Friday, December 19, 2014

Jerry Slevin on Pope Francis's "Huge Papal Mistake" in Not Placing Father Thomas Doyle on Papal Abuse Commission

At his Christian Catholicism site, Jerry Slevin argues that Pope Francis is making "a huge papal mistake" and "exhibiting his papal fallibility" by passing over Father Thomas Doyle, one of the leading authorities on the Catholic abuse crisis, as Francis adds new members to his commisison on abuse. Jerry points to Tom Doyle's extensive qualifications to serve the church on this papal commission:

Fr. Doyle is a  Dominican priest with a doctorate in canon law and five separate master’s degrees. He sacrificed a rising career under Cardinal Laghi at the USA's Vatican Embassy to become an outspoken advocate for Catholic Church priest sexual abuse victims. Since 1984, when he first became involved with the issue of sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy while serving at the Embassy, he has become an expert in the canonical and pastoral dimensions of this problem—working directly with victims, their families, accused priests, bishops, and other high-ranking Church officials. 
Doyle has interviewed over 2,000 victims of clerical sexual abuse in the USA alone, and has been the only priest to testify in court in over 200 cases as to the legal liability of the Church. He has developed policies and procedures for dealing with cases of sexual abuse by the clergy for dioceses and religious orders in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. 
As an expert in this area, Doyle has delivered lectures and seminars for clergy and lay groups throughout the U.S. In 1989 he appeared as an expert witness before the legislature of Pennsylvania concerning that State’s child protective legislation. As an Air Force major stationed in Germany, and who also served as a military chaplain in Iraq, he holds 16 military awards and decorations for distinguished service. 
Doyle currently serves as a consultant/court expert in clerical abuse cases throughout the U.S., Canada, Ireland, Israel and the United Kingdom. The Voice of the Faithful honored Doyle with their first Priest of Integrity Award in 2002. In recognition of his advocacy work for the victims of clerical sexual abuse, he has also received the Cavallo Award for Moral Courage (1992) and the Isaac Hecker Award from the Paulist Fathers (2003). In June of 2003 Doyle was also issued an official commendation from the Dominican Fathers for his "prophetic work in drawing attention to clergy sexual abuse and for advocating the rights of victims and abusers."
Doyle is the author of several books, including "Meeting the Problem of Sexual Abuse Among the Clergy in a Responsible Way" with Michael Peterson, M.D. and F. Ray Mouton (St. Luke Institute, 1985), and is a co-author of "Sex, Priests, and Secret Codes: The Catholic Church’s 2,000 Year Paper Trail of Sexual Abuse" (2006).

As Jerry notes, if the commentary about the papal commisison at Catholic blog sites like National Catholic Reporter is any indication, Catholics on the ground are beyond impatient with the way in which Francis has dragged his feet about addressing the abuse issue. Jerry excerpts recent commentary at NCR by various readers:

Mokantx: So here we are, 12+ years since the Boston Globe brought this mess to the public. And only NOW is the Vatican getting around to a commission. They still haven’t met. We hear words about accountability for bishops, but so far, it’s only words. 
Sarah: The Pope established the special commission last December, and now he adds more people a year later. Did it do anything in the past year? It just seems like some kind of symbolic gesture. I wish the Pope would get serious about children and expand this commission to include all crimes committed against children by the Catholic Church.  
Michael: I think that competent, experienced, compassionate and decisive advocates such as Thomas Doyle, Richard Sipe, Sister Maureen Paul Turlish, Gerald Slevin, etc. are still waiting for the call from the Vatican to join the Commission. 
hrh: More passengers on the train to nowhere. Smoke and mirrors to distract, This "commission" has done nothing in its year-and-a-half of existence, and Sean is keeping it right on schedule, doncha think?

I like this emphasis on hearing the voice of the people of God. As Sister Joan Chittister points out in response to the Vatican report on U.S. nuns earlier this week, it was when lay Catholics went to bat for the nuns as Rome began to bully religious women that we saw the Vatican begin to realize it was making a spectacular mistake with its bullying.

The same thing needs to happen with the handling of the abuse crisis, obviously.

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