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Final Report on the Apostolic Visitation of Institutes of Women Religious in the United States of America, 16.12.2014 (Nuns)

December 16, 2014 Comments off

Final Report on the Apostolic Visitation of Institutes of Women Religious in the United States of America, 16.12.2014
Source: The Vatican

Great variations exist across religious institutes not only in their charism, mission, spiritual traditions, and communal life but also in more easily quantifiable characteristics such as the size and composition of their membership, the configuration of religious houses or other accommodations in which they live, their geographic dispersion and distribution, and the number, types, and settings of the works in which the religious are engaged. Despite these differences, the overall trends among a large majority of religious institutes, especially those related to aging and diminishment, are clear.

Today, the median age of apostolic women religious in the United States is in the mid-to-late 70s. The current number of approximately 50,000 apostolic women religious is a decline of about 125,000 since the mid-1960s, when the numbers of religious in the United States had reached their peak. It is important to note, however, that the very large numbers of religious in the 1960s was a relatively short-term phenomenon that was not typical of the experience of religious life through most of the nation’s history. The steady growth in the number of women religious peaked dramatically from the late 1940s through the early 1960s, after which it began to decline as many of the sisters who had entered during the peak years left religious life, the remaining sisters aged and considerably fewer women joined religious institutes.

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Prison Bed Profiteers: How Corporations Are Reshaping Criminal Justice in the U.S.

July 17, 2012 Comments off

Prison Bed Profiteers: How Corporations Are Reshaping Criminal Justice in the U.S. (PDF)
Source: National Council on Crime and Delinquency

Reported crime is at the lowest level in decades, safe alternatives to incarceration are an accepted part of the corrections system, and private prisons have not provided the cost savings and improved conditions of confinement that their proponents promise. Nevertheless, business is booming for prison companies.

Since their start in the 1980s, private prisons have come to hold 8% of all U.S. state and federal prisoners, including half of federal immigration detainees. A steady flow of inmates has meant huge profits for these companies. Just as steady have been the reports of abuse and neglect, poor management of inmate needs, and poor governmental oversight. Low pay, limited staff training, and other cost-cutting measures—the primary ways private prisons sustain their profits—can lead to unmet inmate needs and security issues, heightening the inherent dangers to staff and inmates in secure settings. Private prison companies spend millions of dollars on lobbying, political campaign contributions, support for legislation favorable to their profits, shaping public opinion, and research likely to support their practices, which leads many to question the prison industry’s influence on criminal justice policymaking. There also are significant issues with the government’s ability to effectively monitor what goes on at private prisons.

Proponents’ claims that private prisons can provide higher-quality and more cost-effective service provisions, improved conditions of confinement, and economic growth in the communities where new facilities are built are neither borne out in research, nor seen in the scores of private facility incident reports across the country. The expectation that competition for contracts among free market players would lead to generally improved efficiency, quality, and cost savings has not been met. Nevertheless, proponents continue to use these claims widely as a basis for pursuing privatization.

This report describes the findings of conversations with several experts in corrections privatization, a review of the academic and legal literature on private prisons, and a media review of newspaper and radio stories on private prisons. It also includes recommendations for responding to the expansion of private prisons.

Secure, locked facilities designed for adults are the major focus of this report, although many of the same issues and potential solutions apply to other types of privatization, in corrections and elsewhere. Federal immigration detention and contracted services, such as in-custody health care and programming or post-release supervision and services, are also briefly discussed.

Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious

April 21, 2012 Comments off

Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (PDF)
Source: Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Vatican)

The analysis of the General Assemblies, Presidential Addresses, and Occasional Papers reveals, therefore, a two-fold problem. The first consists in positive error (i.e. doctrinally problematic statements or formal refutation of Church teaching found in talks given at LCWR-sponsored conferences or General Assemblies). The second level of the problem concerns the silence and inaction of the LCWR in the face of such error, given its responsibility to support a vision of religious life in harmony with that of the Church and to promote a solid doctrinal basis for religious life. With this Assessment, the CDF intends to assist the LCWR in placing its activity into a wider context of religious life in the universal Church in order to foster a vision of consecrated life consistent with the Church’s teaching. In this wider context, the CDF notes the absence of initiatives by the LCWR aimed at promoting the reception of the Church’s teaching, especially on difficult issues such as Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis and Church teaching about homosexuality.

See also: LCWR Statement from Presidency on CDF Doctrinal Assessment

Child Protection Audits Find Nearly All Dioceses Compliant

April 16, 2012 Comments off
Source:  U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
The 2011 Annual Report on the implementation of the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People reports that nearly all dioceses in the country are totally compliant with the 17-point Charter.
It also notes that, as in previous years, the Diocese of Baker, Oregon, and Lincoln, Nebraska, and six eparchies (Eastern rite dioceses) refused to participate in the audits and therefore are found non-compliant.
The report notes that most allegations reported today are of incidents from previous decades. For example, 68 percent of allegations made in 2011, were of incidents from 1960-1984, and the most common time period for allegations was 1975-1979. It also found most of the accused have died or been removed from ministry and many had been accused previously.
Three percent (or 21) of the allegations noted in the 2011 report came from current minors.
“Of the 21 allegations made by minors, seven were considered credible by law enforcement; three were determined to be false, five were determined to be boundary violations, and three are still under investigation,” the report said. The credibility of three allegations could not be determined.
In the same period, “683 adults who were victims/survivors of abuse in the past came forward to report on allegations for the first time.”

Full Report (PDF)

Documents in the News: John Jay College Reports No Single Cause, Predictor of Clergy Abuse

May 18, 2011 Comments off

John Jay College Reports No Single Cause, Predictor of Clergy Abuse
Source: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

A landmark study by researchers at John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York, which examined the causes and context of the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the U.S. Catholic Church, concluded that there was no single cause or predictor of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy. The report added that that situational factors and opportunity to abuse played a significant role in the onset and continuation of abusive acts.

“The bulk of cases occurred decades ago,” said Karen Terry, PhD., John Jay’s principal investigator for the report. “The increased frequency of abuse in the 1960s and 1970s was consistent with the patterns of increased deviance of society during that time.” She also stated that “social influences intersected with vulnerabilities of individual priests whose preparation for a life of celibacy was inadequate at that time.” Terry also said that neither celibacy nor homosexuality were causes of the abuse, and that priest candidates who would later abuse could not be distinguished by psychological test data, developmental and sexual history data, intelligence data, or experience in priesthood. The development of human formation components of seminary preparation for priesthood is associated with the continued low levels of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the United States, she said.

The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010 report by a John Jay College research team was made public May 18 in Washington. Terry presented the report to Diane Knight, CMSW, Chair of the National Review Board, a group of lay Catholics who oversaw the project and to Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane, Washington, who chairs the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People.

The study also found that the initial, mid-1980s response of bishops to allegations of abuse was to concentrate on getting help for the priest-abusers. Despite the development by the mid-1990s of a comprehensive plan for response to victims and the harms of sexual abuse, diocesan implementation was not consistent or thorough at that time. Yet, the decrease in incidence of sexual abuse cases by clergy was more rapid than the overall societal patterns.

Knight, a social worker from Milwaukee, lauded the work of John Jay. “Through its extensive processes of data collection and statistical analyses,” she said, “the researchers found that the crisis of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests is an historical problem.”

+ Full Report

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