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!!!!!!!! Search error!  If the URL ends something like .htm/  or .htm# delete the character(s) after .htm and hit return.

Child and youth sexual abuse by clergy

Child & youth sexual abuse in the
Catholic Church, 2009 - 2010-MAR

Sponsored link.

This is a continuation of an earlier essay on the same topic.

The status as of the mid 2000's:

bulletBankruptcy:
bulletBy mid-2005, four dioceses,  had sought bankruptcy protection. (Davenport, IA; Portland, OR; Spokane WA; and Tucson, AZ). The Diocese of Tucson has since emerged from the process. 1 The Diocese of Spokane, WA also emerged from protection after having agreed to pay $48 million to settle about 150 claims. By mid 2006, San Diego, CA had also sought protection. 2

bulletBy 2005-OCT, a total of seven diocese had sought bankruptcy.  (Davenport, IA; Fairfax, AK; Portland, OR; San Diego, CA; Spokane WA; Tucson, AZ, and Wilmington, DE). In addition, Boston, ME and Los Angeles, CA had incurred massive debts.
bulletClergy: According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, during 2004, dioceses in the U.S. temporarily removed more than 300 accused clergy. 184 have been defrocked.
 
bulletInsurance costs: The insurance premiums of all 195 Roman Catholic dioceses in the U.S. are certain to increase precipitously as insurance companies attempt to recoup their losses. Premiums paid by other religious institutions will probably increase as well. The scandal might even have an adverse effect on the insurance costs of other non-profits, commercial establishments, companies, etc.
 
bulletLoss in the number of donors: Charles Zech is an economics professor at Villanova University who specializes in the study of church finances. He said in 2005-JUN that the number of donors has fallen in the past few years, but the amount contributed overall had held steady. 3

Trying to keep Connecticut documents secret from the public:

During 2009-AUG, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, CT, appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to allow the diocese to keep secret more than 12,600 court documents related to Catholic clergy sex abuse cases. The diocese had settled 42 claims of sexual abuse of a minor against 16 priests for $21 million in 2003. One of the terms of the settlement was that the court documents remain secret. Among the documents are three depositions by then-Bishop Edward Egan who led the diocese when most of the lawsuits against the priests under his control were filed in the mid 1990s.

David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said:

"We're disappointed that the complicity of top Catholic officials continues to remain hidden. This is not what Connecticut Catholics or citizens deserve. It's one more painful reminder that bishops will do everything possible to protect themselves and their colleagues instead of children."

The Hartford Courant newspaper published articles in 2002, explaining how Egan and other church officials in Bridgeport ignored accusations and/or protected abusive priests. These stories were based on some of the secret court documents that the paper had obtained on its own. Also in 2002, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, and The Hartford Courant joined together in a lawsuit to have all the documents unsealed. A Waterbury Superior Court judge ruled in 2006 that the files should be unsealed, but the diocese appealed.

The state Supreme Court has twice ruled that essentially all of the documents  must be released. The diocese disagrees. They also maintain that the documents were prepared by church officials under the understanding that they would be kept secret forever and that the public would never learn of their contents. They base their second claim on the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

In Boston, MA, Cardinal Bernard Law resigned after church records were released that described his role in handling sexual abuse claims. In the Connecticut case, only some of the records have been released. Bishop Eagan was promoted to Archbishop of New York in the year 2000, a position from which he retired in early 2009 at the age of 76.

While waiting to see whether the U.S. Supreme Court would hear their case, they asked the court keep the documents sealed. On 2009-AUG-25, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg denied this request. 4,5

"Mau," a visitor to the Hartford Courant website, posted the following comment on 2009-AUG-28:

"I am grateful to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg for her ruling in denying the Bridgeport Diocese's request that the documents remain sealed until the high court decides whether to take up the case in the fall. Secrecy and the abuse of power have brought the institutional Roman Catholic Church to this point and only truth, justice, and the ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY that the United States bishops promised in 2002 will begin to turn it around. There should be no accommodation in law that gives more protection to sexual predators and any accompanying enablers, individuals, religious denominations or public entities then to the very real victims of childhood sexual abuse. This is a step in the right direction and the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut should abide by it as soon as possible. Making these documents available for study should give some sense, context and an understanding of what led to leadership's failure to do the morally right thing. A further step would be to remove all criminal and civil statutes of limitation regarding the sexual abuse of children in all states as has been done in Delaware and include in that a civil window of at least two years for bringing forward previously time barred cases of abuse by anyone and any institution." Spelling corrected; 6

horizontal rule

2010-MAR-30: Political cartoon doesn't trigger complaints:

Perhaps a good indication of the feelings of the public towards the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church is the lack of outrage at a political cartoon by Signe Wilkinson. It appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News during Holy Week, 2010, at a time when the pope was criticized for past inactions over the scandal, and one day after some Catholics in Europe called for his resignation. It shows a caricature of the pope his eyes covered. The the caption reads "The Holy I See Nothing!." (The term Holy See is a reference to the Vatican). In the background is a priest chasing a frightened young teen boy. Wilkinson did not received a single complaint about the cartoon.

Fox News 29 interviewed a few people in the street randomly and found few were shocked:

horizontal rule

Sadly, this topic continues.

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Sex abuse by priests costs L.A. church $60M," Associated Press, 2006-DEC-01, at: http://www.cnn.com/
  2. "Diocese to settle sex-abuse claims for $660 million," Associated Press, 2007-JUL-24, at: http://www.cnn.com/
  3. "News report: Abuse cases cost Catholic Church $1 billion," Associated Press, 2005-JUN-10, at: http://www.cnn.com/
  4. "Catholic Diocese Appeals to U.S. Supreme Court to Keep Documents on Sex Abuse Secret," Editor and Publisher, 2009-JUL-29, at: http://www.editorandpublisher.com/
  5. "Supreme Court Justice Denies Bridgeport Diocese's Request," Hartford Courant, 2009-AUG-25, at: http://www.courant.com/
  6. "Bridgeport Diocese Appeals To U.S. Supreme Court In Clergy Sex Abuse Cases," Hartford Courant, 2009-AUG-28, at: http://www.courant.com/

Copyright © 2005 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2005-JUN-05
Latest update: 2011-FEB-11
Author: B.A. Robinson

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