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Gerald T. Slevin, Update–Criminal Charges of Vatican Child Abuse Cover-Up


From the link: http://bilgrimage.blogspot.com/2012/04/gerald-t-slevin-update-criminal-charges.html

Gerald T. Slevin, Update–Criminal Charges of Vatican Child Abuse Cover-Up

Monday, April 16, 2012

Jerry Slevin continues to be vigilant about what’s happening with Catholic church officials and the child abuse cover-up, from a legal standpoint.  He has just sent another outstanding statement, this one about SNAP’s filing last week of new charges updating their previous filing of criminal charges against the Vatican with the International Criminal Court, for the Vatican’s internationally orchestrated cover-up of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy.
Here’s Jerry’s statement:
SNAP, the international victims advocacy network, filed on April 11, 2012 with the International Criminal Court (ICC) a 19 page letter (“New Charges”), plus supporting documentation, updating  SNAP’s  prior September  2011  original  charges ( “Original Charges”).
The New Charges, include additional evidence supporting SNAP’s allegations against Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) and three top Vatican subordinates, Cardinals Bertone, Levada and Sodano. SNAP alleges this Vatican clique for years has been, and still is, orchestrating a worldwide criminal cover-up by Catholic bishops of  priest child sexual abuse, including acts involving  systemic rape, sexual violence and torture, of hundreds of thousands of defenseless children. These collectively would constitute “crimes against  humanity” under the ICC treaty.
After SNAP filed the Original Charges, almost 500 additional victims from over 60 countries contacted SNAP with new allegations that SNAP has added to the Original Charges. The New Charges (accessible by clicking here) also contain brief and clear updates, with citation links, concerning other recent relevant developments since the Original Charges, including:
(1) September 2011: The issuance of the scathing and devasting report, “In Plain Sight”, by Amnesty International Ireland, concerning the recent  history of priest sexual abuse of children  in Ireland and of the Irish government’s “hands off” approach until recently  to the Catholic Church hierarchy’s and priests’ appalling misdeeds;
(2) October 2011: The indictment of Cardinal Justin Rigali’s protégé, Opus Dei Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, for failing to report a child pornographer priest, and the April 5, 2012 court decision denying Finn’s motion to dismiss the criminal charges;
(3) November and December 2011: The issuance in Ireland of the sordid remainder of the Cloyne Diocese Report and the results of governmental audits in six additional Irish dioceses, all confirming in varying degrees a familiar pattern of abuse and bishops’ cover-up;
(4) December 2011: The issuance in the Netherlands of the massive Deetman report indicating tens of thousands of Dutch children had been sexually abused by priests over several  decades, supplemented by reports of several children being castrated following their reporting that they were sexually abused by clerics;
(5) January 2012: The publication of several articles highlighting the escalating  reporting of priest abuse of children in Poland and the special difficulty of getting governmental officials to confront the entrenched Polish Catholic hierarchy on priest abuse issues;
(6) March 2012: The publication by a former Legion of Christ priest of evidence of special canon law favoritism by the Pope and Cardinal Bertone towards admitted sexual deviant, Fr. Maciel, of Mexico;
(7) March-April 2012: The unprecedented ongoing  Philly criminal trial of a former top aide to Cardinals Bevilacqua and Rigali and the almost daily revelations of a decades-old cover-up, including document shredding by bishops and another  bishop’s admission under oath that  the important priest personnel decisions were always made by the Cardinals. The trial is establishing that a similar cover-up pattern was followed over a half-century by three different Cardinals with episcopal experience from five dioceses in four states, as well as in Rome. Each of the three Cardinals had close ties to the Vatican. The common cover-up pattern is indicative of at least policy coordination with Rome and, in some instances even, of direct coordination, as SNAP has alleged to the ICC generally with respect to the Vatican clique. This is discussed in more detail in my April 13, 2012 article about the Philly trial, accessible here.
(8) February-April: In New York, District Attorneys in the State Capitol, Albany, area have banded together to tighten up significantly the handling of claims of child sexual abuse by priests. In Milwaukee, a Federal bankruptcy judge has to date ruled against releasing massive records relating to priest child abuse in the Milwaukee Archdiocese. Generally, the US bishops’ latest annual report confirms a rise in overall priest child sexual abuse claims, including some  additional new claims, as well as the continued failure of some bishops to follow even the weak US bishops’ child protection guidelines.
In addition to the foregoing, the New Charges also spell out clearly the long standing directives to the bishops from the Vatican to resist adopting mandates that Catholic bishops must promptly report priest child abuse claims to the police.
Finally, the New Charges crisply summarize the effort of senior US bishops and their highly paid apologists and attorneys to retaliate against SNAP, apparently for filing criminal charges against the Vatican clique with the ICC. The recent appointment of a woman and a mother as the new ICC lead prosecutor may be giving the Vatican clique some sleepless nights about SNAP’s ICC case. The New Charges will likely only increase the retaliatory efforts against SNAP.
The protections from prosecution  surrounding the pope have been extensive to date, but they may eventually prove to have been in vain. The pope runs a tight ship, perhaps a throwback to his teenage German military service in the dangerous days at the end of World War II. For more infomation on this, please read the comments under, “An Opportunistic Pope,” “The Pope at the Masters” and “Kids, Women and Bishops Beware,” accessible by clicking here.
The International Criminal Court, or the ICC, is structurally independent of the United Nations and the World Court, and was established as a permanent tribunal at the Hague, Netherlands, a decade ago by an international treaty now ratified by over 120 nations that are annually assessed to support the ICC’s staff of over 500 professionals, as described here.
The ICC’s  special focus is on handling crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes that, for various reasons, cannot readily be tried elsewhere, as in this case involving the Vatican. Given the geographical and chronological scope of the Vatican clique’s alleged crimes against humanity, there appears to be clear ICC juridiction over the Vatican clique if the ICC prosecutor decides to pursue the criminal case fully. Decisions to pursue criminal prosecutions frequently take a long period to evaluate, given the voluminous facts and documents, etc., sometimes taking over a year just for the decision to prosecute.
A new lead ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, presently Deputy Prosecutor, takes office  in a few weeks. She has been an advocate on behalf of African victims of violence, including those in Rwanda, and is a mother with two sons, one of whom reportedly  lives currently in the United States.  For more on Mrs. Bensouda, please see this recent Irish Times article.
Ironically, as the pope is increasingly engaged in a war against women’s rights  as part of his US efforts to replace Barack Obama, the pope’s fate may now be decided initially by a woman ICC prosecutor in a case led by a woman, Pam Spees, a no-nonsense and very competent international human rights attorney, with her excellent professional colleagues and experienced staff at SNAP’s legal advocates, the Center For Constitutional Rights, an exceptionally successful and highly regarded human rights advocacy group based in New York City and described more fully here.
For 300 years, the early Church generally prospered and grew under and obeyed  Roman law applicable to all Romans, including bishops. For most of the next 1,700 years after Constantine’s virtual takover of the Church hierarchy, the imperial Church hierarchy have mostly made their own rules as an unaccountable hierarchical monarchy and frequent player in European power politics. The power politics ended substantively in 1870  when the Papal States were lost to Italian populists, but the pope still clings to the fantasy that the Vatican is a sovereign nation and player yet in power politics. Of course, the hierarchy has personally benefited, and continues to benefit, greatly from the monarchical structure, which is mainly why it  fights so fiercely to maintain its power and wealth.
Almost 150 years later, the pope is still resisting becoming accountable to the international rule of law that applies to almost all other world leaders and nations. The ICC  and European financial regulators will likely soon change that permanently.

Cross-posted on Open Tabernacle, 16 April 2012.

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SNAP, the bishops and a lesson in ecclesiology


SNAP, the bishops and a lesson in ecclesiology

by Thomas P. Doyleon Mar. 14, 2012

Commentary

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, came into existence in 1989, just five years after national attention was first focused on sexual molestation of minors by Catholic clergy. The founder, Barbara Blaine, is a survivor of abuse. The national director, David Clohessy, is also a survivor. SNAP came into existence because the institutional church, i.e., the bishops, could not and would not do anything to help the victims of the priests they were supposed to supervise.

Realizing that they would have to help themselves, Barbara and the original members started what has become the oldest and most effective advocacy and help group for the countless victims of clergy abuse throughout the United States and Europe as well.

Over the years since its existence, SNAP has done what the institutional church should have done: It offered understanding, support, solace and above all, hope for anyone who called upon it. SNAP is not a sophisticated organization with a well-oiled and financed bureaucracy. It has always been focused on providing support for victims, giving them the encouragement to begin to heal from the devastation of abuse and giving them hope, knowing they are not alone.

In 1993, Pope John Paul II issued his first public response to the clergy abuse issue in the form of a letter to the U.S. bishops. In this letter, he said the bishops have a responsibility to the “innocent victims.” Unfortunately, that’s all he said about victims, devoting most of the letter to a fumbled attempt to shift the blame to the secular media and U.S. culture.

In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI visited the United States. On the plane coming over, he spoke to the media and said, “The victims will need healing and help and assistance and reconciliation: This is a big pastoral engagement and I know that the bishops and the priests and all Catholic people in the United States will do whatever possible to help, to assist, to heal.”

The pope was wrong on that one. The bishops as a group have certainly not helped the victims heal. They have said a lot of nice things, but their response has been hypocritical. While they feign sorrow and regret, make promises and lay on church floors at organized penance services, they are also waging a war against the survivors of the molestation and betrayed trust that they themselves have brought about. They continue to spend millions of the laypeople’s dollars to try and bury any attempts at bringing civil legislation to protect victims into the 21st century and, most reprehensible, they continue to try to pound victims into the ground in the courts. The bottom line is that as with everything else, the response to the clergy abuse nightmare has to be their way or no way.

The latest and most convincing evidence of the bishops’ collective failure following the present pope’s admonitions is the organized attack on SNAP. This attack is being carried out by lawyers who represent two priests accused of abuse, but it’s not about justice for the priests. It’s about destroying an organization that represents not only a source of profound embarrassment to the bishops but a serious threat to their continued duplicity. On one hand, the demand for SNAP’s files is sending a horrific message to all victims of clergy abuse and to all who try to help and support them. The message is clear: Although individual bishops might be truly sympathetic, the bishops as a group simply don’t “get it.” Nothing has changed since 1985, when this sordid issue first came to widespread public awareness. They are only concerned for themselves, their image, their control over the laity and their money. The National Review Board had it right when they pinpointed this in their 2004 report.

But there is another side. The thinly veiled attack through the lawyers from Kansas City, Mo., and St. Louis is part of a strategy to discredit not only SNAP but all survivors of the sexual and spiritual abuse by the priests, religious and bishops. It shows that they fear SNAP and the survivors. Bill Donohue, who basically represents only himself, announced that SNAP is a “menace to the church.” He also claimed in an editorial that “Jeff Anderson is an enemy of the church.” Not one bishop has spoken out and said, “Bill, you’re wrong.” This is where we come to the ecclesiology part.

Ecclesiology is a fancy name for the theology of the church, the meaning of the church. This meaning had to be recalled by the assembled bishops at the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) because it had been buried in the hierarchical trappings of the church as monarchy. The meaning resurrected by the council is simple yet profound: The church is the “People of God,” which simply means that the boundaries don’t stop with the bishops or with the clerical subculture. The council reminded Catholics that there were followers of the spirit and word of Christ before there was a hierarchy and a clerical world. Almost before the bleachers were removed from St. Peter’s Basilica at the close of the last session in 1965, the forces intent on neutralizing the reborn understanding of the church were hard at work. These forces are more evident today than at any other time since the council, and they are led by bishops.

SNAP is the People of God. The laypeople and the priests, religious men and women and miniscule number of bishops who stand with victims of clergy abuse and give them hope and healing are the church. Even though they might not think so, the lawyers who help victims find justice and healing are the church. It’s not true to say that “the church” does little to nothing to provide authentic help. The church has been the source of the help. It’s not, however, been the part of the church that has the official mandate to extend pastoral care to those in need, namely, the hierarchy. But they are not “the church.” They are only a very tiny part of it — .00074 percent, to be more exact. Some would argue this and say that we all have a mandate and they are right, but the leadership in extending compassionate support should have come from the bishops. Even the pope expected it. But it has not come from the bishops or even from the papacy. It has come from people who, it appears, have a more realistic and theologically orthodox understanding of the meaning of “church” than those who hold the official positions in the institution.

So Bill Donohue (and anyone who agrees with him) is dead wrong, reading from a script that was never theologically sound and is certainly way out of date. The purpose of the “church” is not the care and feeding of the hierarchy. The most important people in the church, if one takes the lead from the example of Jesus, are not the ones with the fanciest and most colorful robes but the ones who are the most marginalized and rejected, and in this group, one must include the countless women and men who have become marginalized because of the physical and sexual abuse of the church’s own ministers. They have been marginalized by the very ones who should lead the way in providing compassionate care, and they have been rejected by those who see them as a threat to their image, prestige and power.

The attacks on SNAP and the overall campaign to discredit and intimidate victims are a sure sign that an important part of the church has gone off the rails. It is a sign of a radically distorted ecclesiology. One way or the other, however, SNAP, its leadership, its members, those it helps and above all its spirit, will not be snuffed out no matter how vehement the attacks from the hierarchy, their supporters and their cheerleaders. Why? Because SNAP is people. Not just any people, but a true expression of the People of God.

[Dominican Fr. Thomas Doyle is a canon lawyer, addictions therapist and longtime supporter of justice and compassion for clergy sex abuse victims. He is a co-author of the first report ever issued to the U.S. bishops on clergy sex abuse, in 1986.]