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How the Vatican evades human rights obligations through Canon Law, diplomatic immunity and other dodges


How the Vatican evades human rights obligations through Canon Law, diplomatic immunity and other dodges

From the Link: How the Vatican evades human rights obligations through Canon Law, diplomatic immunity and other dodges

The Vatican

The Vatican

The Vatican doesn’t acknowledge human rights unless they are in accordance with Church doctrine. Its courts have been found by the EU to violate the right to a fair trial. And the Vatican has even maintained that its signature to one of the few human rights treaties it has signed (and even then with “reservations”) only applies to its own territory and not to the Catholic Church.

“One cannot then appeal to these rights of man in order to oppose the interventions of the Magisterium.”
— Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1990 [1]

The Vatican not only quietly rejects the supremacy of human rights in principle, it also cultivates effective ways to get around having to implement them.

♦ Diplomatic recognition, sought worldwide, brings diplomatic immunity from charges of human rights abuse

The doctrine of sovereign immunity has its roots in the law of feudal England and is based on the idea that the ruler can do no wrong. In US law this is broadly applied to the heads of foreign states. [2] It was sovereign immunity that foiled an American attempt to sue Benedict XVI for the Vatican’s handling of child abuse by priests. The Church lawyers argued that the pope, as the Vatican’s head of state, enjoys immunity against lawsuits in US courts. [3]

In U.S. courts foreign countries are also generally immune from civil actions, with exemptions primarily for commercial acts. This means that unless a case can be brought in under an exemption the only recourse may be to try to sue the Vatican in a country which does not have diplomatic relations with it. However, as the map shows, most of the world’s countries (coloured blue) already recognise the statehood of the Holy See, as the Vatican is called officially.

There are very few (gray) countries left which don’t yet have diplomatic relations with the Holy See. These amount to just three island nations (the Comoros, north of Madagascar, theMaldives, southwest of India, and Tuvalu, north of New Zealand) — two African nations (Mauritania and Somalia) — three from the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Oman and Afghanistan) — and eight from Asia (Bhutan, People’s Republic of China, North Korea, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia). [4]

X40036_727_CWVaticanRelnsCaption

The logistics of suing the Vatican from some of these countries could be daunting. Furthermore, due to the Vatican’s persistent diplomatic efforts, the number of countries which don’t recognise the Vatican is declining every year. (And one of the few left, Tuvalu, is gradually disappearing beneath the rising seas).

The Vatican’s web of diplomatic relations also makes its representatives immune to prosecution under international law. The 1961 Vienna Convention tries to provide diplomats with the security needed to perform their jobs. It is thanks to this treaty that states now express their displeasure by expelling the diplomats of a foreign country, rather than imprisoning them.

Diplomatic immunity in action: Archbishop Wesolowski is whisked away to the Vatican

However, this treaty was never meant to allow accused rapists of children to go free. Yet this appeared to be the intention when Bishop Paul Gallagher, the papal nuncio or pope’s ambassador to Australia refused to hand over to prosecutors documents on two priests who had abused more than 100 children over 40 years. [5] The nuncio invoked diplomatic immunity. However, as a UN committee later reminded the Vatican, [6] as a signatory of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it was obliged to hand over this evidence. [7] Pope Francis was apparently so pleased by the nuncio’s attempts to block justice in Australia’s worst clerical abuse scandal, that the next year he promoted him to archbishop and to the number three post in his kingdom  the Vatican’s Foreign Minister. [8]

as happened in the Dominican Republic. [9] There on June 24, 2013 a deacon was arrested and admitted to procuring impoverished boys to be sexually abused by the papal nuncio Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski. [10] By the time the deacon appeared on TV and said that others in the Church knew about this [11] the nuncio had vanished. He had been secretly whisked away and reappeared in the Vatican.

At the TV station they suspected that there had been a leak.

A “dossier” accusing papal nuncio Archbishop Josef Wesolowski of sex abuse of minors was sent to Pope Francis sometime in July [2013] by Santo Domingo Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez. The pope found the information credible enough to dismiss Wesolowski, nuncio to both the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, on Aug. 21 via confidential letter N.2706/PR to the bishops of both countries.

Neither the civil authorities nor the public knew about Wesolowski until a local TV program did an exposé on Aug. 31. The result of a year-long investigation, the broadcast contained testimony from residents of the Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo that Wesolowski paid minors for sex.

Three days after the TV broadcast, a local bishop confirmed that Wesolowski had been recalled for sexually abusing minors.

Wesolowski reportedly had left the country only a few days before. [12]

In this case the Vatican acted against its own much-touted guidelines:

the church failed to inform the local authorities of the evidence against him, secretly recalled him to Rome […] before he could be investigated, and then invoked diplomatic immunity for Mr. Wesolowski so that he could not face trial in the Dominican Republic. [13]

Once he was safely in Rome the Vatican “confirmed that Wesolowski is a citizen of the Vatican city state, that the Vatican doesn’t extradite its citizens and that as a nuncio, or Holy See ambassador, Wesolowski enjoys full diplomatic immunity”. [14] Experts in international law say that the Vatican could have lifted the nuncio’s diplomatic immunity to let him face trial in the Dominical Republic (which could hardly be accused of having an anti-Catholic judiciary). [15]

However, the Church came under increasing pressure when the United Nations Committee against Torture stepped in. In June 2014 it urged the Vatican, if the investigation warranted it, to either try Wesolowski itself under the Vatican State criminal code (not canon law) or let someone else do so — and report back on the outcome. [16]

In August 2014, the Vatican gave Wesolwski a secret canon law trial to determine if he had violated Church doctrine. The Vatican tribunal found Wesolwski’s guilty of abusing young boys and defrocked him. But it refused to provide any information about his whereabouts or how he pleaded to the charges and refused to release contact information for his lawyer. [17] This deprived Mr. Wesolowski of his diplomatic immunity — so the Vatican then fell back on his Vatican State citizenship as the reason for not handing him over.

To avoid further challenges to its jurisdiction, the Vatican refused to provide the necessary documents to Polish prosecutors, who had hoped to try Wesolowski, a dual Vatican-Polish citizen. [18] The Vatican also got the Dominican Republic to fall into line. In August 2014, the day after Wesolowski lost his diplomatic immunity, the Santo Dominican prosecutor’s office announced that it was launching an investigation. [19] However, by the end of the year, the Dominican Republic’s top prosecutor was expressing “appreciation and satisfaction” with the Vatican’s actions (!) and said that the Vatican was the right place for the trial. [20] The Dominican authorities even stonewalled the legal inquiries of Polish prosecutors about Wesolowski, [21] which forced Poland to suspend its inquiry. [22] This cleared the way for the Vatican to conduct its own trial under the criminal law of its own state, which would satisfy the UN commitee, but keep control over the proceedings.

A Polish expert on church law, Prof. Pawel Borecki, explained why the Vatican was determined to maintain control:

“The Vatican will seek that this case does not go beyond its borders. Wesolowski is a high-ranking diplomat. He has knowledge of how the Roman curia works. He may also know about pedophilia in the church and if other high-ranking priests are involved in the crime. In a trial abroad he could reveal everything. Therefore, we can expect that the Vatican will not release him and it will hand down a severe punishment.” [23]

♦ Keeping out of key human rights treaty shields Vatican courts from international standards

The Vatican can’t be censured for violating the right to a fair trial which is enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights because it hasn’t signed the treaty. Instead, in a 2001 court case, it was Italy that was faulted for enforcing the unfair judgement of the Vatican court.

In essence the European Court of Human Rights found in 2001 that the procedures of the Roman Rota, the ecclesiastical appeals court responsible for marriage-annulment applications, failed to reach the standards required for a fair trial under article 6(1) of the European Convention and that, therefore, its judgments could not properly be recognized and enforced under Italian law. ECHR noted that in Rota proceedings witness statements were not provided to parties, thus depriving the parties of an opportunity to comment on them. The parties were not advised that they could appoint lawyers to appear for them, nor advised of the terms of the legal submissions made by the canon lawyer appointed by the court to argue against annulment. Finally, the parties were refused sight of a full copy of the Rota’s judgment, in which the ecclesiastical court set out its reasoning. Given these circumstances, the Strasbourg court took the view that justice was not done in annulment proceedings before church courts. [24]

“As new scandals erupt in Germany, Holland, Italy, Spain, Brazil and Nigeria, the Pope has failed to put in place and enforce mandatory child protection policy across his church. I asked a senior church figure why this was the case. I was told that to put in place global policy underpinned by church law would admit that the Vatican had the responsibility and the power to do so, and expose it to lawsuits and potentially massive financial losses.” ― Colm O'Gorman, Independent, 9 March 2010

“As new scandals erupt in Germany, Holland, Italy, Spain, Brazil and Nigeria, the Pope has failed to put in place and enforce mandatory child protection policy across his church. I asked a senior church figure why this was the case. I was told that to put in place global policy underpinned by church law would admit that the Vatican had the responsibility and the power to do so, and expose it to lawsuits and potentially massive financial losses.” ― Colm O’Gorman, Independent, 9 March 2010

♦ Damage limitation, part 1: Blame the bishops

If the Vatican doesn’t sign a human rights treaty, it’s easier to confine blame (and costs) to the local bishop. This helps the Vatican deny all responsibility for what is done in the Church worldwide. Thus the Vatican’s top prosecutor admits no fault on the part of the Church watchdog body, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith which, under Cardinal Ratzinger (now the present pope), dealt with abuse cases. [25]

♦ Damage limitation, part 2: Blame the priests

Even better, from the Vatican’s point of view, is to place sole blame on the errant priests.

In the US Vatican lawyers argued that Roman Catholic clerics are not officials or employees of the Holy See. [26] This is now the main Vatican defence against lawsuits in the United States seeking to hold the Holy See liable for the failure of its bishops to stop priests from raping and molesting children.

Usually foreign countries are immune from civil actions in U.S. courts, but there are exceptions to the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act which courts have said were applicable in this case. The statute says that plaintiffs can establish subject matter jurisdiction over a foreign sovereign, if a crime was committed in the United States by any official or employee of the foreign state and that the crimes were committed within the scope of employment. [27]

In the UK the same argument is being repeated. The English Catholic Church said priests are self-employed and thus it’s not responsible for victim compensation. Mindful of the dioceses in the US which were obliged to pay compensation to victims of clerical abuse and in some cases have gone bankrupt, [28] it has tried to argue that priests are self-employed. [29] However, in a High Court ruling on 8 November 2011 the judge rejected that argument, stating that the relationship between a priest and his bishop is sufficiently close so as to impose responsibility. According to the alleged victim’s lawyer, “This is a key decision with potentially far-reaching implications, effectively extending the principle of vicarious liability”. [30]

There are other theological variations on the responsibility theme: Whereas the Catholic Church says that its priests are self-employed, the Church of England, in order to avoid giving its priests workers’ rights, claimed they were employed by God. [31] And since 2008 it has said that they are “office holders”, in other words, employed by no one.

In Australia, too, the Vatican tries to hold the priests, and not the Church, legally liable in cases of abuse. It does through the remarkable claim, supported in a 2007 decision by the Supreme Court of New South Wales, that the “Catholic Church” does not exist as a single legal entity. [32] Therefore it cannot be sued; it cannot be held responsible for the behaviour of individuals who work in its “unincorporated associations”. Victims of assault could sue the responsible individuals or their unincorporated associations but it would be pointless; the individual religious take vows of poverty and the unincorporated associations own nothing. [33]

However, in 2014 Cardinal George Pell suggested that the Australian Church was no more responsible for priests’ crimes than any other organisation was for its employees. [34] Yes, employees.

♦ Damage limitation, part 3: Blame religious orders then let them refuse to pay

The English High Court and Court of Appeal both ruled that a Catholic diocese was liable to compensate the boys in a Catholic home who had been beaten, kicked and raped. However, that didn’t stop the diocese from claiming that a religious order was responsible and refusing to pay. And, of course, the order also denied any responsibility. [35] By 2012 the legal proceedings had been dragging on for eight years and due to the strain, many of the broken victims had dropped out of the process. [36]

And in Ireland where the Catholic Church and 19 religious orders agreed to split the compensation 50-50, the orders, one after another, have refused to pay. As of 2012 this had been going on for ten years. [37]

Even the four orders of Catholic nuns who ran the Magdalene Laundries and profited from what amounted to slave labour have refused to pay. [38] The Good Shepherd Sisters, The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, The Sisters of Mercy and The Sisters of Charity are keeping all the profits from selling prime real estate when their gulags were shut down are refusing to share this with their victims. [39]

In Canada it’s the same story. Eight Catholic orders ran the orphanages and psychiatric hospitals in the Province of Quebec. Federal subsidies were greater for psychiatric hospitals than for orphanages, so to maximise the profits, large numbers of normal children were “diagnosed” as feeble-minded or insane. In both kinds of Church-run institutions the children were subjected to unimaginable brutality and many died. Yet neither the orders involved nor the Vatican are willing to pay any compensation to the traumatised survivors. [40]

Since the pope is the head of every Catholic religious order, they must be doing this with his consent. As David Clohessy of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, writes,

The Catholic church isn’t some loosely-knit hippie commune. It’s a rigid, secretive, tightly-knit institution. So when crimes happen, it’s disingenuous for church officials to pretend that everyone involved is disconnected from one another. [41]

♦ Damage limitation, part 4: Blame the victim

In a sworn deposition in 2011 the bishop of Syracuse actually said that the victims of child-molesting priests are partly to blame for their own abuse. [42]

♦ Damage limitation, part 5: Lobby against extending the time limits for suing the Church

Many victims are unable to talk about abuse or face their accusers until they reach their 30s, 40s or later, putting the crime beyond the reach of the law. Yet in some US states, like New York, the victim is required to come forth by age 23. The US Supreme Court ruled that changes in criminal limits (statues of limitation) cannot be retroactive, so that any extension of present ones they will affect only recent and future crimes. [43] However, even this the Catholic Church is lobbying to prevent. If it succeeds, then the time limits can prevent penalties being applied for human rights abuses. Even when the Church admits it knew about the abuse, the priest admits that he did it, and there is independent evidence to back this up, “if the statute of limitations has expired, there won’t be any justice”. [44]

♦ Damage limitation, part 6: other “evasions and machinations” 

These include (but are not confined to):

— Spending millions of dollars to fight sexual abuse lawsuits and keeping sealed the names of thousands of accused priests, as well as the outcomes of some disciplinary cases sent to the Vatican. [45]

— Hiding funds to avoid compensating victims. In 2007 a judge in informed the Diocese of San Diego that its attempt to shift the diocese’s assets while the case was pending violated bankruptcy laws. [46] And that same year the Vatican allowed the Milwaukee archdiocese to transfer $57 million into a trust for Catholic cemetery maintenance, where it might be better protected, as Archbishop Dolan wrote, “from any legal claim and liability.” [47]

— Legal quibbles of all kinds. For instance, in 2011 church leaders in St. Louis 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. [48]

— Going after honest clerics who act as whistleblowers. A group of priests and nuns formed in 2013 says the Roman Catholic Church is still protecting sexual predators. Calling themselves the Catholic Whistleblowers, they say that priests who spoke up have been “removed from their parishes, hustled into retirement or declared ‘unstable’ and sent to treatment centres for clergy with substance-abuse problems or sexual addictions.” [49]

— Subjecting the victims to an oath of secrecy. This is the oath that the victims of the Irish paedophile priest Father Brendan Smyth were obliged to swear before Cardinal Sean Brady in 1975 when he was a priest and professor of canon law: [50]

“I will never directly or indirectly, by means of a nod, or of a word, by writing, or in any other way, and under whatever type of pretext, even for the most urgent and most serious cause (even) for the purpose of a greater good, commit anything against this fidelity to the secret, unless a…dispensation has been expressly given to me by the Supreme Pontiff.” [51]

— Tipping off accused clerics to allow destruction of evidence. In Australia in 2002, when a bishop learned that a child victim of one of his priests had gone to the police, he drove to a neighbouring town to warn him. This gave the priest, who was later comnvicted for repeatedly raping four children, the chance to destroy incriminating evidence. [52]

— Witness intimidation. In Germany in 2009 the Catholic Church hired detectives who turned at the homes of abused children and tried to get them retract their claims against one of its priests. [53]

— Hush money. In Australia in 2015 the nephew of a priest said that Cardinal Pell had tried to bribe him to keep quiet about abuse by his uncle. [54] And this tactic was proven to have been used in Germany in 1999, when cash payments were made to the parents of abused children at the same time as they signed agreement to remain silent. See Money for silence.

 It has been plausibly claimed that “the failure of the Vatican to promulgate a mandatory worldwide code of conduct, with a reporting requirement (for child abuse)...stems precisely from a fear of acknowledging its authority over national churches and implicitly conceding that priests and bishops, whom it appoints, are actually its agents in a legal sense.” — Patrick Smyth

It has been plausibly claimed that “the failure of the Vatican to promulgate a mandatory worldwide code of conduct, with a reporting requirement (for child abuse)…stems precisely from a fear of acknowledging its authority over national churches and implicitly conceding that priests and bishops, whom it appoints, are actually its agents in a legal sense.” — Patrick Smyth

♦ The Church follows its own Canon Law (which can be changed by a stroke of the papal pen) and must be forced to comply with civil law which is based on human rights

Amnesty International criticised the Vatican in its 2011 report, claiming it “did not sufficiently comply with its international obligations relating to the protection of children”. AI pointed out that the Vatican enlarged its own definition of “crimes in canon law” beyond “the sexual abuse of minors” ― but not the punishments

Amendments to the canon law promulgated in May introduced the “delicts” of paedophile pornography and abuse of mentally disabled people; the maximum punishment for these “delicts” is dismissal or deposition. Canon law does not include an obligation for Church authorities to report cases to civil authorities for criminal investigation. Secrecy is mandatory throughout the proceedings. [55]

As if the record unpunished priest abusers were not proof enough, a letter written in 2001 by a senior Vatican official has come to light praising a French bishop when he was convicted of failing to report a paedophile priest to the police. In 2010 the Bishop was given a three-month suspended prison sentence for not denouncing the priest, who was sentenced to 18 years in jail in 2000 for sexually abusing 11 boys. [56]

However, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, Prefect of the Congregation of the Clergy, told the Bishop, “I congratulate you for not denouncing a priest to the civil authorities.” And he concludes the letter to the French bishop by holding up the Bishops’ behaviour as a model for others; “This Congregation, in order to encourage brothers in the episcopate in this delicate matter, will forward a copy of this letter to all the conferences of bishops.” [57]

The Cardinal said afterwards that his letter was about protecting the seal of the confessional in accordance with Church law (Canon 983), but there is no mention of this in the text itself and at his trial the Bishop disputed this. [58] However, even if this were true, this would not hold in France which has apparently legislated a “duty to report” where children are involved. “French law recognises the seal of the confessional as part of a protected category of ‘professional secrets’, but makes an exception for crimes committed against minors”. [59]

 “Clericalism has many faces.  It is the delusion that priests speak for the Almighty and therefore are entitled to special treatment and even immunity from accountability for criminal behavior. It is the source of the conviction held by many, including top-level Vatican officials, that the legal systems of secular society are subordinate to Canon Law, the Catholic Church’s own system of governance.” ― Rev. Thomas P. Doyle, O.P., J.C.D.

“Clericalism has many faces. It is the delusion that priests speak for the Almighty and therefore are entitled to special treatment and even immunity from accountability for criminal behavior. It is the source of the conviction held by many, including top-level Vatican officials, that the legal systems of secular society are subordinate to Canon Law, the Catholic Church’s own system of governance.”
― Rev. Thomas P. Doyle, O.P., J.C.D.

Later the Cardinal also dropped a bombshell. He claimed that, “After consulting the pope, I wrote a letter to the bishop, congratulating him as a model of a father who does not turn in his children.” [60]

If Castrillon Hoyos is telling the truth, then John Paul personally approved sending this letter in direct violation of the instruction Card[inal] Ratzinger’s CDF had sent down months earlier, urging bishops in countries where the law obliges them to report knowledge of sexual crimes against children to civil authorities, to follow the law. If Castrillon Hoyos is being truthful, it would suggest that, as far as the pontiff was concerned, the Ratzinger directive was window dressing. [61]

The Church record of stonewalling criminal investigations certainly suggests that, until and unless forced to do otherwise, Canon Law, the legal system of the Catholic Church, is all the Church feels bound to follow. The outspoken Monsignor Maurice Dooley, an expert on Canon Law, has even stated this publicly. In 2002 he declared that bishops did not have to tell the Irish police about paedophile clerics and might even shelter these priests. “As far as the Church is concerned, its laws come first.” [62] And in April 2010 the Brazilian Archbishop Dadeus Grings concurred, saying that priestly abuse was a matter of internal church discipline, not something to report to the police. “For the church to go and accuse its own sons would be a little strange.” [63]

And even senior churchmen claiming that it is Church policy to report suspected abuse to the police have been found to be lying. In Australia, for instance, despite assurances by a bishop that the church had enforced strict rules to ensure such cases were reported to the police as a “matter of absolute policy’”, he and an archbishop secretly defrocked an abuser who was assured that “your good name will be protected by the confidential nature of this process”. [64]

In 2014 a United Nations committee severely criticised the Vatican’s handling of abuse cases and its failure to comply with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The panel rejected the church’s key contention that the Vatican has no jurisdiction over its bishops and priests around the world, and is responsible for putting in effect the Convention on the Rights of the Child only within the tiny territory of Vatican City. By ratifying the convention, the panel said, the Vatican took responsibility for making sure it was respected by individuals and institutions under the Holy See’s authority around the world. [65]

To this the Vatican replied by using its usual shell game, switching between its three identities, as dictated by expediency:  “The Committee has overlooked important distinctions between the Holy See, Vatican City State and the universal Catholic Church.” [66]

Further reading about the Pope and the law

Geoffrey Robertson, QC, “Put the pope in the dock. Legal immunity cannot hold. The Vatican should feel the full weight of international law”, Guardian, 2 April 2010. [This is a proposal to prosecute the Vatican under criminal law, where diplomatic immunity does not apply, but where an arrest could only be made in a country (like the UK, but not the US) which has signed the Statute of the International Criminal Court.]

“Call to treat Vatican as a rogue state: Lawyer Geoffrey Robertson says the church must abandon canon law”,Sydney Morning Herald, 9 September 2010. http://www.smh.com.au/world/call-to-treat-vatican-as-a-rogue-state-20100908-151cg.html

Afua Hirsch, “Canon law has allowed abuse priests to escape punishment, says lawyer”, Guardian, 7 September 2010. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/07/canon-law-abuse-priests-escape-punishment

Alan Duke, “Lawsuit demands Vatican name priests accused of sex abuse”, CNN, 22 April 2010.  “Pope Benedict XVI was named as a defendant because he has the ultimate authority to remove priests and because of his involvement in reviewing sex abuse cases when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the suit says.” [This is a suit under civil law and, as the US has recognised the Holy See by establishing diplomatic relations with it, this suit depends upon proving that the Holy See acted in a manner which removes its immunity, as outlined above.]

Further reading about the Pope and the law

Geoffrey Robertson, QC, “Put the pope in the dock. Legal immunity cannot hold. The Vatican should feel the full weight of international law”, Guardian, 2 April 2010. [This is a proposal to prosecute the Vatican under criminal law, where diplomatic immunity does not apply, but where an arrest could only be made in a country (like the UK, but not the US) which has signed the Statute of the International Criminal Court.]

“Call to treat Vatican as a rogue state: Lawyer Geoffrey Robertson says the church must abandon canon law”,Sydney Morning Herald, 9 September 2010. http://www.smh.com.au/world/call-to-treat-vatican-as-a-rogue-state-20100908-151cg.html

Afua Hirsch, “Canon law has allowed abuse priests to escape punishment, says lawyer”, Guardian, 7 September 2010. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/07/canon-law-abuse-priests-escape-punishment

Alan Duke, “Lawsuit demands Vatican name priests accused of sex abuse”, CNN, 22 April 2010.  “Pope Benedict XVI was named as a defendant because he has the ultimate authority to remove priests and because of his involvement in reviewing sex abuse cases when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the suit says.” [This is a suit under civil law and, as the US has recognised the Holy See by establishing diplomatic relations with it, this suit depends upon proving that the Holy See acted in a manner which removes its immunity, as outlined above.]

Notes

  1. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Instruction: Donum veritatis, On the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian”, 1990-03-24, #36.
  2. “”Immunity”, The Free Dictionary.
  3. John L. Allen Jr, “The autonomy of bishops, and suing the Vatican”, National Catholic Reporter, 21 May 2010.
  4. Sandro Magister, “The Holy See’s Diplomatic Net. Latest Acquisition: Russia”, Chiesa, 14 January 2010.
    The Holy See does not yet have relations with sixteen countries, most of them in Asia, many of them with majority Muslim populations. There is no Vatican representative in nine of these countries: Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Bhutan, the People’s Republic of China, North Korea, the Maldives, Oman, Tuvalu, and Vietnam. While in seven other countries there are apostolic delegates, pontifical representatives to the local Catholic communities but not to the government. Three of these countries are African: the Comoros, Mauritania, and Somalia. And four of them are Asian: Brunei, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar.
  5. “Australian abuse inquiry faces diplomatic standoff with Vatican”, National Catholic Reporter, 19 December 2013.
  6. [UN] Committee against Torture, Concluding observations on the initial report of the Holy See, 17 June 201, #14.
  7. See article 6.1, “Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.” Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution A/RES/54/263 of 25 May 2000, entered into force on 18 January 2002,
  8. “British archbishop who claimed diplomatic immunity to avoid handing documents to paedophile investigators is promoted to third highest role in Vatican by the Pope”, Daily Mail, 10 November 2014.
  9. “Dominican Republic says Vatican to handle landmark sex abuse case”, Agence France-Presse, 1 December 2014.
  10. Laurie Goodstein, “Vatican Defrocks Ambassador in Abuse Inquiry”, New York Times, 27 June 2014.
  11. . “Priests accused of child sex abuse to stand trial in Poland?”, Radio Poland, 16 October 2013.
  12. Betty Clermont, “Pope Francis Concealed His Actions Against Two Prelates. Now Both ‘Whereabouts are Unknown’”, Daily Kos, 29 September 2013.
  13. Laurie Goodstein, “For Nuncio Accused of Abuse, Dominicans Want Justice at Home, Not Abroad”, New York Times, 23 August 2014.
  14. “Vatican to Polish prosecutor: we don’t extradite”, Associated Press, 11 January 2014.
  15. Laurie Goodstein, “For Nuncio Accused of Abuse, Dominicans Want Justice at Home, Not Abroad”, New York Times, 23 August 2014
  16. The United Nations Committee against Torture said on 17 June 2014, ref CAT/C/VAT/CO/1:
    Impunity

    13. The Committee appreciates the confirmation provided regarding the ongoing investigation under the Vatican City State Criminal Code of allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Archbishop Josef Wesolowski, former papal nuncio to the Dominican Republic. The Committee notes that the Republic of Poland has reportedly requested the extradition of Archbishop Wesolowski. The Committee also is concerned that the State party did not identify any case to date in which it has prosecuted an individual responsible for the commission of or complicity or participation in a violation of the Convention (arts. 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8).

    The State party should ensure that its competent authorities proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation of Archbishop Wesolowski and any other persons accused of perpetrating or being complicit in violations of the Convention who are nationals of the State party or are present on the territory of the State party. If warranted, the State party should ensure such persons are criminally prosecuted or extradited for prosecution by the civil authorities of another State party. The Committee requests the State party to provide it with information on the outcome of the investigation concerning Archbishop Wesolowski.

  17. “Dominican court opens case on ex-Vatican official”, Associated Press, 31 August 2014.
  18. “Poland Suspends Inquiry Into a Former Vatican Envoy”, New York Times, 22 December 2014.
  19. “Dominican court opens case on ex-Vatican official”, Associated Press, 31 August 2014.
  20. “Dominican prosecutor OKs Vatican sex abuse case”, Associated Press, 2 December 2014.
  21. “Poland suspends paedophilia investigation against archbishop”, Polski Radio, 19 December 2014.
  22. “Poland Suspends Inquiry Into a Former Vatican Envoy”, New York Times, 22 December 2014.
  23. Donald Snyder, “Venue debated for trial of former nuncio accused of abusing minors”, National Catholic Reporter, 6 September 2014.
  24. Pellegrini v. Italy, 2001-VIII, Application No: 30882/96
  25. Laurie Goodstein, “U.N. Panel Criticizes the Vatican Over Sexual Abuse”, New York Times, 5 February 2014.
  26. Stoyan Zaimov, “Catholic Church Not Employer of Pedophile Priests, US Judge Rules”, Christian Post, 22 August 2014.
  27. “Bishops who mishandle abuse must be accountable, says Vatican official”, Catholic Herald, 8 February 2012.
  28. “Pope-bishop relationship key in sex abuse defense”, AP, 18 May 2010.
  29. “Settlements and bankruptcies in [American] Catholic sex abuse cases”, Wikipedia.
  30. “Catholic bishop criticises ruling on church liability for actions of priests”, Guardian, 15 November 2011.
    Crispian Hollis, Bishop of Portsmouth, “The Diocese, Fr Wilf Baldwin and the High Court Judgment”, 10 November 2011.
  31. “Catholic Church responsible for child abuse, High Court rules”, The Lawyer, 9 November 2011.
  32. Jonathan Petre, “Clergy close to workers’ rights”, Telegraph, 19 January 2004.
  33. Trustees of the Roman Catholic Church V Ellis & Anor [2007] NSWCA 117 (24 May 2007).
  34. Australian Cardinal angers abuse victims, The Tablet, 22 August 2014.
  35. Glen Coulton, letter to Sydney Morning Herald, 6 February 2011.
  36. “Church abuse case goes to highest court”, The Times, 23 July 2012.
  37. “Roman Catholic church stalls on £8m child abuse claims“, Observer, 15 November 2009
  38. “Counting the cost of abuse redress”, Irish Examiner, 01 October 2012
  39. “Kenny: I can’t force orders to contribute to Magdalenes redress fund”, Breaking News IE, 17 July 2013.
  40. Conor Ryan, “Site by laundry grave sold for €61.8m”, Irish Examiner, 05 July 2011.
  41. Petition concerning the Duplessis Orphans, presented to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, on behalf of the Duplessis Orphans, by Dr. Jonathan Levy and Rod Vienneau, 15 April 2011. http://www.vaticanbankclaims.com/quebec.pdf This is a reliable summary, as any factual inaccuracies would expose this human rights lawyer to charges of perjury, as explained at the end of the document.
  42. “Child victims partly to blame in priest sex-abuse cases, Syracuse bishop testified”, Syracuse.com, 13 September 2015.
  43. “Judge: Try Philadelphia priests, official together”, AP, 29 July 2011.
  44. Marci A. Hamilton, “Why ensuring accountability for clergy sexual abuse of children has proved so difficult, even though it remains so crucial”, Findlaw, 6 May 2004.
  45. Marci A. Hamilton, a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University who represents plaintiffs in sexual abuse suits, quoted in “Church Battles Efforts to Ease Sex Abuse Suits”, New York Times, 14 June 2012.
  46. “Ahead of Pope Francis’ Visit, Survivors of Sexual Abuse Take Stock”, New York Times, 15 September 2015.
  47. Amnesty International, Annual Report, 2011: “Vatican”.
  48. “Dolan Sought to Protect Church Assets, Files Show”, New York Times, 1 July 2013.
    “Appeals court: Judge erred on Milwaukee archdiocese fund”, AP, 10 March 2015.
  49. “Judge Orders External Audit of San Diego Diocese Accounts”, Associated Press, carried in San Luis Obispo Tribune, 11 April 2007.
  50. “Abuse victims criticise Brady’s decision to stay”, BBC News, 18 May 2010.
  51. “Revealed: the oath Brady, Smyth and the children swore”, Irish Independent, 3 December 2012.
  52. “Courage puts shame ‘squarely where it belongs'”, Sydney Morning Herald, 24 July 2013.
  53. “Church Whistle-Blowers Join Forces on Abuse”, New York Times, 20 May 2013.
  54. “Cardinal Pell denies attempting to bribe alleged abuse victim and helping to move paedophile priest”, Tablet, 21 May 2015.
  55. “Mo. appeals court rules Catholic church not responsible for some abuse”, St. Louis Public Radio, 5 July 2011.
  56. “How the German Catholic Church Protected a Pedophile Priest”, Spiegel, 24 April 2009.
  57. Tom Heneghan, “John Paul backed praise for hiding abuse – cardinal”, Reuters, 18 April 2010.
  58. Cardinal Darío del Niño Jesús Castrillón Hoyos to Bishop Pierre Pican, 8 September 2001. Translation in “Darío Castrillón Hoyos”,
  59. John L Allen Jr, “Crisis hangs over pope in Malta like volcanic ash”, National Catholic Register, 17 April 2010.
  60. Tom Heneghan, “John Paul backed praise for hiding abuse – cardinal”, Reuters, 18 April 2010.
  61. Rod Dreher, “Cardinal: John Paul approved of cover-up”, Beliefnet, 18 April 2010.
  62. Ciaran Byrne, “Controversial cleric a ‘grade A1 idiot’, says colleague”, Irish Independent, 20 March 2010.
  63. “Catholic archbishop says kids are spontaneously gay”, Examiner.com, 8 May 2010.
  64. “Calls multiply for inquiry into handling of sex abuse”, Sydney Morning Herald, 1 August 2012.
  65. Laurie Goodstein, Nick Cumming-Brice and Jim Yardley,“ U.N. Panel Criticizes the Vatican Over Sexual Abuse”, New York Times, 5 February 2014.
  66. “Holy See’s Comments to Observations From UN Committee on Rights of the Child”, Zenit, 26 September 2014.

 

Pope Francis Concealed His Actions Against Two Prelates. Now Both “Whereabouts are Unknown.”


 Pope Francis Concealed His Actions Against Two Prelates. Now Both “Whereabouts are Unknown.”

A “dossier” accusing papal nuncio Archbishop Josef Wesolowski of sex abuse of minors was sent to Pope Francis sometime in July by Santo Domingo Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez. The pope found the information credible enough to dismiss Wesolowski, nuncio to both the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, on Aug. 21 via confidential letter N.2706/PR to the bishops of both countries.

Neither the civil authorities nor the public knew about Wesolowski until a local TV program did an expose’ on Aug. 31. The result of a year-long investigation, the broadcast contained testimony from residents of the Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo that Wesolowski paid minors for sex.

Three days after the TV broadcast, a local bishop confirmed that Wesolowski had been recalled for sexually abusing minors.

Wesolowski reportedly had left the country only a few days before. There were accusations that the pope allowed his nuncio to escape and speculation that Wesolowski fled to Haiti where children are even more desperately poor.

On Sept. 23, the Dominican Republic’s Justice Ministry confirmed there was evidence of pedophilia against Wesolowski. A deacon confessed to “pimping” minors for the prelate who allegedly waited in his vehicle nearby. The deacon, Francisco Javier Occi Reyes, who is being held in pretrial prison on pedophilia charges, was arrested when one of Wesolowski’s alleged victims alerted a police officer. The deacon said on that occasion Wesolwski left but said nothing because he thought the Church’s influence would get him out of prison.

The Deputy Procurator and the case’s lead investigator, Bolivar Sanchez, noted that Wesolowski cannot be extradited because of his diplomatic status. He said the minors interviewed admitted to masturbating for, and of taking part in oral sex with the bishop as he filmed them with a cell phone. Another witness affirmed seeing child pornography on Wesoloski’s laptop at the Vatican embassy. Sanchez confirmed that when the local Catholic Church submitted the evidence to the Vatican, the Justice Ministry was unaware of the case but has received full cooperation after the investigation was launched.

Wesolowski is a Polish national and the story is receiving wide coverage in that county. An investigative reporter for Poland’s Newsweek confirmed that Wesolowski was well known in the Zona Colonial. The reporter was told that the nuncio paid youths 500 pesos to masturbate in front of him. Occasionally they were paid 3,000 pesos for “full” sex.

“Confidence in the Church has suffered,” the secretary general of the Polish bishops’ conference, Bishop Wojciech Polak, said. He asked for forgiveness. “It’s the least I can do,” he told reporters. Polak, however, rejected the idea of financial compensation for the victims from the Church. Rather, only the person responsible for these acts should make restitution. Also, the Polish hierarchy said there has been no contact with Wesolowski and that his whereabouts remain unknown.

Similarly, Pope Francis sent confidential letter N315/2012 to the bishops in Peru on May 24, 2013, dismissing Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Miranda Melgarejo of Ayacucho, a poor Andean region in southern Peru. According to this newspaper report, no reason was given and there was no public announcement.

Miranda had led the youth ministry of Peru’s bishops’ conference since 2007 and had accompanied the group “to other countries” and to Spain in 2011 for a World Youth Day celebration, the same event recently attended by Pope Francis in Brazil.

Miranda was reported to be an Opus Dei priest. But the group said he had only received “spiritual assistance” from the organization, meaning that while not ordained as an Opus Dei priest, Miranda was a diocesan priest “intrinsically united to Opus Dei.” This would explain how poor kids could have traveled since Opus Dei would have paid for their trips.

On Aug. 21, a Spanish lawyer, Francisco Jose de la Cigona, wrote in his blog that the Vatican “accepted the resignation” of Miranda for “having sex with minors and adults, too” which had been “solicited in confession.” His informant confirmed that Miranda’s name had been removed from the archdiocesan website.

Diego Garcia Sayan, president of the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, wrote in his Sept. 19 La Republica newspaper column what had been “said in Church circles for at least a month” – Miranda had been dismissed by the pope for accusations of sexually abusing children. “No official information [from the Church] is available,” however, it is “essential to confirm or disprove what is an open secret.” If true, he wrote, he called for “immediate action by the attorney general.”

Later on Sept. 19, a local bishop publicly stated that “Miranda has not only been removed [for pedophilia], but laicized. He is no longer a priest.”  The bishop said this had not yet been officially communicated by the Vatican.

The next day, Reuters reported that an unnamed “Church official confirmed that Miranda, 53, had resigned but declined to say why.” The attorney general’s office said that it was investigating Miranda and would announce its actions soon. According to an Opus Dei statement, Miranda “denies any crime related to minors.”

Various prelates followed up by confirming the “resignation” of Miranda, or the “removal” of Miranda. The spokesman for the Archdiocese of Ayacucho, said Miranda “departed in July” but did not specify the reason.

On Sept. 22, La Republica’s correspondent in Ayacucho noted that the archbishop of the archdiocese and president of Peru’s bishops’ conference, Salvador Pineiro, had announced to other Peruvian hierarchs that Miranda was dismissed and laicized on Aug. 15 based on evidence and testimony of the victim(s) and their families. The government prosecutor, Garry Chavez, questioned why, having heard the case, the national Church hierarchy had not contacted the civil authority.

The same day, the Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima “minimized” the accusations of child sex abuse against Miranda and blamed the scandal on the media. Cipriani met with Pope Francis on Sept. 24 “for more than an hour” but said that Miranda was not discussed.

Also on Sept. 24, the prosecutor, Chavez, told La Republica that he asked the archbishops of Ayacucho and Lima and the papal nuncio – since the allegations were made directly to the Vatican – for copies of the records upon which the pope based his decision to remove Miranda. According to Chavez, Miranda left the second week in August and his whereabouts remain unknown.

Chavez asked the attorney general’s office, which deals with international crimes, to receive the information requested from the nuncio through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He said he hopes there will be a quick response from the Vatican.

On Sept. 26, Reuters reported that Chavez told them Church officials based in Peru and the Vatican had not yet responded to several requests for details about the case. “What we are going to do now is reiterate to them that the law requires their cooperation,” Chavez said. The archbishop of Ayacucho, Salvador Pineiro, who supervised Miranda for two years, said he supports the investigation and hopes it will reveal the truth. He said all he knows about the case is that on July 5 he was notified by Pope Francis that Miranda was being dismissed for “sins against the sixth commandment [Thou shalt not commit adultery] in a process subject to pontifical secret.” (The “sixth commandment” is a euphemism used by Catholic churchmen for any sexual transgression from masturbation to rape.)

However, the online magazine, CARETAS, reported that the accusation against Miranda was for “improper touching” of a 14-year-old altar boy in June 2012 in the confessional. According to the magazine, the victim lodged a formal complaint with the archbishop of Ayacucho’s office. It appears the complaint went unnoticed or ignored for some time. Also, CARETAS reported that Chavez believes there is another complaint against Miranda by a 15-year-old.

Pineiro denied this and said he never received any complaints against Miranda. “That’s a lie. Of course I would have investigated. I am not complicit,” the archbishop protested.

Meanwhile, Miranda’s whereabouts still remain unknown.

While Pope Francis could be praised for dismissing these prelates, the fact that the information he received was credible enough for him to take action also means that he should have immediately alerted the civil authorities so that, if warranted, an arrest could be made or at least an investigation begun as soon as possible. Also, Pope Francis should have made the allegations public so that any other victims would be encouraged to contact a law enforcement agency perhaps making the investigation easier, apprehension quicker or prosecution more certain. Additionally, if made public, people could avoid contact with the accused. The group, Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), defines failure to take these steps as a “cover up.”

How many children have been abused or are in danger until both men are apprehended? Did Wesolowski and Miranda use the time provided by the pope’s silence to escape arrest? At what point should Francis make an apology and offer aid to the victims?

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio did not have a good record regarding child sex abuse before he became pope.

Fr. Julio Cesar Grassi was well known for his work as president of the Fundacion Felices los Niños (the Happy Children Foundation) which he founded in 1993 to rescue street children.

Grassi received donations from fund-raising drives held on numerous television programs. He “won praise from Argentine politicians and his superior, Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio.” (Bergoglio was elevated to archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998 and elevated to cardinal in 2001 by Pope John Paul II.)

The first legal complaint against the priest was filed anonymously in Juvenile Court in Nov. 2000 accusing Grassi of corrupting minors. Nothing was done until an investigative news program alleged that Grassi abused five boys aged 11 to 17. Two of the alleged victims, using the pseudonyms “Gabriel” and “Ezekiel,” stated that they had been abused by Grassi while in the Happy Children Foundation.

In Oct. 2002, Grassi was arrested and charged with 17 counts of abusing three boys who were 9, 13, and 17 when the alleged incidents occurred. The priest accused those who made complaints of extortion. Grassi was held 28 days and released.

One victim’s attorney, Juan Pablo Gallego, said the harm done by the priest was “irreversible.” “This man was in charge of abandoned kids with family problems,” stated Gallego.

The executive committee of the Argentine bishops’ conference issued a statement denouncing a “campaign” intended to “blur the image” of the Catholic Church and “cause society to lose its trust” in the institution.” The Executive Committee was headed by Archbishop Karlic and his first and second vice-presidents, Msgr. Miras and Cardinal Bergoglio.

Cardinal Bergoglio refused to meet with “Gabriel” in Nov. 2003.

In one of Argentina’s most egregious abuse cases, another priest in the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires was assigned to work with children even when Church leaders knew of allegations against him.
After local parishioners accused Fr. Mario Napoleon Sasso of molesting children in a poor, rural province of eastern Argentina in the early 1990s, he was sent to a private rehabilitation center for wayward clergy. He was then reassigned to work in a soup kitchen for poor children in a town outside the capital. There, he went on to sexually abuse girls as young as 3.
The attorney for the victims said that in 2006 the victims’ families asked to see Bergoglio but they never received a response.
Sasso was convicted in 2007 and sentenced to 17 years in prison. He has since been released on parole.

After years of legal delays, Grassi’s trial began in August 2008. Prosecutors sought 30 years in prison. For nine months, the trial was held behind closed doors. Only the verdict was read to the public on June 10, 2009. The Criminal Court found Grassi guilty of two acts of aggravated sexual assault and corruption of minors and sentenced him to 15 years in prison. He was allowed to remain free during his appeal but the judges imposed a number of restrictions.

On June 20, 2009, 49 priests and 50 laypeople criticized the “silence of ecclesial leaders before this case and others.” The signers said, “We see that other bishops’ conferences like Colombia’s have spoken up in similar cases, and we do not understand your silence, that has the appearance of ‘hushing up’ and ‘tolerance.’”

In a 2009 interview, Grassi claimed that Bergoglio “never let go of my hand….Investigative reports at the time indicate that Bergoglio not only continued protecting Grassi through the Church but was also his confessor – one of the few who came to talk to him.”

The case of Fr. Grassi has been particularly troublesome to children’s advocates in Argentina because “Bergoglio was widely viewed as close to the young priest. [He] was not expelled from the priesthood after the guilty verdict. Instead, Church officials led by Bergoglio commissioned a lengthy private report arguing that Grassi was innocent.”

The report, written by Marcelo Sancinetti, a criminal lawyer, was two volumes exceeding 1000 pages. He argued that a member of the clergy should not necessarily comply with secular court decisions. “He suggests that allegation of sex abuse by Grassi are false and comparable to the witch trials of the Middle Ages.” A copy was given to each judge involved in hearing Grassi’s appeal and was “submitted as part of the legal appeal…Prosecutors say the document has helped Grassi avoid jail time.”

For the next four years, Grassi was allowed to continue living across the street from the foundation. Grassi “violated the conditions for his freedom by calling one of the youngsters whose testimony led to his conviction a ‘liar.’”

On May 8, 2013, the victim known as “Gabriel” and his attorney, Juan Pablo Gallego, went to the Vatican embassy in Buenos Aires to hand deliver a letter addressed to Pope Francis. The letter read, in part, “I would be grateful if you would apply the so-called zero tolerance [as announced by the Vatican towards pedophile priests] for the privileged Grassi sentenced for horrific crimes from which I have suffered and still suffer. Have him reduced to the lay state and issue a clear public sign of respect for the independence of the Argentine judicial system….I beg your compassion and help me regain my faith.”

While the attorney and his client were at the nunciature, “a number of parcels, letters and papers” addressed to the pope were received. After an employee read “Gabriel’s” letter and consulted with someone inside, they were told the letter would not be accepted and they were threatened with a call to the police.

On Sept. 2, the chief justice of the Argentine Supreme Court of Buenos Aires, Héctor Negri, one of the judges who would decide Grassi’s appeal, met in private with Pope Francis. Negri stated that the Grassi case was not discussed, but should a prominent jurist have considered the meeting unseemly just a couple of weeks before a decision was to be handed down on Grassi?

On Sept. 18, Grassi’s conviction for two cases of aggravated sexual abuse and a third for corruption of minors and sentence of 15 years imprisonment was upheld. Other plaintiffs are pushing for the trial against Grassi to continue, saying he still needs to answer to accusations that he abused two other youths. Plaintiffs’ attorney Gallego said the victims are currently between 27 and 28 years old and live “in humble conditions.”

Grassi called the court’s decision “a cross one must know how to bear.” The priest criticized the prosecutor for “wanting to deceive society” and the media for waging a campaign against him.

In a press statement, Bishop Marcelo Cuenca said that Grassi was “totally innocent” and he blamed the media for Grassi’s conviction.

Sergio Piris, an attorney for another of Grassi’s victims, said the priest always felt comfortable because he was protected by the Church. Piris said his client “was never able to close this black chapter on his life” and that “he was still suffering while the abuser was free and spoke on television.” Cuenca’s statement shows that the Church continues to protect him, Piris stated. ”

Considering that Grassi resists detention by “spurious means,” provides a “bizarre spectacle” for the press, and “because he does not stop hurting himself, the Catholic Church, justice and, above all, the victims,” Gallego asked Pope Francis to remove the priest from the Catholic Church.

Bishop Luis Guillermo Eichhorn had defended Grassi as “again acquitted on fifteen charges and convicted on two,” in an earlier statement. But on Sept. 25, the day after Grassi was finally ordered to prison, Eichhorn said that Grassi could no longer say mass in public but could continue doing so in private “pending final resolution of this situation” and that he would be investigated by the Vatican. To which one columnist replied: “This arrangement is the minimum that can be adopted and seems destined to protect the priest and try to lessen the damage to the corporate image of the Church which has been seriously harmed by inaction in many cases of pedophilia tested in various parts of the world.”

….Bergoglio did not offer personal apologies or financial restitution, even in cases in which the crimes were denounced by other members of the Church and the offending priests were sent to jail.
There is no evidence that Bergoglio played a role in covering up abuse cases. Several prominent rights groups in Argentina say…that Bergoglio’s resolve strengthened as new cases of molestation emerged in the archdiocese and that he eventually instructed bishops to immediately report all abuse allegations to police.
But during most of the 14 years that Bergoglio served as archbishop of Buenos Aires, rights advocates say, he did not take decisive action to protect children or act swiftly when molestation charges surfaced.
He has been totally silent,” said Ernesto Moreau, a member of Argentina’s U.N.-affiliated Permanent Assembly for Human Rights and a lawyer who has represented victims in a clergy sexual-abuse case. Victims asked to meet with Bergoglio but were turned down, Moreau said. “In that regard, Bergoglio was no different from most of the other bishops in Argentina, or the Vatican itself.”

As pope, Francis has also been silent regarding sexual assaults against children except for acknowledging during an in-flight interview while returning from Brazil that this was a crime.

In April, the Vatican Information Service reported that “the Holy Father recommended that the Congregation [for the Doctrine of the Faith or CDF] continue along the lines set by Benedict XVI.” The press office paraphrased a private conversation between Pope Francis and Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the CDF, yet it has been universally misreported to the present day as a direct quote of a public statement that Francis told Muller to “act decisively against sexual abuse.”

Neither did the pope make any public statement when he made a new law for the employees of the Vatican City State and the Holy See (the name of the worldwide Church government) effective on July 11. The decree “declared sexual violence, prostitution and possession of child pornography as crimes against children can be punished by up to 12 years in prison.”

Perhaps this was not as widely reported because, a week earlier, the Vatican received a list of requests for information from the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child which will evaluate in early 2014 the Holy See’s implementation of the treaty it signed with U.N. protecting children.

One of the requests was “…please clarify the status of the Convention in the Vatican City State and provide information on the measures taken to incorporate its principles and provisions in the domestic legal system of the Vatican City State.”
Another was:    

For all these cases [of  sexual violence against children committed by members of the clergy, brothers and nuns in numerous countries around the world reported to the Holy See], please provide detailed information on the measures in place to ensure that no member of the clergy currently accused of sexual abuse be allowed to remain in contact with children as well as the specific cases where immediate measures were taken to prevent them from being in continued contact with children as well as the cases where priests were transferred to other parishes or to other States where they continued to have access to and abuse children.

No doubt, the world media will neglect to hold Pope Francis accountable for his failure to comply with the U.N. treaty. Just like, except for victims’ advocates, not one single reporter, journalist or commentator that I am aware of noted that Francis failed to mention the subject of child sex abuse in the 12,000-word interview published on Sept. 22.Francis first action as pope was to name eight cardinals who would advise him on governance of the Church. He showed a callous disregard for survivors of sexual assaults by selecting two cardinals with terrible reputations regarding child sex abuse.

The Australian Cardinal George Pell, when asked what he thought was the root cause of the sex-abuse scandals, Pell replied, “it’s obviously connected with the problem of homosexuality.”

In Australia, the number of reports of clergy child sex abuse became so egregious that the state of Victoria (capital Melbourne) initiated a parliament inquiry, the state of New South Wales (capital Sydney) is investigating complaints that the Catholic Church hampered police investigations, and former Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the formation of a Royal Commission to study child sex abuse by religious and non-government bodies.

Pell’s response was to complain about a “‘persistent press campaign’ and ‘general smears that we are covering up and moving people around,’ and then capped it off with the claim that abuse by Catholic priests had been singled out and exaggerated.”

Catholic clergy commit six times as much abuse as those in the rest of the Churches combined, ‘and that’s a conservative figure,’” Patrick Parkinson, a Sydney University law professor, told the Victoria inquiry on May 30, 2013. Of thousands of offences, not a single crime was reported by a Church official to the police, Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton testified.

On May 24, 2013, Pell appeared as the final witness in the parliamentary inquiry. Like other prelates, Pell made an apology which came across as insincere. “My response to Cardinal Pell’s evidence, being as fair as I can, is that it was to me a rather cynical exercise in damage control,”  Dr. Bryan Keon-Cohen QC, president of community lobby group COIN (Commission of Inquiry Now) said. “He offered a lot of words, offered apologies, expressed remorse, but to me it lacked conviction,” according to Keon-Cohen.

During Pell’s testimony, “Many of his responses about his personal empathy for victims were met with laughter and scoffs from the public gallery, which included victims and victims’ advocates.” Anthony Foster, father of two young daughters repeatedly raped by a priest, said Pell showed a “sociopathic lack of empathy typifying the attitude and response of the Catholic hierarchy.” Ian Lawther, whose son was sexually abused by a priest, described Pell’s apology as “full of criminal clichés….It was a kick to the groin of every Australian Catholic, maybe even Christian.”

Another of Pope Francis’ “gang of eight” is Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, the retired archbishop of Santiago, who made headlines in Chile for protecting Fr. Fernando Karamina, a spiritual leader among Santiago’s most influential families.

Church officials were warned as early as 1984 about Karadima’s “improper conduct.” The first known reports of abuse by Karadima reached Errázuriz in mid-2003. In 2006, a priest appointed by Errázuriz to investigate the claims made his report to the cardinal, stating that he believed “the accusers to be credible.” Errázuriz wrote in a public letter that he did nothing because he thought the allegations were beyond the statute of limitations.

In April 2010, a civil criminal complaint was filed against Karadima for child sex abuse by four men who were once his devoted followers. The claims were dismissed by a court ruling stating there was not enough evidence to charge him. One of the claimants protested, “We would have liked to appeal, but with defense attorneys like his, who have the Appeals and Supreme Court eating out of their hands, and a number of powerful people who continue to protect Karadima, we knew it would be an uphill battle that we were likely to lose.”

In January 2011, a judge ordered that Karadima be interrogated. According to court testimony, Church officials, including Errázuriz, tried to shame accusers into dropping claims, refused to meet with them or failed to carry out formal investigations for years.

The criminal case against Karadima was dismissed in November 2011 because the statute of limitations had expired but the court also determined that the allegations were “truthful and reliable.” The Vatican “sanctioned” Karadima by ordering him to a life of “penitence and prayer,” but he remains a priest in good standing.

Karadima is the “worst scandal” of the Chilean Catholic Church, Chilean political analyst Ascanio Cavallo, Dean of the Journalism School of the Adolfo Ibáñez University, stated. “Power is the true point of the case. The abuses were not possible without a network  of political, social and religious power working for 50 years,” said Cavallo.

When Pope Francis appointed Errázuriz as one of his closest advisers, one of the claimants who had accused the cardinal of covering up Karadima’s crimes called it “a shame and a disgrace.”

On Sept. 15, Errázuriz, referring to the compensation requested by Karadima’s victims from the Archdiocese of Santiago for failing to protect them or to investigate their accusations, said they should be asking for compensation from Karadima. Errázuriz denied that the archdiocese had any responsibility for their “tremendous pain.”

On Sept. 21, Pope Francis reconfirmed Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith even though the archbishop has followed none of the instructions reportedly given him by the pope as described by the Vatican Information Service in April. Müller was told he must promote measures for the protection of minors, offer assistance to those who have suffered abuse, carry out due proceedings against the guilty and help formulate and implement the necessary directives in this area “that is so important for the Church’s witness and credibility.” The press release had ended with “The Holy Father assured that victims of abuse are present in a particular way in his prayers for those who are suffering.”

The institution is not what it appears in its public pronouncements, ritual manifestations, and glorious vesture….Only willful blindness and pathological denial can allow one to overlook the reality that the symptom of clerical abuse reveals a Roman Catholic Church as dysfunctional and corrupt sexually and financially as during the time of the Protestant Reformation.” August 30, 2013 by A. W. Richard Sipe, Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor, former Benedictine monk and priest, and recognized authority on celibacy and priest sex abuse.

 

Whisked Away by the Vatican


Whisked Away by the Vatican