Wednesday, June 8, 2022

20 Years of Clergy Sex Abuse - Clericalism and Non-Accountability, 20 Years of Women Priests -Inclusiveness and Gender Equality

From left: Terence McKiernan, co-founder and president of; Margery Eagan, co-host of 89.7 WGBH’s midday program Boston Public Radio; and Anne Barrett Doyle, codirector of, speak during a panel discussion at a June 4 conference in Quincy, Massachusetts, which was titled, "Pivot to the Future: Marking 20 Years of Confronting Clergy Sex Abuse." (NCR/Brian Fraga)

As the international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement celebrates 20 years of women priests in 2022, the National Catholic Reporter is documenting 20 years of clerical sex abuse in the Church. 

The real tragedy is that after 20 years of clerical abuse and cover-ups, there is still no real accountability by the hierarchy.  The demolition of clericalism is what is needed to begin this process. That is apparently a bridge too far for Pope Francis and the bishops. But, not for our movement!

 Our goal is to dismantle the clerical culture of male supremacy by affirming the radical equality of every person as an image of God. In our renewed model, the assembly celebrates sacraments and makes decisions together in communities where all are loved, all are equal and all have a seat at the table.  

 On June 1, 2021, Pope Francis approved an update to the Code of Canon Law that placed the ordination of women priests  in the same category of serious crimes against the Church as priests' sexual abusers of children. "Can. 1379 § 3. Both a person who attempts to confer a sacred order on a woman, and the woman who attempts to receive the sacred order, incur a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; a cleric, moreover, may be punished by dismissal from the clerical state."

This unjust scapegoating of women priests attempted  to change the focus on the root of the pedophilia crisis- clericalism. No punishment against women priests has stopped us from serving the people of God.  In 2002, there were 7 women ordained, now there are close to 300 worldwide. 

In in an article entitled  Vatican Equates Women's Ordination with Priest Pedophilia, theologian Mary Hunt raises the following questions: "Maybe they think people will be so scandalized by women wanting to get on with the ministry of the church at a time when the institution is morally bankrupt that they will forget the cover-ups that necessitated this revision of law in the first place. Or, perhaps the foxes may really think that this effort to centralize power with even less accountability can take place quietly since so many people will be exercised over the mere suggestion of women priests."

"The Vatican doesn't care if the bishops follow the Charter, and the bishops know this. The only thing they have to follow is canon law," said Ann Barrett Doyle, who also criticized Pope Francis' 2019 motu proprio Vos Estis Lex Mundi ("You Are the Light of the World") for allegedly failing to deliver on its promise to hold bishops accountable for covering up or not investigating clergy sex abuse."

"Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of, told survivors during a panel discussion that  "the church hierarchy lied and lied and lied." She said that the United States bishops and the Vatican have failed to implement meaningful reforms. She referred to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People — the norms the U.S. bishops adopted in June 2002 on responding to clergy sex abuse cases — as a nonbinding "public relations document..."

"What we've seen" from Vos Estis, Doyle said, "is a process that is totally controlled by the hierarchy, especially the Vatican." She noted that under Vos Estis, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York oversaw an investigation into his "good friend," Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, that resulted in DiMarzio being exonerated last year of decades-old sexual abuse allegations.

"It is the very essence of clericalism," Doyle said. "It is completely nontransparent. We don't know which bishops are being investigated or when they are sanctioned. And we don't know why they are sanctioned."

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