Springfield Diocese Hosts Presentation on Sex Abuse Crisis for Clergy
By Anne-Gerard Flynn
Springfield News Republican
October 3, 2018
|In this April 14, 2005 file photo, Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick enters the St. Nereus and Achilleus Church in Rome. In July 2018, Pope Francis removed the U.S. church leader as a cardinal after church investigators said an allegation that he groped a teenage altar boy in the 1970s was credible. Subsequently, several former seminarians and priests reported that they too had been abused or harassed by McCarrick as adults. (AP Photo/ Alessandra Tarantino)|
A representative from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will talk with Springfield diocese clergy on the church's sexual abuse crisis in the wake of several high profile recent investigations.
Francesco Cesareo, who chairs the National Review Board that advises the USCCB on preventing such abuse, will meet with clergy Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 6 p.m. at Pope Francis Preparatory School, 99 Wendover Road.
A recently released Pennsylvania grand jury report found that more than 1,000 children were victimized by some 300 Catholic priests over seven decades and that their sexual abuse was covered up by church hierarchy.
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, former archbishop of Washington, was suspended from ministry in June after the New York archdiocese deemed credible an accusation that he had molested a 16-year-old boy there 50 years ago.
Subsequent reports revealed that the church had been aware for decades that the popular McCarrick had been accused of sexually harassing and inappropriately touching adults. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the Vatican's former ambassador to the United States who attended the installation of Bishop Mitchell Rozanski here in 2014, recently accused Pope Francis as being part of the cover-up.
"In light of the events of this summer, the Archbishop McCarrick scandal and the Pennsylvania grand jury report, the clergy education committee felt that it would be good for the priests and deacons to come together with Caesareo to process the events of this summer and to speak frankly of where the Church is right now in our commitment to the Protection of Youth and Young People," said Rozanski, referencing a charter of procedures the USCCB has for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy.
"The Dallas Charter is now 16 years old and has been implemented in every diocese and eparchy in the country and it is a good time to reflect on what has been and how we can continue to be ever vigilant as a Church in the area of sexual child abuse."
He added, "As bishop, I welcome this opportunity to gather as priests and deacons so that we, as leaders of God's people, will set the tone and example in ridding the Church and society of this scourge."
The National Review Board issued a statement in response to both the grand jury report and McCarrick investigation saying they "point to a systemic problem within the Church that can no longer be ignored or tolerated by the episcopacy in the United States."
"The evil of the crimes that have been perpetrated reaching into the highest levels of the hierarchy will not be stemmed simply by the creation of new committees, policies, or procedures," the statement said.
"What needs to happen is a genuine change in the Church's culture, specifically among the bishops themselves."
It also called for further revisions to the Charter for the Protection of Youth and Young People. Revisions made this summer to the charter, require all those who come in contact with minors in the church to undergo background checks.
The charter is also known as the Dallas Charter as it is where the bishops conference was held in 2002 to debate it in the wake of the Boston Globe investigation into the Boston's archdiocese's cover-up of priests accused of sexual abuse of minors. One of the key voices for reform at the time was McCarrick.
Caesareo is president of Assumption College, and is also overseeing an investigation into allegations of misconduct made by seminarians at St. John's Seminary in Boston.
The Springfield diocese held a similar day Sept. 25 for employees to discuss the clergy sexual abuse crisis.