A committee that was established by the Catholic Church, specifically to the prevention of sexual misconduct by the clergy on Tuesday issued a scathing assessment of the shortcomings stem the abuse, calling it an “evil” caused by “a loss of moral leadership.”
The National Council has called for an investigation led by the parishioners, who says that a new wave of abuse scandals point to a “systematic problem” and that the bishops themselves can’t be trusted to lead an investigation.
Some survivors of clergy sexual abuse, said the call was an unfair attempt by the church to get around a truly independent investigation.
The board was formed in 2002 in the wake of the clergy sex-abuse scandal that began in the Archdiocese of Boston and was the church worldwide. The committee said that it was forced to find a lay-led investigation after the recent revelations of a grand jury investigation in six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania and allegations that have led to the dismissal last month of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, D. C.
The grand jury report estimated to 300 Roman Catholic priests in Pennsylvania molested more than 1,000 children — and possibly many more — since the 1940’s, and accused senior church officials, including McCarrick, of the systematic hedging of the treatment of complaints. McCarrick previously served the church in Pennsylvania.
“Intimidation, fear and the abuse of authority created an environment that was exploited by the clergy, such as bishops, the cause of damage to minors, seminarians, and those who are most vulnerable,” the council said in its statement. “The culture of silence is enabled the abuse to go on virtually unchecked.”
Dennis M. Doyle, professor of religious studies at the University of Dayton in Ohio and a Catholic theologian, said the National Review Board would call a notable shift in the history of the church from a hierarchical authority.
The call for a lay-led research, he said, “is a confirmation that the people in power may not in the cost of the research itself.”
It also seems to be a page of a three page letter a week ago by Pope Francis, that the debt of the church is a top-down culture for allowing the abuse to take place in a shroud of secrecy.
The pope demanded an end to “clericalism” — the culture that places priests on a pedestal. He said: lay Catholics must be an end to the culture, since rank-and-file members of the church are often those who are most earnest in their priests as blameless.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, also this week asked for a meeting with the pope to discuss the crisis.
The review board, said recent revelations make clear that the crisis cannot be resolved by the ecclesiastical hierarchy.
“What needs to happen is a real change in the Church culture, and particularly among the bishops themselves,” he said.
In addition to a research led by the laity, it is recommended to create a whistleblower system to be independent of the bishops field accusations anonymously, and then to report to the local bishop, the police and the Vatican.
Marci Hamilton, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert on the faith and the law, said the review board of the call does not go far enough to solve the crisis or prevent the clergy sexual abuse that has roiled the church for decades.
One of the long lasting difficulties in identifying the cases is that victims can sometimes take years before they are willing or able to step forward. In many cases, the statute of limitations prevents law enforcement in the prosecution of the priests in these long-ago cases.
Hamilton said that it is crucial that the limitation period be extended.
“It is time for prosecutors and regulators to step up, regardless of what happens in the church,” he said.
Tim Lennon, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called the step of the review board, a weak effort that must go even further. The organization wants to be a church-wide independent inquiry into paedophile priests, as carried out by the Pennsylvania grand jury.
“The church is looking for every possible way to be a cooperative partner so they can continue with their cover-up. SNAP demands that all investigations are independent, separate, with subpoena power and testimony under oath” by john Lennon. “Otherwise it is a sham and a whitewash.”
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