Catholic Bishops Told to Follow Their Own Policies Against Sexual Abuse

Priest image, Alistair Cotton /

Priest image, Alistair Cotton /

Amid continuing headlines about cover-ups of child abuse in the Catholic Church, an oversight board of lay Catholics on June 13 warned the nation’s bishops that they must follow their own policies against abuse more rigorously if they hope to restore their fragile credibility.

“If there is anything that needs to be disclosed in a diocese, it needs to be disclosed now,” Al J. Notzon III, head of the bishops’ National Review Board, told some 200 prelates gathered in Atlanta for their annual spring meeting. “No one can no longer claim they didn’t know.”

The meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops comes 10 years after the hierarchy met in Dallas and passed a series of reforms to respond to a siege of bad publicity about sex abuse by priests. It also comes as a jury in Philadelphia weighs the fate of a high-ranking priest who's facing criminal charges of concealing abuse by clerics, and as a bishop from Missouri awaits trial on charges that he failed to report a suspected child molester to authorities.

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.

10 Reasons Why Men Should Not Be Ordained For Ministry

Portrait of a young pastor, Andrejs Zavadskis /

Portrait of a young pastor, Andrejs Zavadskis /

In light of some recent intense posts - Ultimate Fighting Jesus and Conversation with Rob Bell (re: women in ministry), this list is too funny not to share.

But the brutal fact is that the matter of gender violence isn’t all that funny either. Statistics about gender inequality via UN and UNICEF are even more discouraging.

Regardless where you sit, stand, or wrestle with the issue of women in church leadership, I thought this satirical list was worth sharing for both laughter and even reflection because that’s what good satire forces us to do.  And for what it’s worth, I’d encourage you to read some of my thoughts about why I believe  women should be included in all levels of church leadership.

Vatican Concludes Investigation of Clergy Abuse in Ireland

Clergy abuse protest in Dublin, 2002. Photo via Getty Images.

Clergy abuse protest in Dublin, 2002. Photo via Getty Images.

VATICAN CITY — Following a yearlong investigation into decades of rampant abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, the Vatican today called for more rigorous screening of would-be priests and compulsory child protection classes in seminaries.

Pope Benedict XVI ordered the "Apostolic Visitation" of Ireland's seminaries, religious orders and four main archdioceses in 2010 after a string of Irish government commissions detailed the extent of child sexual abuse in Catholic institutions and exposed a cover-up by several senior churchmen.

The team of church investigators included New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who was tasked with inspecting Ireland's seminaries, and Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley.

A seven-page summary of the investigation's final report was released by the Vatican on Tuesday, and said investigators identified past "shortcomings" that led to an "inadequate understanding of and reaction to" child abuse, "not least on the part of various bishops and religious superiors."

But the investigators also stressed that the child protection initiatives undertaken since the 1990s were "judged to be excellent."

Vatican to Hold Global Summit on Sexual Abuse

VATICAN CITY — Ten years after the clergy sexual abuse scandal erupted in the United States, Catholic bishops from all over the world will meet next week at a Vatican summit aimed at preventing abuse and protecting children.

The conference, "Towards Healing and Renewal," will be held on Feb. 6-9 and is organized by the Jesuit-run Gregorian University in Rome.

The Vatican's top spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, told reporters on Friday (Feb. 3) that the summit enjoys the "full support and participation" of the Vatican's highest offices, but Pope Benedict XVI is not expected to attend.

Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the Vatican's chief abuse prosecutor, said the protection of children must become "a permanent principle and concern" in every decision of the church.

"There cannot be a distinction between the good of the church and the protection of youth," he said Friday.

The Bookends of Life

There's something special about the bookends of our lifetimes. I became a first-time father seven months ago and a hospice chaplain just one month past. Growing up and growing old, especially the first and last months of our lives, can be surprisingly similar experiences.

I fed my daughter sweet potatoes for the first time last night. Introducing her to solid foods has been a treat. While we're trying our best to teach her the sign language words for "food", "more", and " all done", Robin still finds closed-mouth grumble-whines to be the best way to let us know she thinks sweet potatoes aren't all that hot. Another subtly nuanced whine might instead wonder, "You don't happen to have any more mashed banana or applesauce around, would you?" My attempt to turn the filled spoon into an acrobatic and roaring airplane met with scant success.


Last month, at the height of the media coverage of the most recent sex abuse crisis, Father Francis Clooney, a professor at Harvard Divinity School and Director of the Center for the Study of Wor