- Apr 7, 2020
In an April 7 statement just hours after the court’s verdict, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said, “The Holy See, which has always expressed confidence in the Australian judicial authority, welcomes the High Court’s unanimous decision concerning Cardinal George Pell, acquitting him of the accusations of abuse of minors and overturning his sentence.”
Nearly two decades after the Catholic priest-abuse scandal exploded in the U.S. in 2002, only one church official has ever gone to prison over it: Monsignor William Lynn, the longtime secretary for clergy in the Philadelphia archdiocese. After an appeals court found his sweeping 2012 trial flawed and his conviction was twice overturned, Lynn, 69, is set to be retried Monday on a single child endangerment count.
In the wake of revelations that scores of Catholic priests and religious workers credibly accused of child sexual abuse are living unsupervised in communities across the country, state officials face a quandary: Should they screen former clergy members who seek licenses for jobs that put them in contact with children? And, if so, how?
For Frank Meuers, a victim-survivor of clergy sexual abuse, the impact is far-reaching and never-ending.
Victims’ advocates had long criticized the Roman Catholic Church for not making public the names of credibly accused priests. Now, despite the dioceses’ release of nearly 5,300 names, most in the last two years, critics say the lists are far from complete.
Mark Belenchia didn’t stay quiet. He told his mother and his uncle, in the mid-1970s. He told a parish priest, then the vicar general, in 1985. Still, the clergyman Belenchia said sexually abused him when he was a child in Shelby, Mississippi, remained in collar and cassock.