The Archdiocese of Baltimore said Monday that it had banned two bishops from performing priestly duties and had sent their cases back to the Vatican after an internal investigation into allegations of sexual harassment. adults, including a complaint that had been rejected by church investigators ten years ago.
The announcement highlighted the alleged abuse of adults, an often overlooked corner of the abuse scandal committed by the Catholic Church, and drew parallels with the fall of Theodore E. McCarrick, former cardinal and archbishop of Washington, was expelled from the priesthood last month after the church declared him guilty of abusing adult children and seminarians.
"When you are in a situation like this, there is usually an imbalance of power, where the victim feels compelled to do what the priest tells him to do," said David Lorenz, a survivor of the violence and Maryland local leader with the Survivors network of these. Abused by the priests. "This was the case with Cardinal McCarrick and the seminarians."
One of the men mentioned in the Vatican, Bishop Michael J. Bransfield, was the highest Catholic leader in West Virginia until his retirement in September. While the investigation about him was focused on adults, he was involved in sexual violence against children by a witness at a trial in 2012, according to the daily. media blanket of the trial. He has long denied this claim.
Bishop William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore, was appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Bishop Bransfield, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, and was instructed by the Vatican to investigate the charges against him. .
The investigation lasted five months and included five non-priest investigators, as well as interviews with 40 people, said Tim Bishop, spokesman for the archdiocese. He added that the archdiocese would not provide any details about the accusers of these men nor about the nature of any financial irregularities.
"The investigation initially focused on sexual harassment of adults. She then addressed the subject of financial irregularities under the direction of Bishop Bransfield's Diocese, "Bishop said. During the investigation, he stated that "the archbishop would be likened to a prosecutor" and that "the Holy See will be the judge and the jury".
Bishop Gordon Bennett, the second inmate, was Auxiliary Bishop in Baltimore from 1998 to 2004, when he was appointed Bishop of Mandeville, Jamaica. The archdiocese said it received a claim that it allegedly sexually harassed a "young adult" in Jamaica in May 2006 and reported it to the Vatican Embassy in Washington.
Bishop Bennett, a Jesuit, resigned from his post in Jamaica in August of the same year. But church investigators clarified it in 2009 and the Congregation for Bishops in Rome reinstated it as "limited episcopal ministry subject to control," according to a statement from the Jesuit province of the West.
He added that he then worked for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and ran Jesuit retreats for lay people for nearly a decade. He has not served in a Crown since reopening in August and is currently on cancer treatment, the province said.
Bishop Bennett was not on the lists of credibly accused priests who had been released in recent months by the Maryland Province, where he worked for a long time, or the Jesuits West Province in Portland, Oregon, to which he was administratively attached.
"This list included men who were criminally accused of sexually abusing a minor," said Tracey Primrose, a spokeswoman for the province, in an e-mail. "He is accused of sexual harassment of an adult. There is a great distinction there. "
Mr. Bishop stated that the sentences applicable to both men meant that they could not act as bishops, could not participate in the celebration of Mass and could not perform any of the Catholic sacraments, including baptisms, confirmations and weddings.
He added that information about the two men had been sent to the Vatican, which could maintain the restrictions imposed by Archbishop Lori, reinforce them or take "any measure they deem necessary", which could remove them from the Vatican. priesthood.
But Mr Lorenz, the lawyer for the survivors of abuse, criticized the church's decision to conduct an internal investigation, even with a panel of laypeople. He pointed out that church officials had been aware of allegations against Bishop Bennett for 13 years.
"Here is another case where they hold out, they do the investigation themselves and they introduced themselves as the judge and the jury," Lorenz said. "On the first charge, they should go to the police and say," Me, bishop, I am not qualified to conduct a criminal investigation, so you should do it, not me. "