The Church’s Errant Shepherds
By FRANK BRUNI Published: July 6, 2013
BOSTON, Philadelphia, Los Angeles. The archdioceses change but the overarching story line doesn’t, and last week Milwaukee had a turn in the spotlight, with the release of roughly 6,000 pages of records detailing decades of child sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests there, a sweeping, searing encyclopedia of crime and insufficient punishment.
But the words I keep marveling at aren’t from that wretched trove. They’re from an open letter that Jerome Listecki, the archbishop of Milwaukee, wrote to Catholics just before the documents came out.
“Prepare to be shocked,” he said.
What a quaint warning, and what a clueless one.
Quaint because at this grim point in 2013, a quarter-century since child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church first captured serious public attention, few if any Catholics are still surprised by a priest’s predations.
Clueless because Listecki was referring to the rapes and molestations themselves, not to what has ultimately eroded many Catholics’ faith and what continues to be even more galling than the evil that a man — any man, including one in a cassock or collar — can do. I mean the evil that an entire institution can do, though it supposedly dedicates itself to good.
I mean the way that a religious organization can behave almost precisely as a corporation does, with fudged words, twisted logic and a transcendent instinct for self-protection that frequently trump the principled handling of a specific grievance or a particular victim.
The Milwaukee documents underscore this, especially in the person of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, now the archbishop of New York, previously the archbishop of Milwaukee from 2002 to 2009 and thus one of the characters in the story that the documents tell. Last week’s headlines rightly focused on his part, because he typifies the slippery ways of too many Catholic leaders.
The documents show that in 2007, as the Milwaukee archdiocese grappled with sex-abuse lawsuits and seemingly pondered bankruptcy, Dolan sought and got permission from the Vatican to transfer $57 million into a trust for Catholic cemetery maintenance, where it might be better protected, as he wrote, “from any legal claim and liability.”
Several church officials have said that the money had been previously flagged for cemetery care, and that Dolan was merely formalizing that.
But even if that’s so, his letter contradicts his strenuous insistence before its emergence that he never sought to shield church funds. He did precisely that, no matter the nuances of the motivation.
He’s expert at drafting and dwelling in gray areas. Back in Milwaukee he selectively released the names of sexually abusive priests in the archdiocese, declining to identify those affiliated with, and answerable to, particular religious orders — Jesuits, say, or Franciscans. He said that he was bound by canon law to take that exact approach.
But bishops elsewhere took a different one, identifying priests from orders, and in a 2010 article on Dolan in The Times, Serge F. Kovaleski wrote that a half-dozen experts on canon law said that it did not specifically address the situation that Dolan claimed it did.
Dolan has quibbled disingenuously over whether the $20,000 given to each abusive priest in Milwaukee who agreed to be defrocked can be characterized as a payoff, and he has blasted the main national group representing victims of priests as having “no credibility whatsoever.” Some of the group’s members have surely engaged in crude, provocative tactics, but let’s have a reality check: the group exists because of widespread crimes and a persistent cover-up in the church, because child after child was raped and priest after priest evaded accountability. I’m not sure there’s any ceiling on the patience that Dolan and other church leaders should be expected to muster, especially because they hold themselves up as models and messengers of love, charity and integrity.
That’s the thing. That’s what church leaders and church defenders who routinely question the amount of attention lavished on the church’s child sexual abuse crisis still don’t fully get.
Yes, as they point out, there are molesters in all walks of life. Yes, we can’t say with certainty that the priesthood harbors a disproportionate number of them.
But over the last few decades we’ve watched an organization that claims a special moral authority in the world pursue many of the same legal and public-relations strategies — shuttling around money, looking for loopholes, tarring accusers, massaging the truth — that are employed by organizations devoted to nothing more than the bottom line.
In San Diego, diocesan leaders who filed for bankruptcy were rebuked by a judge for misrepresenting the local church’s financial situation to parishioners being asked to help pay for sex-abuse settlements.
In St. Louis church leaders claimed not to be liable for an abusive priest because while he had gotten to know a victim on church property, the abuse itself happened elsewhere.
In Kansas City, Mo., Rebecca Randles, a lawyer who has represented abuse victims, says that the church floods the courtroom with attorneys who in turn drown her in paperwork. In one case, she recently told me, “the motion-to-dismiss pile is higher than my head — I’m 5-foot-4.”
Also in Kansas City, Bishop Robert Finn still inhabits his post as the head of the diocese despite his conviction last September for failing to report a priest suspected of child sexual abuse to the police. This is how the church is in fact unlike a corporation. It coddles its own at the expense of its image.
As for Dolan, he is by many accounts and appearances one of the good guys, or at least one of the better ones. He has often demonstrated a necessary vigor in ridding the priesthood of abusers. He has given many victims a voice.
But look at the language in this 2005 letter he wrote to the Vatican, which was among the documents released last week. Arguing for the speedier dismissal of an abusive priest, he noted, in cool legalese, “The liability for the archdiocese is great as is the potential for scandal if it appears that no definitive action has been taken.”
His attention to appearances, his focus on liability: he could be steering an oil company through a spill, a pharmaceutical giant through a drug recall.
As for “the potential for scandal,” that’s as poignantly optimistic a line as Listecki’s assumption that the newly released Milwaukee documents would shock Catholics. By 2005 the scandal that Dolan mentions wasn’t looming but already full blown, and by last week the only shocker left was that some Catholic leaders don’t grasp its greatest component: their evasions and machinations.
A version of this op-ed appeared in print on July 7, 2013, on page SR3 of the New York edition with the headline: The Church’s Errant Shepherds.
UN tells Vatican to hand over details of child sex abuse cases
A United Nations committee has demanded that the Vatican reveal potentially explosive details about the systematic cover-up of child sex abuse by Catholic clergy.
Campaigners have called on Pope Francis, who was elected in March, to make tackling the issue of sexually abusive priests an urgent priority of his papacy.
The UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child released its demands for information from the Holy See on Tuesday.
The committee said that “in the light of the recognition by the Holy See of sexual violence against children committed by members of the clergy, brothers and nuns in numerous countries around the world, and given the scale of the abuses”, the Vatican should provide detailed information on all cases of child sexual abuse committed by clergy.
The Vatican was told to show whether it had implemented measures “to ensure that no member of the clergy currently accused of sexual abuse be allowed to remain in contact with children,” amid claims from around the world that bishops often moved abusive priests from one parish to another.
The UN committee demanded to know about specific cases in which bishops or other Catholic leaders had failed to report suspected abuse to the police.
The Vatican was also urged to divulge details of its investigation of alleged sexual abuse and the outcome of those investigations, including any financial compensation or psychological counselling for victims.
The committee wants to know what measures the Holy See has taken “to prevent further sexual violence from taking place in institutions run by the Catholic Church.” The Vatican has until January to compile all the information, in time for an open meeting of the UN committee in Geneva at which Vatican officials will be questioned.
Despite being a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Holy See had largely ignored requests for information, said Keith Porteous Wood, the executive director of the National Secular Society, who gave evidence to the committee last month.
“One of the requirements of a signatory is to compile a five yearly report on compliance – or in the Vatican’s case non-compliance – with the convention. The Holy See has grossly failed to do this for something like 12 years,” he told The Daily Telegraph.”They allowed sexual abuse on an unbelievable scale and it hasn’t all come out yet – we expect many, many more cases to emerge in the developing world.”
Pope Francis’s apparent determination to crack down on allegations of corruption and money-laundering within the Vatican bank gave hope that he might take a tough line on sexually abusive clergy, Mr Porteous Wood said.
“I think it’s a good sign,” he said. “Child abuse is a major issue, along with corruption, that he needs to sort out. His legacy will be judged, I think, on his ability to deal with these immensely difficult problems.”
Geoffrey Robertson QC, the human rights lawyer, who has strongly criticised the Catholic Church’s cover-up of sex abuse scandals around the world, said: “The committee’s enquiries will inevitably lead it to conclude that the Vatican has broken multiple articles of the convention on a huge scale in many countries. The result in human suffering is incalculable.
“Francis’s papacy could well be defined by the world’s verdict on his response – more handwringing apologies or calls for a line to be drawn under the past will no longer wash.
“He will fail unless he initiates bold tangible actions, for example lifting the veil of secrecy that has protected so many clerical rapists, engaging secular authorities and offering rather than resisting appropriate compensation.”
Bill Donohue and the Catholic League: DATA PROVE NO SEX ABUSE CRISIS
Bill Donohue comments on the 2012 Annual Report by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on the subject of sexual abuse:
The survey, done by an institute at Georgetown University, shows how utterly absurd it is to maintain that the Catholic Church continues to have a problem with priestly sexual abuse. Of the nearly 40,000 priests in the U.S., there were 34 allegations made by minors last year (32 priests, two deacons): six were deemed credible by law enforcement; 12 were either unfounded or unable to be proven; one was a “boundary violation”; and 15 are still being probed. Moreover, in every case brought to the attention of the bishops or heads of religious orders, the civil authorities were notified.
Not counting those of unknown status, in 88 percent of the total number of cases (independent of when they allegedly occurred), the accused priest is either deceased, has been dismissed from ministry, or has been laicized.
Most of the allegations reported to church officials today have nothing to do with current cases: two-thirds date back to the 1960s, 1970s and the first half of the 1980s. As usual, the problem is not pedophilia: 19 percent of the allegations involving those who work in dioceses or eparchies, and 7 percent of religious order priests and deacons, involve pedophilia. In other words, the problem remains what it has always been—an issue involving homosexual priests (85 percent of the victims were male).
Anyone who knows of any religious, or secular, organization that has less of a problem with the sexual abuse of minors these days should contact the Catholic League. We’d love to match numbers.
One more thing: since nearly 100 percent of our priests did not have a credible allegation made against him last year, this should be picked up by the media. But it won’t be. Look for the story to get buried.
Above is the verbatim commentary Mr Bill Donohue of the Catholic League made on the recent data released by the 2012 Annual Report by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on the subject of sexual abuse.
Mr Donohue goes on to say: The survey, done by an institute at Georgetown University, shows how utterly absurd it is to maintain that the Catholic Church continues to have a problem with priestly sexual abuse.
Apparently Mr Donohue does NOT seem to get the message. He does seem to evade and avoid the real problem here in association with the rapes of children, the torture of children, the abuse of children by those of the Roman Catholic Church and the Leaders who covered it up.
While it is admirable that the church is now cleaning up it’s act, I have some reservations using a report brought to us by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops when the leaders of the RCC, especially Bishops and Cardinals had a massive hand in moving child rapists and abusers around from parish to parish without warning or telling anyone about these child rapists and abusers. Then these same abusers went on to abuse even more children.
Sure there may be less children being harmed by sexual degenerates who prey on young children in the RCC and sure there are now eyes everywhere, there is still a massive problem with the leaders who covered it up getting away with their crimes.
There is ample and irrefutible evidence against many Cardinals: Timothy Dolan, Donald Wuerl, Roger Mahony, Justin Rigali, Bernard Law, Sean Brady, Keith O’Brien, George Pell, Franc Rodé, Humberto Medeiros, Dominik Duka, John Krol, Leonardo Sandri, William Leveda, Richard Cushing, and too many Archbishops and Bishops to name, who participated in a massive cover up of child rapists and abusers and put the church before the safety and welfare of children. Mr Donohue has to get this through his thick skull. There is still ample evidence of stonewalling in the Diocese and of course the now infamous strategy to fight and call any victim now who comes forward liars and gold diggers and fight them, delay them and subtrefuge them every step of the way.
No Mr Donohue, the Roman Catholic Church has gotten off too damn easy. Your Popes, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, your Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops and others who turned a blind eye to the destruction of the soul, heart and mind of a child to satisfy some sexual perverted feelings among your clergy must be rectified before anyone can honestly believe the RCC is actually cleaning up their act. This means the immediate resignation, or forced resignation, of all credibly accused Cardinals et al who participated in these cover ups and submission for prosecution. Sure plea bargin if you will, but you all must face a court of mans law for justice to be truly gotten for the victims of your sick and twisted child rapists and abusers.
Mr Donohue, I recall when you compared what rape victims of these pedophiles go through is what you went through when you got smacked on the wrist by a nun. Well Mr Donohue, I have been smacked on the wrist by a nun for being left handed. I was raped and tortured by one of the Roman Catholic Priests. He was supposed to protect me for one damn night. Instead he consigned me to a life of living hell, where I actually believed I was pure evil, that I deserved what happened to me, that I was condemned by God and Jesus Christ himself to eternal damnation. I even took the name Damien, the name of the antichrist child in the Omen movies because I believed the horror this sick and twisted scumbag drilled into my terrified mind. He told me I was evil, doomed to hell because I broke one of the Ten Commandments. He ripped from me everything that night.
Mr Donohue, I would rather two thousand nuns smacked me on the wrist than go through what that twisted sub human put me through, dressed and disguised as a man of God that night.
Letter to the Editor, Manchester Union Leader, April 18 2013 How can Catholics cheer those who hid abuse?
My letter to the editor, which appeared in the Manchester Union Leader, April 18, 2013: How can Catholics cheer those who hid abuse?
How can Catholics cheer those who hid abuse?
To the Editor: As a survivor of priest rape, I and many other survivors wonder if the parishioners of the Roman Catholic Church can understand how it feels to us victims to hear them cheering the Pope or cardinals like Timothy Dolan. Benedict and Dolan are just two who participated in the coverups of child rape by their priests. Yet we victims have to hear you cheer them on. Put yourself in a rape victim’s shoes and imagine what that is like for us.
On Bishops Accountability, there is a database. On this list, there are 3,763 priests and nuns, just in the United States, who were credibly accused. You look at this list, then come back and tell us it was just a few priests who did this, and remember, this is just for those in the U.S.
To put it bluntly, we victims feel that is the parishioners and the good bishops, cardinals , priests and nuns do not demand the immediate resignation of all of these leaders of your church credibly accused in the coverups, and the prosecution of these people for their crimes against children, then in our eyes you are just as guilty of these crimes as the perpetrators.
Talk to the victims and see if the church is in fact doing all it can to help us.
8 New Priest Child-Sex Abuse Lawsuits
By Jackie Gailey| Tuesday, Sep 18, 2012 | Updated 7:21 PM EDT
Eight new civil lawsuits claiming the Archdiocese of Philadelphia covered up child sex abuse allegations are being filed in Philadelphia.
Two alleged victims of priest sex abuse spoke at a news conference on Tuesday, about their experiences and why they decided not to conceal their identities in the civil lawsuits.
Andrew Druding and Michael McDonnell are two of nine plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits naming the Archdiocese, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Cardinal Justin Rigali and Msgr. William Lynn.
Seven priests are also named in the complaints, they are: Msgr. Francis Feret, St.Timothy’s School, Northeast Philadelphia; Fr. John H. Mulholland, Holy Child Parish, Manayunk; Fr. John P. Schmeer, Roman Catholic High School, Philadelphia; St. Anastasia School, Newtown Square, PA; Edward Avery (Defrocked), St. Bernadette’s, Drexel Hill, PA.; Father Robert L Brennan, St. Marks School, Philadelphia; Resurrection of our Lord, Philadelphia; Father Joseph J Gallagher, Ascension of our Lord, Philadelphia; Father Francis X. Trauger, St. Titus, Norristown.
Lynn, the former secretary for clergy at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, was convicted in June of child endangerment for failing to oust then-priest Edward Avery after a 1992 sex abuse complaint. Lynn is serving three to six years in prison.
Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina said Lynn enabled “monsters in clerical garb…. to destroy the souls of children, to whom you turned a hard heart.”
“After two grand jury investigations in the city of philly that comprehensively covered the cover up by the archdiocese and the conviction of Msgr. Lynn for endangering children and after the guilty plea by defrocked priest Avery, we know for a certainty that there is an ongoing conspiracy to endanger children and to cover up for the benefit of the Archdiocese,” said co-counsel Marci Hamilton.
The lawsuits claim procedures supposedly implemented by the Archdiocese to help victims of sexual abuse where instead used to assist the abusive priests and the Archdiocese to avoid liability.
Victims were falsely assured by the Archdiocese that statements made to the archdiocese would be confidential but instead the statements were turned over to Archdiocese attorneys and used to build defenses for the Archdiocese and to impeach victims, according to the lawsuits.
McDonnell, whose complaint alleges abuse by two priests, read the following statement at Tuesday’s news conference, “I speak not only for myself but for the countless others who suffered adolescent horror — you are not alone. Today is not just about seeking justice, but also, as it was written by President John F. Kennedy, about ‘our most admirable human virtue- courage.’ As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse by the clergy, I can tell you that there is no doubt that the conspiracy to cover-up the grave moral actions by the clergy started long before these tragedies ever became public. It was protocol. It is today that courage brings me here, it is today that more will be revealed.”
The Philadelphia Archdiocese released this statement to NBC10, “We have not received copies of the cases that the plaintiffs have said they intend to file, so we cannot provide more detailed information on those particular lawsuits at this time. We believe lawsuits are not the best mechanism to promote healing in the context of the very private and difficult circumstances of sexual abuse. We will work to assure all victims of sexual abuse receive appropriate assistance.”
The Archdiocese told NBC10 the status of the priests named in the lawsuits are as follows: Avery has been removed from the clerical state; Brennan has been out of the ministry since 2006; Feret was found unsuitable for ministry by Archbishop Chaput in May 2012; Gallagher remains on administrative leave following the 2011 grand jury report; Mulholland was removed from the clerical state in 2008; Schmeer has accepted a supervised life of prayer and penance; and Trauger was removed from the clerical state in 2005.
Shame on you for cheering the Pope
My letter to the Editor that appeared in the Berlin Daily Sun on Friday March 1, 2013
Next Pope & Only Some Cardinals Are Immune For Abuse Crimes
By Jerry Slevin, a retired Catholic and Harvard “schooled” international lawyer
Tens of thousands of survivors of priest rape worldwide, and many millions of other people, surely think it outrageous that either the Pope or any Cardinal is immune from prosecution for child endangerment. Nevertheless, the next Pope and Cardinals at the Vatican are likely immune, as Cardinal Law well knew when he fled Boston for the Vatican.
Philly’s Cardinal Bevilacqua lacked immunity, but died last year before his likely imminent indictment. His successor, Cardinal Rigali, appears to remain at risk as the civil case against him proceeds. Their top subordinate, Monsignor Lynn, today sits in prison for following the cover-up orders of his Cardinal.
Los Angeles prosecutors, recently emboldened by an evidentially “Vatican blessed” public shaming of Cardinal Mahoney, are feverishly combing through recently released files apparently trying to find some basis to prosecute Cardinal Mahoney.
Neither Cardinal Rigali nor Ireland’s Cardinal Brady have been publicly shamed, so far at least, for their well reported abuse cover-up misdeeds, nor has convicted Opus Dei Bishop Finn, a St. Louis protégé like Cardinal Dolan of the Vatican clique’s longtime colleague, Cardinal Rigali.
It appears that, for the immune Vatican clique, there are different shaming standards depending on which Cardinal misbehaves. Apparently, Cardinals like Mahoney, who may be disapproved of politically by key plutocratic Republican Vatican contributors, are at a higher risk of public shaming. If this arbitrary process fails to make some Cardinals anxious, they should have a serious talk soon with their criminal lawyers.
Overall, few Cardinals outside the Vatican are likely legally immune from local prosecution for child endangerment. Most Cardinals must now worry if they face potential prosecution whether the next Pope will offer them the “Cardinal Law shield” or the “Cardinal Mahoney shaft”. Hierarchical “hardball”, to be sure!
Moreover, neither the Pope nor any Cardinal is immune from prosecution for crimes against humanity by the mother who is currently serving as Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. She has been involved recently in a major conviction of a senior political leader for aiding and abetting crimes against humanity. The Pope and Cardinals Sodano, Bertone and Levada are currently the subject of a criminal complaint filed for crimes against humanity allegedly for the worldwide cover-up of priest rapes of innocent children. The Pope’s resignation has likely reduced the political resistance to this case proceeding, possibly with the addition as criminal defendants of other Vatican Cardinals who may have played a role in covering-up or in suppressing canonical judicial investigations under the “omerta” approach.
The octogenarian Vatican clique is now trying to ram through quickly a subservient new Pope who will do their bidding for their few remaining years, leaving younger Cardinals, Bishops and worldwide Catholics to fend for themselves thereafter. Cardinals are now being stampeded to vote early. Will all Cardinals be so shortsighted to fall for this? Will at least one-third of them slow the election process down and still salvage the Church (and themselves) instead? There is a way they can do this as described below.
All Cardinals, if only in their own self-interest, need to act now to begin to fix the Church first before it is too late, especially before a complicit new Pope is installed for life to protect the Vatican clique. Prosecutors are increasingly moving into the Church, while Catholics are steadily moving out, and all will continue to do so if the Church is not fixed promptly.
President Obama’s new Catholic chief of staff just said on Meet The Press, in effect, that the Church will do fine if it does the right things. And what if it continues to do some bad things as is obscenely reported almost daily in the international media? President Obama and a U.S. Presidential investigation commission, similar to Australia PM Julia Gillard’s new commission, would have the clout to compel much of the fix needed. President Obama has condemned institutional child sexual abuse. Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop Lori continue to try to derail Obamacare with their absurd “Taco Bell” ploy.
Will Cardinals instead try to fix the Church themselves now or just continue the risk of sitting in prison cells, as some of them very well may be doing soon, wishing they had fixed it when they could have? Philly’s Monsignor Lynn, former top subordinate to Cardinals Rigali and Bevilacqua now in jail for child endangerment, proves this risk is real. Make sure you ask Cardinal Rigali about this at the conclave next month.
Here’s what smart Cardinals can and should do. They need to block by a one-third vote any papal candidate that will not agree publicly now to take the following three actions:
(1) Serve only a three year term subject to re-election thereafter. Pope Benedict just proved by resigning that the papacy is not a lifelong position.
(2) Appoint now a special committee to identify and recommend within nine months needed structural and pastoral changes, as described in my April 2010 Washington Post web column you should read now that tried to warn Pope Benedict three years ago about what he was facing, that he foolishly failed to acknowledge, and which is linked here at:
(3) Implement the needed changes so identified at a worldwide council held away from Rome within six months of receipt of the special committee’s recommendations as described in my Washington Post column.
Alternatively, Cardinals can give the Vatican clique their blank papal proxies, then hire expensive criminal lawyers and pray for a miracle. How do they really think God will respond?
Pertinently, among some of the relevant guidelines generally ascribed to Jesus are that he was opposed to a self-important, excessively scrupulous and overly indulgent religious hierarchy and that he thought children should be protected from harm. These points have neither been consistently understood nor respected in the Vatican for decades, even for centuries. The “Good News”, or the Gospels, have often been disregarded by the Catholic hierarchy where a Renaissance culture of opulence and celibate incomprehension of children still predominate today.
Where in the Gospels did Jesus say predatory priests are to be protected before innocent children, like the Vatican has done for decades, if not centuries? Where did Jesus instruct his followers to wear $30,000 outfits paid for by donations like Cardinal Burke reportedly does? Where did Jesus tell his followers to launder money like Cardinals reportedly do through the Vatican Bank?
If, as Benedict has clearly indicated, a Pope should go if he is unable to perform his duties, should he be removed if he is unwilling to perform or performs badly? Should there be term limits or maximum age limits? Of course, the only logical answer is yes to all of these related questions. But the Vatican is run by power politics, not logic, or even spiritual values for that matter. Some Vatican Cardinal will likely leak soon the real reasons Benedict is retiring. Benedict will meet soon with top Italian leaders who seem to be benefiting in their own election contests from the media attention on the Pope. Is an immunity deal in the air? In any event, the real story should be our soon.
It is time to restore Catholic leadership to the consensual approach that Jesus and early Catholics followed for over three centuries until Roman Emperors converted the Catholic Bishops, including the Pope, into an imperial bureaucracy dominated by a Vatican clique that dictated ruthlessly for 1,700 years, and still dictates, top-down to Catholics seemingly to fill the clique’s coffers. It seems significant that key Vatican powers, Pope Benedict and Cardinal Sodano, were both born in 1927 and spent their formative years under totalitarian dictators, Hitler and Mussolini, respectively. This is well reflected in their hierarchical approach, but they seem to forget that the Fuhrer and Il Duce eventually got their gruesome rewards, mainly at the hands of constitutional democracies. The Vatican no longer has powerful European monarchs or opportunistic dictators to protect it and plutocrats flee weakness quickly. The Holy Roman Emperor’s phone has been disconnected for almost a century.
Catholics will not likely in their lifetimes have a better opportunity than in connection with the papal election to reform the Church, and at the same time to protect children as Jesus commanded. It is time to restore the consensual church management structure that the overwhelming vote of Vatican II Cardinals and Bishops contemplated would be adopted a half century ago before a minority of Cardinals like Ottaviani, Wotyla, Ratzinger, Sodano, Bertone, Levada, Rigali, Mahoney, Law, Burke, Bevilacqua, Brady, et al., subverted its implementation.
Pope John XXIII issued in 1962 the main secrecy order on priest child sex abuse. But he also realized that accountability had to be restored to save the Church. He took the first step by trying to get the Vatican Cardinals to share power with the worldwide bishops. He died soon thereafter and the Vatican Cardinals’ clique rejected power sharing craftily. Since then, they have installed compliant Popes who like the papal prestige and are happy to do the clique’s bidding. But the democratic rule of law has run out of patience with clerical child abusers and Popes no longer have any effective political power, as the re-election of President Obama and papal political setbacks in the Philippines, Australia, the United Kingdom, France and elsewhere just proved.
The International Sheriff appears to be on his way to Rome and the Pope cannot hide for long with Gorgeous Georg in a refurbished convent. Some of his own Cardinals, or his butler, may likely help nail him, it appears. The Vatican clique’s unending stream of blunders, the latest including (1) appointing Cardinal Law’s former canon lawyer as chief Vatican prosecutor of predatory priests, (2) appointing as part-time Vatican Bank “chief” a German investment banker, who is reportedly also overseeing a major arms dealer, and (3) the selectively and gratuitously shaming of Cardinal Mahoney publicly.
But at this point does any of this matter to most Catholics worldwide? While it may seem overly pessimistic to say so soon that the next Pope will likely fail too, it is just being realistic; and yet there is also room for much optimism. The papal resignation is tantamount to an admission of failure and will lead to de-mystification of the papacy quickly. Pope Benedict XVI, soon to again be non-Pontiff, Joseph Ratzinger, and his Vatican clique led by Cardinal Sodano et al., have already set the stage for the next failure.
The sudden call for a quick election conclave substantially diminishes any chance of a real opposition being mounted by non-Vatican Cardinals. Since the Pope apparently knew for some time he would resign, the suddenness seems well planned. Ratzinger will soon be living a few hundred yards away from the new Pope in his refurbished retirement base, hardly a monastery.
Ratzinger and Sodano already likely know who will be the next Pope and one would be foolish to bet against them. Perhaps Cardinals might save some money by just mailing in blank proxies to Sodano.
The reason for some optimism is that the Vatican clique’s apparent raw power grab will now just accelerate the sinking of the Vatican Titanic that much sooner. Even overly trusting Catholics will see through the clerical charade. Various prosecutors and survivors lawyers can now be expected to be able to reach Ratzinger, who may lose his legal immunity in a few weeks. Once the rule of international law starts pulling hard directly on papal threads, the Vatican hierarchy can expect to be quickly uncovered and forced to initiate reforms, perhaps after some senior officials face prosecution, which is likely not too far off.
For example, longtime Vatican Cardinal Rigali is still at risk of prosecution in Philadelphia where his predecessor, Cardinal Bevilacqua, last year apparently escaped a likely imminent criminal indictment for child endangerment by dying first! Their hapless senior aide, Monsignor Lynn, took the fall so far and is in prison.
Yes, Cardinals apparently will now go to Rome, but they could have demanded first that a conference be convened soon, before any election occurs, to be held far away from Rome to address seriously and comprehensively the Church’s major problems, which are just getting worse with the recent decades of papal inattention and will continue to get worse if Ratzinger and Sodano elect their man.
Catholics are not and should not be waiting on Cardinals. Australian and Irish Catholics have already gotten their governments to act. Now many from different faiths and no faith all across the USA, and even worldwide, including some of those harmed by the abuse of the deaf victims in Milwaukee, have already signed my petition calling on President Obama to step up. They have indicated they have had enough with the domination of local prosecutors and legislators by the Catholic hierarchy and its well paid apologists and lawyers.
More signatures, including yours, will help accelerate the establishment of the U.S. national investigation commission, especially important now when the Vatican may be at a turning point.
We all have a moral obligation to protect children and signing a petition is a simple, yet potentially effective, way towards meeting that obligation. Please take a minute and sign it at:
Please, as well, ask those you respect and who value children to sign it also. If you are active in a U.S. advocacy group, ask your leadership to support the petition. Similarly reticent progressive Catholic voices, like the National Catholic Reporter and Commonweal, seem reluctant to press for the positive prospects of President Obama establishing a U.S. national investigation commission. They need now to take a stand.
What are they all waiting for? Blogging, writing, debating and prayer, however admirable and well intentioned, have to date barely influenced the Vatican clique and their subservient U.S. Bishops on reforms and will likely do little more in the future, certainly in the near term as more children are raped by priests, while duped Catholics continue to contribute enabling complicit bishops to protect priest pedophiles and predators perpetually.
I have separately proposed that President Obama consider appointing First Lady, Michelle Obama, to chair the new Obama commission. She is well respected as a Harvard lawyer and devoted mother. She would be an ideal choice with her established credibility if she were willing to accept the appointment.
The First Lady of the USA could consult with another effective former practicing lawyer, Julia Gillard, Australia’s Prime Minister, who just established a national investigation commission that already has the Catholic hierarchy and the Vatican running for cover.
Prime Minister Gillard recently disclosed that the tipping points in her decision to call for a national commission were the numerous disclosures that the Catholic Bishops, as part of their cover-up, moved predatory priests to avoid prosecution to other states and even other countries, where the predators continued their sexual abuse of more trusting and innocent children. The multistate and multinational dimensions of the crimes against children apparently convinced Prime Minister Gillard she had to take action at the Federal level. This moving of predatory priests interstate and across national borders has, of course, happened repeatedly in the USA as well, necessitating a Federal response in the USA as well.
If the First Lady would oversee this, President Obama would still be able to focus on his many other priorities, including resisting the Vatican’s and its plutocratic Republican contributors’ unrelenting and opportunistic efforts to derail Obamacare over contraception insurance and immigration reform over gay marriage.
U.S. voters recently made clear their rejection of the Vatican’s lobbying efforts to deny marriage equality for gay U.S citizens. Now the Vatican appears to be trying to deny it for gay immigrants. As to the Vatican’s relentless and futile anti-contraception crusade, 79 year old conservative Cologne Cardinal Meisner, recently approved a “morning after” pill of the type that, only a few months ago, many U.S. Bishops were condemning President Obama for helping U.S. women gain affordable access to. Does the Vatican understand how contraceptive pills work? Does the Vatican understand that President Obama has been re-elected?
If there tragically were not over 200 million “unplanned” children living miserably in countries where Vatican lobbying effectively denied their parents access to affordable contraception, a dispute among octogenarian celibates over permissible forms of contraception would make good political satire! But sadly, the Vatican’s anti-contraceptive efforts, apparently mainly to please the Vatican’s plutocratic Republican donors by keeping family planning wedge issues in political play, will very likely only fail again, while these efforts continue nevertheless to burden families and children.
Does the right hand talk to the left among Cardinals and the Vatican clique? Do the unprecedented, selective and well orchestrated shaming by an Opus Dei Archbishop of Cardinal Mahoney, and the unexpected support from Cardinal Meisner for contraception that is reportedly starting to stir up German Bishops, indicate a Cardinals’ revolt is brewing. Will this revolt affect the papal elections next month? We may soon find out.
Please click on to the black text at the top of this column for my analysis of related topics. In particular, for more analysis of the powerful political influence of the Catholic hierarchy here, please see my remarks at
For more analysis of how the emerging divisions among Cardinals might have changed the papal election process, please see my remarks at
Finally, I hope some of you will consider linking this statement to your comments at appropriate websites, such as at:
(1) National Catholic Reporter ( http://ncronline.org ) and of
(2) Commonweal ( http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/ ).
Italy President receives request to deny Pope Benedict XVI immunity on Feb 23
Friday, February 15, 2013
An Open Letter and Appeal to Giorgio Napolitano, President of the Republic of Italy from Kevin D. Annett, Secretary of the International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State
Upon hearing the infamous Head Pedophile Pimp of the Unholy Roman Catholic Church Pope Benedict XVI was resigning I shouted for joy. Why?
Well now because he has resigned, he has in fact opened his sorry Pedophile Priest Loving Ass to prosecution for his cover ups of priest rape while he was the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
I sincerely hope this piece of dog dung who should have been put into prison a long time ago along with the likes of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Justin Rigali, Roger Mahoney, Bernard Law, Anthony Bevilacqua, William Leveda and many others who covered up the rape and torture of children where they could be gang raped on a daily basis by the inmates in the shower. I would love to see this scum bent over, taking it up his shitter by some big, black bubba in the shower while the Bubba is telling him to squeal like a pig. I would love for all of these Cardinals mentioned to endure the same exact thing. I would love it if Bill Donohue, Pig Faced President of the Catholic League was put into prison so he can find out what real pain and suffering is like when he too is bent over and taken up his fat ass.