Monthly Archives: June 2012

Gerald T. Slevin: Philly Criminal Trial Reveals Vatican’s Fatal Strategy


Gerald T. Slevin: Philly Criminal Trial Reveals Vatican’s Fatal Strategy

From the link: http://bilgrimage.blogspot.com/2012/06/gerald-t-slevin-philly-criminal-trial.html

As the jury in the Philadelphia archdiocesan trial continues to be deadlocked, and as Catholics and others concerned about the issue of abuse of minors by Catholic clerics continue to monitor this trial, Jerry Slevin has provided another valuable statement dealing with the situation in Philadelphia and its implications from a more “global” perspective, and placing this situation against the backdrop of Vatican concerns and Vatican politics.  What follows is Jerry’s statement:

VATICAN’S STRATEGIC CHOICES: (A) HOPEFUL TRANSPARENCY OR (B) FATAL SECRECY

Assume you were a key executive for a couple of decades of a multinational religious organization. What would you choose?
By 1992, twenty years ago, you and your executive team knew that numerous top executives had for years tolerated, and often likely covered-up, many potentially criminal acts by employees involving sexual assaults on children.
By 2002, with the publicity from the Boston and Irish abuse scandals, key executives were facing escalating financial and legal risks from victims’ claims and from  prosecutors’ charges.
By 2012, the organization’s reputation had suffered dramatically, thereby reducing  revenues from contributions, while costs, especially legal expenses, continued to climb.
In 1992, there had been a clear choice still available : (A) hopeful transparency and being authentic, while endeavoring to curtail priest misconduct by organizational reforms, or (B) fatal secrecy and being duplicitous, while hoping to ride out the storm by vigorously resisting criminal charges and financial claims.
By 2012, the consequences of the original choice of Plan B made by 1992 were irreversible and dismal. The relentless governmental forces applying the rule of law were steadily crashing through the Vatican’s defenses in many countries.
Leaving compelling Gospel mandates aside for a moment, Plan A’s transparency choice had entailed high risks of (1) significant financial liability, (2) some leadership prosecutions and (3) indeterminate reputational damage, i.e., “scandal.” To successfully avoid Plan A’s risks by choosing Plan B’s secrecy, it is evident that Plan B would at a minimum have required the CEO, in this case, the pope: (a) to accept the ruthless handling of victims’ claims, (b) to seek significant influence over prosecutors’ political superiors and over corporate media coverage, and (c) to require maximum secrecy, tight discipline and financial controls throughout the organization. To maintain secrecy, bishops had to be chosen on the basis of their unswerving blind loyalty, and persons perceived as potentially “uncontrollable,” like married or female priests, had to be forbidden. To maintain tight discipline, maximum sexual repression had to be required, or so it appeared to the Vatican.
The  incontrovertible disclosures from the just completed Philly criminal trial of two cardinals’ former top aide are clear, detailed and unambiguous.  These unchallenged disclosures are unaffected by any outcome of complicated legal charges against the top Philly aide, Monsignor Lynn, relating to conspiracy and endangerment. The outcome of the charges against Lynn cannot negate the major disclosures he made about his superiors’ massive cover-up.
Plan B was clearly chosen and followed in Philly. The implications for the Vatican are most troublesome. The Vatican’s key Philly executives, over a dozen bishops, including three prominent cardinals, have been shown to have pursued for decades Plan B, with Vatican acquiescence if not occasional direction. It appears obvious that the Philly Plan B approach was and may still be the standard operating procedure for the worldwide Catholic Church.
The catastrophic consequences for the Vatican of having chosen and followed Plan B are now cascading through Rome and feeding into other Vatileaks revelations. Together, they are inundating and threatening the continuation of the current imperial papacy, which now, along with its worldwide bishops, is potentially facing unprecedented criminal charges and  financial liability with no relief in sight.  Meanwhile, contributions from Catholics, the Church’s life blood, are being seriously negatively impacted by the scandal.
The links of the Vatican to the Philly case have been and are both extensive and long standing.  Ironically, the still unfolding failure of Plan B is resulting in the realization of many of the risks that were inherent had Plan A been pursued and failed, with even worse consequences than the Vatican may have anticipated.
PAPAL STONEWALLING 40 YEARS AFTER WATERGATE
Forty years ago, the Washington Post‘s top editor and his two key reporters investigating the Nixon White House, were told by a then secret whistleblower to “follow the money.” They did, leading to the first resignation of a U.S. president following the “Saturday Night Massacre” when President Nixon fired the Watergate Prosecutor, Harvard Law School’s Archibald Cox. Two years ago, this editor’s wife compared the pope’s current plight to Nixon’s Watergate scandal and called upon the pope to resign.
Having worked for Archibald Cox as a law student, I then indicated to the pope in a Washington Post article two years ago that Prosecutor Cox would surely have observed that the pope would fail if he continued following a Nixon-style stonewalling strategy on priest sexual abuse of children, especially in this Internet age. The pope didn’t listen. He is now reaping what he sowed.
Last Saturday night, the pope met privately with three trusted senior cardinals apparently to assess their joint survival plans in the midst of continuing leaks of more embarrassing papal documents, even after the firing of the pope’s top banker and the arrest of his butler, evidently both actions having the pope’s blessing. Complicating this are new reports that the Vatican Bank will soon fail many of the European bank regulators’ financial practices tests due apparently to the Bank’s past misconduct and present shortcomings, including reportedly laundering money for the Sicilian Mafia.
Meanwhile, Italian investigators are continuing to analyze numerous “self-protection” files seized during a recent surprise police raid on the fired Vatican bankers’ home. A few days ago, the pope told Irish Catholics their numerous and massive scandals involving priest sexual abuse of children are a “mystery.”  There are, as indicated below, ways in which the Vatican Bank scandal and the abuse scandal may be related. Not really “mysteries,” it appears, as much as possible crimes that government prosecutors are still currently investigating.
Since the Vatican is frequently secretive and at times even seemingly disingenuous as to its real situation and strategy, one must infer from its reported actions what is really going on.  Some will object that this is “conspiracy theorizing” and disrespectful  and should be avoided. But do Catholics really have any other alternative?
Jesus said unequivocally we must protect children. Today, children are clearly still too often unprotected in the Catholic Church. For example, U.S. bishops recently failed again at their national meeting to make bishops fully accountable for overseeing child protection matters. So Catholics have little choice but to look past the hierarchy’s mystical smokescreens and endless diversions. If there is in fact a continuing conspiracy against children, as there surely appears to be,  Catholics must call it by its correct name. Most importantly, all Catholics are commanded by Jesus himself to do their best to end it.
THE  VATICAN’S CURRENT  COUNSELORS
The pope, and the three cardinals he recently turned to in his effort to save his imperial papacy, are all in their eighties. They share some significant common experiences, which will likely affect their individual assessments and proposed solutions. Much of their critical formative Catholic youth occurred during the papacy of Pope Pius XI, whose formative youth in turn occurred under Pope Pius IX, before the first Vatican Council and the 1870 loss of the popes’ centuries-old Kingdom of the Papal States.  Each of these octogenarians was raised as a young man in an anti-modernist Church, where scholastic philosophy, biblical fundamentalism, rote catechetics, triumphalistic history and monarchical popes reigned supreme.
Each of these octogenarians also as youths lived at critical times in difficult circumstances directly under the totalitarian dictators, Hitler, Mussolini and/or Franco. Each of them has had significant Vatican curial experience, and one of them served for some time in Sicily, where the reported  money laundering originated.  In short, they each grew up in the pre-Vatican II Church. They all have extensive experience with both operating under the pretensions of papal monarchy, as well as dealing with earlier major external threats to the monarchy’s survival.
THE VATICAN’S CURRENT PLIGHT
Can we discern any common denominator to the current papal problems that these octogenarians are assessing? There appears to be one: MONEY,  or at least the related possibility that the Vatican and its worldwide bishops-dominated organization may run out of it soon, at a time when the hierarchy may need more to survive financially, and in some cases to pay the legal costs of defending against criminal prosecution.
Why have a Vatican Bank these days? Why not just rely on international commercial banks the way many international organizations and even some governments do? The answer appears to be that the Vatican Bank has provided the Vatican with both secrecy and profits. Ominously also, at least one major international bank recently refused to do further business with the Vatican Bank, namely, at J.P. Morgan’s office in Milan, Italy’s financial center.
Monarchs, including popes, for many centuries preferred secrecy. If these monarchs  were generally not accountable to their subjects, why let their subjects know about their finances? This is what Popes Pius IX, Pius XI and Pius XII learned and followed, and what the four current Vatican octogenarians were weaned on and apparently generally prefer.
Unfortunately, in today’s digital economy that relies on internationally regulated computerized money transfer systems, even local banking has worldwide financial and digital connectivity. After the 9/11 attacks revealed terrorist exploitation of a loosely regulated “funds transfer system” among banks, international bank regulators began to demand greater transparency and policing of secret accounts. This apparently was hardly a welcome development for the Vatican Bank.
This post 9/11 regulatory development explains the new bank regulatory environment that may be flushing out some shady Vatican Bank transactions, but it does not really explain why after the several major Vatican banking scandals that had already occurred on these octogenarians’ watch, the Vatican is apparently still engaged in questionable financial transactions. Some Vatican Bank officials had to have been aware of these transactions and their questionable character, yet permitted them. Why? Was this the source of friction with the pope’s fired banker? This will likely be disclosed more completely by governmental regulators very soon.
A common explanation, found in other banking scandals, is that secret transactions are often also significant sources of bank profits. Was this very important to the Vatican? It would be if there were a perceived need that generating greater profits is a key part of the Vatican’s current strategy. The Vatican really doesn’t issue comprehensive and independently certified profit and loss statements that one might rely on, but it seems clear the Vatican has an increasing need for more money. Disgraced child sex abuser,  Maciel, seemed to understand this well with his frequent cash payments to influential Cardinals and reportedly even to Pope John Paul II as well.
Vatican revenue reductions surely are  resulting from the mass exodus from the Church of Catholics in wealthier Western countries, who obviously take their contributions with them. Some in European countries in these tough economic times also are calling for ending or reducing the large existing government subsidies to the Catholic Church. The pursuit of critically needed additional Church revenues has had repercussions even beyond possibly leading to apparent financial misdeeds at the Vatican Bank.
It appears that greater attention is being given currently by the Vatican to large papal donors such as members of the Knights of Malta and The Papal Foundation and to the leadership of the Knights of Columbus. It also appears that a form of “quid pro quo” for greater contributions to the Vatican from  some of the wealthiest donors is greater papal support for national political parties whose policies advance the interests of the wealthy donors.
For example, in the U.S. the current papal anti-contraception “religious liberty” crusade appears directed at electing a political party that will extend the Bush tax breaks that favor the 0.1 % wealthiest, while support for preserving U.S. government programs for the poorest donors is being postponed by U.S. bishops until after the election. This crusade is supported by members of the Knights of Malta and Carl Anderson, head of the Knights of Columbus. Anderson is also a former Reagan Administration staffer and on the Vatican Bank’s supervisory board.
In return for papal support, the pope can likely be expecting his U.S. donors (A) to contribute some of their many billions of dollars of U.S. federal  tax savings to the Vatican and (B) to support the pope and bishops’ lobbying efforts to reduce the risks for U.S. bishops of Federal criminal prosecution and financial liability, including by appointing more “pope friendly” U.S. Supreme Court Justices to replace the several expected to retire soon.
Moreover, a significant part of the Vatican’s recent multi-year investigation of the American Sisters has been related to assessing their financial assets. Given last year’s legally contested effort by Boston’s Cardinal O’Malley to get more control over some Boston Sisters’ pension financial reserves, it is likely that the recent and continuing attempt of the Vatican to get quick control over many American Sisters’ religious orders has some financial motivations.
So clearly the Vatican is experiencing some significant revenue stresses that appear to be playing a key role in some of the Vatican’s actions which are often wrapped in smokescreens like opposing contraception and masturbation, or associating with the prominent moral theologian, Fr. Charles Curran, who is apparently still on the Vatican’s hit list. It does not yet appear that the Vatican is seeking to get a piece of the Girl Scouts’ cookie revenues, but stay tuned, it is still not over! Who would have thought the pope would try to push to make his anti-contraception insurance position as the law of the land in the U.S.?
What about the Vatican’s expenses? The escalating and significant negative financial impact on the Vatican,  and on the worldwide bishops as well, of the sex abuse scandal may be the major financial factor driving current Vatican policy. The costs are in the billions and are likely to continue for many years to come in more and more countries.
Having chosen Plan B above, the current Vatican leadership seems incapable of containing the abuse scandal effectively or efficiently. As the pope told the International Eucharistic Congress meeting in Dublin last Sunday, he thinks the abuse scandal is a “mystery.” Will he and the other octogenarians solve this mystery? The odds are against this.
The choice of Plan B appears to have had other implications. Clearly, one way to curtail priest abuse is by expelling predatory priests more quickly and expanding the priest candidate pool by permitting married and female priests to replace them. In lieu of this needed expansion, the Vatican instead has pursued ineffective half-measures like moving around foreign priests, poaching Anglican priests and pushing “retro” priests from the cult-like reactionary groups. This has mainly failed to solve the problem.
Theologically, married priests are clearly permitted. And the pope’s own Pontifical Biblical Commission has indicated there are no Scriptural impediments to female priests.
So what’s the problem? Under Plan B above, it was essential  to be able to keep the hierarchy’s secret sins. To do this new bishops have evidentally been picked in part for their willingness to maintain the secrets. Eventually, married and female priests would likely have wanted to know the “secrets.” Until now, it appears that the Vatican had concerns that married priests and women priests presented too great a risk and might not keep the secrets, especially about rampant child abuse. Now that the Philly trial and Vatileaks are uncovering the secrets anyway, married and woman priests may be less of a risk for the Vatican.
Will the octogenarians save the imperial papacy? That is very unlikley. The next pope could make a difference, but probably won’t, given the way cardinals have been selected in recent decades. A broad-based ecumenical council held away from Rome with empowered lay and women members could have some very positive potential, but it is unlikley to be called by the octogenarians or existing cardinals in the near term, anyway.

It appears that the only crucial force for change in the Church will be the pressure from criminal and bankruptcy courts throughout the world. It is already beginning to happen. Vatican officials have run out of places to hide, as the Philly trial and Vatileaks are showing us in real time. Instead, some of them are pointing fingers by leaks at others, hoping to enhance their own positions and save their own neck. Too little too late.

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More Charges For Father Michael Miller


More Charges For Father Michael Miller

BPD arrest former St. Paul priest on three new charges stemming from forensic analysis.

By Robert Mayer  June 20, 2012

From the link: http://berlin.patch.com/articles/more-charges-for-father-michael-miller

The Berlin Police Department arrested Father Michael Miller of St. Paul’s Church on three additional counts to the ones he is already facing. Miller was charged and arrested for obscenity, possession of child pornography and risk of injury to a minor.

Miller’s case has been continued 11 times since he was originally charged on five felony counts of risk of injury to a minor and a misdemeanor obscenity charge. One of the reasons the court case may have been continued was that the Berlin Police Dept. was working on forensics from cell phones and computers, which according to police takes time.

These forensic clues provide more evidence in the case against Miller, who was very popular in his tenure at St. Paul’s.

As part of the ongoing investigation, police served a warrant on Miller, 41, pastor of Saint Paul’s Catholic Church in Kensington.

His case was originally ordered sealed by the court but was unsealed with lurid details of Miller’s relationship with a young boy.

Miller was hospitalized on July 4 when he was taken by Life Star helicopter to St. Francis Hospital in Hartford. Mystery surrounded the circumstances of his illness or injuries, though the Hartford Archdiocese acknowledged that Miller was under investigation and that the Franciscan Friars and Archdiocese were cooperating with the investigation.

According to the warrant, the Berlin Police Department received a complaint from the mother of a 13-year-old boy whose family members are parishioners of the church, which is located in Kensington. The woman told police that her son had become uncomfortable with the correspondence on Facebook and text messages from Father Michael Miller.

Police confiscated two computers from Miller, but before they could arrest him, he was flown to St. Francis Hospital on July 4 by Life Star after suffering a still-unspecified medical condition.

According to the original arrest warrant, the conversations started innocently enough but escalated into sexual comments quickly.

The original warrant states that Miller, who uses an alias on Facebook, asked the boy about his sexual preference. Miller told the boy he was bi-sexual in high school and was addicted to pornography.

When police confiscated Miller’s computers, the priest admitted to texting and talking to the boy on Facebook but said that there was no actual contact.

Miller, according to the warrant, also told the boy on more than one occasion that he would like to perform sex acts on him and asked him to meet him, but the boy declined. The request to meet seems to have led to the boy to talk to his mother.

Attorney William St. John represents Miller, who is currently suspended from his church duties. Miller is due back in court July 9.

8 Ugly Sins of the Catholic Church


8 Ugly Sins of the Catholic Church

If pedophile payouts weren’t enough to convince you the Catholic leadership is often anything but moral, take a look at some of their other sins.

Did the Catholic Bishops wince last week when their leader, anti-contraception Cardinal Timothy Dolan, was exposed for paying pedophiles to disappear? One can only hope. After all, these are men who claim to speak for God. They have direct access to the White House, where they regularly weigh in on issues ranging from military policy to bioethics, and they expect us all to listen – not because of relevant expertise or elected standing, but because of their moral authority.

Ahem.

If pedophile payouts weren’t enough to convince you that this “moral” authority is often anything but moral, take a look at some of their other sins against compassion and basic decency.

1. Excommunicating doctors and nuns for saving lives. In 2009, a 27-year-old mom, pregnant with her fifth child, was rushed to a Phoenix hospital, St. Josephs, where her doctors said she would almost certainly die unless her pregnancy was aborted immediately. The nun in charge approved the emergency procedure, and the woman survived. The local bishop promptly excommunicated the nun. “There are some situations where the mother may in fact die along with her child. But — and this is the Catholic perspective — you can’t do evil to bring about good. The end does not justify the means,” said Rev. John Ehrich, the medical ethics director for the Diocese of Phoenix.

How far are the Church authorities willing to take this “moral” logic? In Brazil last year, with Vatican backing, the Church excommunicated a mother and doctor for saving the life of a 9-year-old rape victim who was pregnant with twins. (At four months pregnant, the girl weighed 80 pounds.) Cardinal Giovanni Batista Re, who heads the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, said “life must always be protected.” Perhaps Mr. Batista Re can explain the Vatican’s 1,500-year tradition of “just war.”

2. Protecting even non-Catholic sex-offenders against child victims. As we have seen, the moral priorities of the bishops are laid naked when they decide who to excommunicate and who not. The doctor and the mother of the pregnant 9-year-old got the boot for approving an abortion, but not the stepfather who had sexually assaulted the child, probably over a period of years. A similar contrast can be seen between the case of the Phoenix nun and hundreds of pedophile priests who were allowed to remain Catholic even after they finally were identified and removed from the Church payrolls.

It gets worse. In New York, a bill that would give child molestation victims more time to file charges has been blocked seven times by the Catholic hierarchy led by none other than Cardinal Dolan. Why? “We feel this is terribly unjust, we feel it singles out the church, and it would be devastating for the life of the church.” In other words, regardless of whether the abuse really happened or what the consequences were for victims, what matters is how much additional lawsuits might cost the Church.  Isn’t that the ends justifying the means?

3. Using churches to organize gay haters. When the Washington State legislature approved marriage equality this spring, fundamentalist Christians across the state organized to reverse the legislation. Even though three quarters of American Catholics think that gay marriage or civil unions should be legalArchbishop Peter Sartain jumped to the front of the pack, decreeing that Western Washington parishes under his “moral authority” should gather signatures for an anti-equality initiative. To their credit, a number of priests refused, and a group called Catholics for Marriage Equality is raising money for ads. In contrast to the Catholic League, which has made the degrading argument that sex between priests and adolescent boys is consensual homosexuality, lay Catholics appear to know the difference.

4. Lying about contraceptives to poor Africans. Of all the mortal sins committed by the men of the cloth, the most devastatingly lethal in the last 30 years has been the Catholic hierarchy’s outspoken opposition to condom use in Africa. In 2003, the president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family publicly lied about the efficacy of condoms in preventing both pregnancy and HIV: “The AIDS virus is roughly 450 times smaller than the spermatozoon. The spermatozoon can easily pass through the ‘net’ that is formed by the condom.” The archbishop of Nairobi told people that condoms were spreading HIV.  Some priests told parishioners that condoms were impregnated with the virus.

The motivation for such flagrant falsehoods? The Church has practiced competitive pro-natalism for centuries, but lately anti-contraceptive edicts have been ignored by most educated European and American Catholics, and Italy has the second lowest birthrate in the Western World, at 1.3 per woman. The bishops see this as a “catastrophe” and are looking to Africa as “a reservoir of life for the Church.” They wrap their opposition to contraception in lofty moral language such as that offered by Pope John Paul II: It seems profoundly damaging to the dignity of the human being, and for this reason morally illicit, to support a prevention of AIDS that is based on a recourse to means and remedies that violate an authentically human sense of sexuality. As late as 2009, John Paul’s successor, Benedict, continued to tell poor African Catholics that condoms were “wrong” and even suggested that they were making the epidemic worse. With god-knows –how-many lives lost and children orphaned, he finally softened his stance in 2010.

5. Obstructing patient access to accurate information and services in secular hospitals. In rural Arizona near the Mexican border, women delivering babies by cesarean section were refused tubal ligations because their independent hospital was negotiating a merger with a healthcare network run by Catholics. Worse, when a woman arrived at the same hospital in the middle of a miscarriage and need a surgical abortion to complete the process, she was forced to travel by ambulance to Tucson, 80 miles away, risking hemorrhage on the way. All over the U.S. secular and Catholic-run health systems are merging, and patients are quietly losing the right to make medical decisions based on the best scientific information available and the dictates of their own conscience.

Even when the Catholic-owned hospital is a small part of the merger, administrators insist that Catholic directives apply to the system as a whole. These directives prohibit not only abortions but also contraceptives, vasectomies and tubal ligations, some kinds of fertility treatment, and compliance with end-of-life patient directives. Ectopic pregnancies cannot be handled in keeping with the medical standard of care. As biotechnologies and treatments relevant to the beginning and end of life advance, we can expect the list to grow longer. Patients cannot trust that they will be told other options are available elsewhere.

One of the bitter ironies here is that even wholly “Catholic” hospitals and charities are staffed primarily by non-Catholics and largely provide services to people of other faiths or of none, paid for with tax dollars. In healthcare much of the money flows from Medicare and Medicaid. In 2010, non-medical affiliates of Catholic Charities received 62 percent of annual revenue from the taxpayers – nearly $2.9 billion. Only 3 percent came from church donations, with the remainder coming from investments, program fees, community donations and in-kind contributions. And yet all of those dollars get directed according to the dictates of bishop conscience rather than individual conscience.

6. Slapping down nuns. Catholic charities and hospitals are at some competitive advantage in part because of hard-working nuns, many of whom have skills and responsibilities that exceed their compensation. The bishops are the Catholic Church’s 1 percent; the nuns are managers and service workers –and many have taken the kind of poverty vows that America’s 1 percent is trying to impose on the rest. Because many nuns live in the real world, where suffering and morality are complex, they often make care-based decisions and take nuanced positions on moral questions that the Council of Bishops resolves by appealing to dogma and authority.

In April, the Vatican decided to remind the nuns who’s on top. Rome issued an 8-page assessment accusing the Leadership Conference of Women Religious of disagreeing with the bishops and of “radical feminism.” It appears that their labors on behalf of poor, vulnerable people had distracted them from a more Christian priority: controlling other people’s sex lives—oh, and standing up against the ordination of women. The Archbishop assigned by the Vatican to rein in unruly American nuns is none other than Peter Sartain of Seattle, the same moral authority who has declared a holy crusade against gay marriage.

7. Bullying girl scouts. Unlike the Boy Scouts, who recently earned media and public attention by booting out a gay den-mother, the Girl Scouts have been stubbornly inclusive and focused on preparing girls for leadership. For example, last year a Colorado troop included a trans-gender 7-year-old. That’s a problem for the Bishops, and since up to a quarter of American Girl Scouts are Catholic kids with troops housed in churches, they see it as their problem. To make matters worse, the American Girl Scouts refused to leave their international umbrella, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, which has stated that young women “need an environment where they can freely and openly discuss issues of sex and sexuality.”  The World Association would appear to believe the data that girls who can’t manage their sexuality and fertility are more likely to end up in poverty than leadership positions.

Then again, maybe that’s what the church hierarchy is after. According to an article last month at the Huffington Post, “The new inquiry will be conducted by the bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. It will look into the Scouts’ ‘possible problematic relationships with other organizations’ and various ‘problematic’ program materials, according to a letter sent by the committee chairman, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne, Ind., to his fellow bishops.” We’re talking about an organization run by women for girls facing an all-male inquisition. In today’s Catholic church, leadership still requires a y chromosome.

8. Purging popular and scholarly interfaith bridge builders. Lest some reader assert that the sins of the Bishops are all a consequence of sexual repression – some contorted pursuit of sexual purity that degrades both sex and compassion—it is important to note that the current cohort of Church authorities are as obsessed with doctrinal purity as sexual purity. It would take me many paragraphs to describe their tireless pursuit of purity as well as retired Anglican bishop, John Shelby Spong, does in one:

Hans Kung, probably the best read theologian of the 20th century, was removed from his position as a Catholic theologian at Tubingen because his mind could not be twisted into the medieval concepts required by his church. This action was carried out by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who at that time under Pope John Paul II held the office that in another time gave us the Inquisition. Matthew Fox, one of the most popular retreat and meditation leaders and an environmental activist, was then silenced by the same Cardinal Ratzinger. Professor Charles Curran, one of America’s best known ethicists, was removed from his tenured professorship at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., also by the same Cardinal Ratzinger. Father Leonardo Boff, the best known Latin American liberation theologian, was forced to renounce his ordination in order to continue his work for justice among the poor of Latin America by the same Cardinal Ratzinger. Next we learn that the Vatican, now headed by Cardinal Ratzinger under his new name Pope Benedict XVI, has ordered the removal of a book from all Catholic schools and universities written by a popular female theologian at Fordham University, Sister Elizabeth A. Johnson. Now the nuns are to be investigated. Conformity trumps truth in every direction.

The Catholic tradition defines deadly or “cardinal” sins as those from which all other sins derive. In addition to lust, gluttony, wrath, sloth and envy, the traditional seven include pride and greed, which, to my mind, drive much of the appalling behavior in this list. If an attempt to assert autocratic control over the spiritual and physical lives of lay people isn’t pride, I don’t know what is. And if a willingness to silence child victims to protect church assets isn’t greed, I don’t know what greed is.  The BBC’s revelation last month of money laundering in the Vatican Bank pales by comparison.

To me, ultimately, the sins of the Catholic bishops are “deadly sins” because they kill people, whether pregnant mothers or depressed gay teens or African families, or simply desperate people who are forced into greater desperation by “moral” priorities that distract from real questions of well-being and harm.

What the Bishops will have to account for when they meet their maker, none of us can say. For some American Catholics, the process of holding them to account has already started. The Women Religious have pushed back against the condescending “assessment” issued by the Vatican. Small groups of lay Catholics have rallied to their support. Picketers meet monthly outside Sartain’s cathedral to protest his stance against equality. The Franciscan brothers issued a statement of solidarity with the nuns, many of whom have remained solidly focused on economic justice instead of sexual transgressions.

Given the arrogant cruelty of Church leaders, criticism to date has been remarkably tempered. As the Bishops flash their moral authority in the White House and media and pulpit, clothed in white robes and draped in crimson, they should be glad they aren’t eyeball to eyeball with Jesus himself. As the writer of Matthew tells it, he called out the corrupt religious leaders of his day in no uncertain terms: Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington and the founder of Wisdom Commons. She is the author of “Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light” and “Deas and Other Imaginings.” Her articles can be found at Awaypoint.Wordpress.com.

 

 

Galway priest silenced by Vatican is set to return to public ministry


Galway priest silenced by Vatican is set to return to public ministry

June 14, 2012 – 7:30am

Fr Tony Flannery to be one of preachers at Novena in Esker next week

By Bernie Ní Fhlatharta

A Galway Redemptorist priest who was silenced by the Vatican because of his criticisms of the Church in relation to their response to clerical sex abuse in Ireland will be returning to public ministry next week.

Fr Tony Flannery, who is based in the Redemptorist Monastery in Esker, will be welcomed back by his congregation and colleagues there on Tuesday with the start of the Order’s annual Novena.

Fr Flannery, along with two Redemptorist colleagues, Fr Brendan O’Rourke and Fr Patrick O’Keeffe, will be preaching at the Novena, which focuses on the virtues of living a good Christian life.

The Attymon native publicly supported Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s call in the Dáil for the Catholic Church to apologise for its handling of clerical sex abuse. Fr Flannery was a regular contributor to the Redemptorist magazine Reality, in which he aired his views and support of the Taoiseach.

Just before Easter, Fr Flannery was ordered to take time off for spiritual reflection, which he did. Part of that dictat was that he stop writing for Reality, after the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith objected to some things he had written in various articles and on the Order’s website.

Following almost two months away from his ministry, negotiations with his Redemptorist superiors have led to his return.

This week, Fr Flannery told the Connacht Tribune that he was looking forward to returning to public ministry.

“I haven’t ministered since Easter but I will be returning next Tuesday on the first day of the Novena and I will be preaching at that every third day, alternating with my colleagues,” he said.

from the link: http://www.galwaynews.ie/26297-galway-priest-silenced-vatican-set-return-public-ministry

 

Church assisting paedophile priests


Church assisting paedophile priests

Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie

June 15, 2012

The archdiocese has disclosed to The Age that it is providing significant financial support to four clergy released from jail after serving sentences for child sex abuse.

Victim support groups say more clergy found either by police or internal church investigations to have abused children are likely to be receiving financial support from different Catholic orders outside the Melbourne archdiocese’s control.

A spokesman for the Melbourne archdiocese said church law required the bishop to ”ensure appropriate financial support is provided to all priests”. ”The archdiocese contributes to rental support and health insurance for four priests who have had their faculties to function as a priest withdrawn, been convicted of child sex offences and completed any term of imprisonment imposed by the courts.”

A fifth paedophile priest within the Melbourne archdiocese, Victor Rubeo, was also receiving financial support until his death in December last year, on the day he was to face a committal hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates Court over 30 fresh child sex abuse charges.

Director of victims support group In Good Faith and Associates, Helen Last, said the generous financial support to paedophile priests was unjust compared with the financial, physical and emotional hardship endured by those who have been abused.

”This seems to be a weak response in terms of discipline and there should be an examination of the archdiocese’s relationship with clerical sexual offenders,” she said. ”The victims are often left out in the cold with no ongoing financial support and help. The money the [convicted] priests get from the church makes it a very unjust situation and demonstrates no awareness by the church of the seriousness of sexual crime.”

Ms Last called on the archdiocese to disclose how many clergy it had confirmed through its own internal investigations had abused children – but were not reported to police – were also receiving financial support.

A spokesman for the Broken Rites victim support group said: ”If abusive clergy receive ongoing support from the church, this shields the offenders from the harsh reality of the long-term harm that they have done to victims.”

The issue of the handling of child sexual abuse within religious organisations is to be investigated by a Victorian parliamentary inquiry. A state government source has confirmed the inquiry will have the power to override any confidentiality agreements abuse victims have signed to receive compensation from religious organisations.