Category Archives: Abuse

MAY 18 2018 – “CHILE’S BISHOPS OFFER TO RESIGN EN MASSE OVER SEX ABUSE COVER-UP” – LOS ANGELES TIMES

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“CHILE’S BISHOPS OFFER TO RESIGN EN MASSE OVER SEX ABUSE COVER-UP” – LOS ANGELES TIMES

 

All 33 Roman Catholic bishops in Chile offered to resign Friday after meeting with Pope Francis in the wake of a sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the Latin American country.

The unprecedented offer by the Chilean church’s top hierarchy came after a week of tense meetings with Francis in the Vatican to discuss the harsh conclusions of a report on the Chilean scandal prepared by Malta Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna that accused church leaders of a coverup.

“We want to announce that all bishops present in Rome, in writing, have placed our positions in the Holy Father’s hands so that he may freely decide regarding each one of us,” Bishop Juan Ignacio Gonzalez said in a news conference Friday in Rome.

It was unclear whether Francis would accept any or all of the resignations. Thirty-one of the 33 bishops attended the Vatican meetings, and the two who did not attend added their names to the resignation letter.

“I assume with responsibility, in communion with the rest of the church, this need to support the Holy Father,” Bishop Carlos Pellegrin said after arriving Friday at the Santiago airport.

After visiting Chile in February to investigate the alleged abuses of an unspecified number of victims that included minors and adults, laymen and clerics, Scicluna filed a report that slammed a coverup by church leaders of sex crimes committed by Father Fernando Karadima during his tenure at a parish in Santiago, the capital.

The report blamed, among others, Karadima’s superior Bishop Juan Barros, who attended the Vatican meetings. Karadima, now 87, was condemned by a special canonical court to a lifetime of penance and prayer, but he faced no criminal charges because of the statute of limitations.

In his five years as pontiff, Francis has been praised for his attention to social issues and the poor but accused of failing to punish clergy who abused children. Such criticisms intensified during the pope’s visit to Chile in January, when he labeled the accusations against Barros as “calumny.”

The pope’s words were widely criticized, even by Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, a key Vatican advisor on clergy abuse.

Francis later apologized and asked Scicluna to investigate the matter. The pontiff also had emotionally charged meetings with three men who said they were abused by Karadima. Those meetings prompted him to write a letter to the Chilean bishops last month, saying that he felt “pain and shame” over the men’s accounts and that he wanted to “apologize to all those I have offended.”

One of the men who met with the pope, Juan Carlos Cruz, described their discussions as “raw.” Cruz said he had “never seen someone so contrite. He was truly sorry, and I felt he was hurting.”

The night before the Chilean bishops sent Francis their offer of resignation, he sent them a letter. According to the Vatican news service, it referenced his meetings with the bishops and said, in part: “In light of these painful incidents which concern abuse — of minors, power, and conscience — we exchanged views on their seriousness as well as on their tragic consequences, particularly for the victims. For each of them I have wholeheartedly asked for forgiveness, an action to which all of you have united in one will and with the firm intention of repairing the damage done.”

Scicluna’s 2,300-page report enumerated “a series of absolutely reprehensible acts that have occurred in the Chilean church in relation to those unacceptable abuses of power, of conscience and sexual abuse that have resulted in the lessening of the prophetic vigor,” Auxiliary Bishop Fernando Ramos of Santiago said at the Friday news conference.

Karadima served as spiritual guide to more than 40 priests and four of the current bishops whose future is now at stake — Barros, Horacio Valenzuela, Tomislav Koljatic and Andrés Arteaga. They all have denied covering up abuses. Barros was perhaps closest to Karadima, having been trained by him as a junior priest

“The fame of Father Karadima was extraordinary at that time; he even had a reputation of being a saint,” Emeritus Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz testified at a civil court hearing in 2015, explaining why he didn’t believe the accusations against Karadima in the early 2000s.

Triggering the crisis was Francis’ appointment of Barros in 2015 as head of the Osorno Diocese in Southern Chile. Up to then, Barros had a low profile as Chilean armed forces bishop, but his alleged role in the Karadima coverup was widely known by then and many parishioners protested the appointment.

On Friday in Santiago, another of the whistleblowers who exposed Karadima said Francis needed to get rid of the bishops.

“I hope the pope accepts the resignation of all the bishops, because none of them was willing to side with the victims,” Jose Andres Murillo said at a news conference. “The church must transform itself from a refuge of abusers to a refuge for the victims.”

Poblete is a special correspondent. Special correspondent Chris Kraul in Bogota, Colombia, contributed to this report.

 

 

 

June 30 2019 – “Bishop of Burnley calls for Mandatory Reporting” – BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme – ‘Thinking Anglicans’

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Bishop of Burnley calls for Mandatory Reporting

Bishop of Burnley calls for Mandatory Reporting

Thinking Anglicans

See our earlier article Senior Blackburn clergy reflect on IICSA reports on Chichester Diocese and Peter Ball.

The BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme carried an interview by Donna Birrell with the Bishop of Burnley, Philip North (starts at 32 minutes, 45 seconds).

BBC Radio Cornwall has a longer version of this interview, listen over here.

A transcript of this (longer) interview is copied below the fold.

Transcript of full interview with Bishop of Burnley, Philip North. (Shorter interview broadcast on BBC Radio 4, longer version on BBC Radio Cornwall.)
Jesus puts a child in front of the disciples as a model of discipleship, Jesus cared for children, put them at the centre of His community….and yet ….. as a church we’ve been complicit in appalling acts of abuse and of cover-up of children and I think we need a spirit of repentance now and to change the language and think through the structural changes this might entail.
DB : It’s very interesting you say that because you also make the point that this is about the whole Church and it’s about today…..
I do not doubt that things are infinitely better than they were 10/20 years ago in terms of training of clergy and parishes and safeguarding policies and procedures and good structures and systems in place, BUT to try and think that everything is historical and there are no longer vulnerabilities is just the kind of complacency which allows manipulative people to abuse children. We MUST look very honestly at the Church today a see what further steps we need to take and I think there’s a whole series of structural changes that we still need to consider, which is what we’re pointing to in this letter.
DB : Well you certainly have, in fact, in the letter, and I quote the letter, you say ” Does a de-centralised structure with independent parishes, diocese and cathedrals, create gaps that manipulative people can hide in? So therefore, Bishop Philip, would you be in favour of an independent safeguarding structure and mandatory reporting?
I think in terms of an independent safeguarding structure, that is where we need to have a very serious debate and personally, I would, because separate structures in each diocese don’t allow checks and balances that are needed and it means that safeguarding teams can always be prey to budgeting cuts. There is no evidence of that, but it is going to be a temptation in straightened financial times. It seems to me that an independent national safeguarding team with locally deployed safeguarding officers working in dioceses but answerable to the national team, is going to provide the kind of checks and balances that we need.
I think in some churches there is excellent practice, in others, safeguarding is still a matter of ticking boxes and we need to be very clear that every single local church is absolutely safe for children and families. And I think also we need to look at the way we engage our clergy, so does common tenure allow the level of accountability that is required now?
Is the Clergy Discipline Measure efficient and speedy and fit for purpose? These are big areas that we need to look at.
Evasive talk of culture change just won’t do, because culture is determined by appointments and by structures and by decisions and that is what we’ve got to look at.
DB : Well indeed, in fact the letter refers to “vague and evasive talk of culture change.” So you’re also suggesting that there is an inappropriate culture of deference to clergy, especially senior clergy, which has resulted in “cover-up” and I’m quoting your letter again, and the voices of the vulnerable being silenced?
That’s a significant concern. I think clergy are often unaware of the power they hold, but actually especially senior clergy, occupy extremely influential powerful positions. Abuse is all about the abuse of power and I think we need to be very aware of the power we hold. And I think we need to be much more serious about the checks and balances on power – an unhealthy clericalism, an unhealthy deference to clergy, especially in senior positions, undermines that.
DB : Very interesting. that you as a diocese have chosen to write this letter, it’s been signed and put together by all the senior clergy  within the diocese…and a few weeks back, other Bishops, including the Bishop of Bristol, Vivienne Faull, also came out and was scathing in response to the Independent Inquiry report into the Diocese of Chichester and in her words, she said that that culture of tribalism and clericalism still exists today. So it’s quite something that senior figures such as yourself are beginning now to speak out against the culture within the Church, but do you think you will be listened to?
Yes, I think we are. What I’d love to see is that people are beginning to see survivors not as a nuisance that needs to be managed, but people speaking with a prophetic voice to the Church. And I think they need to listen to the voices of survivors and hear very clearly what they’re saying to us. It’s absolutely essential. It’s one thing I’ve learned in 25 years of priestly ministry, it’s the voices that are most worth hearing are the ones that are the most difficult and the most grating. Those important voices, I think if we can hear those who have been abused multipley, because survivors have been abused by a priest or a church leader initially, but then the slowness of the church response, a culture of cover-up, all these things re-abuse and re-abuse and those are the people that I think we now need to hold in the centre of the Church, just as Jesus held that child at the centre of His community.
DB : Why do you think its taken so long to reach this point then, when senior figures such as yourself will actually speak out about it?
I think we’ve been ashamed of our past, I think we’ve blamed and scapegoated perpetrators, rather than thinking about our own structures and about our own culpability and responsibility. I think this is an issue the Church of England has not wanted to face up to and it’s high time we did.
DB : Right, well Bishop Philip, let’s go back to the culture and the structure of the Church, because survivors do indeed say that the process of bringing a case against the Church for sexual abuse is so damaging that it is almost a type of re-abuse. They talk about the process of going through the insurers, of going through the forensic psychiatric reporting which many survivors, I’ve spoken to, have said it is so damaging that effectively it has caused mental health problems, in some cases, it has also caused them to consider taking their own lives, how can the Church try to look again at the way it deals with survivors and their claims?|
I am embarrassed by some of the stories that I’ve heard from survivors – people being told they have a pre-disposition to mental health problems, people being told that the priest who abused them was not acting in his capacity as a priest at that time. People being told they are simply chasing the money – all of this is re-abusive. And I’m embarrassed to be honest, to be part of a Church which has said those things to people. And I think one thing that IICSA, I hope, will look at clearly is the relationship between the Church and its professional advisers – its lawyers and its insurers- to ensure that what comes first is the pastoral response, so survivors are treated properly as victims, so that their voices are heard and they have much easier access to the compensation that is their due.
DB : But there’s a lot of money involved isn’t there? the whole structure and the whole insurance culture s worth millions and millions of pounds. Do you really think that in reality, the Church will go some way to reforming this system?
Compensation needs to be moderated to the level of what happened to somebody, but if church leaders have been responsible for ruining someone’s life, then there needs to be financial compensation and that needs to be generous and appropriate and if that has financial implications for us as a Church, then that’s something we have to swallow, I’m afraid.
DB : And will you be asking the Church as well and in the light of IICSA indeed, to perhaps look again at the way it responds to survivors, particularly with regard to the insurers?
What I’ve read from some survivors is alarming and I do hope that those in those positions will look seriously at those relationships.
DB : OK and we touched upon a little earlier the Clergy Discipline Measure. You suggest that it needs reforming, what would you like to see done to that?
I think it needs to be sped up hugely and I think we need to be much more aware of voices of survivors who are involved in often very long processes. From the point of view of a Bishop, it’s a very, very difficult process to implement, it’s very slow and it’s particularly difficult where there is ambiguity, where the level of evidence is uncertain, where you’re sure in your heart that things aren’t quite right.
DB : And as you mentioned, the Independent Inquiry is about to hear another two weeks of evidence into the way the Anglican Church handles allegations of child sexual abuse. How hopeful are you that its findings and recommendations will lead to a safer Church?
I’m sure there will be critical engagement with whatever they find, I’m sure there’ll be proper debate, but I think the mood is changing. I think in the Blackburn Diocese, it’s interesting that it was not difficult to get the six senior clergy to sign up to a letter which said some quite far-reaching things and I’m hearing other Bishops and other senior leaders speak similarly, so I think the culture is changing . I think we’ll be very receptive to what IICSA has to say.
DB : How much notice will the powers that be..for example, Church House and Lambeth Palace, how much notice do they take of something like this do you think?
I think they listen very, very seriously and we look to see what happens. It would be good to see perhaps other dioceses writing similarly and responding similarly to keep the debate going, but the response we’ve had so far, has been a positive