Monday, April 12, 2010

Connecticut Catholic Bishops Oppose Sex Abuse Bill, Need New PR Representation

     A bill passed the Connecticut House of Representatives that will remove the statute of limitation on child abuses cases giving victims of abuse access to the courts.  Guess who opposes the bill?

     The Roman Catholic Church.  You know, the venerable institution that has a spotless record in matters sexual and underage, that has learned from its past transgressions, and has always placed the needs of vulnerable children before the needs of institutional reputation

     Who does PR for these bishops?  Don't they realize that to oppose such a bill in the midst of inundating cases connecting the Vatican and Pope Ratzinger to mishandling of sexual abuse cases and new evidence of U.S. bishops quietly placing known child molesting priests back into the parishes over the past few years is illogical and hypocritical?

     The Catholic Church has no moral authority on which to oppose this bill.  They are opposing it, of course, on financial grounds and fear of bankruptcy.

     CNN reports:
     A bill in Connecticut's legislature that would remove the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse cases has sparked a fervent response from the state's Roman Catholic bishops, who released a letter to parishioners Saturday imploring them to oppose the measure.  The proposed change to the law would put "all Church institutions, including your parish, at risk," says the letter, which was signed by Connecticut's three Roman Catholic bishops.
     The letter is posted on the Web site of the Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference, the public policy and advocacy office of Connecticut's Catholic bishops. It asks parishioners to contact their legislators in opposition of the bill.
     The "legislation would undermine the mission of the Catholic Church in Connecticut, threatening our parishes, our schools, and our Catholic Charities," the letter says.  The Catholic archdiocese of Hartford also published a pulpit announcement on its Web site, which was to be read during Mass on Sunday, urging parishioners to express opposition to the bill.
     The bill has been revised to address some of the church's concerns about frivolous abuse claims against it, according to Connecticut state Rep. Beth Bye, one of the bill's sponsors.  "The church didn't recognize that this bill makes improvements," Bye said. "The victims -- their lives have been changed and some will never recover from years of sexual abuse. For me, it's about giving them access to the courts."
     Some research concerning the trustworthiness of the Catholic Church of Connecticut concerning matters of sexual abuse.

     For a list of the priests publicly accused of sexual abuse in Connecticut, here is a link from Bishop Accountability for the Connecticut dioceses of Bridgeport, Hartford, and Norwich.

     Click on the name of Connecticut's current Catholic bishops for a list of articles concerning their involvement in the sexual abuse scandal.  The summary quotes, below each name, are from BishopAccountibility.org and show how trustworthy these men are to deal openly with sexual abuse claims in their dioceses:

     Archbishop Henry J. Mansell of Hartford
     Clergy sex abuse victims called on Hartford Archbishop Henry Mansell Monday to use the power of his office to more aggressively protect the public from accused priests, particularly in the case of the Rev. Stephen Foley.  Members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) staged a protest in front of the Cathedral of St. Joseph Monday afternoon because of what they called Mansell's continuation of "passive, failed policies" where Foley and other accused priests are concerned.  Foley, a priest who is accused of abusing boys he lured through his work as a state police and fire chaplain, moved out of Connecticut last year after Mansell ordered him to leave St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield. Mansell's order came after The Courant reported Foley was driving a Ford Crown Victoria similar to the car used by state troopers.  Although the Hartford Archdiocese knows where Foley lives — it is still paying him a $1,000 a month stipend plus health benefits — it has refused to release that information to the public.  [From Hartford Courant 2008]
    In 1986, as a high-ranking personnel administrator for the Archdiocese of New York, he encouraged a colleague who had been treated for pedophilia and barred from working with children to seek a promotion. "The future is bright with promise," he wrote to the Rev. Edward Pipala, who got to lead his own parish two years later. Mr. Pipala has since served seven years in prison for molestation and no longer works as a priest. In Buffalo [before his promotion to Hartford], Bishop Mansell has refused to identify accused priests to police. State law doesn't require him to do so, and the bishop said that divulging names could chill efforts to uncover wrongdoing by clergy. [This information is from a 2004 Dallas Morning News article.]

     Michael R. Cote became bishop of Norwich in May 2003, following an eight-year stint as auxiliary bishop in the diocese of Portland, Maine. So far, his public handling of priests accused of molesting minors suggests a great concern with protecting the dignity of the accused. Accordingly, victim advocates say, Cote may be creating an environment in which victims do not feel safe coming forward.  
     In Maine, Cote lived at a rectory with a priest who participated in a gay Web site that contained sexual references to children. When lay activists exposed the priest’s involvement in the Web site, Cote and Bishop Gerry of Portland refused to say what they had done to discipline the priest, who remained in active parish ministry. See Norwich Bishop Called Lenient in Maine Case, by Tom Breen (March 3, 2005).
     More recently, when alleged victims came forward in March 2005 claiming abuse in the 1970s by Rev. Thomas McConaghy of Sacred Heart church in Norwich, Cote removed McConaghy but praised him warmly in a public statement. See Norwich Priest Resigns after Being Accused of Assaulting Child 30 Years Ago: The Rev. McConaghy Denies the Accusation, by Ethan Rouen (March 8, 2005). A victims’ group issued a statement observing that Bishop Cote’s stance could discourage the surfacing of any possible victims of McConaghy in the Norwich diocese.
     This history of sexual abuse in the Diocese of Bridgeport was submitted on behalf of Jon W. Fleetwood in his case against the diocese. Bishop William E. Lori fought for the entire first decade of his Bridgeport assignment to keep secret this history, its 494 pages of exhibits, and over 12,000 additional pages of sealed files. Even after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to entertain Lori's last appeal, and the documents finally became public, Lori withheld three exhibits in this history and over 700 pages of other documents that the courts had ordered released.  [For full history on Bishop Accountability click here.]
     "We are distraught over Bishop William Lori's decision to keep an admitted molester in active ministry, thus violating the charter and his pledge to put the safety of children first," Clohessy said as he handed out leaflets outside the cathedral Sunday afternoon. "Lori's decision is a gross violation of the zero tolerance policy toward sexual abuse Lori and other church leaders have promised." Ryan, pastor of St. Edward the Confessor parish in New Fairfield, has been accused of molesting the girl in the 1970s when she was a member of the Catholic Youth Organization at St. Theresa's Church in Trumbull. The diocese recently agreed to pay the woman as part of a $21 million settlement to 40 people who claimed they were abused by priests in the diocese.  Despite the diocese's claim of "transparency" when it comes to allegations against priests, the woman's claims were first made public by the Connecticut Post last year. [From Connecticut Post 2003]
     December 6, 2006. A Superior Court judge rules that the public has the right to view sealed court documents from nearly two dozen sex abuse lawsuits files against the Bridgeport diocese that were settled in 2001, saying that the original reason for their secrecy – to ensure a fair trial – is no longer relevant. Four newspapers, including The Courant, had sought to have the documents unsealed in 2002. The Diocese later appeals the decision.
     May 22, 2009. The state Supreme Court rules for the second time that the public should have access to nearly all of the 12,675 pages pertaining to some of the 23 lawsuits alleging sexual abuse claims against at least seven priests from the Bridgeport diocese. The Courant obtained copies of some of the sealed documents in 2002, resulting in a number of articles detailing how then-Bishop Edward M. Egan and other officials in Bridgeport ignored accusations or protected abusive priests.
     November 2009. In an attempt to keep the documents secret, the Diocese of Bridgeport admits in a court filing that it is aware of 32 claims of sexual abuse allegedly committed by eight priests in the parish of St. Theresa's in Trumbull between the years of 1968 and 2000.
     December 1, 2009. 12,600 pages of documents released. [Timeline excerpts from Hartford Courant 2009]

1 comment:

FDeF said...

And as a man in a long term loving relationship with another man, i am considered unworthy to participate in THIS church.