Outside the Bubble 1/23/14

Chicago Archdiocese releases records of Sexual Abuse

On Tuesday, Jan. 21, the Archdiocese of Chicago released more than 6,000 documents detailing the sexual misconduct cases of 30 Roman Catholic priests. Francis Cardinal George, the archbishop of Chicago, announced this decision in a letter last week. He also explained that none of the incidents had occurred since 1996 and that all legal cases have been settled (USA Today, “Sex Abuse Files on 30 Chicago Priests Going Public”, 1.21.14).

Even so, many of the victims of these incidents have pushed for the publication of these files as a way of reckoning with their experiences and chronicling the history of the Roman Catholic Church’s presence in Chicago.

“There can’t be safety in the future unless practices that were so dangerous in the past are fully known,” said Jeff Anderson, a lawyer representing many of the victims. “It really is a painful and sorrowful…but from that, there is hope that it will not be repeated” (The New York Times, “Chicago Archdiocese Releases Records of Abuse Complaints, 1.21.14).

The documents are predicted to put the spotlight on Cardinal Francis E. George, the archbishop of Chicago, who was president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2007 to 2010, when many dioceses were dealing with the abuse allegations (The New York Times, “Chicago Archdiocese Releases Records Abuse Complaints”, 1.21.14).

Many of these first victims find the release and publication of this information highly beneficial to their own healing processes. Peter Isely, Midwest director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said it is important for all Chicago-area Catholics to read the until-now “hidden” documents (Boston Globe, “Chicago Clergy Sex Abuse Data Set for Release”, 1.16.14).

“It’s physical, material evidence and truth,” he said. “I can’t tell you how important this is to victims of trauma…It’s something that can’t be denied and wished away” (Boston Globe, “Chicago Clergy Sex Abuse Data Set for Release”, 1.16.14).

 

Samba-Panza first woman elected Interim President of Central African Republic

After several bloody conflicts between Christian militias and Muslim rebels that temporarily disrupted the state of the Central African Republic, a new interim president, Catherine Samba-Panza has been elected. The former mayor of the capital city of Bangui, Samba-Panza is the first woman to ever hold the position in the nation’s history. She will probably serve along with a parliament assembled from rebel sympathizers, politicians, artists and others for about a year (The New York Times, “Woman Chosen to Lead Central African Republic Out of Mayhem”, 1.20.2014).

In her victory speech, Samba-Panza urged Christian militias and Muslim fighters in the ex-Seleka rebel movement to end the bloodshed.

“I call on my children, especially the anti-Balaka, to put down their arms and stop all the fighting. The same goes for the ex-Seleka—they should not have fear. I don’t want to hear any more talk of murders and killings,” she said, the Associated Press reports (BBC, “Central African Republic MPs Elect Catherine Samba-Panza”, 1.20.2014).

Many now hope that the election of a new interim president with no links to either camp will help calm the nation of 4.6 million people that has a Christian majority and a Muslim minority.

A spokesman for a major group of anti-Balaka fighters, which had earlier protested against the vote, said they were happy with Samba-Panza’s election (The Huffington Post, “Catherine Samba-Panza, Bangui Mayor, Elected Interim President Of Central African Republic”, 1.20.2014).

Inside the chamber of the assembly, female spectators broke into joyful shouts and cheers. The consensus in the chamber and on the street was that men had led the country into violence, and that the hope was for a woman to lead it out.

“Everything we have been through has been the fault of men,” said Marie-Louise Yakemba, who heads a civil-society organization that brings together people of different faiths, and who cheered loudly when the speaker announced Samba-Panza’s victory. “We think that with a woman, there is at least a ray of hope,” she said (The New York Times, “Woman Chosen to Lead Central African Republic Out of Mayhem”, 1.20.2014).

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