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REPORT HIGHLIGHTS NEED TO END LEGALISTIC STALLING IN VATICAN RESPONSE TO ABUSE CRISIS
July 2, 2010-Boston – Voice of the Faithful believes that today’s report on the historical response of Pope Benedict XVI and the institutional Catholic Church to the sex abuse crisis, published in The New York Times, highlights the need for an immediate end to legalistic wrangling and delay on the part of the Vatican.
“The Church repeatedly acted to protect the institution instead of protecting the children,” said Dan Bartley, president of Voice of the Faithful, in commenting on the extensive historical analysis published today. “The report reveals the bureaucratic confusion and legalistic evasions that blocked the Church from responding effectively. Even today, the Church continues to take a legalistic approach, criticizing prosecutors in Belgium, blocking lawsuits in the U.S., and hiding assets instead of responding openly and working to meet the needs of survivors. This misguided strategy must end. The Church should respond with openness as a community of believers, not as a sovereign state.”
The report documents the fact that Pope Benedict XVI, in his previous job as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was directly involved in extensive discussions with bishops from around the world in 2000 on how to deal with predator priests. The report also documents the fact that the Congregation had canonical responsibility for sex abuse cases worldwide going back to 1922. What is clear is that even in cases where bishops were looking for help in dealing with predators, the Vatican response was woefully inadequate. It was not until 2004 that U.S. bishops instituted new norms for dealing with accusations of abuse against priests.
“The norms we now have here in the U.S. can serve as a model for the changes needed in how the Catholic Church deals with sex abuse around the world,” Bartley said. “We call on Pope Benedict to turn his words of apology into action and make these U.S. norms the global law of the church.”
About Voice of the Faithful:
Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) is a lay organization formed in 2002 in response to the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. The goals of the organization are to support survivors, support priests of integrity, and work towards structural change in the Church.
The organization began in the basement of a church in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and has since expanded worldwide with more than 30,000 members and affiliates across the country and abroad. For more information about VOTF please visit www.votf.org or email Jessica at email@example.com or call 781-559-3360.