Category Archives: Reverend John B. McCormack
Sex Crimes and the Vatican Documentary
Created in 1962, a now infamous document was issued in secret to bishops. Called Crimen Sollicitationis, it outlined procedures to be followed by bishops when dealing with allegations of child abuse, homosexuality and bestiality by members of the clergy. It swore all parties involved to secrecy on pain of excommunication from the Catholic Church.
This document was reissued in 2001 by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and sent to all bishops. Yet rather than ordering more openness and cooperation with the authorities as demanded by both law enforcers and the victims, he reiterated its policies and ensured that the Code of Silence be applied to all cases of child abuse involving a priest. Cardinal Ratzinger also instructed that all cases should now be referred to his office directly and that he would maintain ‘exclusive competence’ over the handling of allegations. This is the Catholic Church’s policy to this day and Cardinal Ratzinger is now Pope Benedict XVI.
The policy laid out in the above document has led to systemic failure by the result that a significant number of priest have, in effect, been allowed to abuse again, and further children have been put at risk.
As the documentary explores, Colm O’Gorman is the man responsible for breaking open decades of abuse by Catholic Priests in Ireland in the BAFTA award-winning BBC special Suing the Pope. He links international ‘systemic evidence’ to argue the Vatican has a policy to cover up the sexual abuse of thousands of children across the world.
In Sex Crimes and the Vatican O’Gorman explores four separate cases internationally of widespread clerical abuse, putting the Roman Catholic Church on trial for the reckless endangerment of children. O’Gorman raises the question, ‘Is the Church in default of its obligation as a signatory to the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child?’
A link to the documentary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=MwOV8QF9d88
SNAP, the bishops and a lesson in ecclesiology
by Thomas P. Doyleon Mar. 14, 2012
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, came into existence in 1989, just five years after national attention was first focused on sexual molestation of minors by Catholic clergy. The founder, Barbara Blaine, is a survivor of abuse. The national director, David Clohessy, is also a survivor. SNAP came into existence because the institutional church, i.e., the bishops, could not and would not do anything to help the victims of the priests they were supposed to supervise.
Realizing that they would have to help themselves, Barbara and the original members started what has become the oldest and most effective advocacy and help group for the countless victims of clergy abuse throughout the United States and Europe as well.
Over the years since its existence, SNAP has done what the institutional church should have done: It offered understanding, support, solace and above all, hope for anyone who called upon it. SNAP is not a sophisticated organization with a well-oiled and financed bureaucracy. It has always been focused on providing support for victims, giving them the encouragement to begin to heal from the devastation of abuse and giving them hope, knowing they are not alone.
In 1993, Pope John Paul II issued his first public response to the clergy abuse issue in the form of a letter to the U.S. bishops. In this letter, he said the bishops have a responsibility to the “innocent victims.” Unfortunately, that’s all he said about victims, devoting most of the letter to a fumbled attempt to shift the blame to the secular media and U.S. culture.
In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI visited the United States. On the plane coming over, he spoke to the media and said, “The victims will need healing and help and assistance and reconciliation: This is a big pastoral engagement and I know that the bishops and the priests and all Catholic people in the United States will do whatever possible to help, to assist, to heal.”
The pope was wrong on that one. The bishops as a group have certainly not helped the victims heal. They have said a lot of nice things, but their response has been hypocritical. While they feign sorrow and regret, make promises and lay on church floors at organized penance services, they are also waging a war against the survivors of the molestation and betrayed trust that they themselves have brought about. They continue to spend millions of the laypeople’s dollars to try and bury any attempts at bringing civil legislation to protect victims into the 21st century and, most reprehensible, they continue to try to pound victims into the ground in the courts. The bottom line is that as with everything else, the response to the clergy abuse nightmare has to be their way or no way.
The latest and most convincing evidence of the bishops’ collective failure following the present pope’s admonitions is the organized attack on SNAP. This attack is being carried out by lawyers who represent two priests accused of abuse, but it’s not about justice for the priests. It’s about destroying an organization that represents not only a source of profound embarrassment to the bishops but a serious threat to their continued duplicity. On one hand, the demand for SNAP’s files is sending a horrific message to all victims of clergy abuse and to all who try to help and support them. The message is clear: Although individual bishops might be truly sympathetic, the bishops as a group simply don’t “get it.” Nothing has changed since 1985, when this sordid issue first came to widespread public awareness. They are only concerned for themselves, their image, their control over the laity and their money. The National Review Board had it right when they pinpointed this in their 2004 report.
But there is another side. The thinly veiled attack through the lawyers from Kansas City, Mo., and St. Louis is part of a strategy to discredit not only SNAP but all survivors of the sexual and spiritual abuse by the priests, religious and bishops. It shows that they fear SNAP and the survivors. Bill Donohue, who basically represents only himself, announced that SNAP is a “menace to the church.” He also claimed in an editorial that “Jeff Anderson is an enemy of the church.” Not one bishop has spoken out and said, “Bill, you’re wrong.” This is where we come to the ecclesiology part.
Ecclesiology is a fancy name for the theology of the church, the meaning of the church. This meaning had to be recalled by the assembled bishops at the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) because it had been buried in the hierarchical trappings of the church as monarchy. The meaning resurrected by the council is simple yet profound: The church is the “People of God,” which simply means that the boundaries don’t stop with the bishops or with the clerical subculture. The council reminded Catholics that there were followers of the spirit and word of Christ before there was a hierarchy and a clerical world. Almost before the bleachers were removed from St. Peter’s Basilica at the close of the last session in 1965, the forces intent on neutralizing the reborn understanding of the church were hard at work. These forces are more evident today than at any other time since the council, and they are led by bishops.
SNAP is the People of God. The laypeople and the priests, religious men and women and miniscule number of bishops who stand with victims of clergy abuse and give them hope and healing are the church. Even though they might not think so, the lawyers who help victims find justice and healing are the church. It’s not true to say that “the church” does little to nothing to provide authentic help. The church has been the source of the help. It’s not, however, been the part of the church that has the official mandate to extend pastoral care to those in need, namely, the hierarchy. But they are not “the church.” They are only a very tiny part of it — .00074 percent, to be more exact. Some would argue this and say that we all have a mandate and they are right, but the leadership in extending compassionate support should have come from the bishops. Even the pope expected it. But it has not come from the bishops or even from the papacy. It has come from people who, it appears, have a more realistic and theologically orthodox understanding of the meaning of “church” than those who hold the official positions in the institution.
So Bill Donohue (and anyone who agrees with him) is dead wrong, reading from a script that was never theologically sound and is certainly way out of date. The purpose of the “church” is not the care and feeding of the hierarchy. The most important people in the church, if one takes the lead from the example of Jesus, are not the ones with the fanciest and most colorful robes but the ones who are the most marginalized and rejected, and in this group, one must include the countless women and men who have become marginalized because of the physical and sexual abuse of the church’s own ministers. They have been marginalized by the very ones who should lead the way in providing compassionate care, and they have been rejected by those who see them as a threat to their image, prestige and power.
The attacks on SNAP and the overall campaign to discredit and intimidate victims are a sure sign that an important part of the church has gone off the rails. It is a sign of a radically distorted ecclesiology. One way or the other, however, SNAP, its leadership, its members, those it helps and above all its spirit, will not be snuffed out no matter how vehement the attacks from the hierarchy, their supporters and their cheerleaders. Why? Because SNAP is people. Not just any people, but a true expression of the People of God.
[Dominican Fr. Thomas Doyle is a canon lawyer, addictions therapist and longtime supporter of justice and compassion for clergy sex abuse victims. He is a co-author of the first report ever issued to the U.S. bishops on clergy sex abuse, in 1986.]
Dolan quotes Donohue on SNAP, calling leader a ‘con artist’
by Joshua J. McElweeon Mar. 21, 2012
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, posted a link on his blog this afternoon to a statement from Bill Donohue, the head of the Catholic League, which suggests the director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests may be a “con artist.”
The post comes as the victims’ advocacy group and its director, David Clohessy, have found support in recent days on the editorial pages of several national papers in light of attempts by attorneys representing priests accused of abuse to obtain 23 years of the group’s documents.
Dolan’s post came on his “The Gospel in the Digital Age” blog at the New York Archdiocese website. It quotes in full three paragraphs of a statement by Donohue before providing people a link to read the rest.
Donohue’s statement, titled “SNAP Unravels,” is a long rehash of some of the facts surrounding the attempts by priests’ lawyers, which resulted last January in Clohessy’s deposition in a case involving a priest accused of abuse in Kansas City, Mo.
After making numerous references to the transcript of that deposition, which was released March 2, Donohue asks: “So is David Clohessy a sincere man driven by the pursuit of justice? Or is he a con artist driven by revenge? It may very well be that the former description aptly explains how he started, while the latter describes what he has become.”
Dolan’s post, which was published early in the afternoon, has already drawn a number of comments. One commenter said that while she didn’t know much about SNAP, she does “know they were one of the first organizations to publicly call for accountability in priest abuse cases.”
She continues: “I think it is ugly of the diocese to go after them. And,frankly, I’m wondering why this is posted on my own archdiocese’s blog.”
“SNAP is a support group, a referral center for victims. But the church sees SNAP as ringleaders and organizers. They want to bust SNAP the way sweatshops busted labor unions,” write the Star-Ledger‘s editors.
“The church’s new legal assault on SNAP is unconscionable. For decades, pedophile priests created thousands of voiceless victims. SNAP gives those victims a voice — and now the bishops want to silence that, too.”
Cardinal confirms new aggressive strategy against abuse victims
by Kristine Wardon Mar. 23, 2012
In a none too subtle posting on his Archdiocese of New York blog, Cardinal Timothy Dolan — the newly minted and over the top feted eminence — confirmed the bishops’ new strategy: playing hardball against victims and the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) in particular. Here’s the link.
This approach was first revealed by Catholic League president William Donohue in the March 12 New York Times story “Catholic Church Puts Legal Pressure on Abuse victims Group.”
The story played out in a good cop/bad cop routine with Mr. Donohue being quoted as bluntly declaring the “bishops have come together collectively” in this approach while Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops demurred that Mr. Donohue was incorrect and no such new strategy was in place.
Enter the Cardinal’s column. Tie broken. Winner declared: take no prisoners, new aggressive strategy it is.
Any reader of a diocesan newspaper knows that bishops are experts at the coy, the obfuscating, the lovely sounding but non-relevant tinkling brass and clanging symbol approach to communication.
When they do otherwise it pays to take heed.
In this Dolan tip of the blog hat to the Catholic League, Catholics and all men and women of goodwill should hear a beaver thumping of danger in the woods.
When the bishops circle their wagons around a jovial, back slapping, have a few beers with you wagon master prepared to pour as much and as many high powered attorneys’ fees plus muscle and venom as it takes in pursuit of a bare knuckle, wide net, fear inducing campaign against an ever-growing and effective band of victims the Gospel is not in them thar’ hills: self preservation is.
Cardinal Dolan, with his blog posting, it seems to us, is taking the same approach political candidates take to their Super PACs: not running them, don’t really know what they are doing on my behalf (wink, wink), can’t help they are saying exactly what I want to, and boy do I love the dough they are socking into it.
If you agree with this approach, please do nothing, Cardinal Dolan and Mr. Donohue have it well in hand.
If you don’t, please put your money where your conscience is: send SNAP a check. Then next Sunday, put a message in your collection envelope that your money is going to support the least, the last, the vulnerable, the innocent — those who were left along the side of the road, abandoned, stepped over and never expected to rise up and seek justice for themselves.
[Kristine Ward is chair of the National Survivor Advocates Coalition.]
This story comes from the following link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/sep/11/pope-vatican-abuse-geoffrey-robertson
The Case of the Pope: Vatican Accountability for Human Rights Abuses by Geoffrey Robertson
Terry Eagleton welcomes a coolly devastating inquiry into the Vatican’s handling of child abuse
The first child sex scandal in the Catholic church took place in AD153, long before there was a “gay culture” or Jewish journalists for bishops to blame it on. By the 1960s, the problem had become so dire that a cleric responsible for the care of “erring” priests wrote to the Vatican suggesting that it acquire a Caribbean island to put them on.
What has made a bad situation worse, as the eminent QC Geoffrey Robertson argues in this coolly devastating inquiry, is canon law – the church’s own arcane, highly secretive legal system, which deals with alleged child abusers in a dismayingly mild manner rather than handing them over to the police. Its “penalties” for raping children include such draconian measures as warnings, rebukes, extra prayers, counselling and a few months on retreat. It is even possible to interpret canon law as claiming that a valid defence for paedophile offences is paedophilia. Since child abusers are supposedly incapable of controlling their sexual urges, this can be used in their defence. It is rather like pleading not guilty to stealing from Tesco’s on the grounds that one is a shoplifter. One blindingly simple reason for the huge amount of child abuse in the Catholic church (on one estimate, up to 9% of clerics are implicated) is that the perpetrators know they will almost certainly get away with it.
For almost a quarter of a century, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the man who is now Pope, was in supreme command of this parallel system of justice – a system deliberately hidden from the public, police and parliaments and run, so Robertson maintains, in defiance of international law. Those who imagine that the Vatican has recently agreed to cooperate with the police, he points out, have simply fallen for one of its cynical public relations exercises. In the so-called “New Norms” published by Pope Benedict this year, there is still no instruction to report suspected offenders to the civil authorities, and attempting to ordain a woman is deemed to be as serious an offence as sodomising a child. There have, however, been some changes: victims of child abuse are now allowed to report the matter up to the age of 38 rather than 28. If you happen to be 39, that’s just tough luck. As Robertson wryly comments, Jesus declares that child molesters deserve to be drowned in the depths of the sea, not hidden in the depths of the Holy See.
How can Ratzinger get away with it? One mightily important reason, examined in detail in this book, is because he is supposedly a head of state. The Vatican describes itself on its website as an “absolute monarchy”, which means that the Pope is immune from being sued or prosecuted. It also means that as the only body in the world with “non-member state” status at the UN, the Catholic church has a global platform for pursuing its goals of diminishing women, demonising homosexuals, obstructing the use of condoms to prevent Aids and refusing to allow abortion even to save the life of the mother. For these purposes, it is sometimes to be found in unholy alliance with states such as Libya and Iran. Neither is it slow to use veiled threats of excommunication to bend Catholic politicians throughout the world to its will. If Pope Benedict were to air some of his troglodytic views with full public force, Robertson suggests, the Home Office would have been forced to refuse him entry into Britain.
In fact, he argues, the Vatican’s claim to statehood is bogus. It dates from a treaty established between Mussolini and the Holy See, which Robertson believes has no basis in international law. The Vatican has no permanent population, which is a legal requirement of being a state. In fact, since almost all its inhabitants are celibate, it cannot propagate citizens at all other than by unfortunate accident. It is not really a territory, has no jurisdiction over crimes committed in its precincts and depends for all its essential services on the neighbouring nation of Italy. Nor does it field a team in the World Cup, surely the most convincing sign of its phoniness.
“Petty gossip” is how the Pope has described irrefutable evidence of serious crimes. His time as the Vatican official in charge of overseeing priestly discipline was the period when, in Robertson’s furiously eloquent words, “tens of thousands of children were bewitched, buggered and bewildered by Catholic priests whilst [Ratzinger’s] attention was fixated on ‘evil’ homosexuals, sinful divorcees, deviate liberation theologians, planners of families and wearers of condoms”.
Can he be brought to book for this? As a widespread and systematic practice, clerical sexual abuse could be considered a crime against humanity, such crimes not being confined to times of war; and though Ratzinger may claim immunity as a head of state, he is also a German citizen. The book comes to no firm conclusion here, but the possibility of convicting the supreme pontiff of aiding and abetting the international crime of systemic child abuse seems not out of the question. The Vatican, in any case, is unlikely to escape such a fate by arguing, as it has done already, that the relations between the Pope and his bishops are of such unfathomable theological complexity that no mere human court could ever hope to grasp them.
This is a book that combines moral passion with steely forensic precision, enlivened with the odd flash of dry wit. With admirable judiciousness, it even finds it in its heart to praise the charitable work of the Catholic church, as well as reminding us that paedophiles (whom Robertson has defended in court) can be kindly men. It is one of the most formidable demolition jobs one could imagine on a man who has done more to discredit the cause of religion than Rasputin and Pat Robertson put together.
Pedophile Pimp and Right Wing Nutcase Bill Donohue President of RADICAL Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
You sicken me. Then again, you religious right wing nuts who think you are going to heaven always do. I am posting your diatribe against us victims and those who help us, of your rapist pedophile priests and the pedophile pimp leaders of the Criminal Pedophile Roman Catholic Church.
Personally Mr Bill Donohue, I know for a fact. you lowlife pedophile apologist and liar, are going to hell when you die. Enjoy your eternity in hell fire.
By Adam Peck on Mar 13, 2012 at 4:20 pm
This morning, The New York Times published an article outlining the Catholic Church’s apparent new strategy for dealing with lawsuits brought by the victims of sexual assault. Namely, filing legal actions designed to cripple organizations that support victims of pedophile priests.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, is the target of one such suit. The church is asking a court to force SNAP to turn over 20 years worth of email correspondence between the group and victims, journalists and whistle-blowers, a demand that SNAP officials say would cripple their ability to continue supporting victims of sexual assault.
The church would not comment to the New York Times citing a judge’s order, but radical conservative Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, had plenty of words for victims and their supporters:
“[Donohue] said targeting the network was justified because “SNAP is a menace to the Catholic Church.” …
He said bishops were also rethinking their approach of paying large settlements to groups of victims. “The church has been too quick to write a check, and I think they’ve realized it would be a lot less expensive in the long run if we fought them one by one,” Mr. Donohue said.
Donohue was one of the most vocal defenders of the Catholic Church during the height of the church’s pedophile scandal in the early 2000s, and more egregiously, he remains one of the only people to publicly attack the victims and their supporters. During a radio interview in 2009, Donohue downplayed the charges being leveled by victims because “almost everybody who was abused wasn’t raped.” He also dismissed complaints of priests kissing and engaging in “inappropriate sexual talk” to minors as a non-issue, saying that he “think[s] a lot of these people are gold diggers looking to get money from the Catholic Church.”
Donohue’s outrageous remarks are not limited to defending pedophiles either. As ThinkProgress has noted, he has delivered equally offensive remarks about gay couples after New York passed marriage equality and has said that homosexuality is connected to the abuse of minors.
The church-installed Deetman Commission says there were up to 20,000 victims of abuse between the end of World War II and 1981.
Roman Catholic bishops in the Netherlands protected sexual abusers and covered up their crimes, according to a major new report released today. The church-installed Deetman Commission says there were up to 20,000 victims of abuse between the end of World War II and 1981.
Radio Netherlands Worldwide journalist Robert Chesal – together with NRC Handelsblad’s Joep Dohmen – brought to light the abuse that led to a national scandal. Robert Chesal looks back at how the story unfolded.
You could say that 2010 was the year when the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandal went viral. Until February of that year, abuse of youngsters by Catholic clergy was primarily seen as a problem in Ireland and the United States.
But that month, as northern Europe lay buried in snow, a simmering problem began to reach boiling point. Reports from a Catholic boarding school run by Jesuits in the German capital Berlin spoke first of a few, then of a dozen, and then of over a hundred victims of abuse by priests.
One of those reports reached me at the RNW newsroom in mid-February. That same day I read that Pope Benedict XVI had ordered the entire Irish bishops’ conference to appear at the Vatican, where they would receive a dressing down for failing to tackle abuse in their dioceses. I decided to investigate what, if anything, had happened in the Netherlands.
On the internet I quickly found a testimony by a man named Janne Geraets, now in his late 50s, who claimed to have been abused at a boarding school in the early 1960s. I arranged to meet him the following day and heard his story of the painful and deeply damaging abuse he suffered at the hands of a Salesian father.
As I walked to the bus stop after that interview, my head still filled with the disturbing images Geraets had described, I started thinking about where to look next.
I discovered that there were some worrying trends in the Netherlands which were as yet unreported in the mainstream media. For instance, a prominent Dutch jurist told me why he had stepped down as chairman of the assessment board of the Roman Catholic abuse hotline.
In fact, he said, the entire board had resigned because their recommendations on how to deal with known abusers in the church were repeatedly being ignored by the Dutch bishops.
I was confronted with another ominous sign when I rang up the Protestant counterpart to the Catholic hotline and was told that all cooperation between the Protestant and Catholic centres for abuse notification had ceased years earlier.
The representative I spoke to suspected the reason the partnership had broken down was that the Catholic side “had something to hide”. Another hotline employee lamented the fact that the Catholics showed no interest in a new protocol established by the Protestant abuse notification centre which the Protestants were more than willing to share.
Hotbed of abuse
Spurred on by Janne Geraets’ insistence that he was just one of many children abused at his school, I enlisted the help of experienced investigative journalist Joep Dohmen at the NRC Handelsblad newspaper. Together, Dohmen and I pieced together a story that revealed the abuse of three minors by Salesians from the same boarding school.
We also brought to light the fact that one of the most respected bishops in the Netherlands, monsignor Ad van Luyn, had taught at that same school, in close proximity to what later appeared to be a hotbed of sexual abuse.
Our first publication, on 26 February 2010, sparked an avalanche of abuse reports from former boarding school pupils throughout the Netherlands. The Catholic hotline was completely unable to handle the workload and within weeks the first steps were taken to create a commission of inquiry led by former government minister Wim Deetman.
Pope angers Europe
Meanwhile, it was rapidly becoming clear that the Catholic Church had a scandal of epidemic proportions on its hands in Europe. From Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria, shocking testimonies of abuse and allegations of church cover-ups were making headlines.
There was an angry reaction when Pope Benedict apologised to churchgoers in Ireland for decades of abuse that went unpunished. Why, the Germans and Dutch asked, should we be treated any differently from Irish victims?
The Vatican never gave a satisfactory answer to that question. On the contrary. A cardinal close to the pope called the scandal “petty gossip” and even some bishops who acknowledged wide-scale abuse blamed it on the freemasons, on homosexuality and on the loosening of society’s sexual morals following the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s (a particularly odd fallacy, since so many cases of abuse stem from the 1950s and earlier).
On Good Friday, Pope Benedict’s own preacher compared the incrimination of priests in the sex abuse scandal to past examples of persecution of Europe’s Jews. Public relations are not exactly a strong point in Rome.
The church in the Netherlands hardly made a better impression. The top Catholic figure here, Cardinal Simonis, left mouths agape when he denied that Dutch church leaders were aware of the wide-scale abuse by priests in their midst.
He chose a historically loaded phrase the Dutch normally use to mock feigned German ignorance of the Nazi concentration camps, saying “Wir haben es nicht gewusst”.
But Simonis’ words sounded decidedly hollow when we reported, months later, that he had helped move a pedophile priest from one parish to another, allowing abuse of minors to continue.
Incidents like these are among the many disconcerting facts that the Deetman Commission had to grapple with in its inquiry. Of the estimated 10,000 to 20,000 victims in institutional care between 1945 and the early 1980s, approximately half were repeatedly subjected to sexual abuse for longer than a year, the commission says.
Personal accounts reveal that the physical and psychological damage caused by such extended periods of victimisation is immense and long-lasting.
The commission singled out Roman Catholic boarding schools, orphanages, seminaries and other institutions, reporting that children there ran a greater risk of being abused. The inquiry blasted the institutions’ failure to monitor the well-being of minors in their care.
In a first reaction to the 1,200-page Deetman report, Bishop Gerard de Korte said the church leadership had made wrong choices by protecting abusive priests and putting the reputation of the church before the well-being of victims. It’s unlikely to be the last word we hear from the bishops on that sensitive point.
Justice a step closer
Along with many other journalists, I crowded into a meeting room in the Dutch political capital The Hague this morning for the official presentation of the report. Afterwards, colleagues asked me if this was a crowning moment in my career. I had to think about that. And my answer was no. Because I did not become a journalist to hold the Roman Catholic Church accountable for sexual abuse.
I did, however, become a journalist out of some kind of desire for justice and truth. And in that sense, I would have to conclude that with the Deetman Commission report, we’ve gotten one step closer to that goal.
Again Roman Catholic Church leaders knew of the abuse and hid it in the Dutch Roman Catholic horror mental facilities
Roman Catholic orders, congregations and dioceses knew about the abuse of minors in Catholic institutions, but failed to help the victims or take action against the abusers.
This is the conclusion of the Deetman Inquiry which on Friday published its final report on abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands.
The report points to the inadequate organisation, and the closed culture of the Dutch archdiocese as the main reason for its inadequate response to the widespread abuse. The church also sought to avoid a scandal.
Inquiry chair Wim Deetman, a former education minister, estimates that between 10,000 and 20,000 minors were abused in Catholic boarding schools, children’s homes and orphanages. In several thousands of cases the abuse could be characterised as very serious.
The Deetman Inquiry was able to identify 800 of the abusers. It received more than 2,000 reports, 1,800 of which involved sexual abuse. The abusers were, or are, active in dioceses, congregations and orders. At least 105 of them are still alive. Mr Deetman could not say how many of these 105 are still active in the Roman Catholic Church. In the report, Mr Deetman argues for a government-controlled approach to sexual and physical abuse of minors.
The report says that the Roman Catholic Church’s compulsory celibacy was not a crucial factor in the abuse, but was an additional risk factor. Mr Deetman writes that this requirement makes priests vulnerable to transgressive behaviour. The inquiry feels that those who, often in their formative years, decided to become priests did not fully realise what their choice would entail.
For its investigation, the Deetman Inquiry studied the archives of dioceses, religious orders and congregations. It held a large-scale survey, studied international literature on the subject and met numerous current and former church officials.
Chesal and Dohmen
The inquiry was prompted by reports published by investigative journalists Robert Chesal from Radio Netherlands Worldwide and his colleague Joep Dohmen from national newspaper NRC Handelsblad. In February 2010, they published a report on abuse by the Salesian Fathers at the Don Rua boarding school in ‘s-Heerenberg in the 1960s. It was later followed by reports on other Catholic institutions.
“Little promise for the future”
Victims’ organisation Klokk says the conclusions of the Deetman Inquiry are even more shocking than they had expected. Klokk says the passive attitude of the Roman Catholic Church “holds little promise for the future.”
The Dutch bishops and the Conference of Members of Dutch Religious Orders have announced they will hold a press conference on Friday afternoon.
Serious abuses went on unreported for years in Dutch Roman Catholic homes for the mentally disabled. They included sex offences, castration, secret medical experiments and possibly murder. One Catholic brother was banished to Africa for doing unethical brain research. Radio Netherlands Worldwide tracked him down.
Until recent years, most abuses in Dutch institutional care were kept out of the public eye. One exception was a scandal in 1978 involving medical experiments at ‘Huize Assisië’, a Roman Catholic boarding school for mentally handicapped boys in the southern town of Udenhout.
The home’s medical doctor and a Catholic nurse known as Brother Dionysius performed spinal taps on approximately 180 patients, including minors. They injected fluid and air into the patients’ brains in order to take x-rays of the cerebral cortex. These were used for brain research which was quietly being carried out. After the injections, the patients suffered nausea and headaches for days. Their parents were neither asked for permission nor notified of the procedures.
Sent to Africa
When former employees blew the whistle, the doctor was sacked and ordered to pay a fine. Brother Dionysius was sent to Tanzania by his congregation. The case was discussed in the Dutch parliament, where MPs complained that the health inspector had given private institutions such as Huize Assisië a free hand.
Radio Netherlands Worldwide has discovered that Brother Dionysius is still working as a hospital nurse in the Tanzanian village of Sengerema, near Lake Victoria. Speaking to RNW by telephone, the 76-year-old brother said he had done “nothing untoward”.
“What we did was happening at other institutions too,” he said. “As the x-ray technician, I was carrying out the doctor’s orders. It was none of my business whether the parents knew. I was fired after the story got out, but that was just to put a stop to all the fuss.”
It was a rare example of institutional abuse becoming public knowledge. More often than not, such cases are swept under the rug where they remain for decades. But lately, some lurid secrets have come out in the open.
In a Dutch TV investigation, a former head nurse at ‘Huize Sint Joseph’, a Catholic home for mentally disabled boys, alleged that one of his predecessors had fatally poisoned at least 20 patients in the early 1950s. The story caused ripples well beyond Heel, the small southern Dutch village where the institution has stood proud since the 19th century.
Aside from alleged multiple murders, the media have revealed that there was both sexual and physical abuse at Huize Sint Joseph. The latest news dug up by investigative reporters: a rector at the home was convicted of indecent assault of minors in 1967. Two nurses who reported him were sacked and ordered to remain silent. Following his conviction, the rector requested a pardon so he could remain employed at a vocational school where he held a job as a teacher of Child Protection. The judge refused and gave him a short prison sentence.
Several people who formerly lived in Huize Sint Joseph say the Catholic brothers often beat the children in their care and locked them up in solitary confinement. Historian Annemieke Klijn wrote about the violence in a book about the home. She described the many forms of restraint and coercion the brothers used, including “a perhaps somewhat unrestrained smack”.
Dr Klijn describes Huize Sint Joseph as an institution where many religious men worked with great dedication, but where the quality of care had grave faults. This was partly due to overcrowding and a lack of well-trained personnel.
Like many Roman Catholic care facilities in its day, it suffered from a lack of funds. Catholic homes for the disabled also resisted outside attempts to impose training to professionalize the quality of care. It is not known how widespread similar abuses to those at Huize Sint Joseph were at other Catholic care institutions.
A practice which was fairly widespread but not widely publicized until recent years was the chemical castration of patients. One of the institutions where this took place was the Sint Willibrordus home, a Catholic facility for the mentally ill in the Dutch town of Heiloo, north of Amsterdam. Among those castrated were priests who had committed sexual offences and seminary students who were thought unable to keep their libido in check.
So far, there appears to be little interest in a wide-ranging inquiry into abuses in Roman Catholic care for the mentally disabled. Member of the Upper House and medical ethics expert Heleen Dupuis questions the need for an inquiry. Dr Dupuis, who chairs the main Dutch trade organisation for providers of care to the disabled, says anyone found guilty of abuse must be punished. But she prefers to emphasize how much Dutch care has improved since decades past when so many abuses took place. “Thank God we no longer live in those times,” she says.
I Frank J LaFerriere challenge Pope Benedict, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Bishop John McCormack and William A Donohue to a meeting
AFTER READING POPE BENEDICTS, CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN, BISHOP JOHN MCCORMACK AND WILLIAM A DONOHUE WORDS, I FRANK J LAFERRIERE CHALLENGE ALL FOUR OF THESE RELIGIOUS PEOPLE TO A MEETING AND A DEBATE ABOUT VICTIMS OF PRIEST PEDOPHILE RAPE AND THE COVER UP BY THE LEADERS OF THE CRIMINAL RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION KNOWN AS THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.
I know that none of these supposed men of god got the balls to face me in a room. To really look one of the victims of their perverted pedophile priests in the eye and listen to the horror and hell that his life has been since this priest stole his soul, body and mind.
These supposed men, these supposed human beings, these supposed protectors of the faith and the leaders of the church have no balls to sit down with one of the victims and speak their trash talk to his face because basically they are spineless jelly fish who can talk their lies and spread their false bullshit all over their pages, and then have the balls to call us victims liars only out seeking a money pay day from their church and the organizations that help us such as SNAP are nothing more than shrills for lawyers seeking to get money from their church of pedophile criminals and protectors of pedophile criminals.
My main questions would be:
Pope Benedict: Why do you believe that child pornography is considered normal and that sex between an adult and a child not evil? Why is it you believe this when child pornography is considered a felony crime and so is sex between an adult and a child. Why did you use this to explain the problem of your priests who raped children with impunity and when found out, you and your leaders did not defrock them and have them prosecuted under our laws, but moved them to other parishes so they could rape again. Why will you not submit to the World Court for Crimes Against Humanity and Children for your protecting two well known pedophile priests who raped dozens of children. Why instead of defrocking these priests did you just move them to another parish, allowed them to continue their duties and rape more children.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan: Why do you insist the church and it’s leaders should not suffer for their crimes against children and humanity? Why do you care more about the suffering the church would go through if you just got off your asses, admitted this was a wide spread problem and instead of fighting and denigrating the victims of your priests, you do what is right and help us fix our ruined lives? Why do you believe that just because these priests. who committed felony level crimes against children and would put them in prison, if convicted, for up to 20 years for each charge, are dead, the bishops and the leaders who moved these priests around, instead of defrocking them and having them prosecuted to the fullest extent the law allows for aggravated felonious sexual assault, so these priests could continue to rape these children are dead, YOU believe the church should not suffer. That the suffering of the victims of your pedophile priests matter less than the suffering of the church and it’s parishioners in paying off the lawsuits bought against your church of criminal pedophile perverts and leaders? That your words show, you do not care one iota about the victims of your pedophile priests, but you care about the church and its wealth more?
Bishop John McCormack: I want to know why you had a hand in the destruction of records of priests in the Manchester New Hampshire Diocese and why do you stand in the way of healing and repair for the victims of your perverted pedophile priests?
William A Donohue: I have so many questions for your sorry pedophile pimp loving ass that it would take probably six blog pages just to ask them all. So I will make my own observations about you straight out to your face.