catholic sex abuse scandal

Clergy Abuse Victims Are Divided Over Pope Francis' Offer to Meet

David Clohessy is national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Photo courtesy of David Clohessy.

Pope Francis’ announcement this week that he would meet with victims of sexual abuse by priests is dividing victim advocates, with some dismissing the move as “meaningless” and others endorsing it as a positive step, albeit taken belatedly and under pressure.

“A welcome and overdue change,” said Anne Barrett Doyle of BishopAccountability.org, a prominent activist pushing the Catholic Church to overhaul its policies and practices on clergy abuse.

“Good to hear Pope Francis speak out and meet survivors,” tweeted Marie Collins, an abuse victim whom Francis named to a Vatican commission to promote reforms, on hearing that the pope compared clergy abuse to a priest celebrating a black Mass.

But others said Francis’ first-ever encounter with victims — and his pledge for “zero tolerance” for abusive clerics of any rank — was simply stagecraft aimed at distracting the public from what they say are the pope’s larger failures to address the abuse crisis.

Pope Francis Fired 'Bishop Bling.' Will More Follow?

Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg, Germany. Photo by Alessia Giuliani, courtesy of CNS.

The news that Pope Francis fired — or “accepted the resignation of” — the German churchman known as “Bishop Bling” because of his big-spending ways has touched off speculation among Catholics that other dismissals could be in the offing.

Here’s the answer in four words: Perhaps, but probably not.

Recent history shows why: Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, Mo., remains in office 18 months after his conviction – and $1.4 million spent on his defense — for failing to report a priest suspected of abuse. Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony enjoys a high-profile retirement in spite of the disapproval of his own successor over Mahony’s abuse record. Similarly, Cardinal Bernard Law, formerly of Boston, is still living a gilded existence in Rome years after he was plucked from the U.S. amid the clergy abuse scandal.

Accused Priest at Center of N.J. Scandal Resigns

Religion News Service photo by Ed Murray/The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J.

Newark Archbishop John J. Myers faces fierce criticism. Religion News Service photo by Ed Murray/The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J.

NEWARK, N.J. — The Roman Catholic priest at the center of a public furor enveloping Newark Archbishop John J. Myers has resigned from ministry, a spokesman for the archdiocese said May 2.

The Rev. Michael Fugee, who attended youth retreats and heard confessions from minors in defiance of a lifetime ban on such behavior, submitted his request to leave ministry on Thursday, said the spokesman, Jim Goodness. Myers promptly accepted the resignation, Goodness said.

Fugee, 52, remains a priest but no longer has authority to say Mass, perform sacramental work, or represent himself as an active priest, Goodness said. It was not immediately clear if Fugee or Myers would petition the Vatican to remove him from the priesthood altogether, a process known as laicization.

Asked if Myers had requested that Fugee step aside, Goodness said, “I only know that he offered to leave ministry and the archbishop accepted.”

Philadelphia Trial Revives Catholic Church Sex Abuse Scandal

Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

Pedestrian walks past the Archdiocese of Philadelphia headquarters. Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

Ten years ago, the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandal dominated the headlines with horrific stories of priests preying on vulnerable youths and a church hierarchy more concerned with protecting clergy instead of kids.

Now, it's back. A Philadelphia jury is deliberating whether, for the first time, a high-ranking church official will be held criminally accountable.

However the jury rules, the case carries symbolic freight far heavier than the grim details in the trial of Monsignor William Lynn, former secretary for the clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. It revives the breadth and depth of the abuse crisis, its extraordinary costs and unending frustrations.

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