Tag: Pope Francis

Resignations Just Don’t Cut It Anymore

Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”

Sadly, the popes of the Catholic church seem incapable of learning this lesson.

Last month, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of French Cardinal Phillipe Barbarin who was convicted in early March of refusing to report child sex crimes by a serial predator priest (Fr. Bernard Preynat) to legal authorities.

https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2020-03/pope-francis-accepts-resignation-cardinal-barbarin-france.html

And way back in 1997, Australian Bishop Robert Mulkearns submitted his resignation to Pope John Paul after being investigated by police for covering up the crimes of Fr. Gerald Ridsdale, who raped and sexually abused more than 50 kids.

In between, bishops in Austria, Canada, Wales, Argentina, Mexico, Northern Ireland, Brazil, and Paraguay did likewise.

Seven bishops resigned in Ireland.

Just a year ago, EVERY ONE of Chile’s 31 bishops did the same.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/18/americas/chile-bishops-resign-abuse-scandal-intl/index.html

Finally, in just one COUNTRY, (the US), in just one SEASON – the spring of 2015 – Pope Francis accepted the resignations of three bishops: one from Missouri (Bishop Robert Finn of the Kansas City-St. Joseph) and two from Minnesota (Archbishop John Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piché, both of the St. Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese.

STILL, clergy sex crimes and cover ups continue. Evidently, letting bad bishops resign is not doing the trick.

Why? In part, because of the wise observations by the brilliant staff at BishopAccountability.org who write:

“In all cases, the disgraced prelate retained the title of bishop and remained active in the church. To date, no pope has confirmed that he removed a culpable bishop because of his handling of offending clergy.”

http://www.bishop-accountability.org/bishops/removed/

(Perhaps the most famous case of coddling a corrupt Catholic prelate: Boston’s disgraced Cardinal Bernard Law, who later headed one of four prominent ‘papal basilicas’ in Rome and participated in the 2005 papal conclave).

http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2011/11_12/2011_11_05_Livesay_ClericsLive.htm

Since resignations aren’t deterring wrongdoing, what might popes do instead with members of the church hierarchy won’t behave?

How about firing them?

Or demoting them?

Or demanding they work a year in a soup kitchen, if they want to keep their salaries and benefits?

Or, for starters, how about just publicly saying “Bishop John Smith is being disciplined BECAUSE he knew of or suspected child sex crimes and hid them instead of reporting them?

(Compare this straightforward approach with the incredibly vague statements popes have repeatedly isued when they accept bishops’ resignations: “It was announced today that the Holy Father has accepted the resignation tendered by the Most Reverend XX, in accordance with Canon 401 § 2 of the Code of Canon Law.”)

Or, how about yanking many if not most of the perks of their positions?

But again, no matter how it’s done or phrased, letting bad bishops resign isn’t preventing bad behavior. Expecting resignations to do so ignores Einstein’s wisdom.

Popes, starting with Francis, must find the backbone to forcibly and publicly oust them.

 

Tidbits of Encouraging News

In this era of political, environmental and public health difficulties, we can all use some positive news!

–On Tuesday night, progressive challenger Marie Newman won her primary against longtime Illinois incumbent Representative Dan Lipinski. Marie is the founder of an anti-bullying nonprofit and signed on to lead a coalition of 70 anti-bullying groups working nationwide.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/marie-newman-dan-lipinski-illinois-third-district-democrats-primary-2018-a8088421.html

https://theslot.jezebel.com/hell-yeah-marie-newman-1842393738

–Prosecutors in Pittsburgh are appealing a judge’s decision to vacate the conviction of Fr. Hugh Lang, who is accused of having assaulted a boy in 2001.

Judge Anthony Mariani had ruled earlier that the priest had been denied a fair trial because the previous judge had let prosecutors submit evidence that Fr. Lang had searched the internet for ‘defense attorney’ before the 2018 release of a Pennsylvania grand jury report on allegations of clerical sex abuse.

Just to be clear, Judge Mariani had sentenced Fr. Lang to 9-24 months in jail, but is delaying implementation. Now, there’ll be a second trial.

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/prosecutors-appeal-dismissal-of-pittsburgh-priests-conviction-for-sex-abuse-39109

In a situation like this, neither a re-filing or re-trial are guaranteed. Sometimes, a DA or his/her staff decide the case is too complex, the victim is too fragile, the law is not sufficiently clear or their resources are too limited. So they don’t continue seeking justice.

We at Horowitz Law applaud the Allegheny County prosecutors’ office and wish them well in this effort.

–A former Nittany Lions football player is suing Penn State charging that he was a victim of hazing and harassment in 2018, some of it sexually suggestive, by his teammates.

Why is this good news? Because many assume that once a scandal-ridden institution settles some abuse cases and promises some reforms, everything magically gets better.

We believe this new lawsuit will help shatter that dangerous illusion, and will remind the public that once an irresponsible culture is allowed to fester in a school or church or program, reversing that takes a long time and a concerted effort.

We wish the alleged victim, Isaiah Humphries from Sachese, Texas, well in his case.

https://www.inquirer.com/college-sports/penn-state/penn-state-james-franklin-lawsuit-motion-dismiss-hazing-harassment-allegations-20200317.html

–A new survey shows Pope Francis’ approval rating has slipped again, to 52.2%, down from 56.6% in November 2019. (It was 64.4% in 2018.)

The poll found that Francis received his least favorable results when it comes to addressing the clergy sex abuse scandals, according to Crux.

https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2020/03/new-poll-shows-catholics-have-more-favorable-opinion-of-church-than-last-year/

Why is that good news? Because it shows that the image of a once-almost-universally-beloved figure will suffer if he refuses to effectively tackle a child sexual abuse and cover up crisis. (We hope leaders of other institutions are paying attention and realize that the old, passive patterns of doing a poor job of protecting kids now carry real penalties.)

(Even among U.S. Catholics, his job approval is 74.6%, down from 78.1% in November 2019.

–Finally, even a bevy of smart, aggressive and expensive lawyers can’t keep Harvey Weinstein out of jail (he’s just been moved from Rikers’ to Fishkill) and yet another civil lawsuit against him was filed today. Both developments help keep others safe and bring relief to his victims.

https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/harvey-weinstein-sued-sexual-assault-battery

New Poll Reveals American Catholics Displeased with Handling of the Sex Abuse Scandal

New Poll Reveals Catholics Displeased with Bishops’ Handling of Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal

EWTN News and RealClear Opinion Research partnered to conduct an in depth survey on Catholic voters’ attitudes prior to the 2020 election. When it came to the clergy sexual abuse scandal, the survey reveals that American Catholics are overwhelmingly displeased with the handling of the scandal by their local Bishops. Only 30% of Catholics approve of the Bishops’ handling of the scandal, compared to 55% who disapprove. Their view of the Pope’s handling of clergy sexual abuse was only slightly  better than their ranking of their own local Bishops. 44% of Catholics approve of the Pope’s handling of the crisis, while 41% say they disapprove.  This data reflects the vast amount of American Catholics who are angered by the sexual abuse crisis and the inability of Church leadership to address the problem and the spiritual needs of their parishioners. 

As the American Catholic landscape has evolved there has been a sweeping desire for modern reformation in the Church beyond just controlling the rampant sex abuse crisis. According to the poll, the majority of Catholic voters are in favor of allowing priests to marry (64% of all Catholic voters) and for women to be ordained as deacons (69% of all Catholic voters). 

“This data poll confirms the differences in ethnicity, age, and ideology within the Catholic community that make it such a pastoral challenge for bishops and such an electoral opportunity for politicians,” said John Carr, director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University.

The role of pastors in the church is to support the spiritual needs of their parishioners. Education and often counseling and guidance in times of need are responsibilities with which they are entrusted. A trusted clergyman who sexually violates young children has no place working in the Church. Any ministry in which such a crime is committed must take responsibility for failing to properly screen potential priests and protect their parishioners. 

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the United States. If you or a loved one was sexually abused, raped or sexually molested by a priest or other clergy, contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com for a free consultation.