NEW YORK — Jul 29, 2015
By RACHEL ZOLL AP Religion Writer
Priests, nuns and canon lawyers who advocate for molestation victims urged Pope Francis on Wednesday to use the new Vatican tribunal he formed on negligent bishops to investigate the archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, who has long been accused of sheltering abusive priests.
The plea comes as Francis prepares for his first visit to the U.S. in September, a trip which will take place against the backdrop of the broad unfinished business of the molestation scandal. The crisis erupted in 2002 with the case of one pedophile priest in the Archdiocese of Boston before spreading nationwide, then engulfing the Roman Catholic Church.
The advocates, who call themselves the Catholic Whistleblowers, said they will present evidence to the Vatican that Archbishop John Myers has been persistently hostile toward people who come forward with abuse allegations, and had left guilty clerics in parishes in the Newark archdiocese and in his previous post as bishop of Peoria, Illinois. Myers has repeatedly defended his record, noting that he has removed many guilty priests, but he has been dogged by revelations about cases bungled on his watch in both states.
“When Pope Francis last month announced the new tribunal, instantly — within 24 hours — we were saying, ‘Myers has to be one,'” said the Rev. James Connell, a canon lawyer and retired priest from Milwaukee, who is part of the whistleblower group. “It’s a place to start.”
Three American dioceses — Gallup, New Mexico, Milwaukee and St. Paul and Minneapolis — are in bankruptcy court trying to limit settlements with victims and preserve church assets; the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is being prosecuted on charges of failing to protect children from a now-convicted priest, and the Diocese of Honolulu is facing a raft of new claims after Hawaii lawmakers temporarily abolished time limits on lawsuits over child sex abuse.
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