UNDER FIRE & THE MICROSCOPE

September 14, 2018 at 5:00 am

Public outcry and demands for justice for victims of sexual abuse grow louder, as Pope Francis gathered American Catholic Church leaders today for an unprecedented meeting on the clergy sex abuse scandal. What does this mean for New York’s faithful?

Aired on September 13, 2018.

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>> GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO
METRO FOCUS.
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ONCE UNDER
THE MICRO SCOPE FOR COVERING UP
PAST SEXUAL ABUSE BY PRIEST HAS
NOW FOUND ITSELF UNDER FIRE.
THE POPE HELD MEETINGS WITH THE
U.S. DELEGATION OF BISHOPS AND
CARDINALS TO DISCUSS RECENT
GRAND JURY FINDINGS.
MORE THAN 1,000 CHILDREN WERE
SEXUALLY ABUSED BY PRIESTS
DATING BACK DECADES IN
PENNSYLVANIA.
BISHOPS AROUND THE WORLD WERE
CALLED TO A MEETING TO DISCUSS
HOW TO STOP ABUSE.
POPE FRANCIS HIMSELF IS UNDER
FIRE FOR WHAT HE MIGHT HAVE
KNOWN ABOUT THE COVER-UPS AND
WHEN.
NEW YORK STATE IS HOME TO ABOUT
7 MILLION CATHOLICS AND IT COULD
ALSO BE THE NEXT FLASHPOINT IN
THE SEX SCANDAL.
LAST WEEK, NEW YORK ATTORNEY
GENERAL BARBARA UNDERWOOD ISSUED
SUBPOENAS TO EVERY CATHOLIC
DIOCESE IN THE STATE, EIGHT IN
TOTAL.
AS PART OF A SWEEPING
INVESTIGATION AS TO HOW THE
CHURCH WE VIEWED POSSIBLY
COVERED UP ALLEGATIONS OF SEXUAL
ABUSE OF MINORS BY CLERGY.
METRO FOCUS' JENNA FLANNIGAN
SPOKE WITH A MEMBER OF THE
SPOTLIGHT INVESTIGATIVE UNIT
THAT REPORTED ON WIDESPREAD
SEXUAL ABUSE AND SUSPECTED
COVER-UP.
SHE BEGAN BY ASKING HIM ABOUT
WHAT THE NEW YORK INVESTIGATORS
ARE LOOKING TO UNCOVER.
>> WELL, I THINK IT'S A VERY
WELCOME DEVELOPMENT AND ALSO I'D
HAVE TO SAY LONG OVERDUE.
I MEAN, AFTER ALL, IT IS 16
YEARS SINCE THE BOSTON GLOBE'S
SPOTLIGHT TEAM YOU DISCOVERED
THAT FOR DECADES THEY COVERED UP
RAMPANT SEXUAL ABUSE.
THE SAME THING HAPPENED IN
PENNSYLVANIA, TUCSON, LOS
ANGELES, IRELAND, AUSTRALIA, IT
HAPPENED IN CHILE, IN FACT,
EVERYWHERE SOMEONE HAS BOTHERED
TO TAKE A LOOK, USUALLY LAW
ENFORCEMENT, SOMETIMES
JOURNALISTS, WE HAVE FOUND THE
SAME THING, THIS IS SYSTEMIC ALL
OVER THE WORLD, IT'S A PATTERN,
AS I SAY, THE OTHER ATTORNEYS
GENERAL GETTING INVOLVED, VERY
WELCOME DEVELOPMENT, A LOT OF
PEOPLE STILL NEED JUSTICE, BUT
LONG OVERDUE.
>> INTERESTING THAT YOU WERE
SAYING THAT THIS HAS BEEN
SYSTEMIC IN ALL THESE OTHER
CITIES, AFTER THE ATTORNEY
GENERAL REPORT IN PENNSYLVANIA
WAS RELEASED.
THE BISHOP OF PITTSBURGH CAME
OUT AND SAID, THIS ACTUALLY
ISN'T FAIR, AND NECESSARILY
CORRECT BECAUSE THE CATHOLIC
CHURCH HAS BEEN VERY TRANSPARENT
IN REPORTING ABUSE AND NOT
COVERING IT UP, AND HANDLING
THINGS THROUGH THE PROPER
CHANNELS FOR AT LEAST THE PAST
30 YEARS.
ARE YOU SAYING THE BISHOP OF
PITTSBURGH IS INCORRECT?
>> HIS STATEMENT IS PATENTLY
FALSE.
IF HE'S CORRECT, WHY ARE WE
LEARNING ABOUT ALL OF THESE
ATROCITIES IN PENNSYLVANIA FOR
THE FIRST TIME?
IF THE DIOCESE WERE BEING
TRANSPARENT THIS WOULD BE
NOTHING NEW.
BUT IT'S BRAND NEW.
>> THE OTHER THING THE CATHOLIC
CHURCH HAS DONE WAS ISSUE THE
DALLAS REPORT.
IT WAS A SYSTEM THAT WAS PUT IN
PLACE FOR HOW ABUSE WAS MEANT TO
BE HANDLED.
DID IT GO FAR ENOUGH?
OR WAS THAT SOMETHING THAT WAS
PUT IN PLACE FOR PR REASONS BUT
NEVER REALLY FOLLOWED THROUGH?
>> WELL, DOI GIVE THE AMERICAN
BISHOPS CREDIT FOR GETTING
TOGETHER IN 2002 AND
PROMULGATING THE CHARTER FOR THE
PROTECTION OF CHILDREN AND YOUNG
PEOPLE.
IT WAS A VERY GOOD FIRST STEP.
THERE ARE A LOT OF IMPORTANT
PROVISIONS IN THAT CHARTER.
I CREDIT THE BISHOPS FOR
PUBLISHING THAT DOCUMENT.
I DON'T THINK IT'S A PERFECT
DOCUMENT, AND I DON'T THINK ALL
THE BISHOPS IN AMERICA ARE
ADHERING TO ITS PROVISIONS.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO NOTE
IS THAT THE BISHOPS ARE NOT
RELEASING ALL THEIR DOCUMENTS ON
CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE, THERE IS NO
TRANSPARENCY, THERE'S NO
TRANSPARENCY UNTIL A DISTRICT
ATTORNEY OR AN ATTORNEY GENERAL
OR A LAWSUIT IS FILED.
THERE'S NO TRANSPARENCY UNTIL
THERE'S A SIFRN ILINVESTIGATION
OR A LAWSUIT.
OR AN INVESTIGATION BY SOMEBODY
LIKE THE BOSTON GLOBE'S
HIGHLIGHT TEAM.
>> WHAT IS THE NEXT PROPER STEP
TO HAPPEN.
BECAUSE SOME PEOPLE WHO ARE VERY
PASSIONATE AND VERY DEEP WITHIN
THEIR FAITH WITH THE CATHOLIC
CHURCH ARE SORT OF FEELING LIKE
THEIR FAITH AND THEIR
INSTITUTION THEY'VE BELIEVED IN
FOR SO LONG IS SOMEHOW UNDER
ATTACK SECULARLY.
IS THAT FAIR TO SAY?
OR HOW WOULD YOU FRAME THIS?
>> I THINK IN BOSTON, FOR
EXAMPLE, THE MOST CONSERVATIVE
DEVOUT CATHOLICS DID NOT HAVE
ANY ILL WILL TOWARD THE GLOBE
SPOTLIGHT TEAM WHEN WE PUBLISHED
OUR SERIES.
I THINK THE MOST CONSERVATIVE
DEVOUT CATHOLICS SAW CORRECTLY
THAT IT WAS CARDINAL LAW WHO
SULLIED AN INSTITUTION THEY
LOVED VERY MUCH.
AND CONTINUED TO LOVE UNTIL THIS
DAY.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH CATHOLICS IS
THAT THEY WANT THIS CLEANED UP.
THEY LOVE THEIR CHURCH.
THEY LOVE THEIR INSTITUTION AND
THEY WANT THE WHOLE PHENOMENON
OF CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE TO BE
CLEANED UP.
THAT'S WHAT THEY'RE AFTER.
THE BISHOPS HAVE NOT DONE THAT.
THE VATICAN HAS DONE ALMOST
NOTHING.
SO IT'S REALLY UP TO CIVIL
AUTHORITIES TO COME FORWARD AND
DO WHAT HAS TO BE DONE.
I THINK MOST CATHOLICS WILL
WELCOME THAT.
>> BRINGING THIS BACK TO THE
SUBPOENAS THAT WERE ISSUED BY
BARBARA UNDERWOODS OFFICE.
IS THIS SOMETHING WHERE WE CAN
EXPECT TO SEE SURVIVORS COMING
FORWARD ENMASS, AND NOT ONLY
TELLING THEIR STORIES, BUT
ASKING FOR SOME SORT OF HELP OR
SOMETHING IN DEALING WITH THE
TRAUMA THEY'VE BEEN INFLICTED?
>> I THINK THE VICTIMS ARE
GETTING SOME HELP.
BUT I THINK WHAT WE'RE GOING TO
FIND IS, AS YOU SUGGESTED.
IS MANY, MANY MORE VICTIMS.
I WOULD SAY IN A STATE LIKE NEW
YORK, I THINK NEW YORK HAS THE
SECOND LARGEST CATHOLIC
POPULATION OF ANY STATE IN
AMERICA.
I THINK YOU'RE GOING TO FIND
THOUSANDS OF NEW VICTIMS.
I THINK THEY'RE GOING TO WANT
JUSTICE, AND IN MANY CASES
THEY'RE GOING TO WANT REDRESS,
AND THEY'RE GOING TO WANT TO
FILE LAWSUITS TO GET SOME
COMMENTARY SAYING FOR THE
SUFFERING THEY'VE ENDURED.
NEW YORK STATE HAS ONE OF THE
MOST RESTRICTIVE STATUTES OF
LIMITATIONS WHEN IT COMES TO
FIBLING CIVIL LAWSUITS FOR CHILD
SEXUAL ABUSE.
YOU KNOW, THERE'S A BIG PUSH IN
THE LEGISLATE TOUR TO GET THIS
LAW CHANGED.
THERE'S BEEN GREAT RESISTANCE TO
CHANGING THIS VERY RESTRICTIVE
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS, AND A
LOT OF THAT COMES FROM THE
CATHOLIC CHURCH.
>> THE LAST QUESTION, IS THIS
ALSO FAIR TO LAY THIS JUST AT
THE FEET OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH?
THERE'S BEEN ALLEGATIONS OF
SEXUAL ABUSE ON THE PART OF
MORAL AUTHORITIES TOWARD
CHILDREN IN VARIOUS OTHER
RELIGIOUS SECRETARIES AS WELL?
>> YES, IT'S TRUE.
I THINK WHEREVER THERE'S AN
INSTITUTION THAT'S A SECRET TO
SOME EXTENT, WHETHER IT'S A
RELIGION, THE PUBLIC SCHOOL
SYSTEM, YOU'RE GOING TO FIND
CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE, THERE'S NO
DOUBT ABOUT IT, I THINK IN THE
CATHOLIC CHURCH, IT'S ESPECIALLY
PERNICIOUS.
THE CHURCH PRESENTS ITSELF AS A
MORAL LEADER.
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH HAS THIS
CELIBACY REQUIREMENT.
WHICH ENGENDERS A CULTURE OF
SECRECY WITHIN THE CATHOLIC
CHURCH.
I THINK THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
ALSO, BECAUSE IT IS A WORLDWIDE
GLOBAL ORGANIZATION, I THINK THE
PROBLEM IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
IS ESPECIALLY PERNICIOUS AND
WIDESPREAD.
>> LISTEN, MICHAEL.
I WANT TO THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR
JOINING US, THANK YOU FOR THE
WORK YOU'RE SPOTLIGHT TEAM DID
MOMENTS AGO.
I HOPE THIS STORY DOESN'T
CONTINUE TO REPEAT ITSELF, WE
SHALL SEE WHAT COMES OF THE
ATTORNEY GENERAL AND THEIR
UPCOMING REPORT.
>> I'LL TELL YOU THAT THE STORY
IS GOING TO REPEAT ITSELF OVER
AND OVER, ALL OVER THE WORLD.
THAT'S MY PREDICTION.
>> THANK YOU.
>> YOU'RE WELCOME.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, and Judy and Josh Weston.

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