The Elephant in the Room is Back

One big meeting of Catholic officials has ended. Another meeting takes place next month. And at both, a huge “the elephant in the room" was ignored.

Last week in Rome, the new “Council of Cardinals” met with Pope Francis for three days. According to papal spokesman Fr. Frederico Lombardi “the sex abuse issue did not come up during the G-8 meeting.”

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What’s up with New Jersey Catholic officials?

I’m not talking about the outrageous Fr. Michael Fugee case in Newark. I’m talking about these recent cases, all of which have surfaced in less than one month:

-- Fr. Matthew Riedlinger, who was exposed Sunday as having sent 1,200 inappropriate sexual text messages to what he thought was a teenaged boy and had sexually harassed at least five teenagers and young men, some of whom were seminarians. (For months, Trenton Bishop David O'Connell has kept this hidden.)

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Audacious Tim Dolan

Audacious is a word I don’t use often. But it leapt to mind this morning when I read that a child molesting cleric at a New York archdiocesan parish is being ousted from ministry.

“Audacious” is the best way I can describe Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s letter to the flock at Church of the Holy Name of Mary parish in Croton-on-Hudson.

Here’s how the dictionary defines “audacious” – “extremely bold or daring; recklessly brave; fearless” or “recklessly bold in defiance of convention, propriety, law, or the like; insolent; brazen.”

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Again, a predator was accused (quietly) before

A Detroit predator priest was recently ousted. Archbishop Allen Vigneron made a formal announcement. It implied this was the first allegation against the priest.

But it wasn’t.

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The real victory came long before the guilty verdict

Today, an Ohio jury found Fr. Robert Poandl guilty of molesting a boy years ago.

http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20130920/NEWS/309200128/Priest-found-guilty-taking-boy-illicit-purposes

But in the most crucial sense, this brave victim and his family won long before today

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Justice comes in fits and starts

It feels like justice for child sex abuse comes in waves. There will be a string of stunningly negative court decisions over days and then there’s a sudden reversal, and a series of positive legal developments will happen.

In Canada, for instance, a judge recently ruled that two sisters from Ontario must pay their uncle $125,000 in libel damages for allegedly accusing him - falsely - of sexually assaulting them when they were children.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/news/ontario-sisters-must-pay-uncle-125k-for-false-sex-abuse-claims-1.1364688

And in Montana, a judge recently gave a child molesting teacher a depressingly light sentence, claiming that his 14-year-old victim is “older than her chronological age” and “as much control of the situation” as the teacher. 

http://abcnews.go.com/US/montana-judge-regrets-comments-30-day-sentence-teacher/story?id=20094594

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Abuse by nuns is ignored

Last week, another child molesting nun was publicly exposed. She’s Sister Agnes Daniels, who worked at St. Mary School in Boston when she reportedly committed the abuse. (Thanks to attorney Mitchell Garabedian for disclosing the accusations.)

http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/119d00fc180b4ea79c7630a48258abad/MA--Church-Abuse

In July, two other abusive nuns were publicly exposed: Sister Agnes Santomassimo and Sister Mary Joseph. Both allegedly molested in California. (Santomassimo also worked in Chicago. Joseph also worked in Idaho, Arizona and Washington state.)

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Deceptive Dubuque & its “List of accused priests”

Smart, brave victims of Dubuque area predator priests have forced Catholic officials there – as part of lawsuit settlements - to post names of child molesting clerics on the archdiocesan website. We’re always thrilled when survivors use lawsuits to pry information from the church hierarchy and use that information to warn parents about pedophiles.

But there is helpful information that illuminates and less helpful information that obfuscates.

The Dubuque Archdiocese seems committed to less helpful information that obfuscates.

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Carlson to Post-Dispatch & His Flock: Buzz Off

A month ago, writing about the recent and troubling criminal and civil cases against a St.  Louis priest, the Post-Dispatch urged Archbishop Robert Carlson to “live up to his promise to be open and transparent.”

http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/columns/the-platform/editorial-the-archbishop-should-explain-actions-in-case-against-accused/article_1019c146-1993-5aca-8057-74b1ffcbb416.html

This week, Carlson basically thumbed his nose at the Post’s advice, proving, again, that his pledges to be “open” in clergy sex abuse and cover up cases are phony. 

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California statute of limitations hearing tomorrow

Tomorrow, a California legislative panel will vote on SB 131, a measure that would make it easier for child sex abuse victims to expose child molesters in court.

Leading the charge against the measure: California’s Catholic bishops.

The highest ranking prelate in the state, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, claims that the bill

--“fails to protect all victims of childhood sexual abuse” (So if a bill doesn’t protect EVERYONE or fix EVERYTHING, it should be defeated?)

--“discriminates against Catholic schools” (Really? The bill doesn’t mention Catholic schools.)

--“discriminates against other private employers” (No, the bill focuses on private employers because that’s where history and common sense tell us abuse is more apt to be covered up. That’s not “discrimination,” that’s smart public policy.)

--“puts the Church’s social services and educational mission at risk” (Really? That’s what virtually every bishop says every time anyone proposes reforming the archaic, arbitrary, predator-friendly statute of limitations.)

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