Category Archives: Legion of Christ
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 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.