Tuesday, 11 May 2010

"Zero Tollerance": Has it Applied to Bishops?

Over the  past few weeks, there has been a spate of bishops' resignations tendered or accepted by Pope Benedict, some remarkably quickly. This might appear to represent a new spirit of accountability, but Rachel Zoll, writing for the Canadian Press, argues that there have still been far too few:#

Catholic Church's 'zero tolerance' doesn't apply to bishops 
who left abusers in ministry

NEW YORK, N.Y. — In the latest Roman Catholic sex abuse scandals in Europe and beyond, more bishops already have resigned for failing to protect children than ever stepped down during the U.S. abuse crisis.
American bishops point to their repeated apologies to victims and millions of dollars spent on child protection since 2002, when they enacted a stricter discipline policy. Yet critics say the focus of those reforms remains on reining in guilty clergy, ignoring the role of leaders who enabled the abuse.
Only a tiny number of prelates overall have stepped down for keeping predators in ministry. Experts say the push for resignation must come from the Vatican itself.
"A bishop would never resign unless it would be seen as in the service of the church," said R. Scott Appleby, a University of Notre Dame historian and expert on American Catholicism. "If he doesn't get signals from his superior in Rome that this is the appropriate thing to do, then he would not consider it the appropriate thing to do."
Four bishops in Ireland have resigned since the results of a government-ordered inquiry into the Archdiocese of Dublin were published last year, although the Vatican has only accepted two of the resignations so far. The investigation found church leaders had shielded more than 170 sexually abusive priests from the law. A fifth Irish bishop resigned in March after a separate inquiry found he was continuing to hide abuse claims from civil authorities.
While some bishops in the U.S. and elsewhere have resigned over their own sexual misconduct, only one U.S. prelate, Boston Cardinal Bernard Law, has ever stepped down for mishandling cases of guilty priests. This, despite national studies commissioned by the U.S. bishops that found priests accused of abuse were moved from parish to parish without warnings to parents or police.

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