Facing a reignited crisis of credibility over child sexual abuse, the Roman Catholic bishops of the United States came to a meeting in Baltimore on Monday prepared to show that they could hold themselves accountable. But in a last-minute surprise, the Vatican instructed the bishops to delay voting on a package of corrective measures until next year, when Pope Francis plans to hold a summit in Rome on the sexual abuse crisis for bishops from around the world.
Priest Sexual Abuse
Abuses in the Catholic Church have been well-documented in the media. However, systemic abuse has occurred for centuries. Old church documents repeatedly warned of priests or brothers abusing parishioners. Instead of being active in protecting the victims, the Church has a reputation of concealing the abuse and reassigning the clergy members. This isn’t just in Catholic dioceses but also in religious orders (i.e., Christian Brothers, Paulist Fathers, Franciscans, etc).
Usually, the abuse lasts for years. It can take a long time for a child victim of sexual abuse to be able to come forward and report the abuse. Because monsignors, bishops, brothers, nuns, along with priests hold positions coupling trust and faith, victims don’t always identify the abuse. Some abusers claim the inappropriate sexual contact is part of a ritual. Then the perpetrators threaten the victims into silence.
Vatican Priest Sexual Abuse Decree
Almost 400 American bishops gathered in Baltimore to set forth a plan to curb priest sexual abuse. However, within minutes of the first meeting, the Vatican told the council not to do anything. Parishioners have been desperate for change and action, however now, they cannot do anything. This isn’t the first time the Vatican has told U.S. bishops to stand down. In 2002, the Vatican denounced the American zero-tolerance standard for abusive priests along with compiling a national review board of laypeople.
Many call these priest sexual abuse cases as the greatest crisis in the Catholic Church since the Reformation. Since June, the church forced a prominent American cardinal to resign. Then, a Pennsylvania grand jury found 300 priests abused more than 1,000 children. Also, over 12 state attorneys general have opened investigations into the Church.
Before the Vatican curveball, the American bishops planned to debate and vote different measures to combat priest sexual abuse. These measures included creating a hotline for reporting accusations against bishops, a lay review board to hear the allegations, and a mechanism to permanently sideline bishops who are judged to be abusers themselves. Plus, they wanted to create a bishops’ code of conduct. Now, the Vatican told them to wait until next year when Pope Francis will hold a sexual abuse summit inviting bishops from all over the world. However, this does not help the thousands if not millions of victims worldwide.
Get Legal Help
Survivors of sexual abuse can file civil suits against perpetrators and other responsible parties, regardless of the outcome or existence of a criminal prosecution. Civil lawsuits can help a survivor seek monetary damages. This compensation can never change the abuse suffered but can help rebuild a life.
When a religious organization takes advantage of you, this is wrong. We will hold these institutions liable.
Plus, a civil suit can deter future abuse. This is why it is important if you or a loved one was the victim of sexual abuse to contact The Michael Brady Lynch Firm. We will provide a free consultation and instruct of any avenues available to you for civil litigation.