Tag Archives: catholic directory

Timeline of Philadelphia Archdiocese Child Sex Abuse Scandal

WHYY has created an interactive timeline of the Philadelphia Archdiocese child sex abuse scandal.

You can view it here.

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Follow the policy, break the law

Has anything in Roman Catholic Church changed when it comes to child protection?

At first blush I deeply want to be believe: yes. The faithful have endured 28 years of civil litigation, several grand jury reports, billions of dollars in settlements, and several high profile criminal trials. However, when I reviewed the most recent proceedings of the Canon Law Society at their 2011 convention in Jacksonville, Florida, my heart dropped.

Diane L. Barr JD, JCD (who is also the chancellor of the Archdiocese of Baltimore) presented a seminar, “Obligation of the Tribunal to Report Child Abuse“. Barr reviewed mandatory criminal child abuse reporting laws versus canonical responsibilities—that it, what “church law” says she should do.  She also discussed obligations to privacy, confidentiality and protecting the Diocese. No mention of victims or child protection.

Let’s get something straight: nowhere in the United States does Canon law trump federal, state, or local criminal or civil law. But apparently, Barr does not know that.

Lessons Learned? Eh … not really.

I mistakenly thought that history, common sense and legal knowledge would inform Barr’s recommendations for a model Tribunal policy for reporting child sexual abuse. I was wrong. Here was what she did present as the “proper procedure for abuse reporting”:

  • Step One: Notary brings information to the Judicial Vicar immediately.
  • Step Two: Judicial Vicar reviews information and contacts Youth and Child Protection representative (or diocesan attorney) to discuss further  action.
  • Step Three: Judicial Vicar calls person mentioning allegation and indicates that the person will be contacted by the Youth and Child protection representative (or diocesan attorney) to follow up and determine where to go with the allegation.
  • Step Four: Youth and Child Protection representative (or diocesan attorney) investigates and determines if reporting must be done.
Excuse me, Ms. Barr, but your presentation is flawed. According to the law in every state where there is mandatory reporting, a report must be made TO LAW ENFORCEMENT (not the boss, or the bishop, or the tribunal, or the office of Youth and Child protection) when the reporter, in his or her official capacity, suspects or has reasons to believe that a child has been abused or neglected.
In essence, if you follow Barr’s procedure above, a mandatory reporter is breaking the law.
This is insane and illegal.

After all these years, I offer a simple suggestion. Because the protection of children is a core belief of our society and the history of child protection in the Catholic Church is so pathetic, let’s be straight forward:

Call 911. Right now.

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ICB History 101: The Irish Christian Brothers and the permanent stain of child sex abuse

Here is my crash course in the Irish Christian Brothers sex abuse and cover-up scandal and bankruptcy:

In order to understand the current Irish Christian Brothers debacle, we need only look north.

As I have repeated (and as my Church history professors seared into my cortex in countless seminary courses): The Past is Prologue to the Future.

In light of that, let’s take a short trip back in time:

In 1975, detectives Robert Hillier and Paul Pitcher of the Newfoundland Constabulary were investigating complaints from the Irish Christian Brothers orphanage at Mount Cashel.  Hillier and Pitcher were not naive detectives, but even they could not imagine the extent of the beatings and sexual abuse, the Brothers collusion, and the blatant obstruction of justice and corruption surrounding the child sexual abuse by the Irish Christian Brothers who worked at Mount Cashel.  It would take an additional two decades for the moral bankruptcy to explode. You can read the results of their work here, in the 1991 Hughes Report, Part I and Part II.

But the abuse and cover-up didn’t stop there. It spread south, as the Irish Christian Brothers shuffled criminal child predators across international borders and state lines to avoid prosecution, find new innocent child victims, and ensure that justice would never be served.

Here is a great reading/viewing list (after you’re done with the Hughes Report) that will give you a good historical narrative of the pattern, behavior and human cost of the ICB sex abuse crisis:

Unholy Orders: Tragedy at Mount Cashel by Michael Harris

The Boys of St. Vincent – “two-part docudrama based on real events that took place at the Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John’s, Newfoundland, one of a number of child sexual abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church.” – Wikipedia

Catholic Clergy Sexual Abuse Meets the Civil Law, by Thomas Doyle and Steven Rubino, Fordham Urban Law Journal

The Christian Brothers Educational Record, a yearly diary and chronicle of the activities of the Christian Brothers Schools in the US and Canada

The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx, an excellent novel about life in Newfoundland

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So much for “it was a thing of the past”: Active Clergy Criminal Cases

With the beginning of the clergy sex abuse and cover-up criminal trial in Philadelphia, as well as the recent guilty plea from Orange County (CA) priest Denis Lyons, I wanted to post a list of all of the currently active clergy criminal cases in the United States. If I have missed any, let me know. All of these are for sexual abuse or conspiracy to commit abuse, except for Fr. McCloskey in Albany. He was charged with fleeing from the police, reckless driving and auto theft.

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Your Tax Dollars May Be Supporting Abusers: The Problem of Government Support of Catholic Charities

The sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults by Roman Catholic Clerics is the most damaging financial event in over two centuries. Not since Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) turned over the Papal States (central Italy) and disbanded the Papal army in the 1860s has the Church lost so many assets. Just recently, the bishops of California settled for in excess of 1.8 billion U.S. Dollars with national totals closing in on $4 billion.

But they shouldn’t be surprised … The 1985 Doyle/Peterson/Mouton Report warned the bishops of $1 billion worth of exposure.

What should concern the average American are the billions of Federal and State government dollars given to Catholic Charities for social services.

Yes, your tax dollars.

We can only hope that taxpayers and the government will take notice.

Just think: what will happen when society FINALLY makes the connection that the same bishops covering-up the rape of thousands of children are taking millions of tax dollars for Roman Catholic orphanages, day care centers, and social service centers?

Even when many of these places were the backdrop for decades of sexual abuse.

The 2007 Official Catholic Directory, the official communication between the United States Bishops and the I.R.S. for tax exception purposes, claims the following number of facilities and children under their care:

Residential Care facilities of Children (Orphanages): 986
Total assisted annually: 60,861
Day Care and Extended Day Care Centers: 1,231
Total assisted annually: 115,190
Special Centers for Social Services: 3,007

Total assisted annually: 27,887,358

I can only imagine what a federal inquiry would uncover.

If there were one policy change I suggest for the new president, congress, attorney general, and all state governors it is this:

Get out of the business of supporting the Roman Catholic Church through grants to Catholic Charities and related services.

There are other groups who can perform the same task with equal professionalism. No quantity or quality of good done by Catholic Charities personnel can cancel or forgive the criminal conduct condoned by the U.S. Bishops.

And I wonder: what is the legal liability for the government when children are abused in Catholic programs funded by tax dollars?

Many civil lawyers and government attorneys will rightly claim that the government tort claims act will stop or hinder such claims. Legally, I am sure that is correct.

But I believe that good does conquer evil. I also believe that the sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults is an age-old reality in the life of the Catholic Church that will likely continue.

And the government should and must get out of the business of supporting the Catholic Church.

Finally: It is hard to believe that the Archdiocese of Chicago paid for the Defenbaugh report but it is a nice summary of how the post Dallas 2002 system still doesn’t protect children.

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