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How Much Longer Can the Vatican Avoid Priest Sex Abuse?


How Much Longer Can the Vatican Avoid Priest Sex Abuse?

By Views of Jerry Slevin, a Catholic and Harvard schooled Wall Street lawyer, retired

From the link: http://christiancatholicism.com/how-much-longer-can-the-vatican-avoid-priest-sex-abuse/

The Vatican priest child abuse “cover-up denial”, that was so evident at the recent Roman Synod of Bishops, may be manageable for another year or two, but likely not much longer, even with a new Pope. International reality checks, in the form of factual and not mythical revelations, are rapidly exposing the Vatican’s latest mystical smokescreens to be the poor public relations ploys they are. So many innocent Catholic children have been raped by too many predatory priests protected by complicit Cardinals and Bishops. There are limits to trusting Catholics’ inculcated gullibility, and even an ex-FOX News pro working for the Pope can spin only so much. Facts stubbornly speak for themselves. Papal “Tweets” and “Apps” are no substitute for papal candor.

On an academic level, a promising young UK/Italian lay ecclesiologist has effectively exposed the mainly mythological foundation of the Vatican’s claim for absolute papal primacy. The recent book, “Democracy and the Christian Church”, concisely shows the scriptural, theological, philosophical and historical weaknesses of the papal claim and is accessible in part by clicking on at: http://amzn.com/0567449521

Catholics are increasingly learning that hierarchical conduct too often deviates significantly from papal propaganda. Initial Los Angeles secret abuse file revelations have exposed Cardinal Mahony’s reckless protection of known predatory priests. Criminal allegations of drug dealing against, and related cross-dressing and porn shop operation reports about, a former Bridgeport state chaplain of the Knights of Malta and top subordinate to Cardinal Egan and to Archbishop Lori, head of the Pope’s anti-Obama “religious liberty crusade”, are almost incredibly unsavory.

Moreover, reported efforts apparently to protect the secrecy of Munich and Regensburg files of the Pope and his brother, relating to alleged failures in the 1970′s to curtail a Munich predatory priest and to protect abused Regensburg choir boys, by sacking a too thorough German academic investigator, further erodes the steadily disappearing papal credibility. Ruthless attempts to silence a popular Irish priest who spoke about women and married priests, and apparently also to try to curtail an Irish priests’ “union”, are backfiring as the brave priest stands fast. Continued diatribes against gay marriage by a reported drunk driver San Francisco Archbishop appear cynical and desperate at best. Seemingly unending criminal trial disclosures about Cardinal Rigali’s Philly pedophile priest paradise continues to disgust many Catholics. Millions of U.S. Catholics have had enough and want to see these hypocritical and unaccountable actions curbed promptly.

Some Cardinals and Bishops will likely soon begin to be pressed directly by international and individual nations’ prosecutorial investigations. Even an end to Popes being dictated to by corrupt Vatican Cardinal cliques may be on the near horizon, as explained in “Will the Next Pope Become the Vatican’s Last Pope?”, accessible by clicking on the heading at the top here or on: http://wp.me/P2YEZ3-cT

The days of relying mainly on Vatican canon law investigations and “prosecutions”, now to be overseen by one of disgraced Cardinal Law’s former canon lawyers, are over. The major Australian governmental investigation and the almost inevitable upcoming U.S. Federal investigation will only add to the pressure on the Vatican, as explained further in “Why President Obama Must Read the Latest “LA Confidential”, accessible by clicking on the heading on the top here or on: http://wp.me/P2YEZ3-f3 .

Finally, beginning soon on Monday, February 4, HBO will begin airing internationally the award winnning documentary. “Mea Maxima Culpa”. It is the sad story about 200+ deaf boys who were allegedly sexually abused by a single priest in Milwaukee over several decades. Both local law enforcement and the Catholic hierarchy reportedly failed to act timely and adequately on deaf boys’ abuse claims, which even futilely reached the Pope’s CDF department in Rome. A Federal judge recently reversed an earlier shameful attempt by then Archbishop Dolan, now New York’s Cardinal and a reported papal contender, to transfer $55 million of the Milwaukee diocese’s funds to a cemetery trust beyond the legal reach of abuse survivors’ claims, apparently including some of the deaf survivors.

The Vatican and its subservient Cardinals and Bishops may try to run some more, as Cardinal Law so arrogantly did; but they are rapidly running out of places to hide.

Why Does the Pope Play the USA as Fool?


Why Does the Pope Play the USA as Fool?

Blog of Jerry Slevin, a lifelong Catholic believer and a retired Wall Street lawyer

From the link: http://christiancatholicism.com/why-does-the-pope-play-the-usa-as-fool/

The Pope continually treats the USA as a “damned fool”. And why not? From President Obama on down to Catholic leaders like Joe Biden, Leon Panetta, John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi, the Pope and his subservient hierarchy in the USA get a pass almost no matter how badly Catholics and even political leaders are treated. Meanwhile, the Prime Ministers of Australia and Ireland on behalf of their citizens properly and publicly challenge the Pope, who then reacts to their fair demands. Listen up, please, Mr. President!

How does Pope Benedict XVI treat the USA as a fool and why does the USA permit this, you may fairly ask? Here is how and why. I will tell you. Now President Obama in his new term must stand up to the monarchical Pope and his subservient U.S. hierarchy, at least for the sake of defenseless children in the USA. Enough with the President’s fawning laughter at Cardinal Dolan’s bad humor and with Leon Panetta kissing the Pope’s ring, as he just did publicly. The President won re-election, despite the Pope’s major effort to prevent that. It is time, in the name of religious liberty, for President Obama to help Catholics protect their children from Vatican tyranny and the horrors it visits on innocent U.S. children.

The Pope treats the USA as a fool by his interference is internal U.S. political elections and decisions and in his protection of too many priests who continue to sexually abuse U.S. children. For additional information on the political interference and child abuse cover-ups, please see my, “Will The Next Pope Be the Vatican’s Last Pope?”, accessible by clicking on the heading at the top here or clicking on to: http://wp.me/P2YEZ3-cT

The President must also set up promptly a national investigation commission into child sexual abuse in organizational settings, like Australia’s PM, Julia Gillard, has just done and Ireland’s PM, Enda Kenny, also did. Local states and counties in the USA have failed, and will continue to fail, at adequately protecting defenseless children from priest predators, and they have failed for over a half century now.

The Boston, LA, Philly and Kansas City dioceses’ priest abuse scandals overwhelmingly prove this failure. In the USA alone, Vatican experts estimate over 100,000 child victims of priest sexual abuse so far. Many of these innocent victims are shunned by the Catholic hierarchy and very often have to depend on governmental assistance to survive. Meanwhile, the hierarchy spends hundreds of millions of dollars on lawyers to make sure bishops are not held accountable.

If, as expected, the President appoints Denis McDonough, as his new Chief of Staff, Denis will need to understand, as I expect he will, that the President’s duty is to protect all U.S. children both from sexual predators, as well as from armed madmen, in organizational settings like churches and schools. This is especially important now because Denis’ brother is reportedly a Catholic hierarchy member who had been involved extensively in overseeing canonical legal matters relating to numerous alleged predatory priest cases in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis where Denis grew up.

Of course, Denis cannot and presumably will not expect that President Obama would play favorites when defenseless children’s safety is at stake. Denis is reportedly a proud father of three young children and will surely concur with President Obama here, notwithstanding what any of his relatives’ views may be if in any way contrary. In any event, President Obama must make this clear to Denis.

The current Chief of Staff, Jack Lew, an Orthodox Jew, recently made this very clear publicly to Jewish educational leaders in New York. Denis, if appointed, should consider following Jack’s lead and also consider making a strong public statement to Catholic leaders to remove all doubts.

President Obama must soon also appoint, as the new U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, a person without disqualifying prior ties to the U.S. bishops. For further explanation of why this is so important, please read my, “Obama’s Next Ambassador and Pressing the Next Pope”, accessible by clicking on the heading on the top here or clicking on at: http://wp.me/P2YEZ3-cH

Please post all or parts of these statements, or links to them, everywhere you consider appropriate. Thank you.

Cardinal Has a Mixed Record on Sexual Abuse Cases


Cardinal Has a Mixed Record on Sexual Abuse Cases

from the link http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/06/world/europe/06levada.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Cardinal William J Leveda

Cardinal William J Leveda

 

In January 2006, Cardinal William J. Levada, the highest ranking American official in the Vatican, slipped into a San Francisco office building, sidestepping a gaggle of media lying in wait. On leave from Rome, he was submitting to a day of questioning before a flotilla of plaintiffs’ lawyers.

For eight strenuous hours, the cardinal was pressed to explain why he had decided to return priests who were confirmed sexual abusers back to ministry. He acknowledged that he had failed to notify the authorities of allegations of abuse. He struggled to recall why he had chosen not to share information with parishioners.

The questions related to abuse cases that Cardinal Levada dealt with while he was an American bishop; he oversaw the archdiocese of Portland and San Francisco from 1986 to 2005. But by the time the questions were being asked, the cardinal had assumed an exalted position at the Vatican just vacated by his old friend Pope Benedict XVI, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

That put him in charge of adjudicating sexual abuse cases involving priests worldwide, as Benedict had been before him. And like Benedict, whose handling of delicate cases before he became pope has come under scrutiny, Cardinal Levada often did not act as assertively as he could have on abuse cases.

Cardinal Levada was ahead of other church officials on the issue at times, setting up an independent committee to vet abuse cases and calling for greater accountability from church leaders.

But an examination of his record, pieced together from interviews and a review of thousands of pages of court documents, show that he generally followed the prevailing practice of the church hierarchy, often giving accused priests the benefit of the doubt and being reluctant to remove them from ministry.

Erin Olson, a Portland lawyer who has been involved in numerous sexual abuse lawsuits against the Portland Archdiocese, said, “It’s no surprise that the Catholic Church continues to be mired in the abuse scandal when the cardinal put in charge of how the church as a whole responds to child sex abuse allegations did such a poor job himself as a bishop and archbishop.” She was largely responsible for forcing Cardinal Levada to testify that day in 2006.

Cardinal Levada wrote in an e-mail message that he did not have “the time nor the access to records” to respond to a list of a questions submitted to him 10 days ago. But he pointed to a homily he delivered at an apology ceremony for clergy abuse victims in 2003, which he said might be helpful in “understanding changes in my own thinking and behavior as well as the evolution in approach taken by the U.S. Catholic bishops.”

That message touched upon, among other issues, the importance of reporting incidents to authorities and removing “priest offenders” from ministry.

“The whole Church has been shocked and scandalized by the abuse done by a few of her priests to children and young people,” he said in the homily, adding, “The Church is slowly learning how deep this wound is, how slow to heal, and how diligent must be our effort to ensure that it will not happen again.”

Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, who served under Cardinal Levada in San Francisco as his vicar for clergy, said the cardinal had been unfairly maligned.

“My own judgment is he gets categorized negatively,” Bishop Wester said. “I don’t think it’s deserved. I just think he did right by the victims. He’s not somebody who’s going to slap you on the back, be super gregarious, the life of the party kind of guy. He’s more serious, more reserved. Sometimes people misinterpret that.

“In his own way, I think he’s very transparent and forthright,” Bishop Wester said.

Suzanne Giraudo, a psychologist and chairwoman of the San Francisco Archdiocese’s Independent Review board, which evaluates the credibility of sexual abuse accusations, praised Cardinal Levada, saying he wanted to “do what was right, not only for the priest but for the victim.”

An Early Warning

An assessment of Cardinal Levada’s performance in his current job at the Vatican is complicated by the fact that his congregation’s decisions are shrouded in confidentiality rules.

Canon lawyers said cases had been handled more efficiently by the Vatican since procedures were clarified in 2001. Nevertheless, it is not difficult to find cases that have dragged on for several years. The congregation has added staff members, but it still has only 10 people handling cases, and there have been more than 3,000 in the past decade.

Several recent cases that have become public have raised questions about whether the Vatican is even now acting aggressively enough.

American bishops have long argued that they were ignorant of the gravity of sexual abuse in the church until relatively recently. It was not until 2002 that the American church, with Cardinal Levada as one of its most prominent leaders, adopted a zero-tolerance policy in which priests who were credibly accused of sexual abuse were automatically suspended from ministry.

But Cardinal Levada himself heard the siren much earlier. In the spring of 1985, the alarm was sounded by an unlikely trio of concerned Catholics, the Rev. Thomas Doyle, a Vatican canon lawyer; Raymond Mouton Jr., a Louisiana criminal lawyer who defended the Rev. Gilbert Gauthe, a notorious pedophile priest; and the Rev. Michael Peterson, a psychiatrist.

In the wake of the Gauthe case, the three men produced a strongly worded 92-page report that argued for immediate action to deal with sexual molestation in the church.

In May 1985, Cardinal Levada, then a young auxiliary bishop from Los Angeles, was sent by church leaders to meet with the men. The meeting at a Chicago airport hotel went on all day, Father Doyle and Mr. Mouton said recently, with Bishop Levada going through their report almost line by line. They said he seemed enthusiastic about their proposals.

Two weeks later, however, the bishop called Father Doyle and told him that their report was being shelved and that the bishops would convene their own committee to examine the issue. But no such group materialized.

Two decades later, in various sworn depositions, Cardinal Levada would assert that he recalled little from the meeting. But his detailed briefing would have given him a far deeper awareness of the issue than a vast majority of church officials at the time.

Portland Years

Soon after he ascended to the top position at the Portland Archdiocese in 1986, he was forced to deal with the case of the Rev. Thomas B. Laughlin, a prominent priest who was arrested in 1983 and served six months in prison for sexual abuse.

In July 1988, Archbishop Levada wrote to then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, who headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Their friendship dated from several years earlier when the American had been a staff member at the congregation. Archbishop Levada laid out a four-page argument for the dismissal of Father Laughlin from the priesthood, which was granted.

In contrast, just a few months later, Archbishop Levada did not aggressively pursue a complaint that the Rev. Aldo Orso-Manzonetta had invited a boy to stay overnight at the rectory.

Church records indicate that he spoke to Father Orso-Manzonetta and told him not to repeat the mistake. It is not clear if he checked the priest’s personnel file. But there was a long trail of complaints against the priest, made public years later when the archdiocese released reams of priest personnel records as part of bankruptcy proceedings.

Four years later, more rumors about the priest’s relationships with boys and under-age young men surfaced. This time, the Rev. Charles Lienert, the archdiocese’s vicar for clergy, sent a memo in May 1992 to Archbishop Levada detailing a history of accusations against Father Orso-Manzonetta.

It was not until 1994, however, when another accuser came forward, that Father Orso-Manzonetta was sent for a psychological evaluation. A letter from Father Lienert to the examiner that was in the priest’s personnel file expressed concern about the sheer number of allegations, saying, “These records are discoverable should someone choose to sue us.

Father Orso-Manzonetta then retired, and he died in 1996. But in 2000, several men who said he had abused them as altar boys sued the archdiocese. The case was eventually settled for an undisclosed amount.

In at least two instances during his time in Portland, Archbishop Levada chose to return priests with proven allegations of sexual abuse against them to ministry after treatment, with the agreement of therapists, according to church records.

At another point, the archbishop overruled advisers who recommended that the archdiocese make a general announcement encouraging sexual abuse victims to come forward, following new revelations about a priest who had molested children in the 1950s.

Archbishop Levada also apparently rebuffed the archdiocese’s lawyer, Bob McMenamin, when he urged him to hold a seminar for clergy members on sexual abuse, according to testimony from the lawyer in an ethics complaint that the archbishop filed against Mr. McMenamin after he went on to represent a man in a sexual abuse lawsuit against the archdiocese.

“He said he had more important things for his priests to do,” Mr. McMenamin said.

Cases in San Francisco

In 1995, Cardinal Levada moved to the San Francisco Archdiocese. Early on, he dealt with two priests who he learned had sexually abused children years before and decided not to restrict either.

In the case of the Rev. Milton Walsh, who was the rector of the city’s cathedral, Archbishop Levada testified in a 2005 deposition that a therapist had concluded that an episode in which Father Walsh had molested a 13-year-old boy, Jay Seaman, in 1984 was not indicative of a “tendency toward sexual abuse.”

Later, the police would record an extraordinary telephone call between Mr. Seaman and Father Walsh, in which Father Walsh said that he had learned not to put himself in situations where he would be tempted. He said he had told Archbishop Levada, “You can trust me, ’cause I don’t trust myself.”

The archbishop went through a similar calculus with the Rev. Gregory Ingels, a canon lawyer who had become a national expert on clergy sexual abuse. He would be charged by prosecutors in 2003 with “unlawful oral copulation” with a teenage boy over an episode from 1972.

Fathers Walsh and Ingels were suspended from ministry in 2002 under the zero-tolerance policy adopted by American bishops. The criminal charges against both men were dropped because of the statute of limitations.Vatican

In late 1997, Archbishop Levada faced a case in which the suspicions of abuse were current, not decades old. The Rev. John P. Conley, a former United States attorney who had become a priest, happened upon a flustered teenage boy in his church’s rectory.

Father Conley later said in a sworn deposition, released by his lawyer, Michael P. Guta, that he also spotted a man crawling away. The boy told the priest, an associate pastor in the parish, that he had been “wrestling” with the Rev. James Aylward, the head pastor.

Father Conley said he contacted the district attorney’s office even though he was told by an archdiocesan official that these matters were usually handled “in house.”

Father Conley also discovered that priests had never been briefed about a new state law that made members of the clergy mandatory reporters of suspected sexual abuse and that had gone into effect 11 months earlier. A bishop told him that church officials were still studying it.

Instead of imposing restrictions on Father Aylward, Archbishop Levada suspended Father Conley after the pair clashed over the handling of the episode. The archbishop cited reports of “anger outbursts” with parishioners.

Father Conley filed a defamation lawsuit against the archbishop, contending that he had been punished for reporting sexual abuse. Father Aylward, who was never criminally charged, admitted under oath in a deposition more than two years after the episode that he had wrestled with young boys for years and gotten sexual gratification out of it. At that point, he was suspended.

Father Conley eventually won a settlement from the archdiocese.

By the end of Cardinal Levada’s term in San Francisco, his approach on such cases had evolved. The archdiocese became among the first in the United States to create an independent committee to investigate sexual abuse cases.

Even so, the committee’s first chairman, James Jenkins, a psychologist, resigned in 2003 over differences with Archbishop Levada. “It was compromised by, really, disingenuousness and actions of deception and manipulation,” he said, citing the secrecy surrounding the board’s findings and other issues.

Less than two years later, Pope Benedict XVI brought his old friend to Rome.

 

Michael Powell contributed reporting from New York, and Malia Wollan from San Rafael, Calif.

So the Pope says gay marriage poses a threat to justice?


Pope Says Gay Marriage Poses A Threat To ‘Justice And Peace’ In World Day Of Peace 2013 Address

Posted: 12/14/2012 5:18 pm EST  |  Updated: 12/14/2012 8:08 pm EST

Pope Benedict XVI said this week that gay marriage poses a threat to “justice and peace.” The 85-year-old religious leader went on to suggest that same-sex marriage is “unnatural.”

REALLY POPE BENEDICT???????

So you believe that by allowing gays to marry this poses a threat to justice and peace. What a hypocrite you are.

When you were known as Cardinal Ratzinger, you knowingly allowed to known pedophile priests to continue raping children when it was your responsibility at the time to turn them over to authorities. Instead you moved these priests around and they raped even more children. The same is with a lot of your Bishops whom are now Cardinals. So you allow your leaders of your church to let pedophiles who rape children to rape even more children, then you and the church does everything it can to block us victims from getting justice, and you got the balls to be a hypocrite and say that gay marriage poses a threat to justice and peace.

 

From Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Bernard Law and Michael Leveda, all the way to Bishop Lynn, you and the rest of them have done EVERYTHING you can to deny us victims true justice. What would be true justice in this? For YOU Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinals Dolan, Leveda and Law and the rest involved in the cover up of your priests who raped us to resign, turn yourself over to authorities and be prosecuted for your crimes. You have your psychotic pit bull Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League to run roughshod over us victims and you pay him to do so.

No Pope Benedict the treat to justice is YOURSELF and the rest of your Pedophile Pimps and Priests. You are a threat to humanity and to children. YOU should be rotting in prison, with Dolan, Law and Leveda right alongside Jerry Sandusky.

One day Pope Benedict you are going to have to answer for your crimes before God himself. As Jesus said, it would be better for you to tie a boulder around your neck and throw yourself into the deepest of lakes than harm a single hair on the head of a child. Seeing you as head of the RCC loves to condemn people and tell them they are going to hell along with the rest of your Pedophile Pimps, well I can say this without a shred of doubt. While I am not a christian and never will be so again, you are going to burn in hell for that is where you will be sent by your god for the evils you helped pereptrate against children just so you could cover your asses.

 

Gerald T. Slevin: Philly Criminal Trial Reveals Vatican’s Fatal Strategy


Gerald T. Slevin: Philly Criminal Trial Reveals Vatican’s Fatal Strategy

From the link: http://bilgrimage.blogspot.com/2012/06/gerald-t-slevin-philly-criminal-trial.html

As the jury in the Philadelphia archdiocesan trial continues to be deadlocked, and as Catholics and others concerned about the issue of abuse of minors by Catholic clerics continue to monitor this trial, Jerry Slevin has provided another valuable statement dealing with the situation in Philadelphia and its implications from a more “global” perspective, and placing this situation against the backdrop of Vatican concerns and Vatican politics.  What follows is Jerry’s statement:

VATICAN’S STRATEGIC CHOICES: (A) HOPEFUL TRANSPARENCY OR (B) FATAL SECRECY

Assume you were a key executive for a couple of decades of a multinational religious organization. What would you choose?
By 1992, twenty years ago, you and your executive team knew that numerous top executives had for years tolerated, and often likely covered-up, many potentially criminal acts by employees involving sexual assaults on children.
By 2002, with the publicity from the Boston and Irish abuse scandals, key executives were facing escalating financial and legal risks from victims’ claims and from  prosecutors’ charges.
By 2012, the organization’s reputation had suffered dramatically, thereby reducing  revenues from contributions, while costs, especially legal expenses, continued to climb.
In 1992, there had been a clear choice still available : (A) hopeful transparency and being authentic, while endeavoring to curtail priest misconduct by organizational reforms, or (B) fatal secrecy and being duplicitous, while hoping to ride out the storm by vigorously resisting criminal charges and financial claims.
By 2012, the consequences of the original choice of Plan B made by 1992 were irreversible and dismal. The relentless governmental forces applying the rule of law were steadily crashing through the Vatican’s defenses in many countries.
Leaving compelling Gospel mandates aside for a moment, Plan A’s transparency choice had entailed high risks of (1) significant financial liability, (2) some leadership prosecutions and (3) indeterminate reputational damage, i.e., “scandal.” To successfully avoid Plan A’s risks by choosing Plan B’s secrecy, it is evident that Plan B would at a minimum have required the CEO, in this case, the pope: (a) to accept the ruthless handling of victims’ claims, (b) to seek significant influence over prosecutors’ political superiors and over corporate media coverage, and (c) to require maximum secrecy, tight discipline and financial controls throughout the organization. To maintain secrecy, bishops had to be chosen on the basis of their unswerving blind loyalty, and persons perceived as potentially “uncontrollable,” like married or female priests, had to be forbidden. To maintain tight discipline, maximum sexual repression had to be required, or so it appeared to the Vatican.
The  incontrovertible disclosures from the just completed Philly criminal trial of two cardinals’ former top aide are clear, detailed and unambiguous.  These unchallenged disclosures are unaffected by any outcome of complicated legal charges against the top Philly aide, Monsignor Lynn, relating to conspiracy and endangerment. The outcome of the charges against Lynn cannot negate the major disclosures he made about his superiors’ massive cover-up.
Plan B was clearly chosen and followed in Philly. The implications for the Vatican are most troublesome. The Vatican’s key Philly executives, over a dozen bishops, including three prominent cardinals, have been shown to have pursued for decades Plan B, with Vatican acquiescence if not occasional direction. It appears obvious that the Philly Plan B approach was and may still be the standard operating procedure for the worldwide Catholic Church.
The catastrophic consequences for the Vatican of having chosen and followed Plan B are now cascading through Rome and feeding into other Vatileaks revelations. Together, they are inundating and threatening the continuation of the current imperial papacy, which now, along with its worldwide bishops, is potentially facing unprecedented criminal charges and  financial liability with no relief in sight.  Meanwhile, contributions from Catholics, the Church’s life blood, are being seriously negatively impacted by the scandal.
The links of the Vatican to the Philly case have been and are both extensive and long standing.  Ironically, the still unfolding failure of Plan B is resulting in the realization of many of the risks that were inherent had Plan A been pursued and failed, with even worse consequences than the Vatican may have anticipated.
PAPAL STONEWALLING 40 YEARS AFTER WATERGATE
Forty years ago, the Washington Post‘s top editor and his two key reporters investigating the Nixon White House, were told by a then secret whistleblower to “follow the money.” They did, leading to the first resignation of a U.S. president following the “Saturday Night Massacre” when President Nixon fired the Watergate Prosecutor, Harvard Law School’s Archibald Cox. Two years ago, this editor’s wife compared the pope’s current plight to Nixon’s Watergate scandal and called upon the pope to resign.
Having worked for Archibald Cox as a law student, I then indicated to the pope in a Washington Post article two years ago that Prosecutor Cox would surely have observed that the pope would fail if he continued following a Nixon-style stonewalling strategy on priest sexual abuse of children, especially in this Internet age. The pope didn’t listen. He is now reaping what he sowed.
Last Saturday night, the pope met privately with three trusted senior cardinals apparently to assess their joint survival plans in the midst of continuing leaks of more embarrassing papal documents, even after the firing of the pope’s top banker and the arrest of his butler, evidently both actions having the pope’s blessing. Complicating this are new reports that the Vatican Bank will soon fail many of the European bank regulators’ financial practices tests due apparently to the Bank’s past misconduct and present shortcomings, including reportedly laundering money for the Sicilian Mafia.
Meanwhile, Italian investigators are continuing to analyze numerous “self-protection” files seized during a recent surprise police raid on the fired Vatican bankers’ home. A few days ago, the pope told Irish Catholics their numerous and massive scandals involving priest sexual abuse of children are a “mystery.”  There are, as indicated below, ways in which the Vatican Bank scandal and the abuse scandal may be related. Not really “mysteries,” it appears, as much as possible crimes that government prosecutors are still currently investigating.
Since the Vatican is frequently secretive and at times even seemingly disingenuous as to its real situation and strategy, one must infer from its reported actions what is really going on.  Some will object that this is “conspiracy theorizing” and disrespectful  and should be avoided. But do Catholics really have any other alternative?
Jesus said unequivocally we must protect children. Today, children are clearly still too often unprotected in the Catholic Church. For example, U.S. bishops recently failed again at their national meeting to make bishops fully accountable for overseeing child protection matters. So Catholics have little choice but to look past the hierarchy’s mystical smokescreens and endless diversions. If there is in fact a continuing conspiracy against children, as there surely appears to be,  Catholics must call it by its correct name. Most importantly, all Catholics are commanded by Jesus himself to do their best to end it.
THE  VATICAN’S CURRENT  COUNSELORS
The pope, and the three cardinals he recently turned to in his effort to save his imperial papacy, are all in their eighties. They share some significant common experiences, which will likely affect their individual assessments and proposed solutions. Much of their critical formative Catholic youth occurred during the papacy of Pope Pius XI, whose formative youth in turn occurred under Pope Pius IX, before the first Vatican Council and the 1870 loss of the popes’ centuries-old Kingdom of the Papal States.  Each of these octogenarians was raised as a young man in an anti-modernist Church, where scholastic philosophy, biblical fundamentalism, rote catechetics, triumphalistic history and monarchical popes reigned supreme.
Each of these octogenarians also as youths lived at critical times in difficult circumstances directly under the totalitarian dictators, Hitler, Mussolini and/or Franco. Each of them has had significant Vatican curial experience, and one of them served for some time in Sicily, where the reported  money laundering originated.  In short, they each grew up in the pre-Vatican II Church. They all have extensive experience with both operating under the pretensions of papal monarchy, as well as dealing with earlier major external threats to the monarchy’s survival.
THE VATICAN’S CURRENT PLIGHT
Can we discern any common denominator to the current papal problems that these octogenarians are assessing? There appears to be one: MONEY,  or at least the related possibility that the Vatican and its worldwide bishops-dominated organization may run out of it soon, at a time when the hierarchy may need more to survive financially, and in some cases to pay the legal costs of defending against criminal prosecution.
Why have a Vatican Bank these days? Why not just rely on international commercial banks the way many international organizations and even some governments do? The answer appears to be that the Vatican Bank has provided the Vatican with both secrecy and profits. Ominously also, at least one major international bank recently refused to do further business with the Vatican Bank, namely, at J.P. Morgan’s office in Milan, Italy’s financial center.
Monarchs, including popes, for many centuries preferred secrecy. If these monarchs  were generally not accountable to their subjects, why let their subjects know about their finances? This is what Popes Pius IX, Pius XI and Pius XII learned and followed, and what the four current Vatican octogenarians were weaned on and apparently generally prefer.
Unfortunately, in today’s digital economy that relies on internationally regulated computerized money transfer systems, even local banking has worldwide financial and digital connectivity. After the 9/11 attacks revealed terrorist exploitation of a loosely regulated “funds transfer system” among banks, international bank regulators began to demand greater transparency and policing of secret accounts. This apparently was hardly a welcome development for the Vatican Bank.
This post 9/11 regulatory development explains the new bank regulatory environment that may be flushing out some shady Vatican Bank transactions, but it does not really explain why after the several major Vatican banking scandals that had already occurred on these octogenarians’ watch, the Vatican is apparently still engaged in questionable financial transactions. Some Vatican Bank officials had to have been aware of these transactions and their questionable character, yet permitted them. Why? Was this the source of friction with the pope’s fired banker? This will likely be disclosed more completely by governmental regulators very soon.
A common explanation, found in other banking scandals, is that secret transactions are often also significant sources of bank profits. Was this very important to the Vatican? It would be if there were a perceived need that generating greater profits is a key part of the Vatican’s current strategy. The Vatican really doesn’t issue comprehensive and independently certified profit and loss statements that one might rely on, but it seems clear the Vatican has an increasing need for more money. Disgraced child sex abuser,  Maciel, seemed to understand this well with his frequent cash payments to influential Cardinals and reportedly even to Pope John Paul II as well.
Vatican revenue reductions surely are  resulting from the mass exodus from the Church of Catholics in wealthier Western countries, who obviously take their contributions with them. Some in European countries in these tough economic times also are calling for ending or reducing the large existing government subsidies to the Catholic Church. The pursuit of critically needed additional Church revenues has had repercussions even beyond possibly leading to apparent financial misdeeds at the Vatican Bank.
It appears that greater attention is being given currently by the Vatican to large papal donors such as members of the Knights of Malta and The Papal Foundation and to the leadership of the Knights of Columbus. It also appears that a form of “quid pro quo” for greater contributions to the Vatican from  some of the wealthiest donors is greater papal support for national political parties whose policies advance the interests of the wealthy donors.
For example, in the U.S. the current papal anti-contraception “religious liberty” crusade appears directed at electing a political party that will extend the Bush tax breaks that favor the 0.1 % wealthiest, while support for preserving U.S. government programs for the poorest donors is being postponed by U.S. bishops until after the election. This crusade is supported by members of the Knights of Malta and Carl Anderson, head of the Knights of Columbus. Anderson is also a former Reagan Administration staffer and on the Vatican Bank’s supervisory board.
In return for papal support, the pope can likely be expecting his U.S. donors (A) to contribute some of their many billions of dollars of U.S. federal  tax savings to the Vatican and (B) to support the pope and bishops’ lobbying efforts to reduce the risks for U.S. bishops of Federal criminal prosecution and financial liability, including by appointing more “pope friendly” U.S. Supreme Court Justices to replace the several expected to retire soon.
Moreover, a significant part of the Vatican’s recent multi-year investigation of the American Sisters has been related to assessing their financial assets. Given last year’s legally contested effort by Boston’s Cardinal O’Malley to get more control over some Boston Sisters’ pension financial reserves, it is likely that the recent and continuing attempt of the Vatican to get quick control over many American Sisters’ religious orders has some financial motivations.
So clearly the Vatican is experiencing some significant revenue stresses that appear to be playing a key role in some of the Vatican’s actions which are often wrapped in smokescreens like opposing contraception and masturbation, or associating with the prominent moral theologian, Fr. Charles Curran, who is apparently still on the Vatican’s hit list. It does not yet appear that the Vatican is seeking to get a piece of the Girl Scouts’ cookie revenues, but stay tuned, it is still not over! Who would have thought the pope would try to push to make his anti-contraception insurance position as the law of the land in the U.S.?
What about the Vatican’s expenses? The escalating and significant negative financial impact on the Vatican,  and on the worldwide bishops as well, of the sex abuse scandal may be the major financial factor driving current Vatican policy. The costs are in the billions and are likely to continue for many years to come in more and more countries.
Having chosen Plan B above, the current Vatican leadership seems incapable of containing the abuse scandal effectively or efficiently. As the pope told the International Eucharistic Congress meeting in Dublin last Sunday, he thinks the abuse scandal is a “mystery.” Will he and the other octogenarians solve this mystery? The odds are against this.
The choice of Plan B appears to have had other implications. Clearly, one way to curtail priest abuse is by expelling predatory priests more quickly and expanding the priest candidate pool by permitting married and female priests to replace them. In lieu of this needed expansion, the Vatican instead has pursued ineffective half-measures like moving around foreign priests, poaching Anglican priests and pushing “retro” priests from the cult-like reactionary groups. This has mainly failed to solve the problem.
Theologically, married priests are clearly permitted. And the pope’s own Pontifical Biblical Commission has indicated there are no Scriptural impediments to female priests.
So what’s the problem? Under Plan B above, it was essential  to be able to keep the hierarchy’s secret sins. To do this new bishops have evidentally been picked in part for their willingness to maintain the secrets. Eventually, married and female priests would likely have wanted to know the “secrets.” Until now, it appears that the Vatican had concerns that married priests and women priests presented too great a risk and might not keep the secrets, especially about rampant child abuse. Now that the Philly trial and Vatileaks are uncovering the secrets anyway, married and woman priests may be less of a risk for the Vatican.
Will the octogenarians save the imperial papacy? That is very unlikley. The next pope could make a difference, but probably won’t, given the way cardinals have been selected in recent decades. A broad-based ecumenical council held away from Rome with empowered lay and women members could have some very positive potential, but it is unlikley to be called by the octogenarians or existing cardinals in the near term, anyway.

It appears that the only crucial force for change in the Church will be the pressure from criminal and bankruptcy courts throughout the world. It is already beginning to happen. Vatican officials have run out of places to hide, as the Philly trial and Vatileaks are showing us in real time. Instead, some of them are pointing fingers by leaks at others, hoping to enhance their own positions and save their own neck. Too little too late.