Abuse case in adults: Allegations of great abuse in all jurisdictions of the Church – Bible Type

Abuse case in adults: Allegations of great abuse in all jurisdictions of the Church

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A priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Fr. Kevin McGoldrick, is tacitly seeking voluntary secularization after the Archdiocese investigates a claim that he has sexually assaulted a young woman who was under his spiritual responsibility. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia found that the allegation was credible about seven months after it was received directly from the victim. The victim originally filed her complaint with the Nashville diocese where she alleged the incident, but Nashville never initiated a formal investigation.

The Catholic herald has received extensive documentation confirming the victim's allegations and raising concerns about how the matter will be dealt with in several Church jurisdictions. The case reinforces long-standing concerns about how the Catholic Church deals with similar issues at all levels of the hierarchy and in religious communities. The main facts of the case are as follows:

  • The victim first reported the alleged sexual assault to the Nashville diocese in March 2019, where she suspected the incident in August 2017. However, the diocese never initiated a formal investigation. The victim finally submitted a police report (February 2020) and brought a civil suit against the Nashville Diocese, which she settled in May 2020 for $ 65,000, and committed to informing her of developments in her protection protocols and related concerns, particularly Regarding adult complaints, keep victims informed.
  • The victim, worried that P. McGoldrick may have cared for other young women, brought her allegation to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the priest's "home" diocese, in July 2019. The archdiocese found the allegation credible in early January 2020 and suspended his priestly abilities. McGoldrick then decided to ask Pope Francis for exemption from the Holy Order's obligations (“voluntary secularization” – in lay terms this would allow him to leave the priesthood on terms that are closer to his own, rather than being dismissed due to a church attempt ).
  • The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has apparently not informed either the Archdiocese of Louisville – the Metropolitan Area for the Diocese of Nashville – or the Apostolic Nuncio in the United States of Nashville's apparent mismanagement of the matter – something they may have had to do under the recently enacted Church.
  • The Dominicans of St. Cecilia, known as the "Nashville Dominicans", are responsible not only for Aquinas College, where the victim was a student and Father McGoldrick was chaplain for six years (2013-2019), but also for one primary school and one pure girls' school, where he was chaplain for a while. The Nashville Dominicans heard in March 2019 that Father McGoldrick was accused of "unwise" and "unprofessional" behavior, but decided to have him end his contract in June of that school year. It appears that the sisters never alerted parents, students, or alumni to the danger they were exposed to, even after hearing a victim's report in February 2020 after McGoldrick left and having been confirmed by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, that they were you. You have not taken reasonable measures against McGoldrick and have made no effort to determine if there were any other victims. When confronted with the Catholic Herald's questions regarding the case, the sisters raise concerns for everyone else to contact the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
  • Related article: Susanna in her own words: Father McGoldrick's victim fights back

These and other irregularities question not only the effectiveness of the current protection, reporting and investigation procedures, but also the church leadership's commitment to protecting vulnerable adults. They also raise serious questions about the leadership culture in the church.

The story in brief

The victim claims Father McGoldrick sexually assaulted her in late August 2017 when she was a student and he was a chaplain at Aquinas College in Nashville, Tennessee. McGoldrick was not only the chaplain, but also his accuser’s spiritual leader and knew intimate details of her life story. She reported the incident to the Nashville Diocese in March 2019, but Nashville never initiated a formal investigation.

The sisters say they received a different version of the events from the Nashville diocese than what Father McGoldrick's prosecutor told her superior in February this year.

"We take charges of this kind very seriously," the Nashville Dominicans told the Catholic Herald in a detailed explanation of their position they offered in response to our questions, "and encourage anyone who has concerns to contact the Archdiocese of Philadelphia directly to turn. "

"In March 2019," the Nashville Dominicans said, "the Nashville diocese told the congregation that Father McGoldrick recently reported to an adult woman who wanted to remain anonymous for rash, unprofessional behavior during a suspected Nashville incident had been charged. " August 2017. ”The statement states that the Nashville diocese did not describe McGoldrick's alleged conduct as civil or canonical criminal.

"Given the circumstances," the statement continues, "the Congregation has decided to end Father McGoldrick's three-year contract in June 2019, provided that he would then return to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia."

The Nashville Dominicans say Father McGoldrick's victim contacted the congregation in February 2020 to request a meeting with mother Anna Grace. The victim informed the Catholic herald that she was looking for the meeting out of concern. The Dominicans of Nashville, whom she was particularly attached to and who had actually considered joining, were unaware of the true gravity of their allegations against Father McGoldrick.

"During the meeting," the sisters said, "she told Mother more details about the alleged incident that were more serious than the one the Congregation received in March 2019, and she said she recently made contact with law enforcement officials. " . ”The statement goes on to say that the alleged victim also told Mother Anna Grace about her report to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

The Nashville Dominicans said they then contacted the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and learned that the Archdiocese had been in contact with the victim and had taken appropriate action.

"The report of the alleged event is the first and only complaint the Dominicans of St. Cecilia received about Father McGoldrick," said the Nashville Dominicans statement. “The wellbeing and safety of those we serve are top priorities for the Dominicans of St. Cecilia. We pray together for the alleged victim who made the report and for others affected by this situation. "

Father McGoldrick's prosecutor filed her complaint with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in July 2019, and Philadelphia opened an investigation. In January 2020, Philadelphia found her claim credible and suspended the priest. McGoldrick opted for secularization.

In early 2020, the alleged victim submitted a police report and civil action against the Nashville diocese. The civil dispute was settled in May 2020. The prosecutor stopped pursuing the sentence. The police report that the Catholic herald has received says that the case is still open.

In April 2020, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia informed the prosecutor through her lawyer that Father McGoldrick had submitted his petition and that the Philadelphia office had “some work” to do before going to Rome. However, on July 16, the Congregation for Clergymen, who normally deal with such matters, informed the Catholic Herald that there was no petition from McGoldrick and no information about his history or disciplinary status.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has apparently not informed either the Archdiocese of Louisville – the metropolis responsible for the Diocese of Nashville – or the Apostolic Nuncio in the United States of Nashville's apparent mismanagement on the matter.

The incident

Susanna * claims Father McGoldrick made her drunk and sexually assaulted when she was alone with him in his rectory on the Aquinas College campus in Nashville, Tennessee in late August 2017.

She had gone to the rectory with a friend – also a young student – for dinner and drinks. Your friend had to go early. The friend later confirmed these facts in an affidavit by the Catholic herald.

Announcement on P. Kevin McGoldrick's Facebook page.

"Father McGoldrick asked me if I wanted to take a bourbon flight," which was a normal occurrence, she says, and says that she accepted the offer – not her first drinks of the evening. "After that, Father began to tell me very intimate parts of his life, especially how lonely the priesthood was, how miserable he was, and how much he longed to be known and loved." Susanna tells how McGoldrick kept refreshing her bourbon glass during his rehearsal.

It was late and Susanna was drunk. McGoldrick sang a song – one of his own – about "the state of his heart," as she remembers when she had to apologize. She ran outside to throw up. When her nausea was over, she said McGoldrick had suggested watching a movie and poured her a drink.

"He was sitting at one end of the couch and I was sitting with my legs on the couch on the other," says Susanna. It was about midnight. "I knew it was strange for me to be there alone," she says. "I didn't want to piss him off or end our friendship by leaving, not to mention that I didn't fully master my intellectual ability."

Susanna says Father McGoldrick started touching her foot. He told her he had "something for feet". That – and the touch – bothered her seriously, but was drunk and didn't know what to do. "So," she says, "I didn't do anything." Touching feet became touching legs. Then McGoldrick was on Susanna.

"(He) touched me in a very inappropriate way," she says, "and kissed my neck." In response to the herald's questions, Susanna indicated that the touch was both above and below her clothing.

She says she passed out during the attack. "Every time I woke up, I hoped I was in a nightmare and my college chaplain wasn't on me," she says in a separate first person account. "I was wrong every time."

Susanna cannot remember how she made it out of the parsonage or to her apartment, but believes that she left around 4 a.m. after deciding to talk to Father McGoldrick the next day "about what happened." is "- his words, as she remembers.

Susanna told the herald that she had been thinking about suicide on the way home that night, not for the last time during her protracted ordeal.

The consequences

The next day, Susanna awoke with "extreme disgust" at what had happened – mostly with herself – and in a state of "extreme confusion" about how it had happened. She felt guilty. "I hated myself," she says, "and had convinced myself that it was entirely my fault." She says she confessed to a priest in Nashville who urged her to tell the diocese about the incident.

Then, however, Susanna opted for silence.

It would take about 18 months for Susanna to report her attack to the Nashville diocese. Susanna says one of the things that convinced her was the experience of seeing a younger student's car parked in the rectory where Father McGoldrick was still living. When Susanna finally reported the attack to the Nashville church authorities, it was in early March 2019.

Susanna told us that she saw Father McGoldrick the day after the alleged attack after texting to request a meeting.

She went to Father McGoldrick's apartment and told him that she did not want to have any part of a relationship with him, that he was a priest, and that what had happened was wrong. Susanna remembers that McGoldrick replied that he understood, but also offered that his life was very difficult. He apologized.

"I told him," says Susanna, "I hoped I was the only person with whom this had happened." She says McGoldrick didn't answer.

Numerous calls from the Catholic herald to Father McGoldrick remained unanswered. Voice messages and emails looking for comments and giving him the opportunity to tell his side of the story remained unanswered.

Susanna remembers Father McGoldrick also telling her that he was thinking of calling one of his priest friends to confess. She also remembers McGoldrick who said he "could not find anything to confess". They agreed never to be alone. Susanna says she didn't want to "lose a friend" and felt "unhealthy" towards McGoldrick. He hugged them at the end of the conversation and they parted.

About a week later, in early September 2017, Susanna said Father McGoldrick had contacted her again to say she had left a bottle of vodka in the rectory that had brought her to the meeting where the attack took place. She went to get it. They spoke for a few minutes and she remembers that he offered her a drink of bourbon that she accepted.

"We were sitting at a table in the room between his kitchen and the music room and probably talked for 20 to 30 minutes," says Susanna.

When she told McGoldrick that she was going, "Father hugged me in a romantic way, bent his legs and pressed his groin against me very intensely when he got up." She told him to go and go.

Susanna informs church officials

On March 8, 2019, after relieving herself from her spiritual director and hearing his assurances that what had happened to her was not her fault, Susanna called the diocese of Nashville Diocese of Deacon Hans Toecker. The call lasted 42 minutes, during which Susanna said she had given a full and detailed report of the attack she had suffered.

Deacon Toecker promised to inform the diocese of the Dominicans in charge of Aquinas College, the Overbrook School and the St. Cecilia Academy – the last, St. Cecilia, the secondary school for girls, which Father McGoldrick Kaplan attended – about the report receive. It is unclear whether Toecker has ever kept his promise.

"I didn't use any language to suggest that an investigation be officially opened or closed," said Susanna. When asked by the Catholic Herald, Nashville confirmed receipt of Susanna's report, but said that the allegation "appeared to be neither a civil nor a (sic) canonical crime".

Nashville Communications Director Rick Musacchio said to the Catholic Herald: "We have received a report from an adult woman about inappropriate activities involving Kevin McGoldrick, a diocese visiting priest who was to serve as a chaplain at Aquinas College. "

Father Kevin McGoldrick (Photo: www.kevinmcgoldrickmusic.com)

Musacchio continued: "McGoldrick was not incardinated in the Nashville diocese and was not acting as an agent of the diocese or one of its constituent parishes, ministries, or bodies at the time of the incident or report." However, in their statement to the Catholic Herald, the Nashville Dominicans state that "it was the Nashville diocese that McGoldrick had given the skills necessary to perform priesthood within the diocese."

Musacchio also said Susanna's report "was immediately passed on to the St. Cecilia Dominicans who own and run Aquinas College."

Susanna spoke directly to the Dominican manager, mother Anna Grace Neenan, in February 2020. "I told her everything that happened," said Susanna. "She knew something, but she told me what I told her wasn't what she heard."

Between Susanna's first report on March 8, 2019 and May 8 of the same year, Deacon Toecker was a hard-to-reach man. He was out of the office, went through a medical procedure, and then recovered for a while. Susanna remembers that she finally spoke to Deacon Toecker on May 8th.

She then learned from Toecker that he had directly confronted Father McGoldrick and that McGoldrick denied the allegations. Toecker also told her that McGoldrick's contract with the Nashville Dominicans would not be renewed for the coming year.

Susanna was disappointed with Nashville's handling of her allegations and feared that Father McGoldrick could continue to harm young women or even girls, which is why she reported the alleged attack.

From what I collected, we didn't know your report in Philadelphia until you sent it to Archbishop Chaput in July. – John P. Delaney Jr., Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Eventually, she would file a report with the Nashville Metro Police and a civil suit against the Nashville diocese. Previously, however, Susanna brought her story to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, McGoldrick's place of detention (or "home diocese").

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia received Susanna's complaint and initiated her investigation.

The investigative director, John P. Delaney Jr. – a former 1st Assistant District Attorney of the City and Philadelphia County, who had 36 years of experience in the prosecutor's office before taking the job of chief investigator in the Archdiocese – told Susanna In An email from August 12, 2019 said, "After everything I've collected, we didn't know your report in Philadelphia until you sent it to Archbishop Chaput in July."

The Philadelphia investigation in brief

Mr. Delaney and Susanna were in regular contact by phone and email between early July and late September 2019. Susanna's correspondence with Delaney is peppered with expressions of thanks for his attention and timely responses. However, some of their questions went without a direct address. Some of the answers she received raised further questions, only a few of which received a satisfactory answer.

On July 10, Mr. Delaney wrote to Susanna to arrange a phone call and to inquire about the state of the Nashville investigation. The exchange does not reveal whether Delaney was in contact with the Nashville diocese at that time.

On September 20, 2019, Susanna wrote to Mr. Delaney again. She told him that she had learned that Father McGoldrick – his supposedly Philadelphia-restricted abilities – was playing a music festival in the Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota. He presented himself as a priest and appeared in the media with young women.

Ms. Kevin McGoldrick will play at the Built Upon a Rock music festival in Duluth, Minnesota on September 14, 2019 (Photo: www.builtuponarockfest.com)

"It seems absolutely inappropriate for a priest who is being investigated for such misconduct to be able to work so closely with young women," Susanna wrote, adding that this "puts these girls at risk of becoming victims of manipulation and inappropriate behavior." fall ".

Susanna continued to ask, "Was anyone in the Archdiocese aware that Father McGoldrick would do this? Why is no more attention paid to protecting other young women from the trauma that I have experienced with this man? "

Susanna also asked why McGoldrick was not listed on any of the Archdiocese of Philistine's clergy.

In his reply, Mr. Delaney wrote: "Father McGoldrick does not appear on the Internet list of Archdiocese priests with full skills because his skills were limited during the investigation."

Duluth Diocese Communications Director, Deacon Kyle Eller, replied to e-mail inquiries from the Catholic Herald on July 15, saying the diocese knew nothing about the allegation or investigation.

"This is news for us," he wrote. "The event organizer, Marie Mullen, and her moderator, Father Ryan Moravitz, had no knowledge of Father McGoldrick's restriction, and we filed a letter of fitness for him from the time of the event," he said. In response to a follow-up question, Eller said the letter of eligibility was dated January 4, 2019 – about two months before Susanna submitted her original complaint to Nashville.

"The investigation continues," Mr. Delaney also wrote in response to Susanna's September 20 email. "I hope you can understand why it is not possible or advisable to inform you of every step that is being taken. You should know that this is being carefully and thoroughly examined. The fact that it takes time should not be considered Commentary on its meaning will be interpreted. ”He said he would notify Susanna when the investigation was completed.

On December 18, 2019, Susanna wrote to ask about the status of the preliminary investigation Delaney had told her. She mentioned that a canon lawyer she consulted had informed her of her right to be informed of the status of the investigation. She also asked whether the investigation "fell under the parameters" of Pope Francis' comprehensive reform law of 2019, Vos estis lux mundi, to promote and facilitate the reporting and investigation of abuse and cover-up and the church processes in this and related Rationalize concerns. The next day Delaney replied:

We have completed the investigation and submitted the report to the Vicar for Ministers. As part of the archdiocese policy, he should prepare a recommendation for the archbishop. The investigation report and its recommendation are submitted to the Archbishop for review and decision. As soon as I am informed of this decision, I will inform you.

Delany also noted that he expected a decision "sooner rather than later" but had no more precise timeframe. He also said to Susanna, “The investigation looked into a possible violation of the archdiocese's standards for behavior and ministerial boundaries. It wasn't after Vos estis. "

It is difficult to understand how Vos estis lux mundi would apply neither to Susanna's case nor to treatment at different levels of the Church.

The attack Susanna claims took place before Vos estis came into force, but the Church's main authority on sex crimes, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, said to the Catholic herald in May last year: “(Vos estis) is valid June 1, 2019 for reporting and investigating misconduct whenever it occurs. "

The failure of the Nashville Diocese to inform the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and other serious irregularities in Nashville's treatment of Susanna's complaint were things Vos estis (see Art. 1§1b, Art., 2§§1 & 3, Art 3§3)) seems to require church people to report to the competent authority.

In Susanna's case, Vos estis Nashville appears to have asked to inform the Archdiocese of Philadelphia of the allegations they had received against the Philadelphia priest. It also appears necessary that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia inform the Archdiocese of Louisville and the Apostolic Nuncio Christophe Pierre of Nashville's failure to investigate and report to them.

"These norms," ​​it says in Article 1 of Vos estis, "apply to reports of clergymen or members of institutes of consecrated life or societies of apostolic life and of … (b) behaviors of (bishops or religious superiors) who consists of acts or omissions that are intended to interfere or avoid civil or canonical investigations, whether administrative or criminal, against a clergyman or a religious, are suspected or accused of "submitting someone to violence or threats or abuse of authority to carry out or submit." forced to have sexual acts "or" perform sexual acts on a minor or vulnerable "when" vulnerable "is defined as" any person who is in a state of frailty, physical or mental disability or deprivation of personal liberty what is actually de The case sometimes even limits their ability to understand, want to, or otherwise resist the crime. "

The Archdiocese of Louisville informed the Herald that our requests, dispatched on July 15, were the first to hear about the matter with Susanna, P. McGoldrick, the Nashville Diocese and the Philadelphia Archdiocese.

"We have received no report or information about this situation," wrote Cecelia H. Price, Louisville's chief communications officer.

Susanna meets Archbishop Chaput

Susanna faced Archbishop Chaput on the sidelines of a conference in Phoenix, Arizona. It was January 2, 2020. Chaput had preached at the morning meeting for conference attendees. Susanna sent a message to a confidant who encouraged her to try to see him. Susanna reached Archbishop Chaput during a break in a reception line after the mass.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput celebrates the Mass in March 2019 (CNS photo / Matthew Barrick, Knights of Columbus)

Susanna remembers telling Archbishop Chaput that she knew he would soon make a decision about Father McGoldrick. "I told him I was the woman Father McGoldrick had hurt," recalls Susanna. The herald invited Chaput to share his memory of the conversation, but the archdiocese replied that "the archbishop does not publicly discuss private conversations or correspondence."

Susanna remembers that Archbishop Chaput was familiar with the case and he was sorry that he only had a short time for her because he had a meeting with Cardinal Müller but wished he knew she would come, so he could have given it. one hour."

Susanna remembers saying to him, "I ask you not to let McGoldrick hurt anyone." Susanna says Archbishop Chaput told her that she did not need to ask him (not) to let McGoldrick hurt someone else and Chaput had given her his word that he would not allow it.

Susanna said goodbye to Archbishop Chaput. Then she sobbed against a wall in the crowded hallway, sobbing. A friendly priest noticed her need and asked if Susanna wanted to tell him what was going on. "It would take the whole day," recalls Susanna. "I have nothing for the next six hours," came the answer.

Susanna told her story to the priest and brought him broadly from the beginning to the present. The priest said to her, "The nuncio must hear about it," and continued that the nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, was in the building. However, Susanna was exhausted.

The priest, Father Thomas Whittingham of Philadelphia, spoke to the Catholic herald and confirmed Susanna's report, although he could not remember his exact words about the nuncio. He remembers that Susanna "disliked to call someone". Between the geographic location of Susanna's school and her connection to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Father Whittingham concluded that McGoldrick was the priest in question. He named Father McGoldrick and Susanna confirmed it.

Father Whittingham said it seemed to him that Susanna "wanted to do the right thing and didn't seem vengeful at all". She was obviously upset with how the Church authorities dealt with her complaint, but remembers that she consoled herself with the words Archbishop Chaput had said. "Your main concern," said Whittingham, "seemed to me that McGoldrick couldn't hurt anyone."

Philadelphia decides on the complaint

A few days after her unscheduled meeting with Archbishop Chaput in Phoenix, Mr. Delaney – the chief investigator from Philadelphia – called Susanna to inform her that Archbishop Chaput had decided that her allegation was credible and that a canonical process for the removal of Father McGoldrick was beginning would. Susanna was outraged to learn that a possible way for Father McGoldrick would be to seek voluntary secularization. She found this unacceptable – essentially evasion – but it seems to be the path the Archdiocese has taken with McGoldrick.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia confirmed that Archbishop Chaput had found the allegations credible and, if correct, would violate the Archdiocese's standards of conduct and ministerial boundaries. "Based on the facts," Archdiocese Director of Communication Kenneth Gavin told the Herald, "Archbishop Chaput found the allegation credible."

"As a result," Gavin said, "Father McGoldrick's abilities were removed and he was banned from performing his priesthood in public." Later, Father McGoldrick volunteered to be removed from the spiritual state. "

Father Kevin McGoldrick plays at an appearance (Photo: Facebook)

On February 14 of this year, Mr. Delaney replied to an email from Susanna's lawyer, saying, "Father McGoldrick has no faculties (i.e., ministerial approval) in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia or the Diocese of Nashville. The canonical process of formal suspension had started (sic). "

Susanna had written to Mr. Delaney two days earlier to ask about Father McGoldrick's last known address and current telephone contact so that she could make a protection order. She had discussed this option with Ben Weinstein, the social worker at the Sexual Assault Center in Nashville, who was supporting her at the time. Susanna needed the information to submit the request. Susanna also asked Delaney to inform the Nashville Dominicans that McGoldrick had been credibly accused.

Susanna says her concern for the Dominicans of Nashville was that the parents of lower school and academy students, and Aquinas College students and alumni were aware that the man who served as chaplain was credibly accused of gross misconduct . She thought there might be other victims.

"If Mother Anna Grace would like information, ask her to call me or send an email. I am happy to respond to your request, ”Delaney replied the same day, a few hours after receiving the request. He also offered the last address he had for McGoldrick: a Nashville P.O. Box.

Susanna renewed her request for a phone number and repeated that she needed a number for him or a person in charge to submit the request for a protection order. "I don't have a phone number for him," Delaney replied. "I don't know anyone who is responsible for him," H. McGoldrick, a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

On April 2, 2020, Mr. Delaney wrote to Susanna's lawyer – Susanna was currently involved in her civil dispute with the Nashville diocese – to inform him that Father McGoldrick had "filed a petition for secularization." Delaney said, "Some work has to be done by the Chancellor here in the Archdiocese and then sent to the Vatican for review and decision."

On May 15, 2020, Susanna closed the civil dispute with the Nashville diocese that she started in February. Choosing $ 65,000, she committed from Nashville to "communicate" with her about progress in the processes of "updating and revising certain diocesan norms and guidelines related to adult sexual misconduct".

She does not remember if the Nashville diocese ever offered other help, but is confident that such an offer would not have been received before a meeting with Vicki Lawson, the new victim support coordinator in Nashville, on February 11. Susanna says she "canceled" this meeting after she realized Lawson wasn't familiar with the details of her case. When the Herald asked the Diocese of Nashville about the meeting and whether an offer came from them, Musacchio replied that they were not discussing details of the talks except with those directly involved.

Regarding the civil dispute and settlement, the Nashville diocese said, "In an effort to work towards a cure level for pastoral reasons for the person who is preparing the report, we have initiated comparative talks." The Nashville diocese also said that the proposed settlement which they had received "originally included a confidentiality agreement", but Nashville insisted "that any potential comparison avoids confidentiality."

"The parties," Nashville added, "admitted that the settlement agreement should not be construed as an acknowledgment of liability or an acknowledgment of validity, or as the basis of a claim or claim by any party." Any liability was expressly rejected. "

What does Rome know and what are the next steps?

On July 14, the Catholic Herald wrote to Cardinal Beniamino Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, asking if his dicastery had received the petition and asked him to find out the content of the petition. Cardinal Stella's secretary promised that His Eminence would examine the matter and keep in touch at all possible speeds.

The Congregation for Clergymen replied on July 16, saying, “In response to your request regarding Reverend Kevin McGoldrick, you should be aware that this Congregation has no records of this clergy in our archive and no presentation of an application for Relief from the obligations arising from the sacred commands in his case. "

In its statement to the Catholic Herald on Thursday afternoon, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia said: "(Father McGoldricks) application for secularization is currently being processed by the Vatican." When the Herald wrote again and asked which Dicastery Philadelphia had sent the petition to, the archdiocese replied, "Based on information from our office, it may be more accurate to determine that his petition for secularization is pending."

The reply further stated that Father McGoldrick petitioned the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and that it is addressed to Pope Francis. "As you know," continued the reply, "it must be submitted through the Ordinary," who is now Archbishop Nelson Pérez. "The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is currently collecting the other documents necessary to accompany the petition before it is sent to the Holy See."

Philadelphia was unsettled by a change in leadership – Archbishop Nelson Pérez succeeded Archbishop Chaput in February of this year – when the coronavirus emergency emerged as a global threat. There are open questions about both the mechanics of reporting and the investigation of vos estis, especially in cases where vulnerable adults are involved. In addition, there are few very clear indications of how both existing church law and the most recent reforms are to be understood both theoretically and practically.

A handbook published on Thursday by the Vatican on proceedings against Graviora delicta – the most serious crimes in canon law – can only clarify some of these questions.

Nonetheless, a church leadership culture that understands “protection” to be compliance with the minimum requirements of the law can keep the bishops out of trouble, but the church will surely get more Susannas.

If church people are largely free to interpret the laws they abide by and the higher authority is reluctant to apply the laws that have been created for good order and better government, there can be no real cultural change.

Last but not least, Susanna's case shows how far the leadership of the church must go before achieving something like responsibility, accountability and transparency, which Pope Francis has dedicated to the entire church at all management levels, in whose work he has called all Catholics, every state of life and all people of good will to help according to their abilities.

* Susanna is not the victim's real name.

Some data has been added to the bullet points earlier in this story for clarity.

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