Category Archives: Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller
The Catholic Church’s defiance and obstruction on child sex abuse
From the Link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/defiance-and-obstruction-on-child-sex-abuse/2016/04/19/22efc3de-0351-11e6-9d36-33d198ea26c5_story.html
IN THREE years at the helm of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has been a source of inspiration for millions of faithful around the world. In one critical respect, however, he has fallen short of his own promise: to come fully to terms with decades of child sex abuse by clergymen and the institutional cover granted to them by bishops and cardinals.
Francis has pledged “the zealous vigilance of the Church to protect children and the promise of accountability for all.” Yet there has been scant accountability, particularly for bishops. Too often, the church’s stance has been defiance and obstruction.
In his trip to the United States in the fall, Francis told victims that “words cannot fully express my sorrow for the abuse you suffered.” Yet his initiative to establish a Vatican tribunal to judge bishops who enabled or ignored pedophile priests has come to naught. Not a single bishop has been called to account by the tribunal, which itself remains more notional than real.
Meanwhile, church officials have fought bills in state legislatures across the United States that would allow thousands of abuse victims to seek justice in court. The legislation would loosen deadlines limiting when survivors can bring lawsuits against abusers or their superiors who turned a blind eye. Many victims, emotionally damaged by the abuse they have suffered, do not speak until years after they were victimized; by then, in many states, it is too late for them to force priests and other abusers to account in court.
Eight states have lifted such deadlines, known as statutes of limitations, for victims who are sexually abused as minors. Seven states have gone further, enacting measures allowing past victims — not just current and future ones — to file lawsuits in a finite period of time, generally a two- or three-year window.
A typical case is Maryland, where bills to extend the statute of limitations until the alleged victim turns 38 have failed even to come to a vote, owing to opposition from House of Delegates Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph F. Vallario Jr. (D-Prince George’s) and the Catholic Church, among others.
In his trip to the United States, Pope Francis praised bishops for what he called their “generous commitment to bring healing to victims” and he expressed sympathy for “how much the pain of recent years has weighed upon you.” Yet by its actions, the church’s “commitment to bring healing” has seemed far from generous. And it seemed perverse to address the bishops’ “pain” when the real suffering has been borne by children.
A “dossier” accusing papal nuncio Archbishop Josef Wesolowski of sex abuse of minors was sent to Pope Francis sometime in July by Santo Domingo Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez. The pope found the information credible enough to dismiss Wesolowski, nuncio to both the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, on Aug. 21 via confidential letter N.2706/PR to the bishops of both countries.
Neither the civil authorities nor the public knew about Wesolowski until a local TV program did an expose’ on Aug. 31. The result of a year-long investigation, the broadcast contained testimony from residents of the Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo that Wesolowski paid minors for sex.
Three days after the TV broadcast, a local bishop confirmed that Wesolowski had been recalled for sexually abusing minors.
Wesolowski reportedly had left the country only a few days before. There were accusations that the pope allowed his nuncio to escape and speculation that Wesolowski fled to Haiti where children are even more desperately poor.
On Sept. 23, the Dominican Republic’s Justice Ministry confirmed there was evidence of pedophilia against Wesolowski. A deacon confessed to “pimping” minors for the prelate who allegedly waited in his vehicle nearby. The deacon, Francisco Javier Occi Reyes, who is being held in pretrial prison on pedophilia charges, was arrested when one of Wesolowski’s alleged victims alerted a police officer. The deacon said on that occasion Wesolwski left but said nothing because he thought the Church’s influence would get him out of prison.
The Deputy Procurator and the case’s lead investigator, Bolivar Sanchez, noted that Wesolowski cannot be extradited because of his diplomatic status. He said the minors interviewed admitted to masturbating for, and of taking part in oral sex with the bishop as he filmed them with a cell phone. Another witness affirmed seeing child pornography on Wesoloski’s laptop at the Vatican embassy. Sanchez confirmed that when the local Catholic Church submitted the evidence to the Vatican, the Justice Ministry was unaware of the case but has received full cooperation after the investigation was launched.
Wesolowski is a Polish national and the story is receiving wide coverage in that county. An investigative reporter for Poland’s Newsweek confirmed that Wesolowski was well known in the Zona Colonial. The reporter was told that the nuncio paid youths 500 pesos to masturbate in front of him. Occasionally they were paid 3,000 pesos for “full” sex.
“Confidence in the Church has suffered,” the secretary general of the Polish bishops’ conference, Bishop Wojciech Polak, said. He asked for forgiveness. “It’s the least I can do,” he told reporters. Polak, however, rejected the idea of financial compensation for the victims from the Church. Rather, only the person responsible for these acts should make restitution. Also, the Polish hierarchy said there has been no contact with Wesolowski and that his whereabouts remain unknown.
Similarly, Pope Francis sent confidential letter N315/2012 to the bishops in Peru on May 24, 2013, dismissing Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Miranda Melgarejo of Ayacucho, a poor Andean region in southern Peru. According to this newspaper report, no reason was given and there was no public announcement.
Miranda had led the youth ministry of Peru’s bishops’ conference since 2007 and had accompanied the group “to other countries” and to Spain in 2011 for a World Youth Day celebration, the same event recently attended by Pope Francis in Brazil.
Miranda was reported to be an Opus Dei priest. But the group said he had only received “spiritual assistance” from the organization, meaning that while not ordained as an Opus Dei priest, Miranda was a diocesan priest “intrinsically united to Opus Dei.” This would explain how poor kids could have traveled since Opus Dei would have paid for their trips.
On Aug. 21, a Spanish lawyer, Francisco Jose de la Cigona, wrote in his blog that the Vatican “accepted the resignation” of Miranda for “having sex with minors and adults, too” which had been “solicited in confession.” His informant confirmed that Miranda’s name had been removed from the archdiocesan website.
Diego Garcia Sayan, president of the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, wrote in his Sept. 19 La Republica newspaper column what had been “said in Church circles for at least a month” – Miranda had been dismissed by the pope for accusations of sexually abusing children. “No official information [from the Church] is available,” however, it is “essential to confirm or disprove what is an open secret.” If true, he wrote, he called for “immediate action by the attorney general.”
Later on Sept. 19, a local bishop publicly stated that “Miranda has not only been removed [for pedophilia], but laicized. He is no longer a priest.” The bishop said this had not yet been officially communicated by the Vatican.
The next day, Reuters reported that an unnamed “Church official confirmed that Miranda, 53, had resigned but declined to say why.” The attorney general’s office said that it was investigating Miranda and would announce its actions soon. According to an Opus Dei statement, Miranda “denies any crime related to minors.”
Various prelates followed up by confirming the “resignation” of Miranda, or the “removal” of Miranda. The spokesman for the Archdiocese of Ayacucho, said Miranda “departed in July” but did not specify the reason.
On Sept. 22, La Republica’s correspondent in Ayacucho noted that the archbishop of the archdiocese and president of Peru’s bishops’ conference, Salvador Pineiro, had announced to other Peruvian hierarchs that Miranda was dismissed and laicized on Aug. 15 based on evidence and testimony of the victim(s) and their families. The government prosecutor, Garry Chavez, questioned why, having heard the case, the national Church hierarchy had not contacted the civil authority.
The same day, the Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima “minimized” the accusations of child sex abuse against Miranda and blamed the scandal on the media. Cipriani met with Pope Francis on Sept. 24 “for more than an hour” but said that Miranda was not discussed.
Also on Sept. 24, the prosecutor, Chavez, told La Republica that he asked the archbishops of Ayacucho and Lima and the papal nuncio – since the allegations were made directly to the Vatican – for copies of the records upon which the pope based his decision to remove Miranda. According to Chavez, Miranda left the second week in August and his whereabouts remain unknown.
Chavez asked the attorney general’s office, which deals with international crimes, to receive the information requested from the nuncio through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He said he hopes there will be a quick response from the Vatican.
On Sept. 26, Reuters reported that Chavez told them Church officials based in Peru and the Vatican had not yet responded to several requests for details about the case. “What we are going to do now is reiterate to them that the law requires their cooperation,” Chavez said. The archbishop of Ayacucho, Salvador Pineiro, who supervised Miranda for two years, said he supports the investigation and hopes it will reveal the truth. He said all he knows about the case is that on July 5 he was notified by Pope Francis that Miranda was being dismissed for “sins against the sixth commandment [Thou shalt not commit adultery] in a process subject to pontifical secret.” (The “sixth commandment” is a euphemism used by Catholic churchmen for any sexual transgression from masturbation to rape.)
However, the online magazine, CARETAS, reported that the accusation against Miranda was for “improper touching” of a 14-year-old altar boy in June 2012 in the confessional. According to the magazine, the victim lodged a formal complaint with the archbishop of Ayacucho’s office. It appears the complaint went unnoticed or ignored for some time. Also, CARETAS reported that Chavez believes there is another complaint against Miranda by a 15-year-old.
Pineiro denied this and said he never received any complaints against Miranda. “That’s a lie. Of course I would have investigated. I am not complicit,” the archbishop protested.
Meanwhile, Miranda’s whereabouts still remain unknown.
While Pope Francis could be praised for dismissing these prelates, the fact that the information he received was credible enough for him to take action also means that he should have immediately alerted the civil authorities so that, if warranted, an arrest could be made or at least an investigation begun as soon as possible. Also, Pope Francis should have made the allegations public so that any other victims would be encouraged to contact a law enforcement agency perhaps making the investigation easier, apprehension quicker or prosecution more certain. Additionally, if made public, people could avoid contact with the accused. The group, Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), defines failure to take these steps as a “cover up.”
How many children have been abused or are in danger until both men are apprehended? Did Wesolowski and Miranda use the time provided by the pope’s silence to escape arrest? At what point should Francis make an apology and offer aid to the victims?
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio did not have a good record regarding child sex abuse before he became pope.
Fr. Julio Cesar Grassi was well known for his work as president of the Fundacion Felices los Niños (the Happy Children Foundation) which he founded in 1993 to rescue street children.
Grassi received donations from fund-raising drives held on numerous television programs. He “won praise from Argentine politicians and his superior, Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio.” (Bergoglio was elevated to archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998 and elevated to cardinal in 2001 by Pope John Paul II.)
The first legal complaint against the priest was filed anonymously in Juvenile Court in Nov. 2000 accusing Grassi of corrupting minors. Nothing was done until an investigative news program alleged that Grassi abused five boys aged 11 to 17. Two of the alleged victims, using the pseudonyms “Gabriel” and “Ezekiel,” stated that they had been abused by Grassi while in the Happy Children Foundation.
In Oct. 2002, Grassi was arrested and charged with 17 counts of abusing three boys who were 9, 13, and 17 when the alleged incidents occurred. The priest accused those who made complaints of extortion. Grassi was held 28 days and released.
One victim’s attorney, Juan Pablo Gallego, said the harm done by the priest was “irreversible.” “This man was in charge of abandoned kids with family problems,” stated Gallego.
The executive committee of the Argentine bishops’ conference issued a statement denouncing a “campaign” intended to “blur the image” of the Catholic Church and “cause society to lose its trust” in the institution.” The Executive Committee was headed by Archbishop Karlic and his first and second vice-presidents, Msgr. Miras and Cardinal Bergoglio.
Cardinal Bergoglio refused to meet with “Gabriel” in Nov. 2003.
In one of Argentina’s most egregious abuse cases, another priest in the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires was assigned to work with children even when Church leaders knew of allegations against him.
After local parishioners accused Fr. Mario Napoleon Sasso of molesting children in a poor, rural province of eastern Argentina in the early 1990s, he was sent to a private rehabilitation center for wayward clergy. He was then reassigned to work in a soup kitchen for poor children in a town outside the capital. There, he went on to sexually abuse girls as young as 3.
The attorney for the victims said that in 2006 the victims’ families asked to see Bergoglio but they never received a response.
Sasso was convicted in 2007 and sentenced to 17 years in prison. He has since been released on parole.
After years of legal delays, Grassi’s trial began in August 2008. Prosecutors sought 30 years in prison. For nine months, the trial was held behind closed doors. Only the verdict was read to the public on June 10, 2009. The Criminal Court found Grassi guilty of two acts of aggravated sexual assault and corruption of minors and sentenced him to 15 years in prison. He was allowed to remain free during his appeal but the judges imposed a number of restrictions.
On June 20, 2009, 49 priests and 50 laypeople criticized the “silence of ecclesial leaders before this case and others.” The signers said, “We see that other bishops’ conferences like Colombia’s have spoken up in similar cases, and we do not understand your silence, that has the appearance of ‘hushing up’ and ‘tolerance.’”
In a 2009 interview, Grassi claimed that Bergoglio “never let go of my hand….Investigative reports at the time indicate that Bergoglio not only continued protecting Grassi through the Church but was also his confessor – one of the few who came to talk to him.”
The case of Fr. Grassi has been particularly troublesome to children’s advocates in Argentina because “Bergoglio was widely viewed as close to the young priest. [He] was not expelled from the priesthood after the guilty verdict. Instead, Church officials led by Bergoglio commissioned a lengthy private report arguing that Grassi was innocent.”
The report, written by Marcelo Sancinetti, a criminal lawyer, was two volumes exceeding 1000 pages. He argued that a member of the clergy should not necessarily comply with secular court decisions. “He suggests that allegation of sex abuse by Grassi are false and comparable to the witch trials of the Middle Ages.” A copy was given to each judge involved in hearing Grassi’s appeal and was “submitted as part of the legal appeal…Prosecutors say the document has helped Grassi avoid jail time.”
For the next four years, Grassi was allowed to continue living across the street from the foundation. Grassi “violated the conditions for his freedom by calling one of the youngsters whose testimony led to his conviction a ‘liar.’”
On May 8, 2013, the victim known as “Gabriel” and his attorney, Juan Pablo Gallego, went to the Vatican embassy in Buenos Aires to hand deliver a letter addressed to Pope Francis. The letter read, in part, “I would be grateful if you would apply the so-called zero tolerance [as announced by the Vatican towards pedophile priests] for the privileged Grassi sentenced for horrific crimes from which I have suffered and still suffer. Have him reduced to the lay state and issue a clear public sign of respect for the independence of the Argentine judicial system….I beg your compassion and help me regain my faith.”
While the attorney and his client were at the nunciature, “a number of parcels, letters and papers” addressed to the pope were received. After an employee read “Gabriel’s” letter and consulted with someone inside, they were told the letter would not be accepted and they were threatened with a call to the police.
On Sept. 2, the chief justice of the Argentine Supreme Court of Buenos Aires, Héctor Negri, one of the judges who would decide Grassi’s appeal, met in private with Pope Francis. Negri stated that the Grassi case was not discussed, but should a prominent jurist have considered the meeting unseemly just a couple of weeks before a decision was to be handed down on Grassi?
On Sept. 18, Grassi’s conviction for two cases of aggravated sexual abuse and a third for corruption of minors and sentence of 15 years imprisonment was upheld. Other plaintiffs are pushing for the trial against Grassi to continue, saying he still needs to answer to accusations that he abused two other youths. Plaintiffs’ attorney Gallego said the victims are currently between 27 and 28 years old and live “in humble conditions.”
Grassi called the court’s decision “a cross one must know how to bear.” The priest criticized the prosecutor for “wanting to deceive society” and the media for waging a campaign against him.
In a press statement, Bishop Marcelo Cuenca said that Grassi was “totally innocent” and he blamed the media for Grassi’s conviction.
Sergio Piris, an attorney for another of Grassi’s victims, said the priest always felt comfortable because he was protected by the Church. Piris said his client “was never able to close this black chapter on his life” and that “he was still suffering while the abuser was free and spoke on television.” Cuenca’s statement shows that the Church continues to protect him, Piris stated. ”
Considering that Grassi resists detention by “spurious means,” provides a “bizarre spectacle” for the press, and “because he does not stop hurting himself, the Catholic Church, justice and, above all, the victims,” Gallego asked Pope Francis to remove the priest from the Catholic Church.
Bishop Luis Guillermo Eichhorn had defended Grassi as “again acquitted on fifteen charges and convicted on two,” in an earlier statement. But on Sept. 25, the day after Grassi was finally ordered to prison, Eichhorn said that Grassi could no longer say mass in public but could continue doing so in private “pending final resolution of this situation” and that he would be investigated by the Vatican. To which one columnist replied: “This arrangement is the minimum that can be adopted and seems destined to protect the priest and try to lessen the damage to the corporate image of the Church which has been seriously harmed by inaction in many cases of pedophilia tested in various parts of the world.”
….Bergoglio did not offer personal apologies or financial restitution, even in cases in which the crimes were denounced by other members of the Church and the offending priests were sent to jail.
There is no evidence that Bergoglio played a role in covering up abuse cases. Several prominent rights groups in Argentina say…that Bergoglio’s resolve strengthened as new cases of molestation emerged in the archdiocese and that he eventually instructed bishops to immediately report all abuse allegations to police.
But during most of the 14 years that Bergoglio served as archbishop of Buenos Aires, rights advocates say, he did not take decisive action to protect children or act swiftly when molestation charges surfaced.
“He has been totally silent,” said Ernesto Moreau, a member of Argentina’s U.N.-affiliated Permanent Assembly for Human Rights and a lawyer who has represented victims in a clergy sexual-abuse case. Victims asked to meet with Bergoglio but were turned down, Moreau said. “In that regard, Bergoglio was no different from most of the other bishops in Argentina, or the Vatican itself.”
As pope, Francis has also been silent regarding sexual assaults against children except for acknowledging during an in-flight interview while returning from Brazil that this was a crime.
In April, the Vatican Information Service reported that “the Holy Father recommended that the Congregation [for the Doctrine of the Faith or CDF] continue along the lines set by Benedict XVI.” The press office paraphrased a private conversation between Pope Francis and Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the CDF, yet it has been universally misreported to the present day as a direct quote of a public statement that Francis told Muller to “act decisively against sexual abuse.”
Neither did the pope make any public statement when he made a new law for the employees of the Vatican City State and the Holy See (the name of the worldwide Church government) effective on July 11. The decree “declared sexual violence, prostitution and possession of child pornography as crimes against children can be punished by up to 12 years in prison.”
Perhaps this was not as widely reported because, a week earlier, the Vatican received a list of requests for information from the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child which will evaluate in early 2014 the Holy See’s implementation of the treaty it signed with U.N. protecting children.
One of the requests was “…please clarify the status of the Convention in the Vatican City State and provide information on the measures taken to incorporate its principles and provisions in the domestic legal system of the Vatican City State.”
For all these cases [of sexual violence against children committed by members of the clergy, brothers and nuns in numerous countries around the world reported to the Holy See], please provide detailed information on the measures in place to ensure that no member of the clergy currently accused of sexual abuse be allowed to remain in contact with children as well as the specific cases where immediate measures were taken to prevent them from being in continued contact with children as well as the cases where priests were transferred to other parishes or to other States where they continued to have access to and abuse children.
No doubt, the world media will neglect to hold Pope Francis accountable for his failure to comply with the U.N. treaty. Just like, except for victims’ advocates, not one single reporter, journalist or commentator that I am aware of noted that Francis failed to mention the subject of child sex abuse in the 12,000-word interview published on Sept. 22.Francis first action as pope was to name eight cardinals who would advise him on governance of the Church. He showed a callous disregard for survivors of sexual assaults by selecting two cardinals with terrible reputations regarding child sex abuse.
The Australian Cardinal George Pell, when asked what he thought was the root cause of the sex-abuse scandals, Pell replied, “it’s obviously connected with the problem of homosexuality.”
In Australia, the number of reports of clergy child sex abuse became so egregious that the state of Victoria (capital Melbourne) initiated a parliament inquiry, the state of New South Wales (capital Sydney) is investigating complaints that the Catholic Church hampered police investigations, and former Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the formation of a Royal Commission to study child sex abuse by religious and non-government bodies.
Pell’s response was to complain about a “‘persistent press campaign’ and ‘general smears that we are covering up and moving people around,’ and then capped it off with the claim that abuse by Catholic priests had been singled out and exaggerated.”
“Catholic clergy commit six times as much abuse as those in the rest of the Churches combined, ‘and that’s a conservative figure,’” Patrick Parkinson, a Sydney University law professor, told the Victoria inquiry on May 30, 2013. Of thousands of offences, not a single crime was reported by a Church official to the police, Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton testified.
On May 24, 2013, Pell appeared as the final witness in the parliamentary inquiry. Like other prelates, Pell made an apology which came across as insincere. “My response to Cardinal Pell’s evidence, being as fair as I can, is that it was to me a rather cynical exercise in damage control,” Dr. Bryan Keon-Cohen QC, president of community lobby group COIN (Commission of Inquiry Now) said. “He offered a lot of words, offered apologies, expressed remorse, but to me it lacked conviction,” according to Keon-Cohen.
During Pell’s testimony, “Many of his responses about his personal empathy for victims were met with laughter and scoffs from the public gallery, which included victims and victims’ advocates.” Anthony Foster, father of two young daughters repeatedly raped by a priest, said Pell showed a “sociopathic lack of empathy typifying the attitude and response of the Catholic hierarchy.” Ian Lawther, whose son was sexually abused by a priest, described Pell’s apology as “full of criminal clichés….It was a kick to the groin of every Australian Catholic, maybe even Christian.”
Another of Pope Francis’ “gang of eight” is Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, the retired archbishop of Santiago, who made headlines in Chile for protecting Fr. Fernando Karamina, a spiritual leader among Santiago’s most influential families.
Church officials were warned as early as 1984 about Karadima’s “improper conduct.” The first known reports of abuse by Karadima reached Errázuriz in mid-2003. In 2006, a priest appointed by Errázuriz to investigate the claims made his report to the cardinal, stating that he believed “the accusers to be credible.” Errázuriz wrote in a public letter that he did nothing because he thought the allegations were beyond the statute of limitations.
In April 2010, a civil criminal complaint was filed against Karadima for child sex abuse by four men who were once his devoted followers. The claims were dismissed by a court ruling stating there was not enough evidence to charge him. One of the claimants protested, “We would have liked to appeal, but with defense attorneys like his, who have the Appeals and Supreme Court eating out of their hands, and a number of powerful people who continue to protect Karadima, we knew it would be an uphill battle that we were likely to lose.”
In January 2011, a judge ordered that Karadima be interrogated. According to court testimony, Church officials, including Errázuriz, tried to shame accusers into dropping claims, refused to meet with them or failed to carry out formal investigations for years.
The criminal case against Karadima was dismissed in November 2011 because the statute of limitations had expired but the court also determined that the allegations were “truthful and reliable.” The Vatican “sanctioned” Karadima by ordering him to a life of “penitence and prayer,” but he remains a priest in good standing.
Karadima is the “worst scandal” of the Chilean Catholic Church, Chilean political analyst Ascanio Cavallo, Dean of the Journalism School of the Adolfo Ibáñez University, stated. “Power is the true point of the case. The abuses were not possible without a network of political, social and religious power working for 50 years,” said Cavallo.
When Pope Francis appointed Errázuriz as one of his closest advisers, one of the claimants who had accused the cardinal of covering up Karadima’s crimes called it “a shame and a disgrace.”
On Sept. 15, Errázuriz, referring to the compensation requested by Karadima’s victims from the Archdiocese of Santiago for failing to protect them or to investigate their accusations, said they should be asking for compensation from Karadima. Errázuriz denied that the archdiocese had any responsibility for their “tremendous pain.”
On Sept. 21, Pope Francis reconfirmed Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith even though the archbishop has followed none of the instructions reportedly given him by the pope as described by the Vatican Information Service in April. Müller was told he must promote measures for the protection of minors, offer assistance to those who have suffered abuse, carry out due proceedings against the guilty and help formulate and implement the necessary directives in this area “that is so important for the Church’s witness and credibility.” The press release had ended with “The Holy Father assured that victims of abuse are present in a particular way in his prayers for those who are suffering.”
“The institution is not what it appears in its public pronouncements, ritual manifestations, and glorious vesture….Only willful blindness and pathological denial can allow one to overlook the reality that the symptom of clerical abuse reveals a Roman Catholic Church as dysfunctional and corrupt sexually and financially as during the time of the Protestant Reformation.” August 30, 2013 by A. W. Richard Sipe, Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor, former Benedictine monk and priest, and recognized authority on celibacy and priest sex abuse.
Pope Francis Defies UN on Torturing Children
Jun 07, 2015 4:55am PDT by
The UN Committee against Torture “found that the widespread sexual violence within the Catholic Church amounted to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.” After Vatican officials were called to Geneva in May 2014 to respond to tough questions like why the pope believed his responsibility for protecting children against torture only applied on Vatican property, the committee issued its report.
The members “ordered the Vatican to hand over files containing details of clerical sexual abuse allegations to police forces around the world, … to use its authority over the Roman Catholic Church worldwide to ensure all allegations of clerical abuse are passed on to the secular authorities and to impose ‘meaningful sanctions’ on any Church officials who fail to do so.” With the exception of a couple of staged PR events, the pope has refused to take any of these measures.
The Vatican had issued an “Initial Report” preparatory to the hearing. “Nowhere in the Holy See’s [the name of the Church’s global government] Initial Report under the Convention does it make any mention of the widespread and systemic rape and sexual violence committed by Catholic clergy against hundreds of thousands of children and vulnerable adults around the world. There is no mention of acts that have resulted in an astonishing and incalculable amount of harm around the world – profound and lasting physical and mental suffering – with little to no accountability and access to redress … [T]he Vatican has consistently minimized the harm caused by the actions of the clergy, through both the direct acts of sexual violence and Church officials’ actions which follow, such as cover-ups and victim-blaming. … The Holy See’s Initial Report to this Committee is itself evidence of the minimization of these offenses and the resulting harm.”
The Committee against Torture report came “after senior officials sought to distance the Vatican legally from the wider Church … saying priests were not legally tied to the Vatican but fell under national jurisdictions. But the committee insisted that officials of the Holy See – including the pope’s representatives around the world and their aides – have a responsibility to monitor the behavior of all under their ‘effective control.’”
The committee also urged a “prompt and impartial” investigation in the case of Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, the pope’s nuncio (ambassador) to the Dominican Republic.
Wesolowski solicited sex for money from Santo Domingo’s poorest boys. “We learned from the children that Wesolowski took pictures of them while they were masturbating. Oral sex was performed,” Nuria Piera, an investigative journalist in the Dominican Republic, said. “He abused that poverty and used that mechanism to approach children and take advantage of them for years,” according to Yeni Berenice Reynoso, National District prosecutor.
A dossier accusing Wesolowski of sex abuse of minors was sent to Pope Francis “sometime in July” 2013 by Santo Domingo Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez. The pope found the information credible enough to dismiss Wesolowski on August 21 via confidential letter. But the pope never reported Wesolowski to civil authorities nor made the information public.
All prelates should make credible allegations public as a warning to avoid contact with the accused. Also, any other victims should be encouraged to contact a law enforcement agency perhaps making the investigation easier, apprehension and prosecution more certain. The group, Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), defines failure to take these steps as a “cover up.”
Wesolowski left the country before a local TV program broadcast an exposé on August 31. It was reported in January 2014 that Wesolowski “is now thought to be living in Rome and is protected from extradition by diplomatic immunity.” “For me it was a surprise to see Wesolowski walking along Via della Scrofa in Rome,” Santo Domingo Auxiliary Bishop Víctor Masalles tweeted on June 24, 2014.
Embarrassed, the Vatican announced on June 27 that Wesolowski had been laicized (defrocked) “in the past few days … Measures will be taken so he is in a precise restricted location, without any freedom of movement,” said Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, without specifying how this would be accomplished. The press reported this as proof of the pope’s “zero tolerance” for child sex abuse.
Defrocking means a cleric is fired without being reported to the police. The most serious punishment available to the pope is excommunication. Pope Francis excommunicated an Australian priest for supporting women’s ordination and same sex marriage. He also excommunicated the leaders of the lay group, We Are Church, for celebrating mass in their home.
The New York Times had an article about Wesolowski on its August 24, 2014, front page including statements that Dominican officials would prosecute him if it were not for the former ambassador’s diplomatic immunity. The next morning Lombardi made an announcement that Wesolowski did not have immunity and could be extradited by the Dominican Republic. Dominican officials, however, had expressed regret for the past year that “there’s no extradition treaty between the Vatican and the Dominican Republic. … The ideal thing would’ve been and our desire is that he be tried here, but the law forbids us.”
On September 25, Lombardi said Wesolowski had been put under house arrest inside the Vatican City State “because the Polish prelate represented a flight risk and because Vatican prosecutors feared he might tamper with evidence.”
The next day, the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Serra reported that Wesolowski was arrested by order of the pope because “there was a serious risk that the nuncio would be arrested on Italian territory at the request of the Dominican authorities and then extradited.” Wesolowski had more than 100,000 computer files of pornography. “Some were downloaded from the internet and others the victims themselves were forced to take. The prelate stored part of this chamber of horrors on his own laptop. The material, which is classified by type, shows dozens of young girls engaged in sexual activities but the preference is for males. Images show youngsters aged between 13 and 17 being humiliated for the camera, filmed naked and forced to have sexual relations with each other or with adults. … Wesolowski is suspected of belonging to an international network that extends well beyond what has emerged so far.”
Pope Francis allowed his prelate 15 months freedom to commit crimes involving child pornography which sometimes involves their tortuous death – something to think about the next time the pope speaks out against the sex trafficking of children.
November 22, 2014: Wesolowski was seen “walking quietly inside the Vatican City…in apparent freedom” and is presumed to still live there under house arrest.
After almost two years, Wesolowski’s trial has not yet begun.
The Pope’s Enduring Contempt for Children
People who have been sexually abused as children live shorter lives than those who have not been abused according to expert testimony. They have a life expectancy about 10 to 20 years shorter than those who have not.
• Trauma produced both physical and psychological damage, affecting children’s development, including their personalities and sense of self.
• Children’s brains and immune systems were also affected, making them more prone to a range of auto-immune diseases.
• They also often have unhealthy lifestyles so they’re prone to substance abuse and poverty and unemployment.
• There was also a strong link between child abuse and suicide, which could be influenced by a variety of factors including depression and substance abuse, which exacerbated negative thoughts.
As archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio “refused to meet with victims, and he stayed largely silent on the issue of clergy sex abuse, except to issue a surprising denial that he had ever handled an abusive priest. His only known action was to commission a behind-the-scenes report to judges that sought exoneration of a criminally convicted priest by impugning the credibility of the priest’s victims.” BishopAccoutability.org, a group dedicated to documenting the Catholic sex abuse crisis, showed Bergoglio’s involvement in five specific cases.
One month to the day after his election, Pope Francis appointed a group of cardinals, now referred to as his “C9”, to be his closest advisors.
Cardinal George Pell had been making headlines in Australia for decades regarding the sex abuse scandal. When asked what he thought was the root cause, Pell replied, “it’s obviously connected with the problem of homosexuality.” As archbishop and creator of the “Melbourne Response,” a system “designed to control the victims and protect the Church … Pell intended to minimize the crimes, conceal the truth, manipulate and intimidate the victims. … Some relatives of abused children have called the cardinal a ‘sociopath.’”
The John Ellis case “was all about deterrence.” Ellis sued Pell and the trustees of the Sydney archdiocese in 2006 over abuse he suffered as an altar boy. Pell spent more than $1m fighting Ellis despite him asking for just a tenth of that amount in settlement, put him through “distressing and unnecessary cross-examination” and threatened him with legal costs. Pell’s “Ellis Defense” is “an exemplar of litigation going wrong, causing further trauma for a victim of abuse.”
Pell personally knows hundreds of the people involved – the victims and their families as well as the abusers. … He was a very senior authority in the Catholic Church when the court cases began in the 1990s and the top Catholic figure in Australia until he went to Rome. … [H]e was the leader of a system that protected the guilty and failed innocent people. … [H]e was the man in charge during many years of this scandal. Therefore, he can be held accountable and responsible for it.”
Pope Francis also chose Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa as a close adviser. Errazuriz had made national headlines for protecting Fr. Fernando Karadima, the “worst scandal” of the Chilean Church. “Power is the true point of the case. The [sexual abuses against children] were not possible without a network of political, social and religious power working for 50 years,” stated political analyst Ascanio Cavallo, Dean of the Journalism School of the Adolfo Ibáñez University.Church officials were warned as early as 1984 about Karadima’s “improper conduct.” The first known reports to reach Errazuriz were in 2003. In 2006, a priest appointed by Errázuriz to investigate the claims reported to the cardinal that he believed “the accusers to be credible.”
According to court testimony in a 2011 civil complaint filed against Karadima, Church officials, including Errázuriz, tried to shame accusers into dropping claims, refused to meet with them and failed to carry out formal investigations for years. A judge dismissed the criminal case against Karadima in November 2011 because the statute of limitations had expired but also determined that the allegations were “truthful and reliable.”
When Pope Francis, who during the above period was cardinal primate of the neighboring Argentina, appointed Errázuriz to his C9, one of the claimants called it “a shame and a disgrace.” On September 15, 2013, Errázuriz said that the archdiocese had no responsibility for their “tremendous pain.”
On July 1, 2013, the United Nation’s Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) sent a request to the pope for “detailed information on all cases of child sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy, brothers or nun” for the past fifteen years and set November 1 as a deadline for a reply. The questions were sent as preparation for a public hearing scheduled for January.
As one of the signatories to the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Church was fifteen years late in delivering a report describing whether it had acted to “protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence” as the convention requires. Additionally, the questionnaire sought to establish whether “perpetrators of sexual crimes” were allowed to remain in contact with children, what legal action was taken against them and whether reporting of suspected abuse was mandatory. It also included queries about support for victims, and any incidents where complainants were silenced.
By issuing its questions, the Geneva-based CRC brushed aside a Vatican warning that it might pull out of the Convention on the Rights of the Child if pushed too hard on the issue. In a report of its own posted on the UN website last October, the Holy See reminded the CRC of reservations on legal jurisdiction and other issues it made when it signed the global pact. It said any new “interpretation” would give it grounds “for terminating or withdrawing” from the treaty.
Within weeks of his election, Pope Francis had ordered that the Vatican “continue along the lines set by Benedict XVI” in handling torturing children. But on July 11, 2013, the pontiff enacted a civil law criminalizing leaks of Vatican information to the press and sexual violence against children, including child pornography. The crimes were punishable by up to eight and twelve years in prison, respectively. The law was applicable inside the Vatican City State and for employees of the Holy See in its extraterritorial properties including embassies. In hindsight, one could question if the pope was preparing for a Vatican civil trial against Wesolowski as justification to keep him out of a foreign prison.The November 1 deadline for a response to the CRC came and went.
Pope Francis responded to the CRC on December 4 by stating that it was not the practice of his government to “disclose information on specific cases unless requested to do so by another country as part of legal proceedings” and “that the Vatican can provide information only about known and alleged child sex crimes that have happened on Vatican property.”
A rarity, Francis’ response was criticized. The next day, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley stated that the pope would create a special Commission for the Protection of Minors with no authority other than to advise him on ways to address the subject.
On January 16, 2014, the day the CRC hearings were to begin in Geneva, Pope Francis again showed his contempt for his Church’s victims by concelebrating mass, followed by a private meeting, with Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles. The Washington Post (among others) had condemned Mahony for protecting known abusers, stating he’s “lucky not to be in prison” and that “his continued prominence reflects the culture of impunity in the Catholic Church a decade after its tolerance and complicity in the abuse of children was exposed.” After his private meeting with the pope, Mahony blogged “the topic of scandal never came up.”
The same day, Lombardi said the Church had developed “a series of initiatives and directives” that are “extremely helpful” to other communities. He also criticized the assumption that bishops or religious superiors act “as representatives or delegates of the Pope.” He said this belief is “utterly without foundation.” Rather, civil authorities in countries that have signed the UN convention are directly responsible for its implementation and for the enforcement of laws that protect children.
The UN panel asked Vatican representatives for responses to the questions they had sent in July. While the American media trumpeted a statement made by one of the Vatican officials that he “gets it,” the foreign press was not as fawning:
Germany’s Deutsche Welle: Vatican response ‘fails smell test for ordinary people’
Venezuela’s El Nacional: The Vatican at the UN today dodged providing detailed information on issues relating to sexual abuse of minors by clergy in a rhetorical exercise in which it attempts to demonstrate determination to prevent new offenses.
Spain’s El Pais: The Vatican still does not take responsibility for sexual abuse
BishopAccountability.org noted five significant moments of the hearing:
• For the first time, the Vatican had to admit publicly that it still does not require the reporting of child sex crimes to civil authorities. Nor does it take this step when priests are defrocked.
• The Holy See still refused to provide the data requested on July 1.
• The Vatican believes that it is the obligation of the individual perpetrator, not the Church, to compensate victims.
• Religious orders, which comprise one third to one half of the world’s Catholic clerics, still are not being compelled by the Holy See to create abuse policies. (Pope Benedict XVI ordered the world’s bishops to do this in 2011. The order was widely ignored, even by the cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio.)
Vatican delegate to the UN, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, responded in an interview: “At the same time we have to keep in mind that even though there are so many millions, forty million cases of abuse a year regarding children, unfortunately some cases affect also Church personnel.” Tomasi also suggested that the UN committee may have been influenced by “Some NGOs that support homosexuality, same-sex marriage and other issues probably presented their own views and ended up reinforcing [the committee’s] line of thought in some way.”
On March 5, 2014, Pope Francis stated that, as regards the sexual torture of children, “The statistics on the phenomenon of violence against children are shocking, but they also show clearly that the great majority of the abuses come from the family environment and from people who are close. The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution that moved with transparency and responsibility. No one else did as much. And yet, the Church is the only one being attacked.”
Some negative press coverage ensued. So on March 7, Lombardi sent an email to the Associated Press reminding the media that the sex abuse commission remained a priority for the pope.
Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the National Secular Society, praised the work of both UN committees. “We do not share any enthusiasm, however, for the Vatican’s defrocking of thousands of abusing clerics resulting in them being released into the labor market without being subjected to secular justice, and the resultant criminal record. This will almost certainly put other children at risk from former priests reoffending.”
The United Nations Committees on the Rights of the Child and on Torture, requested the Holy See to abolish the pontifical secret for allegations of child sexual abuse, and to order through canon law mandatory reporting to the civil authority. In September 2014, Pope Francis rejected that request on the grounds that mandatory reporting would interfere with the sovereignty of independent States. Mandatory reporting would only interfere with such sovereignty if a State law prohibited reporting of clergy sex abuse of children to the police. No such State exists. But the Vatican … illustrates its very real intention to interfere in the sovereignty of independent States by prohibiting reporting once canonical proceedings start, even when the civil law requires reporting. …
The de facto privilege of clergy by the use of secrecy, rendering clergy immune to civil prosecution for child sex abuse, was set up in 1922 by Pope Pius XI, and was continued and expanded by five of his successors. Regrettably, it seems that Pope Francis gives every indication of adding himself to the list as the seventh pope.
Barros and FinnIn January 2015, the pope appointed Juan Barros Madrid, formerly Military Bishop of Chile, as bishop of Osorno, Chile. Within a month, 1,300 lay Catholics, nearly half of Chile’s Parliament and thirty priests in the diocese signed a letter demanding that the pope rescind the appointment. Victims of Karadima said Barros was present when they were molested, did nothing to stop him and later covered up for Karadima.
“’Put your head on my chest. Take the little tongue,’ said Karadima. Thus began a long journey of torture and suffering for Juan Carlos Cruz Chellew … He denounced the ‘hypocrisy and simulation of Pope Francis’ on the ‘zero tolerance’ for pedophile priests: ‘The pope says good things, but does the opposite for victims to have access to civil justice. We are re-victimized while he rewards the abusers and abettors naming them cardinals and bishops.’”
The pope’s nuncio to Chile expressed support for Barros. President of the bishops’ conference, Cardinal Ezzati, said that “the Holy Father has chosen a pastor for the Church of Osorno and we, as Catholics, are in communion with the pope.”
Barros was installed as bishop on March 21 “amid riot police and shouting protesters … hundreds of churchgoers dressed in the black of mourning denounced Barros.” Since then, Barros “has had to sneak out of back exits, call on riot police to shepherd him from the city’s cathedral and coordinate movements with bodyguards and police canine units.”
In an interview published March 26, the Archbishop of Concepcion disclosed the details of a meeting he had with Pope Francis on March 6. “Archbishop Chomali explained that he gave Pope Francis a ‘document with detailed information on the consequences of the appointment he had made. All the documentation that I cited came to him, whether through the nunciature or the Chilean embassy to the Holy See. He was very much up to date on Bishop Barros’ situation, and in fact a few days prior he had spoken with him. With firmness and much conviction he told me that he had analyzed all the past records and that there was no objective reason that Bishop Barros should not be installed as diocesan bishop.’”
“Pope Francis has to withdraw this appointment or I and others may find it impossible to stay on the commission,” said Peter Saunders who was sexually abused as a child in London by two Catholic priests and the headmaster of his Catholic primary school and is a member of pope’s Commission for the Protection of Minors.
Saunders threat was published on March 27, two days before Palm Sunday when the Church begins a series of special liturgies culminating on Easter. If carried out, it would have been a PR disaster for the pope.
Cardinal O’Malley met with members of the commission the week after Easter – April 12. Bishop Joseph Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., found guilty in 2012 of failure to report suspected child abuse, was called to Rome for an April 14 meeting with Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
A priest under Finn’s supervision was sentenced to fifty years in prison for producing hundreds of pornographic photos, using his own parishioners as victims, some under the age of three. And for years prior, Finn not only refused to look into or even acknowledge any of the many complaints about this priest’s behavior, some of which came directly from the principal of the school that most of the victims attended, he also stonewalled once the child porn came to light, failed to inform or warn any of the families of the victims, gave the priest continued access to children, was complicit in the destruction of evidence, spent $1.4 million of diocesan money defending himself against two misdemeanor charges in court, only alerted the police when forced to, and, in short, put children at risk and failed to get the offending priest any serious help or counseling.
“Even if Finn is removed, that’s no tremendous sign of progress because there are literally hundreds of Catholic officials around the world still on the job, who have done what Finn did,” SNAP director, David Clohessy, had said earlier.Finn’s resignation was announced April 21. Although this occurred 30 months after Finn’s conviction, 25 months into this pontificate and Finn remains a bishop still carrying out his episcopal functions, members of the commission and the media were appeased about Barros’ promotion.
Pell and Barros
Before Pope Francis chose him to be one of his closest advisers and promoted him as head of Vatican finance, Cardinal George Pell had made national headlines during the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse hearings which covered Pell’s response as archbishop of Melbourne and then Sydney. In February 2015, the Royal Commission – the highest form of investigation in Australia – found that Pell placed the Church’s financial interests above his obligation to victims of childhood sexual abuse as part of an aggressive legal strategy to protect the assets of the Sydney archdiocese.
Currently, the Royal Commission is holding hearings about what transpired in Ballarat where Pell had been ordained and served until 1987. “Scores of children were abused by Catholic clergy from the 1960s to the 1980s. Many victims in Ballarat and elsewhere in Victoria state committed suicide, in one of the worst clusters of clerical abuse trauma in the world.”
• Timothy Green said when he was 12 or 13 he told Pell in 1974 that Brother Edward Dowlan was abusing boys at St Patrick’s College. “Father Pell said `don’t be ridiculous’ and walked out.”
• A victim said another priest walked in while Fr. Gerald Ridsdale was raping her at the Ballarat East presbytery and did nothing. Ridsdale says he doesn’t know who the priest was. Pell and one other priest lived in the same house with Ridsdale at the time.
• Pell was at a 1982 meeting of the College of Consultors which discussed moving Ridsdale from the Mortlake parish, but he says no claims of abuse were raised at the meeting. Ridsdale was convicted of more than 140 offenses of child sexual abuse and indecent assault charges against children as young as four years old between 1993 and 2013.
• David Ridsdale accused Pell of trying to bribe him in 1993 after being abused by his uncle, Fr. Ridsdale. Pell allegedly asked him: “I want to know what it will take to keep you quiet.”
More than 55,000 people signed a petition last month addressed to Pope Francis calling for Pell to return to Australia to answer questions from the Royal Commission concerning these current allegations.
Peter Saunders, speaking on Australia’s “60 Minutes” program on Sunday, May 31, said of Pell: “He has a catalog of denigrating people, of acting with callousness, cold-heartedness, almost sociopathic I would go as far as to say, this lack of care. He is making a mockery of the papal commission (into child abuse), of the pope himself, but most of all of the victims and the survivors.” He thought that Pell should be dismissed.
Before the program had even aired (after the network released promotional material), Pell issued statements calling Saunders’s comments “false”, “misleading” and “outrageous”, and said he would consult legal advisers. On Monday, Lombardi said that “Mr. Saunders spoke for himself and not for the commission which does not investigate or judge individual cases.” Australia’s Catholic archbishops made a statement that Pell is a man of integrity.
Meanwhile, “retired Bishop Juan Luis Ysem of Ancud has called on Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno to resign before he is asked to leave by Pope Francis.”
So, again it looks like a prelate will “resign” (this time Barros) and will members of the sex abuse commission and the press be appeased about the current allegations against Pell?
If you’re not feeling mollified and want to help, you can donate to the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) or BishopAccountability.org which operates the Abuse Tracker website from which most of the above information was obtained.
(Betty Clermont is author of The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America (Clarity Press, 2009))
The UN Committees found child sexual offenders were still in contact with children, Church officials were not cooperating with law enforcement authorities, the pope’s representatives and their aides were not monitoring the behavior of those under their “effective control” and that there was no accountability for hierarchs.
Given that sexual assault is one of the most under reported crimes, “with 68% still being left unreported,” and that it can take 20, 30, even 40 years for victims to fully recall the details of these excruciating crimes, consider the following information to be only a sampling of what is currently still taking place in the Catholic Church.
Failing to protect children
Similar to Wesolowski, Pope Francis dismissed Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Miranda Melgarejo of Ayacucho, Peru, via letter in May 2013 without notifying the public or the police. On August 21, 2013, a Spanish lawyer wrote in his blog that the Vatican “accepted the resignation” of Miranda for “having sex with minors and adults, too” which had been “solicited in confession.” Miranda is still at large.
June 2015: “Prosecutors in Minnesota filed criminal charges against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, accusing church leaders of mishandling repeated complaints of sexual misconduct against a priest and failing to follow through on pledges to protect children and root out pedophile clergymen.”
February 2015: “Philippine Bishop Arturo Mandin Bastes right now is keeping a known abuser, Fr. Arwyn N. Diesta, in ministry.”
February 2015: “Some Catholic religious orders are still failing to adequately protect children against sex abuse 20 years after the scale of the problem became evident [in Ireland] according to a review by the National Board for the Safeguarding of Children in the Catholic Church … In one case, a priest who admitted accessing child porn was still in ministry and was an acting prior with “ambitions to continue or undertake a leadership position within the order”, according to the review.” “Religious orders, which comprise one third to one half of the world’s Catholic clerics, still are not being compelled by the pope to create abuse policies.”
January 2015: Gian Piero Milano, whose official title is Vatican Promoter of Justice, “reported two cases of possession of child pornography within its own walls last year.” A Vatican spokesman said one of them involved Jozef Wesolowski.” So after his arrest, Wesolowski “continued to possess child pornography” while inside the Vatican City State? Who else possessed child pornography inside the Vatican?
Sex offenders moved around
April 2015: A US federal grand jury indicted Rev. Joseph Maurizio accused “on charges pertaining to sex trips to molest boys [in Honduras] as well as three counts of transmitting funds into and out of the US in furtherance of his criminal activity.”
“The priest was arrested Sept. 24, nine days after a raid on the parish rectory and his farmhouse in Paint Township, Pennsylvania.”
February 2015: “A Flemish priest who has been repeatedly accused of sexual abuse for many years has been in charge of an orphanage in Brazil. The Dutch congregation to which John D. belongs to is aware of the allegations, but has so far hardly intervened.”
December 2014: “Alessandro De Rossi, a priest accused of sexual abuse in Salta [Malvinas, Argentina] was arrested in Italy. Since then Salta Justice is in the process of extradition to stand trial in religious local courts … The priest is charged with the crime of ‘aggravated sexual abuse seriously outrageous and corruption of minors.’” De Rossi was a “fidei donum” priest, still attached to his diocese but sent abroad to do missionary work. With the approval of the pope, Don Alessandro was appointed priest in the Roman “parish of celebrities” on December 1, 2013. One Italian parishioner noted, “There were suspicious goings on around kids in the parish.” Another questioned, “Is it possible the Church did not know of his past with the law?” At the time, they were only informed the “de Rossi is back in Rome for health reasons with a positive view of the local bishop.”
November 2014: “Fr. Joseph Jeyapaul who fled to his native India to avoid facing felony criminal sexual conduct charges was just extradited back to Minnesota. He is accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old and 16-year-old girl.” One alleged “that he’d masturbated in front of her, groped her, and forced her to give him oral sex.”
November 2014: “Although he received accusations from two victims of sexual abuse against a Fr. ‘M.D.’, Belgian Bishop Jozef De Kesel did not prevent the priest from going to Brazil where he now works with street children.”
October 2014: Fr. Roger Mount “who was allowed to continue preaching in Papua New Guinea despite being named in child abuse compensation settlements was deported to Australia and is likely to face being extradited from Queensland to Victoria.”
October 2014: “U.S. Marshals are attempting to find a Catholic priest who disappeared after he was accused of molesting a six-year-old Brooklyn girl last June. We found out he has friends and family down here,” said Deputy U.S. Marshal Juan Lara, the agency’s local spokesman.
February 2014: Monsignor Carlos Urrutigoity is now second-in-command of the Diócesis de Ciudad del Este in Paraguay. “A former Diocese of Scranton [Pennsylvania] priest, Urrutigoity was accused more than a decade ago of abusing local children in a federal sexual abuse lawsuit … Bishop Martino carefully and consistently expressed his grave doubts about this cleric’s suitability for priestly ministry … to appropriate Church officials, including Bishop Rogelio Livieres, Bishop of the Diocese of Ciudad del Este, Paraguay; the Apostolic Nuncio to Paraguay; and the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.”
Fail to report abuse charges to proper authority
April 2015: In Kerala, India, Fr. Edwin Figarez had been accused of repeatedly raping a 14-year-old girl between January and March this year, “mostly when she came for confession.” The bishop followed Canon (ecclesial) Law and “suspended Figarez for the time being” but did not turn him over to the police. The mother went to the police. Figarez “remains underground and continues to evade the police.”
April 2015: Nine recent cases are cited by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) where credible allegations of child sex abuse were kept secret from the public by U.S. prelates. “We could cite dozens and dozens of other examples proving that the self-serving secrecy that caused the church’s global abuse and cover up crisis remains in force.
March 2015: “The spokesman for the Polish Catholic Bishops Conference, Fr Jozef Kloch, stated that as a matter of policy Polish bishops would not report allegations of child sex abuse by clergy to the civil authorities. It was up to the victims to report, he said.”
March 2015: Philippine Church “authorities have never turned over a clerical child sex abuser to the civil authorities. Never has a priest sex abuser been convicted. The bishops, who represent the management of the Church, should be held to account for they simply ship off child-abuser priests to dioceses abroad in some cases. When they abuse abroad and are investigated they rush back to a hideout the Philippines.”
January 2015: In a special report profiling a dozen key cases of priests in the Philippines accused of child sex abuse: “These cases are important because they reveal an enduring resistance by Filipino bishops to punishing and exposing offending priests.”
March 2014: The Italian bishops’ conference declared they had no official obligation to report the sexual abuse of children to any legal authorities outside of the Catholic Church with no objection from the pope.
Appeals, Petitions, Letters
June 2015: The Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission demands that the Pope come to Canada to apologize “for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools.” The commission’s report says there has been “a patchwork of apologies or statements of regret” in Canada that few residential school survivors or Church members may even know exist. “It has been disappointing to survivors and others that the Pope has not yet made a clear and emphatic public apology in Canada,” the report says.
January 2015: Two people who say they were sexually abused as teenagers asked Pope Francis via press conference to investigate the way the Diocese of Buffalo handled their complaints.
December 2014: Two Argentine women traveled to Rome to ask Pope Francis for justice in the case of Fr. Héctor Ricardo Giménez who was found saying mass in a hospital chapel in 2013. “We think this man abused hundreds of children,” stated Estefania Gelso. Like the letter they had in January 2014, their trip produced no results.
December 2014: “Three priests have written to Pope Francis seeking an investigation into the Milwaukee archdiocesan bankruptcy. One of their concerns, a controversial move by then-Archbishop Tim Dolan to put $57 million into a cemetery trust fund he admitted was to provide improved protection of these funds from ‘any legal claim and liability.’ The intent of the bankruptcy proceeding for Church officials was ‘to exhaust silence and slander victims as well as to serve as a warning to others,’ the letter asserts.”
December 2014: Leaders of victims in three countries wrote an open letter to Pope Francis asking that he “take concrete action to protect children now.”
They want him to:
-Fire the predators,
-Order all bishops to report suspected sex crimes, open files and turn over evidence to police, and
-Punish bishops and Church officials who knowingly transfer predators and/or shield predators from police.”
July 2014: Open letter that Pope Francis “dismiss Cardinal Norberto Rivera of Mexico City for his clear participation in the cover-up of [Legion of Christ founder] Marcial Maciel, and Father Nicolás Aguilar and other pederasts … [T]he manifesto signed by 128 abuse survivors, lawyers and supportive groups was announced at a news conference in Mexico City, where the newspaper La Jornada called the Church’s deeds ‘crimes against humanity.’”
July 2014: A group of Argentine survivors called on Pope Francis to “amend hazardous defects of ecclesiastical laws so that permissive bishops will no longer remain in office.”
May 2014: Italian victims of pedophile priests sent a video to Pope Francis asking for sympathy and compensation. Among them were “eight deaf and mute people who were enrolled in a school in Verona, where 25 priests abused at least 100 students from the 1950s to the 1990s. Rete l’Abuso (Abuse Network) organization produced the video. The organization’s website identifies 148 priests convicted of child molestation, and a map of Italy detailing the Catholic parishes where the crimes occurred.”
May 2014: “Request the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn … after he failed to report a priest who had taken or possessed hundreds of pornographic pictures of young girls.” 263,594 supporters of this petition were ignored until the pope needed a scapegoat to quell the fury over his appointment of Barros.
April 2014: After the pope promoted Pell as his chief financial official, Australian Catholics petitioned, “Pope Francis: Sack Cardinal Pell Now…. His lack of empathy, justice and compassion for the victims of [sex] abuse is hard to reconcile with what Jesus did and taught. His few words of apology were hard to take seriously.”
September 2013: Two hundred people in a Scotland parish signed a petition accusing the Bishop of Galloway, John Cunningham, of persecuting and ostracizing Fr. Patrick Lawson. Lawson was removed from the parish after nearly two decades of calling the Scottish hierarchy to take action against Fr Paul Moore who he accuses of sexually abusing altar boys.
August 2013: “Pope Francis: Stop Recycling Pedophile Priests” a petition signed by almost 7,000 because Newark Archbishop John J. Myers “failed to take action against a sexually abusive priest.”
May 2013: A petition to Pope Francis: Address the Global Sex Abuse Crisis and Convene a Truth and Reconciliation Commission begun by two of Karadima’s victims. The petition gained 10,229 supporters.
May 2013: “Call for the resignation of Rev. John C. Nienstedt, Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis“ for “deception” in handling pedophile priests.
May 2015: “Right now, the Irish betting firm Paddy Power has Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of the Philippines as the favorite to be the next pope, giving him 11/2 odds. Already dubbed the ‘Asian Francis,’ Tagle got another boost this week with his election to lead a global federation of Catholic charities.” “In a 2012 interview, Tagle said that zero tolerance was a subject of debate in the Philippines [and] in a little-noticed 2012 video interview he observed of the Asian church’s response to clergy sexual misconduct, “I think for us … exposing persons, both victims and abusers, to the public, either through media or legal action, that adds to the pain.”
January 2015: Pope Francis appointed Blase Cupich archbishop of Chicago in September 2014. Fr. Michael W. O’Connell “was temporarily suspended in December 2013 after the archdiocese received an allegation of sexual misconduct involving a boy years earlier.” He was reinstated “even though the Cook County Sheriff’s Department never closed the criminal case. Weeks later, new allegations surfaced involving alleged abuse of a different boy in the 1990s.” Cupich is keeping O’Connell on the job with admonitions to “to avoid the parish school” and “not be alone with a child,” a contention that SNAP calls “ludicrous and dangerous.”
December 2014: Pope Francis promoted Bishop Christopher Coyne to bishop of Vermont. Coyne was “Cardinal Bernard Law’s former mouthpiece. For years, time and time again, then Fr. Coyne repeated deceptive public relations spin about heinous child sex crimes and callous cover ups by Law and other Catholic officials. While a bishop in Indiana, [SNAP] prodded Coyne to aggressively reach out to anyone who may have seen crimes by Fr. Francis Markey who was arrested by US marshals at his Indiana home in connection with the alleged rape of a 15-year-old boy twice, including the day of the boy’s father’s funeral. As best we can tell, he ignored our request.”
November 2014: Pope Francis promoted Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher to Secretary for Relations with States. “This important role is the equivalent to that of a Foreign Minister.” As nuncio to Australia, Gallager “claimed diplomatic immunity in response to repeated requests for archival documentation that might assist” the New South Wales Special Commission of Inquiry into child sex abuse by Deputy Senior Crown Prosecutor Margaret Cunneen. Gallagher told Cunneen that his office is “the high diplomatic representative of the Holy See to the Commonwealth” and citied “the protections afforded by international agreements, including the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.” Gallagher later relented.
November 2014: Pope Francis appointed Fr. Robert J. Geisinger as prosecutor of sex abuse cases at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) even though he had allowed a fellow Jesuit, a notorious serial sexual predator, to remain in ministry for years.
November 2014: Pope Francis appointed Archbishop José Luis Mollaghan to a new panel to assist the CDF in prosecuting clerical sex abuse. Mollaghan was “suspended in May as head of the Rosario archdiocese in Argentina due to accusations that he mismanaged Church funds” and “has a dismal record on abuse in his home diocese and nation.”
September 2014: Fr. Robert Oliver was appointed the Vatican’s “point man on sexual abuse” as chief of staff for the pope’s sex abuse commission, Oliver was “a champion of accused priests” while he was a canon lawyer for Boston cardinals Law and O’Malley.
February 2014: In his first consistory for naming cardinals, in addition to elevating Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller (see below), the pope included Santiago Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, another Chilean prelate who had also covered-up the sexual abuse of children by Fr. Fernando Karadima.
January 2014: Pope Francis promoted Lexington Bishop Ronald Gainer to head the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, diocese. As bishop of Lexington, Gainer failed to take action against Fr. Carroll Howlin. “Last year, the Chicago Tribune reported that Fr. Howlin, suspended for sexually abusing Illinois boys, still lives and works – unsupervised – in McCreary County. The cleric has reportedly also molested two Kentucky boys, one of whom committed suicide. Despite his suspension, however, the Tribune reports that Fr. Howlin’s supervisors in both the Lexington and the Joliet Catholic diocese have basically ignored him … Gainer put Fr. William G. Poole back into a parish even though Poole was twice charged with public indecency (1990 and 2001) and accused (in 2003) of molesting a boy. A Catholic lay panel in the Covington diocese found the child sex abuse allegation against Poole to be credible and paid a settlement to the victim. But Gainer recklessly put Poole back on the job.”
December 2013: Pope Francis reconfirmed Cardinal William Levada to the powerful (because they help select new prelates) Congregation for Bishops although Levada has one of the worst records among the U.S. episcopate for covering up for criminal clerics.
December 2013: Pope Francis appointed Fr. John Doerfler as the new bishop for the diocese of Marquette, Michigan. During the trial of a serial child molester, Doerfler admitted under oath that he had deliberately destroyed “nearly all records and documentation in the secret Church files of at least 51 reported to have sexually assaulted children after the Wisconsin State Supreme Court ruled that victims of childhood sexual abuse could file fraud suits against Catholic dioceses in the state for covering up for clerics….When specifically asked if it bothered him that clerics who abused children were being dumped into the community without public notice, Doerfler chillingly answered: ‘No’”.
September 2013: Pope Francis approved Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the office of the Holy See that has dealt with all sexual abuse cases 2001. As bishop of Regensburg, Germany, Müller promoted Fr. Peter Kramer, previously convicted of child sex abuse and ordered not to work with children, to pastor. Müller concealed Kramer’s conviction from parishioners. When victims learned of Kramer’s new assignment, additional victims came forward and Kramer was convicted of additional child abuse.
April 2013: The pope also chose Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley as a C9 member. “A close look at the cardinal reveals a career-long pattern of resisting disclosure of information, reinstating priests of dubious suitability, and negotiating mass settlements that are among the least generous in the history of the crisis.”
March 2015: “The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the office in charge of abuse cases, has refused to cooperate with civil authorities in Italy concerning a well-known priest that Benedict XVI dismissed from the clerical state in 2012 … But Pope Francis re-instated him last summer after he appealed the decision and then sentenced the priest to a ‘life of prayer and penance.’ The Italian Magistrates were seeking access to documents ‘subsequent to the canonical trial’ at which Fr Mauro Inzoli was initially dismissed. The Vatican’s rejection of their demand seems to confirm that once canonical proceedings commence, the pontifical secret applies, and any disclosure of information obtained in those proceedings is strictly forbidden’”
February 2015: A settlement was reached between 232 plaintiffs sexually abused by priests and nuns at the Ursuline Academy in St. Ignatius, Montana. “The agreement breaks down to less than $20,000 per victim. “These nuns no doubt say they’re ‘poor’ but frankly we doubt that claim. When it suits them, Catholic officials say they’re part of a huge global church. But when it benefits them, like in clergy sex abuse and cover up cases, they claim each diocese or religious order is autonomous.
Did these nuns even try to borrow money from other Catholic institutions (like Boston’s disgraced Cardinal Bernard Law did) or raise more money in any way, so they could do justice by these hundreds of still-suffering victims? We doubt it. Shame on them.”
February 2015: “The Archdiocese of Mobile [Alabama] is attempting to block subpoenas related to sexual abuse allegations, according to court documents. Reverend Johnny Savoie at St. Pius X Catholic School is being sued by four parents for allegedly failing to protect their children from claimed bullying problems.”
September 2014: Justice Murray Sinclair, head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission looking into the abuses that occurred over the years in Indian residential schools, said the “’government of Canada and the Catholics have not provided documents’ needed for the commission to complete its work. He also said the churches were being unco-operative, and the Catholic Church in particular fears more abuse stories will emerge against living clergy. Seventy per cent of the 140 Indian residential schools were run by the Catholic Church with the remainder operated by the Anglican, United, Presbyterian, Congregationalist and Methodist Churches.
May 2014: “A judge rejected a lawsuit filed by the Diocese of Arecibo [Puerto Rico] seeking to block the release of additional information to prosecutors regarding sex abuse allegations … The judge gave the diocese two weeks to hand over the information.
April 2014: “The Netherlands Church is still not properly handling allegations of sexual abuse by priests and brothers according to three victims’ organizations. They are outraged that the Church has unilaterally terminated mediation and victim assistance.”
Statutes of Limitations
February 2015: “Those who say they suffered childhood sexual abuse by clergy will have to comply with 2010 statute of limitations after a narrow vote by a South Dakota legislative committee. In 2010, with the backing of Church lobbyists, state lawmakers approved a new statute of limitations restricting some types of civil litigation in childhood sex abuse cases. Proponents testified that alleged abuse in Catholic Indian Boarding Schools happened so long ago few of the accused are alive to defend themselves. Opponents to that law argue the new statute of limitations was applied retroactively by the courts resulting in the dismissal of several ongoing childhood sex abuse lawsuits—further damaging the victims who are still alive today.”
February 2015: “A Spanish court has dropped charges against 11 out of 12 suspects in a clerical sex abuse scandal because the crimes fall within the statute of limitations. The Grenada court dropped charges of “sexual abuse with penetration, exhibitionism, and concealment of evidence” against nine priests and two laymen accused of abusing an altar boy.” This case became famous because the victim wrote a letter to Pope Francis. The pope phoned him “asking him to ‘forgive this extremely serious sin’ [and] that “people are already working so that all of this can be resolved.’” Granada’s Archbishop Francisco Javier Martínez only suspended the three priests directly accused of child abuse. His refusal to suspend the seven priests charged for covering up the crime sends the appalling message that enabling, tolerating, cooperating and covering up child rape is acceptable behavior that should not be punished. However, “the Holy Pontiff continues to support the controversial archbishop” because he is still in office.
March 2013: Cardinal Timothy Dolan “has successfully lobbied Albany to block SOL reform. Furthermore, before coming to New York, he himself testified publicly against window legislation in Wisconsin and is rumored to have paid off pedophile priests.”