Thursday, April 8, 2010

How would the Episcopal Church handle it?

As you probably know, Andrew Sullivan is a conservative pundit who is also a gay Catholic. He's been following the sex abuse scandal with some dismay (read his column, I believe you've killed the Church, Holy Father.)

Over on his blog, he quotes letters from readers (here and here) noting examples of more rapid response from Episcopal Church authorities when cases have come to light.

Institutions move slowly by nature, and I'm sure there are times when TEC has moved more slowly than it should. But in the letters to Andrew Sullivan, the lesson is clear: moving quickly, and (importantly) keeping the people informed, salves and ultimately helps heal the wounds.

The real tragedy for the Roman Catholic Church is not the crime itself. Abusers can occur anywhere. No, the real tragedy is the endless coverup and the stench of corruption it engenders. Ultimately, the ongoing coverup has done far more damage to the Church than any exposure of the original crimes could have. And no amount of Vatican spinning will deflect it.

Update My further discussion of the abuse scandal on my post at Street Prophets


Anonymous said...

Have a read of the blog of this courageous priest. She has witnessed the Episcopal church's response first hand:

Does anyone have the courage to join her and help the victims of abuse get justice? Read the snap forums online where victims of abuse recount their stories to see recent examples of how the Episcopal church is still failing to help these poor people.

Please, please help. Raise these issues with your leaders.

Help change policies so that:
- any accusation of abuse is automatically reported to the police for independent investigation
- the websites of all dioceses have a prominent link to allow victims of abuse to report anonymously to an independent victims rights body - not a damage control/ reduce the lawsuits body - but one that cares for victims rights and supports them to see justice done and a full and proper investigation by an independent body and the authorities.

Let this church be a place where abusers cannot hide. Hold bishops and leaders who prevent these policies being implemented accountable for their failure to protect the victims.

Paul said...

I have had only one first hand experience with an issue like this. My parish priest was accused of inappropriate acts with young men under his pastoral care. The actions of the bishop in charge were immediate and masterfully done. The offender, who was once a major figure in the national church, is no longer a priest. On the other hand, rumor had it that the previous bishop was aware of the situation and did nothing.

I don't know which response is more typical, but it would behoove us to find out. The RC church is in the process of digging its own grave on this issue, and the reasons for their actions completely escape me. The victims deserve better.

Paul M

Anonymous said...

Paul M

That is where the problem lies. Inconsistent policy. Some leaders react properly. Others don't.

Where can a victim go when the leaders who are supposed to act don't? How can policies be changed so victims are heard? The bishop has a relationship with the accused clergy, but does not have a relationship with the victim, so often does not believe the victim, and the victim has to face further accusations in many cases when they report the abuse. Many victims say this process is worse than the abuse itself.

Each case needs to be investigated by a completely impartial party one that knows neither the victim or the accused, otherwise you get the problems the Catholic church is facing. Please help raise this issue, relying on bishops to follow policy simply does not work in some cases due to their relationship with the clergy involved.

Read the history of the Central New York case on the stone of witness blog, the full story is reported in earlier posts together with detailed comments in those posts from the priest who helped gather the victims testimony. She has some very valid points that need to be answered - this process is broken and needs to be fixed. For the sake of the victims and for the sake of the church.

JCF said...

I'm sure, IT, that you, like I, responded personally in the case that broke today: that B16, as J. Ratzinger, personally delayed, by YEARS, the defrocking of a parish priest in the diocese of Oakland, CA (Oakland, where my brother was born. The finally-defrocked abuser now lives in Walnut Creek CA---where *I* was born).

The most GOBSMACKING fact of this case, is that Ratzinger expressed concern for someone of "young age" . . . the young age of the (convicted) molesting priest!!! :-O [And also, concern for "the good of the universal church". Whereas molested children's good? Pish-posh!]

I'm REALLY glad BP left: at what point, do RCs have to consider "If I'm not part of the solution, I'm part of the problem"? :-/

Erika Baker said...

There's also a huge failure of the legal system.
Where else is it possible that victims go to the police but are ignored or that no charges are brought and the accused organisation is allowed to investigate itself?

In Germany that's partly due to laws that stipulate that abuse has to be declared and investigated within 7 years of it occurring - and we're now realising that this hardly ever happenes and that victims need decades to find the courage to come forward. It was particularly laughable in the case of systematic abuse in a home for deaf and dumb children who could barely communicate with the outside world. I have read of one case where even the boys parents didn't know sign language and only the school teachers could communicate with him. How on earth were these children to inform the authorities within the statutory timeframe?

I think we all have a role to play in encouraging our political representatives to change the laws according to more modern awareness.

JCF said...

Well, in the US anyway, it's because of cases like this, that the laws (re "statute of limitations": time limits) HAVE been changed.

For example: what finally got this sick f@ck (ex-priest Kiesle) packed off to prison, was a conviction in 2004 . . . for abuse he committed in 1995. So you can see, at 9 years, this was longer than our (previous) 7 year time-limit, too. [I don't know what the new limit there is---if any. Murder has never had a time-limit]

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

The endless cover ups, indeed!

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

The front page of this weeks Der Spiegel tells it all:

David |Dah • veed| said...

JCF, I think that some of your states changed the Statute of Limitations for the clock to start ticking at the time of the victim's recall of the abuse. Which, as has been said, may be many years after the abuse of the victim as a child.

There is a sicko Anon commenting over at . IT it would be good if you could drop by and respond to some of his so-called statistical analysis, as well as others posting here responding to his trash "research" and "science". He claims to have a PhD in Sociology from a prestigious US university, as well as the parent of a victim. The writing-style involved makes me doubt both claims.

IT said...

The US Supreme Court overturned the extension of statute of limitations in CA.

As for AT, Dahveed, the statistics are clear that men who abuse children of either sex mostly identify as hetero. It's about power, not about healthy sexuality. I suspect he may have studied for a degree in sociology but I would be surprised if he got it.

David |Dah • veed| said...

I do not know if indeed this is AT, or someone very similar. He is currently quoting "research" that shows the priests who abused were predominately gay and reporting that guys who are only 1-2% of the total population are committing 30+% of the abuse in the RCC, so the church is on the right track to get rid of all the gay men now and for the future. Also that the majority of the victims are teens, so this is not the work of pedophiles, but gay men preying on adolescents.

JCF said...

He is currently quoting "research" that shows the priests who abused were predominately gay

Oh, you KNOW that he's just apriori DEFINING abusers as "gay", based on the gender of the underage victim they abused: SUCH BS!

A man molesting 15 year-old boy doesn't make him "gay."

The same way a man molesting a . . . 30 year-old intellectually-disabled male doesn't make him "gay", either.

ABUSE is perpetrated by ABUSERS. Period!

IT said...

Read Ann's excellent piece on the response of TEC to sexual abuse here

Also the Lead quotes RC bishops in the UK as stating that they "get" that pedophilia IS NOT LINKED to homosexuality.