Category Archives: Father Marcial Maciel-Degollado
Cardinal: John Paul approved of cover-up
by Rod Dreher
From the Link: Cardinal: John Paul approved of cover-up
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
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.
The strange disconnect between Pope Francis’ words and actions about sex abuse
By Oct. 1, 2015|
On his tour of the United States, Pope Francis has forcefully reminded the world about the importance of looking after the planet and the perils of climate change. His criticisms of the world economic system and the plight of the poor are timely and welcome. There is very little that Pope Francis can personally do about either of these things except to do what he has done — warn and exhort.
But there is one thing that he can personally do about child sexual abuse, and that is to change canon law by abolishing the pontifical secret over allegations of the sexual abuse of children by clergy and religious.
In an address to bishops in Philadelphia, Pope Francis said:
“The crimes and sins of sexual abuse of minors cannot be kept secret any longer. I commit myself to the zealous watchfulness of the church to protect minors, and I promise that all those responsible will be held accountable.”
The maintenance of secrecy for these crimes is imposed by Article 25 of Pope John Paul II’s motu proprio, Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela of 2001 and by Article 30 of its revision by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, which impose the pontifical secret on all allegations and proceedings relating to child sexual abuse by clerics. The footnotes to Article 25 and Article 30 apply Article 1(4) of Pope Paul VI’s instruction, Secreta Continere, which defines the pontifical secret as the church’s highest form of secrecy, and like the secret of the confessional, is a permanent silence. Since becoming pope two and a half years ago, Pope Francis has made no attempt to change this maintenance of secrecy, the very thing he condemned in Philadelphia.
Like Pope Benedict XVI in his 2010 pastoral letter to the people of Ireland, Pope Francis ignored the role of canon law in the cover up, and said, “I deeply regret that some bishops failed in their responsibility to protect children.” There was not a word about the fact that in most cases such bishops were complying with the pontifical secret under canon law, and its requirement to try and cure the priest before any attempt was made to dismiss him.
A dispensation to allow reporting to the police where the civil law requires it was granted by the Holy See to the United States in 2002 and to the rest of the world in 2010, but where there are no such civil laws, the pontifical secret still applies. Very few countries have comprehensive reporting laws.
Francis is the Bishop of Rome, but his own Italian Bishops Conference, of which he is the primate, announced in 2014 that Italian bishops would not be reporting these crimes to the police because Italian civil law under the 1929 Lateran Treaty with the dictator, Mussolini, did not require them to do so.
On Jan. 31, 2014, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child requested the Holy See to abolish the pontifical secret over allegations of child sexual abuse by clergy and to impose mandatory reporting. On May 22, 2014, the United Nations Committee against Torture requested the same thing.
On Sept. 26, 2014, The Vatican responded and rejected these requests, stating that mandatory reporting under canon law would interfere with the sovereignty of independent nations. If that were true, the church should not even have a canon law that applies to Catholics all over the world. Canon law only interferes with such sovereignty when it requires Catholics to disobey the civil law. Where there is no conflict between canon and civil law, canon law has no more effect on a nation’s sovereignty than the rules of golf. Mandatory reporting under canon law would only interfere with national sovereignty if the civil law of a country prohibited the reporting of child sexual abuse by clergy. No such country exists.
On March 19, 2014, Pope Francis said that Pope Benedict had supported “zero tolerance” for clergy who sexually abused children. On May 26, 2014, he pledged to apply the same “zero tolerance” standard. But the figures produced by the Holy See’s representative at the United Nations, Archbishop Tomasi, show that the Holy See’s tolerance is not zero but 66 percent. Less than one third of all priests against whom credible allegations of sexual abuse of children have been made have been dismissed.
In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI dismissed Fr. Mauro Inzoli, who was accused of abusing dozens of children over a 10-year period. In 2014, Pope Francis reinstated him and required him to live a life of “prayer and penance”, the same punishment that Pope Benedict XVI handed out to the notorious Fr. Marcial Maciel. When Italian Magistrates asked the Vatican to have access to the evidence submitted to Inzoli’s canonical trial, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith refused, stating, “The procedures of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are of a canonical nature and, as such, are not an object for the exchange of information with civil magistrates.” Pope Francis himself maintains the secrecy that this week he condemned.
In matters of child sexual abuse, Pope Francis has no constitution, no Congress, no Senate and no Supreme Court that could restrain him from changing canon law. He has no obligation even to consult anyone. He is the last of the absolute monarchs.
He can take out his pen at breakfast, and write on his napkin an instruction to abolish the pontifical secret in cases of child sexual abuse and to order mandatory reporting everywhere. He can instruct it to be translated into Latin and to have it published on the Acta Apostolicae Sedis. It then becomes canon law.
On Jan. 21, 2014, after the United Nations hearings, Thomas C. Fox, the publisher of this paper, wrote that Pope Francis “does not understand the full magnitude of the related sex abuse issues, or, if he does, is yet unwilling or incapable of responding to it.”
One can only hope that Pope Francis means what he says in his address in Philadelphia, but up to the present time, there is a strange disconnect between what he says and what he, personally, has done. Cardinal Francis George wrote in an article in 2003 that if you want to change a damaging culture, you first have to change the laws which embody it. The buck for maintaining secrecy over the sexual abuse of children within the church truly stops with Pope Francis.
[Kieran Tapsell is the author of Potiphar’s Wife: The Vatican Secret and Child Sexual Abuse (ATF Press 2014).]
ISSUED ‘MOTU PROPRIO’
SACRAMENTORUM SANCTITATIS TUTELA
OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
JOHN PAUL II
BY WHICH ARE PROMULGATED
NORMS ON MORE GRAVE DELICTS
RESERVED TO THE CONGREGATION
FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH*
The Safeguarding of the Sanctity of the Sacraments, especially the Most Holy Eucharist and Penance, and the keeping of the faithful, called to communion with the Lord, in their observance of the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, demand that the Church itself, in her pastoral solicitude, intervene to avert dangers of violation, so as to provide for the salvation of souls “which must always be the supreme law in the Church” (CIC, can. 1752).
Indeed, Our Predecessors already provided for the sanctity of the sacraments, especially penance, through appropriate Apostolic Constitutions such as the Constitution Sacramentum Poenitentiae, of Pope Benedict XIV, issued June 1, 1741;1 the same goal was likewise pursued by a number of canons of the Codex Iuris Canonici, promulgated in 1917 with their fontes by which canonical sanctions had been established against delicts of this kind.2
In more recent times, in order to avert these and connected delicts, the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, through the Instruction Crimen sollicitationis, addressed to all Patriarchs, Archbishops, Bishops, and other local Ordinaries “even of the Oriental Rite” on March 16, 1962, established a manner of proceeding in such cases, inasmuch as judicial competence had been attributed exclusively to it, which competence could be exercised either administratively or through a judicial process. It is to be kept in mind that an Instruction of this kind had the force of law since the Supreme Pontiff, according to the norm of can. 247, §1 of the Codex Iuris Canonici promulgated in 1917, presided over the Congregation of the Holy Office, and the Instruction proceeded from his own authority, with the Cardinal at the time only performing the function of Secretary.
The Supreme Pontiff, Pope Paul VI, of happy memory, by the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, Regimini Ecclesiae Universae, issued on August 15, 1967,3 confirmed the Congregation’s judicial and administrative competence in proceeding “according to its amended and approved norms.”
Finally, by the authority with which we are invested, in the Apostolic Constitution, Pastor Bonus, promulgated on June 28, 1988, we expressly established, “[The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith] examines delicts against the faith and more grave delicts whether against morals or committed in the celebration of the sacraments, which have been referred to it and, whenever necessary, proceeds to declare or impose canonical sanctions according to the norm of both common or proper law,”4 thereby further confirming and determining the judicial competence of the same Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as an Apostolic Tribunal.
After we had approved the Agendi ratio in doctrinarum examine,5 it was necessary to define more precisely both “the more grave delicts whether against morals or committed in the celebration of the sacraments” for which the competence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith remains exclusive, and also the special procedural norms “for declaring or imposing canonical sanctions.”
With this apostolic letter, issued motu proprio, we have completed this work and we hereby promulgate the Norms concerning the more grave delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which Norms are divided in two distinct parts, of which the first contains Substantive Norms, and the second Procedural Norms. We therefore enjoin all those concerned to observe them diligently and faithfully. These Norms take effect on the very day when they are promulgated.
All things to the contrary, even those worthy of special mention, notwithstanding.
Give in Rome at St. Peter’s on April 30, 2001, the memorial of Pope St. Pius V, in the twenty-third year of Our Pontificate.
POPE JOHN PAUL II
* This unofficial translation is based on a translation of the motu proprio by the USCCB and revised by Joseph R. Punderson and Charles J. Scicluna. The translations of the canons of the CIC and the CCEO are from the translations published by the Canon Law Society of America in 1999 and 2001 respectively.
1. Benedict XIV, Constitution Sacramentum Pœnitentiae, June 1, 1741, in Codex Iuris Canonici, prepared at the order of Pius X, Supreme Pontiff, promulgated by the authority of Pope Benedict XV, Documenta, Document V in AAS 9 (1917), Part II, 505-508.
2. Cf. Codex Iuris Canonici anno 1917 promulgatus, cann. 817; 2316; 2320; 2322; 2368, §1; 2369, §1.
3. Cf. Pope Paul VI, Apostolic Constitution Regimini Ecclesiae Universae, On the Roman Curia, August 15, 1967, n. 36, AAS 59 (1967), p. 898.
4. Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Pastor bonus, On the Roman Curia, June 28, 1988, art. 52, in AAS 89 (1988), p. 874.
5. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Agendi ratio in doctrinarum examine, June 29, 1997, in AAS 89 (1997), pp. 830-835.
© Copyright 2001 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana
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
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.
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 Francis Defies UN on Torturing Children
Jun 07, 2015 4:55am PDT by
The UN Committee against Torture “found that the widespread sexual violence within the Catholic Church amounted to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.” After Vatican officials were called to Geneva in May 2014 to respond to tough questions like why the pope believed his responsibility for protecting children against torture only applied on Vatican property, the committee issued its report.
The members “ordered the Vatican to hand over files containing details of clerical sexual abuse allegations to police forces around the world, … to use its authority over the Roman Catholic Church worldwide to ensure all allegations of clerical abuse are passed on to the secular authorities and to impose ‘meaningful sanctions’ on any Church officials who fail to do so.” With the exception of a couple of staged PR events, the pope has refused to take any of these measures.
The Vatican had issued an “Initial Report” preparatory to the hearing. “Nowhere in the Holy See’s [the name of the Church’s global government] Initial Report under the Convention does it make any mention of the widespread and systemic rape and sexual violence committed by Catholic clergy against hundreds of thousands of children and vulnerable adults around the world. There is no mention of acts that have resulted in an astonishing and incalculable amount of harm around the world – profound and lasting physical and mental suffering – with little to no accountability and access to redress … [T]he Vatican has consistently minimized the harm caused by the actions of the clergy, through both the direct acts of sexual violence and Church officials’ actions which follow, such as cover-ups and victim-blaming. … The Holy See’s Initial Report to this Committee is itself evidence of the minimization of these offenses and the resulting harm.”
The Committee against Torture report came “after senior officials sought to distance the Vatican legally from the wider Church … saying priests were not legally tied to the Vatican but fell under national jurisdictions. But the committee insisted that officials of the Holy See – including the pope’s representatives around the world and their aides – have a responsibility to monitor the behavior of all under their ‘effective control.’”
The committee also urged a “prompt and impartial” investigation in the case of Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, the pope’s nuncio (ambassador) to the Dominican Republic.
Wesolowski solicited sex for money from Santo Domingo’s poorest boys. “We learned from the children that Wesolowski took pictures of them while they were masturbating. Oral sex was performed,” Nuria Piera, an investigative journalist in the Dominican Republic, said. “He abused that poverty and used that mechanism to approach children and take advantage of them for years,” according to Yeni Berenice Reynoso, National District prosecutor.
A dossier accusing Wesolowski of sex abuse of minors was sent to Pope Francis “sometime in July” 2013 by Santo Domingo Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez. The pope found the information credible enough to dismiss Wesolowski on August 21 via confidential letter. But the pope never reported Wesolowski to civil authorities nor made the information public.
All prelates should make credible allegations public as a warning to avoid contact with the accused. Also, any other victims should be encouraged to contact a law enforcement agency perhaps making the investigation easier, apprehension and prosecution more certain. The group, Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), defines failure to take these steps as a “cover up.”
Wesolowski left the country before a local TV program broadcast an exposé on August 31. It was reported in January 2014 that Wesolowski “is now thought to be living in Rome and is protected from extradition by diplomatic immunity.” “For me it was a surprise to see Wesolowski walking along Via della Scrofa in Rome,” Santo Domingo Auxiliary Bishop Víctor Masalles tweeted on June 24, 2014.
Embarrassed, the Vatican announced on June 27 that Wesolowski had been laicized (defrocked) “in the past few days … Measures will be taken so he is in a precise restricted location, without any freedom of movement,” said Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, without specifying how this would be accomplished. The press reported this as proof of the pope’s “zero tolerance” for child sex abuse.
Defrocking means a cleric is fired without being reported to the police. The most serious punishment available to the pope is excommunication. Pope Francis excommunicated an Australian priest for supporting women’s ordination and same sex marriage. He also excommunicated the leaders of the lay group, We Are Church, for celebrating mass in their home.
The New York Times had an article about Wesolowski on its August 24, 2014, front page including statements that Dominican officials would prosecute him if it were not for the former ambassador’s diplomatic immunity. The next morning Lombardi made an announcement that Wesolowski did not have immunity and could be extradited by the Dominican Republic. Dominican officials, however, had expressed regret for the past year that “there’s no extradition treaty between the Vatican and the Dominican Republic. … The ideal thing would’ve been and our desire is that he be tried here, but the law forbids us.”
On September 25, Lombardi said Wesolowski had been put under house arrest inside the Vatican City State “because the Polish prelate represented a flight risk and because Vatican prosecutors feared he might tamper with evidence.”
The next day, the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Serra reported that Wesolowski was arrested by order of the pope because “there was a serious risk that the nuncio would be arrested on Italian territory at the request of the Dominican authorities and then extradited.” Wesolowski had more than 100,000 computer files of pornography. “Some were downloaded from the internet and others the victims themselves were forced to take. The prelate stored part of this chamber of horrors on his own laptop. The material, which is classified by type, shows dozens of young girls engaged in sexual activities but the preference is for males. Images show youngsters aged between 13 and 17 being humiliated for the camera, filmed naked and forced to have sexual relations with each other or with adults. … Wesolowski is suspected of belonging to an international network that extends well beyond what has emerged so far.”
Pope Francis allowed his prelate 15 months freedom to commit crimes involving child pornography which sometimes involves their tortuous death – something to think about the next time the pope speaks out against the sex trafficking of children.
November 22, 2014: Wesolowski was seen “walking quietly inside the Vatican City…in apparent freedom” and is presumed to still live there under house arrest.
After almost two years, Wesolowski’s trial has not yet begun.
The Pope’s Enduring Contempt for Children
People who have been sexually abused as children live shorter lives than those who have not been abused according to expert testimony. They have a life expectancy about 10 to 20 years shorter than those who have not.
• Trauma produced both physical and psychological damage, affecting children’s development, including their personalities and sense of self.
• Children’s brains and immune systems were also affected, making them more prone to a range of auto-immune diseases.
• They also often have unhealthy lifestyles so they’re prone to substance abuse and poverty and unemployment.
• There was also a strong link between child abuse and suicide, which could be influenced by a variety of factors including depression and substance abuse, which exacerbated negative thoughts.
As archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio “refused to meet with victims, and he stayed largely silent on the issue of clergy sex abuse, except to issue a surprising denial that he had ever handled an abusive priest. His only known action was to commission a behind-the-scenes report to judges that sought exoneration of a criminally convicted priest by impugning the credibility of the priest’s victims.” BishopAccoutability.org, a group dedicated to documenting the Catholic sex abuse crisis, showed Bergoglio’s involvement in five specific cases.
One month to the day after his election, Pope Francis appointed a group of cardinals, now referred to as his “C9”, to be his closest advisors.
Cardinal George Pell had been making headlines in Australia for decades regarding the sex abuse scandal. When asked what he thought was the root cause, Pell replied, “it’s obviously connected with the problem of homosexuality.” As archbishop and creator of the “Melbourne Response,” a system “designed to control the victims and protect the Church … Pell intended to minimize the crimes, conceal the truth, manipulate and intimidate the victims. … Some relatives of abused children have called the cardinal a ‘sociopath.’”
The John Ellis case “was all about deterrence.” Ellis sued Pell and the trustees of the Sydney archdiocese in 2006 over abuse he suffered as an altar boy. Pell spent more than $1m fighting Ellis despite him asking for just a tenth of that amount in settlement, put him through “distressing and unnecessary cross-examination” and threatened him with legal costs. Pell’s “Ellis Defense” is “an exemplar of litigation going wrong, causing further trauma for a victim of abuse.”
Pell personally knows hundreds of the people involved – the victims and their families as well as the abusers. … He was a very senior authority in the Catholic Church when the court cases began in the 1990s and the top Catholic figure in Australia until he went to Rome. … [H]e was the leader of a system that protected the guilty and failed innocent people. … [H]e was the man in charge during many years of this scandal. Therefore, he can be held accountable and responsible for it.”
Pope Francis also chose Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa as a close adviser. Errazuriz had made national headlines for protecting Fr. Fernando Karadima, the “worst scandal” of the Chilean Church. “Power is the true point of the case. The [sexual abuses against children] were not possible without a network of political, social and religious power working for 50 years,” stated political analyst Ascanio Cavallo, Dean of the Journalism School of the Adolfo Ibáñez University.Church officials were warned as early as 1984 about Karadima’s “improper conduct.” The first known reports to reach Errazuriz were in 2003. In 2006, a priest appointed by Errázuriz to investigate the claims reported to the cardinal that he believed “the accusers to be credible.”
According to court testimony in a 2011 civil complaint filed against Karadima, Church officials, including Errázuriz, tried to shame accusers into dropping claims, refused to meet with them and failed to carry out formal investigations for years. A judge dismissed the criminal case against Karadima in November 2011 because the statute of limitations had expired but also determined that the allegations were “truthful and reliable.”
When Pope Francis, who during the above period was cardinal primate of the neighboring Argentina, appointed Errázuriz to his C9, one of the claimants called it “a shame and a disgrace.” On September 15, 2013, Errázuriz said that the archdiocese had no responsibility for their “tremendous pain.”
On July 1, 2013, the United Nation’s Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) sent a request to the pope for “detailed information on all cases of child sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy, brothers or nun” for the past fifteen years and set November 1 as a deadline for a reply. The questions were sent as preparation for a public hearing scheduled for January.
As one of the signatories to the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Church was fifteen years late in delivering a report describing whether it had acted to “protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence” as the convention requires. Additionally, the questionnaire sought to establish whether “perpetrators of sexual crimes” were allowed to remain in contact with children, what legal action was taken against them and whether reporting of suspected abuse was mandatory. It also included queries about support for victims, and any incidents where complainants were silenced.
By issuing its questions, the Geneva-based CRC brushed aside a Vatican warning that it might pull out of the Convention on the Rights of the Child if pushed too hard on the issue. In a report of its own posted on the UN website last October, the Holy See reminded the CRC of reservations on legal jurisdiction and other issues it made when it signed the global pact. It said any new “interpretation” would give it grounds “for terminating or withdrawing” from the treaty.
Within weeks of his election, Pope Francis had ordered that the Vatican “continue along the lines set by Benedict XVI” in handling torturing children. But on July 11, 2013, the pontiff enacted a civil law criminalizing leaks of Vatican information to the press and sexual violence against children, including child pornography. The crimes were punishable by up to eight and twelve years in prison, respectively. The law was applicable inside the Vatican City State and for employees of the Holy See in its extraterritorial properties including embassies. In hindsight, one could question if the pope was preparing for a Vatican civil trial against Wesolowski as justification to keep him out of a foreign prison.The November 1 deadline for a response to the CRC came and went.
Pope Francis responded to the CRC on December 4 by stating that it was not the practice of his government to “disclose information on specific cases unless requested to do so by another country as part of legal proceedings” and “that the Vatican can provide information only about known and alleged child sex crimes that have happened on Vatican property.”
A rarity, Francis’ response was criticized. The next day, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley stated that the pope would create a special Commission for the Protection of Minors with no authority other than to advise him on ways to address the subject.
On January 16, 2014, the day the CRC hearings were to begin in Geneva, Pope Francis again showed his contempt for his Church’s victims by concelebrating mass, followed by a private meeting, with Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles. The Washington Post (among others) had condemned Mahony for protecting known abusers, stating he’s “lucky not to be in prison” and that “his continued prominence reflects the culture of impunity in the Catholic Church a decade after its tolerance and complicity in the abuse of children was exposed.” After his private meeting with the pope, Mahony blogged “the topic of scandal never came up.”
The same day, Lombardi said the Church had developed “a series of initiatives and directives” that are “extremely helpful” to other communities. He also criticized the assumption that bishops or religious superiors act “as representatives or delegates of the Pope.” He said this belief is “utterly without foundation.” Rather, civil authorities in countries that have signed the UN convention are directly responsible for its implementation and for the enforcement of laws that protect children.
The UN panel asked Vatican representatives for responses to the questions they had sent in July. While the American media trumpeted a statement made by one of the Vatican officials that he “gets it,” the foreign press was not as fawning:
Germany’s Deutsche Welle: Vatican response ‘fails smell test for ordinary people’
Venezuela’s El Nacional: The Vatican at the UN today dodged providing detailed information on issues relating to sexual abuse of minors by clergy in a rhetorical exercise in which it attempts to demonstrate determination to prevent new offenses.
Spain’s El Pais: The Vatican still does not take responsibility for sexual abuse
BishopAccountability.org noted five significant moments of the hearing:
• For the first time, the Vatican had to admit publicly that it still does not require the reporting of child sex crimes to civil authorities. Nor does it take this step when priests are defrocked.
• The Holy See still refused to provide the data requested on July 1.
• The Vatican believes that it is the obligation of the individual perpetrator, not the Church, to compensate victims.
• Religious orders, which comprise one third to one half of the world’s Catholic clerics, still are not being compelled by the Holy See to create abuse policies. (Pope Benedict XVI ordered the world’s bishops to do this in 2011. The order was widely ignored, even by the cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio.)
Vatican delegate to the UN, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, responded in an interview: “At the same time we have to keep in mind that even though there are so many millions, forty million cases of abuse a year regarding children, unfortunately some cases affect also Church personnel.” Tomasi also suggested that the UN committee may have been influenced by “Some NGOs that support homosexuality, same-sex marriage and other issues probably presented their own views and ended up reinforcing [the committee’s] line of thought in some way.”
On March 5, 2014, Pope Francis stated that, as regards the sexual torture of children, “The statistics on the phenomenon of violence against children are shocking, but they also show clearly that the great majority of the abuses come from the family environment and from people who are close. The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution that moved with transparency and responsibility. No one else did as much. And yet, the Church is the only one being attacked.”
Some negative press coverage ensued. So on March 7, Lombardi sent an email to the Associated Press reminding the media that the sex abuse commission remained a priority for the pope.
Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the National Secular Society, praised the work of both UN committees. “We do not share any enthusiasm, however, for the Vatican’s defrocking of thousands of abusing clerics resulting in them being released into the labor market without being subjected to secular justice, and the resultant criminal record. This will almost certainly put other children at risk from former priests reoffending.”
The United Nations Committees on the Rights of the Child and on Torture, requested the Holy See to abolish the pontifical secret for allegations of child sexual abuse, and to order through canon law mandatory reporting to the civil authority. In September 2014, Pope Francis rejected that request on the grounds that mandatory reporting would interfere with the sovereignty of independent States. Mandatory reporting would only interfere with such sovereignty if a State law prohibited reporting of clergy sex abuse of children to the police. No such State exists. But the Vatican … illustrates its very real intention to interfere in the sovereignty of independent States by prohibiting reporting once canonical proceedings start, even when the civil law requires reporting. …
The de facto privilege of clergy by the use of secrecy, rendering clergy immune to civil prosecution for child sex abuse, was set up in 1922 by Pope Pius XI, and was continued and expanded by five of his successors. Regrettably, it seems that Pope Francis gives every indication of adding himself to the list as the seventh pope.
Barros and FinnIn January 2015, the pope appointed Juan Barros Madrid, formerly Military Bishop of Chile, as bishop of Osorno, Chile. Within a month, 1,300 lay Catholics, nearly half of Chile’s Parliament and thirty priests in the diocese signed a letter demanding that the pope rescind the appointment. Victims of Karadima said Barros was present when they were molested, did nothing to stop him and later covered up for Karadima.
“’Put your head on my chest. Take the little tongue,’ said Karadima. Thus began a long journey of torture and suffering for Juan Carlos Cruz Chellew … He denounced the ‘hypocrisy and simulation of Pope Francis’ on the ‘zero tolerance’ for pedophile priests: ‘The pope says good things, but does the opposite for victims to have access to civil justice. We are re-victimized while he rewards the abusers and abettors naming them cardinals and bishops.’”
The pope’s nuncio to Chile expressed support for Barros. President of the bishops’ conference, Cardinal Ezzati, said that “the Holy Father has chosen a pastor for the Church of Osorno and we, as Catholics, are in communion with the pope.”
Barros was installed as bishop on March 21 “amid riot police and shouting protesters … hundreds of churchgoers dressed in the black of mourning denounced Barros.” Since then, Barros “has had to sneak out of back exits, call on riot police to shepherd him from the city’s cathedral and coordinate movements with bodyguards and police canine units.”
In an interview published March 26, the Archbishop of Concepcion disclosed the details of a meeting he had with Pope Francis on March 6. “Archbishop Chomali explained that he gave Pope Francis a ‘document with detailed information on the consequences of the appointment he had made. All the documentation that I cited came to him, whether through the nunciature or the Chilean embassy to the Holy See. He was very much up to date on Bishop Barros’ situation, and in fact a few days prior he had spoken with him. With firmness and much conviction he told me that he had analyzed all the past records and that there was no objective reason that Bishop Barros should not be installed as diocesan bishop.’”
“Pope Francis has to withdraw this appointment or I and others may find it impossible to stay on the commission,” said Peter Saunders who was sexually abused as a child in London by two Catholic priests and the headmaster of his Catholic primary school and is a member of pope’s Commission for the Protection of Minors.
Saunders threat was published on March 27, two days before Palm Sunday when the Church begins a series of special liturgies culminating on Easter. If carried out, it would have been a PR disaster for the pope.
Cardinal O’Malley met with members of the commission the week after Easter – April 12. Bishop Joseph Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., found guilty in 2012 of failure to report suspected child abuse, was called to Rome for an April 14 meeting with Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
A priest under Finn’s supervision was sentenced to fifty years in prison for producing hundreds of pornographic photos, using his own parishioners as victims, some under the age of three. And for years prior, Finn not only refused to look into or even acknowledge any of the many complaints about this priest’s behavior, some of which came directly from the principal of the school that most of the victims attended, he also stonewalled once the child porn came to light, failed to inform or warn any of the families of the victims, gave the priest continued access to children, was complicit in the destruction of evidence, spent $1.4 million of diocesan money defending himself against two misdemeanor charges in court, only alerted the police when forced to, and, in short, put children at risk and failed to get the offending priest any serious help or counseling.
“Even if Finn is removed, that’s no tremendous sign of progress because there are literally hundreds of Catholic officials around the world still on the job, who have done what Finn did,” SNAP director, David Clohessy, had said earlier.Finn’s resignation was announced April 21. Although this occurred 30 months after Finn’s conviction, 25 months into this pontificate and Finn remains a bishop still carrying out his episcopal functions, members of the commission and the media were appeased about Barros’ promotion.
Pell and Barros
Before Pope Francis chose him to be one of his closest advisers and promoted him as head of Vatican finance, Cardinal George Pell had made national headlines during the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse hearings which covered Pell’s response as archbishop of Melbourne and then Sydney. In February 2015, the Royal Commission – the highest form of investigation in Australia – found that Pell placed the Church’s financial interests above his obligation to victims of childhood sexual abuse as part of an aggressive legal strategy to protect the assets of the Sydney archdiocese.
Currently, the Royal Commission is holding hearings about what transpired in Ballarat where Pell had been ordained and served until 1987. “Scores of children were abused by Catholic clergy from the 1960s to the 1980s. Many victims in Ballarat and elsewhere in Victoria state committed suicide, in one of the worst clusters of clerical abuse trauma in the world.”
• Timothy Green said when he was 12 or 13 he told Pell in 1974 that Brother Edward Dowlan was abusing boys at St Patrick’s College. “Father Pell said `don’t be ridiculous’ and walked out.”
• A victim said another priest walked in while Fr. Gerald Ridsdale was raping her at the Ballarat East presbytery and did nothing. Ridsdale says he doesn’t know who the priest was. Pell and one other priest lived in the same house with Ridsdale at the time.
• Pell was at a 1982 meeting of the College of Consultors which discussed moving Ridsdale from the Mortlake parish, but he says no claims of abuse were raised at the meeting. Ridsdale was convicted of more than 140 offenses of child sexual abuse and indecent assault charges against children as young as four years old between 1993 and 2013.
• David Ridsdale accused Pell of trying to bribe him in 1993 after being abused by his uncle, Fr. Ridsdale. Pell allegedly asked him: “I want to know what it will take to keep you quiet.”
More than 55,000 people signed a petition last month addressed to Pope Francis calling for Pell to return to Australia to answer questions from the Royal Commission concerning these current allegations.
Peter Saunders, speaking on Australia’s “60 Minutes” program on Sunday, May 31, said of Pell: “He has a catalog of denigrating people, of acting with callousness, cold-heartedness, almost sociopathic I would go as far as to say, this lack of care. He is making a mockery of the papal commission (into child abuse), of the pope himself, but most of all of the victims and the survivors.” He thought that Pell should be dismissed.
Before the program had even aired (after the network released promotional material), Pell issued statements calling Saunders’s comments “false”, “misleading” and “outrageous”, and said he would consult legal advisers. On Monday, Lombardi said that “Mr. Saunders spoke for himself and not for the commission which does not investigate or judge individual cases.” Australia’s Catholic archbishops made a statement that Pell is a man of integrity.
Meanwhile, “retired Bishop Juan Luis Ysem of Ancud has called on Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno to resign before he is asked to leave by Pope Francis.”
So, again it looks like a prelate will “resign” (this time Barros) and will members of the sex abuse commission and the press be appeased about the current allegations against Pell?
If you’re not feeling mollified and want to help, you can donate to the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) or BishopAccountability.org which operates the Abuse Tracker website from which most of the above information was obtained.
(Betty Clermont is author of The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America (Clarity Press, 2009))
The UN Committees found child sexual offenders were still in contact with children, Church officials were not cooperating with law enforcement authorities, the pope’s representatives and their aides were not monitoring the behavior of those under their “effective control” and that there was no accountability for hierarchs.
Given that sexual assault is one of the most under reported crimes, “with 68% still being left unreported,” and that it can take 20, 30, even 40 years for victims to fully recall the details of these excruciating crimes, consider the following information to be only a sampling of what is currently still taking place in the Catholic Church.
Failing to protect children
Similar to Wesolowski, Pope Francis dismissed Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Miranda Melgarejo of Ayacucho, Peru, via letter in May 2013 without notifying the public or the police. On August 21, 2013, a Spanish lawyer wrote in his blog that the Vatican “accepted the resignation” of Miranda for “having sex with minors and adults, too” which had been “solicited in confession.” Miranda is still at large.
June 2015: “Prosecutors in Minnesota filed criminal charges against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, accusing church leaders of mishandling repeated complaints of sexual misconduct against a priest and failing to follow through on pledges to protect children and root out pedophile clergymen.”
February 2015: “Philippine Bishop Arturo Mandin Bastes right now is keeping a known abuser, Fr. Arwyn N. Diesta, in ministry.”
February 2015: “Some Catholic religious orders are still failing to adequately protect children against sex abuse 20 years after the scale of the problem became evident [in Ireland] according to a review by the National Board for the Safeguarding of Children in the Catholic Church … In one case, a priest who admitted accessing child porn was still in ministry and was an acting prior with “ambitions to continue or undertake a leadership position within the order”, according to the review.” “Religious orders, which comprise one third to one half of the world’s Catholic clerics, still are not being compelled by the pope to create abuse policies.”
January 2015: Gian Piero Milano, whose official title is Vatican Promoter of Justice, “reported two cases of possession of child pornography within its own walls last year.” A Vatican spokesman said one of them involved Jozef Wesolowski.” So after his arrest, Wesolowski “continued to possess child pornography” while inside the Vatican City State? Who else possessed child pornography inside the Vatican?
Sex offenders moved around
April 2015: A US federal grand jury indicted Rev. Joseph Maurizio accused “on charges pertaining to sex trips to molest boys [in Honduras] as well as three counts of transmitting funds into and out of the US in furtherance of his criminal activity.”
“The priest was arrested Sept. 24, nine days after a raid on the parish rectory and his farmhouse in Paint Township, Pennsylvania.”
February 2015: “A Flemish priest who has been repeatedly accused of sexual abuse for many years has been in charge of an orphanage in Brazil. The Dutch congregation to which John D. belongs to is aware of the allegations, but has so far hardly intervened.”
December 2014: “Alessandro De Rossi, a priest accused of sexual abuse in Salta [Malvinas, Argentina] was arrested in Italy. Since then Salta Justice is in the process of extradition to stand trial in religious local courts … The priest is charged with the crime of ‘aggravated sexual abuse seriously outrageous and corruption of minors.’” De Rossi was a “fidei donum” priest, still attached to his diocese but sent abroad to do missionary work. With the approval of the pope, Don Alessandro was appointed priest in the Roman “parish of celebrities” on December 1, 2013. One Italian parishioner noted, “There were suspicious goings on around kids in the parish.” Another questioned, “Is it possible the Church did not know of his past with the law?” At the time, they were only informed the “de Rossi is back in Rome for health reasons with a positive view of the local bishop.”
November 2014: “Fr. Joseph Jeyapaul who fled to his native India to avoid facing felony criminal sexual conduct charges was just extradited back to Minnesota. He is accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old and 16-year-old girl.” One alleged “that he’d masturbated in front of her, groped her, and forced her to give him oral sex.”
November 2014: “Although he received accusations from two victims of sexual abuse against a Fr. ‘M.D.’, Belgian Bishop Jozef De Kesel did not prevent the priest from going to Brazil where he now works with street children.”
October 2014: Fr. Roger Mount “who was allowed to continue preaching in Papua New Guinea despite being named in child abuse compensation settlements was deported to Australia and is likely to face being extradited from Queensland to Victoria.”
October 2014: “U.S. Marshals are attempting to find a Catholic priest who disappeared after he was accused of molesting a six-year-old Brooklyn girl last June. We found out he has friends and family down here,” said Deputy U.S. Marshal Juan Lara, the agency’s local spokesman.
February 2014: Monsignor Carlos Urrutigoity is now second-in-command of the Diócesis de Ciudad del Este in Paraguay. “A former Diocese of Scranton [Pennsylvania] priest, Urrutigoity was accused more than a decade ago of abusing local children in a federal sexual abuse lawsuit … Bishop Martino carefully and consistently expressed his grave doubts about this cleric’s suitability for priestly ministry … to appropriate Church officials, including Bishop Rogelio Livieres, Bishop of the Diocese of Ciudad del Este, Paraguay; the Apostolic Nuncio to Paraguay; and the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.”
Fail to report abuse charges to proper authority
April 2015: In Kerala, India, Fr. Edwin Figarez had been accused of repeatedly raping a 14-year-old girl between January and March this year, “mostly when she came for confession.” The bishop followed Canon (ecclesial) Law and “suspended Figarez for the time being” but did not turn him over to the police. The mother went to the police. Figarez “remains underground and continues to evade the police.”
April 2015: Nine recent cases are cited by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) where credible allegations of child sex abuse were kept secret from the public by U.S. prelates. “We could cite dozens and dozens of other examples proving that the self-serving secrecy that caused the church’s global abuse and cover up crisis remains in force.
March 2015: “The spokesman for the Polish Catholic Bishops Conference, Fr Jozef Kloch, stated that as a matter of policy Polish bishops would not report allegations of child sex abuse by clergy to the civil authorities. It was up to the victims to report, he said.”
March 2015: Philippine Church “authorities have never turned over a clerical child sex abuser to the civil authorities. Never has a priest sex abuser been convicted. The bishops, who represent the management of the Church, should be held to account for they simply ship off child-abuser priests to dioceses abroad in some cases. When they abuse abroad and are investigated they rush back to a hideout the Philippines.”
January 2015: In a special report profiling a dozen key cases of priests in the Philippines accused of child sex abuse: “These cases are important because they reveal an enduring resistance by Filipino bishops to punishing and exposing offending priests.”
March 2014: The Italian bishops’ conference declared they had no official obligation to report the sexual abuse of children to any legal authorities outside of the Catholic Church with no objection from the pope.
Appeals, Petitions, Letters
June 2015: The Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission demands that the Pope come to Canada to apologize “for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools.” The commission’s report says there has been “a patchwork of apologies or statements of regret” in Canada that few residential school survivors or Church members may even know exist. “It has been disappointing to survivors and others that the Pope has not yet made a clear and emphatic public apology in Canada,” the report says.
January 2015: Two people who say they were sexually abused as teenagers asked Pope Francis via press conference to investigate the way the Diocese of Buffalo handled their complaints.
December 2014: Two Argentine women traveled to Rome to ask Pope Francis for justice in the case of Fr. Héctor Ricardo Giménez who was found saying mass in a hospital chapel in 2013. “We think this man abused hundreds of children,” stated Estefania Gelso. Like the letter they had in January 2014, their trip produced no results.
December 2014: “Three priests have written to Pope Francis seeking an investigation into the Milwaukee archdiocesan bankruptcy. One of their concerns, a controversial move by then-Archbishop Tim Dolan to put $57 million into a cemetery trust fund he admitted was to provide improved protection of these funds from ‘any legal claim and liability.’ The intent of the bankruptcy proceeding for Church officials was ‘to exhaust silence and slander victims as well as to serve as a warning to others,’ the letter asserts.”
December 2014: Leaders of victims in three countries wrote an open letter to Pope Francis asking that he “take concrete action to protect children now.”
They want him to:
-Fire the predators,
-Order all bishops to report suspected sex crimes, open files and turn over evidence to police, and
-Punish bishops and Church officials who knowingly transfer predators and/or shield predators from police.”
July 2014: Open letter that Pope Francis “dismiss Cardinal Norberto Rivera of Mexico City for his clear participation in the cover-up of [Legion of Christ founder] Marcial Maciel, and Father Nicolás Aguilar and other pederasts … [T]he manifesto signed by 128 abuse survivors, lawyers and supportive groups was announced at a news conference in Mexico City, where the newspaper La Jornada called the Church’s deeds ‘crimes against humanity.’”
July 2014: A group of Argentine survivors called on Pope Francis to “amend hazardous defects of ecclesiastical laws so that permissive bishops will no longer remain in office.”
May 2014: Italian victims of pedophile priests sent a video to Pope Francis asking for sympathy and compensation. Among them were “eight deaf and mute people who were enrolled in a school in Verona, where 25 priests abused at least 100 students from the 1950s to the 1990s. Rete l’Abuso (Abuse Network) organization produced the video. The organization’s website identifies 148 priests convicted of child molestation, and a map of Italy detailing the Catholic parishes where the crimes occurred.”
May 2014: “Request the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn … after he failed to report a priest who had taken or possessed hundreds of pornographic pictures of young girls.” 263,594 supporters of this petition were ignored until the pope needed a scapegoat to quell the fury over his appointment of Barros.
April 2014: After the pope promoted Pell as his chief financial official, Australian Catholics petitioned, “Pope Francis: Sack Cardinal Pell Now…. His lack of empathy, justice and compassion for the victims of [sex] abuse is hard to reconcile with what Jesus did and taught. His few words of apology were hard to take seriously.”
September 2013: Two hundred people in a Scotland parish signed a petition accusing the Bishop of Galloway, John Cunningham, of persecuting and ostracizing Fr. Patrick Lawson. Lawson was removed from the parish after nearly two decades of calling the Scottish hierarchy to take action against Fr Paul Moore who he accuses of sexually abusing altar boys.
August 2013: “Pope Francis: Stop Recycling Pedophile Priests” a petition signed by almost 7,000 because Newark Archbishop John J. Myers “failed to take action against a sexually abusive priest.”
May 2013: A petition to Pope Francis: Address the Global Sex Abuse Crisis and Convene a Truth and Reconciliation Commission begun by two of Karadima’s victims. The petition gained 10,229 supporters.
May 2013: “Call for the resignation of Rev. John C. Nienstedt, Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis“ for “deception” in handling pedophile priests.
May 2015: “Right now, the Irish betting firm Paddy Power has Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of the Philippines as the favorite to be the next pope, giving him 11/2 odds. Already dubbed the ‘Asian Francis,’ Tagle got another boost this week with his election to lead a global federation of Catholic charities.” “In a 2012 interview, Tagle said that zero tolerance was a subject of debate in the Philippines [and] in a little-noticed 2012 video interview he observed of the Asian church’s response to clergy sexual misconduct, “I think for us … exposing persons, both victims and abusers, to the public, either through media or legal action, that adds to the pain.”
January 2015: Pope Francis appointed Blase Cupich archbishop of Chicago in September 2014. Fr. Michael W. O’Connell “was temporarily suspended in December 2013 after the archdiocese received an allegation of sexual misconduct involving a boy years earlier.” He was reinstated “even though the Cook County Sheriff’s Department never closed the criminal case. Weeks later, new allegations surfaced involving alleged abuse of a different boy in the 1990s.” Cupich is keeping O’Connell on the job with admonitions to “to avoid the parish school” and “not be alone with a child,” a contention that SNAP calls “ludicrous and dangerous.”
December 2014: Pope Francis promoted Bishop Christopher Coyne to bishop of Vermont. Coyne was “Cardinal Bernard Law’s former mouthpiece. For years, time and time again, then Fr. Coyne repeated deceptive public relations spin about heinous child sex crimes and callous cover ups by Law and other Catholic officials. While a bishop in Indiana, [SNAP] prodded Coyne to aggressively reach out to anyone who may have seen crimes by Fr. Francis Markey who was arrested by US marshals at his Indiana home in connection with the alleged rape of a 15-year-old boy twice, including the day of the boy’s father’s funeral. As best we can tell, he ignored our request.”
November 2014: Pope Francis promoted Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher to Secretary for Relations with States. “This important role is the equivalent to that of a Foreign Minister.” As nuncio to Australia, Gallager “claimed diplomatic immunity in response to repeated requests for archival documentation that might assist” the New South Wales Special Commission of Inquiry into child sex abuse by Deputy Senior Crown Prosecutor Margaret Cunneen. Gallagher told Cunneen that his office is “the high diplomatic representative of the Holy See to the Commonwealth” and citied “the protections afforded by international agreements, including the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.” Gallagher later relented.
November 2014: Pope Francis appointed Fr. Robert J. Geisinger as prosecutor of sex abuse cases at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) even though he had allowed a fellow Jesuit, a notorious serial sexual predator, to remain in ministry for years.
November 2014: Pope Francis appointed Archbishop José Luis Mollaghan to a new panel to assist the CDF in prosecuting clerical sex abuse. Mollaghan was “suspended in May as head of the Rosario archdiocese in Argentina due to accusations that he mismanaged Church funds” and “has a dismal record on abuse in his home diocese and nation.”
September 2014: Fr. Robert Oliver was appointed the Vatican’s “point man on sexual abuse” as chief of staff for the pope’s sex abuse commission, Oliver was “a champion of accused priests” while he was a canon lawyer for Boston cardinals Law and O’Malley.
February 2014: In his first consistory for naming cardinals, in addition to elevating Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller (see below), the pope included Santiago Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, another Chilean prelate who had also covered-up the sexual abuse of children by Fr. Fernando Karadima.
January 2014: Pope Francis promoted Lexington Bishop Ronald Gainer to head the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, diocese. As bishop of Lexington, Gainer failed to take action against Fr. Carroll Howlin. “Last year, the Chicago Tribune reported that Fr. Howlin, suspended for sexually abusing Illinois boys, still lives and works – unsupervised – in McCreary County. The cleric has reportedly also molested two Kentucky boys, one of whom committed suicide. Despite his suspension, however, the Tribune reports that Fr. Howlin’s supervisors in both the Lexington and the Joliet Catholic diocese have basically ignored him … Gainer put Fr. William G. Poole back into a parish even though Poole was twice charged with public indecency (1990 and 2001) and accused (in 2003) of molesting a boy. A Catholic lay panel in the Covington diocese found the child sex abuse allegation against Poole to be credible and paid a settlement to the victim. But Gainer recklessly put Poole back on the job.”
December 2013: Pope Francis reconfirmed Cardinal William Levada to the powerful (because they help select new prelates) Congregation for Bishops although Levada has one of the worst records among the U.S. episcopate for covering up for criminal clerics.
December 2013: Pope Francis appointed Fr. John Doerfler as the new bishop for the diocese of Marquette, Michigan. During the trial of a serial child molester, Doerfler admitted under oath that he had deliberately destroyed “nearly all records and documentation in the secret Church files of at least 51 reported to have sexually assaulted children after the Wisconsin State Supreme Court ruled that victims of childhood sexual abuse could file fraud suits against Catholic dioceses in the state for covering up for clerics….When specifically asked if it bothered him that clerics who abused children were being dumped into the community without public notice, Doerfler chillingly answered: ‘No’”.
September 2013: Pope Francis approved Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the office of the Holy See that has dealt with all sexual abuse cases 2001. As bishop of Regensburg, Germany, Müller promoted Fr. Peter Kramer, previously convicted of child sex abuse and ordered not to work with children, to pastor. Müller concealed Kramer’s conviction from parishioners. When victims learned of Kramer’s new assignment, additional victims came forward and Kramer was convicted of additional child abuse.
April 2013: The pope also chose Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley as a C9 member. “A close look at the cardinal reveals a career-long pattern of resisting disclosure of information, reinstating priests of dubious suitability, and negotiating mass settlements that are among the least generous in the history of the crisis.”
March 2015: “The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the office in charge of abuse cases, has refused to cooperate with civil authorities in Italy concerning a well-known priest that Benedict XVI dismissed from the clerical state in 2012 … But Pope Francis re-instated him last summer after he appealed the decision and then sentenced the priest to a ‘life of prayer and penance.’ The Italian Magistrates were seeking access to documents ‘subsequent to the canonical trial’ at which Fr Mauro Inzoli was initially dismissed. The Vatican’s rejection of their demand seems to confirm that once canonical proceedings commence, the pontifical secret applies, and any disclosure of information obtained in those proceedings is strictly forbidden’”
February 2015: A settlement was reached between 232 plaintiffs sexually abused by priests and nuns at the Ursuline Academy in St. Ignatius, Montana. “The agreement breaks down to less than $20,000 per victim. “These nuns no doubt say they’re ‘poor’ but frankly we doubt that claim. When it suits them, Catholic officials say they’re part of a huge global church. But when it benefits them, like in clergy sex abuse and cover up cases, they claim each diocese or religious order is autonomous.
Did these nuns even try to borrow money from other Catholic institutions (like Boston’s disgraced Cardinal Bernard Law did) or raise more money in any way, so they could do justice by these hundreds of still-suffering victims? We doubt it. Shame on them.”
February 2015: “The Archdiocese of Mobile [Alabama] is attempting to block subpoenas related to sexual abuse allegations, according to court documents. Reverend Johnny Savoie at St. Pius X Catholic School is being sued by four parents for allegedly failing to protect their children from claimed bullying problems.”
September 2014: Justice Murray Sinclair, head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission looking into the abuses that occurred over the years in Indian residential schools, said the “’government of Canada and the Catholics have not provided documents’ needed for the commission to complete its work. He also said the churches were being unco-operative, and the Catholic Church in particular fears more abuse stories will emerge against living clergy. Seventy per cent of the 140 Indian residential schools were run by the Catholic Church with the remainder operated by the Anglican, United, Presbyterian, Congregationalist and Methodist Churches.
May 2014: “A judge rejected a lawsuit filed by the Diocese of Arecibo [Puerto Rico] seeking to block the release of additional information to prosecutors regarding sex abuse allegations … The judge gave the diocese two weeks to hand over the information.
April 2014: “The Netherlands Church is still not properly handling allegations of sexual abuse by priests and brothers according to three victims’ organizations. They are outraged that the Church has unilaterally terminated mediation and victim assistance.”
Statutes of Limitations
February 2015: “Those who say they suffered childhood sexual abuse by clergy will have to comply with 2010 statute of limitations after a narrow vote by a South Dakota legislative committee. In 2010, with the backing of Church lobbyists, state lawmakers approved a new statute of limitations restricting some types of civil litigation in childhood sex abuse cases. Proponents testified that alleged abuse in Catholic Indian Boarding Schools happened so long ago few of the accused are alive to defend themselves. Opponents to that law argue the new statute of limitations was applied retroactively by the courts resulting in the dismissal of several ongoing childhood sex abuse lawsuits—further damaging the victims who are still alive today.”
February 2015: “A Spanish court has dropped charges against 11 out of 12 suspects in a clerical sex abuse scandal because the crimes fall within the statute of limitations. The Grenada court dropped charges of “sexual abuse with penetration, exhibitionism, and concealment of evidence” against nine priests and two laymen accused of abusing an altar boy.” This case became famous because the victim wrote a letter to Pope Francis. The pope phoned him “asking him to ‘forgive this extremely serious sin’ [and] that “people are already working so that all of this can be resolved.’” Granada’s Archbishop Francisco Javier Martínez only suspended the three priests directly accused of child abuse. His refusal to suspend the seven priests charged for covering up the crime sends the appalling message that enabling, tolerating, cooperating and covering up child rape is acceptable behavior that should not be punished. However, “the Holy Pontiff continues to support the controversial archbishop” because he is still in office.
March 2013: Cardinal Timothy Dolan “has successfully lobbied Albany to block SOL reform. Furthermore, before coming to New York, he himself testified publicly against window legislation in Wisconsin and is rumored to have paid off pedophile priests.”
Pope John Paul II and the Sex Abuse Case
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’
Top 10 Reasons Why John Paul II Is No Saint – Part 1
Posted by May 12, 2011on
Here is the first part of my Top 10 Reasons Why John Paul II Is No Saint.
This list refers only to the child rape epidemic. There are many more issues on which the Patron Saint of Paedophiles has left the world a far, far worse place than he found it, and many instances where he deliberately caused immense suffering in order to pursue his own base and selfish ends.
Reason No 1: Father Marcial Maciel Degollado
Father Maciel, founder of the oppressive and twisted cult Legionnaires of Christ, notorious drug addict and child rapist who also fathered a number of children and sexually abused at least one of them, was publicly and privately supported by JPII. He was immune from facing responsibility for his crimes, no matter how many victims came forward, or how much detailed evidence they provided.
JPII shielded this monster living a sordid double life because of his important position as the revered leader of the Legionnaires of Christ, his conservatism and unquestioning obedience to the Pope’s every dictate, his success in bringing young priests into the Church, and, most importantly, because he was the Vatican’s cash cow who filled the Papal coffers and lavished extravagant gifts on top Vatican officials. A consumate fundraiser, Fr Maciel’s bundles of cash regularly delivered into the waiting hands of Vatican officials were siphoned from his wealthy cult, or sourced through selling access to JPII to wealthy families willing to pay for the privilege. Father Maciel was regarded as the greatest fundraiser of the modern Church and his Legionnaires of Christ is estimated to have amassed a fortune worth tens of billions of dollars.
He had also been abusing his seminarians, some as young as 11 years old, since at least the 1950’s. A group of former seminarians, many of them now priests, repeatedly filed formal legal documents with the Vatican asking for an investigation, but every time their request was not even granted the respect of receiving a refusal and instead completely ignored. Maciel’s victims were branded liars and traitors by those determined to cover up for him, but even Cardinal Ratzinger, notoriously reluctant to act against child rapist priests, finally appreciated the need to investigate and was prepared to do so until firmly ordered by JPII not to go after his favourite, Father Maciel.
Reason No 2: Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer
Arrogant hardline conservative Cardinal Groer of Austria was appointed by JPII to move the balance of power away from moderate progressives who supported the Vatican II changes. The fact that Groer was also seriously disturbed, sexually peverse, and had sexually abused over 2,000 boys and young men was not sufficient for Groer to ever lose JPII’s support. He died in 2003 having never admitted or faced responsibility for his crimes, and was honoured by the Church.
Groer, a Benedictine, Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna from 1986 to 1995, and President of the Austrian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, held on to these high ranking positions with JPII’s support despite being credibly accused of horrendous crimes. JPII actually likened the monstrous Groer to Jesus facing “unjust accusations”. Groer stonewalled wave after wave of convincing revelations against him for sexually abusing underage high school students while their headmaster, and young adult seminarians while their prior, and was even re-elected President of the Austrian Bishop’s Conference, a stunningly inappropriate choice.
Groer eventually retired as Archbishop of Vienna, largely because he was past retirement age, and finally lost support for his position as the head of the Bishops’ Conference in the face of growing outrage and millions of Austrians, Germans and other Europeans petitioning against him.
It took JPII three years before Groer was finally asked to relinquish any remaining important Church posts. Like Father Maciel, Groer was another favourite of JPII, an ultra-conservative who was successful in bringing new young priests into the Church.
Originally Austrian Bishops took the usual Church route of defending the indefensible, sweeping crimes under the carpet and attacking the victims, denouncing allegations against Groer as “a conspiracy against the Church”. But mounting evidence and Groer’s arrogant refusal to even respond to the scandal engulfing all of Europe, eventually changed their minds. In the end four leading Austrian Bishops publicly supported the allegations against him, forcing Groer to concede, ungraciously, “if I am guilty … I apologise”.
Still, JPII saw fit to appoint the criminal Cardinal Groer prior of a Benedictine abbey. An investigation was eventually launched by the head of the Benedictine order in Rome, but according to recent reports that investigation suffered the same fate as the investigation of Father Maciel. Certainly no results were ever revealed and no action was ever taken. But not because of lack of evidence.
Groer died, unpunished, unrepentant, maintaining his obdurate silence until the end, unchastened by the future Patron Saint of Paedophiles, who still favoured him with a privileged private breakfast meeting on a visit to Rome. JPII also encouraged Austrians to forget all about Groer’s crimes and accept the Church honouring his memory and treating him with undeserved dignity in death. JPII’s shocking lack of action over the audacious crimes of a leading Cardinal callously jeopardised the recovery of Groer’s thousands of victims whose lives had already been ruined, and drove tens of thousands of previously staunchly Catholic Austrians from the Church in disgust each year.
Reason No 3: Cardinal Bernard Francis Law
While never accused of himself attacking children, Cardinal Law was the first senior Church official about whom large numbers of documents were available to prove he actively participated in the cover-up of child rape. But no amount of proof or public calls for his resignation could convince this entitled prince of the Church that he was not fit to continue in his position as Archbishop of Boston. He steadfastly refused to step down, to remove rapist priests from ministry or to reveal the names of the criminal predators reporting to him, to the police or anyone else. Sufficient pressure was finally brought to bear and in December 2002 he vacated the position he had so scandalised. JPII, however, could not be offended with Law, who was another hardline conservative mindlessly following JPII’s dictates, so he allowed this disgraced and disgraceful Church official to retain the exalted position of Cardinal, which enabled Law to eventually vote for JPII’s successor in 2005.
It is reported that Law fled Boston just hours before state troopers arrived with subpoenas seeking his grand jury testimony. Law is currently in hiding in the Vatican, which does not believe in extraditing its officials to other countries to face questioning or take responsibility for their actions. There is a very good reason for this, since if Law were ever foolish enough to leave the safe refuge of the Vatican state, he would be immediately served with summonses for numerous civil suits, even though he slips through the cracks in criminal law. Not satisfied with rewarding Law with protection from American law and his personal support, JPII appointed Law to a prominent post in Rome, putting him in charge of the important Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, with the title of Archpriest. Fugitive Law also holds a large number of significant Vatican appointments on powerful Committees, Councils and Congregations.
The Massachusetts state attorney general issued a report entitled Child Sexual Abuse in the Archdiocese of Boston (July 23, 2003) which described the magnitude of the child sexual abuse problem in the diocese as “staggering” and severely criticised Law, finding evidence that Law knew about the scale and nature of the problem, and knew about the danger to children but chose secrecy over child protection. Law also refused to report criminal offences to the police and even when questioned, refused to reveal information that would assist police enquiries or protect children. The report noted that Law could not be charged because of the convenient protection of the statute of limitations which makes it almost impossible for crimes of this nature to be prosecuted. However most commentators are highly critical of this deficiency in the law and call for law reform to ensure in future we protect victims and potential victims rather than dangerous sexual predators and those who enable them.
Reason No 4: Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos
In September 2001, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the then prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, wrote to Bishop Pierre Pican of Bayeux-Lisieux, France, praising him effusively for not reporting a rapist priest to civil authorities. While the situation itself is far from unique, it is rare for such clear evidence of the Vatican’s twisted morality and willingness to sacrifice innocent children to be publicly revealed. Vatican insiders are usually much better at suppressing evidence of their dirty deeds.
The French priest, Father René Bissey, privately admitted sexually abusing more than one child, but his bishop permitted Father Bissey to remain in parish ministry and did absolutely nothing to help Bissey’s victims or discover the extent of his numerous crimes.
“I congratulate you for not denouncing a priest to the civil administration,” wrote Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos in the infamous letter. “You have acted well and I am pleased to have a colleague in the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and of all other bishops in the world, preferred prison to denouncing his son and priest.”
The cardinal explained relations between bishops and priests were not simply professional but had “very special links of spiritual paternity.” Bishops therefore had no obligation to testify against “a direct relative,” he stated. The letter cited Vatican documents and an epistle of Saint Paul to bolster its argument about special bishop-priest links.
“To encourage brothers in the episcopate in this delicate domain, this Congregation will send copies of this letter to all bishops’ conferences,” Castrillon Hoyos wrote.
Most commentators understand this worldwide promulgation of the letter to clearly convey the official message that obstructing justice and evading secular law in order to protect criminal priests is expected, even required, behaviour for Bishops, and that this missive must first have received the approval of JPII.
Despite the best efforts of Hoyos and Pican to keep the criminal predator Bissey out of jail and free to abuse more children, in 2000 Father Bissey received an 18-year prison sentence for raping a boy and sexually assaulting ten others between 1989 and 1996.
At Bissey’s trial Pican perjured himself by claiming no knowledge of Bissey’s crimes. Pican’s lie was revealed during Bissey’s own testimony when he admitted he had told his superiors about his crimes. Pican had also been told of the crimes by other Church officials and had known of complaints from Bissey’s victims for many years.
During his own trial in 2001 for failing to report the abuse, arrogant Bishop Pican admitted he would do the same again if the situation were repeated, and proudly claimed to have never turned anyone in. The first French Bishop in modern history to face trial, the magistrate concluded that Pican had “acted purely to protect the church from a scandal” but sentenced him to a mere three-month suspended sentence.
Reason No 5: Appointment of Hardline Bishops
Throughout JPII’s reign, his ambition for absolute and centralised control meant the appointment of new Bishops was seen as an opportunity to impose unthinking obedience to the Pope as the key criteria for episcopal selection. Anyone who had ever expressed the slightest opposition to JPII’s opinions was immediately excluded from consideration – permanently. The result is a whole generation of Bishops who are scared to deviate from Vatican edicts, make decisions in a moral vacuum, are hardline conservatives mindlessly loyal to Rome, obsessed with pleasing the Pope, mediocre, conformist, ambitious to a fault, ruthlessly deceitful, lacking intellectual independence or leadership skills, arrogantly unsympathetic to parishoners, and fixated on climbing the Vatican slippery pole of influence peddling, favouritism, prestige and power.
By putting in place Bishops whose only loyalty is to those who control promotion within the Church, the people the Bishops are meant to serve are treated as serfs to be exploited, not a community to be nurtured. Exactly the very worst type of people to be able to deal compassionately or honestly with victims of child sexual abuse. Exactly the situation that would lead to Bishops consistently bullying victims into silence, covering up any scandals and protecting child rapist priests.
According to commentator and sociologist Father Andrew Greeley, JPII’s appointees are largely “mean-spirited careerists – inept, incompetent, insensitive bureaucrats, who are utterly indifferent to their clergy and laity”. Certainly it does not take too much familiarity with these smug rich old men in dresses to realise they are self-interested thugs and yes men with no desire to do anything other than curry favour with the power brokers of the Vatican in order to advance their own prospects.
And there is little doubt that JPII, thinking only of his own need for control and dominance, liked things just the way they were and had no desire to appoint more talented or compassionate Bishops who may have been more able to honestly face the challenges presented by child rape within the Church.
John Paul II Gets A Second Look In Abuse Scandal
From the link: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125788687
As the Roman Catholic Church tries to defend Pope Benedict XVI from criticism over his handling of the clerical sex abuse scandal, the record of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, is also getting attention. New questions are being raised about whether the most popular pope of the last century played a role in covering up cases of sex abuse.
When John Paul died five years ago, millions of faithful poured into Rome for his funeral, chanting, “Santo subito” or “Make him a saint now.” Just two months later, Benedict XVI waived the usual five-year waiting period and put the Polish-born pope on the fast track to sainthood.
But in recent weeks, allegations have surfaced that the late pope — or at least members of his inner circle — obstructed an investigation into Marcial Maciel Degollado, the Mexican founder of the Legion of Christ who had both molested young boys and fathered several children with different women.
“It is clear now that during the ’80s or ’90s, there were important cases — for instance, the abuse case of the founder of the Legionaries of Christ — which were shelved in the Vatican, which were hushed up,” says veteran Vatican watcher Marco Politi.
‘Stronger Forces Within The Vatican’
Politi says John Paul’s longtime associate, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now the current pope, wanted to investigate Maciel.
“Ratzinger, as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, was pushing in order to open a proceeding against the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, but there were stronger forces within the Vatican who stopped him,” Politi says.
In 2006, now-Pope Benedict was finally able to banish Maciel. A long investigative report in the last issue of the National Catholic Reporter revealed that Maciel sent streams of money to the Vatican to buy support for his order.
The Italian weekly L’espresso estimates the Legion’s assets at more than $30 billion.
Paying The Price
Equally serious allegations concern the case of the late Austrian Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer, accused of abusing an estimated 2,000 boys over decades. His successor, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, has criticized the Vatican’s handling of that scandal when it emerged in 1995.
Schoenborn said officials close to Pope John Paul blocked an investigative commission. Schoenborn even revealed that then-Cardinal Ratzinger confided sadly, “The other party has prevailed.”
Vatican expert Sandro Magister says the Catholic Church is paying the price for its past sins.
“For a certain period, from the ’60s to the ’90s, in the U.S. as well as in Europe, there was a climate of sexual permissiveness, in which the gravity of sex abuse of minors was underestimated, and when priests were involved, even bishops looked the other way,” Magister says. “It’s not fair to pin the blame on John Paul II.”
A Church Beseiged?
Robert Mickens, Vatican correspondent for the British Catholic weekly, The Tablet, says that within the priesthood, there is a certain mistrust of the secular world. And the Polish pope, who grew up under totalitarian regimes, often saw the church besieged by the outside world, Mickens says.
“Those who wear the Roman collar, those who are part of all this, believe that they are maligned unfairly,” Mickens says. “John Paul II may have felt that this was again this onslaught of the Nazis or the communists, but now secularists, secularism, to discredit the church. If you look at what some people have been saying in the Vatican, that kind of paranoia has not gone away at all.”
In a letter written in 2001, then-Cardinal Ratzinger, under John Paul’s auspices, ordered all clerical sex abuse cases be sent to his department and that all cases be subject to pontifical secrecy. His No. 2 at the time, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said in a 2002 interview, “It seems to me there is no basis for demanding that a bishop be obliged to turn to civil magistrates and denounce a priest who has confided to him to have committed the crime of pedophilia.”
As the Vatican and the pope face threats of lawsuits and even criminal proceedings in some countries, Vatican officials are now insisting that the Holy See has always recommended to its bishops that they report abusive priests to the police.
HOW SURVIVORS HAVE CHANGED HISTORY by Thomas P.Doyle, O.P.
Set forth below is Fr. Thomas P. Doyle, O.P.’s extremely important address on August 2, 2014 at SNAP’s 25th Anniversary Convention in Chicago.
A letter sent by the Vicar General of the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana to the papal nuncio in June, 1984, was the trigger that set in motion a series of events that has changed the fate of the victims of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and clergy of all denominations. The letter informed the nuncio that the Gastel family had decided to withdraw from a confidential monetary settlement with the diocese. It went on to say they had obtained the services of an attorney and planned to sue the diocese.
This long process has had a direct impact on much more than the fate of victims and the security of innocent children and vulnerable persons of any age. It has altered the image and role of the institutional Catholic Church in western society to such an extent that the tectonic plates upon which this Church rests have shifted in a way never expected or dreamed of thirty years ago.
I cannot find language that can adequately communicate the full import of this monstrous phenomenon. The image of a Christian Church that enabled the sexual and spiritual violation of its most vulnerable members and when confronted, responded with institutionalized mendacity and utter disregard for the victims cannot be adequately described as a “problem,” a “crisis” or a “scandal.” The widespread sexual violation of children and adults by clergy and the horrific response of the leadership, especially the bishops, is the present-day manifestation of a very dark and toxic dimension of the institutional Church. This dark side has always existed. In our era it has served as the catalyst for a complex and deeply rooted process that can be best described as a paradigm shift. The paradigm for responding to sexual abuse by clergy has shifted at its foundation. The paradigm for society’s understanding of and response to child sexual abuse had begun to shift with the advent of the feminist movement in the early seventies but was significantly accelerated by the mid-eighties. The paradigm of the institutional Church interacting in society has shifted and continues to do so as the forces demanding justice, honesty and accountability by the hierarchy continue their relentless pressure. The Catholic monolith, once accepted by friend and foe alike as a rock-solid monarchy, is crumbling.
The single most influential and forceful element in this complex historical process has not been the second Vatican Council. It has been the action of the victims of sexual abuse.
There are a few of us still standing who have been in the midst of this mind and soul-boggling phenomenon from the beginning of the present era. We have been caught up and driven by the seemingly never-ending chain of events, revelations, and explosions that have marked it from the very beginning and will continue to mark it into the future.
It has had a profound impact on the belief systems and the spirituality of many directly and indirectly involved. My own confidence and trust in the institutional church has been shattered. I have spent years trying to process what has been happening to the spiritual dimension of my life. The vast enormity of a deeply ingrained clerical culture that allowed the sexual violation of the innocent and most vulnerable has overshadowed the theological, historical and cultural supports upon which the institutional Church has based its claim to divinely favored status. All of the theological and canonical truths I had depended upon have been dissipated to meaninglessness.
Some of us who have supported victims have been accused of being dissenters from orthodox church teaching. We have been accused of being anti-Catholic, using the sexual abuse issue to promote active disagreement with Church positions on various sexual issues. These accusations are complete nonsense. This is not a matter of dissent or agreement with Church teachings. It is about the sexual violations of countless victims by trusted Church members. It is not a matter of anti-Catholic propaganda but direct opposition to Church leaders, policies or practices that enable the perpetrators of sexual abuse and demonize the victims. It is not a matter of defaming the Church’s image. No one has done a better job of that than the bishops themselves.
For some of us the very concept of a personal or anthropocentric god has also been destroyed, in great part by an unanswerable question: If there is a loving god watching over us, why does he allow his priests and bishops to violate the bodies and destroy the souls of so many innocent children?”
Those of us who have been in twelve step movements are familiar with the usual format recommended for speakers: we base our stories on a three-part outline – what it was like before, what happened, and what it is like now. This is the format I want to use as I look back on thirty years and try to describe where I think we have been and where we are going. Much to the chagrin of the hard-core cheerleaders for the institutional Church, there is no question that the victims and survivors of the Church’s sexual abuse and spiritual treachery have set in motion a process that has changed and will continue to change the history of the Catholic Church. The Catholic experience has prompted members of other denominations to acknowledge sexual abuse in their midst and demand accountability. It has also forever altered the response of secular society to the once untouchable Churches.
What It Was Like Before.
The basic facts need no elaboration. The default response to a report of child, adolescent or adult sexual abuse was first to enshroud it in an impenetrable blanket of secrecy. The perpetrator was shifted to another assignment. The victim was intimidated into silence. The media knew nothing and if law enforcement of civil officials were involved, they deferred to the bishop “for the good of the Church.”
A small number of perpetrators were sent to special church-run institutions that treated them in secrecy and in many instances, released them to re-enter ministry. The founder of the most influential of these, Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, firmly believed that no priest who had violated a child or minor should ever be allowed back in ministry and should be dismissed from the priesthood. He made his unequivocal beliefs known to bishops, to the prefect of the Holy Office (1962) and to Pope Paul VI in a private audience in 1963. He was ignored.
The Lafayette case involving Gilbert Gauthe was the beginning of the end of the default template. I suspect that none of the major players in the case had any idea of the magnitude of what they were involved in. I was one of them and I certainly could never have imagined how this would all play out.
The Lafayette case sparked attention because of the systemic cover-up that had gone on from before Gilbert Gauthe was ordained and continued past his conviction and imprisonment (see In God’s House, a novel by Ray Mouton, based on the events of this case). Jason Berry was singlehandedly responsible for opening up the full extent of the ecclesiastical treachery to the public. Other secular media followed suit. The story was picked up by the national media and before long other reports of sexual abuse by priests were coming in from parishes and dioceses not only in the deep south but in other parts of the country (Required reading! Lead Us Not Into Temptation by Jason Berry).
The report or manual, authored by Ray Mouton, Mike Peterson and I, is the result of our belief that the bishops didn’t know how to proceed when faced with actual cases of sexual violation and rape by priests. Many of the bishops I spoke to at the time admitted they were bewildered about what to do. None expected the series of explosions that were waiting just over the horizon. I asked several if a document or short manual of some sort would help and the responses were uniformly affirmative. Some of the bishops I consulted with were men I had grown to respect and trust. I believed they would support whatever efforts we suggested to deal with the developing, potentially explosive situation. Peterson, Mouton and I did not see it as an isolated, one-time “problem.” Rather, we saw it is as a highly toxic practice of the clerical culture that needed to be recognized and rectified.
Some of the men I consulted with and to whom I turned for support and guidance, in time became major players in the national nightmare. The two most prominent were Bernard Law and Anthony Bevilacqua, both men whom I once counted as friends.
It was not long before I realized that the major force of opposition was the central leadership of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the General Secretariat in particular. We had initially hoped the Bishops’ conference would look at the manual and consider the action proposals that accompanied it. The main blockage was, I believe, at the level of the general secretariat and the executive leadership. It was bad enough that they simply ignored the effort to help but they delivered a serious blow to their credibility when they made public statements to the effect that they knew everything that was in the manual and already had programs and protocols in place. When questioned by the media about this they were forced to admit that these protocols and policies were not written down.
Throughout this period the three of us were hopeful that the opposition was not representative of the entire hierarchical leadership. We wanted to believe that the pushback from the Conference was the reaction of a small group and that it was based on a turf battle between the Bishops Conference and the Papal nuncio. Our realization that the reactionary attitude was more extensive began when the bishops, through the office of the general council, publicly accused Mouton, Peterson and I of creating the manual and the making the recommended action proposals because we saw the growing problem as a potential source of profit and hoped to sell our services to the various dioceses. At this point the three of us had to accept the painful reality that episcopal leadership was far more interested in their own image and power than in the welfare of the victims. It was becoming very clear that in the Church we were trying to help, integrity was a scarce commodity.
At the recent Vatican celebrations for Saint John XXIII and former pope John Paul II, George Weigel and Joaquin Navarro-Valls created an outrageous fantasy about the role of John Paul II, claiming that he knew nothing until after the 2002 Boston debacle. This was a blatant lie. John Paul II was given a 42 page detailed report on the sex abuse and cover-up in Lafayette LA during the last week of February 1985. It was sent as justification for the request from the papal nuncio that a bishop be appointed to go to Lafayette to try to find out exactly what was going on. The report was carried to Rome by Cardinal Krol of Philadelphia precisely because the nuncio wanted it to go directly to the pope and not be sidetracked by lower level functionaries. The pope read the report and within four days the requested appointment came through. The bishop in question was the late A.J. Quinn of Cleveland who turned out to be a big part of the problem rather than a part of the solution.
Quinn visited Lafayette two times and accomplished nothing. We were suspicious of his intentions by the end of 1985 and quite certain by 1986. In 1988 he wrote to the nuncio: “The truth is, Doyle and Mouton want the Church in the United States to purchase their expensive and controvertible leadership in matters relating to pedophilia…The Church has weathered worse attacks…So too will the pedophile annoyance eventually abate.” (Quinn to Laghi, Jan. 8, 1988). Archbishop Laghi didn’t buy it, evident from his cover letter to me: “While I do not subscribe to the conclusions drawn in this correspondence, I want you to know of some of the sentiments expressed in some quarters…” (Laghi to Doyle, Jan. 18, 1988). In 1990 Quinn addressed the Canon Law Society of America and advised that if bishops found information in priests’ files they did not want seen they should send the files to the papal nuncio to be shielded by diplomatic immunity. Quinn, a civil lawyer as well as a canon lawyer, was then subjected to disbarment proceedings as a result of his unethical suggestion.
The papal nuncio, the late Cardinal Pio Laghi, was supportive of our efforts and was in regular telephone contact with the Vatican. There were very few actual written reports sent over although all of the media stories we received were transmitted to the Holy See. Cardinal Silvio Oddi, then the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, visited the nunciature in June and asked to be briefed. I was deputed for the task. By then we had more information on the rapidly growing number of cases in all parts of the country. I recall that by that time we were aware of 42 cases, which I naively thought was a very significant number. I prepared a lengthy report that was not only detailed but also graphic in its content. I read the report to the cardinal and responded to his many questions. At the end of the meeting at which only he and I were present, he announced that he would take this information back to the Holy Father. “Then there will be a meeting of the heads of all the dicasteries [Vatican congregations] and we will issue a decree.” I understand that he did take the information to the pope but there never was a meeting of the heads and no decree ever came forth.
Our efforts to get the bishops’ conference to even consider the issues we set forth in our manual, much less take decisive action, were a total failure. Looking back from the perspective of thirty years direct experience, I believe they acted in the only way they knew how which was completely self-serving with scandalous lack of sympathy for the victims and their families. There were individual bishops who were open to exploring the right way to proceed but the conference, which represented all of the bishops, was interested in controlling the fallout and preserving their stature and their power.
We sent individual copies of the manual to every bishop in the U.S. on December 8, 1985. By then we still had hope that perhaps someone would read it and stand up at the conference meetings and call the bishops’ attention to what we had insisted was the most important element, namely the compassionate care of the victims.
In October 1986 Mike Peterson had flown to the Vatican to speak with officials at the Congregation for Religious and the Congregation for Clergy. He was in a better position than anyone else to expose this issue to them because he knew how serious and extensive the problem of sexually dysfunctional priests was from his experience as director of St. Luke Institute. He returned from Rome dejected, angry and discouraged. I remember picking him up at the airport and going to dinner. They not only were not interested but brushed his concerns off as an exaggeration of a non-problem. Mike was willing to keep trying with the American bishops. He arranged for a hospitality suite at the hotel where the bishops were having their annual November meeting. He invited every bishop to come and discuss the matter of sexual abuse of minors by the clergy. There were over three hundred bishops present. Eight showed up.
Between 1986 and 2002 there were several important developments in the unfolding history of clergy sexual abuse. I would like to mention a few that influenced the historical process.
1. The bishops addressed the issue secretly in their annual meetings. The direction was consistent: defense of the dioceses and the bishops. There was never any mention of care for the victims.
2. The media continued to cover the issue from coast to coast generally showing sympathy for the victims and outrage at the Church’s systemic cover-up.
3. Pope John Paul II wrote a letter to the US bishops in June 1993 which clearly revealed his attitude.
4. The bishops formed a committee in 1993 and produced a four-volume handbook. The handbook and the committee had no appreciable impact.
5. There were increasing cases of sexual abuse brought before the civil courts. There were also several very public explosions during this period: the Thomas Adamson related cases in St. Paul; St. Anthony Seminary, Santa Barbara CA; St. Lawrence Seminary, Mt. Calvary WI; Fr. James Porter, Massachusetts; the Rudy Kos trial, Dallas, 1997. None of these jarred the bishops loose from their arrogant, defensive position and none served as a sufficient wake-up call for the broad base of lay support for the bishops.
6. The “problem” which John Paul II declared was unique to the United States, was amplified in other countries: Mt. Cashel, St. John’s Newfoundland, 1989; Brendan Smyth and the fall of the Irish government in December 1994; the exposure and forced resignation of Hans Cardinal Groer, archbishop of Vienna, September 1995. So much for the U.S. as the scapegoat!
7. SNAP was founded by Barbara Blaine and The Linkup by Jeanne Miller in 1989.
8. The first gathering of clergy abuse victims took place in Arlington IL in October 1992, sponsored by the Linkup. The main speakers were Jason Berry, Richard Sipe, Andrew Greeley, Jeff Anderson and Tom Doyle.
9. In 1999 John Paul II ordered the canonical process against Marcial Maciel-Degollado, founder and supreme leader of the Legion of Christ, shelved. In 2006 Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged the truth of Maciel’s crimes against minors and removed him from ministry. In 2009 the Vatican announced that Maciel had led a double life, having six possible children with two women.
The pope made a total of 11 public statements about clergy sexual abuse between 1993 and his death in 2005. The letters showed little comprehension of the horrific nature of the problem and no acknowledgement of the bishops’ enabling role. The culprits were, in the pope’s eyes, secular materialism, media sensationalism and sinful priests. He never even acknowledged much less responded to the thousands of requests from individual victims.
The U.S. bishops issued a handful of press releases and a number of intramural statements, most of which came from the office of the General Council. To their credit their general counsel sent out a memo to all bishops in 1988 which contained suggested actions which, had they not been ignored by the bishops, might have made a significant difference.
The bishops’ approach in the U.S. and elsewhere followed a standard evolutionary process: denial, minimization, blame shifting and devaluation of challengers. The bishop’s carefully scripted apologies expressed their regret for the pain suffered. Never once did they apologize for what they had done to harm the victims. Likewise there was never any concern voiced by the Vatican or the bishops’ conference about the spiritual and emotional damage done to the victims by the abuse itself and by the betrayal by the hierarchy. It became clear by the end of the nineties that the problem was not simply recalcitrant bishops. It was much more fundamental. The barrier to doing the right thing was deeply embedded in the clerical culture itself.
January 6, 2002 stands out as a pivotal date in the evolution of the clergy abuse phenomenon. The Boston revelations had an immediate and lasting impact that surprised even the most cynical. I was not surprised by the stories because I had been in conversations first with Kristin Lombardi who wrote a series based on the same facts for the Boston Phoenix in March 2001 and later with the Globe Spotlight Team. The continuous stream of media stories of what the bishops had been doing in Boston and elsewhere provoked widespread public outrage.
The bishops’ cover-up of sexual abuse and the impact on victims were the subject of special reports by all of the major news networks and countless stories in the print media. Newsweek, Time, U.S. News and World Report and the Economist all published cover stories about the “scandal.” The number of lawsuits dramatically increased and the protective deference on the part of law enforcement and civil officials, once counted on by the clerical leadership, was rapidly eroding. Grand jury investigations were launched in three jurisdictions within two months with several more to follow. It was all too much for the bishops to handle. They could not control it. They could not ignore it and they could not minimize it or make it go away.
The most visible result of the many-sided pressure on the hierarchy was the Dallas meeting. This was not a proactive pastorally sensitive gesture on the part of the bishops. It was defensive damage control, choreographed by the public relations firm of R.F. Binder associates. The meeting included addresses by several victim/survivors (David Clohessy, Michael Bland, Craig Martin, Paula Rohbacker), a clinical psychologist (Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea), a lay theologian (Scott Appleby), a Catholic author (Margaret O’Brien Steinfels). The tangible result of the meeting was the Charter for the Protection of Young People and the Essential Norms. The impact of Charter and the Norms has clearly been mixed. The lofty rhetoric of the bishops in the charter has not been followed up with action, to no one’s surprise.
The Essential Norms have not been uniformly and consistently followed. As proof we can look to the steady number of exceptions from 2002 whereby known perpetrators are either allowed to remain in ministry or are put back in ministry. The National Review Board showed promise at the beginning, especially after the publication of its extensive report in 2004. This promise sputtered and died as the truly effective members of the board left when they realized the bishops weren’t serious, and were replaced by others who essentially did nothing but hold positions on an impotent administrative entity that served primarily as an unsuccessful public relations effort to support the bishops’ claim that they were doing something.
Sexual violation of minors by clerics of all ranks has been part of the institution and the clerical culture since the days of the primitive Christian communities. Over the centuries the stratified model of the Church, with the clergy in the dominant role and the laity relegated to passive obedience, has held firm and allowed the hierarchy to maintain control over the issue of sexually dysfunctional clerics who, by the way, have ranged from sub-deacons to popes.
The paradigm shift, evident in the institutional Church since the years leading up to Vatican Council II, laid the foundation for a radically different response in the present era. The victim/survivors, their supporters and the secular society have shaped and guided the direction and evolution of the clergy sexual abuse nightmare. The Vatican and the bishops throughout the world have remained on the defensive and have never been able to gain any semblance of control. Those very few bishops who have publicly sided with the survivors have been marginalized and punished. The general response has been limited to the well-tuned rhetoric of public statements, sponsorship of a variety of child-safety programs, constant promises of change and enlightenment and above all, the investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in attorneys who have used every tactic imaginable and many that are not imaginable to defeat and discredit victims and prevent their clients from being held accountable. The apologetic public statements, filled with regret and assurances of a better tomorrow, are worthless from the get-go, rendered irrelevant and insulting by the harsh reality of the brutal tactics of the bishops’ attack dogs.
While the institutional Church has essentially remained in neutral, various segments of civil society have reacted decisively. Between 1971 and 2013 there have been at least 72 major reports issued about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The early reports (three in the seventies) were about sexual dysfunction in general among the clergy but since 1985 they have been about sexual abuse of minors. Some of these have been commissioned by official bodies and are the result of extensive investigations such as the U.S. Grand Jury reports, the Belgian Parliamentary Report and the Irish Investigation Commission Reports. They come from several countries in North America and Europe. A study of the sections on causality has shown a common denominator: the deliberately inadequate and counter-productive responses and actions of the bishops.
The unfolding of the events in this contemporary era can be divided into three phases: the first begins in 1984 and culminates at the end of 2001. The second begins with the Boston revelations and extends to the beginning of 2010. The present phase began in March 2010 when the case of Lawrence Murphy of Milwaukee revealed that the Vatican was directly connected to the cover-up. In this case, in spite of the pleas of an archbishop (Weakland) and two bishops (Fliss and Sklba) that Murphy, who had violated at least 200 deaf boys, by laicized, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with Ratzinger as Prefect, refused. Instead, he allowed the culprit to live out his days as a priest.
The three phases are arbitrary demarcation points based on the level of exposure of the Church’s true policies and actions. The difference is only in the depth and extent of information discovered about the bishops’ responses to decades of reports of sexual violation by clerics.
In 1993 and 1994 Pope John Paul II attempted to persuade the world that sexual abuse by clergy was an American problem, caused primarily by media exaggerations, materialism and failure to pray. At the conclusion of his first public statement on sexual abuse, a 1993 letter to the U.S. bishops, he said, “Yes dear brothers, America needs much prayer lest it lose its soul.” It is ironic that this comment came from the leader of an organization that had not so much lost but gave up its soul. By 2014 there was no doubt anywhere that geographic boundaries are irrelevant. This highly toxic dimension of the institutional Church and its clerical sub culture has been exposed in country after country on every continent except Antarctica, where there are no bishops, no priests, and no minors. The presence of God is found in a few scientists, some U.S. military and a lot of penguins.
The focus had finally shifted to the Vatican. In September 2011 the Center for Constitutional Rights assisted in the filing of a case before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. In January 2014 the U.N. Commission on the Rights of the Child delivered a blistering criticism of the Vatican’s response to sexual abuse by clerics. In May 2014 the U.N. Commission on Torture issued a report equally critical of the Vatican’s handling of sexual abuse claims and its opposition to U.N. policies. This is truly momentous. The world’s largest religious denomination has been called to account by the community of nations.
What Its Like Now
The foregoing paragraphs have provided a sparse but factually correct description of the second element of the 12 Step presentation, “What Happened.” Now I would like to shift the focus to “What Its Like Now.” Any conclusions at this point, thirty years later, are obviously very temporary since this is not the end of the issue but simply a milestone along the way.
I’d like to summarize by asserting that in spite of all that has happened since 1984, I do not believe there has been any fundamental change in the hierarchy. It may be true that individual bishops have either changed or have been compassionately supportive all along but in general the hierarchy is behaving today just as it did in 1985. The dramatic events in St. Paul-Minneapolis are the latest example of this intransigence. After all that has been revealed over these thirty years, one would think that the constant exposure of the official Church’s duplicity and dishonesty as well as the vast amount of information we have about the destructive effects of sexual abuse on the victims and their families, would cause some substantial change in attitude, direction and behavior. The bishops and even the pope have claimed they have done more to protect children than any other organization. There may be some validity to this claim but what is also true is that there has not been a single policy, protocol or program that was not forced on them. In 30 years they have not taken a single proactive move to assist victims or extend any semblance of compassionate pastoral care. Programs and policies promoting awareness or mandating background checks do nothing for the hundreds of thousands of suffering victims. The bishops as a group have done nothing for them either because they will not or more probably because they cannot.
There seems to be little sense in continuing to demand that bishops change their attitudes or at least their behavior. We have been beating our heads against the wall for a quarter of a century and the best we can hope for is that the sound will reverberate somewhere out in the Cosmos and eventually cause a stir before the end of time or the Second Coming, whichever comes first.
The institutional Church’s abject failure has revealed fundamental deficiencies in essential areas, all of which have been directly instrumental in perpetrating and sustaining the tragic culture of abuse:
1. The erroneous belief that the monarchical governmental structure of the Church was intended by god and justifies the sacrifice of innocent victims “
2. The belief that priests and bishops are superior to lay persons, entitled to power and deference because they are ontologically different and uniquely joined to Christ.
3. A lay spirituality that is dependent on the clergy and gauged by the degree of submission to them and unquestioned obedience to all church laws and authority figures.
4. An obsession with doctrinal orthodoxy and theological formulations that bypasses the realities of human life and replaces mercy and charity as central Catholic values.
5. An understanding of human sexuality that is not grounded in the reality of the human person but in a bizarre theological tradition that originated with the pre-Christian stoics and was originally formulated by celibate males of questionable psychological stability.
6. The clerical subculture that has propagated the virus of clericalism, which has perpetuated a severely distorted value system that has influenced clergy and laity alike.
Has Pope Francis brought a new ray of hope? I believe he is a significantly different kind of pope but he is still a product of the monarchical system and he is still surrounded by a bureaucracy that could hinder or destroy any hopes for the radical change that is needed if the institutional Church is to rise about the sex abuse nightmare and become what it is supposed to be, the People of God. The victims and indeed the entire Church are tired of the endless stream of empty statements and unfulfilled promises. The time for apologies, expressions of regret and assurances of change is long gone. Action is needed and without it the pope and bishops today will simply be more names in the long line of hierarchs who have failed the victims and failed the church.
I believe there is reason to hope, not because of the engaging personality of Pope Francis. This pope’s overtures to victims are grounded on three decades of courageous efforts by survivors. Without these efforts nothing would have changed. Survivors have changed the course of history for the Church and have accelerated the paradigm shift. If the Catholic Church is to be known not as a gilded monarchy of increasing irrelevance but as the People of God, the change in direction hinted at by the new pope’s words and actions are crucial and if he does lead the way to a new image of the Body of Chris it will be due in great part because the survivors have led the way for him.
Thomas P. Doyle, J.C.D., C.D.A.C.
Annual SNAP Conference, Chicago, Illinois
August 2, 2014