The pope accepted the resignation of a Chilean bishop who is under investigation by the Vatican for the alleged sexual abuse of a minor. The resignation of Bishop Marco Antonio Ordenes Fernandez of Iquique, Chile, marks one of the few times that the Vatican has acknowledged publicly that it was investigating a bishop for sex abuse allegations. Advocates for clerical sex abuse victims have long complained that the Vatican has looked the other way when bishops have been accused of abuse or of covering it up.
Monsignor William Lynn, the highest-ranking clergyman convicted in the U.S. Roman Catholic Church scandal, was sentenced on Tuesday to up to six years in prison for covering up child sex abuse by priests in Philadelphia.
A Waterford priest charged last week with first-degree possession of child pornography pleaded not guilty to the charge Monday during a brief hearing in Superior Court.
The Vatican is investigating seven priests from the troubled Legion of Christ religious order for alleged sexual abuse of minors and another two for other alleged crimes.
Religious institutions have constitutional protections, but they are not above the law. Unfortunately, that has not stopped the Roman Catholic Church and other religious groups from arguing that the First Amendment shields them from civil lawsuits for negligent supervision and retention of employees who sexually abuse children. Most state courts that have considered the issue have rejected this claim by churches, recognizing that holding religious employers liable for failure to monitor employees in sex-abuse cases does not interfere with constitutionally protected religious freedoms. However, courts in Missouri, Wisconsin and Utah have twisted the First Amendment into a shield for organizational liability for pedophile clergy. In an outrageous case, a Missouri appellate court summarily dismissed a negligence case brought against the Archdiocese of St. Louis by an individual who said he had been abused by a priest. His suit charged the archdiocese with negligent failure to supervise the priest, who had a past record of child sexual abuse. The court threw out the complaint, saying that Missouri law does not allow it because judging the supervision of the priest would require inquiry into religious doctrine, which it contends would violate the First Amendment. This bizarre conclusion would grant churches a special exemption from neutral, generally applicable laws designed to protect children. The United States Supreme Court now has an opportunity to reverse this erroneous interpretation of the Constitution. The justices should grant the plaintiff's petition for review, which they are scheduled to consider on Friday. Since some 20 states have not ruled on this issue, the Supreme Court can provide urgently needed clarity. It should firmly declare that the First Amendment does not exempt religious entities from accountability for exposing children to harm. THE NEW YORK TIMES, Editorial - March 14, 2012
Lawsuit Against Hartford Archdiocese Involves Its Response To Child Sex Abuse 30 Years Ago A judge on Thursday said the Catholic Church cannot defend itself from a priest sex abuse case by arguing that its response to the abuse -- considered by many to be inappropriate now -- was generally accepted when the abuse occurred 30 years ago.
In its effort to defend itself from an accusation of sexual abuse by one of its priests, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hartford collided in court Friday with one of the unflinchingly obedient Catholic families that form its core. The retired parents of an altar boy took the witness stand and described the day they were shaken by their by-then grown son's disclosure that a priest, known to the family for years, abused him and his best friend while the boys attended a diocesan grammar school in Derby.