South America has become a safe haven for the Catholic Church’s alleged child molesters. The Vatican has no comment.
South America has become a safe haven for the Catholic Church’s alleged child molesters. The Vatican has no comment.
KC – Archbishop resigns before deposition
Posted by David Clohessy on April 10, 2013
An Iowa Catholic archbishop has announced his resignation “for health reasons” just two weeks prior to his scheduled deposition in a clergy sex abuse and cover up case.
He’s Jerome Hanus who has headed the Archdiocese of Dubuque, IA and will soon live again in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.
From 1977 to 1987, Jerome Hanus was abbot at Conception Abbey in Conception, MO (Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph). In a videotaped interview and a signed confession from 2011, Bede Parry admitted that Abbot Jerome Hanus knew about Parry’s previous sexual misconduct yet still placed Parry in a position of authority with the Conception Abbey Boy Choir where Parry reoffended with at least five choir participants.
With this resignation, Hanus has become to first high-ranking church official to step down during Pope Francis’ new regime.
“It’s extremely rare for a standing Archbishop to be desposed, and even moreso when that official has been named as an enabler by a predator priest himself,” said said David Clohessy, SNAP Director. “The consequences from this deposition could be huge.”
SNAP believes that it is important the deposition still be held and that Hanus is made to ask tough questions about his time in Missouri and Iowa
“We hope the deposition will still be held,” said David Clohessy, SNAP Director. “It’s important that the public find out what Hanus knew about not only Parry, but other child-molesting clerics.”
Clohessy continued to say that “if he’s covered up sex crimes once, he’s surely done it again.”
Two attorneys – Rebecca Randles of Kansas City and Jeff Anderson of St. Paul MN – have handled cases against Parry.
Here’s video of Parry, the accused predator, regarding Hanus:
Here’s a statement Parry made in May 2011:
Here’s a 2011 story linking Hanus to the Parry lawsuit:
Here’s a new article about Hanus’ resignation:
Parry lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hanus plans to move back to Conception Abbey in northwestern Missouri.
For more info: David Clohessy (314.566.9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Pat Marker (360-421-5849, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Pope Francis meets US Cardinal who quit over abuse cover-up claims
By John Bingham, Religious Affairs Editor
7:30PM GMT 15 Mar 2013
During his unscheduled visit to a basilica in Rome hours after becoming Pope, he briefly greeted Cardinal Bernard Law.
Cardinal Law resigned as Archbishop of Boston 10 years ago, after issuing a statement begging forgiveness, and left America after being accused in scores of law suits of failing to protect children.
His former archdiocese has paid out more than $100 million to settle as many as 750 suits.
The Cardinal took up residence in the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, a major place of pilgrimage. As the papal basilica in Rome, it was where Pope Francis went to pray on Thursday, the morning after his election.
The Vatican confirmed that he had “discreetly” met the Cardinal, but campaigners for the abuse victims described the fact that the meeting happened as “rubbing salt into still festering wounds”.
David Clohessy, based in Rome for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said: “Tragically, it took Pope Francis only a matter of hours before he dashed the hopes of abuse survivors by visiting the most discredited US prelate, Cardinal Bernard Law.”
He added: “He must have known the hurt that he would cause to already wounded victims and still disillusioned Catholics by this insensitive a
SNAP blacklists 12 cardinals for pope; Cardinal Timothy Dolan on list
ROME (CNN) – A group representing survivors of sexual abuse by priests named a “Dirty Dozen” list of cardinals it said would be the worst candidates for pope based on their handling of child sex abuse claims.
Their presence on the list is based “on their actions and/or public comment about child sex abuse and cover up in the church,” the group said.
The list includes Roman Catholic cardinals from several countries.
SNAP, the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests, said as it released the list Wednesday that its accusations were based on media reports, legal filings and victims’ statements.
The 12 cardinals on SNAP’s list are:
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Cardinal Timothy Dolan
Cardinal Dominik Duka
Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga
Cardinal Patrick O’Malley
Cardinal Marc Ouellet
Cardinal George Pell
Cardinal Norberto Rivera
Cardinal Leonardo Sandri
Cardinal Angelo Scola
Cardinal Peter Turkson
Cardinal Donald Wuerl
The cardinals named on the list have not yet responded to the move by SNAP.
But when asked about it by CNN, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a spokesman for the Vatican, said: “We believe it is not up to SNAP to decide who comes to conclave and who is chosen … cardinals can decide themselves without asking SNAP for advice.”
Monday, SNAP also called for some of the older cardinals to remove themselves from the meetings held before the election of the new pope, arguing that some have been accused of complicity in protecting priests accused of sexually abusing children.
Cardinals from around the globe have been summoned to Rome to take part in the process of choosing the next pontiff, after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI last week.
As of midday, 113 of the 115 cardinals eligible to elect the new pope are in Rome, according to Lombardi. To be eligible to be a part of the group, a cardinal must be under the age of 80.
The two cardinal-electors who are not yet there are Kazimierz Nycz of Warsaw, who should arrive later Wednesday, and Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man of Vietnam, who is arriving Thursday.
No date has yet been proposed for the secret election, or conclave, to select the former pontiff’s successor.
‘Silence didn’t work’
SNAP is intentionally focusing on candidates with a realistic chance of being named pope, its executive director David Clohessy said Wednesday as the group released its list.
“The single quickest and most effective step would be for the next pope to clearly discipline, demote, denounce and even defrock cardinals and bishops who are concealing child sex crimes. We think that’s the missing piece,” he said.
The new pope should order each bishop around the world to hand over “every piece of paper he has on proven, admitted or credibly accused child-molesting clerics to law enforcement,” Clohessy said.
Barbara Dorris, victims’ outreach director for SNAP, said: “The short answer is we’ve tried silence, silence didn’t work, so we have to speak out. We have to do everything we can to get this information out there.”
The Catholic Church has been rocked by a series of child sex abuse scandals in recent years — and the new pope will be under pressure to deal more effectively with a crisis that has undermined public confidence in the church.
SNAP says it believes it is vital to look at how the world’s bishops have handled claims of abuse by priests because the crisis is far from over.
“This scandal, we believe, has yet to surface in most nations. It’s shameless spin and deliberate deception to claim otherwise. It’s tempting to reassure the public and the parishioners by making this claim. But it’s also irresponsible,” a statement on SNAP’s website said.
“Clergy sex crimes and cover-ups remain deeply hidden in the vast majority of nations (where most Catholics live), and has really only become widely known — and barely addressed — in the U.S. about a decade ago and in a few European countries even more recently.”
Media leaks concern
A news conference scheduled by American cardinals for Wednesday, following media briefings on Monday and Tuesday, was canceled at short notice.
Asked if the Vatican had told the American cardinals to stop their daily media briefings, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Thomas Rosica suggested that the details of what was discussed in the general congregations were not meant to be publicized.
“It’s not up to Father Lombardi or myself to tell them what to do,” he said. “It could be that among themselves they realized that there are different ways and different methods of getting things out.”
Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of media relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said via e-mail that the U.S. cardinals were committed to transparency and had wanted to share “a process-related overview of their work” with the public “in order to inform while ensuring the confidentiality” of the general congregations.
“Due to concerns over accounts being reported in the Italian press, which breached confidentiality, the College of Cardinals has agreed not to give interviews,” she said.
In total, 153 cardinals gathered Wednesday at the Vatican for a third day of meetings, known as general congregations, before they set the timetable for the election.
The cardinals spoke about new evangelization, restructuring of the church hierarchy, or curia, and the need for good governance of the church, Lombardi said.
A five-minute limit has been imposed on cardinals speaking at the meetings, although the microphone is not being switched off if they run over the time allowed.
The cardinals have decided to meet twice Thursday, in the morning and afternoon, in order to “intensify the rhythm of work,” Lombardi said.
Video shown at a Vatican news conference showed workers preparing the Sistine Chapel for the secretive conclave.
An elevated floor is being put in place to protect the elaborate mosaic tiling, said Lombardi, where seats will be placed for the cardinals.
The Sistine Chapel and its ornate ceiling by Michelangelo are normally a must-see for tourists in Rome, but it was closed to the public beginning Tuesday afternoon to allow for preparations to take place.
Pope Benedict’s Legacy Marred by Sex Abuse Scandal
By RUSSELL GOLDMAN Feb. 11, 2013
As the sex abuse scandal spread from North America to Europe, Benedict became the first pope to meet personally with victims, and offered repeated public apologies for the Vatican’s decades of inaction against priests who abused their congregants.
“No words of mine could describe the pain and harm inflicted by such abuse,” the pope said in a 2008 homily in Washington, D.C., before meeting with victims of abuse for the first time. “It is important that those who have suffered be given loving pastoral attention.” During the same trip to the U.S., he met with victims for the first time.
For some of the victims, however, Benedict’s actions were “lip service and a public relations campaign,” said Jeff Anderson, a Minnesota lawyer who represents victims of sex abuse. For 25 years, Benedict, then known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, headed the Vatican office responsible for investigating claims of sex abuse, but he did not act until he received an explicit order from Pope John Paul II.
In 1980, as Archbishop of Munich, Ratzinger approved plans for a priest to move to a different German parish and return to pastoral work only days after the priest began therapy for pedophilia. The priest was later convicted of sexually abusing boys.
In 1981, Cardinal Ratzinger became head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – the office once known as the Inquisition — making him responsible for upholding church doctrine, and for investigating claims of sexual abuse against clergy. Thousands of letters detailing allegations of abuse were forwarded to Ratzinger’s office.
A lawsuit filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of the Survivors’ Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a victims’ rights group, charges that as head of the church body Ratzinger participated in a cover-up of abuse. In an 84-page complaint, the suit alleges that investigators of sex abuse cases in several countries found “intentional cover-ups and affirmative steps taken that serve to perpetuate the violence and exacerbate the harm.”
“Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, either knew and/or some cases consciously disregarded information that showed subordinates were committing or about to commit such crimes,” the complaint says.
Jeffrey Lena, the Vatican’s lawyer in the U.S., told the AP the complaint was a “ludicrous publicity stunt and a misuse of international judicial processes.”
In the 1990s, former members of the Legion of Christ sent a letter to Ratzinger alleging that the founder and head of the Catholic order, Father Marcial Maciel, had molested them while they were teen seminarians. Maciel was allowed to continue as head of the order.
In 1996, Ratzinger didn’t respond to letters from Milwaukee’s archbishop about a priest accused of abusing students at a Wisconsin school for the deaf. An assistant to Ratzinger began a secret trial of the priest, Father Lawrence Murphy, but halted the process after Murphy wrote a personal appeal to Ratzinger complaining of ill health.
In 2001, Pope John Paul II issued a letter urging the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith to pursue allegations of child abuse in response to calls from bishops around the world.
Ratzinger wrote a letter asserting the church’s authority to investigate claims of abuse and emphasizing that church investigators had the right to keep evidence confidential for up to 10 years after the alleged victims reached adulthood.
Ratzinger became upset — and slapped Ross’s hand — when ABC News Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross asked him a question in 2002 about the delay in pursuing sex abuse charges against Maciel.
But by 2004, Ratzinger had ordered an investigation of Maciel, and after becoming pope, he ordered Maciel to do penance and removed him from the active priesthood. After becoming pope Benedict spoke openly about the crisis, but he was repeatedly accused of having participated in a coverup.
In April 2010, Benedict and other officials were accused by members of BishopAccountability.org of covering up alleged child abuse by 19 bishops.
At the time, the Pope told reporters he was “deeply ashamed” of the allegations of sex abuse by his subordinates and reportedly said, “We will absolutely exclude pedophiles from the sacred ministry.”
Several other accusations followed from alleged victims around the world, prompting Benedict to make a public statement later that month from St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican. In his speech, he said the Catholic Church would take action against alleged sexual abusers. The Pope described a tearful meeting in Malta with eight men who claimed to have been abused by clergy there.
“I shared with them their suffering, and with emotion, I prayed with them,” said Benedict, “assuring them of church action.”
In 2010, he personally apologized to Irish victims of abuse.
“You have suffered grievously, and I am truly sorry,” the pope wrote in an eight-page letter to Irish Catholics. “Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated.”
But for those who advocate on behalf of the victims, the pope’s words did not go far enough.
“Tragically, he gets credit for talking about the crisis,” said David Clohessy, executive director of SNAP. “He only ever addressed the crimes and never the cover-ups. And only in the past tense, which is self-serving. Sex crimes and cover-ups are still happening.”
Clohessy called the meetings the pope had with victims “symbolic gestures.”
“This controversy that has reached even the highest office of the Vatican won’t go away until the pope himself tells us what he knew, when he knew it, and what he’s going to do about it,” said the Rev. Richard McBrien, a Catholic priest and professor of theology at Notre Dame University.
Lena, the Vatican’s U.S. lawyer, declined to comment on charges that Benedict had participated in a cover up, but said the fact that two major cases against the Church in U.S. courts, including the Murphy case, had “been dismissed by the plaintiffs themselves, speaks volumes for the strength and integrity of those cases.”
Pope Benedict ‘complicit in child sex abuse scandals’, say victims’ groups
Pope Benedict XVI ‘knew more about clergy sex crimes than anyone else in church yet did little to protect children’, say critics
Ian Traynor in Brussels, Karen McVeigh in New York and Henry McDonald in Dublin
- guardian.co.uk, Monday 11 February 2013 15.04 EST
For the legions of people whose childhoods and adult lives were wrecked by sexual and physical abuse at the hands of the Roman Catholic clergy, Pope Benedict XVI is an unloved pontiff who will not be missed.
Victims of the epidemic of sex- and child-abuse scandals that erupted under Benedict’s papacy reacted bitterly to his resignation, either charging the outgoing pontiff with being directly complicit in a criminal conspiracy to cover up the thousands of paedophilia cases that have come to light over the past three years, or with failing to stand up to reactionary elements in the church resolved to keep the scandals under wraps.
From Benedict’s native Germany to the USA, abuse victims and campaigners criticised an eight-year papacy that struggled to cope with the flood of disclosures of crimes and abuse rampant for decades within the church. Norbert Denef, of the NetworkB group of German abuse victims, said: “The rule of law is more important than a new pope.”
Denef, 64, from the Baltic coast of north Germany, was abused as a boy by his local priest for six years. In 2003, Denef took his case to the bishop of Magdeburg. He was offered €25,000 (then £17,000) in return for a signed pledge of silence about what he suffered as a six-year-old boy. He then raised the issue with the Vatican and received a letter that said Pope John Paul II would pray for him so that Denef could forgive his molester.
“We won’t miss this pope,” said Denef. He likened the Vatican’s treatment of the molestation disclosures to “mafia-style organised crime rings”.
That view was echoed by David Clohessy in the US, executive director of SNAP (Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests), an organisation with 12,000 members: “His record is terrible. Before he became pope, his predecessor put him in charge of the abuse crisis.
“He has read thousands of pages of reports of the abuse cases from across the world. He knows more about clergy sex crimes and cover-ups than anyone else in the church yet he has done precious little to protect children.”
Jakob Purkarthofer, of Austria’s Platform for Victims of Church Violence, said: “Ratzinger was part of the system and co-responsible for these crimes.”
Under the German pope, his native country, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Austria were rocked by clerical sex-abuse scandals, triggering revulsion at the clergy in Europe just when Benedict saw his mission as leading a Catholic revival on a secular continent.
Before becoming pope, there were also major scandals in the US and Ireland at a time when Pope John Paul II had put the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in charge of dealing with them.
A combination of deep rancour and disgust over the crimes and disaffection with the conservative ethics of the Catholic hierarchy has nudged the church in Austria towards schism, with rebel priests leading an anti-Vatican movement of hundreds of thousands, dubbed We Are The Church.
“He should have come clean about the abuses, but was not really able to change anything fundamentally,” said Purkarthofer. “The resignation is a chance for real change, perhaps the best thing he could have done for the church.”
While also intensely critical, some Irish victims of the seminaries, convent schools, and church-run orphanages gave the pope the benefit of the doubt, but lamented that not enough action had followed Benedict’s expressions of remorse in the spring of 2010.
“When the pope issued his pastoral letter to the people of Ireland we welcomed it,” said one Irish campaigner. “Because of the sincerity of the words in that letter from the pope in the name of the church. He said he was ‘truly sorry’ and accepted that our ‘dignity had been violated’.
“So we went on to meet the group of bishops in Ireland thinking that this would be a new era. But what we got instead were pastoral platitudes and special masses offered up.”
The fallout from these scandals continues to reverberate. Next Monday campaigners for justice are to protest in the ancient west German city of Trier when the country’s church leadership gathers. Last month a church-sponsored inquiry into the abuses collapsed in disarray amid recrimination between the clergy and outside criminologists involved in the examination.
A similar situation persists in Austria, where a church-led inquiry into the abuse and compensation has degenerated, in the view of activists, into a smokescreen. In Belgium, where the head of the church nationally had to resign and then made matters worse by going on television to plead innocence while admitting “intimacy” by having boys in his bed, there are parallel frustrations with the partial nature of the church’s openness.
A couple of years ago US activists sought to file a criminal suit against the Vatican at the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague, while victims’ associations responded to the current drama by demanding an international commission be set up to examine Catholic paedophilia, independent of the church.i
Clohessy said a big question for Benedict’s successor is “what he will do in a very tangible way to safeguard children, deter cover-ups, punish enablers and chart a new course.
“There are 30 bishops in the US [who] have posted on the diocese websites the names of predator priests. The pope should require bishops to do that and to work with secular lawmakers to reform archaic sex abuse laws so that predators from every walk of life face justice.”
John Kelly, one founder of Ireland’s Survivors of Child Abuse group and a former inmate at Dublin’s notorious Artane Industrial School, which was run by the Christian Brothers, said Benedict had resisted their demands to properly investigate and disband religious orders tainted by sexual and physical abuse
“In our view, we were let down in terms of promises of inquiries, reform and most importantly of all the Vatican continuing not to acknowledge that any priest or religious bodies found guilty of child abuse would face the civil authorities and be tried for their crimes in the courts.
“I’m afraid to say Pope Benedict won’t be missed as the Vatican continued to block proper investigations into the abuse scandals during his term in office. Nor are we confident that things are going to be different because of all the conservative Cardinals he appointed. For us, he broke his word.”
The Austrian campaigner called for church files on paedophilia to be opened and generous compensation for the victims.
Denef pointed to the discrepancies between the response in the US and in Europe, insisting that clergy suspects must be brought before the law.
“From our point of view, Ratzinger did nothing to support the victims. Instead, perpetrators and serial perpetrators were protected and moved to new jobs,” he said.
“Victims in the US have been compensated sometimes with more than a million dollars and the personal files of the perpetrators were put on the internet. But the victims of sexual violence by the clergy in Germany had to settle for a few thousand euros, often conditional on pledges of silence and no more claims.
“We demand from German politicians that this concern [the church] is no longer beyond the rule of law. That’s more important than waiting to see whether a new pope will be more reactionary than the old one.”
• This article was amended on 13 February 2013 because the original attributed quotes from Norbert Denef, of NetworkB, to Matthias Katsch. Katsch is not a member of NetworkB. The original has also been amended to correct the description of NetworkB. It is not a “group of German clerical-abuse victims” as the original said, but a group of German abuse victims.
Should Sex-Abuse-Scandal Cardinals Be Allowed to Vote for New Pope?
by Barbie Latza Nadeau Feb 21, 2013 1:25 PM EST
As the conclave for new pope nears, Catholics are calling for cardinals embroiled in sex-abuse scandals to abstain from voting.
Can he who has sinned cast a vote for the next pope? Apparently so. But a growing number of the Vatican’s cardinal electors are being questioned over their knowledge of past sex-abuse scandals, calling into question their ethical right to vote in the next conclave.
In less than a week, the majority of the 117-strong College of Cardinals is expected to descend upon Rome to prepare for the conclave in which they will elect a replacement for Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned February 11. But as the Vatican prepares for the pageantry of the occasion, survivors of the church’s sex scandals and everyday Catholics are raising concerns about whether it is appropriate for certain cardinals to be allowed to dictate the church’s future. “In our view, it’s very safe to assume that almost every one of the prelates who’ll pick the pope … have ignored, concealed, or enabled child sex crimes,” Zach Hiner, a spokesman for SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), tells The Daily Beast.
While many cardinals have been stained by the extensive clergy sex scandals, Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles Roger M. Mahony has become a poster priest for the corrupt cardinals of this conclave. Mahony was effectively let go as head of America’s largest diocese in January by his Vatican-endorsed replacement, Archbishop José Gomez, when a California court released 120,000 pages of internal church documents sequestered during investigations of 120 predatory priests in the Los Angeles diocese. The documents show that Mahony was directly involved in moving known pedophiles between parishes in an attempt to conceal their crimes. “I find these files to be brutal and painful reading. The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil,” said Gomez in a statement when he fired his predecessor. More than $600,000 has been paid in lawsuits to victims in the Los Angeles diocese.
This Saturday Mahony will appear in a Los Angeles court to give a deposition in a criminal case involving a Mexican priest who is accused of raping 29 children over just nine months in 1987. The priest is on the lam in Mexico with multiple arrest warrants for child abuse against him, and he has been defrocked in absentia. But Mahony allegedly covered for the priest and obstructed justice when parents of the reported victims complained to the police. He is currently not facing charges, but he will be questioned under oath. Then, according to his Twitter feed, he plans to head to Rome—unless someone stops him. “Countdown to the papal conclave has begun,” he tweeted. “Your prayers needed that we elect the best Pope for today and tomorrow’s church.”
Since Benedict’s resignation, a not-so-subtle storm has been brewing outside Vatican City calling for Mahony to stay in California. Signs have been posted (and quickly removed) along the perimeter walls of Saint Peter’s Square warning that cardinals, like Mahony, who have been embroiled in the sex-abuse scandals are coming to town. Even the ultraconservative Italian magazine Famiglia Cristiana, which is distributed for free in many Catholic churches each Sunday, has been weighing in on the topic. The influential magazine conducted an online survey among its faithful readers about whether Mahony should be allowed to participate in the election of the next pope (the overwhelming response was no). They then ran a damning op-ed piece called “Cardinal in Court” in which they called on Catholics to voice their opinions about the case. The American-based group Catholics United has also launched an online petition to urge Mahony to stay home. Italian Cardinal Velasio De Paolis suggested in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica that perhaps the right approach was if Mahony “could be advised not to take part only through a private intervention by someone with great authority”—which could mean the pope himself. Barbara Blaine of SNAP echoed that sentiment in a statement this week: “We hope that high ranking Vatican officials will instead preclude Mahony from attending the conclave and voting for the new Pope. His sordid record covering up child sex crimes should be considered a stain on the church and unworthy of a papal elector.”
Mahony’s may be the worst case, but he is certainly not the only cardinal elector stained by the church’s American sex-abuse scandals. On Wednesday the archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, spent three hours answering questions under oath about pedophile priests under his clerical management during his time as the head of the Milwaukee diocese in Wisconsin from 2002 to 2009. While there, he allegedly used church money to pay “a handful” of predatory priests more than $20,000 to leave the priesthood quietly, a claim he originally denied until bankruptcy documents seemed to indicate that the payments were made.
Dolan, who has not been charged with any crime, will also head to Rome next week to prepare for the conclave. His name has been circulated as a potential pope, though that was before his deposition was made public this week. He is certainly not a favorite among the church abuse victims’ groups. “Dolan has been particularly adept at evading responsibility for his wrongdoing in clergy sex cases, having moved twice since the scandal started gaining international attention more than a decade ago, and having worked, three times, in states with especially archaic child-abuse laws that favor defendants,” says David Clohessy, head of SNAP. “Civil justice can expose predators and their enablers, but only criminal justice can imprison and deter them. So while these depositions represent progress, it’s crucial to remember that the best way to prevent and discourage future crimes and cover-ups is for secular authorities to investigate, charge, and convict Catholic officials who hide and enable heinous crimes against kids.”
The question of just who will vote in the conclave could prove pivotal in whether the church will be seen as addressing its dark history of well-documented abuse. If Mahony is somehow dissuaded from attending, many believe that it would send a message that the church is taking a different stance on abuse going forward and that this College of Cardinals will elect a pope who has as clean a record on the issue as possible.
Cardinal in Los Angeles Is Removed From Duties
By Jennifer Medina and Laurie Goodstein
Published January 31. 2013
LOS ANGELES — Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, who retired less than two years ago as the leader of the nation’s largest Roman Catholic archdiocese, was removed from all public duties by his successor, Archbishop José H. Gomez, as the church complied with a court order to release thousands of pages of internal documents that show how the cardinal shielded priests who sexually abused children.
The documents, released as part of a record $660 million settlement in 2007 with the victims of abuse, are the strongest evidence so far that top officials for years purposely tried to conceal abuse from law enforcement officials. The files, which go from the 1940s to the present, are the latest in a series of revelations that suggest that the church continued to maneuver against law enforcement even after the extent of the abuse crisis emerged.
Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry, who was the vicar for clergy and one of the cardinal’s top deputies and his adviser on sexual abuse, also stepped down as the regional bishop for Santa Barbara, Calif.
The church had fought for years to keep the documents secret, and until this week it argued that the names of top church officials should be kept private. In letters written in the 1980s, then-Father Curry gave suggestions for how to stop the police from investigating priests who admitted that they had abused children, like stopping the priests from seeing therapists who would be required to alert law enforcement about the abuse.
Both Cardinal Mahony and Bishop Curry have publicly apologized in the past, but have said that they were naïve at the time about the effectiveness of treatment for abusers and the impact on victims.
In a letter on Thursday, Archbishop Gomez wrote that the files are “brutal and painful reading.”
“The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil,” he said. “There is no excuse, no explaining away what happened to these children. The priests involved had the duty to be their spiritual fathers, and they failed. We need to acknowledge that terrible failure today.”
Cardinal Mahony and Bishop Curry are still able to celebrate Mass and other religious duties. But Cardinal Mahony, a vocal advocate of immigrant rights, will no longer speak publicly, as he has done frequently since his retirement in 2011, a spokesman for the archdiocese said.
Archbishop Gomez’s move to discipline his predecessor and to accept the resignation of Bishop Curry, was unexpected and unusual. It has not been the custom of bishops to use disciplinary measures against one another — or even to issue any public criticism.
Instead, as part of the sweeping package of policies for dealing with sexual abuse that American bishops passed at the height of the abuse scandal in 2002, the bishops agreed that they would employ what they call “fraternal correction” with one another when the situation requires. Only the pope can decide to remove a bishop from the leadership of his diocese. And only the pope can defrock a priest or a bishop.
Advocates for abuse victims had called for Bishop Curry’s removal last week, and had mixed reactions on Thursday to the actions taken by Archbishop Gomez. David Clohessy, national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called Bishop Curry’s resignation “a small step in the right direction.”
But Mr. Clohessy said that the sanctions against Cardinal Mahony amounted to little more than “hand-slapping,” and are “a nearly meaningless gesture.”
But critics say Libasci has disappointed clergy abuse victims
By John Toole email@example.com The Eagle-Tribune
SALEM — For the first time in the Greater Salem area, the leader of New Hampshire’s Roman Catholics will offer a healing Mass tonight for victims of child abuse.
Bishop Peter Libasci is scheduled to celebrate the Mass at 6:30 p.m. at St. Joseph Church on Main Street.
The service comes 10 months after Libasci became bishop of the Diocese of Manchester and 10 years into the still-unfolding Catholic clergy abuse scandal in New Hampshire.
A critic of the church’s response to the scandal, David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said Libasci has disappointed those who hoped for change. “He has been disappointing on so many levels,” Clohessy said. “Libasci is in an enviable position. He can say, ‘I don’t know these men. I wasn’t here.’ That makes it much easier for him to be forthcoming and proactive.”
SNAP continues to press the diocese to publicize the names, faces and locations of abusing priests, demonstrating as recently as three weeks ago outside diocesan offices in Manchester.
Clohessy is critical of Libasci for failing to do so. “There is virtually no difference” under Libasci than with his predecessor, Bishop John McCormack, Clohessy said.
McCormack was reviled for his role as an aide to Cardinal Bernard Law as the abuse coverup scandal first hit the Archdiocese of Boston. Later, upon becoming bishop of Manchester, he was criticized by victim advocates for not being forthcoming in releasing information about offending New Hampshire priests.
Clohessy said other dioceses have publicized information about abusive priests. “About 30 bishops in America have done this. It is a simple, inexpensive, public safety move. Of those 30 bishops, I don’t know a single one who later said, ‘Boy, I shouldn’t have done that,’’’ Clohessy said.
Healing Masses are not new. Dioceses across the country are holding them, Clohessy said. “Fundamentally, we think these kind of events are at best misplaced energy and at worst just public relations,” Clohessy said. “We think the focus needs to be on protecting kids and less on healing adults.”
Diocese spokesman Kevin Donovan said this is the fourth healing Mass in New Hampshire. McCormack held the first in response to requests from victims. Libasci has continued the practice.
“It was something that really came out of conversations Bishop McCormack had with victims,” Donovan said.
The masses are intended for child abuse victims generally and not just for victims of abuse by clergy or sex abuse victims, Donovan said.
The church doesn’t make a big deal about the Masses. Donovan said they tend to be small services. “They really are for healing,” he said.
Victims get the chance to personally speak with the bishop if they wish. “They are very powerful experiences,” Donovan said.
While Libasci has not discussed publicizing information about offending priests for the benefit of the public, Donovan said the diocese “follows the law and goes beyond the law.”
Don Simmons, a member of the Salem parish, sees the Mass as an honest effort by the new bishop to try to heal the wounds that haven’t healed in the past. “I hope that it’s perceived as an attempt to reach out to people affected by abuse,” Simmons said.
Other than monetary considerations awarded by the courts, “I don’t know what else the church can do to try to heal them emotionally and spiritually,” Simmons said.
“Our hopes are great that he can at least reach people with his personal dynamism,” parishioner Anna Willis said.
Willis said there remains a lot of anger because of the scandal so where SNAP and other critics are coming from may make sense. But Libasci is new, representing the church and still learning his people and the best way to deal with this issue, she said. “There is a curiosity about how he is going to deal with this because he is new.”
She has high hopes for the new bishop and his ability to deal with it. “I think this particular bishop has a reputation of being a shepherd and caring about his flock a great deal,” Willis said.
Libasci doesn’t carry the baggage of McCormack from the association with Law, she said.
The diocese has a report on its website, “Child Protection Measures,” detailing steps taken in the aftermath of the scandal. It says more than 23,000 adults working in churches and parochial schools have completed background screening, 28,500 have been trained to recognize abuse and 22,000 youths annually receive personal safety lessons.
Libasci, in his message accompanying that report, pledges “never again will the church in New Hampshire falter in its vigilance to protect children.”
The bishop acknowledges abuse as a present injury to the Catholic community. “Too many young people were robbed of their childhoods. Too many predators were not stopped,” Libasci said.
The real achievement is the anti-abuse policies have become permanently woven into the fabric of the church, he said.
“We must learn to live with the criticism of skeptics who only see a flawed institution beyond any hope of repair. In fact, we may indeed learn from what they have to say,” Libasci wrote
Vatican Not Priests’ Employer, U.S. Judge Says
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Vatican won a major victory Monday in an Oregon federal courtroom, where a judge ruled that the Holy See is not the employer of molester priests.
The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mosman ends a six-year question in the decade-old case and could shield the Vatican from possible monetary damages.
The original lawsuit was filed in 2002 by a Seattle-area man who said the Rev. Andrew Ronan repeatedly molested him in the late 1960s.
The plaintiff tried to show that Ronan and all priests are employees of the Vatican, which is therefore liable for their actions.
Mosman made a previous decision strictly on legal theory and determined that, if all the factual assertions made by the plaintiff’s lawyers in the case were true and applicable, then the Vatican would indeed employ Ronan. But on Monday, Mosman said he looked at the facts in the case and didn’t find an employer-employee relationship.
“There are no facts to create a true employment relationship between Ronan and the Holy See,” Mosman said in his ruling from the bench.
Jeff Anderson, attorney for the plaintiff, said he will appeal the decision.
“While we’re disappointed, of course, we’re not discouraged,” Anderson said.
Vatican attorney Jeff Lena said the case should put to rest the notion that the Holy See is liable for the actions of priests.
“This is a case in which, for the first time, a court in the U.S. has taken a careful, factual look at whether or not a priest in the U.S. can be viewed as an employee of the Holy See and the answer, unequivocally, was no,” Lena said.
The case is the last major U.S. sex abuse lawsuit against the Holy See. Cases in Kentucky and Wisconsin have been dropped in recent years.
The plaintiffs argued that what they contend was Ronan’s fealty to the Pope, the Vatican’s ability to promote priests, the Vatican’s laicization – or removal – process, and the ability to change priests’ training all pointed to the Vatican employing priests.
“We believe that under further scrutiny,” Anderson said in a news release, “the courts will find that Vatican protocols and practice make it clear that obedience to Rome required the secrecy and concealment practiced by priests and bishops as the clergy abuse crisis unfolded in the United States.”
Lena said the Vatican had little to do with the laicization process unless a priest appealed, and points out that the appellate court will not further scrutinize the facts, but rather the application of the law in the case.
The impact of Mosman’s ruling on other priest sex-abuse cases is not yet clear. The case has gone further than any other in attempting to get at the relationship between priests in the U.S. and the Vatican.
Douglas Laycock, a University of Virginia School of Law professor, said lawsuits against the Pope are usually dismissed on sovereign immunity grounds, with a U.S. court ruling that the Vatican can’t be sued because there is no jurisdiction in the U.S. to do so.
“This was likely filed more to make a political statement,” Laycock said.
Mosman took up several hypothetical analogies while questioning attorneys for both sides. He said that, for instance, the Oregon legal bar has many of the same powers over lawyers as the Vatican has over priests: It can disbar someone and issue sanctions, just as the Vatican can laicize priests, but doing so doesn’t constitute a firing.
The plaintiffs were trying to show that, by exerting control, the Vatican was the priests’ employer.
Mosman said that if he accepted the plaintiff’s argument that the Vatican maintains absolute control over all priests, and is therefore their employer, then all Catholics everywhere could similarly be considered employees of the Holy See.
After the ruling, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, director David Clohessy said in a statement that the Vatican wants “to have their cake and eat it too” by varying their definition of the church, sometimes calling it a top-down hierarchical institution and other times asserting that only locals have control over their employee – an assertion Lena said flies in the face of an appellate court ruling in 2009 and Monday’s decision by Mosman.
“It’s a shame that, once again, top Catholic officials successfully exploit legal technicalities to keep clergy sex crimes and cover ups covered up,” Clohessy said. “The truth is that the Vatican oversees the church worldwide, insisting on secrecy in child sex cases and stopping or delaying the defrocking of pedophile priests.”