The former Archdiocese of Miami priest, Neil Doherty, 62, stood silently alongside his attorney during his arraignment for drugging and raping a child. The former Vocation Director for the Archdiocese of Miami has had numerous credible accusations brought against him by victims of sexual abuse. The abuse dates back to the 1970’s. Since neither Doherty nor his attorney spoke during the arraignment hearing, the judge entered an automatic plea of not guilty.
The three Catholic bishops of Colorado have come out publicly and endorsed lifting the criminal statute of limitations involving sexual abuse of minors. However, they still don’t want victims to file civil lawsuits for these crimes. The bishops continue to fight against victims’ access to civil remedies for the harm done to them. It seems to me that the bishops’ policy is short sighted. Our justice system recognizes that victims should be able address injustice criminally and civilly. Their stance doesn’t serve justice. It does protect them and the institution from revealing years of cover up and scandal in the handling of priest abusers.
Rev. Daniel McCormack has entered a plea of not guilty to four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of three young boys. The next scheduled hearing in the case is scheduled for April 6 in Cook County. The case gained nationwide notoriety for the manner in which Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago handled the case. According to news reports, confirmed by the Cardinal himself, George didn’t address the allegations for months, leaving in the parish and exposing other youngsters to abuse by his inaction.
In a January 2006 interview with a Chicago newspaper, Francis Cardinal George admitted urging Vatican officials to delay release of the document concerning homosexuals and the priesthood for fear of backlash from activist groups in the USA. George cited the fact that the groups already blame the church for linking homosexuality and the abuse crisis as cause for delay of the document. The Vatican response to the request was a curt No.
Monsignor Dale Fushek has been freed from the house arrest and electronic monitoring imposed upon him after being arrested on sex abuse charges. The scandal surrounding Fushek erupted late last year after his arrest on sex abuse charges. The Phoenix diocese has been no stranger to scandal in the past. It’s bishop Thomas O’Brien was arrested after killing a pedestrian in a motor vehicle accident and fled the scene. O’Brien later resigned as bishop of the diocese.
Monsignor Dale Fushek, founder of Life Teen and a high-ranking monsignor in the Phoenix Diocese has been released from house arrest and the electronic monitoring imposed upon him after his arrest on sex abuse charges late last year. However, witnesses and victims continue to come forward accusing Fushek of sexual abuse. His supporters have started an online campaign to raise money for his defense and abuse victims have stated they’ve been intimidated by Fushek supporters while testifying in court.
Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago, had ignored recommendations of his own board concerning the sexual predator Rev. Daniel McCormack. The board had recommended months ago to review the predatory priest but George ignored the recommendation. Now, victims advocacy groups like SNAP are calling for his resignation.
When Pope Benedict XVI tapped two American archbishops as cardinals this week, it was widely noted in the press that both men have been at the center of the sex abuse controversy. Archbishop William Levada, formerly Archbishop of San Francisco and now head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith was dogged by the scandals and was recently deposed in a sex abuse lawsuit. Sean O’Malley of Boston inherited Cardinal Law’s mess in Boston. Both bishops have been criticized for their handling of the crisis.
While the victims talked about the settlement in Waterloo, church leaders in Dubuque gave a public apology and talked about how the archdiocese would move forward. Closure and restitution seem to be the two words that best describe this settlement for abuse cases that happened in the 1950’s and 1960’s. During a news conference, archbishop Jerome Hanus outlined exactly how the church will pay $5 million to abuse victims. “The bulk of it will come from the Dubuque Archdiocesan Protection Program,” says Hanus.
Having passed a Senate committee by a 5-1 vote, the full Colorado Senate will hear testimony concerning opening up the statute of limitations regarding sexual abuse of minors. The legislation is strongly opposed by the Colorado Catholic Conference. Archbishop Chaput of the Archdiocese of Denver has argued publicly that the bill unfairly targets the Catholic Church and excludes public institutions.
When church lawyers were asked if they’d support the bill if public institutions were included, the attorneys stated that they’d have to check with their superiors.