How Much Longer Can the Vatican Avoid Priest Sex Abuse?
By Views of Jerry Slevin, a Catholic and Harvard schooled Wall Street lawyer, retired
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?
Blog of Jerry Slevin, a lifelong Catholic believer and a retired Wall Street lawyer
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
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.
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.
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
VATICAN’S STRATEGIC CHOICES: (A) HOPEFUL TRANSPARENCY OR (B) FATAL SECRECY
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.