Catholic Whistleblower Group Seeks Stronger Sex Crime Policies, Legislation

Catholic_WhistleblowerMembers of the national advocacy group, Catholic Whistleblowers, comprised of Catholic clergy and nuns, is urging the Church to increase its stand against child sexual abuse.

In its first public action, Catholic Whistleblowers met in New York for a news conference, according to Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel (JS Online). Cardinal Timothy Dolan, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and considered one of the most powerful American ecclesiastical dignitaries, is located in New York, said JS Online.

The group hopes that Cardinal Dolan will step in to have Newark, New Jersey Bishop John Myers removed from his post after making headlines for allowing a known pedophile priest continued access to minors, a violation of an agreement made with prosecutors, JS Online noted. The group also urges all Catholic bishops to support proposed legislation that would lift statutes of limitations on sex crimes against children and to adopt policies that would protect priests, nuns, and church employees who report child sex abuse or associated cover-ups to civil authorities.

“The church has made strides; thousands of people have been trained in how to spot and report sex abuse. But all of that has to do with the future,” Reverend James Connell of Sheboygan, a child sex abuse victim advocate, told JS Online. “But that doesn’t address the accountability, or the justice issues of the past,” the reverend added. “Those issues are still at hand.”

Cardinal Dolan’s spokesman wrote in a responding email that the Archdiocese of New York has long had a policy encouraging those with allegations of abuse to report them to civil authorities. No known abusers are serving in the dioceses, the spokesman added. He did not respond to questions concerning Myers or the statute-of-limitations legislation, according to JS Online.

In related news, the American Roman Catholic church recently announced that it has stripped Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of all public duties amid a pedophile priest scandal. The retired Cardinal and other key Roman Catholic officials in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles protected molester priests, hid molestation accusations from parishioners, and ensured damage control for the church. Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez has publicly censured Mahony and also announced that Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Curry resigned as a regional bishop in Santa Barbara. Curry and Mahony collaborated to conceal sexually abusive priests from police in the 1980s, said The Los Angeles Times previously.

More than one decade has passed since the first major wave of sexual abuse lawsuits were brought against the Catholic Church in the United States. Hundreds, likely thousands, of minors were victims of sexual abuse committed by priests working for the Catholic Church. Rather than risking a tarnished profile, the Church kept information on the mounting allegations of sexual abuse against children among its ranks to itself. Rather than removing abusive priests, the Church transferred accused clergy to different churches, allowing them to prey on unknowing parishioners and their children in even more parishes across the country.

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