Lawsuit Names All US Catholic Bishops in Organized Abuse Scandal
Amidst a widening sexual abuse scandal, a former seminarian in Hannibal, Missouri is suing the entire US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), originally intended to be used in cases involving organized crime rings. A 1980s student at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary is suing former West Palm Beach, FL Bishop Anthony O’Connor, who was a rector at St. Thomas, and the UCCB for participating in an organized conspiracy to keep abuse claims secret, mainly through hushed financial settlements with victims. O’Connell already admitted in his March 8 resignation letter to sexually abusing Christopher Dixon, another former St. Thomas seminarian in the late 1970s. RICO has been unsuccessfully used in two other cases against the Catholic church, one of which eventually led to a $30 million settlement outside the courts.
The growing sex abuse scandal has prompted mixed responses from Catholic officials. Several seminaries are developing new training manuals to weed out potential pedophiles and sexual abusers. They have already begun to offer new courses on formerly taboo topics like sexuality, addiction and the struggle to remain celibate. The new methods include targeting “homosexual behavior” as grounds for immediate dismissal from seminary. Psychologists note that the new tactics, particularly the attempt to weed out self-identified “practicing homosexuals,” will not identify potential pedophiles or sexual abusers.
Some church members and many in the psychological community, including Rev. Stephen Rossetti, a psychologist and sex abuse consultant to the USCCB, are cautioning the church against an anti-gay “witch hunt,” particularly after the Pope’s spokesperson responded to the current sex scandal by saying that the church needed to prevent gays from becoming priests. According to researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, no evidence suggests that gay people are more likely than straight people to molest children.
Media Resources: NBC News 3/24/02; Associated Press 3/25/02 & 3/22/02 Times 3/25/02
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .
8/25/2015 Fraternity Signs Promote Rape Culture, Elicit Outrage - Old Dominion University (ODU) in Virginia is receiving national attention for a fraternity's vulgar and offensive signs that were on display as first-year students moved into their dorms.
The signs, which were hung on fraternity Sigma Nu and displayed derogatory messages for incoming female students- and their mothers- have since been removed, and the University has promised disciplinary action. . . .