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We are just now starting to learn that the reaction to the sexual abuse incidents was left to the discretion of the individual bishop or archbishop of the diocese, instead of being handled at a higher level. In many instances, priests who had been accused of sexual abuse ended up being relocated from parish to parish or forced to enter psychological therapy. Priests who continued to offend or those whose abuse came into litigation or threatened to be made public were instructed to retire or resign, and, in some instances, they had been laicized. Laicization is the elimination of the right to perform clerical responsibilities, and quite frankly this does not happen nearly enough.
Clergy Sex Abuse Lawyer Georgia
A number of bishops who covered up for offending priests were also made to retire or resign. Why aren’t all of the bishops who covered up such activity forced to retire? Good question. As a consequence of sexual abuse cases, it was the responsibility of the diocese to negotiate the claims of the victims of abuse. Some dioceses declared bankruptcy because of the financial burden of the pay outs, and you can be certain that more bankruptcies are going to happen down the road as the litigation heats up.
The episcopal conference level had little engagement in responding to sexual abuse scenarios until the dirty deeds were exposed by the prestigious Boston Globe. As the scandal developed and allegations increased, United States bishops felt the need to take coordinated measures to mitigate the damage.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops demanded more punishment for priests who committed sexual abuse. In June of 2002, they accepted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and pledged to establish a safe space for all children in church activities. Some think this took too long.
Clergy Sex Abuse Lawyer Georgia
The conference produced universal procedures for handling claims of sexual abuse against priests and other church employees. Reforms were put in place to require criminal record checks for all church employees, and dioceses were required to report allegations to police. They also commissioned a survey into the abuse situation.
The Vatican response continues to be criticized for being very slow. There was no initial response to the Boston Globe story in 2002, but the Vatican monitored the response of the United States bishops. In 2003, a secret document was discovered that gave directions on how to cover up incidents of sexual abuse. That same year, Pope John Paul II decreed that those who harmed the young had no place in the priesthood. The Vatican started requiring background checks for church employees and circulated rules against allowing ordination for homosexuals. Pope Francis implemented the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in 2014 to concentrate the church’s efforts to deal with the sexual abuse scandal.
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