Washington, DC (19 June 2008) – Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of the Diocese of Richmond, Va. is under fire for allegedly covering up a scandal in which Commonwealth Catholic Charities of Richmond (CCR), now under federal investigation, falsified documents and paid for a 16-year-old to have an abortion in January.
“This latest scandal and the foot dragging that occurred on the part of the bishops gives us cause to wonder how serious a problem this really is in dioceses across America,” said American Life League President Judie Brown, a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is investigating CCR after learning employees not only illegally signed abortion consent forms, but also helped the girl implant a contraceptive device months before.
According to an investigative article from The Wanderer, Bishop DiLorenzo wrote a letter to his fellow bishops April 29 - three months after the abortion - detailing how CCR was complicit in procuring and paying for the abortion. One employee is said to have accompanied the girl to the abortion mill January 18.
The Guatemalan girl is an illegal immigrant and ward of the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement in the Department of Health and Human Services.
The letter from Bishop DiLorenzo admits that the “implementation of the contraceptive device and the abortion were contrary to basic teachings of the Catholic Church … we are aware that this incident is a most regrettable stain on the record of excellence both of the MRS (Migration and Refugee Services) and Catholic Charities.”
The Wanderer reports that it could find no evidence that the incident was reported to local social services or the Virginia State Police as is required by the Richmond diocese guidelines on reporting “ministry-related” sexual abuse.
According to the Washington Times, David Siegel, acting director of the HHS Refugee Resettlement Office, criticized the USCCB in a letter April 23.
"USCCB's inability to direct the actions of its sub-grantee was a failure of management, oversight and monitoring," he said in the letter to Johnny Young, executive director of the USCCB Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) agency.
Four Catholic Charities employees have been fired. Bishop DiLorenzo’s letter also states MRS staff will receive training on “the primacy of Catholic teachings and beliefs as they impact their work or professional ethics ... to assure that such unacceptable incidents never happen again.”
“What is the criteria for employment?” asked Brown. “Does a diocese place more emphasis on being politically correct than in assuring that employees are people of ethical and moral strength?”