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Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in Pennsylvania, Germany, etc:

2018-DEC to 2019-MAR:
U.S. confidence in clergy drops.
Clergy "sex abuse" summit
meeting held in Vatican.
WV sues Catholic Diocese.

Part 6 of six parts:

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This topic continues here from the previous essay.

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2018-DEC: Gallup Poll of U.S. Roman Catholic members show a statistically significant drop in confidence in their church:

Once a year, the Gallup organization conducts an "honesty and ethics of professions poll." 1 They sample U.S. public opinion on adults' assessment of the honestly and ethical standards of various professions. The public is asked:

"Please tell me how you would rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in these different fields -- very high, high, average, low or very low?"

One of the professions that Gallup asks about is "clergy."

Both Protestant and Roman Catholic members of the public revealed a drop in confidence. The percentage of respondents rating their clergy "high" or "very high" dropped:

  • Among Protestant, a decline occurred from a high of 60% in the year 2011 to 49% in 2017 with a further drop of 1 percentage point to 48% in 2018.

  • Among Roman Catholics, a decline occurred from a high of 545% in the year 2011 to 49% in 2017 with a major drop of 18 percentage point to 31% in 2018.

Gallup concluded:

"The latest drop in Catholics' positive views of the clergy's ethics, from 49% to 31%, is the second double-digit drop since 2004. Both declines were clearly associated with scandals in the Catholic Church even though the question about clergy does not specify a denomination."

Gallup also noted that the percentage of U.S. adults who identify as Roman Catholic rose from 22% in 1948 to a peak of 29% in 1982 and then dropped to 22% in 2018.

When asked between years 2001 and 2018 "How important would you say religion is in your own life -- very important, fairly important or not very important," those who felt that it was very important has been relatively stable, ranging from a low of 44% in 2008 to a high of 64% in 2013 to 52% in 2018. Meanwhile, the percentage of U.S. adults who report no affiliation with any religious group has risen precipitously from 2% in 1958 to 20% in 2018. These individuals are commonly referred to by the media as "nones." We prefer the term "NOTAs" -- referring to "None Of The Above" because the term "nones" is a homophone with the term "nuns." These are two different terms, both referring to religious groups that sound the same when spoken.

Webmaster's note:

Gallup conducted this survey among a sample of only 1,025 adults selected randomly from all those in DC or in one of the 50 states. Only 210 of the adults questioned were Roman Catholics. This means that the margin of sampling error is ± 8 percentage points for Catholic data. In my opinion, the importance of the topics covered justifies a much larger sample size, because their report on the drop in clergy confidence among Roman Catholics is barely significant, from a statistical viewpoint.

Also, the question that they ask appears to be ambiguous. Some respondents may interpret the question as referring to clergy generally, while others might interpret it as referring only to Christian clergy, and still others might interpret it as referring to clergy in their denomination only.

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2019-FEB: Summit meeting in the Vatican to discuss sex abuse of minors within the Catholic Church:

A "sex abuse summit meeting" was announced by Pope Francis during a meeting of his advisory Council of Cardinals. It was scheduled for 2019-FEB-21 to 24, and was formally called the "Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church." 2 Attending would be clergy consisting of religious superiors and the presidents of all of the world's bishops' conferences.

Sources differ on the number of attendees. Most media reports said almost or about 200

Such a meeting is apparently an unprecedented event. Thirteen of the attendees -- 7% -- were female. A full day was devoted to discussions of each of three topics: Church responsibility, accountability and transparency. 2

Webmaster's comment:

Curiously, prevention was not a main topic at the summit. I would have liked to see another week of meetings devote to this topic.

Just before the summit, German Cardinal Brandmüller and U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke expressed concern over the topics to be discussed. They co-signed an open letter to bishops attending the summit. It urged that the attendees call for an end to the:

"... plague of the homosexual agenda ... [in the Church and a] climate of complicity and a conspiracy of silence." 3

Valentina Alazraki was the last speaker at the summit. She is a Mexican writer and journalist who has specialized in Vatican matters since 1974. She had been asked to speak during the "Transparency" session." 3 She said that the Church needs a moral guide:

"... coherence between what one preaches and what one lives is the basis of being a credible institution, worthy of trust and respect." 4

She views journalists as allies of the Church and not enemies. The media help:

"... to find the rotten apples and to overcome resistance in order to separate them from the healthy ones. ..."

"We journalists know that there are reporters who are more thorough than others, and that there are media outlets more or less dependent on political, ideological or economic interests. But I believe that in no case can the mass media be blamed for having uncovered, or reported on, the abuse."

She asserted that:

"Abuses against minors are neither rumors nor gossip. They are crimes."

She said that she would like all of those attending the meeting:

"... to leave this hall with the conviction that we journalist are neither those who abuse nor those who cover up. Our mission is to assert and defend a right, which is a right to information based on truth in order to obtain justice." 4

At the end of her presentation, she raised a different topic that is just now emerging within the Church: the abuse of nuns and women religious by priests and bishops. She said:

"I would like that on this occasion the Church play offense and not defense, as has happened in the case of the abuse of minors. It could be a great opportunity for the Church to take the initiative and be on the forefront of denouncing these abuses, which are not only sexual but also abuses of power." 4

At a press conference after the final day's session, the moderator of the summit announced three new Church initiatives:

  1. Pope Francis will release a "Motu proprio" -- a document issued by the pope on his own initiative and personally signed by him. It will establish rules and regulations for the protections of minors and vulnerable adults within the Vatican.

  2. Distribution of a rule book to all Bishops explaining their responsibilities with regard to protecting children.

  3. Creation of an task force of experts to assist Bishops' Conferences deal with safeguarding minors and to deal with abuse when it happens. 4

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2019-FEB-25: German Cardinal criticized the sex abuse summit:

Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register interviewed German Cardinal Brandmüller after the summit. The Cardinal said that the organizers of the summit avoided the issue of homosexuality in order to advance a "homosexual agenda" within the Catholic Church and protect homosexual networks that thrive in a "climate of complicity and a conspiracy of silence." He said:

"Discussing the problem of homosexuality would have become dangerous for them, because it’s evident there is a network of homosexuals within the Vatican. ... That’s the problem, there’s no question. ... This is a silence that calls out to be broken."

He urged journalist to continue to:

"Be strong, decisive, and clear" in exposing scandals. 3

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2019-FEB-27: Rewire News concludes that the summit meeting was a failure:

Mary Hunt, writing a powerful article for Rewire News, said:

"The recently concluded Vatican summit on sexual abuse in the church was framed in the same old top-down way that's at the heart of the problem. Lay people, both women and men, experts in the law, psychology, and theology were excluded. ... As I surmised beforehand, the meeting was 'held at the wrong time with the wrong people about the wrong issues'. ..."

"... the real action was in the streets and surrounding buildings, where scores of sex abuse survivors and their supporters protested, told their stories, and gave interviews. ..."

"A skilled facilitator would have invited the survivors into the hall, paired them each with a bishop, and invited them together to lay out constructive next steps for the church. Alas, no such forward-looking person was in a position to do so, least of all the much-touted and deeply disappointing pontiff."

"No one expected a miracle or a magic solution to the deeply entrenched problem of sexual abuse of minors at this meeting. Given that the abuse of women, including nuns, has not been addressed at all, and that the cases and lists of perpetrators continue to roll out (along with the conviction of George Pell, Pope Francis’ handpicked leader of the Vatican’s finances), there’s little reason to expect anything at all from Rome." 5

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2019-MAR-19: West Virginia sues Catholic diocese:

Government officials from West Virginia have sued the state's Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. The State Government accuses the diocese of knowingly having hiring priests and lay persons to work in schools, parishes and camps who have records of having had sexually assaulting children in the past. The diocese denied these allegations. They claim to use screening, background checks, and training for both employees and volunteers who worked with children.

Patrick Morrisey, the Attorney General of West Virginia said:

"The Wheeling-Charleston Diocese engaged in a pattern of denial and cover-up when it discovered its priests were sexually abusing children, particularly in schools and camps run by the Catholic Church and funded through tuition paid by West Virginia consumers."

The diocese issued a statement, saying that it:

"... strongly and unconditionally rejects the complaint's assertion that the diocese is not wholly committed to the protection of children."

The Diocese and Attorney General may be talking about two different topics:

  • The Diocese about their current policies, and

  • The Attorney General about the diocese's past policies.

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, which is the world's largest support group for people hurt by religious and institutional authorities, said it was grateful to the Attorney General for "... bringing these egregious oversights into the light." 6

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A book on power and abuse in the Catholic Church:

book cover Frederic Martel, "In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy," Bloomsbury Continuum (2019) Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store

Four book reviews:

  • “Probably one of the best books by a journalist ever written” ―Gazeta Wyborcza [Poland]

  • "In the Closet of the Vatican is the first global account of the dishonesty about homosexuality which is endemic in the structures of the modern Roman Catholic Church” ―James Alison, Theologian

  • A truly shocking theory about the Vatican; the largest gay community in the world” ―Il Giornale [Italy]

  • [An] earth-shaking expose of clerical corruption [...] What Martel does, quite masterfully, is to connect the dots that reveal an ecclesiastical system in profound decay [...] In the Closet of the Vatican examines in impressive detail the double lives led by many of the church's prelates [...] Without question, [the book] is a truly remarkable publishing event” ―National Catholic Reporter (US)

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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. Megan Brenan, "U.S. Catholics' Faith in Clergy Is Shaken," Gallup, 2019-JAN-11, at: https://news.gallup.com/poll/
  2. Vatican sexual abuse summit , Wikipedia, as on 2019-FEB-27, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/
  3. Diane Montagna, "Cardinal decries Vatican ‘silence’ on homosexuality at abuse summit," Life Site News, 2019-FEB-27, at: https://www.lifesitenews.com/
  4. "Protection of minors: a journalist offers some advice," Vatican News, 2019-FEB-23, at: https://www.vaticannews.va/
  5. Mary Hunt, "Rome Has Spoken and Rome Is Finished: The Vatican’s Sexual Abuse Summit ‘Failed Miserably’," Rewire News, 2019-FEB-27, at: https://rewire.news/
  6. Gabriella Borter, "West Virginia Sues Catholic Diocese for Knowingly Hiring Sexual Abusers of Children," U.S. News, 2019-MAR-19 at: https://www.usnews.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 & 2019 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Author: B.A. Robinson
Originally posted on: 2019-FEB-28
Latest update: 2019-MAR-21

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