A new Catholic “whistle-blower” group

From Newsmax:

Catholic Priests and Nuns Unite to Fight Church’s Abuse Problem

A group of priests and nuns calling themselves Catholic Whistleblowers are pressing Pope Francis and the American bishops to take on those in the church who are still protecting sexual predators. [They are “pressing” Pope Francis?  I’d like to know just how they are doing that!]

The group formed quietly about nine months ago and plans to go public with their campaign this week. Of the 12 members in the steering group, some have exposed abusers before, three are canon lawyers who have represented the church in abuse cases in the past, and four say they were sexually abused as children, The New York Times reports.

The whistleblowers say they aim to provide support for victims and others who would come forward as well to expose areas where the church is falling short in dealing with the abuse problem. They also want the world to know that there are good priests and nuns in the church who are fighting against the sex-abuse scandal that has plagued the Catholic Church in recent years.

[…]

They may be wasting their valuable time scrutinizing the American bishops.  They have pretty successfully cleaned up their act. I suspect that the bishops in these USA are as jittery as cats in a rocking chair factory when it comes to this issue.

Perhaps this new committee, or whatever it is, should turn their attention to American nuns.

SNAP has – unsuccessfully – been urging the LCWR to cooperate in dealing with the abuse of children by sisters.  HERE and HERE and HERE

Do they get a pass?

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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19 Responses to A new Catholic “whistle-blower” group

  1. xgenerationcatholic says:

    I wanted to believe that the bishops had cleaned up their act, Father Z, but then this happened. http://wauwatosa.patch.com/articles/archbishop-jerome-listecki-suggests-church-erred-in-wauwatosa-priest-case. This was where I’d taught CCD, obediently teaching those horrid touching classes once a year. How can I trust again?

  2. Scott W. says:

    I’ll reserve judgement until I see the fine print. If their mission is to root out sex abuse in the Church per se, then I say go for it. If it is a shallow front for “changes in the hierarchical structure of the Church” (i.e. code for women priests, married priests, lay administration, doctrinal changes on sexual morality) then they can go pound sand.

  3. charismatictrad says:

    I go back and forth with things like this. Yes, sex abuse in the Church is bad, but I can’t help but wonder what the REAL motives are when ONLY the Catholic Church is targeted. I’ve heard that there are more sex abuse cases in Protestant churches than in the Catholic Church. I think we’re all aware there’s more sex abuse scandal in the public school systems (who, to the best of my knowledge, have no VIRTUS or Safe and Sacred training procedures).

    I just wish the Church wasn’t so targeted, it makes it seem like we’re the source of all sex abuse in the world, which is actually hurting the Church more than it is helping it.

  4. Tradster says:

    I believe the LCWR is the only issue on which I would ever be able to side with SNAP.

  5. Dave N. says:

    I for one am pretty tired of the “Hey, everyone else is doing it too” apologetic which bears no resemblance to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. For example sex abuse in the public schools is exposed, the people involved are FIRED and most often don’t teach anymore. If nothing else, the parents make sure of it. In the Catholic Church, too many priest sex abusers beyond the statute of limitations have been “punished” by being “sentenced” to a life of prayer and penance, which equates to staying on the diocesean payroll, and being housed, fed and clothed, often with little to no supervision by the bishop. No one says boo.

    While there are still bishop sex-abuse enablers in office, the situation is by no means cleaned up; the bishops have remained largely untouched (no pun intended) in this whole affair. When Pope Benedict XVI visited New York, the people of the United States were promised a thorough investigation.

    Nothing.

    More whistles. More blowing.

  6. PostCatholic says:

    No doubt the act is cleaner, but there are plenty more places that still nauseate me. Go check out bishopaccountability.org if you think this is all over.

  7. govmatt says:

    The article is concerning…
    “[T]he whistle-blowers’ group contends that vigilance is necessary…” At what point does “vigilance” become vigilante? “The group began organizing quietly … without the knowledge of their superiors” and “[f]our say they were sexually abused as children.”

    There is no doubt the American Church has work to do in rooting out the remaining vestiges of a very dark period, but is a rogue group of “j’accuse” clergy going to help or hinder? It’s not out of the realm of possibility to see Fr. Whistleblower reading off names of men he heard second-hand in an attempt to get “accountability outside the structure of the Church.”

    As Fr. Z has pointed out, a 20 year old spontaneous-remembering false accusation is sometimes enough to destroy a priest. How much darker would an accusation from a brother priest be?

    While it would help our Excellent Bishops to harness the clear skills and desires of this group, one should have grave concerns over how quickly the zeal to do good can do so much ill.

  8. Scott W. says:

    I for one am pretty tired of the “Hey, everyone else is doing it too” apologetic which bears no resemblance to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.

    I wouldn’t like it either if that is really the objection, but it usually isn’t. If someone said, “Abusive priests need to be removed from ministry and turned over to the police.” and someone replied, “But what about [insert secular institution]?” Then I agree with you completely that it is a whitewashing and passing the buck. However, nine times out of ten these criticisms are couched in terms that suggest or directly state that child abuse by superiors and cover-up is uniquely Catholic and that some particular Catholic doctrine or practice is causing the abuse or the cover up. Well, when someone does that, it is fair game to look outside the Church to see if that’s the case. And lo and behold, there is no evidence to support the theory of Catholic Evil Exceptionalism. The critic of the Church may be offering a thousand-dollars worth of truth, but the second they try to sneak in a penny’s worth of lies, we need to call it out, PR be damned.

  9. wmeyer says:

    I’ve heard that there are more sex abuse cases in Protestant churches than in the Catholic Church.

    Yes, and what of the schools, both public and private? As I recall, the John James study found that the percentage of offenders was pretty consistent throughout society.

  10. e.davison49 says:

    Ask yourselves what the point is.

    Sure, there are still problems with some bishops who aren’t doing as well as they ought to.

    The bishops have made undeniable progress. Have the sisters?

    The bishops shouldn’t “get a pass”. Why should the sisters?

  11. Lynne says:

    The problem in Archbisop Meyer’s diocese leaps to mind too. I think the Lavender Mafia is still alive and well, unfortunately.

  12. maryh says:

    @xgenerationcatholic

    I followed the links you gave me on the Milwaukee diocese case. Actually, to me it points up the failings of the bishops he worked under before, especially former Milwaukee bishop Rembert Weakland.

    Bishop Listecki took over as Archbishop in Milwaukee in 2009.

    In 2011, the Archdiocese was notified of an incident in which Marsicek’s “closeness” with children was discussed. Marsicek was counseled about his behavior with children and there were no other consequences.

    In 2013, this year:
    A teacher noted questionable behavior and reported it to her principal, Hernandez.
    Hernandez reported it to Weyer, director of adminstrative services of Wauwatosa Catholic.
    Weyer told Hernandez about the 2011 incident.
    Weyer and Hernandez decided this warranted a police investigation.
    The investigation uncovered allegations from the time period under Archbishop Rembert Weakland (in 2005) and from Orangeville, CA in the 1970’s (which just came to light in Sacramento within the past months).

    If Bishop Listecki had been aware of the problems with Marsicek under Weakland, then the handling of the incident in 2011 was too lenient. If he didn’t know about it, then there’s a breakdown in communication that needs to be fixed.

    However, given the original assumption that the 2011 incident was the first, counselling and observation to see if there would be further incidents seem appropriate to me.

    To me, the biggest problem with credibility is that bishops that covered up abuse, like Mahoney and Weakland and Law, were not disciplined. The new procedures are uncovering and dealing with priests who should have been caught years ago, and are uncovering new cases (Father Ratigan in Kansas City, MO) that are being dealt with much faster (if possibly not fast enough).

    I’m not sure what the problem is with sentencing priests to a life of prayer and penance, which equates to staying on the diocesean payroll, and being housed, fed and clothed
    Certainly, they would be housed, fed and clothed in prison, and since they are beyond the statute of limitations, this is about as close as you can get to prison. Would you rather they be defrocked and allowed to roam free of any penalty by anyone?

    If, as you continue, this is often with little to no supervision by the bishop that’s a problem. But “often” implies that usually there is such supervision, so the answer is to expand the supervision to all cases.

  13. maryh says:

    Addition: the 2011 incident was not reported as a case of sexual abuse. If it had been, then of course the handling of the 2011 was too lenient.

  14. maryh says:

    @Dave N
    For example sex abuse in the public schools is exposed, the people involved are FIRED and most often don’t teach anymore. If nothing else, the parents make sure of it.

    That’s it?! You’re saying that when sex abuse is exposed in the public schools, the teacher is just fired? And most often doesn’t teach anymore? You mean nothing is done to make sure they don’t work around children anymore? And this is in the case of actual sexual abuse, not just “questionable behavior”?

    That’s scary.

    This doesn’t sound a lot different from sending a priest to counselling and letting him be sent to another diocese.

    And how are the parents “making sure of it”? Do parents in WI have a way of getting the records of a teacher fired in CA? And what’s to keep such a teacher from being involved with children in ways other than teaching in a public school?

    At least under the new procedures in the Catholic Church, it appears we have a way to keep the priests away from children, even if it’s past the statute of limitations.

  15. The main entry, friends, is not really about the bishops or priests. Thus, I’ll switch on the moderation queue in order to help this back to the track.

  16. The Masked Chicken says:

    “The whistleblowers say they aim to provide support for victims and others who would come forward as well to expose areas where the church is falling short in dealing with the abuse problem. ”

    This sounds like SNAP 2.0

    The Chicken

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  18. jmhem5 says:

    Doyle and Turlish are well known SNAP “veterans”/resources.
    The others may well be involved in various Leftist Catholic organizations, VOTF etc. (Some day a discussion might be fruitful addressing how the Church might have interacted differently with alleged victims/survivors, as opposed to pushing so many of them away into the waiting arms of SNAP and their liberal-Catholic acolytes.)

    – an ex-SNAP parent and recent returnee to the Church

  19. Skylarke says:

    I have no problem with them wanting to protect the innocent from abuse. Vigilance and transparency are good things. However if there agenda includes having gay and women priests, count me out. Those types of folks are the overwhelming majority who contributed to and helped create this mess.