News / USA

Some Abuse Victims Skeptical about a New Pope

Some Abuse Victims Skeptical about a New Popei
X
March 11, 2013 11:43 PM
Roman Catholic cardinals on Tuesday begin a conclave at the Vatican. One of the issues as they cast ballots for the next pope will be the ongoing controversy over clerical sex abuse. Some victims of that abuse say the church has tried to avoid responsibility, and they're skeptical that the next pope will make major changes. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky met one American victim and heard her story.
Roman Catholic cardinals on Tuesday begin a conclave at the Vatican. One of the issues as they cast ballots for the next pope will be the ongoing controversy over clerical sex abuse.  Some victims of that abuse say the church has tried to avoid responsibility, and they're skeptical that the next pope will make major changes. 

“This is a picture of me, right before my abuse. I was around eignt or nine when the abuse started,” says Becky Ianni, who remembers herself as a normal, happy child.

Referring to another photo she said, “and then this is me, during my abuse. And you can see I cut my hair. He used to touch my hair.  He basically - he would rape me with his hands.  He at one point in the vestry of the church stood behind me and rubbed his hands up and down my school uniform. And I remember after that point I would start wearing a sweater all the time, and that was my protection.”

Ianni says she didn't think about it as sex.

“I just knew it felt wrong, and that it made me feel dirty," she said.  "And I never once blamed him.  I blamed myself 100 percent because I thought God was punishing me because I must be a bad dirty little girl.  My perpetrator was a newly ordained priest and this was his first parish, St. Mary's."

The man Ianni says abused her, the Reverend William T. Reinecke, served at a church in Alexandria, Virginia.

He killed himself in 1992 after he was confronted by another victim, an altar boy.

Ianni is now a spokeswoman for a victims' group, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, that wants Pope Benedict to be prosecuted for not protecting children.

But Benedict did go further than his predecessor, John Paul II, in reining in pedophile priests, says papal biographer Marco Politi.

“Ratzinger as pope has certainly wanted to open a new page, and he has made rules, which are tougher," he said. "He has introduced a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy. At the same time, there are still so many unknown victims in the archives which have not been opened.”

Most of the known cases have been in the United States, where more than 15,000 people were allegedly violated since 1950.  There have also been allegations in Europe and Australia.

It’s hard to know just how widespread the abuse has been in Third World countries, because in many places there are taboos against discussing it.  But in the United States, a recent survey found that one in three Catholics think it’s the most important problem facing the church.

Before the conclave, Archbishop of Chicago Francis George said the next pope must not tolerate abuse.

“But there are still the victims, and the wound therefore is deep in their hearts and minds very often, and as long as its with them it’s with all of us, and that will last for a long time," he said.

Ianni says she received a settlement but only after the church dragged its feet.

“I think their first instinct is to protect themselves, to protect their reputation," she said.

She hopes it’s different under the new pope but says that until now the church has only responded when it was forced to.

Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Ordinary Citizen from: Brisbane, Australia
March 11, 2013 8:43 PM
I feel very sorry for victims of abuse all over the world. I do not know how it feels but isn't the reality that NOTHING or NO ONE can make this fully right. As a citizen of thw world, I would like to hear others constructively comment on what will help the victims. I think these types of stories of abuse have reached saturation. There must be a better way/solution for the victims. Is it only the Catholic Church that is abusing ?????

by: kafantaris from: USA, Ohio
March 11, 2013 8:38 PM
What would Christ say?
Be humble. This is the best way to live as tooting our own horn never works. Pride is the cancer of the self and has wrecked the life of many a man.
Share with others. After our living expenses are paid, why not share the rest with those less fortunate. We can't take it with us, and it will spoil our kids more if we leave it with them. Why not give it to those we deem worthy while we still have our faculties.
Show tolerance. This is not only the hallmark of a learned man but also an experienced one. Nobody is all bad or all good. In between lies humanity, but we will never find it if we don't look there. After all, this is where Christ looked and found us. This is where the Church must look also to find its lost flock.
Turn the other cheek. If we were wronged revenge won't make it right -- though it might briefly feel better. But the revenge will perpetuate the wrong, and from generation to generation. Why not fight the urge for revenge ourselves by turning the other cheek and stop it, there and then with us.
Above all, let’s love our strange, filthy, unworthy neighbor as we love ourselves. He could use our understanding and help, though he may not deserve it. He is our brother -- unconditionally -- and we are our brother's keeper.
This is what Christ was about and these are the themes that shaped the Church way back in Constantinople. We should return to those themes to invigorate the Church, and in the process find and invigorate ourselves.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs