement -- the only one of its
kind -- in which the Diocese admitted criminal liability.
The New Hampshire experience, then, seemed like the first gasp of
oxygen after swimming too far underwater. But such optimism turned
out to be premature.
One of the many conditions of the settlement was that the Church
would keep its files available to prosecutors, and that the Attorney
General's Office would conduct an annual audit to ensure compliance
with the terms of the agreement.
Guess what? The agreement was signed December 10, 2002, and no audit
of any kind has been done.
The reason is money. The agreement did not specify whether the AG's
Office or the Church would pay for the audit, and both are claiming
tight budgets. As a result, victims and their families feel betrayed
by both. It appears it may take a lawsuit by victims to push the
Church into doing what it agreed to do almost two years ago.
The early appearance of accountability on both sides is
disintegrating quickly into the reality of the previous status quo:
No one is actively watching to make sure children are not being
An Illinois Example: Bishop Wilton Gregory Is Held In Contempt of
A third example of bad behavior by the Church with respect to
addressing clergy sexual abuse, is not just deeply disappointing, but
A priest named Raymond Kownacki in Illinois was alleged to have
persuaded a family to let a teenage girl go with him to a new diocese
in order to attend a better school. But there, according to the
family, he repeatedly raped and beat her. When she became pregnant,
the family alleges, he performed a chemical and manual abortion. But
her case was dismissed on statute of limitations grounds.
Now two other victims have come forward. In one case, the plaintiff
requested Kownacki's mental health records. The court ordered the
Church to produce them, but it refused. The result was that the Court
held the Diocese in contempt.
Sadly, this particular diocese is headed by the President of the
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops -- Bishop Wilton
Gregory, of Belleville, Illinois. He has repeatedly apologized to
victims on behalf of the Conference, while cameras rolled. But now
those apologies ring hollow, when his own diocese refuses to comply
with a court order crucial to a victim's case. This is the leader who
was supposed to lead the United States bishops to a new and better
policy, and now we have proof of his actual intentions: just more of
These three examples are just anecdotes in the war on childhood
sexual abuse in the United States. They prove that this war is far
Visão da mídia sobre a mulher será tema de seminário no Rio
Qual o tratamento da mídia dispensado às mulheres quando elas são a
notícia? E como elas são enfocadas quando responsáveis pela produção
de notícias? Estas serão algumas das questões que o seminário "A
Mulher e a Mídia" pretende discutir nos próximos dias 26 e 27 de
junho, no Hotel Novo Mundo, no Rio de Janeiro.
Confirmaram presença nas mesas de debate, entre outras, a diretora de
Jornalismo da Associação Brasileira de Imprensa (ABI), Joseti
Marques; a colunista do jornal O Globo, Miriam Leitão; Laura
Greenhalgh, do Estado de S. Paulo; Fátima Bernardes (TV Globo);
Mariza Tavares, da CBN; Monica Waldvogel e Angélica Basthi (Sindicato
dos Jornalistas do Rio).
O evento faz parte das comemorações do Ano da Mulher no Brasil e será
promovido pela Secretaria Especial de Políticas para Mulheres em
parceria com o Sindicato dos Jornalistas Profissionais do Município
do Rio de Janeiro (SJPMRJ) e com a Federação Nacional dos Jornalistas
Também farão parte da pauta de temas do seminário a qualidade da
informação, a relação da mídia com a sociedade civil organizada e
através de uma abordagem que garanta a pluralidade de gênero.
Os debates terão ainda como objetivo propor a construção de uma
agenda que inclua novos recortes e enfoques em relação à mulher. Para
isso, será lembrado que as jornalistas, enquanto avançam na conquista
do mercado de trabalho, aumentam a sua responsabilidade e a
importância na definição dos conteúdos oferecidos pelos meios de
E elas não estão em número pequeno na profissão. Apenas na América
Latina, a estimativa é de que sejam 60 mil jornalistas mulheres. No
mundo inteiro, este número sobe para cerca de 300 mil.
São esperadas para o evento jornalistas de diversos meios de
comunicação do país. Por isso, a Secretaria Especial de Políticas
para as Mulheres vai oferecer hospedagem e alimentação às
participantes de fora do Rio. A despesa de viagem deverá ser paga
pelas interessadas, mas já foram iniciadas negociações com a empresa
aérea Gol para que esta conceda um desconto especial no preço das
A inscrição é gratuita e pode ser feita também pela internet no site
do SJPMRJ (www.jornalistas.org.br). Por telefone, também no
Sindicato, podem ser contactados Eliete ou Solange (21 - 2544-2100),
Iara Cruz (21 - 9871-9370 / 9965-9825) e Miro Lopes (21 - 9264-4772).
Sábado, 26 de junho de 2004
9h às 10 h Abertura solene
- Secretaria Especial de Políticas para Mulheres Ministra Nilcéa
- Secretaria de Comunicação de Governo e Gestão Estratégica da
Presidência da República Ministro Luiz Gushiken
- Representante da Associação Brasileira de Imprensa (ABI),
jornalista Maurício Azêdo
- Representante da Federação Nacional de Jornalistas Profissionais
10 às 11 h Painel I
- A Mulher e o Fato - a mulher como produtora de notícia. A percepção
e o reconhecimento de seu papel como definidora de conteúdos da
informação - Debatedoras: Miriam Leitão (O Globo/Multimidia), Laura
Greenhalgh (O Estado de São Paulo), Marisa Tavares (Sistema Globo de
Rádio) - Moderadora: Mônica Waldvogel.*
11 às 12 h Debate
12 às 14 h Intervalo para o almoço
14 às 15 h Painel II
- A Mulher é o Fato - a representação que a mídia e a publicidade
imprimem à imagem da mulher. A urgência em romper preconceitos e
estereótipos. Debatedoras: Fátima Jordão, socióloga (Instituto Pagu),
Fátima Bernardes (TV Globo) - Moderadora: Angélica Basthi (Sindicato
dos Jornalistas - Rio).*
15 às 16 h Debate
16 às 16h15 Intervalo para café
16h15 às 18h Oficina I
- Definição de um plano de ação a partir dos temas abordados
- Formação de grupo de trabalho para redação do documento final
Domingo, 27 de junho de 2004
10 às 11 h Painel III
- Re-Formando a opinião a qualidade da informação e a construção de
uma abordagem com pluralidade de gênero. A mídia e a sociedade civil
organizada. Debatedoras: Laura Capiglione (Folha de São
Paulo/Cotidiano); Cristina Carvalho Pinto, publicitária (Agência Full
Jazz) - Moderadora: Beth Costa (FENAJ).*
11 às 12 h Debate
12 às 14 h Intervalo para o almoço
14 às 15 h Painel IV
- Agenda Mulher - propostas para avançar na construção de uma agenda
que inclua novos recortes e enfoques. Debatedora: Jacira Melo
(Instituto Pagu) - Moderadora: Joseti Marques (ABI).*
15 às 16 h Debate
16 às 16h15 Intervalo para café
16h15 às 17 h Oficina II
- Definição de um plano de ação a partir dos temas abordados
- Conclusão do plano de ação
- Redação final do documento oficial do Encontro
* A coordenação do evento ainda aguarda a confirmação de outros(as)
convidados(as) para compor as mesas.