Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

Australian Catholic Church & Boy Scouts of America Scandals Show Depth & Breadth of Child Sex Abuse & Cover-Up

NEWTON, Mass., Oct. 19, 2012 – Recent revelations of child sexual abuse and cover-up in the Roman Catholic Church in Australia and the Boy Scouts of America show the depth and breadth of this continuing worldwide perversion and scandal, according the Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful®.

“Although our mission drives us to address Church scandal,” said Mark Mullaney, VOTF president and board chair, “we recognize and abhor the horrific scandal of child sexual abuse and the secrecy that surrounds these crimes in all areas of society and the world. We realize that what’s at work is the widespread criminal tendency not just to abuse the weak, but also to place the reputations of individuals and institutions above all other concerns.”

According to media reports from the state of Victoria in the southeast corner of Australia, a recent parliamentary inquiry found 620 cases of abuse since 1956 that the Church had not reported to police. This underscores the worldwide nature of the scandal that, only a few years ago, was purported to be only an American problem.

Oct. 12, Victoria Deputy Police Commissioner Graham Ashton reported to the inquiry, “If a stranger were to enter the grounds of a Church and rape a child, [then] that would be reported to police. But if that stranger happened to be a member of the clergy, such as a priest, then that would not be reported. A special process is wrapped around him, which discourages a victim to complain to police, seeks to ensure the offending clergy member is not only not prosecuted and jailed, but never entered on the sex offenders register. The process is designed to put the reputation of the Church first and victims second.”

Similarly to the Church in Australia, and worldwide, the Boy Scouts of America have sought repeatedly to keep reports of child sexual abuse by scout leaders secret. Last week, however, the Oregon Supreme Court made public thousands pages of documents about abuse allegations nationwide from 1959 to 1985. This followed previous reports of other files by The Los Angeles Times. Regarding the Oregon case, The New York Times said documents showed decades of abuse and “what child welfare experts say was a corrosive culture of secrecy that compounded the damage.”

According to The Boston Globe, Carmen Durso, a Boston lawyer experienced in child sex abuse cases against the Boy Scouts, Catholic Church and other organizations, said the cover ups no longer surprise him. “It saddens me,” he said, “that what you keep seeing over and over again, institution after institution … is that the goal of preserving the organization’s reputation and its funds have become more important than taking care of the kids for whom the organizations were started in the first place.”

Observing that same attitude, a New Jersey Herald and Associated Press report said, “An array of local authorities -- police chiefs, prosecutors, pastors and town Boy Scout leaders among them -- quietly shielded scoutmasters and others nationwide who allegedly molested children … At the time, those authorities justified their actions as necessary to protect the good name and good works of Scouting. But …, their maneuvers protected suspected sexual predators while victims suffered in silence.”

“The damage to these abuse victims in many cases is irreparable,” Mullaney said, “but even when an individual might be healed, what about our Church, where these crimes have occurred for decades and continue to occur? The Church has initiated elaborate processes claimed to prevent abuse over the 10 years since VOTF started, but has not rid itself of the most important dynamic prolonging the abuse – the clerical mindset that closes ranks around brother hierarchs to protect the Church and keep the abuse secret. This must change.”

Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of concerned mainstream Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at http://www.votf.org.

Contact: Nick Ingala, 781-559-3360 Office, 617-291-3495 Cell, nickingala@votf.org