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Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in Pennsylvania and Germany:

2018: A Pennsylvania Grand Jury report
on clergy abuse of minors.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl to discuss his
resignation with Pope Francis.
Percentage of U.S. adults giving
the Pope a positive rating.
Two German states investigating church abuse.
Archbishop accused of abuse.

Part 3 of three parts:

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This topic continues here from the previous essay.

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2018-AUG-23: Renaming three dorms at a Catholic school in Pennsylvania:

The University of Scranton, a Jesuit university in Pennsylvania, has had three of its student dormitories named after Catholic priests: Hannan Hall, McCormick Hall, and Timlin House. They were named after Rev. Jerome D. Hannan and Rev. James Carroll McCormick and Most Rev. James C. Timlin, D. D. Unfortunately, all three clergy were named in the grand jury's report. They didn't abuse children, but they allegedly covered up activities of the abusers. So, the university is now changing the names of the dorms.

, writing for Patheos. suggested that renaming the dorms is like"wiping off the deck chairs on the Titanic." He suggests

"These are superficial changes that don’t address the root problems within the Catholic Church. While it’s not the school’s job to fix the Church, it’s still advocating a religion that ruins lives due to its views on LGBTQ rights, women’s roles, contraception, absolute secrecy in confession, etc.

At this point, the school should announce that its new mission is to train students for a lifetime of fighting abuse within the Church itself." 10

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2018-AUG-26: Former Vatican diplomat attacks Pope Francis. Church conservatives allege homosexual influence in the Vatican:

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò. 77, was, until his retirement two years ago, the top Vatican diplomat in the United States. He wrote a letter stating that Pope Francis had joined with other senior Vatican officials in covering up abuse by priests of minors. He called for the Pope's resignation. His letter was published on 2018-AUG-27 "... by several conservative Catholic outlets antagonistic to the pope." 1

Viganò claimed that he had personally told Pope Francis about Cardinal Theodore McCarrick's sexual abuse of seminarians years before they became public. It was only during 2018-JUL, after the New York Times and other media outlets published accounts of the abuse, and after a subsequent internal investigation by the Church in the U.S. found that the accusation was credible, that McCarrick offered his resignation to Pope Francis, who accepted it. 1

Chico Harlan, writing for the Washington Post, said that Viganò's letter:

"... sheds light on the opposition movement, and particularly its insistence that homosexuality within the church — and Francis’s inability to keep it at bay — is to blame for the sexual abuse crisis. ..."

"With his letter, Viganò became the torchbearer for the argument, shared among a group of Catholic conservatives, that sexual abuse stems from an overabundance of priests with homosexual feelings. They charge that Francis, who describes abuse in terms of power and clerical narcissism, fundamentally misunderstands the issue, jeopardizing the church’s ability to address the scandals."

Bishop Robert Morlino, in Madison, WI, wrote a letter to to Catholics in his diocese that:

"It is time to admit that there is a homosexual subculture within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church." 12

Referring to Viganò's letter, Michael Sean Winters, a columnist for the National Catholic Reporter said:

"We are a step away from schism. I think there is a perception among the pope’s critics that there is vulnerability here — on the part of the pope and in the Vatican generally." 12

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2018-AUG-26: "It’s becoming harder to explain why [people remain] Catholic:"

E.J. Dionne Jr. wrote an article with a title similar to the above in the Washington Post. He said:

"The major disgrace of America’s Catholic bishops was to foster a culture in which priests sexually assaulted children and were then sent on to new duties as their ungodly behavior was covered up.

There is also a second failure. Thanks to the bishops, who are supposed to strengthen the faith, Catholics are now regularly asked: 'How can you be a Catholic?' And, even more pointedly, 'How can you stay?'

This summer, these questions became much harder to answer."

He quotes Patricia McGuire, the president of Trinity Washington University who wrote -- before the PA Grand Jury report was issued:

"The utter lack of a truly empathetic acknowledgment of the victims and those who truly love the victims, those who also suffer because of the abuse — their mothers and fathers and all in the universe afflicted by these grave sins — this is the most fundamental problem the Church has yet to address in a satisfactory way. ..."

She commented on the church's:

"... sad history of sometimes rendering unequivocally harsh judgment against those who violate even minor rules while looking the other way when its own ordained leaders violate the most sacred and profound rules about human conduct and respect for human dignity." 2

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2018-AUG-27: The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) responds to the to the Grand Jury report:

Neil Macdonald , writing for the CBC, said:

"Imagine for a moment that a big, admired multinational corporation, one selling a beloved product, was employing large numbers of male pedophiles and rapists, operating in rings all over the world, and that their crimes had been uncovered in Australia, Ireland, Canada, the Philippines, Belgium, France, Austria, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, Britain, Germany and the United States, and, further, that senior executives had systematically covered up and suppressed evidence, transferring and enabling hundreds of predators, betraying thousands of victims."

He suggested that the U.S. Government would use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law to charge both staff and executives with criminal activities, and seek long prison terms.

However, the Catholic Church is a religious organization which counts about one in four U.S. adults as members. Any politician that initiates criminal charges against the church would probably lose their their next election.

MacDonald suggests that the Church's proper response would be to open up all of their files to criminal investigators and "drain the holy swamp. ... By any secular standard, the Catholic Church is a corrupt organization. It in fact sets the standard for impunity." 3

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2018-AUG-30: Attacks on Cardinal Donald Wuerl:

Cardinal Wuerl was the former bishop of the Pittsburgh Diocese where about one third of the alleged abusive priests in Pennsylvania were or are located. He is the current Archbishop in Washington DC, and is under increasing pressure to resign his post:

  • Karl Racine, the attorney general of Washington DC, said: "As a Catholic, my personal opinion is that Cardinal Wuerl should step aside in light of the sex abuse allegations in the Pennsylvania report and increasing reports of more abuse survivors.
  • Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University, said: "I think Cardinal Wuerl is a good man, and I have enjoyed knowing him. But at some point the leader in a crisis has to know when to stay and try to fix the situation, and when deciding to step aside is an act of accountability and atonement. I don't think Cardinal Wuerl is as culpable as some of his critics say, but at some point a leader has to step aside to let the healing process begin."

  • Some faculty from Holy Trinity School in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC protested at a local Mass for Catholic schools as an "act of solidarity against the injustices condoned by Cardinal Wuerl." They sent a public letter to Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican's abmassador to the U.S., calling for Wuerl's "immediate removal."

  • Jack Devlin, a schoolteacher attended the protest, said: "... for every good thing that Cardinal Wuerl did, there were enough negative things that he did that we find unforgivable." 11

In contrast:

  • Kim Viti Fiorentino, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Washington, said that the calls for the Cardinal to resign are: "... misguided and mistaken. If you look at his record on child protection, not only is he one of the leaders in this area and one of the historic pioneers really in this area, but he has spent his entire priesthood (and) his episcopacy dedicated to protecting children, and if people reflect on his full record and the facts, they will see that."

  • Rev. Lou Vallone is a priest who worked with Cardinal Wuerl while he was bishop of Pittsburgh. He said: We have a mob mentality right now, where everyone is saying 'Off with all their heads!' Everyone is enraged. But would the next archbishop of Washington really be any more 'perfect' than Wuerl?" 11

On SEP-13, Zia H Shaw, writing for the Muslim Times, said:

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who has faced increasing calls for his resignation over his handling of sexual abuse cases, wrote on Tuesday [SEP-11] that he will soon discuss with Pope Francis the possibility of stepping down as leader of the Archdiocese of Washington. ... he acknowledged that many Catholics have questions about their bishop’s ability to lead them in the midst of the exploding sexual abuse crisis in the church. ..."

Wuerl wrote to the priests of the Archdiocese of Washington:

"At issue is how to begin effectively to bring a new level of healing to survivors who have personally suffered so much and to the faithful entrusted to our care who have also been wounded by the shame of these terrible actions and have questions about their bishop’s ability to provide the necessary leadership."

He already sent his resignation to Pope Francis three years ago when he reached the customary retirement age of 75. 14

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A loss experienced by a former Roman Catholic:

grew up in the Roman Catholic diocese of Scranton, PA. She is now an Agnostic, affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist church, and married to another woman. Writing for slate.com, she said:

"Recent scandals highlighting sexual abuse within the Catholic Diocese of Scranton have left me sick. Though I was never touched by the named priests, I knew several of them growing up. I grieve their victims; I grieve my hometown; I grieve the faith those men have shattered. ..."

"... when respondents say 'the church' is at fault, they hurl barbs at church members as much as at church administrators -- and I don’t know if that’s fair. ..."

The Catholic Church is not just priests, nor the Vatican. It wasn’t to me then; it isn’t to me now. The Catholic Church is its members, and their grief in the wake of horrific scandal is not a howl of institutional loss -- their loyalties aren’t to the pope or the bishop. It is a howl of pain for the loss of sacred, secular community. The loss of an ancient sense of shared identity -- not spiritual identity, but human identity. The loss of a living, flesh-and-blood meeting place in themselves and in one another where their grandparents and great-grandparents still exist in the flickering ether. The loss of God’s arms, a place." 13

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2018-SEP-14: Recent polls show favorability rating of Pope Francis is dropping rapidly:

The most recent poll was conducted before news was broadcast that the Pope has called an unprecedented meeting of top officials in the church over the sexual abuse scandal. This meeting will probably affect his favorability rating, depending on how successful it is bellieved to be.

According to a CNN poll conducted by SSRS:

The approval rating of the Pope by American adults was:

  • 72% in 2013-DEC, a few months after he became Pope,
  • 66% in 2017-JAN,
  • 48% in early 2018-SEP.
  • The poll's margin of error is ~+mn~3.8 percentage points.

Among American Roman Catholics, approval rating of the Pope was:

  • 83% in 2017-MAR,
  • 63% in early 2018-SEP.

Among U.S. Democrats, approval rating of the Pope was:

  • 79% in 2017-MAR,
  • 57% in early 2018-SEP.

Among U.S. Republicans, approval rating of the Pope was:

  • 54% in 2017-MAR,
  • 36% in early 2018-SEP. 15

On the other hand, according to a poll by a different agency: Gallup:

On 2018-SEP-12:

  • Among all Americans in August, 66% had a favorable rating of Pope Francis; in September it had dropped to 53%.

  • U.S. Catholics' opinions of the pope have not shifted. In August, 78% had a favorable view; in September, it had actually risen to 79%.

  • Among non-Catholic U.S. adults, 72% had a favorable view in 2014. This dropped to 63% in August and 45% in September. 16

Webmaster's note:

We have never seen two polls by reputable polling agencies like SSRS and Gallup who have found such incompatable results.

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2018-OCT: Two German states investigating abuse by priests in the Catholic Church:

Catholic bishops in Germany authorized and financed a clergy sex-abuse investigation. Their report found 3,677 suspected victims and 1,670 suspected clerical offenders, but did not mention any names. The alleged offenders are, of course, all male, as are most of their alleged victims. The names of members of the German heirarchy who covered-up the abuse were not mentioned.

It is called the "MHG Study." A PDF copy in German can be downloded.

Professor Christian Pfeiffe, a criminologist who started the study, also criticized the lack of names. He said:

"A consequence is that the scientists were not able to assign their findings to individual dioceses and the responsible bishops."

The states of Bavaria and Lower Saxony have requested full access to files in all of the dioceses in the two states. Katarina Barley, the German minister of Justice has stated that, under law, in criminal cases, the governments automatically have such access. She said:

"The Church law does not stand above the criminal law -– it is the opposite."

Responding to rumors that some German dioceses have destroyed files about clergy abuse, she said:

"To destroy or manipulate in order to protect someone from criminal prosecution can itself be a criminal act [punishable with up to] five years in prison. ... There is not such a thing as a secret archive in a state under the rule of law."

Maike Hickson, writimg for Life Site News, said:

"The district attorney's office in Munich explains that 'we now therefore take the Catholic bishops at their word' and expect cooperation from them, even asking them to make sure that the State is being sufficiently informed about each individual criminal incident. The dioceses of Bamberg and Würzburg have already announced their cooperation." 17

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Jason Horowitz, "Pope Francis Long Knew of Cardinal’s Abuse and Must Resign, Archbishop Says," New York Times, 2018-AUG-26, at: https://www.nytimes.com/
  2. E.J. Dionne Jr., "It’s becoming harder to explain why I'm still Catholic," Washington Post, 2018-AUG-26, at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/
  3. Neil Macdonald, "By secular standards, the Catholic Church is a corrupt organization," Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 2018-AUG-26, at: https://www.cbc.ca/
  4. Gilian Tenbergen et al., "The Neurobiology and Psychology of Pedophilia: Recent Advances and Challenges," Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2015-JUN-24, at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
  5. A.H. Green A. H. (1999). "Female sex offenders," in the book edited by J.A. Shaw "Sexual Aggression, American Psychiatric Press; ), Pages 195–210.
  6. "Protestant Bible," Wikipedia, as on 2018-JUL-30, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/
  7. St. Paul mentions in Romans 16:1-2 that Phoebe was deacon of the church at Cenchreae, a port town East of Corinth in Greece on the Saronic Gulf. It served eastern trade routes, and is now called Kechries.
  8. Gary Macy, "Women deacons in history," National Catholic Reporter, 2016-JUN-01, at: https://www.ncronline.org/
  9. Nichole Winfield, "Pope changes church rules, opens foot-washing rite to women," The Globe and Mail, 2016-JAN-21; updated 2018-MAY-16, at: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/
  10. , "A PA Catholic School Realized It’s a Bad Idea to Name Dorms After Church Leaders," Patheos, 2018-AUG-23, at: http://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/
  11. Daniel Burke & Rosa Flores, "Growing Catholic insurgency threatens top cardinal in Washington, "CNN, 2018-AUG-30, at: https://edition.cnn.com/
  12. Chico Harlan, "With call for pope to resign, divisions within the Catholic Church explode into view," the Washington Post, 2018-AUG-27, at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/
  13. Karen-Elizabeth Moroski, "Tenderness and Horror," Slate, 2018-SEP-04, at: https://slate.com/
  14. Julie Zauzmer and Michelle Boorstein, "Cardinal Donald Wuerl says he will go to the pope soon to discuss his potential resignation," The Washington Post, 2018-SEP-11, at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/
  15. Grace Sparks "CNN Poll: Pope Francis' favorability plummets," CNN, 2018-SEP-12, at: https://www.cnn.com/
  16. R.J. Reinhart, "Pope Francis Favorability Down Sharply in U.S.," Gallup, 2018-SEP-18, at: https://news.gallup.com/
  17. Maike Hickson, "Two German states to investigate sex abuse crimes of Catholic Church," Life Site News, 2018-OCT-12, at: https://www.lifesitenews.com/

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How you might have arrived here:

 Home page > Religious Info. > Basic info > Clergy sex abuse > here

or Home page > Religious Violence > Clergy sex abuse > here

or Home page > Christianity > Roman Catholicism > Clergy sex abuse > here

Copyright © 2018 Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Author: B.A. Robinson
Originally posted on: 2018-AUG-21
Latest update: 2018-OCT-13

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