Catholic coverup in another country. The Los Angeles Times reported:
Tens of thousands of Dutch children were sexually abused by priests and other Roman Catholic religious figures in the last 65 years, but church officials failed to take adequate action or report problems to police, an independent commission said Friday.
Many of the victims spent part of their childhood in Catholic institutions such as schools and orphanages, where the risk of abuse was twice as high as in the general population, the commission said. But complaints were often ignored or covered up by authorities who were more intent on protecting the church’s reputation than providing care for abuse victims.
Efforts are being made to give the victims legal recourse, says The Irish Times:
THE POSSIBILITY of changing the law to allow prosecutions against Catholic clergy believed to have been involved in child abuse is being examined by the Dutch cabinet. This is despite the fact that the statute of limitations on their alleged crimes has run out, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said last night.
The 1,100-page report of the Deetman Commission revealed last Friday that more than 800 Catholic priests and monks – 105 of whom are still alive – had systematically abused as many as 20,000 children, many of them sexually, in church-run institutions, between 1945 and 1985.
Holy Cross religion professor Mathew N. Schmalz sees the scandal as a requiem for Dutch Catholicism
But for some Catholics of my generation, the press conference was a coda, a requiem of sorts. Back in the ’70s, Dutch Catholicism represented an open and engaged Catholicism. It embodied a vision of what Catholicism could become in the wake of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.
More apologies, too late and without credibility.
They aren’t moving with superluminal speed, but there is no “church reputation first” here:
LONDON — Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has set up an inquiry in Chichester diocese in southern England, reportedly after allegations that paedophile priests were allowed to continue working despite being accused of sexual abuse.
The archbishop’s decision to investigate the diocese will throw the spotlight on abuse by clergy in the Church of England, raising an issue which has already rocked the Catholic Church in a number of countries.
A spokeswoman for Lambeth Palace refused to say whether the concerns related to current or historic child protection issues.
In May, a review found serious failings in the senior clergy after two priests were allowed to continue working despite being accused of serious child abuse offences.
An earlier investigation found a history of problems, BBC reported:
Lambeth Palace said it would ensure recommendations of the report by Baroness Butler-Sloss were implemented.
She was appointed by the Church of England to examine how senior clergy dealt with historical claims of abuse.
Her report last May found there had been “a lack of understanding of the seriousness of historic child abuse”.
The report looked into the cases of Roy Cotton and Colin Pritchard, who abused children in the 1970s and 1980s.
Pritchard served as the vicar of St Barnabas, Bexhill, until 2007, when he was arrested over sex abuse claims. In 2008 he pleaded guilty to sexually abusing two boys and was jailed for five years.
Cotton was ordained in 1966, despite having a conviction for indecently assaulting a choirboy in the 1950s, and went on to abuse at least 10 boys from Eastbourne.
Baroness Butler-Sloss’s report found senior clergy, including bishops, were slow to act on information available to them and to assess the potential risk to children in the diocese.
There were some mumbling excuses in response to a BBC invesgitation.
Failing to report child abuse is a crime for which there is no justifiable church exemption. And as Christa Brown brought to our attention, the consequences of failure to report fell on the heads of a New Hampshire Southern Baptist pastor and two elders last week.
In New Hampshire, [at Valley Christian Church] Southern Baptist pastor Timothy Dillmuth and two church elders, Richard Eland and Robert Gagnon, were found guilty of failing to report child sex abuse. … According to the judge’s written ruling, pastor Dillmuth “had met with the parents of a child who had been molested by a member of the church, which he later confirmed after talking to the child.
“The information was shared with other members of the board of elders in September 2009,” and was discussed at some meetings of the church board.
A month later, when another member of the church urged the child’s parents to report the matter to authorities, pastor Dillmuth talked to the concerned church member and told him to “keep his mouth shut.”
They sought a religious exception to the law, the Union leader reported:
The three men, [District Court of Northern Carroll County Judge Pamela Albee] wrote, sought to have immunity from criminal liability in failing to report the case of suspected child abuse, “arguing that they acted in good faith in persuading the parents and the perpetrator to make report of abuse.” The men were arrested in early February by Conway police and charged that they had reason to suspect a girl had been sexually abused but did not report it as required by state law.
Suppression of the sort they sought punishes the victim, is shameful and deserves legal action.
The passion of religious faith transmuted into meanness, explains Christa Brown:
I never imagined a world of so much meanness until I stepped onto the terrain of Baptistland with pleas for clergy accountability and for care of abuse survivors.
Worst of all . . . it’s a malignant meanness that masks itself as religion.
The comments deserve a read too.
Refuse to testify and fail to warn your church’s members about a sexual predator in their midst.
That was newly elected Southern Baptist North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell’s reaction when in 2004 as pastor of Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, he learned that a volunteer at his church who had also taught at a school operated by his church [see addendum] was accused of sex crimes. And Ezell was himself subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury.
Christa Brown at Stop Baptist Predators writes:
When prosecutors subpoenaed pastor Ezell to testify before the grand jury, Ezell invoked the clergy-penitent privilege. In other words, Ezell claimed that he couldn’t be required to testify under oath (i.e., under penalty of perjury) because he claimed that, as pastor, he was entitled to keep secret whatever Bill Maggard had told him.
Furthermore, as reported in the Courier-Journal, “Ezell said he did not expect the church would announce Maggard’s arrest to the congregation.”
In many states, Ezell would not have had recourse to clergy-penitent privilege and could have had difficulties himself if found to have failed to report “known or suspected instances of child abuse or neglect.” The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Child Welfare Information Gateway explains:
In approximately 18 States and Puerto Rico, any person who suspects child abuse or neglect is required to report.3 This inclusive language appears to include clergy but may be interpreted otherwise.
As a doctrine of some faiths, clergy must maintain the confidentiality of pastoral communications. Mandatory reporting statutes in some States specify the circumstances under which a communication is “privileged” or allowed to remain confidential. Privileged communications may be exempt from the requirement to report suspected abuse or neglect. The privilege of maintaining this confidentiality under State law must be provided by statute. Most States do provide the privilege, typically in rules of evidence or civil procedure.4 If the issue of privilege is not addressed in the reporting laws, it does not mean that privilege is not granted; it may be granted in other parts of State statutes.
This privilege, however, is not absolute. While clergy-penitent privilege is frequently recognized within the reporting laws, it is typically interpreted narrowly in the context of child abuse or neglect. The circumstances under which it is allowed vary from State to State, and in some States it is denied altogether. For example, among the States that list clergy as mandated reporters, New Hampshire and West Virginia deny the clergy-penitent privilege in cases of child abuse or neglect. Four of the States that enumerate “any person” as a mandated reporter (North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Texas) also deny clergy-penitent privilege in child abuse cases.
States which require reporting without regard to clergy-penitent privilege simply place the welfare of vulnerable children first.
Ezell could have put the children first and, judging from available accounts, simply did not do that.
On March 19, 2004, the Associated Press reported:
Maggard, 56, was indicted in December on two counts of first-degree sexual abuse. He is accused of molesting seven boys between 1973 and 1975, when he was a fifth-grade teacher at Schaffner Elementary School.
The new indictment says Maggard molested the boys either at school or at his home.
Maggard was initially indicted Dec. 17. He pleaded not guilty at his Dec. 22 arraignment and later posted a $5,000 bond.
Maggard taught 13 years in Jefferson County Public Schools and later worked at a school operated by Highview Baptist Church, where he also volunteered in Sunday school and choir programs until recently.
The 6,000-member church is one of the state’s largest Southern Baptist congregations.
On August 3, 2004, WLKY.com reported:
A former teacher pleaded guilty to sexually abusing seven boys in the 1970s and early 1980s.
The deal calls for Bill Maggard Jr., 57, to spend up to 10 years in prison, WLKY NewsChannel 32 reported Tuesday.
. . .
Maggard taught for 13 years in Jefferson County Public Schools, and later worked at a school operated by Highview Baptist Church.
The church has said it has no claims of abuse
At sentencing time, Maggard made the kind of plea for clemency that is eerily predictable for church-going predators. On October 01, 2004, Jason Riley of the Louisville Courier-Journal wrote:
“I’m sorry for my actions many years ago,” he said during his sentencing hearing in Jefferson Circuit Court, adding that he sought treatment in the early 1980s and would be willing to do so again. “I faced my sin, sought forgiveness, sought help and God kept His promise.”
What of his victims? The burden of warning them appears to have fallen to the press and an alert member of Ezell’s congregation. As Christa explains:
And thank God for a member of Ezell’s congregation who saw what was happening in her church and worried about the safety of the kids. As reported in the Courier-Journal, a member of Highview knew about prior allegations of abuse by Maggard, and she was concerned about his being in contact with children in the church. So, she contacted the victims and encouraged them to go to police.
Did Maggard seek out his victims and provide treatment to them?
Were those seeking clemency for Maggard at least similarly concerned about finding and helping all of his victims? You know: The suffering children.
Accused of molesting two girls in the United States, Father Joseph Jeyapaul , has for the last five years worked for Catholic schools in India:
Bishop Victor Balke of Minnesota first reported the allegations to the Vatican and the priest’s Indian bishop in 2005, according to a letter released by a lawyer representing the victim in a civil lawsuit.
Attorney Jeffrey Anderson “presented documents from the Crookston, Minnesota, diocese and from local police that accuse Father Joseph Jeyapaul of molesting two teenage girls starting six years ago:”
A girl who was considering becoming a nun was threatened by Jeyapaul if she did not accept his advances, according to the documents. They say he arranged to be with his victims alone — usually at his rectory.
Anderson says the bishop and the Vatican kept the problem a secret, permitting the priest to flee to India, to protect the reputation of the church.
Remind you of anything?
The correct and authoritative recommendation was made in an Aug. 27, 1963 letter to then-Pope Paul VI from the head of the New Mexico-based Servants of the Holy Paraclete, which was founded to treat priests dealing with challenges such as alcoholism, substance abuse and sexuality. The Rev. Gerald M.C. Fitzgerald recommended to the pope that pedophile priests be removed from the ministry.
Indeed, he later developed a plan for isolating such priests on an island, where they could live out their lives in some dignity without harming others.
Anthony DeMarco, a plaintiff attorney in Los Angeles, released the letter Wednesday. It was obtained by plaintiffs in Kentucky who are attempting to sue the Vatican for negligence in allegedly failing to alert police or the public about priests who molested children.
Even if Tod Tamberg, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, is correct in arguing that the pope probably never saw the letter, it is clear that the letter gives written form to ideas that Pope Paul VI and Fitzgerald had discussed when they met. At the time Fitzgerald had two decades’ experience working with problem priests and warned against leaving sexually abusive priests in the ministry.
The letter to Pope Paul VI was not the only one Fitzgerald wrote to church officials. In 1957, Fitzgerald wrote to Archbishop Edwin V. Byrne of Santa Fe, his ecclesiastical sponsor and co-founder of the Paracletes:
“May I beg your Excellency to concur and approve of what I consider a very vital decision on our part – that we will not offer hospitality to men who have seduced or attempted to seduce little boys or girls. These men Your Excellency are devils and the wrath of God is upon them and if I were a bishops I would tremble when I failed to report them to Rome for involuntary laicization. … It is for this class of rattlesnake I have always wished the island retreat – but even an island is too good for these vipers of whom the Gentle master said – it were better they had not been born – this is an indirect way of saying damned, is it not? When I see the Holy Father I am going to speak of this class to his Holiness.”
DeMarco said, “It [the letter to Pope Paul VI] shows without a shadow of a doubt that … how pervasive the problem was was communicated to the pope. He was able to share with him their knowledge of how pervasive this problems was, how destructive this problem was.”
Whether plaintiffs in this case are successful in their effort to bring action directly against the Pope or not, the days of persuasive basic denial are over.
The letter tells us that the well-documented recommendations of the Roman Catholic Church’s expert on such matters were communicated directly to then-Pope Paul VI almost five decades ago
Had those recommendations been heeded, so much of the devastation brought to the lives of the young by serial clerical abusers would never have occurred at all. Victims known and unknown, counted and uncounted, would have had real childhoods and would have grown up whole.
The Rev. Kenneth Lasch, JCD is a retired Catholic Priest, trained in canonical law. Ruminating on what happened to Jeremiah when “spoke to the religious and political leaders of his age without equivocation,” Lasch wrote on March 26:
It’s curious to me that our Church hierarchy that has taken such a prophetic stand for life is so reluctant to listen to the prophets that have been addressing another life issue – the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults by priests and even bishops. I am referring not only to sexual abuse but to physical and psychological abuse. As clear and explicit as the Holy Father has been on the rights of the unborn, why does he allow himself to be protected behind a wall of silence or prevarication and equivocation by those who surround him. Knowing what I know about how the Vatican system works, there is an inconsistency between the moral edicts of every kind it issues and its inability to hold itself accountable to the same moral standards and principles as they pertain to the inner workings of the Church. It is very disheartening indeed. The Pope’s credibility has not been enhanced and it will continue to decline until the full truth is exposed.
. . .
The Pope’s apology during his visit to the United States rang hallow and his latest apology is no better.
Jeremiah was still among Lasch’s concerns on March 27 when he wrote:
There is an ancient axiom that predates the reformation and is as poignant now as it was when it was first spoken: “Ecclesia semper reformanda est!” – The church is always in need of reform – from the top to the bottom. And if it doesn’t change from the top down, it will change from the bottom up. In the words of my dear mom, “Mark my words!”
In his complex Palm Sunday message about denial, Lasch wrote:
Even the Church can slip into denial about it’s own need for reform from the top to the bottom. Years ago when the news of the sexual scandal broke in this county, blame was assigned to messengers rather than face the truth of mismanagement and cover-ups.
Is it not cautionary that failures of church self-criticism seem to please Richard Dawkins? While simultaneously recognized by decidedly Christian Rod Dreher as “discrediting the authority of the church”?
[H/T: Andrew Sullivan]