Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Four Stories Hot off the Press: Catholic Whistleblowers, Mennonite Conference on Yoder, Catholic Abuse Case Settled in Arkansas, Dr. Rosemary McHugh Tells Her Story

Several links this morning to stories about the abuse situation in communities of faith:

Back in May 2013, I told you that a group called Catholic Whistleblowers had formed.* As I noted, twelve nuns and priests had organized the group to monitor and blow the whistle on the cover-up of abuse cases in the Catholic church, and had written a letter to Pope Francis about their concerns.

And now this: as Brian Roewe reports for National Catholic Reporter yesterday, the Catholic Whistleblowers group is going to air a documentary in New York City on 5 February, focusing on the difficulties faced by people who have spoken out about abuse in the church. Catholic Whistleblowers premiered this documentary last October at Boston College.

For readers of Bilgrimage in New York: the film will be shown at Cardozo Law School in Manhattan. I have no idea if it will eventually be more widely available (e.g., online). If you're interested in following this group, supporting it, and obtaining information about its activities, you might visit its website.

And another upcoming offering in a different part of the country and involving a different faith community: Ruth Krall has pointed me to information about a conference to be held at the Anabaptist Mennonite Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana, on March 21-25. As the AMBS announcement of the conference notes, its theme will be "Reunion, Listening, and Confessing."

In particular, conference organizers are soliciting the input of women who were sexually harmed by the leading Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder, who previously taught at AMBS, and they're calling on former and present AMBS leaders to apologize for the institution's lack of response to many credible reports of Yoder's activities. 

Some of the events at this conference are open to the public, but not all of them. The announcement to which I've just pointed you will provide further information about the events.

Also, one of those from-my-own-backyard items: the group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) has just issued a press statement reporting that a woman abused as a child by Father Bede Mitchel of Subiaco Abbey in Arkansas has settled an abuse lawsuit. Mitch Mitchell of the Fort-Worth Star-Telegram provides details of the story. As his account notes, the abuse began in 1969 when the woman, who appears as Jane Doe in court records, was 8 years old and continued for several years after this.

Father Mitchel (who is no longer living) worked in parishes in both Texas and Arkansas. SNAP is calling on Arkansas bishop Anthony Taylor to "come clean" about clerics who have molested children in Arkansas, and SNAP also expresses strong concern at the claims of Subiaco's abbot Jerome Kodel that, in settling this lawsuit, the Benedictine abbey does not admit that Mitchel abused the girl in question, but maintains that its insurance company forced it to settle the lawsuit.

And also, last but far from least, please don't overlook this important article in yesterday's Irish Central about Irish whistleblower Dr. Rosemary McHugh, who is telling the story of her sexual assault by a priest when she was a young woman for a new book about restorative justice in the Catholic church. I'm grateful to Jerry Slevin for pointing me to this story.

And so it goes . . . . 

*Please note that links from some previous postings here may not always work, since websites have a way of shifting material around after I first linked it. When I link to an "old" posting, I don't always check to be sure the links are still correct. If one of them interests you and is broken, you can usually find the current location of the article by googling or via another search engine.

The graphic Dieric Bouts's Mater Dolorosa (1470-75), from the National Gallery in London, which is available for sharing through Wikimedia Commons.

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