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Catholic church weighs up response to criticism from Ireland


from the link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/29/catholic-church-response-criticism-ireland?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

Catholic church weighs up response to criticism from Ireland

Vatican officials claim Enda Kenny may be using report into sexual abuse by priests to divert attention from euro crisis

in Rome
guardian.co.uk, Friday 29 July 2011 12.41 EDT

Pope Benedict XVI fears further fracturing of the Catholic church in Europe. Photograph: Riccardo De Luca/AP

 

Next month, as every year since he was chosen to lead the world’s Roman Catholics, the scholarly Pope Benedict XVI will preside at a meeting of his Schülerkreis — a group of his former doctoral students.

This year, the issue for debate in the pontifical summer palace, overlooking a volcanic lake near Rome, is the one he was elected to tackle: how to reverse the galloping secularisation of Catholicism‘s European homeland.

The discussion could scarcely be more timely, coming in the midst of a crisis in relations between the Holy See and Ireland, a country where, until a few years ago, official defiance of Rome was unthinkable.

The reaction in the Vatican to Enda Kenny’s impassioned denunciation on 20 July has been one of astonishment. But, as the Holy See’s temporary recall of its ambassador, or nuncio, five days later showed, it is also laced with indignation.

The pope’s deputy spokesman, Father Ciro Benedettini, gave the move a positive gloss, saying the Holy See needed the nuncio back in Rome so it could frame its reply to the Cloyne report “with objectivity and determination”. But his temporary withdrawal also reflected what Benedettini tactfully called “surprise and disappointment over some excessive reactions”.

In diplomacy, the recall of an envoy for consultations is a clear signal of disapproval and L’Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, was unable to find a precedent for it in the vast annals of Vatican diplomacy.

The pope’s aides feel they have been unfairly attacked, and some suspect a political motive. One high-ranking cleric who spoke on condition of anonymity noted Ireland was caught up in the euro crisis and speculated that Kenny might have been seeking to distract public opinion.

Others stressed the Vatican response, promised by the end of August, would seek to heal the breach. But the signs this week were that it would also include a vigorous defence of the Vatican’s position.

No one in Rome disputes that allegations of the sexual abuse of minors in the Cloyne diocese were grossly mishandled by the bishop, John Magee. But Vatican officials argue they are being pilloried for the actions of a pastor who disregarded their instructions.

Ireland’s prime minister claimed that judge Yvonne Murphy’s report contained evidence of an “attempt by the Holy See to block an enquiry … less than three years ago”.

Vatican officials say they can find no such evidence. What the report does contain, they say, is criticism of the papal bureaucracy’s actions 14 years ago. In 1997, the Congregation for the Clergy, the department responsible for the priesthood, sent a message to the Irish bishops criticising their attempts to create a framework for dealing with sex abuse cases.

In particular, it objected to a clause that went beyond the requirements of Irish law at the time and proposed that: “In all instances where it is known or suspected that a priest … has sexually abused a child, the matter should be reported to the civil authorities.” The Vatican said that could be at odds with the church’s own laws.

Murphy’s commission concluded that Rome’s objections gave individual bishops – including Magee – freedom to ignore the bishops’ guidelines. But speaking on Vatican Radio on 19 July, the pope’s spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, argued there was “no reason to interpret the letter as aimed at hiding cases of abuse. In fact, it was warning of the risk of taking measures that could then turn out to be challengeable or invalid from a canonical point of view”.

In any case, say other Vatican officials, even if the Congregation’s response was misguided, it was made before 2001. That is when, in their view, there was a sea change.

Pope John Paul II ordered all cases of alleged sex abuse to be dealt with in Rome by the department then headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as he was known then. As he read the paperwork, the future pope became increasingly appalled by what he saw, and put in place an altogether more effective policy. “Not to recognise that there has been a learning curve and that things have changed is stupid”, said a senior Vatican official.

That may not be the whole story, however. In an interview with the website Vatican Insider, the archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, said he believed Kenny was not only referring to the 1997 exchange, but also “to interactions – which I was unaware of – which took place with the Vatican while the Cloyne report was being prepared”. He did not elaborate.

• This article was amended on 2 August 2011. In the original Diarmuid Martin was described as also having the status of cardinal. This has been corrected.

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Priest apologises for likening Irish PM to Hitler over attack on Vatican


from the link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/28/priest-apologises-enda-kenny-hitler-vatican?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

Priest apologises for likening Irish PM to Hitler over attack on Vatican

Cleric says he regrets leaflet berating Enda Kenny over accusation that the Holy See downplayed child sex abuse scandals

guardian.co.uk, Thursday 28 July 2011 10.23 EDT

Enda Kenny: parliamentarians from his Fine Gael party complained over the leaflet issued by Father Thomas Daly. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA

 

A Catholic priest in the Irish Republic has been forced to apologise for comparing the country’s prime minister to Adolf Hitler because the taoiseach had dared to criticise the Vatican.

Father Thomas Daly issued the apology on Thursday after he likened Enda Kenny‘s denunciation of the Vatican‘s handling of clerical child sex abuse scandals in the republic to one of Hitler’s speeches.

In a leaflet titled Heil Herr Kenny given to members of the Togher parish in Drogheda, County Louth, the priest wrote that the last European leader to issue such a blistering attack on the pope “was the ruthless German dictator Adolf Hitler”.

Daly said, like Hitler, the taoiseach “had to face reality. A cautionary tale.”

The parish priest also drew a comparison between the Irish prime minister’s remarks to those of anti-Catholic loyalists in Northern Ireland.

“Perhaps we might try and find a way to build new with bridges with the Shankill Road people. A ‘No Pope Here’ sign would definitely be a draw for Shankill Road people and marchers from Portadown,” he wrote.

Parliamentarians from Kenny’s Fine Gael party complained over the priest’s leaflet. Daly said: “I regret the headline and for the misunderstandings that might have arisen out of it. I am not comparing Enda Kenny to Hitler.”

In an unprecedented attack on the Vatican last week, Kenny accused the Holy See of “downplaying the rape and torture of children“. He told the Dáil that the recent Cloyne report “revealed an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry into child sex abuse just three years ago”.

Vatican announces silencing of Irish liberal priest Father Tony Flannery


From the link: http://www.irishcentral.com/news/Vatican-announces-silencing-of-Irish-liberal-priest-Father-Tony-Flannery-146402545.html

Vatican announces silencing of Irish liberal priest Father Tony Flannery

Criticisms of Vatican on abuse, birth control, women priests, leads to inquiry

By

ANTOINETTE KELLY,
IrishCentral Staff Writer
Published Friday, April 6, 2012, 6:09 AM
Updated Friday, April 6, 2012, 6:59 AM

Father Tony Flannery

 

Father Tony Flannery, a Catholic priest who has been outspoken in his criticism of the abuse crisis in Ireland, has found himself under investigation by the Vatican for his liberal views.

Founder of the Association of Irish Priests, Father Flannery told TheJournal.ie that the Vatican has contacted him to inform him of the investigation.

The effect of the investigation was immediate. This week The Irish Catholic newspaper reports that Father Flannery had to cease writing his monthly column in the Redemptorist Reality magazine in response to news of the investigation.

The Irish Catholic writer Michael Kelly reported that, “It is understood that while Fr Flannery has the support of his superiors in the Redemptorist Order, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in Rome has expressed disquiet about some of his articles and publications.

“It is believed that the views which have come under most scrutiny are Fr Flannery’s opposition to the Church’s ban on artificial birth control and his support for the ordination of women.”

Last year, Father Flannery welcomed Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s hard hitting criticism of the Church’s decades long mishandling of the child sex abuse scandals in Ireland.

The investigation is seen by critics as a crackdown on the association, which has been described as a ‘dissident group’ by more conservative members of the Church.

In recent months, the association has called for changes in the Church, including its theology on sexuality. Some of the association’s priests contend that priests should be allowed to marry and that the Church should permit the ordination of female priests.

A Redemptorist, Flannery is a native of Attymon, Athenry in County Galway, Ireland. He is the youngest in the family of four. He has two brothers: Peter, who is a fellow Redemptorist at Esker Monastery in Athenry, and Frank, the Fine Gael Director of Organisation and Strategy.

The crackdown comes on the heels of the Vatican ordered Apostolic Visitation, which found evidence of what it called a ‘certain tendency’ for Irish priests to hold opinions that conflict with those of the orthodox Magisterium, the Catholic Church’s teaching authority.

In a sign of hardening attitudes, the Visitation participants underlined that any dissent from the formal teachings of the Church were ‘not the authentic path towards renewal.’

Under the current circumstances, Father Flannery has been effectively silenced, with no indication of how long it will last.

On Holy Thursday Pope Benedict issued a very direct statement which slammed those priests who refuse to conform to church teachings.

Comments on Pope Benedicts Christmas Message to the Leaders of the RCC


Pope Benedict

1. For my Bridegroom’s wounds remain fresh and open as long as the wounds of men’s sins continue to gape. And Christ’s wounds remain open because of the sins of priests. They tear my robe, since they are violators of the Law, the Gospel and their own priesthood; they darken my cloak by neglecting, in every way, the precepts which they are meant to uphold; my shoes too are blackened, since priests do not keep to the straight paths of justice, which are hard and rugged, or set good examples to those beneath them. Nevertheless, in some of them I find the splendour of truth.’

Jesus Christ’s wounds will remain open as long as the Roman Catholic Church, it’s leaders and it’s priests do not submit to man’s authority in a court of law for their crimes against the children of the Roman Catholic Church. To hide behind Jesus Christ and say that you should not be prosecuted for these crimes because you are a person of religion only makes your crimes against the children of the Roman Catholic Church more evil.

Jesus Christ loved the children most of all. He even said that if you harm one hair on the head of one of these, your punishment would be worse.

The Pope broke his vows when he allowed two known pedophile priests to continue in the priesthood.

The priests broke their vows when they raped the children of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Bishops and Cardinals broke their vows when they covered up for the priests who raped the children of the Roman Catholic Church.

By these actions of the Pope, Bishops and Cardinals and Priests of the Roman Catholic Church and their refusal to submit to the courts of man for justice for the victims of rape and abuse by the priests, the wounds of Jesus Christ and the victims of priest rape will never heal.

It is the Pope, the Bishops, the Cardinals and the Priests who keep these wounds of Jesus Christ open and unhealed.

2. Only the truth saves. We must ask ourselves what we can do to repair as much as possible the injustice that has occurred. We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen. We must discover a new resoluteness in faith and in doing good. We must be capable of doing penance

The refusal of the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church to submit to the courts of the land for justice for the victims of priest rape is not truth. The refusal of the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church to turn in priests for rape of the children of the Roman Catholic Church is not truth. The words of Cardinal Timothy Dolan backing up Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights in his attacks against the victims of priest rape, calling them all liars and gold diggers and going after SNAP because they fight for the victims of priest rape is not the truth.

The truth will only save the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church and the church itself, when these very leaders come clean, stop destroying evidence, stop denigrating the victims of priest abuse and those who work to help us.

There is no real truth in the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church. You deny the truth and you deny the victims of priest rape true justice. Your truth is a lie. Your truth only seeks to protect the church and it’s leaders from the evil crimes committed by the Roman Catholic Church priests against the children of the church. Your truth seeks only to protect and hold from harm the leaders who covered this up and moved these priests who raped children to another parish so they could rape children again.  You do not truly want the truth to come out and when one of the victims speak the truth about the horror they went through at the hands of one of your priests, you force them to sign away their right to speak out in any settlement you might offer to the victim, thereby showing again, the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church does not want the truth to get out.

3. This is also the moment to offer heartfelt thanks to all those who work to help victims and to restore their trust in the Church, their capacity to believe her message. In my meetings with victims of this sin, I have also always found people who, with great dedication, stand alongside those who suffer and have been damaged.

So your heartfelt thanks to all those who work to help we, the victims of priest rape, is to attack such groups as SNAP and do all you can to put them out of business? To attack the victims and say we are all liars and gold diggers? You may speak these words Pope Benedict, but the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church supporting with money and help, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and James Salt of Catholics United speaks volumes. This is why I call you His Unholiness the Papal Bullshitter.

Your own Cardinal, Timothy Dolan support these attacks of Bill Donohue and James Salt against the victims of priest rape and the organizations that help and support us.

4. We are well aware of the particular gravity of this sin committed by priests and of our corresponding responsibility. But neither can we remain silent regarding the context of these times in which these events have come to light. There is a market in child pornography that seems in some way to be considered more and more normal by society.

Your corresponding responsibility is not to destroy records and cover up these priests actions, nor prevent their prosecution. Again, Pope, only perverts and child rapists consider child pornography normal. Society does NOT consider child pornography as normal and prosecute those who produce and disseminate or even possesses child pornography.

You and your church truly failed in this recognition of the gravity of the sin committed by your priests because instead of recognizing it, you leaders hid it and fought it from coming to light. You have denigrated any and all reporters who spoke out about this evil. You denigrated and slammed those who stood up and spoke out about this evil sin as people only seeking to destroy the church. Your leaders and apologists scream how it is unfair that we are attacking the church when other religious organizations and human kind itself does these same things.

Those are poor excuses. See Pope Benedict, religious people are held to a higher standard. You hold yourselves up as a higher standard and a more moral person. You hold your religion as the guiding light for morality and life. Yet your religion is a den of pervert leaders who rape children with impunity, then hide behind your religion as a defense. Jesus Christ himself would tell you all that you are not of him nor were you ever were.

The Roman Catholic Church and it’s leaders have a history of brutality, murder, butchery, torture, slaughter and evil that is second to none. We are supposed to hold your church up as the shining example of morality and justice, truth and good, love and hope for all of us? When this church and it’s history is covered in the blood of millions of innocent men, women and children? The hundreds of thousands of young children who had their minds, hearts, souls and bodies raped by your priests and destroyed their lives and we are supposed to hold you, the Pope, who allowed two known pedophile priests to continue to rape the children of the RCC as all holy, and we should bow down to you and respect you?

Well my truth is Pope Benedict, I would never bow down to you, or anyone in your church. I excommunicated myself from your church the night your priest at St Thomas Moore Parish in Durham NH rape me.

5. In order to resist these forces, we must turn our attention to their ideological foundations. In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children. This, however, was part of a fundamental perversion of the concept of ethos. It was maintained – even within the realm of Catholic theology – that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a “better than” and a “worse than”. Nothing is good or bad in itself. Everything depends on the circumstances and on the end in view. Anything can be good or also bad, depending upon purposes and circumstances. Morality is replaced by a calculus of consequences, and in the process it ceases to exist.

So you are blaming the world for your priests actions against the children of the Roman Catholic Church? You, Pope Benedict say it is because of the pornography and the incest in the world that made it possible for your priests to rape us children of the church? That it is the moral failings of the non religious that causes the moral failings of the religious?

You, Pope Benedict are really slick. You claim that raping a child is evil and wrong, then you backflip and say it isn’t. Then you place all the blame for the evils and crimes that your priests and leaders did on the immorality of the rest of the human race? You accept no responsibilities for your actions, the actions of your leaders or the actions of your priests, instead you place the blame on the non religious, pornography, incest and drug use….things your priests should never be doing in the first place and should be excommunicated for in the second place.

Yes Pope Benedict, you sure are great with the double speak. Yet I know one person you will never fool. Your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ….who has reserved a very nice place for you in hell.

Both Sides Point To Key Evidence In Priest Abuse Case


This story comes from the following link: http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2012/03/28/both-sides-point-to-key-evidence-in-priest-abuse-case/

Both Sides Point To Key Evidence In Priest Abuse Case

March 28, 2012 4:29 AM

By Tony Hanson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Smoking gun evidence for the prosecution and the defense as both sides cite the same couple of documents to make their case for guilt or innocence in the clergy abuse case. The evidence centers around a former co-defendant who last week admitted sexually abusing an altar boy.

The prosecution has presented evidence in the form of documents showing Monsignor William Lynn, who is charged with endangering children compiled a list of 35 suspected or admitted predator priests, found then Father Edward Avery was guilty of sexual misconduct with a minor but still allowed him to remain in ministry and Avery struck again.

He pleaded guilty to this assault last week.

But the defense says the list is evidence Monsignor Lynn did his job, tried to deal with the sex abuse issue but his list was later ordered shredded by the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua and the shredding was carried out by others, the act memorialized in a memo shown to the jury.

 

Evidence in Msgr William Lynn's trial.

Sex crimes and the Vatican


This article comes from this link http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/panorama/5389684.stm

Sex crimes and the Vatican

A secret document which sets out a procedure for dealing with child sex abuse scandals within the Catholic Church is examined by Panorama.

Crimen Sollicitationis was enforced for 20 years by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became the Pope.

It instructs bishops on how to deal with allegations of child abuse against priests and has been seen by few outsiders.

Critics say the document has been used to evade prosecution for sex crimes.

Crimen Sollicitationis was written in 1962 in Latin and given to Catholic bishops worldwide who are ordered to keep it locked away in the church safe.

It instructs them how to deal with priests who solicit sex from the confessional. It also deals with “any obscene external act … with youths of either sex.”

It imposes an oath of secrecy on the child victim, the priest dealing with the allegation and any witnesses.

Breaking that oath means excommunication from the Catholic Church.

Reporting for Panorama, Colm O’Gorman finds seven priests with child abuse allegations made against them living in and around the Vatican City.

One of the priests, Father Joseph Henn, has been indicted on 13 molestation charges brought by a grand jury in the United States.

During filming for Sex Crimes and the Vatican, Colm finds Father Henn is fighting extradition orders from inside the headquarters of this religious order in the Vatican.

The Vatican has not compelled him to return to America to face the charges against him.

After filming, Father Henn lost his fight against extradition but fled the headquarters and is believed to be hiding in Italy while there is an international warrant for his arrest.

Colm O’Gorman was raped by a Catholic priest in the diocese of Ferns in County Wexford in Ireland when he was 14 years old.

Father Fortune was charged with 66 counts of sexual, indecent assault and another serious sexual offence relating to eight boys but he committed suicide on the eve of his trial.

Colm started an investigation with the BBC in March 2002 which led to the resignation of Dr Brendan Comiskey, the bishop leading the Ferns Diocese.

Colm then pushed for a government inquiry which led to the Ferns Report.

It was published in October 2005 and found: “A culture of secrecy and fear of scandal that led bishops to place the interests of the Catholic Church ahead of the safety of children.”

The Catholic Church has 50 million children in its worldwide congregation and no universal child protection policy although in the UK there is the Catholic Office for the Protection of Children & Vulnerable Adults.

In some countries this means that the Crimen Sollicitationis is the only policy followed.

The Vatican has refused repeated requests from Panorama to respond to any of the cases shown in the film.

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.]

Cardinal Dolan quotes Donohue on SNAP, calling leader a ‘con artist’


Dolan quotes Donohue on SNAP, calling leader a ‘con artist’

by Joshua J. McElweeon Mar. 21, 2012

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, posted a link on his blog this afternoon to a statement from Bill Donohue, the head of the Catholic League, which suggests the director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests may be a “con artist.”

The post comes as the victims’ advocacy group and its director, David Clohessy, have found support in recent days on the editorial pages of several national papers in light of attempts by attorneys representing priests accused of abuse to obtain 23 years of the group’s documents.

Dolan’s post came on his “The Gospel in the Digital Age” blog at the New York Archdiocese website. It quotes in full three paragraphs of a statement by Donohue before providing people a link to read the rest.

Donohue’s statement, titled “SNAP Unravels,” is a long rehash of some of the facts surrounding the attempts by priests’ lawyers, which resulted last January in Clohessy’s deposition in a case involving a priest accused of abuse in Kansas City, Mo.

After making numerous references to the transcript of that deposition, which was released March 2, Donohue asks: “So is David Clohessy a sincere man driven by the pursuit of justice? Or is he a con artist driven by revenge? It may very well be that the former description aptly explains how he started, while the latter describes what he has become.”

Dolan’s post, which was published early in the afternoon, has already drawn a number of comments. One commenter said that while she didn’t know much about SNAP, she does “know they were one of the first organizations to publicly call for accountability in priest abuse cases.”

She continues: “I think it is ugly of the diocese to go after them. And,frankly, I’m wondering why this is posted on my own archdiocese’s blog.”

Dolan’s post comes a day after The Star-Ledger, New Jersey’s largest newspaper, followed NCR and The New York Times in editorializing on the subject.

“SNAP is a support group, a referral center for victims. But the church sees SNAP as ringleaders and organizers. They want to bust SNAP the way sweatshops busted labor unions,” write the Star-Ledger‘s editors.

“The church’s new legal assault on SNAP is unconscionable. For decades, pedophile priests created thousands of voiceless victims. SNAP gives those victims a voice — and now the bishops want to silence that, too.”

 

Cardinal Dolan confirms new aggressive strategy against abuse victims


Cardinal confirms new aggressive strategy against abuse victims

by Kristine Wardon Mar. 23, 2012

Commentary

In a none too subtle posting on his Archdiocese of New York blog, Cardinal Timothy Dolan — the newly minted and over the top feted eminence — confirmed the bishops’ new strategy: playing hardball against victims and the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) in particular. Here’s the link.

This approach was first revealed by Catholic League president William Donohue in the March 12 New York Times story “Catholic Church Puts Legal Pressure on Abuse victims Group.”

The story played out in a good cop/bad cop routine with Mr. Donohue being quoted as bluntly declaring the “bishops have come together collectively” in this approach while Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops demurred that Mr. Donohue was incorrect and no such new strategy was in place.

Enter the Cardinal’s column. Tie broken. Winner declared: take no prisoners, new aggressive strategy it is.

Any reader of a diocesan newspaper knows that bishops are experts at the coy, the obfuscating, the lovely sounding but non-relevant tinkling brass and clanging symbol approach to communication.

When they do otherwise it pays to take heed.

In this Dolan tip of the blog hat to the Catholic League, Catholics and all men and women of goodwill should hear a beaver thumping of danger in the woods.

When the bishops circle their wagons around a jovial, back slapping, have a few beers with you wagon master prepared to pour as much and as many high powered attorneys’ fees plus muscle and venom as it takes in pursuit of a bare knuckle, wide net, fear inducing campaign against an ever-growing and effective band of victims the Gospel is not in them thar’ hills: self preservation is.

Cardinal Dolan, with his blog posting, it seems to us, is taking the same approach political candidates take to their Super PACs: not running them, don’t really know what they are doing on my behalf (wink, wink), can’t help they are saying exactly what I want to, and boy do I love the dough they are socking into it.

If you agree with this approach, please do nothing, Cardinal Dolan and Mr. Donohue have it well in hand.

If you don’t, please put your money where your conscience is: send SNAP a check. Then next Sunday, put a message in your collection envelope that your money is going to support the least, the last, the vulnerable, the innocent — those who were left along the side of the road, abandoned, stepped over and never expected to rise up and seek justice for themselves.

[Kristine Ward is chair of the National Survivor Advocates Coalition.]

Ratzinger’s Responsibility by By Hans Küng


Hans Küng (born March 19, 1928, in Sursee, Canton of Lucerne) is a Swiss Catholic priest, theologian, and prolific author. Since 1995 he has been President of the Foundation for a Global Ethic (Stiftung Weltethos). Küng is “a Catholic priest in good standing”,[1] but the Vatican has rescinded his authority to teach Catholic theology. He had to leave the Catholic faculty, but remained at the University of Tübingen as a professor of ecumenical theology, serving as an emeritus professor since 1996. Although Küng is not officially allowed to teach Catholic theology, neither his bishop nor the Holy See have revoked his priestly faculties.

Ratzinger’s Responsibility

‘Scandalous wrongs cannot be glossed over, we need a change of attitude’

Mar. 18, 2010

By Hans Küng
Accountability

After Archbishop Robert Zollitsch’s recent papal audience, he spoke of Pope Benedict’s “great shock” and “profound agitation” over the many cases of abuse which are coming to light. Zollitsch, archbishop of Freiburg, Germany, and the chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, asked pardon of the victims and spoke again about the measures that have already been taken or will soon be taken. But neither he nor the pope have addressed the real question that can no longer be put aside.

According to the latest Emnid-poll, only 10 percent of those interviewed in Germany believe that the church is doing enough in dealing with this scandal; on the contrary, 86 percent charge the church’s leadership with insufficient willingness to come to grips with the problem. The bishops’ denial that there is any connection between the celibacy rule and the abuse problem can only confirm their criticism.

1st Question: Why does the pope continue to assert that what he calls “holy” celibacy is a “precious gift”, thus ignoring the biblical teaching that explicitly permits and even encourages marriage for all office holders in the Church? Celibacy is not “holy”; it is not even “fortunate”; it is “unfortunate”, for it excludes many perfectly good candidates from the priesthood and forces numerous priests out of their office, simply because they want to marry. The rule of celibacy is not a truth of faith, but a church law going back to the 11th Century; it should have been abolished already in the 16th Century, when it was trenchantly criticized by the Reformers.

Honesty demands that the pope, at the very least, promise to rethink this rule — something the vast majority of the clergy and laity have wanted for a long time now. Both Alois Glück, the president of the Central Committee of the German Catholics and Hans-Jochen Jaschke, auxiliary bishop of Hamburg, have called for a less uptight attitude towards sexuality and for the coexistence of celibate and married priests in the church

2nd Question: Is it true, as Archbishop Zollitsch insists, that “all the experts” agree that abuse of minors by clergymen and the celibacy rule have nothing to do with each other? How can he claim to know the opinions of “all the experts”? In fact, there are numerous psychotherapists and psychoanalysts who see a connection here. The celibacy law obliges the priest to abstain from all forms of sexual activity, though their sexual impulses remain virulent, and thus the danger exists that these impulses might be shifted into a taboo zone and compensated for in abnormal ways.

Honesty demands that we take the correlation between abuse and celibacy seriously. The American psychotherapist Richard Sipe has clearly demonstrated, on the basis of a 25 year study published in 2004 under the title Knowledge of sexual activity and abuse within the clerical system of the Roman Catholic church, that the celibate way of life can indeed reinforce pedophile tendencies, especially when the socialization leading to it, i.e. adolescence and young adulthood spent in minor and major seminary cut off from the normal experiences of their peer groups, is taken into account. In his study, Sipe found retarded psycho-sexual development occurring more frequently in celibate clerics than in the average population. And often, such deficits in psychological development and sexual tendencies only become evident after ordination.

3rd Question: Instead of merely asking pardon of the victims of abuse, should not the bishops at last admit their own share of blame? For decades, they have not only tabooed the celibacy issue but also systematically covered up cases of abuse with the mantle of strictest secrecy, doing little more than re-assigning the perpetrators to new ministries. In a statement of March 16, Bishop Ackermann of Trier, special delegate of the German Bischops’ Conference for sexual abuse cases, publically acknowledged the existence of such a cover-up, but characteristically he put the blame not on the church as institution, but rather on the individual perpetrators and the false considerations of their superiors. Protection of their priests and the reputation of the church was evidently more important to the bishops than protection of minors. Thus, there is an important difference between the individual cases of abuse surfacing in schools outside the Catholic church and the systematic and correspondingly more frequent cases of abuse within the Catholic church, where, now as before, an uptight, rigoristic sexual morality prevails, that finds its culmination in the law of celibacy.

Honesty demands that the chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference should have clearly and definitively announced, that, in the future, the hierarchy will cease to deal with cases of criminal acts committed by those in the service of the church by circumventing the state system of justice. Can it be that the hierarchy here in Germany will only wake up when it is confronted with demands for reparation payments in terms of millions of dollars? In the United States, the Catholic church had to pay some $1.3 billion alone in 2006; in Ireland, the government helped the religious orders set up a compensation fund with a ruinous sum of $2.8 billion. Such sums say much more about the dimensions of the problem than the pooh-poohing statistics about the small percentage of celibate clergy among the general population of abusers.

4th Question: Is it not time for Pope Benedict XVI himself to acknowledge his share of responsibility, instead of whining about a campaign against his person? No other person in the Church has had to deal with so many cases of abuse crossing his desk. Here some reminders:

  • In his eight years as a professor of theology in Regensburg, in close contact with his brother Georg, the capellmeister of the Regensburger Domspatzen, Ratzinger can hardly have been ignorant about what went on in the choir and its boarding–school. This was much more than an occasional slap in the face, there are charges of serious physical violence and even sexual abuse.
  • In his five years as Archbishop of Munich, repeated cases of sexual abuse at least by one priest transferred to his Archdiocese have come to light. His loyal Vicar General, my classmate Gerhard Gruber, has taken full responsibility for the handling of this case, but that is hardly an excuse for the Archbishop, who is ultimately responsible for the administration of his diocese.
  • In his 24 years as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, from around the world, all cases of grave sexual offences by clerics had to be reported, under strictest secrecy (“secretum pontificum”), to his curial office, which was exclusively responsible for dealing with them. Ratzinger himself, in a letter on “grave sexual crimes” addressed to all the bishops under the date of 18 May, 2001, warned the bishops, under threat of ecclesiastical punishment, to observe “papal secrecy” in such cases.
  • In his five years as Pope, Benedict XVI has done nothing to change this practice with all its fateful consequences.

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Honesty demands that Joseph Ratzinger himself, the man who for decades has been principally responsible for the worldwide cover-up, at last pronounce his own “mea culpa”. As Bishop Tebartz van Elst of Limburg, in a radio address on March 14, put it: “Scandalous wrongs cannot be glossed over or tolerated, we need a change of attitude that makes room for the truth. Conversion and repentance begin when guilt is openly admitted, when contrition1 is expressed in deeds and manifested as such, when responsibility is taken, and the chance for a new beginning is seized upon.”