The strange disconnect between Pope Francis’ words and actions about sex abuse
By Oct. 1, 2015|
On his tour of the United States, Pope Francis has forcefully reminded the world about the importance of looking after the planet and the perils of climate change. His criticisms of the world economic system and the plight of the poor are timely and welcome. There is very little that Pope Francis can personally do about either of these things except to do what he has done — warn and exhort.
But there is one thing that he can personally do about child sexual abuse, and that is to change canon law by abolishing the pontifical secret over allegations of the sexual abuse of children by clergy and religious.
In an address to bishops in Philadelphia, Pope Francis said:
“The crimes and sins of sexual abuse of minors cannot be kept secret any longer. I commit myself to the zealous watchfulness of the church to protect minors, and I promise that all those responsible will be held accountable.”
The maintenance of secrecy for these crimes is imposed by Article 25 of Pope John Paul II’s motu proprio, Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela of 2001 and by Article 30 of its revision by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, which impose the pontifical secret on all allegations and proceedings relating to child sexual abuse by clerics. The footnotes to Article 25 and Article 30 apply Article 1(4) of Pope Paul VI’s instruction, Secreta Continere, which defines the pontifical secret as the church’s highest form of secrecy, and like the secret of the confessional, is a permanent silence. Since becoming pope two and a half years ago, Pope Francis has made no attempt to change this maintenance of secrecy, the very thing he condemned in Philadelphia.
Like Pope Benedict XVI in his 2010 pastoral letter to the people of Ireland, Pope Francis ignored the role of canon law in the cover up, and said, “I deeply regret that some bishops failed in their responsibility to protect children.” There was not a word about the fact that in most cases such bishops were complying with the pontifical secret under canon law, and its requirement to try and cure the priest before any attempt was made to dismiss him.
A dispensation to allow reporting to the police where the civil law requires it was granted by the Holy See to the United States in 2002 and to the rest of the world in 2010, but where there are no such civil laws, the pontifical secret still applies. Very few countries have comprehensive reporting laws.
Francis is the Bishop of Rome, but his own Italian Bishops Conference, of which he is the primate, announced in 2014 that Italian bishops would not be reporting these crimes to the police because Italian civil law under the 1929 Lateran Treaty with the dictator, Mussolini, did not require them to do so.
On Jan. 31, 2014, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child requested the Holy See to abolish the pontifical secret over allegations of child sexual abuse by clergy and to impose mandatory reporting. On May 22, 2014, the United Nations Committee against Torture requested the same thing.
On Sept. 26, 2014, The Vatican responded and rejected these requests, stating that mandatory reporting under canon law would interfere with the sovereignty of independent nations. If that were true, the church should not even have a canon law that applies to Catholics all over the world. Canon law only interferes with such sovereignty when it requires Catholics to disobey the civil law. Where there is no conflict between canon and civil law, canon law has no more effect on a nation’s sovereignty than the rules of golf. Mandatory reporting under canon law would only interfere with national sovereignty if the civil law of a country prohibited the reporting of child sexual abuse by clergy. No such country exists.
On March 19, 2014, Pope Francis said that Pope Benedict had supported “zero tolerance” for clergy who sexually abused children. On May 26, 2014, he pledged to apply the same “zero tolerance” standard. But the figures produced by the Holy See’s representative at the United Nations, Archbishop Tomasi, show that the Holy See’s tolerance is not zero but 66 percent. Less than one third of all priests against whom credible allegations of sexual abuse of children have been made have been dismissed.
In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI dismissed Fr. Mauro Inzoli, who was accused of abusing dozens of children over a 10-year period. In 2014, Pope Francis reinstated him and required him to live a life of “prayer and penance”, the same punishment that Pope Benedict XVI handed out to the notorious Fr. Marcial Maciel. When Italian Magistrates asked the Vatican to have access to the evidence submitted to Inzoli’s canonical trial, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith refused, stating, “The procedures of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are of a canonical nature and, as such, are not an object for the exchange of information with civil magistrates.” Pope Francis himself maintains the secrecy that this week he condemned.
In matters of child sexual abuse, Pope Francis has no constitution, no Congress, no Senate and no Supreme Court that could restrain him from changing canon law. He has no obligation even to consult anyone. He is the last of the absolute monarchs.
He can take out his pen at breakfast, and write on his napkin an instruction to abolish the pontifical secret in cases of child sexual abuse and to order mandatory reporting everywhere. He can instruct it to be translated into Latin and to have it published on the Acta Apostolicae Sedis. It then becomes canon law.
On Jan. 21, 2014, after the United Nations hearings, Thomas C. Fox, the publisher of this paper, wrote that Pope Francis “does not understand the full magnitude of the related sex abuse issues, or, if he does, is yet unwilling or incapable of responding to it.”
One can only hope that Pope Francis means what he says in his address in Philadelphia, but up to the present time, there is a strange disconnect between what he says and what he, personally, has done. Cardinal Francis George wrote in an article in 2003 that if you want to change a damaging culture, you first have to change the laws which embody it. The buck for maintaining secrecy over the sexual abuse of children within the church truly stops with Pope Francis.
[Kieran Tapsell is the author of Potiphar’s Wife: The Vatican Secret and Child Sexual Abuse (ATF Press 2014).]
ISSUED ‘MOTU PROPRIO’
SACRAMENTORUM SANCTITATIS TUTELA
OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
JOHN PAUL II
BY WHICH ARE PROMULGATED
NORMS ON MORE GRAVE DELICTS
RESERVED TO THE CONGREGATION
FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH*
The Safeguarding of the Sanctity of the Sacraments, especially the Most Holy Eucharist and Penance, and the keeping of the faithful, called to communion with the Lord, in their observance of the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, demand that the Church itself, in her pastoral solicitude, intervene to avert dangers of violation, so as to provide for the salvation of souls “which must always be the supreme law in the Church” (CIC, can. 1752).
Indeed, Our Predecessors already provided for the sanctity of the sacraments, especially penance, through appropriate Apostolic Constitutions such as the Constitution Sacramentum Poenitentiae, of Pope Benedict XIV, issued June 1, 1741;1 the same goal was likewise pursued by a number of canons of the Codex Iuris Canonici, promulgated in 1917 with their fontes by which canonical sanctions had been established against delicts of this kind.2
In more recent times, in order to avert these and connected delicts, the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, through the Instruction Crimen sollicitationis, addressed to all Patriarchs, Archbishops, Bishops, and other local Ordinaries “even of the Oriental Rite” on March 16, 1962, established a manner of proceeding in such cases, inasmuch as judicial competence had been attributed exclusively to it, which competence could be exercised either administratively or through a judicial process. It is to be kept in mind that an Instruction of this kind had the force of law since the Supreme Pontiff, according to the norm of can. 247, §1 of the Codex Iuris Canonici promulgated in 1917, presided over the Congregation of the Holy Office, and the Instruction proceeded from his own authority, with the Cardinal at the time only performing the function of Secretary.
The Supreme Pontiff, Pope Paul VI, of happy memory, by the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, Regimini Ecclesiae Universae, issued on August 15, 1967,3 confirmed the Congregation’s judicial and administrative competence in proceeding “according to its amended and approved norms.”
Finally, by the authority with which we are invested, in the Apostolic Constitution, Pastor Bonus, promulgated on June 28, 1988, we expressly established, “[The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith] examines delicts against the faith and more grave delicts whether against morals or committed in the celebration of the sacraments, which have been referred to it and, whenever necessary, proceeds to declare or impose canonical sanctions according to the norm of both common or proper law,”4 thereby further confirming and determining the judicial competence of the same Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as an Apostolic Tribunal.
After we had approved the Agendi ratio in doctrinarum examine,5 it was necessary to define more precisely both “the more grave delicts whether against morals or committed in the celebration of the sacraments” for which the competence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith remains exclusive, and also the special procedural norms “for declaring or imposing canonical sanctions.”
With this apostolic letter, issued motu proprio, we have completed this work and we hereby promulgate the Norms concerning the more grave delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which Norms are divided in two distinct parts, of which the first contains Substantive Norms, and the second Procedural Norms. We therefore enjoin all those concerned to observe them diligently and faithfully. These Norms take effect on the very day when they are promulgated.
All things to the contrary, even those worthy of special mention, notwithstanding.
Give in Rome at St. Peter’s on April 30, 2001, the memorial of Pope St. Pius V, in the twenty-third year of Our Pontificate.
POPE JOHN PAUL II
* This unofficial translation is based on a translation of the motu proprio by the USCCB and revised by Joseph R. Punderson and Charles J. Scicluna. The translations of the canons of the CIC and the CCEO are from the translations published by the Canon Law Society of America in 1999 and 2001 respectively.
1. Benedict XIV, Constitution Sacramentum Pœnitentiae, June 1, 1741, in Codex Iuris Canonici, prepared at the order of Pius X, Supreme Pontiff, promulgated by the authority of Pope Benedict XV, Documenta, Document V in AAS 9 (1917), Part II, 505-508.
2. Cf. Codex Iuris Canonici anno 1917 promulgatus, cann. 817; 2316; 2320; 2322; 2368, §1; 2369, §1.
3. Cf. Pope Paul VI, Apostolic Constitution Regimini Ecclesiae Universae, On the Roman Curia, August 15, 1967, n. 36, AAS 59 (1967), p. 898.
4. Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Pastor bonus, On the Roman Curia, June 28, 1988, art. 52, in AAS 89 (1988), p. 874.
5. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Agendi ratio in doctrinarum examine, June 29, 1997, in AAS 89 (1997), pp. 830-835.
© Copyright 2001 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana
The Great Catholic Cover-Up: The pope’s entire career has the stench of evil about it
By Christopher Hitchens
From the link: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/fighting_words/2010/03/the_great_catholic_coverup.html
On March 10, the chief exorcist of the Vatican, the Rev. Gabriele Amorth (who has held this demanding post for 25 years), was quoted as saying that “the Devil is at work inside the Vatican,” and that “when one speaks of ‘the smoke of Satan’ in the holy rooms, it is all true—including these latest stories of violence and pedophilia.” This can perhaps be taken as confirmation that something horrible has indeed been going on in the holy precincts, though most inquiries show it to have a perfectly good material explanation.
Concerning the most recent revelations about the steady complicity of the Vatican in the ongoing—indeed endless—scandal of child rape, a few days later a spokesman for the Holy See made a concession in the guise of a denial. It was clear, said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, that an attempt was being made “to find elements to involve the Holy Father personally in issues of abuse.” He stupidly went on to say that “those efforts have failed.”
He was wrong twice. In the first place, nobody has had to strive to find such evidence: It has surfaced, as it was bound to do. In the second place, this extension of the awful scandal to the topmost level of the Roman Catholic Church is a process that has only just begun. Yet it became in a sense inevitable when the College of Cardinals elected, as the vicar of Christ on Earth, the man chiefly responsible for the original cover-up. (One of the sanctified voters in that “election” was Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, a man who had already found the jurisdiction of Massachusetts a bit too warm for his liking.)
There are two separate but related matters here: First, the individual responsibility of the pope in one instance of this moral nightmare and, second, his more general and institutional responsibility for the wider lawbreaking and for the shame and disgrace that goes with it. The first story is easily told, and it is not denied by anybody. In 1979, an 11-year-old German boy identified as Wilfried F. was taken on a vacation trip to the mountains by a priest. After that, he was administered alcohol, locked in his bedroom, stripped naked, and forced to suck the penis of his confessor. (Why do we limit ourselves to calling this sort of thing “abuse”?) The offending cleric was transferred from Essen to Munich for “therapy” by a decision of then-Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, and assurances were given that he would no longer have children in his care. But it took no time for Ratzinger’s deputy, Vicar General Gerhard Gruber, to return him to “pastoral” work, where he soon enough resumed his career of sexual assault.
It is, of course, claimed, and it will no doubt later be partially un-claimed, that Ratzinger himself knew nothing of this second outrage. I quote, here, from the Rev. Thomas Doyle, a former employee of the Vatican Embassy in Washington and an early critic of the Catholic Church’s sloth in responding to child-rape allegations. “Nonsense,” he says. “Pope Benedict is a micromanager. He’s the old style. Anything like that would necessarily have been brought to his attention. Tell the vicar general to find a better line. What he’s trying to do, obviously, is protect the pope.”
This is common or garden stuff, very familiar to American and Australian and Irish Catholics whose children’s rape and torture, and the cover-up of same by the tactic of moving rapists and torturers from parish to parish, has been painstakingly and comprehensively exposed. It’s on a level with the recent belated admission by the pope’s brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, that while he knew nothing about sexual assault at the choir school he ran between 1964 and 1994, now that he remembers it, he is sorry for his practice of slapping the boys around.
Very much more serious is the role of Joseph Ratzinger, before the church decided to make him supreme leader, in obstructing justice on a global scale. After his promotion to cardinal, he was put in charge of the so-called “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” (formerly known as the Inquisition). In 2001, Pope John Paul II placed this department in charge of the investigation of child rape and torture by Catholic priests. In May of that year, Ratzinger issued a confidential letter to every bishop. In it, he reminded them of the extreme gravity of a certain crime. But that crime was the reporting of the rape and torture. The accusations, intoned Ratzinger, were only treatable within the church’s own exclusive jurisdiction. Any sharing of the evidence with legal authorities or the press was utterly forbidden. Charges were to be investigated “in the most secretive way … restrained by a perpetual silence … and everyone … is to observe the strictest secret which is commonly regarded as a secret of the Holy Office … under the penalty of excommunication.” (My italics). Nobody has yet been excommunicated for the rape and torture of children, but exposing the offense could get you into serious trouble. And this is the church that warns us against moral relativism! (See, for more on this appalling document, two reports in the London Observer of April 24, 2005, by Jamie Doward.)
Not content with shielding its own priests from the law, Ratzinger’s office even wrote its own private statute of limitations. The church’s jurisdiction, claimed Ratzinger, “begins to run from the day when the minor has completed the 18th year of age” and then lasts for 10 more years. Daniel Shea, the attorney for two victims who sued Ratzinger and a church in Texas, correctly describes that latter stipulation as an obstruction of justice. “You can’t investigate a case if you never find out about it. If you can manage to keep it secret for 18 years plus 10, the priest will get away with it.”
The next item on this grisly docket will be the revival of the long-standing allegations against the Rev. Marcial Maciel, founder of the ultra-reactionary Legion of Christ, in which sexual assault seems to have been almost part of the liturgy. Senior ex-members of this secretive order found their complaints ignored and overridden by Ratzinger during the 1990s, if only because Father Maciel had been praised by the then-Pope John Paul II as an “efficacious guide to youth.” And now behold the harvest of this long campaign of obfuscation. The Roman Catholic Church is headed by a mediocre Bavarian bureaucrat once tasked with the concealment of the foulest iniquity, whose ineptitude in that job now shows him to us as a man personally and professionally responsible for enabling a filthy wave of crime. Ratzinger himself may be banal, but his whole career has the stench of evil—a clinging and systematic evil that is beyond the power of exorcism to dispel. What is needed is not medieval incantation but the application of justice—and speedily at that.
Pope John Paul II and the Sex Abuse Case
The world is not ignorant about the presence of lecherous priests in the world but, who would have guessed that the Catholic Church also hosts a few of these perverts of the highest order. Among the most serious cases are the ones involving Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer an Austrian friend of the Pope. The Cardinal was accused of molesting over 2000 boys and young monks in his overall career span. Even then he sailed through the situation because there were no sanctions placed on him.
The next case was related to Marcial Maciel Degollado, the Mexican founder of the ‘Legion of Christ’. This person was accused of not only molesting young boys but fathering a number of children through innumerable women. The reason why Pope John Paul II was disapproved was for obstructing investigation in both these cases. In fact he had been criticized for promoting those individuals who had sex abuse cases pending against them.
Covering up of these cases have been considered to be worse than the crime itself. Cardinal Ratzinger under the auspices of Pope John Paul II had written a letter stating that all sex abuse cases in the Catholic Church be sent to his department and be subject to pontifical secrecy. He had also tried to persuade the Pope to bring them to book, but his opponents in the Vatican managed to block any further enquiry into the issue. In the words of the Present Pope Benedict XVI, ‘the other side had won’.
When the child abuse cases in the Catholic Church had first come to light, the Pope had an acceptable ‘bad apple’ explanation to provide. He said that even as priests some brothers are afflicted by sins that betray the grace of ordination. It is because of these few bad cases that the other brothers, who are conducting their office in the most virtuous manner, with honesty and integrity which sometimes result in heroic self sacrifice, are also tarnished. Although he showed his concern and sympathy to the victims and their families, he called upon the rest to embrace the ‘mysterium crucis’ and commit more fully to the search of holiness.
While H.H Groer was removed as Arch Bishop of Vienna in 1995, Pope Benedict finally managed to oust Maciel in 2006. Further investigations have proved that Maciel had sent pots of money to buy support in the Vatican.
One can give many reasons as to why Pope John Paul II had brushed all this rubbish under the Vatican carpet. It may be that he did not want the people in general to loose their faith on the Church, or it could also be that he believed that some (not all) of these cases were made to frame people in high Vatican offices. Whatever the excuse may be, people will question him for not dealing with these perverts in strict hands. History will show that it was actually Pope Benedict XVI and not Pope John Paul II who had initiated ‘purification’ of the Church.
‘Beautifully crafted’ 24” bronze statues of Pope John Paul II give out an aura of peace and tranquility. This collector’s item is also considered a very thoughtful gift for loved ones’
Top 10 Reasons Why John Paul II Is No Saint – Part 1
Posted by May 12, 2011on
Here is the first part of my Top 10 Reasons Why John Paul II Is No Saint.
This list refers only to the child rape epidemic. There are many more issues on which the Patron Saint of Paedophiles has left the world a far, far worse place than he found it, and many instances where he deliberately caused immense suffering in order to pursue his own base and selfish ends.
Reason No 1: Father Marcial Maciel Degollado
Father Maciel, founder of the oppressive and twisted cult Legionnaires of Christ, notorious drug addict and child rapist who also fathered a number of children and sexually abused at least one of them, was publicly and privately supported by JPII. He was immune from facing responsibility for his crimes, no matter how many victims came forward, or how much detailed evidence they provided.
JPII shielded this monster living a sordid double life because of his important position as the revered leader of the Legionnaires of Christ, his conservatism and unquestioning obedience to the Pope’s every dictate, his success in bringing young priests into the Church, and, most importantly, because he was the Vatican’s cash cow who filled the Papal coffers and lavished extravagant gifts on top Vatican officials. A consumate fundraiser, Fr Maciel’s bundles of cash regularly delivered into the waiting hands of Vatican officials were siphoned from his wealthy cult, or sourced through selling access to JPII to wealthy families willing to pay for the privilege. Father Maciel was regarded as the greatest fundraiser of the modern Church and his Legionnaires of Christ is estimated to have amassed a fortune worth tens of billions of dollars.
He had also been abusing his seminarians, some as young as 11 years old, since at least the 1950’s. A group of former seminarians, many of them now priests, repeatedly filed formal legal documents with the Vatican asking for an investigation, but every time their request was not even granted the respect of receiving a refusal and instead completely ignored. Maciel’s victims were branded liars and traitors by those determined to cover up for him, but even Cardinal Ratzinger, notoriously reluctant to act against child rapist priests, finally appreciated the need to investigate and was prepared to do so until firmly ordered by JPII not to go after his favourite, Father Maciel.
Reason No 2: Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer
Arrogant hardline conservative Cardinal Groer of Austria was appointed by JPII to move the balance of power away from moderate progressives who supported the Vatican II changes. The fact that Groer was also seriously disturbed, sexually peverse, and had sexually abused over 2,000 boys and young men was not sufficient for Groer to ever lose JPII’s support. He died in 2003 having never admitted or faced responsibility for his crimes, and was honoured by the Church.
Groer, a Benedictine, Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna from 1986 to 1995, and President of the Austrian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, held on to these high ranking positions with JPII’s support despite being credibly accused of horrendous crimes. JPII actually likened the monstrous Groer to Jesus facing “unjust accusations”. Groer stonewalled wave after wave of convincing revelations against him for sexually abusing underage high school students while their headmaster, and young adult seminarians while their prior, and was even re-elected President of the Austrian Bishop’s Conference, a stunningly inappropriate choice.
Groer eventually retired as Archbishop of Vienna, largely because he was past retirement age, and finally lost support for his position as the head of the Bishops’ Conference in the face of growing outrage and millions of Austrians, Germans and other Europeans petitioning against him.
It took JPII three years before Groer was finally asked to relinquish any remaining important Church posts. Like Father Maciel, Groer was another favourite of JPII, an ultra-conservative who was successful in bringing new young priests into the Church.
Originally Austrian Bishops took the usual Church route of defending the indefensible, sweeping crimes under the carpet and attacking the victims, denouncing allegations against Groer as “a conspiracy against the Church”. But mounting evidence and Groer’s arrogant refusal to even respond to the scandal engulfing all of Europe, eventually changed their minds. In the end four leading Austrian Bishops publicly supported the allegations against him, forcing Groer to concede, ungraciously, “if I am guilty … I apologise”.
Still, JPII saw fit to appoint the criminal Cardinal Groer prior of a Benedictine abbey. An investigation was eventually launched by the head of the Benedictine order in Rome, but according to recent reports that investigation suffered the same fate as the investigation of Father Maciel. Certainly no results were ever revealed and no action was ever taken. But not because of lack of evidence.
Groer died, unpunished, unrepentant, maintaining his obdurate silence until the end, unchastened by the future Patron Saint of Paedophiles, who still favoured him with a privileged private breakfast meeting on a visit to Rome. JPII also encouraged Austrians to forget all about Groer’s crimes and accept the Church honouring his memory and treating him with undeserved dignity in death. JPII’s shocking lack of action over the audacious crimes of a leading Cardinal callously jeopardised the recovery of Groer’s thousands of victims whose lives had already been ruined, and drove tens of thousands of previously staunchly Catholic Austrians from the Church in disgust each year.
Reason No 3: Cardinal Bernard Francis Law
While never accused of himself attacking children, Cardinal Law was the first senior Church official about whom large numbers of documents were available to prove he actively participated in the cover-up of child rape. But no amount of proof or public calls for his resignation could convince this entitled prince of the Church that he was not fit to continue in his position as Archbishop of Boston. He steadfastly refused to step down, to remove rapist priests from ministry or to reveal the names of the criminal predators reporting to him, to the police or anyone else. Sufficient pressure was finally brought to bear and in December 2002 he vacated the position he had so scandalised. JPII, however, could not be offended with Law, who was another hardline conservative mindlessly following JPII’s dictates, so he allowed this disgraced and disgraceful Church official to retain the exalted position of Cardinal, which enabled Law to eventually vote for JPII’s successor in 2005.
It is reported that Law fled Boston just hours before state troopers arrived with subpoenas seeking his grand jury testimony. Law is currently in hiding in the Vatican, which does not believe in extraditing its officials to other countries to face questioning or take responsibility for their actions. There is a very good reason for this, since if Law were ever foolish enough to leave the safe refuge of the Vatican state, he would be immediately served with summonses for numerous civil suits, even though he slips through the cracks in criminal law. Not satisfied with rewarding Law with protection from American law and his personal support, JPII appointed Law to a prominent post in Rome, putting him in charge of the important Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, with the title of Archpriest. Fugitive Law also holds a large number of significant Vatican appointments on powerful Committees, Councils and Congregations.
The Massachusetts state attorney general issued a report entitled Child Sexual Abuse in the Archdiocese of Boston (July 23, 2003) which described the magnitude of the child sexual abuse problem in the diocese as “staggering” and severely criticised Law, finding evidence that Law knew about the scale and nature of the problem, and knew about the danger to children but chose secrecy over child protection. Law also refused to report criminal offences to the police and even when questioned, refused to reveal information that would assist police enquiries or protect children. The report noted that Law could not be charged because of the convenient protection of the statute of limitations which makes it almost impossible for crimes of this nature to be prosecuted. However most commentators are highly critical of this deficiency in the law and call for law reform to ensure in future we protect victims and potential victims rather than dangerous sexual predators and those who enable them.
Reason No 4: Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos
In September 2001, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the then prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, wrote to Bishop Pierre Pican of Bayeux-Lisieux, France, praising him effusively for not reporting a rapist priest to civil authorities. While the situation itself is far from unique, it is rare for such clear evidence of the Vatican’s twisted morality and willingness to sacrifice innocent children to be publicly revealed. Vatican insiders are usually much better at suppressing evidence of their dirty deeds.
The French priest, Father René Bissey, privately admitted sexually abusing more than one child, but his bishop permitted Father Bissey to remain in parish ministry and did absolutely nothing to help Bissey’s victims or discover the extent of his numerous crimes.
“I congratulate you for not denouncing a priest to the civil administration,” wrote Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos in the infamous letter. “You have acted well and I am pleased to have a colleague in the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and of all other bishops in the world, preferred prison to denouncing his son and priest.”
The cardinal explained relations between bishops and priests were not simply professional but had “very special links of spiritual paternity.” Bishops therefore had no obligation to testify against “a direct relative,” he stated. The letter cited Vatican documents and an epistle of Saint Paul to bolster its argument about special bishop-priest links.
“To encourage brothers in the episcopate in this delicate domain, this Congregation will send copies of this letter to all bishops’ conferences,” Castrillon Hoyos wrote.
Most commentators understand this worldwide promulgation of the letter to clearly convey the official message that obstructing justice and evading secular law in order to protect criminal priests is expected, even required, behaviour for Bishops, and that this missive must first have received the approval of JPII.
Despite the best efforts of Hoyos and Pican to keep the criminal predator Bissey out of jail and free to abuse more children, in 2000 Father Bissey received an 18-year prison sentence for raping a boy and sexually assaulting ten others between 1989 and 1996.
At Bissey’s trial Pican perjured himself by claiming no knowledge of Bissey’s crimes. Pican’s lie was revealed during Bissey’s own testimony when he admitted he had told his superiors about his crimes. Pican had also been told of the crimes by other Church officials and had known of complaints from Bissey’s victims for many years.
During his own trial in 2001 for failing to report the abuse, arrogant Bishop Pican admitted he would do the same again if the situation were repeated, and proudly claimed to have never turned anyone in. The first French Bishop in modern history to face trial, the magistrate concluded that Pican had “acted purely to protect the church from a scandal” but sentenced him to a mere three-month suspended sentence.
Reason No 5: Appointment of Hardline Bishops
Throughout JPII’s reign, his ambition for absolute and centralised control meant the appointment of new Bishops was seen as an opportunity to impose unthinking obedience to the Pope as the key criteria for episcopal selection. Anyone who had ever expressed the slightest opposition to JPII’s opinions was immediately excluded from consideration – permanently. The result is a whole generation of Bishops who are scared to deviate from Vatican edicts, make decisions in a moral vacuum, are hardline conservatives mindlessly loyal to Rome, obsessed with pleasing the Pope, mediocre, conformist, ambitious to a fault, ruthlessly deceitful, lacking intellectual independence or leadership skills, arrogantly unsympathetic to parishoners, and fixated on climbing the Vatican slippery pole of influence peddling, favouritism, prestige and power.
By putting in place Bishops whose only loyalty is to those who control promotion within the Church, the people the Bishops are meant to serve are treated as serfs to be exploited, not a community to be nurtured. Exactly the very worst type of people to be able to deal compassionately or honestly with victims of child sexual abuse. Exactly the situation that would lead to Bishops consistently bullying victims into silence, covering up any scandals and protecting child rapist priests.
According to commentator and sociologist Father Andrew Greeley, JPII’s appointees are largely “mean-spirited careerists – inept, incompetent, insensitive bureaucrats, who are utterly indifferent to their clergy and laity”. Certainly it does not take too much familiarity with these smug rich old men in dresses to realise they are self-interested thugs and yes men with no desire to do anything other than curry favour with the power brokers of the Vatican in order to advance their own prospects.
And there is little doubt that JPII, thinking only of his own need for control and dominance, liked things just the way they were and had no desire to appoint more talented or compassionate Bishops who may have been more able to honestly face the challenges presented by child rape within the Church.
John Paul II Gets A Second Look In Abuse Scandal
From the link: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125788687
As the Roman Catholic Church tries to defend Pope Benedict XVI from criticism over his handling of the clerical sex abuse scandal, the record of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, is also getting attention. New questions are being raised about whether the most popular pope of the last century played a role in covering up cases of sex abuse.
When John Paul died five years ago, millions of faithful poured into Rome for his funeral, chanting, “Santo subito” or “Make him a saint now.” Just two months later, Benedict XVI waived the usual five-year waiting period and put the Polish-born pope on the fast track to sainthood.
But in recent weeks, allegations have surfaced that the late pope — or at least members of his inner circle — obstructed an investigation into Marcial Maciel Degollado, the Mexican founder of the Legion of Christ who had both molested young boys and fathered several children with different women.
“It is clear now that during the ’80s or ’90s, there were important cases — for instance, the abuse case of the founder of the Legionaries of Christ — which were shelved in the Vatican, which were hushed up,” says veteran Vatican watcher Marco Politi.
‘Stronger Forces Within The Vatican’
Politi says John Paul’s longtime associate, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now the current pope, wanted to investigate Maciel.
“Ratzinger, as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, was pushing in order to open a proceeding against the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, but there were stronger forces within the Vatican who stopped him,” Politi says.
In 2006, now-Pope Benedict was finally able to banish Maciel. A long investigative report in the last issue of the National Catholic Reporter revealed that Maciel sent streams of money to the Vatican to buy support for his order.
The Italian weekly L’espresso estimates the Legion’s assets at more than $30 billion.
Paying The Price
Equally serious allegations concern the case of the late Austrian Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer, accused of abusing an estimated 2,000 boys over decades. His successor, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, has criticized the Vatican’s handling of that scandal when it emerged in 1995.
Schoenborn said officials close to Pope John Paul blocked an investigative commission. Schoenborn even revealed that then-Cardinal Ratzinger confided sadly, “The other party has prevailed.”
Vatican expert Sandro Magister says the Catholic Church is paying the price for its past sins.
“For a certain period, from the ’60s to the ’90s, in the U.S. as well as in Europe, there was a climate of sexual permissiveness, in which the gravity of sex abuse of minors was underestimated, and when priests were involved, even bishops looked the other way,” Magister says. “It’s not fair to pin the blame on John Paul II.”
A Church Beseiged?
Robert Mickens, Vatican correspondent for the British Catholic weekly, The Tablet, says that within the priesthood, there is a certain mistrust of the secular world. And the Polish pope, who grew up under totalitarian regimes, often saw the church besieged by the outside world, Mickens says.
“Those who wear the Roman collar, those who are part of all this, believe that they are maligned unfairly,” Mickens says. “John Paul II may have felt that this was again this onslaught of the Nazis or the communists, but now secularists, secularism, to discredit the church. If you look at what some people have been saying in the Vatican, that kind of paranoia has not gone away at all.”
In a letter written in 2001, then-Cardinal Ratzinger, under John Paul’s auspices, ordered all clerical sex abuse cases be sent to his department and that all cases be subject to pontifical secrecy. His No. 2 at the time, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said in a 2002 interview, “It seems to me there is no basis for demanding that a bishop be obliged to turn to civil magistrates and denounce a priest who has confided to him to have committed the crime of pedophilia.”
As the Vatican and the pope face threats of lawsuits and even criminal proceedings in some countries, Vatican officials are now insisting that the Holy See has always recommended to its bishops that they report abusive priests to the police.
HOW SURVIVORS HAVE CHANGED HISTORY by Thomas P.Doyle, O.P.
Set forth below is Fr. Thomas P. Doyle, O.P.’s extremely important address on August 2, 2014 at SNAP’s 25th Anniversary Convention in Chicago.
A letter sent by the Vicar General of the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana to the papal nuncio in June, 1984, was the trigger that set in motion a series of events that has changed the fate of the victims of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and clergy of all denominations. The letter informed the nuncio that the Gastel family had decided to withdraw from a confidential monetary settlement with the diocese. It went on to say they had obtained the services of an attorney and planned to sue the diocese.
This long process has had a direct impact on much more than the fate of victims and the security of innocent children and vulnerable persons of any age. It has altered the image and role of the institutional Catholic Church in western society to such an extent that the tectonic plates upon which this Church rests have shifted in a way never expected or dreamed of thirty years ago.
I cannot find language that can adequately communicate the full import of this monstrous phenomenon. The image of a Christian Church that enabled the sexual and spiritual violation of its most vulnerable members and when confronted, responded with institutionalized mendacity and utter disregard for the victims cannot be adequately described as a “problem,” a “crisis” or a “scandal.” The widespread sexual violation of children and adults by clergy and the horrific response of the leadership, especially the bishops, is the present-day manifestation of a very dark and toxic dimension of the institutional Church. This dark side has always existed. In our era it has served as the catalyst for a complex and deeply rooted process that can be best described as a paradigm shift. The paradigm for responding to sexual abuse by clergy has shifted at its foundation. The paradigm for society’s understanding of and response to child sexual abuse had begun to shift with the advent of the feminist movement in the early seventies but was significantly accelerated by the mid-eighties. The paradigm of the institutional Church interacting in society has shifted and continues to do so as the forces demanding justice, honesty and accountability by the hierarchy continue their relentless pressure. The Catholic monolith, once accepted by friend and foe alike as a rock-solid monarchy, is crumbling.
The single most influential and forceful element in this complex historical process has not been the second Vatican Council. It has been the action of the victims of sexual abuse.
There are a few of us still standing who have been in the midst of this mind and soul-boggling phenomenon from the beginning of the present era. We have been caught up and driven by the seemingly never-ending chain of events, revelations, and explosions that have marked it from the very beginning and will continue to mark it into the future.
It has had a profound impact on the belief systems and the spirituality of many directly and indirectly involved. My own confidence and trust in the institutional church has been shattered. I have spent years trying to process what has been happening to the spiritual dimension of my life. The vast enormity of a deeply ingrained clerical culture that allowed the sexual violation of the innocent and most vulnerable has overshadowed the theological, historical and cultural supports upon which the institutional Church has based its claim to divinely favored status. All of the theological and canonical truths I had depended upon have been dissipated to meaninglessness.
Some of us who have supported victims have been accused of being dissenters from orthodox church teaching. We have been accused of being anti-Catholic, using the sexual abuse issue to promote active disagreement with Church positions on various sexual issues. These accusations are complete nonsense. This is not a matter of dissent or agreement with Church teachings. It is about the sexual violations of countless victims by trusted Church members. It is not a matter of anti-Catholic propaganda but direct opposition to Church leaders, policies or practices that enable the perpetrators of sexual abuse and demonize the victims. It is not a matter of defaming the Church’s image. No one has done a better job of that than the bishops themselves.
For some of us the very concept of a personal or anthropocentric god has also been destroyed, in great part by an unanswerable question: If there is a loving god watching over us, why does he allow his priests and bishops to violate the bodies and destroy the souls of so many innocent children?”
Those of us who have been in twelve step movements are familiar with the usual format recommended for speakers: we base our stories on a three-part outline – what it was like before, what happened, and what it is like now. This is the format I want to use as I look back on thirty years and try to describe where I think we have been and where we are going. Much to the chagrin of the hard-core cheerleaders for the institutional Church, there is no question that the victims and survivors of the Church’s sexual abuse and spiritual treachery have set in motion a process that has changed and will continue to change the history of the Catholic Church. The Catholic experience has prompted members of other denominations to acknowledge sexual abuse in their midst and demand accountability. It has also forever altered the response of secular society to the once untouchable Churches.
What It Was Like Before.
The basic facts need no elaboration. The default response to a report of child, adolescent or adult sexual abuse was first to enshroud it in an impenetrable blanket of secrecy. The perpetrator was shifted to another assignment. The victim was intimidated into silence. The media knew nothing and if law enforcement of civil officials were involved, they deferred to the bishop “for the good of the Church.”
A small number of perpetrators were sent to special church-run institutions that treated them in secrecy and in many instances, released them to re-enter ministry. The founder of the most influential of these, Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, firmly believed that no priest who had violated a child or minor should ever be allowed back in ministry and should be dismissed from the priesthood. He made his unequivocal beliefs known to bishops, to the prefect of the Holy Office (1962) and to Pope Paul VI in a private audience in 1963. He was ignored.
The Lafayette case involving Gilbert Gauthe was the beginning of the end of the default template. I suspect that none of the major players in the case had any idea of the magnitude of what they were involved in. I was one of them and I certainly could never have imagined how this would all play out.
The Lafayette case sparked attention because of the systemic cover-up that had gone on from before Gilbert Gauthe was ordained and continued past his conviction and imprisonment (see In God’s House, a novel by Ray Mouton, based on the events of this case). Jason Berry was singlehandedly responsible for opening up the full extent of the ecclesiastical treachery to the public. Other secular media followed suit. The story was picked up by the national media and before long other reports of sexual abuse by priests were coming in from parishes and dioceses not only in the deep south but in other parts of the country (Required reading! Lead Us Not Into Temptation by Jason Berry).
The report or manual, authored by Ray Mouton, Mike Peterson and I, is the result of our belief that the bishops didn’t know how to proceed when faced with actual cases of sexual violation and rape by priests. Many of the bishops I spoke to at the time admitted they were bewildered about what to do. None expected the series of explosions that were waiting just over the horizon. I asked several if a document or short manual of some sort would help and the responses were uniformly affirmative. Some of the bishops I consulted with were men I had grown to respect and trust. I believed they would support whatever efforts we suggested to deal with the developing, potentially explosive situation. Peterson, Mouton and I did not see it as an isolated, one-time “problem.” Rather, we saw it is as a highly toxic practice of the clerical culture that needed to be recognized and rectified.
Some of the men I consulted with and to whom I turned for support and guidance, in time became major players in the national nightmare. The two most prominent were Bernard Law and Anthony Bevilacqua, both men whom I once counted as friends.
It was not long before I realized that the major force of opposition was the central leadership of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the General Secretariat in particular. We had initially hoped the Bishops’ conference would look at the manual and consider the action proposals that accompanied it. The main blockage was, I believe, at the level of the general secretariat and the executive leadership. It was bad enough that they simply ignored the effort to help but they delivered a serious blow to their credibility when they made public statements to the effect that they knew everything that was in the manual and already had programs and protocols in place. When questioned by the media about this they were forced to admit that these protocols and policies were not written down.
Throughout this period the three of us were hopeful that the opposition was not representative of the entire hierarchical leadership. We wanted to believe that the pushback from the Conference was the reaction of a small group and that it was based on a turf battle between the Bishops Conference and the Papal nuncio. Our realization that the reactionary attitude was more extensive began when the bishops, through the office of the general council, publicly accused Mouton, Peterson and I of creating the manual and the making the recommended action proposals because we saw the growing problem as a potential source of profit and hoped to sell our services to the various dioceses. At this point the three of us had to accept the painful reality that episcopal leadership was far more interested in their own image and power than in the welfare of the victims. It was becoming very clear that in the Church we were trying to help, integrity was a scarce commodity.
At the recent Vatican celebrations for Saint John XXIII and former pope John Paul II, George Weigel and Joaquin Navarro-Valls created an outrageous fantasy about the role of John Paul II, claiming that he knew nothing until after the 2002 Boston debacle. This was a blatant lie. John Paul II was given a 42 page detailed report on the sex abuse and cover-up in Lafayette LA during the last week of February 1985. It was sent as justification for the request from the papal nuncio that a bishop be appointed to go to Lafayette to try to find out exactly what was going on. The report was carried to Rome by Cardinal Krol of Philadelphia precisely because the nuncio wanted it to go directly to the pope and not be sidetracked by lower level functionaries. The pope read the report and within four days the requested appointment came through. The bishop in question was the late A.J. Quinn of Cleveland who turned out to be a big part of the problem rather than a part of the solution.
Quinn visited Lafayette two times and accomplished nothing. We were suspicious of his intentions by the end of 1985 and quite certain by 1986. In 1988 he wrote to the nuncio: “The truth is, Doyle and Mouton want the Church in the United States to purchase their expensive and controvertible leadership in matters relating to pedophilia…The Church has weathered worse attacks…So too will the pedophile annoyance eventually abate.” (Quinn to Laghi, Jan. 8, 1988). Archbishop Laghi didn’t buy it, evident from his cover letter to me: “While I do not subscribe to the conclusions drawn in this correspondence, I want you to know of some of the sentiments expressed in some quarters…” (Laghi to Doyle, Jan. 18, 1988). In 1990 Quinn addressed the Canon Law Society of America and advised that if bishops found information in priests’ files they did not want seen they should send the files to the papal nuncio to be shielded by diplomatic immunity. Quinn, a civil lawyer as well as a canon lawyer, was then subjected to disbarment proceedings as a result of his unethical suggestion.
The papal nuncio, the late Cardinal Pio Laghi, was supportive of our efforts and was in regular telephone contact with the Vatican. There were very few actual written reports sent over although all of the media stories we received were transmitted to the Holy See. Cardinal Silvio Oddi, then the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, visited the nunciature in June and asked to be briefed. I was deputed for the task. By then we had more information on the rapidly growing number of cases in all parts of the country. I recall that by that time we were aware of 42 cases, which I naively thought was a very significant number. I prepared a lengthy report that was not only detailed but also graphic in its content. I read the report to the cardinal and responded to his many questions. At the end of the meeting at which only he and I were present, he announced that he would take this information back to the Holy Father. “Then there will be a meeting of the heads of all the dicasteries [Vatican congregations] and we will issue a decree.” I understand that he did take the information to the pope but there never was a meeting of the heads and no decree ever came forth.
Our efforts to get the bishops’ conference to even consider the issues we set forth in our manual, much less take decisive action, were a total failure. Looking back from the perspective of thirty years direct experience, I believe they acted in the only way they knew how which was completely self-serving with scandalous lack of sympathy for the victims and their families. There were individual bishops who were open to exploring the right way to proceed but the conference, which represented all of the bishops, was interested in controlling the fallout and preserving their stature and their power.
We sent individual copies of the manual to every bishop in the U.S. on December 8, 1985. By then we still had hope that perhaps someone would read it and stand up at the conference meetings and call the bishops’ attention to what we had insisted was the most important element, namely the compassionate care of the victims.
In October 1986 Mike Peterson had flown to the Vatican to speak with officials at the Congregation for Religious and the Congregation for Clergy. He was in a better position than anyone else to expose this issue to them because he knew how serious and extensive the problem of sexually dysfunctional priests was from his experience as director of St. Luke Institute. He returned from Rome dejected, angry and discouraged. I remember picking him up at the airport and going to dinner. They not only were not interested but brushed his concerns off as an exaggeration of a non-problem. Mike was willing to keep trying with the American bishops. He arranged for a hospitality suite at the hotel where the bishops were having their annual November meeting. He invited every bishop to come and discuss the matter of sexual abuse of minors by the clergy. There were over three hundred bishops present. Eight showed up.
Between 1986 and 2002 there were several important developments in the unfolding history of clergy sexual abuse. I would like to mention a few that influenced the historical process.
1. The bishops addressed the issue secretly in their annual meetings. The direction was consistent: defense of the dioceses and the bishops. There was never any mention of care for the victims.
2. The media continued to cover the issue from coast to coast generally showing sympathy for the victims and outrage at the Church’s systemic cover-up.
3. Pope John Paul II wrote a letter to the US bishops in June 1993 which clearly revealed his attitude.
4. The bishops formed a committee in 1993 and produced a four-volume handbook. The handbook and the committee had no appreciable impact.
5. There were increasing cases of sexual abuse brought before the civil courts. There were also several very public explosions during this period: the Thomas Adamson related cases in St. Paul; St. Anthony Seminary, Santa Barbara CA; St. Lawrence Seminary, Mt. Calvary WI; Fr. James Porter, Massachusetts; the Rudy Kos trial, Dallas, 1997. None of these jarred the bishops loose from their arrogant, defensive position and none served as a sufficient wake-up call for the broad base of lay support for the bishops.
6. The “problem” which John Paul II declared was unique to the United States, was amplified in other countries: Mt. Cashel, St. John’s Newfoundland, 1989; Brendan Smyth and the fall of the Irish government in December 1994; the exposure and forced resignation of Hans Cardinal Groer, archbishop of Vienna, September 1995. So much for the U.S. as the scapegoat!
7. SNAP was founded by Barbara Blaine and The Linkup by Jeanne Miller in 1989.
8. The first gathering of clergy abuse victims took place in Arlington IL in October 1992, sponsored by the Linkup. The main speakers were Jason Berry, Richard Sipe, Andrew Greeley, Jeff Anderson and Tom Doyle.
9. In 1999 John Paul II ordered the canonical process against Marcial Maciel-Degollado, founder and supreme leader of the Legion of Christ, shelved. In 2006 Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged the truth of Maciel’s crimes against minors and removed him from ministry. In 2009 the Vatican announced that Maciel had led a double life, having six possible children with two women.
The pope made a total of 11 public statements about clergy sexual abuse between 1993 and his death in 2005. The letters showed little comprehension of the horrific nature of the problem and no acknowledgement of the bishops’ enabling role. The culprits were, in the pope’s eyes, secular materialism, media sensationalism and sinful priests. He never even acknowledged much less responded to the thousands of requests from individual victims.
The U.S. bishops issued a handful of press releases and a number of intramural statements, most of which came from the office of the General Council. To their credit their general counsel sent out a memo to all bishops in 1988 which contained suggested actions which, had they not been ignored by the bishops, might have made a significant difference.
The bishops’ approach in the U.S. and elsewhere followed a standard evolutionary process: denial, minimization, blame shifting and devaluation of challengers. The bishop’s carefully scripted apologies expressed their regret for the pain suffered. Never once did they apologize for what they had done to harm the victims. Likewise there was never any concern voiced by the Vatican or the bishops’ conference about the spiritual and emotional damage done to the victims by the abuse itself and by the betrayal by the hierarchy. It became clear by the end of the nineties that the problem was not simply recalcitrant bishops. It was much more fundamental. The barrier to doing the right thing was deeply embedded in the clerical culture itself.
January 6, 2002 stands out as a pivotal date in the evolution of the clergy abuse phenomenon. The Boston revelations had an immediate and lasting impact that surprised even the most cynical. I was not surprised by the stories because I had been in conversations first with Kristin Lombardi who wrote a series based on the same facts for the Boston Phoenix in March 2001 and later with the Globe Spotlight Team. The continuous stream of media stories of what the bishops had been doing in Boston and elsewhere provoked widespread public outrage.
The bishops’ cover-up of sexual abuse and the impact on victims were the subject of special reports by all of the major news networks and countless stories in the print media. Newsweek, Time, U.S. News and World Report and the Economist all published cover stories about the “scandal.” The number of lawsuits dramatically increased and the protective deference on the part of law enforcement and civil officials, once counted on by the clerical leadership, was rapidly eroding. Grand jury investigations were launched in three jurisdictions within two months with several more to follow. It was all too much for the bishops to handle. They could not control it. They could not ignore it and they could not minimize it or make it go away.
The most visible result of the many-sided pressure on the hierarchy was the Dallas meeting. This was not a proactive pastorally sensitive gesture on the part of the bishops. It was defensive damage control, choreographed by the public relations firm of R.F. Binder associates. The meeting included addresses by several victim/survivors (David Clohessy, Michael Bland, Craig Martin, Paula Rohbacker), a clinical psychologist (Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea), a lay theologian (Scott Appleby), a Catholic author (Margaret O’Brien Steinfels). The tangible result of the meeting was the Charter for the Protection of Young People and the Essential Norms. The impact of Charter and the Norms has clearly been mixed. The lofty rhetoric of the bishops in the charter has not been followed up with action, to no one’s surprise.
The Essential Norms have not been uniformly and consistently followed. As proof we can look to the steady number of exceptions from 2002 whereby known perpetrators are either allowed to remain in ministry or are put back in ministry. The National Review Board showed promise at the beginning, especially after the publication of its extensive report in 2004. This promise sputtered and died as the truly effective members of the board left when they realized the bishops weren’t serious, and were replaced by others who essentially did nothing but hold positions on an impotent administrative entity that served primarily as an unsuccessful public relations effort to support the bishops’ claim that they were doing something.
Sexual violation of minors by clerics of all ranks has been part of the institution and the clerical culture since the days of the primitive Christian communities. Over the centuries the stratified model of the Church, with the clergy in the dominant role and the laity relegated to passive obedience, has held firm and allowed the hierarchy to maintain control over the issue of sexually dysfunctional clerics who, by the way, have ranged from sub-deacons to popes.
The paradigm shift, evident in the institutional Church since the years leading up to Vatican Council II, laid the foundation for a radically different response in the present era. The victim/survivors, their supporters and the secular society have shaped and guided the direction and evolution of the clergy sexual abuse nightmare. The Vatican and the bishops throughout the world have remained on the defensive and have never been able to gain any semblance of control. Those very few bishops who have publicly sided with the survivors have been marginalized and punished. The general response has been limited to the well-tuned rhetoric of public statements, sponsorship of a variety of child-safety programs, constant promises of change and enlightenment and above all, the investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in attorneys who have used every tactic imaginable and many that are not imaginable to defeat and discredit victims and prevent their clients from being held accountable. The apologetic public statements, filled with regret and assurances of a better tomorrow, are worthless from the get-go, rendered irrelevant and insulting by the harsh reality of the brutal tactics of the bishops’ attack dogs.
While the institutional Church has essentially remained in neutral, various segments of civil society have reacted decisively. Between 1971 and 2013 there have been at least 72 major reports issued about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The early reports (three in the seventies) were about sexual dysfunction in general among the clergy but since 1985 they have been about sexual abuse of minors. Some of these have been commissioned by official bodies and are the result of extensive investigations such as the U.S. Grand Jury reports, the Belgian Parliamentary Report and the Irish Investigation Commission Reports. They come from several countries in North America and Europe. A study of the sections on causality has shown a common denominator: the deliberately inadequate and counter-productive responses and actions of the bishops.
The unfolding of the events in this contemporary era can be divided into three phases: the first begins in 1984 and culminates at the end of 2001. The second begins with the Boston revelations and extends to the beginning of 2010. The present phase began in March 2010 when the case of Lawrence Murphy of Milwaukee revealed that the Vatican was directly connected to the cover-up. In this case, in spite of the pleas of an archbishop (Weakland) and two bishops (Fliss and Sklba) that Murphy, who had violated at least 200 deaf boys, by laicized, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with Ratzinger as Prefect, refused. Instead, he allowed the culprit to live out his days as a priest.
The three phases are arbitrary demarcation points based on the level of exposure of the Church’s true policies and actions. The difference is only in the depth and extent of information discovered about the bishops’ responses to decades of reports of sexual violation by clerics.
In 1993 and 1994 Pope John Paul II attempted to persuade the world that sexual abuse by clergy was an American problem, caused primarily by media exaggerations, materialism and failure to pray. At the conclusion of his first public statement on sexual abuse, a 1993 letter to the U.S. bishops, he said, “Yes dear brothers, America needs much prayer lest it lose its soul.” It is ironic that this comment came from the leader of an organization that had not so much lost but gave up its soul. By 2014 there was no doubt anywhere that geographic boundaries are irrelevant. This highly toxic dimension of the institutional Church and its clerical sub culture has been exposed in country after country on every continent except Antarctica, where there are no bishops, no priests, and no minors. The presence of God is found in a few scientists, some U.S. military and a lot of penguins.
The focus had finally shifted to the Vatican. In September 2011 the Center for Constitutional Rights assisted in the filing of a case before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. In January 2014 the U.N. Commission on the Rights of the Child delivered a blistering criticism of the Vatican’s response to sexual abuse by clerics. In May 2014 the U.N. Commission on Torture issued a report equally critical of the Vatican’s handling of sexual abuse claims and its opposition to U.N. policies. This is truly momentous. The world’s largest religious denomination has been called to account by the community of nations.
What Its Like Now
The foregoing paragraphs have provided a sparse but factually correct description of the second element of the 12 Step presentation, “What Happened.” Now I would like to shift the focus to “What Its Like Now.” Any conclusions at this point, thirty years later, are obviously very temporary since this is not the end of the issue but simply a milestone along the way.
I’d like to summarize by asserting that in spite of all that has happened since 1984, I do not believe there has been any fundamental change in the hierarchy. It may be true that individual bishops have either changed or have been compassionately supportive all along but in general the hierarchy is behaving today just as it did in 1985. The dramatic events in St. Paul-Minneapolis are the latest example of this intransigence. After all that has been revealed over these thirty years, one would think that the constant exposure of the official Church’s duplicity and dishonesty as well as the vast amount of information we have about the destructive effects of sexual abuse on the victims and their families, would cause some substantial change in attitude, direction and behavior. The bishops and even the pope have claimed they have done more to protect children than any other organization. There may be some validity to this claim but what is also true is that there has not been a single policy, protocol or program that was not forced on them. In 30 years they have not taken a single proactive move to assist victims or extend any semblance of compassionate pastoral care. Programs and policies promoting awareness or mandating background checks do nothing for the hundreds of thousands of suffering victims. The bishops as a group have done nothing for them either because they will not or more probably because they cannot.
There seems to be little sense in continuing to demand that bishops change their attitudes or at least their behavior. We have been beating our heads against the wall for a quarter of a century and the best we can hope for is that the sound will reverberate somewhere out in the Cosmos and eventually cause a stir before the end of time or the Second Coming, whichever comes first.
The institutional Church’s abject failure has revealed fundamental deficiencies in essential areas, all of which have been directly instrumental in perpetrating and sustaining the tragic culture of abuse:
1. The erroneous belief that the monarchical governmental structure of the Church was intended by god and justifies the sacrifice of innocent victims “
2. The belief that priests and bishops are superior to lay persons, entitled to power and deference because they are ontologically different and uniquely joined to Christ.
3. A lay spirituality that is dependent on the clergy and gauged by the degree of submission to them and unquestioned obedience to all church laws and authority figures.
4. An obsession with doctrinal orthodoxy and theological formulations that bypasses the realities of human life and replaces mercy and charity as central Catholic values.
5. An understanding of human sexuality that is not grounded in the reality of the human person but in a bizarre theological tradition that originated with the pre-Christian stoics and was originally formulated by celibate males of questionable psychological stability.
6. The clerical subculture that has propagated the virus of clericalism, which has perpetuated a severely distorted value system that has influenced clergy and laity alike.
Has Pope Francis brought a new ray of hope? I believe he is a significantly different kind of pope but he is still a product of the monarchical system and he is still surrounded by a bureaucracy that could hinder or destroy any hopes for the radical change that is needed if the institutional Church is to rise about the sex abuse nightmare and become what it is supposed to be, the People of God. The victims and indeed the entire Church are tired of the endless stream of empty statements and unfulfilled promises. The time for apologies, expressions of regret and assurances of change is long gone. Action is needed and without it the pope and bishops today will simply be more names in the long line of hierarchs who have failed the victims and failed the church.
I believe there is reason to hope, not because of the engaging personality of Pope Francis. This pope’s overtures to victims are grounded on three decades of courageous efforts by survivors. Without these efforts nothing would have changed. Survivors have changed the course of history for the Church and have accelerated the paradigm shift. If the Catholic Church is to be known not as a gilded monarchy of increasing irrelevance but as the People of God, the change in direction hinted at by the new pope’s words and actions are crucial and if he does lead the way to a new image of the Body of Chris it will be due in great part because the survivors have led the way for him.
Thomas P. Doyle, J.C.D., C.D.A.C.
Annual SNAP Conference, Chicago, Illinois
August 2, 2014
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.”
The Dark Legacy of Pope Benedict XVI
By Matthew Fox Posted: 02/20/2013 12:32 pm
The pope has chosen to step down, the first pope in seven centuries to do so. As a Christian, I witness his legacy, and that of his predecessor, with profoundly mixed feelings: outrage over the crimes committed against the people of God, and relief that the masks covering the corruption of the papacy have at last been removed.
I see that the 42-year reign of the past two popes has so destroyed the church we once knew that now the Holy Spirit can give birth to a community far more attuned to the revolutionary Gospel of Jesus than the current and dying structures ever could be. More than ever, we recognize the warning of historian Lord Acton after Vatican Council I defined papal infallibility: “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
We have witnessed how Cardinal Martini on his deathbed, issued a damning call to action to a church “200 years behind the times.” We have witnessed the retaliation of the past two popes against theologians and pastoral ministers who have dared to dissent for the sake of social justice, eco-justice, gender and gender preference justice: 105 and more have been and continue to be hounded, silenced and expelled.
So as one of these dissidents, speaking now from outside the Vatican’s punitive reach, I offer a short list of some of the issues for which history will hold Ratzinger accountable, both as cardinal and as pope (I offer page numbers of my study on his life and papacy in my book, “The Pope’s War: How Ratzinger’s Crusade Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved,” to see the backup evidence).
- His silence for years about the notorious pedophile priest Father Maciel, who was so close to Pope John Paul II that he was often invited on the papal plane — and who sexually abused dozens of his seminarians, had two wives on the side and sexually abused his own children. Fr. Maciel was not fully investigated until 2005 even though a New York bishop reported his actions to Ratzinger’s office in 1995 (125-130).
- His attacks while head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly “Office of the Holy Inquisition”) on theologians and pastoral leaders the world over who dared to do their job which is to think (they are listed on page 238-241 but the list keeps growing).
- His (and his predecessor’s) bringing back the Inquisition and dumbing-down the church, educing theology to 1) a catechism and 2) agreement with the dictates of the pope and his curia. History does not remember Torquemada as a theologian; neither will they remember Ratzinger as one.
- His unrelenting attacks on base communities and Liberation Theology even though this movement, like the civil rights movement of the U.S., was the most Christ-like movement for democracy and justice and freedom in centuries (41-62).
- His (and the previous pope’s) promotion of neo-fascist sects as the new “religious orders,” including Opus Dei, which is now embedded in places of great power including the financial headquarters of E.U., the U.S. Supreme Court, the CIA (especially under George Bush the first), FBI and the U.S. mainstream media (106-124).
- His and the previous pope’s support for extreme right wing groups from Maciel’s Legion of Christ to Communion and Liberation to Opus Dei (130-144). Opus Dei members are being placed as bishops and cardinals in Latin America and now in North America: Los Angeles, the biggest North American diocese, is run by an Opus Dei bishop. Likewise the diocese of Kansas City, whose bishop is convicted of covering up for a predatory priest but refuses to step down.
- His destroying the integrity of the canonization process by eliminating the role of “devil’s advocate” in pointing out the shadow side of the candidate. With this obstacle out of the way, Ratzinger pushed through the canonization of the founder of Opus Dei, Fr. Escriva — a recognized fascist who praised Hitler — faster than any saint in history (106-125).
- His covering up the scandal of pedophile clergy and putting the image of the Catholic church ahead of the rights of young children in the U.S., in Ireland and elsewhere. The recent HBO film “Mea Maxima Culpa” tells the facts about some of these horrors and how the buck stopped with Ratzinger (134-174).
- His public disrespect for other faiths and disavowal of religious ecumenism. Ratzinger as pope managed to insult Islam, Judaism, all Protestant churches (saying they are not churches) and the mind-body-spirit practice of yoga. As cardinal he presaged this anti-ecumenical attitude, unbelievably calling the globally revered Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hahn, “the anti-Christ” (260).
- His absolute reaffirmation of a “morality” of sexism (no women priests ever; Catholic sisters in America are now being subjected to inquisitions as theologians have been; priests who support women are dismissed — but pedophile priests are not!).
- His un-Christlike diatribes against gay persons, borne out in not one but two documents: his ignoring scientific research on homosexuality has created another Galileo moment in church history.
- His irresponsible positions against condoms even in an age of AIDS and against birth control in a time of excessive human population on a crowded planet. His positions on sexuality are all about St. Augustine’s antiquated ethics and not anything Jesus ever taught.
- His interference in the presidential election of 2004, wherein Ratzinger instructed American bishops that any “Catholic politician” (i.e. Kerry) who did not denounce gays and abortion could not receive communion. This resulted in three states having very unusual Republican votes from Catholics — if just one of them had had a more normal Catholic vote, Kerry, not Bush, would have been president.
With such a track record as this, Father Ratzinger is right to retire. Unfortunately, because he and his predecessor appointed only yes men as cardinals, one should not expect any improvement in the next pope.
Instead, we should recognize that history has passed the papacy by. Now is the time for the Holy Spirit to push the restart button on Christianity — both Catholic and Protestant versions — so as to strip down to the essence of Jesus’ teaching and the Cosmic Christ tradition.
Christianity can be rebuilt without basilicas on our backs but mere backpacks. Travel lightly. Walk humbly. Do justice. And peace will follow.
Pederast Marcel Maciel and His Partners in Crime
From the link: http://www.envio.org.ni/articulo/4169
It won’t be possible to save the Legion from its greatest Legionary, pederast Marcel Maciel, a sex abuser for sixty years disguised as a priest. The networks of collusion that allowed this monster to hide his perversions implicate former Pope John Paul II and the current Pope Benedict XVI. The scandal has shaken Mexico and the wound in the Church won’t easily heal over.
The Mexican Marcial Maciel was born in the Michoacan town of Cotija, in 1920. Twenty-one years later he founded the Legion of Christ. Its members call themselves and are known as “Legionaries.” Maciel’s theological and historical education was too meager to allow him to understand that Christ made disciples, while legions were an instrument of domination belonging to the Roman Empire.
Years of violations
Maciel was ordained a priest in 1944. Two years later he traveled to Spain with a first group of young people. In 1950 he set up a study center of the Legion in Rome and in 1959 a lay movement he called Regnum Christi. During that time he published a document he called “The Psalter of my days,” which the Legionaries considered their spiritual guide. It was actually brazen plagiary: 80% was a copy of a book by Spanish Catholic politician Luis Lucia, who died in Valencia in 1943.
By the late fifties Marciel was already subjected to a canonical process for accusations of pederasty. Despite the evidence, the Roman Curia chose to take no action. In 1965 Rome officially recognized the congregation of Legionaries. Maciel had a knack for ingratiating himself with important people in the Vatican bureaucracy and the religious elites of the business classes in the countries to which his organization spread. From the end of the seventies right up to the early nineties he was an active promoter of John Paul II’s trips to Mexico.
At the end of the nineties the Vatican received documentation on another suit against Maciel for pederasty, this time from several former Legionaries. Ratzinger, who was the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the time, chose to shelve it so John Paul II wouldn’t have to quarrel with Maciel. Not until 2006, once he was Pope Benedict XVI, did Ratzinger decide to punish the Legion’s founder, but tried to do it with a low profile. He ordered Maciel to leave Rome, renounce all priestly public ministries and lead the life of a recluse. In early 2008, Maciel died without ever facing justice for his serious crimes.
They protect, silence, transfer, scatter…
In 2006 Mexican academic Fernando González published Marcial Maciel. Los legionarios de Cristo: testimonios y documentos inéditos (The Legion of Christ: unpublished testaments and documents) (Tusquets, 2006), a meticulous investigation into the pederasty of the Legion’s founder and the network of accomplices to it both in that organization and the Catholic ecclesiastical elite. Later, he gave another turn of the screw with revelations and analyses of these criminal practices in the book: La Iglesia del Silencio. De mártires y pederastas (The Church of Silence. Of martyrs and pederasts) (Tusquets, 2009). In the second part of this book González offers new data and new sources about the sexual abuse of Pope John Paul II’s protégée. Emphasizing how difficult it is to investigate the sexual activity of the clergy, he documents accusations that have been made all over the world in recent years by those who have suffered sexual abuse, silence and subterfuge from priests.
The most discordant aspect of these cases is that the abusers betray the trust placed in them and make defenseless victims out of those delivered into their care. Those who have been raped become entrapped as partners in crime and the pederasts protect themselves from accusations by invoking a supposed “moral martyrdom”. The author examines the Catholic Church’s diverse institutional strategies to deal with the perverted sexuality of these religious officials, protecting the institution over and above the human rights of those affected, revealing it as institutional behavior and structural hypocrisy. They silence, control, relocate and scatter. Trying to avoid scandal, they undermine the accusers and hearten the protected abuser into continuing his abuses in the many places to which they transfer him.
John Paul II: An institutional accomplice
González’s book details the case of Marcial Maciel, drug addict and pederast. Every time he was accused, his organization and a variety of bishops rallied to his defense, alleging the Church was being attacked. The organization Maciel set up was based on business logic with many links to powerful economic and religious interests.
The author examines how the victims, through shame and a feeling of guilt, usually keep quiet about the abuse. In order to cover himself, Maciel invented a special vow that obliged members of his congregation to maintain silence on the subject of his perversions and dirty business, in which they would swear not to criticize their superior. He was accountable to no one. He lived a double life in an organization that shielded him. The Legion became a cult to the personality of its founder.
In the first wave of accusations in the fifties, most of the accusers ended up lying before an incipient and soon aborted Vatican investigation. The accusers were maligned and the abuser transformed into a martyr. John Paul II was his institutional accomplice. When Ratzinger was a cardinal, he too protected Maciel. In 1998 he blocked the case and in 2001 modified the Canonical Code of Law to give Maciel a way out: the crime of absolving an accomplice would have a 10-year statute of limitations. This gave the abuser an escape route and left the victims with no possibility of proving their accusations in court. The book shows that Maciel went unpunished thanks to this collusion.
Faced with a landslide of evidence
González shows that when the mounting evidence of Maciel’s excesses and crimes could no longer be hidden, ecclesiastical logic dictated that the Legion’s founder be removed from the scene, thus saving the organization. After Maciel’s death the Vatican preferred to condemn him publicly for having women and children without mentioning his pederast habits and his addiction to drugs. Instead of recognizing its founder’s crimes and the complicity of many of the organization’s members, the Legionaries took refuge in a watered-down acknowledgment that Maciel was human and as such had “failings”.
González’s book shows that the group of accusers, who demanded justice for years, made thinkable what had hitherto remained in the realm of the improbable. In spite of the religious authorities’ tendency to neutralize protest, the accusations began to find their own way. It was proved that relations existed between money, power and sex in the religious world. The network of complicity woven by the Catholic hierarchy was also revealed. It became clear that John Paul II protected the pederast Maciel in both practical and moral terms. Negotiations between Vatican authorities and the Legion’s leaders got them to accept that Maciel had fathered children, but both in Rome and in the congregation of Legionaries, highly stultified arguments were advanced to try and save the figure of Maciel, rhetorically asking how a pederast, if that’s what he really was, could possibly have managed to set up such an important educational enterprise, as if being a pederast prevented one from being a good businessman…
The far-reaching network of complicity woven by Maciel was weakened in the end by a landslide of evidence. Accusations by former Legionaries brought down the vow of silence, the wall raised by the founder, his congregation and the Catholic hierarchy. But one question remains to be answered: how could Maciel have seduced so many? Fernando González admits there is still much to investigate, but there’s no doubt that an institutional wound has been opened in the Catholic Church that won’t heal.
Sex and money went hand in hand
The Legion numbers 125 religious houses, 900 priests, 3,000 seminarians, 70,000 lay volunteers, 150 schools and 9 universities in 22 countries. In Rome it had one of the main pontifical universities. Its assets are estimated to be worth 20.5 billion Euros.
Among the Legionaries there’s a “charisma” of pretence, lies and pederasty bequeathed by the founder that isn’t dispelled just by taking his portraits off the walls. González provides important information on a network of pederasts in one of the Legion’s schools, showing how durable inter-generational chains are being forged.
The author emphasizes that Maciel conducted his racket with savoir faire and his disciples have gambled on not being discovered. González points to a crucial vein: that of money. The organization’s current authorities say they don’t know how their founder managed the money for his double life, but they want us to accept that they, of course, do it honestly. If a truly serious ecclesiastical investigation were opened into the Legionaries, it would have to analyze the provenance and use of the organization’s money.
The second part of González’s book has three annexes. The first shows how Maciel’s supposed pardon of his critics was very limited and how he used a great deal of money to sue his accusers, some of whom were obliged to reach a “deal” for lack of economic resources.
The second annex talks about secrets that explain Maciel’s pederast behavior, given that he himself was abused as a child by the muleteers with whom he traveled. His father thought that going on journeys with muleteers would help make him a man.
In the third annex one finds the reflections of a former legionary about a charge he brought before the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith based on an accusation against Maciel by a group of ex-legionaries. There it is proved that the Holy See acted discretionally in favor of the accused. According to testimonies from the forties, fifties and sixties, Maciel was repeatedly guilty of the crime of absolving an accomplice; thus the canonical modification introduced by Ratzinger avoided due process. As well as protecting the criminal, the victims’ rights were infringed.
Who was Maciel really?
At the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009 the Vatican changed tack on Maciel’s case. The Vatican secretary visited Mexico in December 2008 and in February 2009 went to Madrid where one of Maciel’s daughters lived. On March 10, 2009, the Vatican ordered an apostolic visit to the Legionaries. In May the names of inspectors responsible for investigating the Legion were announced.
While the Vatican commission was examining the Legionaries, the international press published a heap of revelations about the Maciel case. It documented his drug addiction, and accusations were leaked that he’d had contacts with drug traffickers. Traces of his fat bank accounts in different parts of the world were presented. Several false identities he used officially were detected. Versions of the period before his death were divulged: his resistance to going to Mass after receiving a life of prayer as his penance, and his rage against the religion he professed because Rome had expelled him. It was also learned that one of his concubines and a daughter of his had arrived to attend to him on his death bed, a situation known by the Legion’s authorities, one of whom threatened to reveal to the media who Maciel really was.
The appearance on Carmen Aristegui’s radio show of two young men who said they were Maciel’s sons and had been sexually abused by him was widely disseminated after the story was confirmed publicly by their mother, another of his concubines. It also came out that the Legion’s leaders had known about their founder’s licentious life for some time. They seemed to have less resistance to admitting Maciel’s heterosexual activities than to accepting publicly the overwhelming proof of his homosexual pederasty.
A monster sheltered by Pope John Paul II
Given this avalanche of proof, the names used in the media to refer to Maciel became increasingly harsh: faker, fraudster, impostor, hypocrite, vice-ridden, drug addict, con artist, libertine, sexual obsessive, compulsive pederast, child sex abuser, delinquent, pervert, criminal, devil in priest’s clothing… Many wrote about his long and prolific history of pederasty, drug addiction, polygamy, deceit, illicit wealth, religious and political influence trafficking, false identities and mythomania. It became increasingly obvious that the monster Maciel had flourished in the shade of his defenders.
Maciel’s main protector was John Paul II, whose collusion was complete. In 1991 the Pope designated Maciel a member of the Ordinary Assembly Bishops’ Synod for priests’ education; in 1992 a member of the IV General Conference of the Latin American Bishopric; in 1993 a member of the Bishops’ Synod on the Consecrated Life and its Mission in the Church and the World; in 1994 a permanent consultant for the Congregation for the Clergy; in 1997 a member of the Special Assembly for America of the Bishops’ Synod. And after he was already aware of the accusations against Maciel, he publicly praised him as a promoter of pastoral work and commended him as an example to youth.
Many Mexican bishops and heads of big business
Various analysts have wondered why this happened and have had to agree that the basic reason is rooted in the money Maciel gave to the Vatican. Writer Rubén Aguilar indicated in the magazine Milenio that the investigation into pederasty didn’t prosper due to the close relationship between Maciel and Pope John Paul II based on money Maciel obtained for the pope to finance his war on communism. A network of bishops, with whom Maciel had contact thanks to the positions John Paul II gave him, were also accessories and accomplices. When at the end of the 20th century the accusations of pederasty were made public, several bishops vigorously defended Maciel and harshly denigrated his accusers.
Mexican big business has also been an accomplice. They proudly presumed that Maciel would hold Mass at their anniversary celebrations and would marry and baptize family members. Thanks to this proximity they didn’t hesitate to use their economic power to protect Maciel and attack those who called for justice for atrocities he committed. Most of the families belonging to the Mexican high bourgeoisie had some relative connected with Maciel’s Legion. For them, defending Maciel and the Legion became a family mission, a role not far removed from mafioso codes.
Ratzinger the surgeon
The Vatican’s inspectors finished their work in mid-March of this year, but there are no great expectations of what might come out of this examination. It’s feared that everything has already been cooked up and there’ll be a lot of pretence to make it look like the Catholic hierarchy is responding to the crisis. Rome has made clear that it will take some time to release the results of the Vatican inspection. There is no reason to expect transparency, since the hierarchy isn’t used to being accountable to either its faithful or society.
As there’s no way to defend Maciel, the most probable outcome is that his memory will be condemned and some changes will be made in the Legion’s leadership so that the ‘reestablished’ organization can carry on, with some cosmetic adjustments. There are many networks of money and power and many accomplices in the ecclesiastical and business structure with interests in the Legion’s continuation. One factor that could carry a lot of weight in the Vatican’s decision is the amount of resources the Roman See continues to receive from this institution.
Fernando González, accustomed to doing penetrating analyses, has underscored the Vatican’s perversity in sending a commission of investigators to examine the Legionaries as if this commission were only a judge and not a link in the chain of collusion between three Vatican authorities that have intervened in the Maciel affair: the Secretary of State, the Sacred Congregation of the Religious and the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. González refers to the current pope as “surgeon” Ratzinger who invented the figure of the “solipsistic pederast,” a sort of oxymoron or reconciler of opposites. It will fall to this surgeon to decide just how far to cut the Legion’s body without touching the complicit Vatican authorities, which would inevitably lead to himself and John Paul II.
The Vatican’s behavior in other recent pederasty cases gives some clues as to how it might proceed in this one. In late March of this year it was revealed that the Vatican hadn’t punished a US priest accused of having abused 200 deaf children, arguing he was sick and old. Faced with the scandal of scores of pederasty cases among the Irish clergy and emphasizing that the Roman declaratory was not limited to that country alone, the Vatican asked the victims of pederasty for forgiveness and admitted that inappropriate procedures had been used. It also asked for an investigation, but announced no punishment for the child raping priests.
González has pointed out that Benedict XVI addressed the Irish bishops as if he hadn’t headed the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for over 20 years, as if he had been above and beyond the whole conflict.
The clamor of the survivors
There have been demonstrations by sexual abuse victims both in St. Peter’s Square and in front of the Vatican Embassy in Washington, demanding that the files of pedophile clergy be opened and that they be defrocked. The Vatican replied to this demand and to an editorial in The New York Times, regretting what it called an attempt to attack the Pope and his close advisers. The paper responded with the information that when Ratzinger was bishop of Munich he had authorized therapy for a pedophile priest and approved his transfer to another parish.
Victims’ associations went public with their disappointment at the papal role in the Irish cases. They were hoping for more forceful signs and gestures, not just in Ireland but in other countries affected by this serious crime. Rome was saving the top-ranking hierarchy, complicit in such an abominable practice, from the courts. The general demand is for those who have victimized innocent children and those who have been their accomplices to appear before both ecclesiastical courts and civil ones, particularly the latter. The victims must also be compensated. Many of them not only suffered sexual abuse but also persecution, denigration and slander at the hands of the religious hierarchy and their unconditional allies in the world of money. Victims of pederasty have proved they suffer extremely serious and long-lasting psychological damage.
The Legionaries speak
Trying to save their necks after the apostolic visit, the Legion’s director general, vicar general, four general counselors and ten territorial directors of different world regions issued a press release on March 25, in which they followed the Vatican script: cut the tie with Maciel. They admitted Maciel had fathered a daughter in the context of a long and stable relationship with a woman and that two men had also appeared claiming they were his sons, the fruit of a relationship with another woman. They asked forgiveness of people who had accused Maciel in the past to whom they had given no credit and offered them spiritual and pastoral help. They said that if there had been any guilty collaboration they would act in accordance with the principles of justice and Christian charity. They offered to tell the truth about their history, provide security to minors in their institutions and seek reconciliation and a coming together with those who had suffered.
The document also refers to “other serious behavior” of its founder but doesn’t specify what this is. It says the Legionaries could no longer regard Maciel as a model of Christian and priestly life. They make out to be stunned by Maciel’s abominable behavior and stress they previously believed the accusations to be false, despite the information that the leaders were fully aware of many of Maciel’s crimes and covered up for him.
They continue to call Maciel their founder and thank God for the good he did. They also express their gratitude to the pope for having offered an apostolic visit, thank the five inspectors for their fatherly concern and call on the Legion and its followers to intensify their prayers.
This document offers an excellent exercise for those dedicated to analyzing discourse. By alluding, it eludes. It never explicitly mentions Maciel’s pederasty, everything remains between the lines. They ask for forgiveness and say they are convinced of the meaning and beauty of forgiveness, but appear to be referring to the forgiveness they bestow on their founder. They offer no concrete acts to repair the damage but rather pastoral attention and prayers. But neither they nor the Church will resolve the serious problem of pederasty with prayers. Subsequently, the Legion’s director general wanted to exonerate his organization’s existence, assuring that God knew how to write straight (them) on twisted lines (Maciel). He announced that his organization would begin anew.
A tainted congregation
Maciel’s victims replied that the Legion’s document of forgiveness was insufficient and superficial. They pointed out that it made no reference to compensation for damages. Roberto Blancarte, a specialist in religions, agreed that the press statement, which was intended to preempt whatever conclusion the Vatican might reach, was insufficient. José Barba, one of Maciel’s main accusers, considered the apology of the Legion’s management reflected its usual rhetoric and lacked repentance and justice. He insisted that the Legion didn’t truly take the victims into account and didn’t even call them by their names. He argued that the Vatican’s apostolic inspection wasn’t enough and that a high-level international group was needed to conduct a parallel investigation in order to be accountable to society later on.
He asserted that the Legion couldn’t disassociate itself from the actions of its founder and begin a new era without that model, and that the Legion resolved the affair facilely by saying Maciel was the tainted one and the rest of the congregation had nothing to do with it. Barba insisted that the entire organization needed to be scrutinized in depth, as opposed to the hasty way the Legionaries were attempting to ignore their founder’s influence. In response to the Legion director general’s remark that the Legionaries were “orphans,” Barba agreed that they were indeed, but were spiritually orphaned.
Accomplices and accessories to crime
Journalist Carlos Puig referred to León Krauze’s analysis, which demonstrated that it’s impossible to understand the Legion or its Regnum Christi work without Maciel. Puig argues that one must distinguish three important aspects: Maciel’s atrocities, the cover-up operation on which the Legion and the Catholic hierarchy embarked years ago and the machinations of the Mexican elite to crush both the victims who denounced Maciel’s abuse and the reporters who revealed the monster he was.
The Legion couldn’t salvage its greatest legionary. The words they used in their press statement, attempting to disassociate themselves from Maciel, only sounded pathetic when they asserted that what their founder and moral guide had done was reprehensible. Sexual abuse, lies and cover-ups are rather more than reprehensible; they are criminal. In its statement the Legion made no reference to the civil laws under which their founder deserved incarceration. The Legion’s management acknowledged Maciel hadn’t been a good Christian, but didn’t admit he was a sexual criminal and a pederast. To top it all off, they asked that their founder be forgiven and offered the victims nothing more than to carry on praying for them.
Just like Maciel had done, the Legion’s leaders used faith as a weapon to justify criminal actions. Puig emphasized that the Legion’s statement left out anything to do with the long-standing operation of those close to the founder to protect and cover up for him. It was crucial to ask how many of those who signed the statement had kept quiet for years, how many helped hide their founder’s crimes, how many worked together in silencing his victims. Puig questioned them: when would the Legion start to denounce Maciel’s accomplices, because what they had done was cover up not a “sin” but a crime.
The Legion’s leaders, Fernando González warns us, issued their plea for forgiveness early, a mechanism that generally serves to leapfrog justice and avoid deeper probing into the facts. One can call this “the forgiveness short circuit.”
González stresses that the protection and complicity that allowed Maciel to continue his criminal career for more than 50 years included not only the Legion’s elite but also middle-ranking and even minor congregational authorities that have been his partners in crime right up to the present day. Maciel injected the establishment he founded with his own institutional code. Not everything has come to light; an exhaustive investigation is needed into funds and their misuse.
Another element noted by analyst León Krauze is related to Maciel’s other victims. From information gained from a family dedicated to the Legion, Krauze relates how this family’s sons were raised on Maciel’s teachings and bears witness to the terrifying transformation suffered by those who dedicate themselves to the Legion’s position. A sort of brainwashing and dehumanization goes on that changes them into automatons. To them, Maciel is not only the founder but the very dogma. The Legion owes a debt not only to the victims of Maciel’s sexual abuse, but also to the thousands who participated in a movement created, guided and inspired by a “cruel and hypocritical monster.”
Is it enough just to reestablish the Legion?
Vaticanologists and specialists in the study of religions have hazarded a guess that, given the deluge that has battered the Legion, this congregation is facing the Vatican’s choice between abolishing it, which is unlikely, or look for a way out that will permit it to continue functioning by means of “reestablishing” itself. The latter appears to be what it will go for, cutting out the tumor represented by Maciel from the congregation he founded. Nevertheless, no few analysts consider this solution unviable, arguing that it’s impossible just to turn the page because Maciel represents the entire book for the Legionaries. The cancer in the Legion has metastasized. Maciel isn’t an expendable part of this institution but rather its backbone and marrow, the origin of an entire way of being and doing.
One can’t forget the deeply rooted and boundless cult to Maciel instilled in the Legionaries and its followers over many years. Many still have little household altars to Maciel and close their eyes to the plethora of evidence. Another scandalous issue that can’t be avoided is the existence of pederast networks among the Legionaries and their followers who, aware of the double, triple and even quadruple lives Maciel led, promoted his canonization by the Vatican, even while he was still alive. Writer Sanjuana Martínez recalled that Mexico’s archbishop had declared that Maciel would always be the Legionaries’ founder, despite the punishment handed down to him by Rome.
The Legion’s response to the crisis and its actions when faced with the examination to which it was subjected suggests that Maciel left behind a habitus they are unable to forsake. Thus, far from feeling real remorse when confronted with the accusation by Maciel’s sons that he had abused them sexually, they tried to make themselves look like the offended party of an extortion threat rather than accepting that the victims were only asking for economic compensation for the serious damage suffered. Another indication that they had learned to imitate Maciel well came in the context of the Vatican’s punishment of their founder. At the time, they denied it was a punishment, referring to it just as a “spiritual retreat.” Subsequently, faced with the announcement that the Vatican would subject them to an examination, they wanted to present it as assistance given them by Rome.
The perverse Legionary psycho-pathology
One former legionary and Maciel victim has pointed out that legionary psychology—one would have to say psycho-pathology—isn’t going to change given that these people have spent six decades working with Maciel’s convictions and learning his way of doing things: his skillful use of deceit. The Legion’s leaders prepared for the questioning by Vatican inspectors by sending the members possible questions they might be asked so they would know what replies to give. The investigators were thus met with learned answers, while the Legion’s management announced that everyone had answered “freely.”
Sheldon S. Wolin, an experienced specialist in democracy, has demonstrated that liars want the untruth to be accepted as reality and that lying is an expression of power’s resolve.
Reactions of Mexico’s civil authorities
Writer Roberta Garza states that the Church has always known how to convert its crimes into sins so as to expiate them in obscurity. She thus called for an analysis of how pederasty, cover-ups and money laundering had become the Legion’s real “charisma,” and stuck her neck out by saying that the Church would not see real justice done. Another Mexican columnist wrote that the overdue apologies weren’t enough, damage had been done and the moral authority of the Catholic priesthood was being severely questioned. Various Mexican analysts expressed astonishment that such a sustained and wide-reaching violation of human rights hadn’t been subjected to an investigation by the Mexican civil authorities. Maciel had died, but his organization continued to enjoy enormous power and complete impunity. The current demand is for the Mexican civil authorities to ensure that justice is done rather than collude.
In Mexico all three major parliamentary benches in the House of Representatives asked the Church hierarchy to compensate the people damaged by the criminal activity of the Legion’s founder. Juventino Castro, a former Supreme Court justice, thinks the Legion should assume responsibility for its founder’s excesses and believes there are enough contributing factors to abolish the organization. Legislator Leticia Quezada demanded that Mexico’s attorney general investigate the Legion given the probability that it sheltered a network of pederasts. Nevertheless some senators refused to comment on the case with the argument that their children studied in the Legion’s schools.
Jail for the accomplices
The Catholic hierarchy’s attempt to shield itself by alleging that no more pederasts can be found in the ranks of the clergy than in other professions is extremely clumsy. A pederast is highly condemnable wherever he appears and if it is in the Church, the assumed bearer of a saintly mission, he’s even more abominable. It is a major miscalculation for the hierarchy to respond to pederasty cases with comparisons that come nowhere near the root of the problem. If it offers highly unconvincing solutions to get out of its fix, it will only dig itself deeper into a crisis of enormous proportions.
Esteban Garaiz, who has shown himself to be a responsible and trustworthy public figure in Mexico, has reasoned in one of his articles that pederasty is a social evil and not just a sin based on firsthand testimonies of Maciel’s pederasty and direct proof of the Legion’s complicity. And being a crime, he argues, the criminals should be subjected to civil law and punished in accordance with the serious damage inflicted. Furthermore, the Catholic hierarchy has the moral and civic obligation to ask for forgiveness and rehabilitate and compensate the victims, identifying them and acknowledging that they weren’t liars but brave men who have been demanding their rights. He further emphasized that Mexican business leaders who gave their unconditional support to a social criminal such as Maciel are obliged publicly and in writing to ask forgiveness of the pederasty victims they slandered and harassed. Finally he makes it clear that Maciel’s accomplices should go to prison too.
Maciel’s sons were also his victims
González looks in depth at the dramatic case of Maciel’s two sons who ended up admitting they had demanded $26 million in compensation and accepting they had effectively offered their silence for money. Their tragedy is that they ended up with nothing and on the same level as their father for having even suggested the exchange, when the crucial element was their story of the lie they lived and the abuse to which Maciel subjected them. One major difference should be pointed out, however: at least they admitted what they had done, while their father never acknowledged his true personality, the one the whole world now knows.
In their souls and their bodies they both distill the two most significant aspects of Maciel’s sexuality. It was pitiful how the institutional network, with its sustained silences, ended up provoking the media testimony in which Maciel’s sons were compelled to malign their own father in public. Speaking up is in itself very difficult for any survivor of sexual abuse; now the coercion to continue talking will become a new source of shame for them if they don’t do it.
The moment of truth
Fernando González reflects that, unlike other similar cases, the longevity of the case of Maciel and his Legion has allowed it to pass from the improbability to which it was long consigned by the Vatican, Episcopal bodies, the Legion, their related elites and the parents of families at their schools. It therefore turned into probability and now into acceptance of the evidence. The first Vatican version and that of the entire Legion has fallen to pieces before the eyes of a large part of Mexican society. Whatever the Vatican leaves of the Legion will remain a closed, authoritarian institution, now without Maciel’s public figure, but with his seal and fundamental nature forever.
The Maciel affair has become a crucial element with which to analyze the organization that gave rise to it. It has involved the exposure of a hubris that has unleashed a tragedy in the Catholic hierarchy. Independent of any decision the Vatican might take regarding the Legion, neither the Catholic elites nor the Legion itself will be spared history’s condemnation. If there are really Legionaries who don’t want collusion on their conscience, they will have to push for its dissolution, since the case isn’t about one of its members but the founder himself. Finally, this serious crisis is about those at the top and very clearly brings to light their corruption, hypocrisy and double standards.
Jorge Alonso is a researcher for CIESAS West and the envío correspondent in Mexico.
Father Marcial Maciel, was my dad, and he sexually abused me, Raul Gonzalez claims in lawsuit
By Michael Sheridan Daily News Staff Writer
Tuesday June 22, 2010 8:52am
He was a celebrated priest, praised by Pope John Paul II.
“My dad told my mom that he was a CIA agent,” Gonzalez told ABC News’ “Nightline.” “He always told my mom that he was a really busy man. That he was always flying on his trips because of the business of his company.”
It wasn’t until he saw Maciel on the cover of a magazine, dressed in priest garb, that he learned the truth.
In the lawsuit, Gonzalez claims he, and other children, were sexually abused by Father Maciel during his time as director of the Legionaries of Christ, a congregation he founded in 1941
“He is one of the many, many kids, and others abused and deceived by Maciel,” says Jeffrey Anderson, Gonzalez’s lawyer.
“He told me that his uncle sometimes made him masturbate him and, basically, the idea of my dad was to transmit that idea to me,” said Gonzalez, according to ABC News.
Gonzalez described many different kinds of abuse he claims Maciel committed.
“He always told us we had to kiss him because that was how we would learn how to kiss a girl when we grew up,” he said.
In the lawsuit, he alleges Father Maciel was protected by the church — including Pope Paul II — because of his efforts in raising money, as well as providing gifts and benefits to Vatican officials.
“My dad told my mom that when John Paul II dies, he was going to be in trouble,” Gonzalez said.
After the death of Pope Paul II, Maciel was stripped of his authority and the Legion of Christ was taken over by the Vatican. Father Maciel was still a priest when he died in 2008.
The Vatican and the Legion of Christ did not comment on the ABC News report. Gonzalez says he has met with officials several times regarding a settlement, and has demanded $26 million.