Category Archives: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

Hundreds of Italian paedophile priests outed in shocking map


Hundreds of Italian paedophile priests outed in shocking map

Patrick Browne (patrick.browne@thelocal.com)
Published: 03 Mar 2016 16:15 GMT+01:00
From the Link: http://www.thelocal.it/20160303/hundreds-of-italian-paedophile-priests-outed-in-shocking-map

Map of Pedophile Priests in Italy. Photo: L'Abuso

Map of Pedophile Priests in Italy.
Photo: L’Abuso

The map of Italy below paints a highly disturbing picture.

In the last decade alone, there have been 120 definitive convictions, marked on the map by red pins, against child abusers among the clergy.

Yellow pins mark instances of abuse that have been confirmed by a court, but the perpetrator has not been sentenced, most commonly due to court cases expiring under the statute of limitations.

Black pins mark cases in which foreign priests in Italy, who are under investigation abroad, are being protected by the Vatican.

L‘Abuso, an Italian association for the victims of paedophilia by priests, collected the figures from court data.

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But the cases shown on the map are just the tip of the iceberg, the company’s chief, Francesco Zanardi, told The Local.

“The actual scale of the problem is unknown, and we only have data for the last decade – but it gives an idea of how widespread it is.”

Zanardi hopes the map will help convince Italians of the need to finally bring child abusing clerics through the civil justice system.

“The Italian government has a treaty with the Vatican which means priests are not obliged to report child sexual abuse. In other countries that is a serious crime in itself – but in Italy it’s just the norm.”

The majority of Church child abuse investigations in Italy are therefore carried out behind a wall of secrecy in the Vatican’s ecclesiastical courts.

Once found guilty by a Vatican court, most abusive priests do not end up not being defrocked and incarcerated. Instead, they are sent to a new diocese where abuse can occur again.

This process was even actively encouraged by the institution itself when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger sent a letter to all bishops in 2001 encouraging them only to report suspected abuse cases to the Vatican’s courts on pain of excommunication. Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI four years later before resigning in 2013.

But Italians are becoming more critical of the Church’s efforts to deal with paedophilia internally, thanks to notable media coverage of the problem.

Firstly, the ongoing investigation into Vatican finance chief George Pell, who is still working for the Church despite reams of evidence suggesting he covered up years of abuse while working as a priest in the Australian state of Victoria.

Secondly, Sunday’s Oscar success of the film ‘Spotlight’, which scooped two awards for Best Film and Best Screenplay. The film tells the story of how a team of reporters working for the Boston Globe first exposed endemic child abuse in America in 2003.

“I’m pleased that ongoing investigation into Cardinal Pell and the recent success of Spotlight have the Italian media talking more about the issue, but a lot more needs to be done,” Zanardi said, adding that he doubted Pope Francis would do anything to change the laws surrounding the reporting of abuse.

Since becoming pontiff in 2013, Jorge Mario Bergoglio has tried to improve the Catholic Church’s image, but critics say he has failed to address the problem of child abuse sufficiently and has not done enough to create a dialogue with victims.

“It’s ridiculous really,” added Zanardi.

“We’ve known about child abuse in the Catholic Church for 15 years  and it’s time to face up to it. The Church needs to be forced to take its child abusers to civil courts – but if that happens it will be a miracle, no pun intended.”

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The Catholic Church’s defiance and obstruction on child sex abuse


The Catholic Church’s defiance and obstruction on child sex abuse

April 19

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

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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.

1901813_10153687207618747_1757826015825436154_nIn many more states, however, the bishops and their staffs have successfully killed such bills, arguing that it would be unfair to subject the church to lawsuits in which memories and evidence are degraded by the passage of time. Quietly, they also say the church, which has suffered an estimated $3 billion hit in settlements and other costs related to clergy sex abuse scandals nationwide, can ill afford further financial exposure.

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.

 

 

 

Cardinal: John Paul approved of cover-up


Cardinal: John Paul approved of cover-up

by Rod Dreher

From the Link: Cardinal: John Paul approved of cover-up

Pope John Paul II is seen giving his blessing to Father Marcial Maciel in 2004. Maciel has been accused of sexually abusing children, including his own, in a lawsuit. He died in 2008.

Pope John Paul II is seen giving his blessing to Father Marcial Maciel in 2004. Maciel has been accused of sexually abusing children, including his own, in a lawsuit. He died in 2008.

ROME (AP) — Spanish media are quoting a retired Vatican cardinal as saying the late Pope John Paul II backed his letter congratulating a French bishop for risking jail for shielding a priest convicted of raping minors.Web sites of La Verdad and other Spanish newspapers reported Saturday that Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, 80, told an audience at a Catholic university in Murcia, Spain, on Friday that he consulted with John Paul and showed him the letter. He claimed the pontiff authorized him to send the letter to bishops worldwide.La Verdad said the audience at Universidad Catolica de Murcia applauded the cardinal’s remarks.

If Castrillon Hoyos is telling the truth, then John Paul personally approved sending this letter in direct violation of the instruction Card. Ratzinger’s CDF had sent down months earlier, urging bishops in countries where the law obliges them to report knowledge of sexual crimes against children to civil authorities, to follow the law. If Castrillon Hoyos is being truthful, it would suggest that, as far as the pontiff was concerned, the Ratzinger directive was window dressing.By the way, one should not over-interpret that 2001 CDF instruction. As Msgr. Charles Scicluna of the CDF characterizes it today:

Msgr. Scicluna also emphasized that the Vatican’s insistence on secrecy in the investigation of these cases by church authorities does not mean bishops or others are exempt from reporting these crimes to civil authorities.”In some English-speaking countries, but also in France, if bishops become aware of crimes committed by their priests outside the sacramental seal of confession, they are obliged to report them to the judicial authorities. This is an onerous duty because the bishops are forced to make a gesture comparable to that of a father denouncing his own son. Nonetheless, our guidance in these cases is to respect the law,” he said.In countries where there is no legal obligation to report sex abuse accusations, Msgr. Scicluna said, “we do not force bishops to denounce their own priests, but encourage them to contact the victims and invite them to denounce the priests by whom they have been abused.”

Anyway, what Card. Castrillon Hoyos said in Spain is very big news. It’s the first time to my knowledge that someone who was in the curial inner circle under John Paul II has publicly said that the late pontiff encouraged a policy of covering up for clerical sex abuse. That’s a bombshell.By the way, do note how the laity who heard Castrillon Hoyos reacted to his admission: they applauded. People who believe the Church scandal is simply a matter of an out-of-touch clerical leadership squared off against a laity that wants to know the truth, and wants true reform, should consider this. It’s not that simple, at all. If you wonder why some victims of abuse waited years to come out about what was done to them, you have part of your answer right there. Many laymen were quite willing to collaborate with evil to keep a truth they found intolerable to contemplate buried. Some still are. It’s human nature. You can see it every day, if you look. UPDATE: John Allen of NCR adds some context:

That congregation was led by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the man who is now the pope, and who is credited with taking a more aggressive approach to sex abuse cases. In effect, the thrust of the Vatican statement was to suggest that Castrillon letter illustrated the problems that Ratzinger faced in kick-starting the Vatican into action.On Friday, however, during at a conference at a Catholic university in Murcia, Spain, the 81-year-old Castrillon insisted that he had shown the letter in advance to John Paul II, and that the late pope had authorized him not only to send it but to eventually post it on the internet. Castrillon said that the issue at stake in his letter was protection of the seal of the confessional. The cardinal said he was applauding Pican for maintaining the sanctity of the sacrament, and cited canon 983 of the Code of Canon Law, concerning the confessional. Some analysts have questioned whether the sanctity of the confessional directly applies in this case, since Pican said in 2001 that he had discussed the case with the victims and with another priest. French law recognizes the seal of the confessional as part of a protected category of “professional secrets,” but makes an exception for crimes committed against minors. According to reports in the Spanish media, senior church officials at the conference, including two Vatican cardinals, applauded when Castrillon issued his defense.Beyond the specific question of the confessional, Castrillon has long been among those church leaders who argue that bishops should not be put in the position of reporting their priests to the police or other authorities, on the grounds that it disrupts a father/son relationship with his clergy. Instead, such leaders suggest, bishops should encourage the victims themselves to make a report.

Here is a translation of Castrillon Hoyos’s letter to the French bishop. Assuming this translation is correct, I don’t see where this has anything to do with the seal of the confessional. The cardinal is not relying on the seal to make his argument here:

September 8, 2001Most Reverend Excellency:I am writing to you as Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, charged with collaborating in the responsibility of the common Father over all the priests of the world.I congratulate you for not having denounced a priest to the civil administration. You have acted well, and I rejoice to have a brother in the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and of all the other bishops of the world, has preferred prison rather than denouncing his priest-son.In reality, the relationship between priests and their bishop is not professional; it is a sacramental relationship, which creates very special bonds of spiritual paternity. This theme has been amply taken up again by the last Council, by the 1971 Synod of Bishops and the one in 1991. The bishop has other means of acting, as the Episcopal Conference of France has recently recalled; but a bishop cannot be required to denounce [him] himself. In all civilized legal systems it is recognized that close relatives have the opportunity not to testify against a direct relative.We recall to you in your regard the words of St. Paul: “My imprisonment has become well known in Christ throughout the whole Praetorium and to all the rest, and the majority of the brothers, having taken encouragement in the Lord from my imprisonment, dare more than ever to proclaim the word fearlessly” (Phil. 1:13-14).This Congregation, in order to encourage brothers in the episcopate in this very sensitive area, will send copies of this letter to all the conferences of bishops.Assuring you of my fraternal closeness in the Lord, I greet you with your auxiliary and the whole of your diocese.Dario Castrillon H

David Gibson adds more context — and creates more confusion:

Whether Ratzinger himself was on board with mandatory reporting to authorities is also unclear. In February 2002, Ratzinger’s top lieutenant at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, said new internal church norms he and Ratzinger just completed to help bishops deal with abusers would not compel them to hand over molesters.”It seems to me that there is no basis for demanding that a bishop, for example, be obliged to turn to civil magistrates and denounce a priest that has confided in him to have committed the crime of pedophilia,” Bertone told the Italian Catholic monthly, 30 Giorni.After Ratzinger was elected pope, he made Bertone a cardinal and named him his secretary of state, basically the second-in-command at the Vatican.

UPDATE.2: Wow, that Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos is a world-class knothead. Check out this amazing interview translated by Austen Ivereigh at the (Jesuit) America magazine blog. Excerpt below the jump:

A glimpse of that attitude was on vivid display in an April 11 interview that Cardinal Castrillon-Hoyos — who along with Cardinal Law (formerly of Boston) is one of the leaders of the movement behind the restoration of traditionalist liturgy — gave to the Spanish-language CNN. My translation:”As prefect of the Congregation for Clergy I had meetings with scientists. And there was one group of scientists who said that the paedophile doesn’t exist; there exist persons who commit acts of paedophilia, but the illness of paedophilia doesn’t exist. So, when one person makes a mistake, which is often a minimal error, that person is accused – that person confesses his crime, or is shown his crime — the bishop punishes him according to what [canon] law allows: he suspends him, takes him out of a parish for a time, then sends him to another parish. He is correcting him. This is not a crime, this is not a cover-up, this is following the law just as civil society does in the case of doctors and lawyers – in other words, it’s not about taking away the chance of them exercising their profession for ever.”So you mean, asks Patricia Janiot, that for the Church sex abuse of minors is not a crime? Castrillon-Hoyos loses his rag in a flash of arrogance.”Patricia, for the love of God, don’t you understand what I’m saying? Am I speaking a foreign language? I’m talking in Castilian. The Church punishes paedophilia as a very serious crime – do I have to repeat this a thousand times? — but punishes it according to the law. The fact that it is a serious crime does not authorize a bishop to punish without following the processes to which the accused has a right.”When Janiot asks him about those processes, the cardinal talks about the need for corroborative evidence and witnesses but quickly adds that even when these exist, “when you factor in the enormous sums of money which are benefiting large numbers of people in relation to these crimes, we all have the right to question the honesty of those cases.”Janiot then asks him whether, if Pope John Paul II had acted more decisively to clear up the mishandling of abuse cases, Pope Benedict would not have inherited such a large problem. Castrillon-Hoyos is having none of it.”Pope John Paul did everything he should have done, and did so within the clearest norms of justice, charity, and of equity, – he did exactly what he should have done to maintain the purity of the Church. He did exactly what he should have done. I am witness to his worries and his pains. It is very easy to have news stories about cases which have not proved in which the image of the clergy is far from reality – this does not mean that there have not been painful cases in the Church; he knew of them, and he punished them. Show me one single case – I challenge people – one known case anywhere in the world where a case has been proved where the delinquent has not been punished.””What about the case of Fr Maciel?” Janiot answers. “This was never brought to justice. He died, never having been tried.”Cardinal Castrillon’s eyes look sharply to the left, to where an adviser or lawyer is obviously sitting. He then turns back to the camera. “Non ti rispondo”, he answers (in Italian, oddly). The interview is over.

 

How the Vatican evades human rights obligations through Canon Law, diplomatic immunity and other dodges


How the Vatican evades human rights obligations through Canon Law, diplomatic immunity and other dodges

From the Link: How the Vatican evades human rights obligations through Canon Law, diplomatic immunity and other dodges

The Vatican

The Vatican

The Vatican doesn’t acknowledge human rights unless they are in accordance with Church doctrine. Its courts have been found by the EU to violate the right to a fair trial. And the Vatican has even maintained that its signature to one of the few human rights treaties it has signed (and even then with “reservations”) only applies to its own territory and not to the Catholic Church.

“One cannot then appeal to these rights of man in order to oppose the interventions of the Magisterium.”
— Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1990 [1]

The Vatican not only quietly rejects the supremacy of human rights in principle, it also cultivates effective ways to get around having to implement them.

♦ Diplomatic recognition, sought worldwide, brings diplomatic immunity from charges of human rights abuse

The doctrine of sovereign immunity has its roots in the law of feudal England and is based on the idea that the ruler can do no wrong. In US law this is broadly applied to the heads of foreign states. [2] It was sovereign immunity that foiled an American attempt to sue Benedict XVI for the Vatican’s handling of child abuse by priests. The Church lawyers argued that the pope, as the Vatican’s head of state, enjoys immunity against lawsuits in US courts. [3]

In U.S. courts foreign countries are also generally immune from civil actions, with exemptions primarily for commercial acts. This means that unless a case can be brought in under an exemption the only recourse may be to try to sue the Vatican in a country which does not have diplomatic relations with it. However, as the map shows, most of the world’s countries (coloured blue) already recognise the statehood of the Holy See, as the Vatican is called officially.

There are very few (gray) countries left which don’t yet have diplomatic relations with the Holy See. These amount to just three island nations (the Comoros, north of Madagascar, theMaldives, southwest of India, and Tuvalu, north of New Zealand) — two African nations (Mauritania and Somalia) — three from the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Oman and Afghanistan) — and eight from Asia (Bhutan, People’s Republic of China, North Korea, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia). [4]

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The logistics of suing the Vatican from some of these countries could be daunting. Furthermore, due to the Vatican’s persistent diplomatic efforts, the number of countries which don’t recognise the Vatican is declining every year. (And one of the few left, Tuvalu, is gradually disappearing beneath the rising seas).

The Vatican’s web of diplomatic relations also makes its representatives immune to prosecution under international law. The 1961 Vienna Convention tries to provide diplomats with the security needed to perform their jobs. It is thanks to this treaty that states now express their displeasure by expelling the diplomats of a foreign country, rather than imprisoning them.

Diplomatic immunity in action: Archbishop Wesolowski is whisked away to the Vatican

However, this treaty was never meant to allow accused rapists of children to go free. Yet this appeared to be the intention when Bishop Paul Gallagher, the papal nuncio or pope’s ambassador to Australia refused to hand over to prosecutors documents on two priests who had abused more than 100 children over 40 years. [5] The nuncio invoked diplomatic immunity. However, as a UN committee later reminded the Vatican, [6] as a signatory of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it was obliged to hand over this evidence. [7] Pope Francis was apparently so pleased by the nuncio’s attempts to block justice in Australia’s worst clerical abuse scandal, that the next year he promoted him to archbishop and to the number three post in his kingdom  the Vatican’s Foreign Minister. [8]

as happened in the Dominican Republic. [9] There on June 24, 2013 a deacon was arrested and admitted to procuring impoverished boys to be sexually abused by the papal nuncio Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski. [10] By the time the deacon appeared on TV and said that others in the Church knew about this [11] the nuncio had vanished. He had been secretly whisked away and reappeared in the Vatican.

At the TV station they suspected that there had been a leak.

A “dossier” accusing papal nuncio Archbishop Josef 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, 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 exposé 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. [12]

In this case the Vatican acted against its own much-touted guidelines:

the church failed to inform the local authorities of the evidence against him, secretly recalled him to Rome […] before he could be investigated, and then invoked diplomatic immunity for Mr. Wesolowski so that he could not face trial in the Dominican Republic. [13]

Once he was safely in Rome the Vatican “confirmed that Wesolowski is a citizen of the Vatican city state, that the Vatican doesn’t extradite its citizens and that as a nuncio, or Holy See ambassador, Wesolowski enjoys full diplomatic immunity”. [14] Experts in international law say that the Vatican could have lifted the nuncio’s diplomatic immunity to let him face trial in the Dominical Republic (which could hardly be accused of having an anti-Catholic judiciary). [15]

However, the Church came under increasing pressure when the United Nations Committee against Torture stepped in. In June 2014 it urged the Vatican, if the investigation warranted it, to either try Wesolowski itself under the Vatican State criminal code (not canon law) or let someone else do so — and report back on the outcome. [16]

In August 2014, the Vatican gave Wesolwski a secret canon law trial to determine if he had violated Church doctrine. The Vatican tribunal found Wesolwski’s guilty of abusing young boys and defrocked him. But it refused to provide any information about his whereabouts or how he pleaded to the charges and refused to release contact information for his lawyer. [17] This deprived Mr. Wesolowski of his diplomatic immunity — so the Vatican then fell back on his Vatican State citizenship as the reason for not handing him over.

To avoid further challenges to its jurisdiction, the Vatican refused to provide the necessary documents to Polish prosecutors, who had hoped to try Wesolowski, a dual Vatican-Polish citizen. [18] The Vatican also got the Dominican Republic to fall into line. In August 2014, the day after Wesolowski lost his diplomatic immunity, the Santo Dominican prosecutor’s office announced that it was launching an investigation. [19] However, by the end of the year, the Dominican Republic’s top prosecutor was expressing “appreciation and satisfaction” with the Vatican’s actions (!) and said that the Vatican was the right place for the trial. [20] The Dominican authorities even stonewalled the legal inquiries of Polish prosecutors about Wesolowski, [21] which forced Poland to suspend its inquiry. [22] This cleared the way for the Vatican to conduct its own trial under the criminal law of its own state, which would satisfy the UN commitee, but keep control over the proceedings.

A Polish expert on church law, Prof. Pawel Borecki, explained why the Vatican was determined to maintain control:

“The Vatican will seek that this case does not go beyond its borders. Wesolowski is a high-ranking diplomat. He has knowledge of how the Roman curia works. He may also know about pedophilia in the church and if other high-ranking priests are involved in the crime. In a trial abroad he could reveal everything. Therefore, we can expect that the Vatican will not release him and it will hand down a severe punishment.” [23]

♦ Keeping out of key human rights treaty shields Vatican courts from international standards

The Vatican can’t be censured for violating the right to a fair trial which is enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights because it hasn’t signed the treaty. Instead, in a 2001 court case, it was Italy that was faulted for enforcing the unfair judgement of the Vatican court.

In essence the European Court of Human Rights found in 2001 that the procedures of the Roman Rota, the ecclesiastical appeals court responsible for marriage-annulment applications, failed to reach the standards required for a fair trial under article 6(1) of the European Convention and that, therefore, its judgments could not properly be recognized and enforced under Italian law. ECHR noted that in Rota proceedings witness statements were not provided to parties, thus depriving the parties of an opportunity to comment on them. The parties were not advised that they could appoint lawyers to appear for them, nor advised of the terms of the legal submissions made by the canon lawyer appointed by the court to argue against annulment. Finally, the parties were refused sight of a full copy of the Rota’s judgment, in which the ecclesiastical court set out its reasoning. Given these circumstances, the Strasbourg court took the view that justice was not done in annulment proceedings before church courts. [24]

“As new scandals erupt in Germany, Holland, Italy, Spain, Brazil and Nigeria, the Pope has failed to put in place and enforce mandatory child protection policy across his church. I asked a senior church figure why this was the case. I was told that to put in place global policy underpinned by church law would admit that the Vatican had the responsibility and the power to do so, and expose it to lawsuits and potentially massive financial losses.” ― Colm O'Gorman, Independent, 9 March 2010

“As new scandals erupt in Germany, Holland, Italy, Spain, Brazil and Nigeria, the Pope has failed to put in place and enforce mandatory child protection policy across his church. I asked a senior church figure why this was the case. I was told that to put in place global policy underpinned by church law would admit that the Vatican had the responsibility and the power to do so, and expose it to lawsuits and potentially massive financial losses.” ― Colm O’Gorman, Independent, 9 March 2010

♦ Damage limitation, part 1: Blame the bishops

If the Vatican doesn’t sign a human rights treaty, it’s easier to confine blame (and costs) to the local bishop. This helps the Vatican deny all responsibility for what is done in the Church worldwide. Thus the Vatican’s top prosecutor admits no fault on the part of the Church watchdog body, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith which, under Cardinal Ratzinger (now the present pope), dealt with abuse cases. [25]

♦ Damage limitation, part 2: Blame the priests

Even better, from the Vatican’s point of view, is to place sole blame on the errant priests.

In the US Vatican lawyers argued that Roman Catholic clerics are not officials or employees of the Holy See. [26] This is now the main Vatican defence against lawsuits in the United States seeking to hold the Holy See liable for the failure of its bishops to stop priests from raping and molesting children.

Usually foreign countries are immune from civil actions in U.S. courts, but there are exceptions to the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act which courts have said were applicable in this case. The statute says that plaintiffs can establish subject matter jurisdiction over a foreign sovereign, if a crime was committed in the United States by any official or employee of the foreign state and that the crimes were committed within the scope of employment. [27]

In the UK the same argument is being repeated. The English Catholic Church said priests are self-employed and thus it’s not responsible for victim compensation. Mindful of the dioceses in the US which were obliged to pay compensation to victims of clerical abuse and in some cases have gone bankrupt, [28] it has tried to argue that priests are self-employed. [29] However, in a High Court ruling on 8 November 2011 the judge rejected that argument, stating that the relationship between a priest and his bishop is sufficiently close so as to impose responsibility. According to the alleged victim’s lawyer, “This is a key decision with potentially far-reaching implications, effectively extending the principle of vicarious liability”. [30]

There are other theological variations on the responsibility theme: Whereas the Catholic Church says that its priests are self-employed, the Church of England, in order to avoid giving its priests workers’ rights, claimed they were employed by God. [31] And since 2008 it has said that they are “office holders”, in other words, employed by no one.

In Australia, too, the Vatican tries to hold the priests, and not the Church, legally liable in cases of abuse. It does through the remarkable claim, supported in a 2007 decision by the Supreme Court of New South Wales, that the “Catholic Church” does not exist as a single legal entity. [32] Therefore it cannot be sued; it cannot be held responsible for the behaviour of individuals who work in its “unincorporated associations”. Victims of assault could sue the responsible individuals or their unincorporated associations but it would be pointless; the individual religious take vows of poverty and the unincorporated associations own nothing. [33]

However, in 2014 Cardinal George Pell suggested that the Australian Church was no more responsible for priests’ crimes than any other organisation was for its employees. [34] Yes, employees.

♦ Damage limitation, part 3: Blame religious orders then let them refuse to pay

The English High Court and Court of Appeal both ruled that a Catholic diocese was liable to compensate the boys in a Catholic home who had been beaten, kicked and raped. However, that didn’t stop the diocese from claiming that a religious order was responsible and refusing to pay. And, of course, the order also denied any responsibility. [35] By 2012 the legal proceedings had been dragging on for eight years and due to the strain, many of the broken victims had dropped out of the process. [36]

And in Ireland where the Catholic Church and 19 religious orders agreed to split the compensation 50-50, the orders, one after another, have refused to pay. As of 2012 this had been going on for ten years. [37]

Even the four orders of Catholic nuns who ran the Magdalene Laundries and profited from what amounted to slave labour have refused to pay. [38] The Good Shepherd Sisters, The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, The Sisters of Mercy and The Sisters of Charity are keeping all the profits from selling prime real estate when their gulags were shut down are refusing to share this with their victims. [39]

In Canada it’s the same story. Eight Catholic orders ran the orphanages and psychiatric hospitals in the Province of Quebec. Federal subsidies were greater for psychiatric hospitals than for orphanages, so to maximise the profits, large numbers of normal children were “diagnosed” as feeble-minded or insane. In both kinds of Church-run institutions the children were subjected to unimaginable brutality and many died. Yet neither the orders involved nor the Vatican are willing to pay any compensation to the traumatised survivors. [40]

Since the pope is the head of every Catholic religious order, they must be doing this with his consent. As David Clohessy of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, writes,

The Catholic church isn’t some loosely-knit hippie commune. It’s a rigid, secretive, tightly-knit institution. So when crimes happen, it’s disingenuous for church officials to pretend that everyone involved is disconnected from one another. [41]

♦ Damage limitation, part 4: Blame the victim

In a sworn deposition in 2011 the bishop of Syracuse actually said that the victims of child-molesting priests are partly to blame for their own abuse. [42]

♦ Damage limitation, part 5: Lobby against extending the time limits for suing the Church

Many victims are unable to talk about abuse or face their accusers until they reach their 30s, 40s or later, putting the crime beyond the reach of the law. Yet in some US states, like New York, the victim is required to come forth by age 23. The US Supreme Court ruled that changes in criminal limits (statues of limitation) cannot be retroactive, so that any extension of present ones they will affect only recent and future crimes. [43] However, even this the Catholic Church is lobbying to prevent. If it succeeds, then the time limits can prevent penalties being applied for human rights abuses. Even when the Church admits it knew about the abuse, the priest admits that he did it, and there is independent evidence to back this up, “if the statute of limitations has expired, there won’t be any justice”. [44]

♦ Damage limitation, part 6: other “evasions and machinations” 

These include (but are not confined to):

— Spending millions of dollars to fight sexual abuse lawsuits and keeping sealed the names of thousands of accused priests, as well as the outcomes of some disciplinary cases sent to the Vatican. [45]

— Hiding funds to avoid compensating victims. In 2007 a judge in informed the Diocese of San Diego that its attempt to shift the diocese’s assets while the case was pending violated bankruptcy laws. [46] And that same year the Vatican allowed the Milwaukee archdiocese to transfer $57 million into a trust for Catholic cemetery maintenance, where it might be better protected, as Archbishop Dolan wrote, “from any legal claim and liability.” [47]

— Legal quibbles of all kinds. For instance, in 2011 church leaders in St. Louis claimed not to be liable for an abusive priest because while he had gotten to know a victim on church property, the abuse itself happened elsewhere. [48]

— Going after honest clerics who act as whistleblowers. A group of priests and nuns formed in 2013 says the Roman Catholic Church is still protecting sexual predators. Calling themselves the Catholic Whistleblowers, they say that priests who spoke up have been “removed from their parishes, hustled into retirement or declared ‘unstable’ and sent to treatment centres for clergy with substance-abuse problems or sexual addictions.” [49]

— Subjecting the victims to an oath of secrecy. This is the oath that the victims of the Irish paedophile priest Father Brendan Smyth were obliged to swear before Cardinal Sean Brady in 1975 when he was a priest and professor of canon law: [50]

“I will never directly or indirectly, by means of a nod, or of a word, by writing, or in any other way, and under whatever type of pretext, even for the most urgent and most serious cause (even) for the purpose of a greater good, commit anything against this fidelity to the secret, unless a…dispensation has been expressly given to me by the Supreme Pontiff.” [51]

— Tipping off accused clerics to allow destruction of evidence. In Australia in 2002, when a bishop learned that a child victim of one of his priests had gone to the police, he drove to a neighbouring town to warn him. This gave the priest, who was later comnvicted for repeatedly raping four children, the chance to destroy incriminating evidence. [52]

— Witness intimidation. In Germany in 2009 the Catholic Church hired detectives who turned at the homes of abused children and tried to get them retract their claims against one of its priests. [53]

— Hush money. In Australia in 2015 the nephew of a priest said that Cardinal Pell had tried to bribe him to keep quiet about abuse by his uncle. [54] And this tactic was proven to have been used in Germany in 1999, when cash payments were made to the parents of abused children at the same time as they signed agreement to remain silent. See Money for silence.

 It has been plausibly claimed that “the failure of the Vatican to promulgate a mandatory worldwide code of conduct, with a reporting requirement (for child abuse)...stems precisely from a fear of acknowledging its authority over national churches and implicitly conceding that priests and bishops, whom it appoints, are actually its agents in a legal sense.” — Patrick Smyth

It has been plausibly claimed that “the failure of the Vatican to promulgate a mandatory worldwide code of conduct, with a reporting requirement (for child abuse)…stems precisely from a fear of acknowledging its authority over national churches and implicitly conceding that priests and bishops, whom it appoints, are actually its agents in a legal sense.” — Patrick Smyth

♦ The Church follows its own Canon Law (which can be changed by a stroke of the papal pen) and must be forced to comply with civil law which is based on human rights

Amnesty International criticised the Vatican in its 2011 report, claiming it “did not sufficiently comply with its international obligations relating to the protection of children”. AI pointed out that the Vatican enlarged its own definition of “crimes in canon law” beyond “the sexual abuse of minors” ― but not the punishments

Amendments to the canon law promulgated in May introduced the “delicts” of paedophile pornography and abuse of mentally disabled people; the maximum punishment for these “delicts” is dismissal or deposition. Canon law does not include an obligation for Church authorities to report cases to civil authorities for criminal investigation. Secrecy is mandatory throughout the proceedings. [55]

As if the record unpunished priest abusers were not proof enough, a letter written in 2001 by a senior Vatican official has come to light praising a French bishop when he was convicted of failing to report a paedophile priest to the police. In 2010 the Bishop was given a three-month suspended prison sentence for not denouncing the priest, who was sentenced to 18 years in jail in 2000 for sexually abusing 11 boys. [56]

However, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, Prefect of the Congregation of the Clergy, told the Bishop, “I congratulate you for not denouncing a priest to the civil authorities.” And he concludes the letter to the French bishop by holding up the Bishops’ behaviour as a model for others; “This Congregation, in order to encourage brothers in the episcopate in this delicate matter, will forward a copy of this letter to all the conferences of bishops.” [57]

The Cardinal said afterwards that his letter was about protecting the seal of the confessional in accordance with Church law (Canon 983), but there is no mention of this in the text itself and at his trial the Bishop disputed this. [58] However, even if this were true, this would not hold in France which has apparently legislated a “duty to report” where children are involved. “French law recognises the seal of the confessional as part of a protected category of ‘professional secrets’, but makes an exception for crimes committed against minors”. [59]

 “Clericalism has many faces.  It is the delusion that priests speak for the Almighty and therefore are entitled to special treatment and even immunity from accountability for criminal behavior. It is the source of the conviction held by many, including top-level Vatican officials, that the legal systems of secular society are subordinate to Canon Law, the Catholic Church’s own system of governance.” ― Rev. Thomas P. Doyle, O.P., J.C.D.

“Clericalism has many faces. It is the delusion that priests speak for the Almighty and therefore are entitled to special treatment and even immunity from accountability for criminal behavior. It is the source of the conviction held by many, including top-level Vatican officials, that the legal systems of secular society are subordinate to Canon Law, the Catholic Church’s own system of governance.”
― Rev. Thomas P. Doyle, O.P., J.C.D.

Later the Cardinal also dropped a bombshell. He claimed that, “After consulting the pope, I wrote a letter to the bishop, congratulating him as a model of a father who does not turn in his children.” [60]

If Castrillon Hoyos is telling the truth, then John Paul personally approved sending this letter in direct violation of the instruction Card[inal] Ratzinger’s CDF had sent down months earlier, urging bishops in countries where the law obliges them to report knowledge of sexual crimes against children to civil authorities, to follow the law. If Castrillon Hoyos is being truthful, it would suggest that, as far as the pontiff was concerned, the Ratzinger directive was window dressing. [61]

The Church record of stonewalling criminal investigations certainly suggests that, until and unless forced to do otherwise, Canon Law, the legal system of the Catholic Church, is all the Church feels bound to follow. The outspoken Monsignor Maurice Dooley, an expert on Canon Law, has even stated this publicly. In 2002 he declared that bishops did not have to tell the Irish police about paedophile clerics and might even shelter these priests. “As far as the Church is concerned, its laws come first.” [62] And in April 2010 the Brazilian Archbishop Dadeus Grings concurred, saying that priestly abuse was a matter of internal church discipline, not something to report to the police. “For the church to go and accuse its own sons would be a little strange.” [63]

And even senior churchmen claiming that it is Church policy to report suspected abuse to the police have been found to be lying. In Australia, for instance, despite assurances by a bishop that the church had enforced strict rules to ensure such cases were reported to the police as a “matter of absolute policy’”, he and an archbishop secretly defrocked an abuser who was assured that “your good name will be protected by the confidential nature of this process”. [64]

In 2014 a United Nations committee severely criticised the Vatican’s handling of abuse cases and its failure to comply with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The panel rejected the church’s key contention that the Vatican has no jurisdiction over its bishops and priests around the world, and is responsible for putting in effect the Convention on the Rights of the Child only within the tiny territory of Vatican City. By ratifying the convention, the panel said, the Vatican took responsibility for making sure it was respected by individuals and institutions under the Holy See’s authority around the world. [65]

To this the Vatican replied by using its usual shell game, switching between its three identities, as dictated by expediency:  “The Committee has overlooked important distinctions between the Holy See, Vatican City State and the universal Catholic Church.” [66]

Further reading about the Pope and the law

Geoffrey Robertson, QC, “Put the pope in the dock. Legal immunity cannot hold. The Vatican should feel the full weight of international law”, Guardian, 2 April 2010. [This is a proposal to prosecute the Vatican under criminal law, where diplomatic immunity does not apply, but where an arrest could only be made in a country (like the UK, but not the US) which has signed the Statute of the International Criminal Court.]

“Call to treat Vatican as a rogue state: Lawyer Geoffrey Robertson says the church must abandon canon law”,Sydney Morning Herald, 9 September 2010. http://www.smh.com.au/world/call-to-treat-vatican-as-a-rogue-state-20100908-151cg.html

Afua Hirsch, “Canon law has allowed abuse priests to escape punishment, says lawyer”, Guardian, 7 September 2010. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/07/canon-law-abuse-priests-escape-punishment

Alan Duke, “Lawsuit demands Vatican name priests accused of sex abuse”, CNN, 22 April 2010.  “Pope Benedict XVI was named as a defendant because he has the ultimate authority to remove priests and because of his involvement in reviewing sex abuse cases when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the suit says.” [This is a suit under civil law and, as the US has recognised the Holy See by establishing diplomatic relations with it, this suit depends upon proving that the Holy See acted in a manner which removes its immunity, as outlined above.]

Further reading about the Pope and the law

Geoffrey Robertson, QC, “Put the pope in the dock. Legal immunity cannot hold. The Vatican should feel the full weight of international law”, Guardian, 2 April 2010. [This is a proposal to prosecute the Vatican under criminal law, where diplomatic immunity does not apply, but where an arrest could only be made in a country (like the UK, but not the US) which has signed the Statute of the International Criminal Court.]

“Call to treat Vatican as a rogue state: Lawyer Geoffrey Robertson says the church must abandon canon law”,Sydney Morning Herald, 9 September 2010. http://www.smh.com.au/world/call-to-treat-vatican-as-a-rogue-state-20100908-151cg.html

Afua Hirsch, “Canon law has allowed abuse priests to escape punishment, says lawyer”, Guardian, 7 September 2010. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/07/canon-law-abuse-priests-escape-punishment

Alan Duke, “Lawsuit demands Vatican name priests accused of sex abuse”, CNN, 22 April 2010.  “Pope Benedict XVI was named as a defendant because he has the ultimate authority to remove priests and because of his involvement in reviewing sex abuse cases when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the suit says.” [This is a suit under civil law and, as the US has recognised the Holy See by establishing diplomatic relations with it, this suit depends upon proving that the Holy See acted in a manner which removes its immunity, as outlined above.]

Notes

  1. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Instruction: Donum veritatis, On the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian”, 1990-03-24, #36.
  2. “”Immunity”, The Free Dictionary.
  3. John L. Allen Jr, “The autonomy of bishops, and suing the Vatican”, National Catholic Reporter, 21 May 2010.
  4. Sandro Magister, “The Holy See’s Diplomatic Net. Latest Acquisition: Russia”, Chiesa, 14 January 2010.
    The Holy See does not yet have relations with sixteen countries, most of them in Asia, many of them with majority Muslim populations. There is no Vatican representative in nine of these countries: Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Bhutan, the People’s Republic of China, North Korea, the Maldives, Oman, Tuvalu, and Vietnam. While in seven other countries there are apostolic delegates, pontifical representatives to the local Catholic communities but not to the government. Three of these countries are African: the Comoros, Mauritania, and Somalia. And four of them are Asian: Brunei, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar.
  5. “Australian abuse inquiry faces diplomatic standoff with Vatican”, National Catholic Reporter, 19 December 2013.
  6. [UN] Committee against Torture, Concluding observations on the initial report of the Holy See, 17 June 201, #14.
  7. See article 6.1, “Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.” Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution A/RES/54/263 of 25 May 2000, entered into force on 18 January 2002,
  8. “British archbishop who claimed diplomatic immunity to avoid handing documents to paedophile investigators is promoted to third highest role in Vatican by the Pope”, Daily Mail, 10 November 2014.
  9. “Dominican Republic says Vatican to handle landmark sex abuse case”, Agence France-Presse, 1 December 2014.
  10. Laurie Goodstein, “Vatican Defrocks Ambassador in Abuse Inquiry”, New York Times, 27 June 2014.
  11. . “Priests accused of child sex abuse to stand trial in Poland?”, Radio Poland, 16 October 2013.
  12. Betty Clermont, “Pope Francis Concealed His Actions Against Two Prelates. Now Both ‘Whereabouts are Unknown’”, Daily Kos, 29 September 2013.
  13. Laurie Goodstein, “For Nuncio Accused of Abuse, Dominicans Want Justice at Home, Not Abroad”, New York Times, 23 August 2014.
  14. “Vatican to Polish prosecutor: we don’t extradite”, Associated Press, 11 January 2014.
  15. Laurie Goodstein, “For Nuncio Accused of Abuse, Dominicans Want Justice at Home, Not Abroad”, New York Times, 23 August 2014
  16. The United Nations Committee against Torture said on 17 June 2014, ref CAT/C/VAT/CO/1:
    Impunity

    13. The Committee appreciates the confirmation provided regarding the ongoing investigation under the Vatican City State Criminal Code of allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Archbishop Josef Wesolowski, former papal nuncio to the Dominican Republic. The Committee notes that the Republic of Poland has reportedly requested the extradition of Archbishop Wesolowski. The Committee also is concerned that the State party did not identify any case to date in which it has prosecuted an individual responsible for the commission of or complicity or participation in a violation of the Convention (arts. 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8).

    The State party should ensure that its competent authorities proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation of Archbishop Wesolowski and any other persons accused of perpetrating or being complicit in violations of the Convention who are nationals of the State party or are present on the territory of the State party. If warranted, the State party should ensure such persons are criminally prosecuted or extradited for prosecution by the civil authorities of another State party. The Committee requests the State party to provide it with information on the outcome of the investigation concerning Archbishop Wesolowski.

  17. “Dominican court opens case on ex-Vatican official”, Associated Press, 31 August 2014.
  18. “Poland Suspends Inquiry Into a Former Vatican Envoy”, New York Times, 22 December 2014.
  19. “Dominican court opens case on ex-Vatican official”, Associated Press, 31 August 2014.
  20. “Dominican prosecutor OKs Vatican sex abuse case”, Associated Press, 2 December 2014.
  21. “Poland suspends paedophilia investigation against archbishop”, Polski Radio, 19 December 2014.
  22. “Poland Suspends Inquiry Into a Former Vatican Envoy”, New York Times, 22 December 2014.
  23. Donald Snyder, “Venue debated for trial of former nuncio accused of abusing minors”, National Catholic Reporter, 6 September 2014.
  24. Pellegrini v. Italy, 2001-VIII, Application No: 30882/96
  25. Laurie Goodstein, “U.N. Panel Criticizes the Vatican Over Sexual Abuse”, New York Times, 5 February 2014.
  26. Stoyan Zaimov, “Catholic Church Not Employer of Pedophile Priests, US Judge Rules”, Christian Post, 22 August 2014.
  27. “Bishops who mishandle abuse must be accountable, says Vatican official”, Catholic Herald, 8 February 2012.
  28. “Pope-bishop relationship key in sex abuse defense”, AP, 18 May 2010.
  29. “Settlements and bankruptcies in [American] Catholic sex abuse cases”, Wikipedia.
  30. “Catholic bishop criticises ruling on church liability for actions of priests”, Guardian, 15 November 2011.
    Crispian Hollis, Bishop of Portsmouth, “The Diocese, Fr Wilf Baldwin and the High Court Judgment”, 10 November 2011.
  31. “Catholic Church responsible for child abuse, High Court rules”, The Lawyer, 9 November 2011.
  32. Jonathan Petre, “Clergy close to workers’ rights”, Telegraph, 19 January 2004.
  33. Trustees of the Roman Catholic Church V Ellis & Anor [2007] NSWCA 117 (24 May 2007).
  34. Australian Cardinal angers abuse victims, The Tablet, 22 August 2014.
  35. Glen Coulton, letter to Sydney Morning Herald, 6 February 2011.
  36. “Church abuse case goes to highest court”, The Times, 23 July 2012.
  37. “Roman Catholic church stalls on £8m child abuse claims“, Observer, 15 November 2009
  38. “Counting the cost of abuse redress”, Irish Examiner, 01 October 2012
  39. “Kenny: I can’t force orders to contribute to Magdalenes redress fund”, Breaking News IE, 17 July 2013.
  40. Conor Ryan, “Site by laundry grave sold for €61.8m”, Irish Examiner, 05 July 2011.
  41. Petition concerning the Duplessis Orphans, presented to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, on behalf of the Duplessis Orphans, by Dr. Jonathan Levy and Rod Vienneau, 15 April 2011. http://www.vaticanbankclaims.com/quebec.pdf This is a reliable summary, as any factual inaccuracies would expose this human rights lawyer to charges of perjury, as explained at the end of the document.
  42. “Child victims partly to blame in priest sex-abuse cases, Syracuse bishop testified”, Syracuse.com, 13 September 2015.
  43. “Judge: Try Philadelphia priests, official together”, AP, 29 July 2011.
  44. Marci A. Hamilton, “Why ensuring accountability for clergy sexual abuse of children has proved so difficult, even though it remains so crucial”, Findlaw, 6 May 2004.
  45. Marci A. Hamilton, a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University who represents plaintiffs in sexual abuse suits, quoted in “Church Battles Efforts to Ease Sex Abuse Suits”, New York Times, 14 June 2012.
  46. “Ahead of Pope Francis’ Visit, Survivors of Sexual Abuse Take Stock”, New York Times, 15 September 2015.
  47. Amnesty International, Annual Report, 2011: “Vatican”.
  48. “Dolan Sought to Protect Church Assets, Files Show”, New York Times, 1 July 2013.
    “Appeals court: Judge erred on Milwaukee archdiocese fund”, AP, 10 March 2015.
  49. “Judge Orders External Audit of San Diego Diocese Accounts”, Associated Press, carried in San Luis Obispo Tribune, 11 April 2007.
  50. “Abuse victims criticise Brady’s decision to stay”, BBC News, 18 May 2010.
  51. “Revealed: the oath Brady, Smyth and the children swore”, Irish Independent, 3 December 2012.
  52. “Courage puts shame ‘squarely where it belongs'”, Sydney Morning Herald, 24 July 2013.
  53. “Church Whistle-Blowers Join Forces on Abuse”, New York Times, 20 May 2013.
  54. “Cardinal Pell denies attempting to bribe alleged abuse victim and helping to move paedophile priest”, Tablet, 21 May 2015.
  55. “Mo. appeals court rules Catholic church not responsible for some abuse”, St. Louis Public Radio, 5 July 2011.
  56. “How the German Catholic Church Protected a Pedophile Priest”, Spiegel, 24 April 2009.
  57. Tom Heneghan, “John Paul backed praise for hiding abuse – cardinal”, Reuters, 18 April 2010.
  58. Cardinal Darío del Niño Jesús Castrillón Hoyos to Bishop Pierre Pican, 8 September 2001. Translation in “Darío Castrillón Hoyos”,
  59. John L Allen Jr, “Crisis hangs over pope in Malta like volcanic ash”, National Catholic Register, 17 April 2010.
  60. Tom Heneghan, “John Paul backed praise for hiding abuse – cardinal”, Reuters, 18 April 2010.
  61. Rod Dreher, “Cardinal: John Paul approved of cover-up”, Beliefnet, 18 April 2010.
  62. Ciaran Byrne, “Controversial cleric a ‘grade A1 idiot’, says colleague”, Irish Independent, 20 March 2010.
  63. “Catholic archbishop says kids are spontaneously gay”, Examiner.com, 8 May 2010.
  64. “Calls multiply for inquiry into handling of sex abuse”, Sydney Morning Herald, 1 August 2012.
  65. Laurie Goodstein, Nick Cumming-Brice and Jim Yardley,“ U.N. Panel Criticizes the Vatican Over Sexual Abuse”, New York Times, 5 February 2014.
  66. “Holy See’s Comments to Observations From UN Committee on Rights of the Child”, Zenit, 26 September 2014.

 

South America has become a safe haven for the Catholic Church’s alleged child molesters. The Vatican has no comment.


South America has become a safe haven for the Catholic Church’s alleged child molesters. The Vatican has no comment.

The Great Catholic Cover-Up: The pope’s entire career has the stench of evil about it


The Great Catholic Cover-Up: The pope’s entire career has the stench of evil about it

By Christopher Hitchens
From the link: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/fighting_words/2010/03/the_great_catholic_coverup.html

Pope Benedict XVI has gotten away with many crimes.

Pope Benedict XVI has gotten away with many crimes.

 

On March 10, the chief exorcist of the Vatican, the Rev. Gabriele Amorth (who has held this demanding post for 25 years), was quoted as saying that “the Devil is at work inside the Vatican,” and that “when one speaks of ‘the smoke of Satan’ in the holy rooms, it is all true—including these latest stories of violence and pedophilia.” This can perhaps be taken as confirmation that something horrible has indeed been going on in the holy precincts, though most inquiries show it to have a perfectly good material explanation.

Concerning the most recent revelations about the steady complicity of the Vatican in the ongoing—indeed endless—scandal of child rape, a few days later a spokesman for the Holy See made a concession in the guise of a denial. It was clear, said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, that an attempt was being made “to find elements to involve the Holy Father personally in issues of abuse.” He stupidly went on to say that “those efforts have failed.”

He was wrong twice. In the first place, nobody has had to strive to find such evidence: It has surfaced, as it was bound to do. In the second place, this extension of the awful scandal to the topmost level of the Roman Catholic Church is a process that has only just begun. Yet it became in a sense inevitable when the College of Cardinals elected, as the vicar of Christ on Earth, the man chiefly responsible for the original cover-up. (One of the sanctified voters in that “election” was Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, a man who had already found the jurisdiction of Massachusetts a bit too warm for his liking.)

There are two separate but related matters here: First, the individual responsibility of the pope in one instance of this moral nightmare and, second, his more general and institutional responsibility for the wider lawbreaking and for the shame and disgrace that goes with it. The first story is easily told, and it is not denied by anybody. In 1979, an 11-year-old German boy identified as Wilfried F. was taken on a vacation trip to the mountains by a priest. After that, he was administered alcohol, locked in his bedroom, stripped naked, and forced to suck the penis of his confessor. (Why do we limit ourselves to calling this sort of thing “abuse”?) The offending cleric was transferred from Essen to Munich for “therapy” by a decision of then-Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, and assurances were given that he would no longer have children in his care. But it took no time for Ratzinger’s deputy, Vicar General Gerhard Gruber, to return him to “pastoral” work, where he soon enough resumed his career of sexual assault.

It is, of course, claimed, and it will no doubt later be partially un-claimed, that Ratzinger himself knew nothing of this second outrage. I quote, here, from the Rev. Thomas Doyle, a former employee of the Vatican Embassy in Washington and an early critic of the Catholic Church’s sloth in responding to child-rape allegations. “Nonsense,” he says. “Pope Benedict is a micromanager. He’s the old style. Anything like that would necessarily have been brought to his attention. Tell the vicar general to find a better line. What he’s trying to do, obviously, is protect the pope.”

This is common or garden stuff, very familiar to American and Australian and Irish Catholics whose children’s rape and torture, and the cover-up of same by the tactic of moving rapists and torturers from parish to parish, has been painstakingly and comprehensively exposed. It’s on a level with the recent belated admission by the pope’s brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, that while he knew nothing about sexual assault at the choir school he ran between 1964 and 1994, now that he remembers it, he is sorry for his practice of slapping the boys around.

Patron Saint of Pedophiles of the Unholy Roman Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II

Patron Saint of Pedophiles of the Unholy Roman Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II

Very much more serious is the role of Joseph Ratzinger, before the church decided to make him supreme leader, in obstructing justice on a global scale. After his promotion to cardinal, he was put in charge of the so-called “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” (formerly known as the Inquisition). In 2001, Pope John Paul II placed this department in charge of the investigation of child rape and torture by Catholic priests. In May of that year, Ratzinger issued a confidential letter to every bishop. In it, he reminded them of the extreme gravity of a certain crime. But that crime was the reporting of the rape and torture. The accusations, intoned Ratzinger, were only treatable within the church’s own exclusive jurisdiction. Any sharing of the evidence with legal authorities or the press was utterly forbidden. Charges were to be investigated “in the most secretive way … restrained by a perpetual silence … and everyone … is to observe the strictest secret which is commonly regarded as a secret of the Holy Office … under the penalty of excommunication.” (My italics). Nobody has yet been excommunicated for the rape and torture of children, but exposing the offense could get you into serious trouble. And this is the church that warns us against moral relativism! (See, for more on this appalling document, two reports in the London Observer of April 24, 2005, by Jamie Doward.)

Not content with shielding its own priests from the law, Ratzinger’s office even wrote its own private statute of limitations. The church’s jurisdiction, claimed Ratzinger, “begins to run from the day when the minor has completed the 18th year of age” and then lasts for 10 more years. Daniel Shea, the attorney for two victims who sued Ratzinger and a church in Texas, correctly describes that latter stipulation as an obstruction of justice. “You can’t investigate a case if you never find out about it. If you can manage to keep it secret for 18 years plus 10, the priest will get away with it.”

The next item on this grisly docket will be the revival of the long-standing allegations against the Rev. Marcial Maciel, founder of the ultra-reactionary Legion of Christ, in which sexual assault seems to have been almost part of the liturgy. Senior ex-members of this secretive order found their complaints ignored and overridden by Ratzinger during the 1990s, if only because Father Maciel had been praised by the then-Pope John Paul II as an “efficacious guide to youth.” And now behold the harvest of this long campaign of obfuscation. The Roman Catholic Church is headed by a mediocre Bavarian bureaucrat once tasked with the concealment of the foulest iniquity, whose ineptitude in that job now shows him to us as a man personally and professionally responsible for enabling a filthy wave of crime. Ratzinger himself may be banal, but his whole career has the stench of evil—a clinging and systematic evil that is beyond the power of exorcism to dispel. What is needed is not medieval incantation but the application of justice—and speedily at that.

Pope John Paul II and the Sex Abuse Case


Pope John Paul II and the Sex Abuse Case

From the link: http://pope-john-paulii.com/pope-john-paul-ii-and-the-sex-abuse-case/

Patron Saint of Pedophiles of the Unholy Roman Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II

Patron Saint of Pedophiles of the Unholy Roman Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II

The world is not ignorant about the presence of lecherous priests in the world but, who would have guessed that the Catholic Church also hosts a few of these perverts of the highest order. Among the most serious cases are the ones involving Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer an Austrian friend of the Pope. The Cardinal was accused of molesting over 2000 boys and young monks in his overall career span. Even then he sailed through the situation because there were no sanctions placed on him.

The next case was related to Marcial Maciel Degollado, the Mexican founder of the ‘Legion of Christ’. This person was accused of not only molesting young boys but fathering a number of children through innumerable women. The reason why Pope John Paul II was disapproved was for obstructing investigation in both these cases. In fact he had been criticized for promoting those individuals who had sex abuse cases pending against them.

Covering up of these cases have been considered to be worse than the crime itself. Cardinal Ratzinger under the auspices of Pope John Paul II had written a letter stating that all sex abuse cases in the Catholic Church be sent to his department and be subject to pontifical secrecy. He had also tried to persuade the Pope to bring them to book, but his opponents in the Vatican managed to block any further enquiry into the issue. In the words of the Present Pope Benedict XVI, ‘the other side had won’.

When the child abuse cases in the Catholic Church had first come to light, the Pope had an acceptable ‘bad apple’ explanation to provide. He said that even as priests some brothers are afflicted by sins that betray the grace of ordination. It is because of these few bad cases that the other brothers, who are conducting their office in the most virtuous manner, with honesty and integrity which sometimes result in heroic self sacrifice, are also tarnished. Although he showed his concern and sympathy to the victims and their families, he called upon the rest to embrace the ‘mysterium crucis’ and commit more fully to the search of holiness.

While H.H Groer was removed as Arch Bishop of Vienna in 1995, Pope Benedict finally managed to oust Maciel in 2006. Further investigations have proved that Maciel had sent pots of money to buy support in the Vatican.

One can give many reasons as to why Pope John Paul II had brushed all this rubbish under the Vatican carpet. It may be that he did not want the people in general to loose their faith on the Church, or it could also be that he believed that some (not all) of these cases were made to frame people in high Vatican offices. Whatever the excuse may be, people will question him for not dealing with these perverts in strict hands. History will show that it was actually Pope Benedict XVI and not Pope John Paul II who had initiated ‘purification’ of the Church.

‘Beautifully crafted’ 24” bronze statues of Pope John Paul II give out an aura of peace and tranquility. This collector’s item is also considered a very thoughtful gift for loved ones’

Confidential 2001 Letter “De delictis gravioribus” (on most grave crimes)


Confidential 2001 Letter “De delictis gravioribus” (on most grave crimes)

Looking the other way . . . Pope Benedict XVI. Photograph: Tony Gentile/Reuters

Looking the other way . . . Pope Benedict XVI. Photograph: Tony Gentile/Reuters

In a confidential 2001 letter to the Catholic bishops of the world, presented below, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, ordered that the church’s investigations into child sex abuse claims be carried out in secret and the evidence kept confidential for up to 10 years after the victims reached adulthood. Lawyers acting for abuse victims claim that the letter, titled “De delictis gravioribus” (on most grave crimes), implicates the pope in obstruction of justice.

Sex Crimes And The Vatican. A secret document which sets out a procedure for dealing with child sex abuse scandals within the Catholic Church is examined by Panorama. Crimen Sollicitationis (updated by De delictis gravioribus) was enforced for 20 years by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became the Pope. More: BBC News: Sex crimes and the Vatican.

CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH LETTER
sent from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
to Bishops of the entire Catholic Church and other
Ordinaries and Hierarchs having an interest
REGARDING THE MORE SERIOUS OFFENSES
reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

[Translation of the text was printed in Origins 31:32, January 24, 2001, and posted at http://www.austindiocese.org/epistle/2002/graveoffenses.doc%5D

In order to fulfill the ecclesiastical law, which states in Article 52 of the apostolic constitution on the Roman Curia, “[The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith] examines delicts against faith and more grave delicts both against morals and committed in the celebration of the sacraments which have been reported to it and, if necessary, proceeds to declare or impose canonical sanctions according to the norm of common or proper law,”(1) it was necessary first to define the method of proceeding in delicts against the faith: This was accomplished through the norms titled Agendi Ratio in Doctrinarum Examine, ratified and confirmed by the supreme pontiff, Pope John Paul II, together with Articles 28-29 approved in forma specifica.(2)

At approximately the same time, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, through an ad hoc commission established, devoted itself to a diligent study of the canons on delicts both of the Code of Canon Law and the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches in order to determine “more grave delicts both against morals and in the celebration of the sacraments” and in order to make special procedural norms “to declare or impose canonical sanctions,” because the instruction Crimen Sollicitationis, issued by the supreme sacred Congregation of the Holy Office on March 16, 1962,(3) in force until now, was to be reviewed when the new canonical codes were promulgated.

Having carefully considered opinions and having made the appropriate consultations, the work of the commission finally was completed. The fathers of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith examined the commission’s work carefully and submitted to the supreme pontiff conclusions on the determination of more grave delicts and the manner of proceeding to declare or impose sanctions, with the exclusive competence in this of the apostolic tribunal of this congregation remaining firm. All these things, approved by the supreme pontiff himself, were confirmed and promulgated by the apostolic letter given motu proprio beginning with the words Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela.

The more grave delicts both in the celebration of the sacraments and against morals reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are:
-Delicts against the sanctity of the most august eucharistic sacrifice and the sacraments, namely:
1. Taking or retaining the consecrated species for a sacrilegious purpose or throwing them away.(4)
2. Attempting the liturgical action of the eucharistic sacrifice or simulating the same.(5)
3. Forbidden concelebration of the eucharistic sacrifice with ministers of ecclesial communities which do not have apostolic succession and do not recognize the sacramental dignity of priestly ordination.(6)
4. Consecrating for a sacrilegious purpose one matter without the other in the eucharistic celebration or even both outside a eucharistic celebration.(7)

-Delicts against the sanctity of the sacrament of penance, namely:
1. Absolution of an accomplice in sin against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue.(8)
2. Solicitation in the act, on the occasion or under the pretext of confession, to sin against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue, if it is directed to sin with the confessor himself.(9)
3. Direct violation of the sacramental seal.(10)

-A delict against morals, namely: the delict committed by a cleric against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue with a minor below the age of 18 years.

Only these delicts, which are indicated above with their definition, are reserved to the apostolic tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

As often as an ordinary or hierarch has at least probable knowledge of a reserved delict, after he has carried out the preliminary investigation he is to indicate it to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which unless it calls the case to itself because of special circumstances of things, after transmitting appropriate norms, orders the ordinary or hierarch to proceed ahead through his own tribunal. The right of appealing against a sentence of the first instance, whether on the part of the party or the party’s legal representative, or on the part of the promoter of justice, solely remains valid only to the supreme tribunal of this congregation.

It must be noted that the criminal action on delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is extinguished by a prescription of 10 years.(11) The prescription runs according to the universal and common law;(12) however, in the delict perpetrated with a minor by a cleric, the prescription begins to run from the day when the minor has completed the 18th year of age.

In tribunals established by ordinaries or hierarchs, the functions of judge, promoter of justice, notary and legal representative can validly be performed for these cases only by priests. When the trial in the tribunal is finished in any fashion, all the acts of the case are to be transmitted ex officio as soon as possible to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

All tribunals of the Latin church and the Eastern Catholic churches are bound to observe the canons on delicts and penalties, and also on the penal process of both codes respectively, together with the special norms which are transmitted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for an individual case and which are to be executed entirely. Cases of this kind are subject to the pontifical secret.

Through this letter, sent by mandate of the supreme pontiff to all the bishops of the Catholic Church, to superiors general of clerical religious institutes of pontifical right and clerical societies of apostolic life of pontifical right, and to other interested ordinaries and hierarchs, it is hoped not only that more grave delicts will be entirely avoided, but especially that ordinaries and hierarchs have solicitous pastoral care to look after the holiness of the clergy and the faithful even through necessary sanctions.

Rome, from the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, May 18, 2001.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
Prefect

Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, SDB
Secretary

[Notes added from the Latin text]

[1] Ioannes Paulus PP. II, Constitutio Apostolica Pastor bonus, De Romana Curia, 28 iunii 1988, art. 52, in AAS 80 (1988) 874.

[2] Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei, Agendi ratio in doctrinarum examine, 29 iunii 1997, in AAS 89 (1997) 830-835.

[3] Suprema Sacra Congregatio Sancti Officii, Instructio Crimen sollicitationis, Ad omnes Patriarchas, Archiepiscopos, Episcopos aliosque locorum Ordinarios “etiam Ritus Orientalis”: De modo procedendi in causis sollicitationis, 16 martii 1962, Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis MCMLXII.

[4] Cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 1367; Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium, can. 1442. Cf. et Pontificium Consilium De Legum Textibus Interpretandis, Responsio ad propositum dubium, 4 iunii 1999.

[5] Cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 1378 § 2 n. 1 et 1379; Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium, can. 1443.

[6] Cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 908 et 1365; Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium, can. 702 et 1440.

[7] Cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 927.

[8] Cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 1378 § 1; Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium, can. 1457.

[9] Cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 1387; Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium, can. 1458.

[10] Cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 1388 § 1; Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium, can. 1456 § 1.

[11] Cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 1362 § 1 n. 1; Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium, can. 1152 § 2 n. 1.

[12] Cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 1362 § 2; Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium, can. 1152 § 3.

THESE ARE CRIMES, NOT SINS, GET IT RIGHT ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH!!!


THESE ARE CRIMES, NOT SINS, GET IT RIGHT ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH!!!

By Frank J LaFerriere

Dear Roman Catholic Church,
When YOU assholes call what you all did to us? When YOU call crimes such as child abuse, child rape, child slavery and yes, child murder just sins? YOU lessen the impact of these crimes.

Get it through your sick and twisted disgusting heads right now.

1. Raping children is a CRIME.
2. Covering up the rapes of children is a CRIME.
3. Enslaving children in your Magdalene Laundries is a CRIME.
4. Murdering children and victims, by their suicides, is a CRIME.
5. Gang raping and gang beating children, like you all did in your Industrial Homes, like the one at Artane, is a CRIME.
6. Standing up and defending these kinds of CRIMES makes YOU an accomplice.

Asking for victims of your crimes to forgive you is WRONG!!! We did absolutely nothing wrong, YOU DID. Why should we even accept YOUR FAKE APOLOGIES when YOU STILL blame US and attack US for your crimes against US? Why do YOU feel we should forgive YOU when you continue to do the following against us:

1. DENYING US JUSTICE FOR THE CRIMES YOU COMMITTED AGAINST US.
2. BLAMING US FOR THE CRIMES THAT WERE COMMITTED AGAINST US.3. ATTACKING US AS THE EVIL ONES FOR STANDING UP AND CRYING OUT ABOUT THE CRIMES YOU COMMITTED AGAINST US.
4. DECLARING US THE EVIL ONES FOR SPEAKING OUT AGAINST THE CRIMES COMMTTED AGAINST US BY YOUR PSYCHOTIC PEDOPHILE PIMPS, YOUR PSYCHOTIC PEDOPHILE AND ABUSIVE PRIESTS, YOUR PSYCHOTIC PEDOPHILE AND ABUSIVE NUNS.
5. USING YOUR SCUMBAGS PSYCHOS LIKE BILL DONOHUE OF THE CATHOLIC LEAGUE TO INSULT AND DENIGRATE US.

You all deserve to be arrested for your crimes against us. You all deserve to pay for your crimes against us, including the murder of us. For when ANY victim of your pedohiles have committed suicide, that is murder and YOU should be charged for it.

YOU DO NOT DESERVE TO BE CALLED HOLY MEN OF GOD. YOU DO NOT DESERVE DIGNITY AND RESPECT. YOU DO NOT DESERVE ANYTHING LESS THAN TO BE CALLED FOR WHO AND WHAT YOU ARE….

YOU ARE DISGUSTING CHILD RAPISTS. YOU ARE DISGUSTING PEDOPHILES. YOU ARE DISGUSTING PEDOPHILE PIMPS. YOU ARE DISGUSTING CHILD MURDERERS.

YOU HAVE RAPED HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN. YOU HAVE ENSLAVED THOUSANDS MORE IN YOUR LAUNDRIES. YOU HAVE BEATEN AND TORTURED AND BRUTALIZED THEM. YOU HAVE DESTROYED THEIR LIVES. YOU DO NOT DESERVE PRAISE AND WORSHIP FOR THIS, YOU DESERVE CONDEMNATION AND OSTRASIZATION FOR THIS. YOU DESERVE TO BE ARRESTED AND TRIED AND UPON CONVICTION FOR YOUR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY AND THE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD, EXECUTED FOR YOUR CRIMES. NO GREATER CALL FOR A DEATH PENALTY PUNISHMENT THAN THE BRUTAL RAPES, BEATINGS, ENSLAVEMENT AND MURDER OF CHILDREN THAT YOU ALL HAVE DONE AND ARE GUILTY FOR SHOULD BE CALLED FOR. YOU DESERVE TO BE EXECUTED ACTUALLY, IN MY OPINION USING THE VERY TOOLS OF THE INQUISITIONS THAT YOU USED TO EXECUTE OTHERS!!!

 

The Popes Pear

The Popes Pear

The Judas Chair

The Judas Chair

Each and every one of the following named individuals, have overwhelming, convincing and clear evidence against, that they were in fact, Pedophile pimps, in that they moved dangerous pedophile priests, from one parish to another, covering up for the rapes and abuses of children by these disgusting pedophiles and then they raped and abused even more children.

THERE IS OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE AGAINST EACH AND EVERY FOLLOWING NAMED INDIVIDUAL, THEY PLACED THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, ITS PEDOPHILE PRIESTS AND NUNS, IT’S PSYCHOTIC, ABUSIVE PRIESTS AND NUNS, BEFORE THE SAFETY AND PROTECTION OF CHILDREN.

There is clean and convincing evidence, against each and every following named individual, that they are part of the larger organization, The Roman Catholic Church and that worldwide, have committed atrocities and crimes against the children of the world and humanity that are overwhelming provable:

About 35,000 children and teenagers who were orphans, petty thieves, truants, unmarried mothers or from dysfunctional families were sent to Ireland’s network of 250 Church-run industrial schools, reformatories, orphanages and hostels from the 1930s up until the early 1990s. For six decades, priests and nuns terrorised boys and girls in the workhouse-style schools with sexual, physical and mental abuse.

This does NOT include the crimes against children and humanity, where ever these Roman Catholic Churches institutions were found, from Belgium, France, Italy, Australia, New South Wales, Germany, United States, Canada, and the world over.

EACH AND EVER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING PEDOPHILE PIMPS SHOULD BE ARRESTED AND TRIED FOR THEIR

CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY AND THE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD!!!

Pope Emeritus Benedict

Cardinals: Adam Maida, Agostino Vallini, Angelo Scola, Angelo Sodano, Anthony Bevilacqua, Bernard Law, Dominik Duka, Donald Wuerl, Franc Rode, Francis George, Francisco Javier Errazurtz Ossa, George Pell, Godfried Danneels, Hans Groer, Humberto Mederios, John Cody, John Krol, Joseph Bernardin, Juan Cipriani, Justin Rigali, Keith O’Brien, Leonardo Sandri, Ludwig Mueller, Marc Ouellet, Norberto Rivera, Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, Partick O’Malley, Peter Turkson, Raymond Burke, Richard Cushing, Roger Mahony, Sean Brady, Silvio Oddi, Tarcisio Bertone, Thomas Winning, Timothy Dolan, Vinko Puljic, Wilfred Fox Napier, William Levada.

Archbishops: Andre Richard, Anthony Sablan, Charles J Chaput, Denis Hart, Diarmuid Martin, Ernest Leger, Frank Little, Gerhard Ludwig Muller, Harry Flynn, Jerome Hanus, Jerome Listecki, John Charles McQuaid, John Clay Neinstedt, John Meyers, John Roach, Jose Horacio Gomez, Josef Wesolowski, Luciano Storero, Mario Conti, Peter Gerety, Peter Sartain, Pio Laghi, Rembert Weakland, Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, Robert Carlson, Silvano Tomasi, Theodore McCarrick, Valery Vienneau, William Cousins, Ricardo Ezzati Andrello.

Bishops: Peter Anthony Libasci, A.J. Quinn, Andrew Cozzens, Anthony O’Connell, Antonio Sarto, Bill Wright, Carl Mengeling, Christopher Foster, David M O’Connell, David Zubik, Donald Kettler, Edward Cullen, Eugene Laroque, Gabino Miranda, George H. Guilfoyle, George Leo Thomas, Gerard Frey, Henry Kennedy, Howard Hubbard, James Garland, James Hoeppner, James Kavanagh, James Murray, James Timlin, John B McCormack, John Doerfler, John Magee, Joseph Cistone, Joseph Devine, Joseph Imesch, Joseph V Adamec, Kieran Thomas Conry, Kenneth Povish, Laurence Glenn, Leo Clarke, Louis E. Gelineau, Marco Antonio Ordenes, Michael Bransfield, Michael Jarrell, Michael John Browne, Michael Malone, Patrick Cooney, Patrick Cotter, Peter Conners, Raphael Michael Fliss, Raymond Lahey, Richard Sklba, Robert C. Evans, Robert E. Mulvee, Robert Finn, Robert Rose, Roger Vangheluwe, Rogello Livieres, Seamus Hegarty, Thomas Curry, Thomas Daily, Thomas J. Tobin, Vincent Leonard, William Lynn, Wilton Gregory, Wojeciech Polak, Maurice Schexnayder.

What the Catholic bishop knew


What the Catholic bishop knew

Eamonn O’Neill talks to F Ray Mouton, one of the authors of ‘The Manual’, a 1985 report into child abuse in the clergy which he claims the church suppressed

F. Ray Mouton

F. Ray Mouton

 

Now retired, F Ray Mouton spends his days writing his novel, Beyond Familiar Altars – a story of scandal and cover-up in the Catholic church. The media from various corners of the world have made repeated attempts to interview the 63-year-old former defence lawyer, but Mouton has – until now – chosen to lie low.

He is sought after because of events he was party to just over a quarter of a century ago – events which included a secret meeting with Cardinal William Levada, who now holds one of the highest positions in the Vatican.

In 1984 Mouton, then a successful young lawyer in Louisiana, was having lunch with the local Roman Catholic church top brass. He was asked to defend a priest accused of child abuse – the first legally recorded case of its kind.

His client was Father Gilbert Gauthe, and he was accused of abusing dozens of children in Henry, a rural, deeply devout Catholic community. The church was already paying out millions to families who signed confidentiality clauses. But one family, the Gastals, whose son Scott was abused by Gauthe, refused to stay silent, and instead urged the local district attorney to file 37 criminal charges against the clergyman. “The priest needed his own counsel in the criminal matter and also in the civil cases where he was a lead defendant,” says Mouton. Despite death threats and the nature of the crimes, Mouton accepted the case.

“I believed this priest was a sole, aberrant individual and that there could not possibly be other men of the cloth who serially sexually abused children,” he explains. “I believed then that this priest should receive a fair sentence – 20 years in a facility where he could be treated for his condition, a time sufficient to allow his youngest victims to grow to be about 30 years old prior to his release. And I believed no one in the diocese could have known about these horrendous crimes without having reported them to the police and removing this man from the priesthood.”

Father Gilbert Gauthe

Father Gilbert Gauthe

At the time, Mouton didn’t think the priest’s employers – the church – could be held responsible for the criminal actions of someone they’d hired. He soon changed his mind: “I would come to believe that not only is a priest who abuses a child acting out of pathology, but a bishop covering up such heinous crimes is afflicted with a deeper, darker pathology that poses as great a threat, or even a greater threat, to society – for it was the bishops and the Vatican that empowered and enabled these criminals … to avoid scandal to the church.”

Now retired, F Ray Mouton spends his days writing his novel, Beyond Familiar Altars – a story of scandal and cover-up in the Catholic church. The media from various corners of the world have made repeated attempts to interview the 63-year-old former defence lawyer, but Mouton has – until now – chosen to lie low.

He is sought after because of events he was party to just over a quarter of a century ago – events which included a secret meeting with Cardinal William Levada, who now holds one of the highest positions in the Vatican.

In 1984 Mouton, then a successful young lawyer in Louisiana, was having lunch with the local Roman Catholic church top brass. He was asked to defend a priest accused of child abuse – the first legally recorded case of its kind.

His client was Father Gilbert Gauthe, and he was accused of abusing dozens of children in Henry, a rural, deeply devout Catholic community. The church was already paying out millions to families who signed confidentiality clauses. But one family, the Gastals, whose son Scott was abused by Gauthe, refused to stay silent, and instead urged the local district attorney to file 37 criminal charges against the clergyman. “The priest needed his own counsel in the criminal matter and also in the civil cases where he was a lead defendant,” says Mouton. Despite death threats and the nature of the crimes, Mouton accepted the case.

“I believed this priest was a sole, aberrant individual and that there could not possibly be other men of the cloth who serially sexually abused children,” he explains. “I believed then that this priest should receive a fair sentence – 20 years in a facility where he could be treated for his condition, a time sufficient to allow his youngest victims to grow to be about 30 years old prior to his release. And I believed no one in the diocese could have known about these horrendous crimes without having reported them to the police and removing this man from the priesthood.”

At the time, Mouton didn’t think the priest’s employers – the church – could be held responsible for the criminal actions of someone they’d hired. He soon changed his mind: “I would come to believe that not only is a priest who abuses a child acting out of pathology, but a bishop covering up such heinous crimes is afflicted with a deeper, darker pathology that poses as great a threat, or even a greater threat, to society – for it was the bishops and the Vatican that empowered and enabled these criminals … to avoid scandal to the church.”

Gauthe pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment. The Gastal family were awarded $1.2m (£790,000) in damages. Mouton recalls: “This was the turning point … that verdict was reported prominently in media [and] was … heard in every plaintiff law office in the United States.”

While defending Gauthe, Mouton found out that the church had in fact known about his crimes since seminary and had moved him around parishes. He had also seen evidence that convinced him that there were other abusing priests across the US. When the case ended, he could have walked away. Instead, he decided to try to help the church get out of the mess it was in. He joined forces with Father Tom Doyle, who was the canon lawyer in the papal nunciature and Vatican embassy in Washington DC, and Father Michael Peterson, a priest-psychiatrist who treated sexually dysfunctional priests.

The three hatched a plan to pool their knowledge in the form of a “manual”, which would warn the church about the danger to children – and to the institution itself – posed by sexual abusers, and offer advice about what should be done.

Mouton says the report’s authors believed they had the support of senior US Roman Catholic figures. “My understanding is that both Doyle and Peterson were having ongoing discussions with men in prominent positions, including Cardinal Law, who verbally supported us drafting this document. The bishop charged with monitoring the crisis and reporting to the pope’s personal representative in the US, Bishop A James Quinn, was also supportive.

“The document was to be presented to an upcoming conference of all bishops in the US with the hope that they would adopt its provisions.”

The result of their labour was a 92-page document. They explained that priests were being accused of abuse on a wide scale and that many were probably guilty. They examined definitions of paedophilia and how it related to the priesthood. The issues were complex, they said, and needed addressing urgently. And while the church’s position was in danger, they urged the hierarchy to do its utmost to protect the vulnerable victims of the clerics’ abuse.

A secret meeting was called at a Chicago hotel in May 1985 to discuss what was now known as The Manual. A low-level auxiliary bishop from Los Angeles attended, called William Levada. Mouton recalls: “The meeting seemingly went well. Bishop Levada vetted every word of the document and seemed to be in full support of [it] being presented to the full conference of bishops. Shortly thereafter, Bishop Levada telephoned Doyle and advised him basically to ‘kill’ our document because the conference had a plan of their own and would form a committee to deal with the issue. “After the conference concluded, it was announced to the media that a committee had been formed to deal with clergy abuse. This turned out to be just another lie, for no committee was formed in the conference until the 90s.”

According to a New York Times report on 20 June 1985 – some weeks after The Manual was privately copied and distributed to scores of bishops by the two priests and Mouton – the Rev Kenneth Doyle, a spokesman for the US Catholic conference in Washington, stated: “We don’t want to give the impression that it’s [sexual abuse cases by priests like Gauthe] a rampant problem for the church, because it is not.”

Statements made by Levada in a legal deposition during an abuse case in California in 2004 record him saying that Mouton’s report didn’t stick in his memory despite its explosive contents: “It’s a long time, and it would be difficult for me to say that I recall having seen it before … I maybe have seen it before, but I don’t recall it now.” He also said he was at the meeting as a “listener” with a brief to report back to Law. He said he didn’t recall whether he told Mouton, Doyle and Peterson if their report and its distribution was “a good idea or not”.

This week, in a statement to the New York Times, Levada said: “As I look back on my own personal history as a priest and bishop, I can say that in 1980 I had never heard of any accusation of such sexual abuse by a priest. It was only in 1985, as an auxiliary bishop attending a meeting of our US bishops’ conference … that I became aware of some of the issues.” The conference the cardinal refers to was in June 1985 – a month after the hotel meeting.

n his traditional Christmas address yesterday to cardinals and officials working in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI also claimed that child pornography was increasingly considered “normal” by society. “In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorised as something fully in conformity with man and even with children,” the Pope said. “It was maintained — even within the realm of Catholic theology — that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a ‘better than' and a ‘worse than'. Nothing is good or bad in itself.”

n his traditional Christmas address yesterday to cardinals and officials working in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI also claimed that child pornography was increasingly considered “normal” by society.
“In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorised as something fully in conformity with man and even with children,” the Pope said.
“It was maintained — even within the realm of Catholic theology — that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a ‘better than’ and a ‘worse than’. Nothing is good or bad in itself.”

In retrospect, Mouton wonders about Levada’s attendance: “Prior to being an auxiliary bishop in Los Angeles, Levada worked in the Vatican in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and from 1981 to early 1983 he worked directly under Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was prefect. The trajectory of Levada’s career [since the hotel meeting] was meteoric. In July of 1986 he was made archbishop of Portland, a diocese that mishandled the clergy abuse crisis. Levada was further promoted in August 1995 to archbishop of San Francisco, where he was criticised for his actions in regard to clergy abuse.

“Shortly after Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI, he appointed Archbishop Levada as prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, and Levada was elevated to cardinal. Thus, [he] is now the person charged with full responsibility for all matters relating to clergy abuse.

“Was Levada the eyes and ears of Ratzinger in that meeting? I only know that he worked with and for Ratzinger and obviously remained close to him for 24 years, and [he] possesses a quality I believe Joseph Ratzinger values above all others: loyalty to Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI. ”

Levada has come in for criticism of his handling of so-called “mega-suits” in California and, later, in Portland, Oregon, where his archdiocese filed for bankruptcy after claims running in excess of $50m were settled. In May 2000, Levada authorised a payout of $750,000 to a man who had been sexually assaulted by a priest. The priest who witnessed and reported the offence, Father John Conley, sued for defamation after his church accused him of being unstable and negligent. Just before the case went to trial, Levada authorised a secret deal to “prefund” Conley’s retirement and thus silence him.

In June 2002, in a speech to US bishops in Dallas, Levada called on clerics to ask whether they’d done all they could to crack down on abusers. By the end of the year he was advising Pope John Paul II to develop his so-called “zero-tolerance” policy on the issue. Mouton reflects: “There is no question … that had the bishops around the world, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Pope John Paul II adhered to our advice thousands of priests would have been removed from the ministry and turned over to police authorities, and an inestimable number of children would have grown normally through childhood with God’s greatest gift, innocence, intact.”