How to tackle the clerical abuse scandal.


[pdf-embedder url=”” title=”WAC MTG Marie Collins 14 January 2019″]


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  1. Frances Burke says:

    The Bishops in America have received a good dressing down from the Pope. He writes

    ‘The Church’s credibility has been seriously undercut and diminished by these sins and crimes, but even more by the efforts made to deny or conceal them,”.

    This is a full acknowledgement by the Pope of the crimes and cover ups that the hierarchy were involved in.

  2. Sean O’Conaill says:

    The pope’s call for metanoia – change of mindset – is equally apposite for the Irish conference of bishops. It is a huge mistake to confine the question of accountability to child safeguarding. Contemporary culture is hugely dangerous for all of us – yet still there is no implementation of the Vatican II call for equality of dignity and open dialogue here. Archbishop Scicluna’s call to all bishops to become accountable to their own people is the only way forward – but who on the Irish bench of bishops is saying so?

    As ever it is the Seamus Heaney protocol that reigns – the language known as Wyssn – whatever you say say nawthin.

  3. Frances Burke says:

    This priest is ‘taking the road less traveled’.

    “Keenly aware of the general absence of support from his fellow priests, Father Vignon does not spare his colleagues. “The truth is that many have got stuck and remained where they are,” he writes.

    Bishops also cop a lashing in several passages of the book. “Bishops are past masters at the art of creating confusion,” he laments.”

  4. Rory Connor says:

    Phil – This is from John L Allen’s article in Crux that you link to:
    While that comes off as a “no-brainer” for Americans and Western Europeans, places where in broad strokes one can trust the integrity of the police, it strikes prelates in places such as China, or India, or the Middle East – places where the police are often under the control of forces actively hostile to the Church – as handing your enemies another tool with which to destroy you, not to mention feeding a potentially innocent cleric to the wolves.

    Expectations SHOULD indeed be managed and not only in places like China or the Middle East.

    Do you recall the Irish politician who brought down a government in 1994 by suggesting that a Catholic Attorney General was in league with the Primate of All Ireland to protect a paedophile priest?

    Do you recall another who demanded – and got – a year long Garda inquiry into claims the Catholic Church was involved in the murder of a young girl in 1970 (nearly 40 years before)?

    Do you recall other prominent politicians who used Dail Privilege to repeat allegations against a former nun for which she received an apology and damages from the Sunday World?

    The Catholic Church is in a similar situation to Jews who live in a society where anti-Semitism is strong, where politicians will eagerly embrace ANY allegations of crimes and have no interest in identifying the false ones!

    We should indeed “manage expectations”!

  5. Joe O'Leary says:

    I hope you’ve all read Peter Steinfels’ analysis of the Philadelphia Report in Commonweal (it’s a bit like Padraig McCarthy’s “Untold Story” on the Murphy Report).

    Despite Steinfels’ meticulous refutations, it’s the incendiary 12 pages preface to the Report, on which journalists relied, that will be remembered forever (like the babies thrown into septic tanks). In the midst of a witch hunt, priests and nuns are going like lambs to the slaughter, unable to defend themselves.

  6. Rory Connor says:

    1. FR Joe. I have read Peter Steinfel’s long article in Commonweal and need to reread it together with related articles in America magazine and elsewhere. However before this thread goes off the front page of the ACP website I have an initial reaction.
    Peter Steinfel summarises the Report’s conclusions by quoting from its Introduction

    “Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all.”
    He seems to largely support the first half of that claim while strongly questioning the second as “grossly misleading, irresponsible, inaccurate, and unjust.”

    HOWEVER some of the examples he gives seem to undermine the “priests were raping” conclusion AS WELL. For example:

    That huge timespan results in some memorable cases. Martin J. Fleming, for example, was born in 1869, the year Ulysses S. Grant became president. He was ordained in 1898, a few months after Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders captured San Juan Hill. He died in 1950, when Harry Truman was president. Fifty-six years later, in 2006, the Diocese of Venice, Florida, notified the Scranton, Pennsylvania, diocese that a woman reported having been abused by Father Fleming in 1940 when she was six. She was now in heart failure and wanted to “put all of her ducks in a row.” Whatever occurred—the report is untypically reticent—had haunted her for more than six decades, caused emotional distress, and led her to seek counseling. The bishop of Scranton and staff members promptly met with her, called the abuse an abomination, voiced sorrow over her wounded childhood, and encouraged therapy….

    Of course this undermines the reports conclusion that “the men of God did nothing” but what about the credibility of the allegation against the late Father Martin Fleming? Does Mr Steinfel REALLY approve of the way the Bishop of Scranton casually thrashed the priest’s reputation?
    I suspect that Steinfel’s references to Ulysses S. Grant and to Teddy Roosevelt are coded criticisms of the entire process. But it seems to be impossible to openly discuss the issue of the credibility of alleged “victims”. I have written before about how the Sisters of Mercy apologised to the accusers of Nora Wall and then failed to withdraw their apology (still less criticise the false accusers) when the case against her collapsed. [See my 2 Comments on “Funerals of Priests who are Out of Ministry” ]

  7. Phil Greene says:


    I have no problem with managing expectations in general. But I do have difficulties managing expectations in silos.
    We must also look at the totally innocent child that is also fed to the wolves and who is so innocent that he/she believes that the fault is of his/her own making.. it appears from your comments that you think the priest is more important than the child.. surely not?
    By now we have all read Marie Collins recent post, she states in her message ” The Catholic Church is global and can be a force for good, raising the level of safety for all children by their example but they need to make a firm decision to bring this about.” We have seen more recently that the pope wishes to pursue policies that are clear to all ,globally.
    So, let’s move out of our own particular silo and see that overall clear, transparent, codes of conduct and unambiguous consequences for breach of these codes along with the necessary prevention methods to help prevent child abuse in the first place will in fact benefit both the innocent priest and the totally innocent child/vulnerable adult.
    Onwards and upwards – together; moving to a time when the only story the media can tell about the CC is the same one we talk about in Mass and other such gatherings of all the faithful. Moving to a time when the Church can stop wasting so much of peoples time and talents on irrelevant distractions such as sex and gender exclusions.. lets talk – adults to adults – its time..

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