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“Judgment Day For Pervert Priests?”: Tackling The Enablers Of Child Abuse, The Bishops

For the first time in the long and sordid history of the Catholic Church’s saga with pedophile priests, the Vatican has approved a special judicial tribunal that could bring to justice the bishops who have helped protect offending priests.

But is it enough to protect kids? Survivors groups hope that this time the Vatican has come up with an approach that will work.

“It could be, but only time will tell,” David Clohessy, the national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests (SNAP), told The Daily Beast. “But this isn’t like horseshoes. Every ‘miss’—however close it seems to be to the peg—means more kids will be raped.”

The new tribunal was the brainchild of American cardinal Sean O’Malley, who has become a central figure in the popular papacy of Pope Francis, which may make him a major contender when it comes time for the next conclave. As head of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, and one of the pope’s trusted confidantes who sit on the elite Commission of Cardinals, O’Malley presented the plan at a meeting of the pope’s key men in Rome this week. They adopted it unanimously.

The tribunal will not focus on the abusers themselves per se, but rather on complicit bishops who moved the abusers around, knowing full well they were putting children in harm’s way. The five-point plan drafted by O’Malley allows for a number of changes to the current procedure, including making it a duty for diocese to report claims of abuse to Rome, according to Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi.

For years, the Vatican has distanced itself from its field offices, effectively toeing the party line that what happens in individual dioceses cannot be blamed on the central church in Rome. By making it compulsory to instead alert the Rome-based tribunal of all complaints, the Vatican is effectively closing the gap and effectively taking greater responsibility for what happens in its dioceses.

The real question, though, is whether the new process will actually translate into effective punishment for proven offenders, and whether the secular courts will still be kept at bay when it comes to punishing child abusers and sex offenders. The organization Bishop Accountability, which keeps a database of extensive public records of accusations against abusers, warned that the very office that enforces accountability must itself be accountable.

“A public docket, prompt announcements of decisions, and release of documents are essential,” the group said in a statement.

The new tribunal will operate under the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which was reincarnated from the old Universal Inquisition department of the Holy See. It will have dedicated staff to sort through complaints and help process claims, and it will pass down judgments if it finds bishops complicit in the abuse.

Survivors groups are hopeful, but they say they would prefer that all sex abuse cases are all handled in the secular courts, not dealt with in a Vatican-operated tribunal.

“I don’t think we welcome any new internal cleric-dominated process, especially when it’s in the CDF, which, for decades, has refused to defrock or delayed defrocking some of the worst predator priests,” Clohessy says. “On paper, a mechanism like this looks good. But church abuse mechanisms always look good on paper. If this one is used to prevent cover-ups and punish ‘enablers,’ we’ll be surprised and pleased. If, however, it’s used to mollify distraught parishioners and generate good headlines, we won’t be surprised. That’s been the history of nearly all of the hundreds of church abuse panels over the past three decades.”

At face value, at least, this plan does feel fresh, if only because the Vatican has never directly mandated the investigation of bishops before. But it does call into question what this means for some of the most high-powered Vatican officials who are now facing allegations of taking part in the cover-ups, like Cardinal George Pell the Vatican’s financial czar who has been facing allegations in his native Australia for decades that he bribed victims and mishandled the case of defrocked pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale.

Last week, Peter Saunders, one of the few non-clerical members of O’Malley’s Protection of Minors Commission, told Australia’s 60 Minutes program he thought Pell should be removed. “He has a catalogue of denigrating people, of acting with callousness, cold-heartedness, almost sociopathic,” Saunders told the program. “I consider him to be quite a dangerous individual.” Pell has threatened legal action against the program, and the Vatican was quick to distance itself and O’Malley’s commission from Saunders’ remarks, even though he is a member of the group.

Whether Pell’s case will be among the first heard by the new Vatican tribunal is anyone’s guess, but there are certainly plenty of others who could keep the tribunal busy once it is in place. Polish Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, for one, is in Rome after being brought back from the Dominican Republic where he was the papal nuncio. At the time of his removal, the Vatican promised that Wesolowski would be investigated and brought to justice for the alleged abuse of young boys. So far as anyone knows, that has not happened. By being whisked back to Rome, he escaped secular court judgment in the Dominican Republic and even though he has been defrocked, he still enjoys immunity by living inside Vatican City.

Lombardi said that the O’Malley has given the new tribunal a five-year period to evaluate its success and effectiveness. God only knows how many children will be saved or be made to suffer while the Vatican and the victims groups work out whether the new plan works.

 

By: Barbie Latza Nadeau, The Daily Beast, June 1, 2015

June 12, 2015 Posted by | Cardinal Sean O'Malley, Catholic Church, Vatican | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wisconsin GOP Leader Proposes Legislation To Blame Single Parents For Child Abuse And Neglect

Wisconsin State Senator Glenn Grothman, the Assistant Majority Leader and a close ally of GOP Governor Scott Walker in the effort to destroy collective bargaining in the Badger State, is taking crazy to new levels.

Grothman has introduced a bill that would require the State of Wisconsin to officially deem single parenthood to be a “contributor” to child abuse and neglect and to put the same into statutory laws of the state.

Seriously…no kidding…really.

Here is the relevant section of the Wisconsin law that was the subject of a hearing yesterday in the Wisconsin state Senate Committee on Public Health, Human Services and Revenue. The bold lettering represents the amendments to the existing law that Senator Grothman has proposed for addition:

Section 1. 48.982 (2) (g) 2. of the statutes is amended to read: 48.982 (2) (g) 2. Promote statewide educational and public awareness campaigns and materials for the purpose of developing public awareness of the problems of child abuse and neglect. In promoting those campaigns and materials, the board shall emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.

Section 2. 48.982 (2) (g) 4. of the statutes is amended to read: 48.982 (2) (g) 4. Disseminate information about the problems of and methods of preventing child abuse and neglect to the public and to organizations concerned with those problems. In disseminating that information, the board shall emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.

If it strikes you as odd that the Wisconsin senate is spending the taxpayers’ money debating this sort of legislation in committee—considering that a full one-third of Wisconsin’s parents are, indeed, single parents—you need to understand a little bit more about Wisconsin state Senator Grothman.

You should know that it was Senator Grothman who informed us last year that The Left and the social welfare establishment want children born out of wedlock because they are far more likely to be dependent on the government.” This is also the same Senator Grothman who opposed a provision in the 2010 Wisconsin sex education law that would prohibit teachers from promoting bias based on sexual orientation because he believed that instructors would have an “agenda” to persuade students to become gay.

And, yes, this is the same Senator Grothman who wants to defund kindergarten programs for 4-year-olds because, argues Grothman, any academic benefits disappear by the fourth grade, and the program is used by school districts to pad their budgets to get more state aid.

Apparently, no longer content with suggesting that single parents (most of whom were not always single) are only out to bilk the government when deciding to have children, Grothman has decided that these same evil doers are more responsible for child abuse and child neglect than, say, alcoholics, people with mental health issues, married couples who engage in domestic violence, unemployment and the other causes cited as material contributors to child abuse.

I say that Grothman believes single-parenthood to be more responsible because I don’t see him proposing that these other causes be specifically included in his legislation.

To be fair, data reveals that there are more incidents of child abuse in households with only one parent than in households with two parents. But the data does not indicate that this factor is somehow more responsible for child abuse than the other factors listed above so, again, why single this factor out to include in the state’s statutes and not the others?

According to Lisa Subeck, a program manager and family advocate at Wisconsin’s Dane County Parent Council Head Start, Grothman’s bill was written to dictate personal choices rather than to help prevent child abuse. Says Subeck, “Sen. Grothman is inserting government into what should be a very personal decision.

That sounds about right.

And here I thought it was the GOP that was dedicated to keeping government out of our private lives.

My bad.

 

By: Rick Ungar, Contributor, The Policy Page, Forbes, March 2, 2012

March 3, 2012 Posted by | Wisconsin, Wisconsin Republicans | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

United Nations Sharply Critical Of U.S. On Women’s Rights

The United Nations Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, has issued a very critical report of the U.S. on its policies on women’s rights. The report is based on a trip of the Special Rapporteur to the US from 24 January to 7 February 2011. During that trip, Ms. Rashida Manjoo broadly examined issues of violence against women in different settings. Her recommendations should provide fruitful material for the U.S. to improve its policies towards women.

As indicated in the report, “Violence against women occurs along a continuum in which the various forms of violence are often both causes and consequences of violence.” Domestic violence or Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is one of the most critical expressions of violence. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) 552,000 violent crimes by an intimate partner were committed against women in the U.S. in 2008.

Their husbands or intimate acquaintances are responsible for the majority of crimes against women. The Violence Policy Center states that the number of women shot and killed by their husbands or intimate acquaintances was four times higher than the total number of women murdered by male strangers using all weapons combined, according to an analysis of 2008 data.

Rape and sexual assault continue to be prevalent forms of violence against women in the country. According to the NCVS, 182,000 women were raped or sexually assaulted in the U.S. in 2008, i.e. approximately 500 women per day. In addition, there were 3.4 million persons who were victims of stalking, most of them women. 1 in 12 women and 1 in 45 men have been stalked in their lifetime in the U.S.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, the cost of intimate partner violence exceeds $5.8 billion each year. $4.1 billion of that amount is for direct medical and mental health services. Intimate partner violence incidents result in more than 18.5 million mental health care visits each year.

Children are also victims of violence carried out against their mothers. It has been shown that 30% to 60% of perpetrators of intimate partner violence also abuse children in the household. Witnessing violence between one’s parents or caretakers is the strongest risk factor for transmitting violent behavior among generations. In that regard, it has been shown that boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults.

Domestic violence offenses are one of the most chronically underreported crimes. It is estimated that only approximately one-quarter of all physical assaults, one-fifth of all rapes, and one-half of all stalkings carried out against females by intimate partners are reported to the police.

There are several reasons for these crimes not being reported. Among those reasons are: fear of retaliation from their abuser, the perception that the police will not respond adequately to the complaint or the belief that these are issues that should be privately addressed. According to a 2009 Department of Justice report, only 56% of intimate partner violence cases filed with the courts resulted in a conviction.

Women victims of domestic violence suffer a wide array of negative consequences, aside from the physical and psychological. Women victims of domestic violence face serious consequences in terms of economic instability, loss of employment and homelessness. In addition, violence against women is frequently seen among women in the military, women in detention, and among immigrant and undocumented women.

The extent of the phenomenon has made that violence against women is now recognized as an issue that belongs not only to the private sphere but that requires State intervention. According to the U.N. Rapporteur, the U.S. Government has taken positive legislative and policy initiatives to reduce the prevalence of violence against women.

Among those steps is the enactment and subsequent reauthorizations of the Violence against Women Act, as well as the establishment of dedicated offices on violence against women at the highest levels of government. However, according to the UN Rapporteur, more U.S. government actions are needed to curb a phenomenon that continues to cause tremendous harm to women’s health and quality of life.

 

By: Cesar Chelala, MD, PhD, CommonDreams.org, June 4, 2011

June 4, 2011 Posted by | DOJ, Economy, Education, Equal Rights, Government, Governors, Health Care, Human Rights, Planned Parenthood, Public Health, State Legislatures, States, Women, Women's Health, Womens Rights | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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