Tags: catholic | priests | nuns | whistleblowers | sex | abuse

Catholic Priests and Nuns Unite to Fight Church's Abuse Problem

Image: Catholic Priests and Nuns Unite to Fight Church's Abuse Problem A parishioner prays inside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. Cardinal Roger Mahony of the largest Roman Catholic archdiocese in the United States was stripped of his duties in an unprecedented move by his successor, Archbishop Jose Gomez, who described the church's actions during the growing sex abuse scandal as evil.

By Courtney Coren   |   Tuesday, 21 May 2013 09:37 AM

A group of priests and nuns calling themselves Catholic Whistleblowers are pressing Pope Francis and the American bishops to take on those in the church who are still protecting sexual predators.

The group formed quietly about nine months ago and plans to go public with their campaign this week. Of the 12 members in the steering group, some have exposed abusers before, three are canon lawyers who have represented the church in abuse cases in the past, and four say they were sexually abused as children, The New York Times reports.

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The whistleblowers say they aim to provide support for victims and others who would come forward as well to expose areas where the church is falling short in dealing with the abuse problem. They also want the world to know that there are good priests and nuns in the church who are fighting against the sex-abuse scandal that has plagued the Catholic Church in recent years.

"We've dedicated our lives to the church," said the Rev. John Bambrick at a meeting of the group in New York last week. "Having sex offenders in ministry is damaging to our ministry."

The whistleblowers have sent a letter to Pope Francis asking that he get involved with helping to heal the victims and restoring the church's credibility by revoking all oaths of secrecy, opening the files on abuse cases, removing from office any bishops who are obstructing justice, and creating an international forum that would serve as a place where sex-abuse victims and church leaders could meet, the Times reported Tuesday.

The Catholic Church in the United States adopted a zero-tolerance policy toward sex abuse in 2002, after the scandal peaked. As a result, American bishops are required to hold an audit of abuse cases every year. The survey conducted this year found the fewest number of allegations and victims since 2004 when the audits began.

But one of the concerns of the Catholic Whistleblowers is that there are bishops who are violating the policies put in place and that abusive clergy still have too much access to children. While progress has been made, they believe that vigilance is still necessary.

The group is planning to hold its first news conference in New York this week and says it hopes to provide some cover to priests and others in the church who have experienced a backlash for speaking up in the past.

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