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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.
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  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).
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  35. Glen Coulton, letter to Sydney Morning Herald, 6 February 2011.
  36. “Church abuse case goes to highest court”, The Times, 23 July 2012.
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  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.
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    “Appeals court: Judge erred on Milwaukee archdiocese fund”, AP, 10 March 2015.
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  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.
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  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.

 

N.J. priest in sexting sting thought he was talking to 16-year-old boy, wanted to meet


N.J. priest in sexting sting thought he was talking to 16-year-old boy, wanted to meet

By Mark Mueller | The Star-Ledger

September 29, 2013 at 12:10 AM, updated September 29, 2013 at 8:37 AM

From the Link: http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/09/priest_in_sexting_sting_thought_he_was_talking_to_16-year-old_boy_wanted_to_meet.html

This picture of the Rev. Matthew Riedlinger had been posted on the public website of The Monitor, a publication of the Diocese of Trenton. The diocese has since removed it.

This picture of the Rev. Matthew Riedlinger had been posted on the public website of The Monitor, a publication of the Diocese of Trenton. The diocese has since removed it.

 

The text messages read as if they’ve been ripped from a pornographic novel.

Matthew Riedlinger quizzed his texting partner about sex videos, pressed for details about intimate liaisons, described sexual acts and encouraged mutual masturbation.

He also repeatedly asked to meet.

“Promise me you will never breath (sic) a word of this to anyone — ok?” he wrote.

Riedlinger had good reason for discretion.

He is a priest of the Diocese of Trenton, and while exchanging more than 1,200 text messages over four weeks last year, he thought was he talking to a 16-year-old boy.

Riedlinger, at the time an assistant pastor at St. Aloysius Church in Jackson and a sex-education teacher at the parish school, was the target of an elaborate sting by a Catholic University of America graduate who says the priest sexually harassed him for years.

Timothy Schmalz, now 23 and a resident of Washington, D.C., said he was moved to action after his first complaint about Riedlinger in 2011 resulted in what he characterized as a slap on the wrist by Trenton Bishop David M. O’Connell.

Schmalz is one of five young men who provided The Star-Ledger with similar accounts of harassment and sexual obsession by the priest. Four of the five were in their late teens or early 20s when Riedlinger began inappropriate and persistent sexual dialogues with them, they said. The fifth was in his late 20s.

The sting, initiated on Facebook and carried out through the use of a Google Voice account, partially served its purpose.

After Schmalz forwarded transcripts of the text messages and other materials to O’Connell in August 2012, the bishop removed Riedlinger from the parish, placed him in an in-patient treatment program and later assigned him to restricted ministry away from children, the diocese confirmed.

But for more than a year, O’Connell refused to tell parishioners at St. Aloysius why the priest had been pulled, an omission that advocates for victims of clergy sex abuse call a flagrant violation of the church’s pledge of transparency.

Moreover, the former pastor, the Rev. Kevin Keelan, chastised parishioners for asking questions about Riedlinger’s removal, saying in the church bulletin that “blabbing” was a sin and that they were not entitled to more information.

O’Connell informed parishioners of the complaints in a statement only last weekend, a day after The Star-Ledger questioned the diocese about Riedlinger and the decision to withhold information about the allegations.

Timothy Schmalz, 23, stands before the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. Schmalz, originally from Howell, was an altar server at the shrine when he met the Rev. Matthew Riedlinger, who has since been removed from ministry in the Diocese of Trenton.Barbara L. Salisbury/For The Star-Ledge

Timothy Schmalz, 23, stands before the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. Schmalz, originally from Howell, was an altar server at the shrine when he met the Rev. Matthew Riedlinger, who has since been removed from ministry in the Diocese of Trenton.Barbara L. Salisbury/For The Star-Ledge

Even then, the statement makes no mention of the fact that Riedlinger believed he was corresponding with a 16-year-old boy during sexually explicit conversations.

“Father Riedlinger has been the subject of two complaints to the diocese over the past few years regarding his participation in inappropriate cell phone text communication over a period of some years with adults,” according to the statement, which was read aloud at weekend Masses. “There was no sexual contact, assault or abuse referenced in the complaints.”

The statement called Riedlinger’s behavior “deeply troubling” and said it is “in no way to be tolerated in the life and ministry of a priest.”

O’Connell declined to be interviewed for this story. The full statement can be found here.

Riedlinger, a 30-year-old Ohio native, could not be reached by phone and did not respond to a request for comment sent to his personal e-mail address. In recent months, he has been living at the Villa Vianney retirement home for priests in Lawrenceville and tending to the needs of retired Bishop John M. Smith.

On Monday, he was granted a leave from the priesthood.

“Determining that media coverage will impede his efforts to recover from the problems that have unfolded, Father Riedlinger has decided to leave the diocese and has asked for an indefinite leave of absence from the priesthood,” Rayanne Bennett, a spokeswoman for the diocese, said in a statement. “Bishop O’Connell has granted his request, effective immediately.”

The Star-Ledger has obtained copies of the text messages. The phone number from which they originated — now disconnected — had been listed under Riedlinger’s name in public records.

The diocese notified the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office of the second complaint against Riedlinger immediately after O’Connell received it.

Al Della Fave, a spokesman for that office, confirmed the referral and said investigators conducted a review but ultimately closed the case.

“There were jurisdictional issues that prevented us from bringing any criminal charges,” Della Fave said, declining to elaborate.

A law enforcement official familiar with the probe said the case was compromised in part because Schmalz was not in New Jersey when the sting took place. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said authorities also were concerned because the operation had been conducted by a civilian. The authenticity of the texts was not in question, the official said.

The Rev. John Bambrick, who was named administrator of St. Aloysius in January of this year, after Riedlinger’s removal, said he had heard rumors but did not know the extent of the complaints. Parishioners have told him Riedlinger was a well-liked priest, Bambrick said, calling the situation “sad for everyone involved.”

“This is one of those tough situations,” said Bambrick, a survivor of clergy sexual abuse and a member of the group Catholic Whistleblowers, formed earlier this year with the aim of holding the church and its bishops more accountable for abuse cases.

Though Riedlinger engaged in “highly destructive behavior,” Bambrick said, there is no evidence the priest interacted inappropriately with a real minor, and he said he did not think Riedlinger was a danger because his ministry no longer involved children and because he was undergoing therapy.

“He committed a grievous sin, but what do we do with someone like that?” Bambrick asked. “Do we cast him away? Throw him into the abyss? Or do we give him something constructive to do?”

Schmalz, a Howell native now studying at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, carried out the sting with his college roommate, who said he, too, was besieged by Riedlinger’s relentless sexual chatter.

The roommate spoke on the condition that The Star-Ledger use only his first name, Ryan, because his family has business dealings with a Catholic diocese. He said he feared the business would be harmed if his full name was disclosed.

All five men reached by the newspaper said they considered Riedlinger a risk.

“Wherever he is, he will be a danger to kids, especially boys,” Schmalz said. “If he did this with us, if he thought he was doing this with a 16-year-old boy, who else did he do it with? This could ruin someone’s life.”

Stephen Webster, one of those interviewed, was an 18-year-old seminarian at Seton Hall University when he met Riedlinger at a retreat in Long Branch four years ago. Riedlinger, less than a year from ordination at the time, held himself out as a mentor, Webster said.

But their conversations soon morphed, Webster said. Riedlinger began with dirty jokes, he said, then took to discussing his struggles with pornography and masturbation.

“He would say, ‘Pray for me,’ but then he would text me when he was doing it, how he was doing it and when he was done,” Webster said. “It was twisted.”

Webster said he repeatedly told Riedlinger to stop but that the behavior persisted for a year, until the teen cut off contact altogether. Now 22, Webster said the experience contributed to his decision to abandon the seminary.

“As a priest, you represent the Catholic Church. You represent Christ. You hear confessions. And then you’re sexting over Facebook,” Webster said. “It’s a disgrace.”

Once, Schmalz and his roommate thought they might be priests, too.

Schmalz, a graduate of Christian Brothers Academy in the Lincroft section of Middletown, and Ryan, now a student at Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law, were regular altar servers at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The church, the largest cathedral in North America, lies on property donated by the university.

The men said they met Riedlinger, a Catholic University graduate who was approaching ordination, through the shrine’s rector, Msgr. Walter Rossi.

Rossi was good friends with Riedlinger and recommended they seek him out as a mentor, Schmalz said.

But the young friendship soon turned odd, they said. Riedlinger began peppering them with questions on Facebook about pornography, masturbation and homosexuality.

“The next day he would say he was drunk and that it would never happen again,” Schmalz said. “He would always close by saying, ‘Once I become a priest, I’ll forgive all your sins. Whatever you do is okay.’”

Despite their protestations, the behavior continued even after Riedlinger was ordained in June 2010 and assigned to St. Aloysius in Jackson, the two men said. It was a bizarre phone call in the spring of 2011 that pushed Ryan over the edge, he said.

He was studying for finals in a cafeteria with his girlfriend when Riedlinger called from Rome, where he said he was vacationing with Rossi.

“He started asking me questions about my girlfriend, whether I had sex with her or oral sex or anal sex and things like that,” Ryan said. “I told him it was really inappropriate and hung up.”

The two students had concerns beyond their own discomfort, saying Riedlinger told them he was teaching sex education to middle school-age children at the St. Aloysius parish school.

“He would say how physically mature they were for their ages and how some even had facial hair,” Ryan said. “It raised alarm bells.”

After asking advice from a professor at Catholic University, the two wrote a synopsis of their experience and forwarded it, along with transcripts of Facebook chats, to Bishop O’Connell in Trenton around October 2011, they said.

In its statement last weekend, the diocese said Riedlinger was assigned to outpatient counseling after that first complaint. Schmalz and Ryan were told through an intermediary — the Catholic University professor — that Riedlinger also was given a stern lecture. Both men said they considered the response insufficient but decided against pushing it further.

Then in the spring of 2012, Schmalz said, he was chatting with a group of people visiting the shrine from the Diocese of Trenton when a woman mentioned Riedlinger. Her 18-year-old son, a seminarian, had become very close with the priest, she said.

“She was thinking it was a good thing, but it got me really concerned,” Schmalz said. “I feared he would be walking into what Ryan and I had walked into before.”

Schmalz and Ryan had both seen the television series “To Catch a Predator,” in which a news reporter posed as a minor in online chat rooms. When an adult approached in a sexual manner, a meeting was set up and filmed, typically resulting in arrests.

The two friends said they weren’t looking to have Riedlinger charged. They said they wanted to prove to the diocese the priest had a problem and should not be in ministry.

Their vehicle: Josh McDonald, a fictitious 16-year-old boy who had just moved to Newton, in Sussex County, and who was interested in the priesthood. Schmalz and Ryan created a Facebook profile with a picture they found on the internet. To draw Riedlinger in, they “liked” religious Facebook pages.

They friended Riedlinger in early July of last year. Within 45 minutes, he accepted and asked who “Josh” was. Schmalz wrote that Josh had originally lived in Brick and attended one of his Masses in Jackson. Most of the conversations that followed were in text messages.

The Google Voice account Schmalz and Ryan created allowed them to send and receive texts on a computer, at the same time saving each text in the format of a chat, with dates and time stamps.

The first two weeks, Riedlinger was cautious.

“Something’s not right,” the priest wrote at 10:24 p.m. July 15, 2012. “U friend me on Facebook randomly, they (sic) you start texting me, You reveal many secrets to me, you speak to me more as a ‘bro’ than a priest, and u refuse to actually talk but insist on only texting. … For obvious reasons, priests must be very careful.”

Schmalz said he ultimately complied with Riedlinger’s insistence on a phone call.

“I quite literally held my nose and spoke in the highest voice possible,” Schmalz said. “He said, ‘Hey, you’re real. So nice to hear your voice.’ And then we continued our conversation online.”

The messages show Riedlinger needed little or no invitation to steer the conversation to sex. He spoke of past encounters and the size of his penis, encouraged Josh to enjoy sex with his boyfriend and repeatedly told him how alike they were in their thirst for pornography and sex.

“I love u dude. Ur a sick (expletive) like me,” Riedlinger wrote.

Riedlinger occasionally sent a message saying he was near Newton, suggesting a get-together. On those occasions, Schmalz declined to respond and made up an excuse later.

The conversations culminated in a graphic, six-hour texting session in the early morning hours of Aug. 3, 2012. The next day, Riedlinger asked to do it again.

Schmalz and his roommate cut off contact two days later and forwarded the transcript and other materials to O’Connell.

On Aug. 7, the bishop wrote back, thanking them for the documents and saying he had personally escorted Riedlinger to a hospital for in-patient treatment. The diocese, citing federal health law, declined to say where Riedlinger was treated or how long he remained in the facility.

Schmalz and Ryan said they continued to press the diocese to notify parishioners at St. Aloysius, saying they worried Riedlinger might have spoken to other teens the way he spoke to them.

Two months ago, the diocese’s victim assistance coordinator, Maureen Fitzsimmons, flatly told Ryan in an e-mail that O’Connell would not do so, according to a copy of the correspondence.

“I hear your request for the bishop to share information with the parish; however, as I mentioned to you in October, it was bishop’s decision not to do so,” Fitzsimmons wrote. “That has not changed.”

Bennett, the diocese’s spokeswoman, said the decision was reversed after The Star-Ledger’s inquiry “to prepare the community for the media coverage and to answer any questions parishioners might have as a result.”

She added that the case does not fall under the auspices of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People — a landmark document approved by the nation’s bishops in 2002 — because it did not involve a juvenile.

Mark Crawford, the New Jersey director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a national advocacy group, argued it was “reckless” for O’Connell not to have taken more aggressive action against Riedlinger after the first complaint in 2011. Crawford also said the bishop had a “moral obligation” to notify the parish earlier.

“The bishops promised to be open and transparent about anything of this nature,” he said. “This is an example of them not being open and honest at all.”

 

Church whistleblower says she ‘didn’t do enough’


Church whistleblower says she ‘didn’t do enough’

By Amy Forliti of Associated Press

From the link: http://news.msn.com/us/church-whistleblower-says-she-didnt-do-enough

ST. PAUL, Minn. — After she made her First Communion as a little girl, Jennifer Haselberger was distraught to learn the Catholic church had no saint Jennifer, and she had no saint to call her own. So her mom opened up a book and pointed to Joan of Arc.

“There. That’s yours,” she said.

Years later, Haselberger is in a fight of her own after going public with claims that archdiocese leaders in St. Paul mishandled allegations of clergy sexual misconduct. Turns out, Haselberger may have borrowed a little bravery from the headstrong French heroine she has long admired.

Haselberger, a former canon lawyer for the archdiocese, took on leaders of the church she loves after she felt her warnings about troubled priests were being ignored, setting off a firestorm in the local church.

“If a child was hurt, Jenny would do everything within her power to stop that. The lengths that she went to were probably heroic,” said Anne Maloney, Haselberger’s former college adviser.

Haselberger resigned in April after she says Archbishop John Nienstedt and others did not respond appropriately when she found pornography, including images of possible child pornography, on computer disks that once belonged to a priest who was still in ministry. This came after she says church leaders ignored her repeated warnings dating back to 2008 about another priest who went on to molest two boys in his camper in 2010.

“I can never undo what happened to those boys, and that hangs incredibly heavy on me,” Haselberger told The Associated Press. “I didn’t do enough.”

Haselberger said she resigned because church leaders weren’t listening, and she went to authorities and to the media because they wouldn’t change. Since then, Nienstedt’s top deputy has stepped down, and the church set up an independent task force to review its policies. Police are also investigating.

“I came to the conclusion that I was going to do whatever it took, that this was not acceptable … and let the chips fall where they may,” she said.

Haselberger has gone to law enforcement about two priests, and she says she had brought concerns about others to church leaders. She declined to elaborate, but said she expects more details will emerge.

Jim Accurso, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, said he could not comment on Haselberger or her resignation because it is a personnel matter. Accurso has said the information portrayed in the media is incomplete because it has been presented without context.

Tom Doyle, founder of the Catholic Whistleblowers group, said it is still rare — and risky — for someone from within the church to come forward and challenge bishops, who he likened to absolute rulers.

“Everyone I know of who has been a whistleblower has sacrificed their career,” said Doyle.

Haselberger, a Minnesota Wild fan and equestrienne, grew up in a Polish-Catholic family with a great uncle and a great aunt who both went into religious life. While she never considered that herself, she calls the church her “home,” and still stands behind it and the many clergy she respects and considers heroes.

While an undergrad at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, she earned a bachelor’s degree in English and philosophy. She also became a leader of a student group that opposed abortion and advocated for valuing human life, Maloney said.

“I never once saw Jenny back down from a conversation or dispute,” Maloney said. “She believed being anti-abortion was the best way to be a feminist.”

Inspired by a religious sister, she also began writing to a man on death row in Angola, La. She is against capital punishment and became his spiritual director. The man’s death sentence was vacated when Hurricane Katrina destroyed prison records, but she said the experience taught her about striking a balance between caring for offenders and protecting the innocent, something she says could also apply to accused clergy.

“I despise the acts that they committed, but I don’t hate them,” she said.

Haselberger earned her doctorate of philosophy at the University of London. While waiting to defend her thesis, she began taking classes at Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium, where she earned her licentiate in canon law and graduated with highest honors in 2004.

While living in a prestigious academic community in London, Haselberger organized a lecture about a woman who went to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which investigated atrocities committed during the apartheid era, to seek amnesty not for violence or any other crimes — but for her apathy in apartheid-controlled South Africa. Her example inspired Haselberger.

“That really resonated with me at the time … it’s such a phenomenal example of personal accountability,” Haselberger said.

When Haselberger began working for the archdiocese in 2008, Nienstedt called her “studious” and “thoughtful.”

That contrasts with statements made after her allegations. Archdiocese attorney Tom Wieser said in a recent court hearing that Haselberger was a “disgruntled former employee” who was unauthorized to investigate allegations of child pornography but did so anyway, something he called “unsophisticated and imprudent.” According to a court transcript, Wieser said Haselberger decided for herself that the images were illegal, and went to authorities, who found no evidence of child pornography. St. Paul Police have since reopened their investigation.

Now outside the chancery walls, Haselberger is a consultant, available to help victims of abuse, or others, navigate the ins and outs of canon law.

She knows she’ll likely never work for the church again, and her eyes get watery when she talks about how much she would have loved serving in the church of Pope Francis. But she said her only regret is not speaking out sooner.

“I certainly always attempted to make my points using facts and reason and to do so respectfully,” she said. “But I would hope that people would say that ‘She was incredibly passionate about this.’ Because I would be disappointed in myself if I wasn’t.”

 

Catholic Whistleblowers urge greater accountability on sex abuse crisis


Catholic Whistleblowers urge greater accountability on sex abuse crisis

By Annysa Johnson of the Journal Sentinel

From the link: http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/news/208528911.html

In its first public action Wednesday, a national network of Catholic clergy and nuns founded in part by a Milwaukee-area priest called on the church to take a stronger stand against child sexual abuse in its ranks.

Eight members of the Catholic Whistleblowers gathered for a news conference in New York, home to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who as head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is considered the most influential American prelate.

The group urged Dolan to use his influence to help oust Newark, N.J., Bishop John Myers, who has been in the news in recent weeks for allowing a pedophile priest continued access to minors, in violation of an agreement with prosecutors.

In addition, members called on Catholic bishops to:

 Support proposed legislation in New York, Wisconsin and elsewhere, that would lift statutes of limitations on sex crimes against children. (A Wisconsin bill, known as the Child Victims Act, is expected to be re-introduced this legislative session.)

 Adopt policies, similar to one in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, that protect priests, nuns and other church employees who report child sex abuse or cover-ups to civil authorities.

“The church has made strides; thousands of people have been trained in how to spot and report sex abuse. But all of that has to do with the future,” said the Rev. James Connell of Sheboygan, who has emerged in recent years as a vocal advocate for child sex abuse victims.

“But that doesn’t address the accountability, or the justice issues of the past,” he said. “Those issues are still at hand.”

A spokesman for Dolan said in an e-mail that the Archdiocese of New York has had a policy for years that encourages those with allegations of abuse to report them to civil authorities, and that here are no known abusers serving in the dioceses. He did not respond to questions about Myers or the statute-of-limitations legislation.

The group laid out its mission at a news conference at Cardozo Law School, which employs First Amendment scholar, Marci Hamilton, who has represented church victims in lawsuits across the country, including in Wisconsin.

Hamilton successfully argued the 2007 Wisconsin Supreme Court case that allows victims to sue religious entities under the state’s fraud statute — the basis of the 570-plus claims in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Bankruptcy. And she won a January ruling in the bankruptcy case that barred the archdiocese from using the First Amendment to keep up to $57 million in cemetery funds from being tapped for sex abuse settlements. That decision is on appeal to the U.S. District Court.

Connell is a founding member of the Whistleblowers, a group of like-minded mostly priests and nuns, brought together last year by the founders of BishopAccountability.org, a Boston-based non-profit that researches and posts information about the Catholic church’s response to sexual abuse.

Other members include well-known critics of the church’s handling of the sex abuse crisis, including Father Thomas Doyle, a canon lawyer who alerted U.S. Catholic Bishops to the coming crisis in the 1980s; and Patrick Wall, a former Benedictine monk and “fixer,” who was sent by his order to clean up after abusive priests, and now consults for victims in lawsuits around the country.

Catholic Whistleblowers Letter to Pope Francis


Catholic Whistleblowers Letter to Pope Francis

From the link: http://www.catholicwhistleblowers.org/Letter_to_Pope_Francis.htm

Catholic Whistleblowers
P.O. Box 279
Livingston, New Jersey 07039

His Holiness Pope Francis
Bishop of Rome
Vatican City State, Europe

April 29, 2013
Feast of St. Catherine of Siena

Your Holiness,

From the convictions of our conscience we wish to make known for the good of the Church, you and the Christian faithful the experience we have lived regarding the ongoing clergy sexual abuse crisis and scandal.
Pope Francis, like the beggar whom the Lord passed by on the street (Lk18:35) but who nonetheless called out for healing, we call out to you. The beggar was shunned by the apostles who attempted to silence him, to hide his hideous disfigurement from the Lord as if he might disfigure the one who created him. The beggar refused to be cast into silence for he knew his healing could only come from the dispenser of the divine mercy. Like this poor disfigured beggar we call out to you from the side of the road, we who have been cast off, the apostles telling us to be silent. Please, Pope Francis, do not pass us by.

 

From the start, the apostles had the duty to sanctify and heal the faithful in their journey as companions of Christ. In other words, throughout the Church’s history the pope and the other bishops, as successors to Saint Peter and the apostles, are to be spiritual leaders who strengthen all of the faithful in their missionary efforts. The faithful trust that the pope and the other bishops will fulfill that responsibility.

 

During the past decades this previously embraced level of trust has been severely damaged, although not irreversibly so, by the crisis of clergy sexual abuse of children, adolescents, and vulnerable adults. This damage has grown into a full-blown scandal because of a self-righteous spirit of injustice, and the commitment to secrecy that many bishops and other Church leaders have demonstrated. This behavior has adversely influenced the religious practice of many persons, a scandal that hinders the mission of the Church.

 

In this letter we speak to the damage inflicted by clergy sexual abuse and present some recommendations that would contribute positively to rebuilding trust among the Christian faithful.

 

Whether committed by force or by seduction, every act of sexual abuse of a child, an adolescent, or a vulnerable adult by a priest is a crime, both in civil law and in Church law. We must speak about these actions first as crimes against the dignity of the human person. This must be the starting point for addressing this crisis.

 

Moreover, it is wise to keep in mind the injury caused by sexual abuse: that for many victims/survivors their lives have been changed and reaching their full potential has become more challenging, especially as the trauma of the violence and the countless hours of tears and depression are recalled; that the voice to speak about the assault so as to seek help and to demand justice frequently has been stymied by the perpetrator and silenced by Christ’s Shepherds. Their ability to trust has been deflated, at times resulting in a reduced ability to enter meaningful adult relationships; and their participation in the Church can become limited or even lost. Many have become lost sheep and yearn for the shepherd to find them and carry them home.

 

We can never forget those overcome by despair; we speak of those victim/survivors who abuse drugs and alcohol and those who tragically became victim-suicides.

While some people believe that the Church leadership has responded well to the crisis, many victims/survivors strongly disagree. Actually, they say that reaction of the Church to the abuse has been more painful than was the pain caused by the sexual assault itself. Ponder that point! In so many ways the Church that the victims loved and participated in has turned a blind eye and a deaf ear towards them, and at times has tried to make the victims be seen as the villains, with the bishops and other Church leaders sympathetically proposing themselves to be seen as the victims. No, the victims of clergy sexual abuse are the victims – not the bishops or Church leaders. For this reason, without a doubt, the Church’s sexual abuse crisis and scandal live on today as strong as ever.

 

Pope Francis, do not pass us by on the Camino. Throughout the years we and other people like us have encountered apostles chastising us to silence, and we have been unable to penetrate the will of decision-makers in the Church so that they would resolve this crisis and scandal. You can make a difference: do not pass us by but elect to show us mercy. You can change the Church’s response. You can rebuild trust and begin to bring about the necessary healing of the Body of Christ. Walk with us and allow us to participate in the re-building, and together on the Camino we can make a great witness.

 

To do so, your priority must be increasing the knowledge of the truth and the doing of justice so as to bring forth healing and peace. Compromise or popularity must not be a concern.

 

Here are six recommendations concerning increasing the knowledge of the truth and the doing of justice:
1) Most importantly establish within the Holy See an international body composed of Survivors of Clergy Sexual Abuse, lay professionals and clergy who will be responsible for the facilitation in all dioceses of a dialogue between the Church and victims/survivors of clergy sexual abuse, so as to nurture understanding. No one understands victims/survivors better than victims/survivors. Do not pass us by but elect to show us mercy.
2) Revoke any oaths or pledges to secrecy by Church leaders while requiring them to provide thorough public explanations of all incidents of clergy sexual abuse.
3) Require all those who shepherd the flock of the Lord to make accessible to public scrutiny all documents and files related to clergy sexual abuse.
4) Remove from ecclesial office all Church leaders who facilitated the commission of clergy sexual abuse, obstructed justice regarding clergy sexual abuse, and/or destroyed information of any sort that could have served the cause of justice in clergy sexual abuse matters.
5) Require zero tolerance so as to remove from the ranks of the clergy and professed religious all those who in fact have committed sexual abuse of a child, an adolescent, or a vulnerable adult.
6) Compel all in Church leadership to the doing of justice. The common good of the Church and of the society must be taken into account, along with the equity between the parties that must include restitution and reparation.

 

Finally, Pope Francis, as the increased knowledge of the truth leads to justice, and justice in turn enhances healing and peace, the sexual abuse crisis and scandal will subside, trust by the faithful in the bishops will return, and the ability for the faithful to fully participate in the mission of the Church will be strengthened. Like the beggar on side of the street we call out to you. Do not pass us by but show us your mercy. We make our prayer through the intercession of Our Lady Undoer of Knots.

 

We have the honor to be, Your Holiness,

Catholic Whistleblowers represented by: Rev. John P. Bambrick (Jackson, NJ), Sr. Sally Butler, OP (Brooklyn, NY), Rev. Patrick Collins, Ph.D (Douglas, MI), Rev. James Connell (Sheboygan, WI), Rev. Thomas Doyle, OP (Vienna, VA), Robert M. Hoatson, Ph.D. (West Orange, NJ), Rev. Msgr. Kenneth E. Lasch, J.C.D. (Morristown, NJ), Rev. Ronald D. Lemmert (Peekskill, NY), Sr. Maureen Paul Turlish, SNDdeN (New Castle, DE)