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Australian bishop testifies on prevalence of child sex abuse in the church


Australian bishop testifies on prevalence of child sex abuse in the church

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From the Link: https://www.ncronline.org/news/accountability/australian-bishop-testifies-prevalence-child-sex-abuse-church

Dying of cancer, Bishop Emeritus Geoffrey Robinson appeared Aug. 24 before the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to testify to the prevalence of child sexual abuse in the church.

He painted a sad picture of a brave and lonely Sisyphus with his band of bishops in tow, pushing a boulder with a reasoned response to the crisis up the Vatican Hill, only to have it pushed back by popes and cardinals who had no idea about the issue and a blindness about the incapacity of canon law to deal with it.

“However great the faults of the Australian bishops have been over the last 30 years, it still remains true that the major obstacle to a better response from the church has been the Vatican,” Robinson told the commission. Most of the Roman Curia saw the problem as a “moral one: if a priest offends, he should repent; if he repents, he should be forgiven and restored to his position. … They basically saw the sin as a sexual one, and did not show great understanding of the abuse of power involved or the harm done to the victims.”

Robinson entered the seminary at 12-years-old, was ordained a priest, and became a canon lawyer and then auxiliary bishop of Sydney. In 1996, when revelations of clergy sexual abuse of children in Australia had reached a crescendo, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference appointed him to find a solution. In 2004, he resigned as auxiliary bishop of Sydney after concluding that the church’s response was still inadequate.

“I eventually came to the point where I felt that, with the thoughts that were running through my head, I could not continue to be a bishop of a church about which I had such profound reservations,” Robinson wrote in a 2008 book Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church. “I resigned my office as Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney and began to write this book, about the very foundations of power and sex within the church.”

He wrote books and went on lecture tours, calling for radical reforms within the church, and in the process lost and gained many friends.

He quickly came to the conclusion after his appointment by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference to draw up a protocol to deal with child sexual abuse in 1996, that canon law was so inadequate for cases of sexual abuse that it would be a sham to use it. “We would have to invent something of our own,” he told the Royal Commission.

Prior to 1983, when he was consulted by the Vatican about a new draft of the Code of Canon Law, he found the words “pontifical secret” stamped over the document. He complained that if he were to give a reasoned response, he needed to discuss it with colleagues. He was told:  “Just don’t give it to the media.”

In 1996, Robinson devised a protocol called “Towards Healing,” a system that was “outside, and indeed contrary to canon law.” In the first draft, he required these crimes to be reported to the police as the police were not the media. Pope Paul VI’s instruction, Secreta Continere of 1974, imposes the pontifical secret over allegations of clergy sexual abuse of children and contains no exception for reporting to the police. The barrage of statements by senior Curia figures from 1984 to 2002 made it abundantly clear that bishops should not report these allegations to the police.

But that was not the only conflict that “Towards Healing” had with canon law. It had its own system of investigation, and clergy could be placed on permanent “administrative leave.” None of this complied with canon law.

In his perceptive notes of the meeting in the Vatican in April 2000 to discuss child sexual abuse, Robinson wrote that the members of the Roman Curia showed an “an overriding concern to preserve the legal structures already in place in the Church and not to make exceptions to them unless this was absolutely necessary.”

He told the Commission how Italian Archbishop Mario Pompedda told the delegates how they might get around canon law, but he did not want a law that he had to get around. He wanted one he could follow, but “they never came up with it.” Robinson came away from that meeting knowing that the Australian bishops had no choice but to continue to go it alone, irrespective of what the fall out might be.

The extent to which he and the other Australian bishops were prepared to do that is starkly illustrated in the minutes of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference of Nov. 28, 2002, where they resolved to disobey Pope John Paul II’s 2001 Motu Proprio, Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela, which required all complaints of child sexual abuse to be referred to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which would then instruct the bishop what to do. They would only refer those cases where there was no admission by the priest that the abuse had occurred. Robinson told the Commission that the purpose behind that was to avoid being told by Rome what to do with those priests who admitted the abuse. That decision was well justified given the figures presented to the United Nations by the Vatican that only one third of priests against whom credible allegations of child sexual abuse had been made, have been dismissed. The claim that the Vatican has a policy of zero tolerance is pure spin.

This defiance of canon law was never going to last. Patrick Parkinson, professor of law at Sydney University, appointed by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference to review “Towards Healing,” pointed out the problems of a local protocol that conflicted with canon law: priests permanently removed from the ministry simply appealed to Rome which ordered their reinstatement. The bishop had to comply or be sacked. Robinson told the Commission that “Towards Healing” was initially successful because a number of priests accepted that they could not continue to work as a priest, but “it later fell down because both sides changed.” Priests started to defend themselves with canon lawyers, and the victims went to civil lawyers.

Robinson was very critical of Pope John Paul II for a lack of leadership on this issue, and particularly his imposition in 1983 of a five-year limitation period that effectively meant that there could be no prosecution of priest paedophiles under canon law because their crimes had been “extinguished.” Prior to 1983, there was no limitation period for these crimes. After 1983, if a child was abused at the age of 7, and did not complain by the age of 12, there was no possibility of dismissing the priest under canon law.

Figures presented to the Commission indicate that in Australia, the limitation period meant that only 3 percent of accused priests could be dismissed, and that figure only increased to 19 percent with the extension of the period to 10 years from the 18th birthday of the victim in 2001. Robinson said the church has still not had the appropriate leadership on child sexual abuse from Pope Benedict XVI and not even from Pope Francis.

Robinson also criticized Australian Cardinal George Pell for refusing to join the other Australian bishops in adopting the “Towards Healing” protocol. Pell was party to the two-year consultations leading up to its adoption in November 1996, but, without reference to anyone, announced he was setting up his own system, the “Melbourne Response,” and then claimed he was the first in Australia to do something about clergy sexual abuse. Apart from accusing Pell of destroying a unified response from the Australian bishops, Robinson said he was an “ineffective bishop” for having lost the support of the majority of his priests who wished for him to be transferred somewhere else. Their wish was fulfilled. He is now in charge of the Vatican finances.

A reading of the many documents tendered to the Royal Commission provides even more evidence that the Vatican’s all but useless disciplinary system caused far more children to be abused than would otherwise have occurred. Robinson fought the good fight, but was ultimately defeated and resigned, exhausted.

In the end, the Australian bishops abandoned the courage they displayed under his leadership, and followed the lead of Pope Benedict XVI who, in his 2010 Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, ignored the Murphy Commission’s criticisms of canon law, and blamed the Irish bishops for failing to follow it. In submissions to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry and to the Royal Commission, the Australian bishops ignored what they knew of canon law’s failings, and blamed their predecessors for making “terrible mistakes” when their predecessors were demonstrably complying with canon law.

Australia has a peculiar cultural habit of creating heroes who struggle in vain, and are defeated — from the bushranger, Ned Kelly to the soldiers who were massacred at Gallipoli in the First World War. The Catholic church needs some heroes. Robinson, now terminally ill, is one of them.

[Kieran Tapsell is the author of Potiphar’s Wife: The Vatican Secret and Child Sexual Abuse (ATF Press 2014).]

Title V: The Worst Crime


Title V: The Worst Crime

From the Link: http://catholicarrogance.org/Catholic/RC_clericalpedophilia.html

1901813_10153687207618747_1757826015825436154_n“73. To have the worst crime, for the penal effects, one must do the equivalent of the following: any obscene, external act, gravely sinful, perpetrated in any way by a cleric or attempted by him with youths of either sex or with brute animals (bestiality).

74. Against accused clerics for these crimes, if they are exempt religious, and unless there takes place at the same time the crime of solicitation, even the regular superior can proceed, according to the holy canons and their proper constitutions, either in an administrative or a judicial manner. However, they must communicate the judicial decision pronounced as well as the administrative decision in the more serious cases to the Supreme Congregation of the Holy Office.4

The wording of Title V is extremely important as it confirms the Vatican’s own knowledge and acceptance of the fact that the sexual abuse of children, regardless of sex, is a crime. The Vatican did not use the words evil, sinful, offensive, lapse of judgment, moment of weakness or illness. They used the word “crime” which is the only word that can adequately describe the act of a priest preying on a child for his own sexual gratification. Therefore, by stating that “the sexual abuse of children is a crime,” the Vatican tacitly acknowledges before God and man that priests who commit the crime of having sex with children, are in fact criminals! They also demand that these criminal acts be reported to their international headquarters, the Vatican.

Criminals commit crimes. Sex with children is a crime under both canon and civil law. Therefore, there can be no doubt that priests who commit the crime of sexual abuse with children are criminals! Ipso facto, those who protect these criminals are themselves guilty of aiding and abetting criminals. The Vatican has known for centuries that the sexual abuse of children is a criminal offense. In that, they are in total agreement with the secular law of just about every country on earth.”

Not only is the sexual abuse of children considered a crime by the Vatican, but to add emphasis to the matter, the Vatican chose to label it “The Worst Crime.” Of all the adjectives that are available to describe a crime, the Vatican chose to call the sexual abuse of children “The Worst.” What does that make the men who allow these sexual predators ply their trade unabated? What does this do to the commonly used hierarchal defense, “I didn’t know?” What does it say about the hundreds of bishops in 28 known countries around the world who failed to live up to the Vatican’s standards? What does it say about a Vatican that tolerated these failures?

Crimen Sollicitationis directs the bishops to prosecute crimes of child sexual abuse? Failing to do so makes them all scofflaws! They scoffed at every indecency perpetrated on the bodies of children around the world. Neither bishops nor the Vatican can claim ignorance of the law anymore! Whether it was an internal or external law, they failed to prosecute the rapists, sodomizers and molesters in their midst; by their own account, the criminal element.

The English Translation of the Crimen Sollicitationis

In a document addressed to “all patriarchs, archbishops, bishops and other diocesan ordinaries”, the Vatican gives instructions on the “manner of proceeding in cases of solicitations”:

The text, it adds, is to be “diligently stored in the secret archives… as strictly confidential. Nor is it to be published nor added to with any commentaries”.

Some excerpts follow:

The crime of solicitation takes place when a priest tempts a penitent, whoever that person is, either in the act of sacramental confession, whether before or immediately afterwards, whether on the occasion or the pretext of confession, whether even outside the times for confession in the confessional or [in a place] other than that [usually] designated for the hearing of confessions or [in a place] chosen for the simulated purpose of hearing a confession…

[The object of this temptation] is to solicit or provoke [the penitent] toward impure and obscene matters, whether by words or signs or nods of the head, whether by touch or by writing whether then or after [the note has been read] or whether he has had with [that penitent] prohibited and improper speech or activity with reckless daring…

The Ordinary of the place in these cases is the judge even for regulars [religious], even though exempt. It is indeed strictly prohibited for their superiors to interpose themselves in cases pertaining to the Holy Office.

However, having safeguarded the right of the Ordinary, there is nothing to prevent superiors themselves, if by chance they have discovered [one of their] subjects delinquent in the administration of the sacrament of Penance, from being able and having the obligation of being diligently watchful over those same persons, and, even having administered salutary penances, to admonish and correct, and, if the case demands it, to remove him from some ministry.

They will also be able to transfer him to another [assignment], unless the Ordinary of the place has forbidden it because he has already accepted the denunciation and has begun the inquisition.

Although, as a rule, a single judge, by reason of its secrecy, is prescribed for cases of this type, it is not forbidden, however, for the Ordinary in the more difficult cases to approve one or two assessors and counsellors, selected from the synodal judges; or even to three judges, likewise chosen from the synodal judges, to hand over the case to the judges to be handled with the mandate of proceeding collegially…

Minor helpers are to be used for nothing unless it is absolutely necessary; and these are to be chosen, in so far as possible, from the priestly order; always, however, they are to be proved faithfulness and mature without exception.

Because, however, what is treated in these cases has to have a greater degree of care and observance so that those same matters be pursued in a most secretive way, and, after they have been defined and given over to execution, they are to be restrained by a perpetual silence, each and everyone pertaining to the tribunal in any way or admitted to knowledge of the matters because of their office, is to observe the strictest secret… under the penalty of excommunication.

The oath of keeping the secret must be given in these cases also by the accusers of those denouncing [the priest] and the witnesses.

First knowledge of the crime

Since the crime of solicitation takes place in rather rare decisions, lest it remain occult and unpunished and always with inestimable detriments to souls, it was necessary for the one person, as for many persons, conscious of that [act of solicitation], namely, the solicited penitent, to be compelled to reveal it through a denunciation imposed by positive law. Therefore:

The penitent must denounce the accused priest of the delict of solicitation in confession within a month to the Ordinary of the place or to the Holy Congregation of the Holy Office; and the confessor must, burdened seriously in conscience, to warn the penitent of this duty.

The faithful, however, who knowingly have disregarded the obligation to denounce the person by whom he was solicited, within a month, falls into an excommunication, not to be absolved unless after he has satisfies the obligation or has promised seriously that he would do so.

The duty of denunciation is a personal one and is to be fulfilled regularly by the person himself who has been solicited.

Anonymous denunciations generally must be rejected. However, they can have supportive force or give the occasion for further investigations, if the particular circumstances of the matters involved render an accusation probable.

The obligation of denunciation on the part of the solicited penitent does not cease because of a spontaneous confession by the soliciting confessor done by chance, nor because of his being transferred, promoted, condemned, or presumably reformed and other reasons of the same kind. It ceases, however, at his death.

Before [the person making the denunciation] is dismissed, there should be presented to him, as above, an oath of observing the secret, threatening him, if there is a need, with an excommunication reserved to the Ordinary or to the Holy See.

The process

If two witnesses cannot be found where each individual knows both the denounced and the denouncer, or if they cannot be interrogated at the same time without the danger of scandal or without detriment to the good name concerning him, then arrangements to be made, so that two persons, by means of a divided [testimony], namely, interrogate two witnesses only about the denounced and another two only about the individual denouncers.

In this case, however, it will be necessary to inquire elsewhere as to whether hatred, enmity or any other human disaffection against the denunciated [priest] was the case.

If it is evident that the denunciation totally lacks a foundation, [the priest] should order this to be declared in the Acts, and the documents of the accusation should be destroyed.

If the indications of the crime are vague and indeterminate or uncertain, he should order that the Acts be put into the archives, to be taken up again if something else happens in the future.

If, however, there are indications of a crime serious enough but not yet sufficient to institute an accusatorial process, he should order that the accused be admonished according to the different [types of] cases the first or second [time?], paternally, seriously or most seriously, adding, if necessary, an explicit threat of the trial process, should some other new accusation is laid upon [the accused] meanwhile, a check should be kept on the morale of the accused.

Penalties

Those who are in danger of falling back [into their former ways], and therefore of becoming greater recidivists should be submitted to particular vigilance.

As often as, in the prudent judgment of the Ordinary, it seems necessary for the amendment of the delinquent, for the removal of the near occasion [of soliciting in the future], or for the prevention of scandal or reparation for it, there should be added a prescription for a prohibition of remaining in a certain place.

Official communications

Whenever an Ordinary immediately accepts a denunciation of the crime of solicitation, he should not omit telling this to the Holy Office. And if by chance he treats of a priest whether secular or religious having residence in another territory, he should transmit at the same time, an authentic copy of the denunciation itself.

Any Ordinary who has proceeded correctly against some priest who is soliciting should not omit to informing the Holy Congregation of the Holy Office, and, if it is a matter in which a religious is involved, also the General Superior concerning the outcome of the case.

If any priests condemned of the crime of solicitation, or even only admonished, should transfer his residence to another territory, [one] Ordinary should immediately warn the [other] Ordinary of the things that preceded that person and of his juridical status.

If any priests suspended in a case of solicitation from hearing sacramental confessions but not from sacred preaching happens to go to another territory to preach, the Ordinary of this territory should be reminded by the prelate or the accused, whether secular or religious, that he cannot be utilised for hearing sacramental confessions.

All these official communications shall always be made under the secret of the Holy Office; and, since they concern the common good of the church to the greatest degree, the precept of doing these things obliges under serious sin [sub gravi].

From the audience of the Holy Father, 16 March 1962

Our Most Holy Father John XXIII, in an audience granted to the most eminent Cardinal Secretary of the Holy Office on 16 March 1962, deigned to approve and confirm this instruction, ordering upon those to whom it pertains to keep and observe it in the minutest detail.

At Rome, from the Office of the Sacred Congregation, 16 March 1962.

Place of the seal

A Cardinal Ottaviani

Appendix

The formula for taking an oath to exercise one’s office faithfully and to observe the secret of the Holy Office

I promise sacredly, vow and swear, to observe inviolably the secret in all matters and details which will take place in exercising the aforesaid duty.

 

OPINION: Pontifical secret allows abuse to go unpunished


OPINION: Pontifical secret allows abuse to go unpunished


June 9, 2014, 10 p.m

From the Link: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/2340393/opinion-pontifical-secret-allows-abuse-to-go-unpunished/

"Saint" Peter Damian's admonishing against priest pedophiles and those who cover up for them in 1049.

“Saint” Peter Damian’s admonishing against priest pedophiles and those who cover up for them in 1049.

THE Catholic Church for some 1500 years recognised that simply stripping a priest of his status as a priest was not a sufficient punishment for the sexual abuse of children.

Canon law from the 12th century decreed that he should be dismissed from the priesthood and handed over to the civil authority for punishment in accordance with the civil law.

A commission set up by Pope Pius X in 1904 drafted a uniform code of canon law by discarding papal and council decrees that were no longer relevant, modifying others and creating new ones.

The 1917 Code of Canon Law discarded the decrees requiring priests who sexually assaulted children to be handed over to the civil authorities.

Five years later, Pope Pius XI issued his 1922 decree, Crimen Sollicitationis, imposing the “secret of the Holy Office”, a “permanent silence” on all information the Church obtained through its canonical investigations of clergy sex abuse of children. There were no exceptions allowing the reporting of these crimes to the civil authorities.

In 1962, Pope St. John XXIII reissued Crimen Sollicitationis. In 1974, Pope Paul VI, by his decree, Secreta Continere renamed ‘‘the secret of the Holy Office’’ ‘‘the pontifical secret’’, and it continued to apply to the sexual abuse of children under the new 1983 Code of Canon Law.

In 2001, Pope St. John Paul II confirmed the pontifical secret under some new procedures, and in 2010, Pope Benedict XVI expanded its reach by applying it to allegations of priests having sex with intellectually disabled people. In 2010, the Holy See allowed a restricted form of reporting to the civil authorities but only where the civil law required it.

In most parts of the world, and in every state of Australia, apart from NSW, there is no such requirement to report in the vast majority of cases. The pontifical secret still applies where there are no such reporting laws.

The policy of secrecy may not have been so disastrous for children had canon law’s internal disciplinary procedures been adequate to dismiss such priests. But they were not.

Canon law required bishops to try and reform such priests before dismissing them. In his 1983 Code of Canon Law, Pope John Paul II imposed a five-year limitation period that effectively meant there would be no canonical trials of sex-abusing priests.

It also gave such priests a Catch-22 defence: a priest cannot be dismissed for paedophilia because he is a paedophile.

The more children a priest abused, the less likely it was could he be dismissed.

In November 2009, the Murphy Commission in Ireland examined all the above matters, and found that ‘‘the structures and rules of the Catholic Church facilitated’’ the cover-up of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin, and severely criticised the secrecy imposed by canon law and its capacity to discipline priests.

In March 2010, Pope Benedict wrote a Pastoral Letter to the people of Ireland, and ignored the Commission’s criticisms of canon law. Instead he blamed the bishops for the cover-up, and for not applying ‘‘the long-established norms of canon law’’.

The submissions made by the Victorian Church to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry and by the Australian Church to the current Royal Commission follow the same script: there is no mention of the pontifical secret or the inadequacies of the canon law to dismiss these priests.

There are theological reasons behind this reluctance to face the unpalatable truth. Martin Luther claimed that the only source of divine inspiration was the Bible, a view influenced by the corruption of the Renaissance Popes.

The Catholic Church could explain the “bad popes” under the bad apples in the barrel theory: the Holy Spirit does inspire the Church to lead the world to salvation even through sinful popes like Alexander VI with his string of mistresses and eight children.

But now there is hard evidence that six popes since 1922, two of them now saints, maintained and expanded a system of cover-up of child sexual abuse by clergy through canon law, in order to save the Church’s reputation.

These were not “bad popes” of the Renaissance kind.

An unintended consequence of this policy was an increase in damage done to children, a crime that the Church’s founder thought was so bad that those responsible should be thrown in the sea with millstones around their necks.

 Kieran Tapsell is a retired Sydney lawyer with degrees in theology and law. He is the author of  Potiphar’s Wife: The Secret of the Holy Office and Child Sexual Abuse 

THE EXECUTION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT Part Three The Victims


THE EXECUTION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT Part Three The Victims

by Kobutsu Malone

From the Link: http://www.bergencatholicabuse.com/

Following are some of the letters I have received to date. Most of these have been redacted and *names changed* to maintain confidentiality. Each redacted letter was edited and approved by the individual correspondent prior to posting. All correspondence received concerning this matter is held in strict confidence.

Kobutsu



The First Letter:
From
Thomas Schwarz – BC ’66

January 5, 2009 9:51:13 PM EST

Dear Kobutsu Malone,

I feel as though I am at the beginning of a long, rough, perilous, unclear trail. I hope that you can help me, and perhaps I might be able to help you.

I graduated from Bergen Catholic in 1966. Memories of my four years at B.C. have never been pleasant. As I have grown older it seems those memories come more often. Because I am contacting you I suspect that you realize already that I, too, endured abuse at B.C. I recently began Googling all the word and name combinations I could think of to let the internet retrieve information for me, but alas I have come away almost empty-handed — except for your short piece on engaged-zen.org. [A precursor to this bergencatholicabuse.com website] Your description of the Irwin brothers behavior was stunningly accurate. (Sentences redacted)

Finally, my own recollections of beatings I suffered while being “jugged” involved Bro. John P. Seibert.

Why are there no other mentions on the internet of these events? Are we the only men who recall such incidents? Are they figments of our collective imaginations? I doubt it.

I would be most appreciative if we could share information and perhaps make a collective, concerted effort to unearth and explain those sordid events.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Respectfully,

Thomas Schwarz


Brother John Peter Seibert

January 5, 2009 10:34:01 PM EST

Dear Tom,

I am very glad we had the opportunity to speak earlier. You are the only person I know of so far who can corroborate what I wrote about Charlie Irwin’s behavior.

Would you be willing to write about your experiences with Irwin’s behavior? Would you be willing to publish it on the internet next to my account?

There were some 30 odd kids in my class room. Irwin taught perhaps five different classes a day, that means 150 kids a day could have been exposed to him perhaps 180 times a year. I have no idea how many years he was at BC, where he was before BC or even when/if he left BC. I was told by the order attorney in 2003 that Charlie Irwin had been dead for five years (1998?). His younger brother Tommy Irwin is still teaching at BC as far as I know.

That man did not just adopt his behavior only in Room 34 in 1964, everybody in that school was terrified of Irwin. Other students who had him in different classes reported the same kind of treatment. Irwin potentially terrorized and induced traumatic stress to many thousands of young people over the years.

I do not know if he was ever “exposed” or if anyone ever filed any sort of formal complaint against him, that information is hardly going to be made readily available through the alumni association or the order. I would like to hear that at some point someone in authority stepped in and took him away from teaching high school kids.

Back in ’65 I did not know the meaning of “sociopath,” now I do. Irwin was himself mentally ill and in need of supervision and care. I do not know if he ever got any care for his afflictions.

There have got to be others out there who might be willing to share their experiences if enough of us come forward. I don’t know where it all might lead, but I sense that us being in contact has something to do with us both healing. There have to be others out there with stories to tell, many may have never even realized what we were put through. Reading what two of us have written might serve to motivate others to come forward.

Telling our stories is vital to heal ourselves, motivate others, correct injustice and set the record straight.

Kobutsu


From another man:

On Mar 19, 2009, at 11:36 AM, *Pete* wrote:

Kevin (Kobutsu),

I just finished reading your article re Brother Irwin. I am speechless. I am catching my breath. I graduated from BC in 1966 (attended 1962-66) and thus was there when you were there and had much “exposure” to Irwin. My stomach is in a knot. Your description was so incredibly accurate and it instantly shot me back to those days. I am speechless. I think I want to thank you. I think I want to forget. But I think it isn’t right to just forget.

Have you heard from others?

*Pete*


On March 19, 2009 11:42:46 AM EDT

I responded to *Pete* and told him I had heard from others. I sent him my phone number.

(207) 359-2555

Kobutsu

 


On March 19, 2009 2:22:43 PM EDT *Pete* wrote:

What rapid responses! I appreciate your responses and your phone number. It is a gloomy day here and my spirits are darkened by thoughts of Irwin and the other BC nightmares. I have asked myself often why it is that I do not feel much affection for my high school days. I always attributed that lack of nostalgia to the fact that it was an all-male institution and the fact that it was a catholic school and I have become quite non-catholic. But I realize it is also issues such as this that compromise fondness for those days of youth.

Given that there have been two recent deaths in my family and that I am struggling in the process of healing and given that this realization about Irwin and his colleagues in crime is bringing me down, I am going to let this go for now.

I greatly appreciate your article and your bravery. I have your contact information and hopefully we can talk about better things someday. Meanwhile, I wish you a very wonderful life. From what I can see, you have been having one.

*Pete*


From a third man:

On Dec 19, 2009, at 11:36 AM, *Jack* wrote:

“I found your site and was at BC around the same time as you. You mentioned ‘for all I know Irwin is long dead’ and another alumnus clipped this from The Record in 1999 and sent it to me and for whatever reason I tucked it into the yearbook pages and so still have it.”

Here is the Charles B. Irwin obituary.

The summary of the obituary is as follows:

Charles B. Irwin

Born: Jan. 28, 1928 – Mount Vernon, NY

Graduated Iona Preparatory School, New Rochelle

Entered Congregation of Christian Brothers July 1, 1945

Professed First Vows September 8, 1946

Professed Final Vows September 8, 1953

Fordham University – BA Education 1953

St. John’s University – MA History 1956

Charles B. Irwin taught at the following institutions:

  1. St. Joseph’s Juniorate, West Park, NY
  2. Santa Maria Novitiate-Novice, West Park, NY
  3. St. Gabriel’s Scholasticate-Student, West Park, NY
  4. Sacred Heart Community and Grammar School, New York, NY
  5. Cardinal Hayes-Holy Family Community, Bronx, NY
  6. Cardinal Hayes-St. Helena’s Annex, Bronx, NY
  7. Cardinal Hayes Community and High School, Bronx, NY
  8. Power Memorial Community and Academy, New York, NY
  9. Leo Community and High School, Chicago, IL
  10. Bergen Catholic Community and High School, Oradell, NJ
  11. St. Patrick’s Provincialate Community, New Rochelle, NY
  12. Iona Prep, New Rochelle, NY 1979 – 1991 [Retired]

Died: October 9, 1997 – New Rochelle, NY



An anonymous individual with Photoshop skills offers some “psychological” advice
:
From: xxxxxx
Date: January 17, 2010 6:33:09 AM EST
To: kobutsu
Subject: Your site regarding an Irish Christian Brother

 


A Letter of Support:

On February 19, 2010 7:15:35 PM EST

Dear Rev. Kobutsu Malone,

After reading a report by Ireland’s Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse which came out in 2009, I was shocked at the accounts of many of the surviving men and women who gave accurate details of emotional, physical and sexual abuse at mainly the hands of the Irish Christian Brothers and nuns who ran the Reformatory and Industrial Schools where many of these surviving victims were brought to live at a very young age. I was very affected by their accounts and one school in particular was mentioned as being “a living hell”-it was called Artane. When I read the accounts of the boys who lived there from the 1930’s to the 1960’s I was emotionally wounded for them. I cried a lot because I could not believe how much they suffered at the hands of not only the Brothers but any adult who was affiliated with the place in one form or another.

What was even more disturbing was how the government, local police, residents and family members did very little to investigate when some of the boys, at the time, turned to them for help. I can honestly say that I am not shocked however at the reaction of the Catholic Church then and now, for decades it has done “absolutely nothing” to protect the victims but everything to protect the abusers.

I came across an article you wrote, ‘The Execution of the Holy Spirit’ regarding your experience at Bergen Catholic with a Brother Irwin and a Brother Howe – first of all they do not deserve to be called brothers, they deserve to be recognized as “pedophile” and “sociopath” Irwin and “pedophile” and “sociopath” Howe and I hope that all of those young men who they tried to break realize that they are not victims rather “brave” boys and now “brave” men who did absolutely nothing wrong but everything right. The fault, as we all know, lies in the hands of those evil, cowardly fools!

I too suffered at the hands of abuse as a child, the hands of my father who physically and mentally abused me and it took me years to realize that I had nothing to do with his cruel actions-it was his issue not mine. I was compelled to write to you because I wanted to thank you for reaching out to all those wonderful men who related to your experience at Bergen and for reiterating that what happened to you and to them is “not your fault.” I believe it is good for them to hear this and to realize that no matter how hard it is to remember, it should be talked about and not repressed. They have nothing to be embarrassed of and neither do you.

I hope you continue to reach out to those who have had similar experiences at Bergen and someday fight to be heard as they are doing in Ireland, for your sake and for the sake of any future, potential victims. The Catholic Church needs to continued to be challenged until they completely take actions to rid the evil souls that still hide behind their doors.

Kobutsu please remember that you and those other individual are not victims of abuse rather survivors of abuse! 🙂

Sincerely,

[A Friend]



From yet another man:

On April 2, 2010, at 1:13:40 PM EDT *Ralph* wrote:

Dear Kobutsu,

I was a couple of years ahead of you 62-65, and transferred to Xxxxxxx H.S. for my senior year. I had Irwin of course for algebra, I have a vivid memory of his running his hand down the back of my pants, down the crack of my ass, and then watching him sniffing his finger as he sat at his desk. I don’t have a clear memory of how many times he had his hands on me. There were others he liked more – egads, I especially remember a kid with long blond hair, Elvis style, he was Irwin’s favorite in my class. I’m reflecting on thinking how lucky I was that he enjoyed abusing/torturing others more than me – geeze, that is sick. There was another brother, who was also talked about, who I seem to remember left the school in the middle of the year of 1962.

Somehow once I ended up under that guy’s arm, and he escorted me into the boys locker room, but kids were there, and somehow, I got away. Never went near him again, his name started with and M or W and sounded maybe polish. After he left there was just brother Irwin to worry about.

I don’t remember his rage especially, there was a lot of that rage, odd for such a vocation? There was a Brother Ryan? who would make us take off our pants in the halls with our shoes on, if we couldn’t he would beat the shit out of you. Another lasting memory, was the brother’s seeming obliviousness to bullies. I remember a kid named Xxxxxxx from Fort Lee, New Jersey – his favorite recreation between class, at lunch or gym was picking on littler, more timid kids. It was constant and of course there were other bullies, and the brothers turned a blind side to all of that too. It’s Kafkaesque, no?

So you’re a Malone, and then you took a Zen first name? I am still a practicing Catholic, attend mass etc, despite the current/new scandals reaching to touch the Pope. Most Catholics I know have little to no respect for the Magisterium in all its majesty and hypocrisy.

*Ralph*

“I have a vivid memory of his running his hand down the back of my pants, down the crack of my ass, and then watching him sniffing his finger as he sat at his desk.”


Charles “The Chest” Irwin greets prom attendees 1965.


And another man:

On October 22, 2010, at 12:52:18 PM EDT *Sam* wrote:
Just found your web site. I was searching for pictures of BC to show my wife. I have a similar story not of any sexual abuse but definitely physical abuse. I graduated from the class of ‘70 and rode the Fort Lee bus. Yes, that bus. I remember the bullies who picked on us very well and had a few fist fights with them myself.

The school principal was expelled as I remember and a new principal took over. I believe the principal was expelled for physical and verbal abuse.

Yes, we had brothers who were in hiding. Some were obviously sexually confused and some not so obvious. We had one brother who was referred to as Sister Mary by some of the students. I will not use his name but I remember him well . He had a mean streak and liked to slap you in the face. We also had brothers who would punch you and knock you down for chewing gum in the hall.

My brother also had the misfortune of going to BC but failed out in his freshman year. There was a Brother who was a coach there and he was cruel to my little brother.

I did not want to dissapoint my Mother so I hung in there and took the abuse. It wasn’t a healthy atmosphere for kids that already had issues. It was certainly not nurturing. My brother did well in public school and enjoyed his high school years.

Brother Howe, I remember him well but not as a sexual abuser. He was just a bully . He enjoyed it and I had many fights with him in class. Mostly he would throw erasers at me . He was surprised when I threw them back at him. I wouldn’t take his crap.

We had a history teacher. His name was Mr. Darts. Mr. Darts was a nice man who took me out in the hall one day and spoke with me as a mentor. He knew I was having problems and suggested that if I didn’t want to be there I should talk to my parents. I have never forgotten him. His were the kindest words I had ever had at BC. Thankyou Mr. John Darts.

The Infamous Fort Lee Bus. I hated it but learned to defend myself. We had two upper classman who were big bullies. I only can remember their faces. They were football players and wore their BC jackets. I only wish they were in front of me now as an adult!

Send your boys to a good public school.

Here’s a memory for you and as crazy as it sounds it is 100% true.

I had a Jesuit for some religion class. He was talking about masturbation and the dropping of the seed intentionally. Did you know that is a mortal sin and you can go to hell for that? Well being defiant I asked him what would happen if it happen unintentionally, like while you were sleeping. What happens then if you die? Do you go to hell or only purgatory? Well the stuff hit the fan. I was told to go to the office. They sent me home with a letter recommending I leave the school. Guess the tuition was more valuable because my mother’s letter saved me.

What a bunch of sick people. I feel sorry for them and forgive them their sins. God only knows what they went through as young men entering the seminary. Forgiveness is the best lesson I have learned in life and it wasn’t taught to me at BC.

If you can pass my email along to the person who rode the Fort Lee bus I would appreciate it.

PS. I did not go on stage to accept my diploma at graduation. As an act of defiance I sat in the stands without a cap and gown. It was a great dissapointment to my Mother who could never understand. Sorry Mom.

*Sam*


Brother Michael McElhatton
A.K.A. “Sister Mary”


And another man:

On November 29, 2010, at 6:01 PM EDT *Karl* wrote:

I was in the class of 1971.

Fortunately, I never had the horrendous experiences you mentioned with Br Irwin and Br Howe, but I remember them both and am not at all surprised. Br Smith was a religion teacher that gave me a slap across the face that left a handprint for a few minutes. He was clearly effeminate, but was intolerant of anything but undivided attention. I had great experiences with all the lay teachers. Mr Stevenson in particular was the chess team coach. My guidance counselor was also the basketball coach (Dougherty?) and he was also very helpful. I got a great education at BC, but it is disgusting what the Catholic Church allowed to happen.

*Karl*


Brother Joseph Smith
A.K.A. “Smitty”


And another:

On March 25, 2011, at 3:57 PM EDT *Jerome* wrote:

I just read your story about Brs. Irwin and Howe. I was a member of a late 60’s graduating class. I remember Charlie Irwin. We all knew he was a “fag” as we called him them. He did not sexually bother me but I do recall him putting his hand down boys shirts. I never saw the pants action. There were a number of homosexual brothers back then. Maybe because I came a few years after you, I (we) knew a little more about them. I know “Sister Mary” as one writer mentioned. There were plenty of mean ones too. Br. Howe was nasty as were others. I did not take their crap. As a matter of fact, I do believe I slapped Br. Fish after he slapped me one day.

Another guy mentioned the Fort Lee bus. I was on the same bus at that time. The bullies were in full force on that ride. I was picked on in school. I was skinny and not a jock. Fortunately, I always had a way with words and gave it right back. I remember one guy bothering me and I punched him in the face. Of course, he was twice my size and picked me up and threw me across a row or two of desks. But that was the end of it. I did not take the bullies crap either.

*Jerome*


And another:

On June 7, 2011, this letter was received from *Greg* at 10:40:55 AM EDT:

Kobutsu:

I was reading an editorial in this past Sunday’s New York Times by Maureen Dowd in reference to a Bishop in Ireland, who among other things, got down on his knees and washed the feet of sexual abuse victims at a mass in Dublin. The editorial went on to say how his papal colleagues in the Vatican did not look upon the Irish Bishop favorably.

The editorial brought out the old anger of 40 years ago and I did something that I have resisted for decades. I goggled Bergen Catholic sexual abuse and your article came up. As I began to read my first impression was that I had written this in some trance-like state. When I showed your article to my wife she asked if I had written it. First I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for having the courage to bring out these things that many of us have tried to bury over the years.

My own experience begins with attending Xxxxxxxxxx grammar school in Xxxxxxxxx, NJ. I had gone to public school and had many happy years but my three older brothers had graduated from a Jesuit College and in my young mind I thought going to BC would give me a leg up on doing the same. From sixth thru eighth grade Brothers taught me. As with you, the terror was on a daily basis. Being slapped and hit was common but the worst for me was having to come to the front of the room and having your hand held while you were beaten with a steel ruler. I learned early that tears might diminish the amount of hits and so for me, the tears came quickly. My other recollection was to see some of my tougher friends hold out tears and piss the brothers off and receive many more hits.

Seeing your picture and knowing the dates that you attended Bergen Catholic I know I was there the same year and I am fairly sure that I was in the same algebra class with Irwin. I have forgotten most of my year at Bergen Catholic but the hell of a Brother Irwin algebra class will always be locked in my memory. I remember that his class came early in the day and that once we had gotten thru that part of our day, I personally felt a great sense of relief.

Looking back on that class I felt like that out of a class of say thirty boys, (I was maybe 5’4″ 105 lbs.) Brother Irwin gave me more heinous attention than other, bigger kids. This, coupled with a strong dislike of Math, was almost a death sentence in his class. Don’t get me wrong, everyone suffered and lived in utter fear in that class, but there were about ten that maybe fit his victims’ profile.

I do remember him marching up and down rows with his pointer and for someone like myself, who did not always do his daily homework, trying to guess when he would call on me and quickly trying to work out that problem only to have him skip a person and not know the answer when he circled back and called on me. I did not remember many of his little sick quirks that you mentioned because I kept my head down giving him no eye contact for fear of repercussions.

This is where my story gets a little more intense. A fellow classmate and I were caught cheating by Brother Irwin on the end of year Algebra final. Whether we had crib sheets that we were using or were verbally exchanging answers I don’t remember, but we were requested individually to see Brother Irwin at the end of the day. I entered his classroom at the end of the day, Irwin was seated behind the desk and he said, “I got you Mr. Xxxxxxxxx, I know you cheated, and I can fail you for the year.” I denied cheating and he continued to accuse. At one point he came from behind the desk and approached me. He did his usual neck pressure points and as I was standing there he reached down the rear of my pants. As I stood there, he took his hands and came around to my genital area. At this point I stepped back and summoned some courage and gave him a look like – “this ends now.” He stepped back and did his usual “cretin” and “retard” routine and told me after an awkward moment to leave.

I left that classroom knowing that I would never return to Bergen Catholic and it gave me a great sense of relief. I never mentioned the incident to my parents and thankfully they let me transfer to public school. The coward must have known that he might need to cover his tracks as I was given a “C.”

Over the years, I have always been thankful that I stepped back that day but I have always thought of how many other kids who fit his sick profile were put in a position were they did not have that option. There has never been any doubt in my mind that Brother Irwin, if given the right circumstance, would rape and abuse one of us. I have always wondered about the other boy who was caught cheating with me. How was he treated? He fit the same physical profile as me.

Again thank you for your initial essay as it gave me the courage, as a soon to be 61 year-old man, to express these long suppressed feelings.

*Greg*

“At one point he came from behind the desk and approached me. He did his usual neck pressure points and as I was standing there he reached down the rear of my pants. As I stood there, he took his hands and came around to my genital area. At this point I stepped back and summoned some courage and gave him a look like – ‘this ends now.’ He stepped back and did his usual ‘cretin’ and ‘retard’ routine and told me after an awkward moment to leave.”


And another:

On August 2, 2011 4:33:20 PM EDT *Chuck* wrote:

 

Kobutsu;

You were sexually abused by Brother Irwin at Bergen Catholic. I was physically abused.

I lost my algebra book (actually stolen from my locker) and Brother Irwin told me to get another one. My family did not have the money to buy a new one.

On the afternoon of Tuesday October 16, 1962 (I know this because I was removed from Bergen Catholic by my parents after this incident) Brother Irwin came down the aisle and stood towering over me at my desk. He flipped the book open and saw another student’s name, Xxxx Xxxxxx, inside the cover. He made me go to the back of the room and bent me over a desk. He was known for lifting boy’s shirts and taking three fingers together and snapping them across the exposed flesh. Before he started he said he knew something better. He took a belt from another student, Xxxxx Xxxx, and started to whip me. Forty lashes with that belt. Forty really hard lashes. Nothing like I ever experienced in my life, before and ever since. Beyond pain.

Some of the students tried to come to my aid but he threatened them all that if they did anything they would get the same. You could get all their names by going to the 1962 Algebra class records and ask each of them. They were totally intimidated by him.

After he finished beating me (I was a complete mess, crying and almost unable to walk) he made me stand up and said, Mr. Xxxxxx, you didn’t seem to like your punishment. Would you rather have had a month’s worth of detentions? I nodded “yes” and he said, “You got it” and started to write them out. Xxxxx Xxxx and several other classmates protested, it felt as if a riot was going to break out but I couldn’t care less. I was beyond pain. He stopped writing and told everyone to sit at their desks and be quiet. I lay with my head on my desk, crying uncontrollably. I couldn’t stop no matter how hard I tried. The bell at the end of the period rang. We stayed in that classroom as the teachers rotated classes.

Brother O’Sullivan was the next teacher and came in and walked up to my desk and asked what happened. I couldn’t speak but one of the students told him what happened.  He left the room and came back five minutes or so later and told everyone to read quietly. After that class, several students helped me get to the bus. I still was crying uncontrollably and it took me all the way home to finally control the crying.

We lived down the street from Xxxxxxxxx Church and Father Xxxxxxxx came to the house. His response was that “*Chuck* must have done something to deserve this”. My parents had me stay home the next day and on Thursday my father took off from work and took me to Bergen Catholic and confronted Brother Kean the principal and demanded that Brother Irwin come to the office. When Brother Irwin came in my father took his belt off and tried to go after Brother Irwin but was physically restrained by Brother Kean.

I was taken out of school and started at Xxxxxxxxxx High School the next Monday.

My life was never the same.

*Chuck*
“He took a belt from another student, Xxxxx Xxxx, and started to whip me. Forty lashes with that belt. Forty really hard lashes. Nothing like I ever experienced in my life, before and ever since. Beyond pain.”

“My parents had me stay home the next day and on Thursday my father took off from work and took me to Bergen Catholic and confronted Brother Kean the principal and demanded that Brother Irwin come to the office. When Brother Irwin came in my father took his belt off and tried to go after Brother Irwin but was physically restrained by Brother Kean.”

“My life was never the same.”

 

Br. Alfred X. Kean
A.K.A. “The Axe”
Br. Charles B. Irwin
A.K.A. “The Chest”

Another man writes:

On Aug 3, 2011, at 12:36 PM, *Dennis* wrote:

Wow!

Physical and verbal abuse was so common in Catholic Schools, but *Chuck’s* account here is the most intense I ever read or heard about other than in some novel or movie.

I went to Cardinal Hayes High School. In my freshman year (1965) the most severe abuse I witnessed was during announcements at the end of one spring day. A classmate was chatting away and was spotted by one of the priest teachers from the hallway. The priest came running in, grabbed the student out of his seat, carried / dragged him to the front of the room and smashed him face first into the blackboard. The priest then threatened to do the same to any of the rest of us. The kid was terrified, traumatized – his parents eventually removed him from the school.

*Dennis*

Cardinal Hayes High School, Bronx, New York

Media Double Standard On Pope Francis & Clerics v. UK Pols/Celebs & Bill Cosby ?


Media Double Standard On Pope Francis & Clerics v. UK Pols/Celebs & Bill Cosby ?

Views of Jerry Slevin, a Harvard and Catholic “schooled” retired international lawyer

From the Link: http://christiancatholicism.com/media-double-standard-on-pope-francis-clerics-v-uk-polscelebs-bill-cosby/

Reuters’ respected editor, John Lloyd, who is also a La Repubblica of Rome columnist and an Oxford journalism scholar, candidly observed about the Vatican’s recent Synod huddle: ” …  these ageing men did — and still do — have a serious sex scandal within their ranks – one which they have, in the main, dealt with badly.” Fair enough, but are journalists now doing much better, “in the main”, in covering Pope Francis’ failure after 20 months to take decisive action to curtail the clerical sex abuse scandal? No, with only rare exceptions.

CNN is a prime example. It appears, in effect, still to be giving Pope Francis and UK clerics a continuing pass on Vatican controlled secretive investigations, while pressing for an independent and transparent UK investigation of sex abuse allegations involving UK political leaders and celebrities.

A double standard, no? Do UK politicians’ opposition parties have more media clout than Pope Francis’ disorganized opposition that evidently is too often overwhelmed by Pope Francis’  media machine and his seeming support from opportunistic multi-billionaire media magnates in the UK/Australia/USA/Latin America and elsewhere? It appears so.

Pope Francis is clearly running out of time, as he seemingly is only going through some public relations motions on curtailing priest sex abuse. He must now either act decisively and transparently or he can expect to face more governmental investigations that he will most likely be unable to control. He no longer enjoys the support of major international powers that have protected the Vatican for centuries.

I discuss in detail Pope Francis’ dire overall predicament in my recent analysis also included below under “The Crisis Pope Francis Faces” . My analysis relies heavily on my study of the work of Fr. Hans Kung. He is a leading world authority on Catholic theology,  history and interreligious dialogue, a former mentor to Cardinal Walter Kasper (Pope Francis’ preferred theologian), and an occasional confidante to world leaders, including the former longtime UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Fr. Kung has over a five year period generously given me by constant example and occasional e-mail some encouragement, including with respect to my recent  analysis. Of course, I am an international lawyer, not a professional scholar, and Fr. Kung is not responsible for my judgments.

I have also benefited from the courageous work of Fr. Charles Curran, a worldwide authority on moral theology. Fr. Curran, like Hans Kung, also felt the Vatican’s inquisitorial whip for thinking freely and openly. Fr. Curran significantly has just boldly called on Pope Francis to admit that the Vatican has made mistakes in the area of its sexual morality teachings.

Who present the bigger threat to those vulnerable to sex abusers — a limited number of celebrities and politicians or an indeterminate number of potential predators from among 4,000+ bishops and 400,000+ priests. Catholic clerics mainly are unaccountable to any independent and transparent oversight. They also have literally unlimited access to vulnerable victims. And, sadly, they have already shown a disproportionate tendency to abuse, no? Why the disparate journalistic treatment? It makes no sense.

Geoffrey Robertson, QC, the world renowned no-nonsense UK/Australian international human rights lawyer, unexpectedly in a  recent Christiane Amanpour CNN interview, seriously undercut CNN’s seemingly  papal “star power” exception. Robertson boldly, in effect, called for a massive UK national investigation of all sexual abusers, in both church and state institutions, like the extraordinary one currently underway in Australia. This call by a prominent international lawyer on a prime international cable network for a UK national investigation is a major event. His call, in principle, applies to the USA as well. Perhaps, more US lawyers also will now call on President Obama to act as well.

Another bold Australian human rights advocate, Aletha Blayse, had already similarly called on President Obama to do likewise with a comparable national investigation commission in the US modeled on the Australian Royal Commission. The need for a US national investigation commission appears even greater than the UK’s need.

Indeed, even former US President Jimmy Carter is getting on the expanding bandwagon. As reported by the National Catholic Reporter, he recently addressed by video, the Call To Action at a large convention of Catholic seeking change. Carter, a prominent evangelical Christian, in surprisingly direct and prophetic words, told the Catholic attendees that they faced “a church that models our society in marginalizing many of its women, its people of color and, in fact, all those who question any interpretation by male leaders of Jesus’ mission.” Carter added: “I urge you to give witness to the possibilities that society will change. You are agents of that change. And I stand with you in the valued struggle to move our faith, our country and our planet forward … “.  Does Carter have President Obama’s ear on these matters? He may.

As to evident journalistic double standards, CNN in an important segment on sexual abuse looked at  the fundamental subject of equal justice under the law, in the context of a “Tale of Two Cities” — Rome/Vatican versus London/Philadelphia, as shown here:

http://amanpour.blogs.cnn.com/2014/11/19/star-power-bewitches-those-vulnerable-to-abuse-says-human-rights-lawyer/

CNN’s segment involves implicitly two interrelated questions: (1) whether alleged sex abusers should receive special treatment if they are famous and powerful, and (2) should the independence of the related criminal investigation vary if it is conducted in Rome at the Vatican as opposed to places like London or Philadelphia?  CNN, in effect, answered “No” to the first question, yet made an exception for Pope Francis’ investigation of accused clerical sex abusers,  and skipped past the second question, which, of course, should have also been asked squarely and answered “No”.

Occasioned by unfolding multiple sex abuse allegations involving several  political leaders, celebrities and Catholic clerics, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour  raised the hot topic of “star power” — whether the famous and powerful were beyond independent investigation and above  laws that cover sexual abuse that apply to everyday people.

Amanpour referred to the escalating tsunami of allegations of sex abuse  involving men ranging from celebrities like TV’s most famous “father figure”, Bill Cosby,  to UK political leaders and celebrities and to worldwide Catholic clerics who have preyed on innocent victims, mostly children. Her informed guest was Geoffrey Robertson, QC.

Robertson has written a classic and fair case study of the Vatican’s conduct in the priest abuse scandal, “The Case of the Popes: Vatican Accountability for Human Rights Abuse” (2010). He may also have personal insights here as well, as he describes his wife as having been “once a Catholic”.

When Amanapour, who reportedly had been instructed as a child at a UK convent school, gratuitously and revealingly volunteered that Pope Francis wanted to address priest child abuse, Robertson seemingly snickered and interjected, “He hasn’t yet”. This lead Amanpour to amend her statement about Francis quickly to: “He {Pope Francis} says he will, we’ll see and we’ll have to hold him accountable”. She did not reveal how Pope Francis would be held by CNN or anyone else to account if he fails to address the abuse scandal independently and transparently, as he and his predecessors have mostly failed to address it effectively for over a century or more. No one has held a pope accountable for anything significant during that time.

Amanpour, a mother, to her credit, directly asked Robertson what specifically needs to be done in the future to protect those most vulnerable. He replied significantly and pointedly: “I would think the Australian experience of a Royal Commission, which has got total powers to reveal what’s gone wrong and to make recommendations, that’s a very good start,” He added,  “Here {UK} we haven’t got started.”

Robertson, in the short interview, did not have the opportunity to elaborate on the subject of the extent to which a UK commission should investigate the Vatican’s conduct, as the Australian commission is trying to do. Pope Francis is currently trying, as his predecessors had, in effect, to investigate and judge his own bishops and priests secretively, clearly neither an independent nor transparent process like the Australian Royal Commission or even the standard UK, Australian or US criminal process.

As it stands now, alleged clerical sex abusers enjoy favorable treatment from a conflicted Vatican process. This cannot, and in my judgment as an international lawyer, will not stand much longer, for the reasons I discuss under “The Crisis Pope Francis Faces” below. Famous performers, powerful politicians and protected priests should, under modern jurisprudence, be subject to the same basic laws and comparable criminal procedures as the people whose lives are destroyed by their crimes. That is referred to worldwide as equal justice under the law for all.

Of course, from Robertson’s statements in his book, his considerable experience and simple logic, he would have to concur, I submit, that priests, bishops and even popes, should not be entitled to legal exemptions or special treatment when charged with serious crimes, especially against children. Even US Presidents Nixon and Clinton were not above the law.

Both Amanpour and Robertson also focused on the UK’s Home Secretary’s widely reported difficulties finding an chief investigator who satisfied the public’s desire for an independent and transparent sex abuse investigation. What is worth observing here is how the media, even a highly regarded and experienced TV commentator like CNN’s Amanpour, just accepted at face value the pope’s statement he would investigate, without even trying to consider discussing how to assess whether it would be an independent and transparent investigation. Given the Vatican’s poor record to date, it seems unacceptable to rely so much on Vatican’s bald statements. Pope Francis surprisingly still seems to get a free media pass after 20 months as pope, with little to show on curtailing clerical child abuse. That will not continue indefinitely, for the reasons as I discuss below under “The Crisis Pope Francis Faces”.

Robertson’s clear call on CNN for a broad national Australian style investigation commission is, as mentioned, a major development. Hopefully, he will be personally involved, given his fine record and unusual ability. Indeed, after his considerable work on famous legal cases involving, for example, holding Chilean ex-president General Pinochet to account, to defending WikiLeak’s  Julian Assange, Robertson has some star power of his own.

Indeed, Robertson’s chambers’ own  “star power ” has just been greatly enhanced by the marriage of actor/activist, George Clooney to Robertson’s able colleague, Alam Alamuddin, who earlier practiced at Sullivan & Cromwell, where I also earlier practiced.

Who knows? Perhaps, George Clooney, a strong advocate for Africa’s poor and for gay rights worldwide, might even decide to add his own considerable star power to secure protection for more children by calling for full accountability under the law for Catholic clerics of all ranks.

Raised reportedly a traditional Irish American Catholic family, Clooney would likely be knowledgeable about the Vatican’s shameful record on protecting children and its anti-contraception and anti-marriage  equality crusades.

These crusades have added to the miseries of many Africans, among others. including many children. Now that Pope Francis has appointed conservative South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier as one of the four leaders of Francis’ Final Synod for next October, Clooney’s advocacy here could be especially important for desperate Africans and others.

As “star power” sex abuse scandals are being revealed continually in the UK, the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg recently and significantly said: “We are at an early stage of a reckoning with our past that is on a scale and gravity that just a few months ago might have seemed unimaginable and almost too horrific to contemplate. The task is to peel back the layers of deception that appear to have happened in the past.”

It seem clear that major “star power” sex abuse investigations in the UK are only in their infancy, which should concern Pope Francis. It is unclear whether the recent alleged sex scandals involving, among other matters, exploiting their position of power, that led to the resignations of two of the UK’s Catholic Church’s highest officials, Scotland’s Cardinal Keith O’Brien and the UK’s Bishop Kieran Conry, will be included in any UK public investigation. Given their key national positions, they should be included. They would likely be if Geoffrey Robertson’s call for a national commission is heeded.

As to Pope Francis’ new “papal protector of children”,  Cardinal Sean O’Malley, recently featured on CBS’s 60 Minutes, please see the recent detailed, and documented, information, from Anne Barrett Doyle, the excellent researcher at BishopAccountabillity.org, on Cardinal O’Malley’s poor history on child abuse prevention efforts, described in her “Six Ways Cardinal Sean O’Malley Has Mishandled the Abuse Crisis” at:

http://www.bishop-accountability.org/OMalley_Fact_Sheet.htm

To date, after a well publicized announcement almost a year ago, O’Malley has mainly had only a few photo ops with Pope Francis and some perfunctory meetings of his inchoate priest child abuse commission, usually timed to deflect negative publicity from UN committee condemnations of the Vatican’s priest child abuse cover-ups and the like. Now in his CBS interview, O’Malley has indicated he will visit the Vatican every two months apparently to check in for the latest photo ops, presumably when he attends the more important Council of Cardinals meetings. It appears the abuse commission will be run by Fr. Robert Oliver, who learned the ropes early as a canon lawyer under Boston’s  infamous Cardinal Law. It seems O’Malley will in the interim communicate with Oliver by FAX ! Are children any safer now? Please!

A year after first announcing this commission, O’Malley amazingly stated on 60 Minutes that the go-slow commission was working on some “protocols”, which his subsequent statements seem to suggest will focus more on protecting bishops than children. And CBS did not press him on the commission’s inexplicable and unacceptable organizational delays. It appears to be another instance of a media “pass” for the Vatican.

It seems quite clear that Pope Francis is intentionally pursuing effective child protection reform measures very slowly and almost secretly with this new advisory committee (A) headed by Cardinal Law’s successor, Cardinal O’Malley, who is experienced with “handling” abuse investigations confidentially and slowly, and (B) assisted now, as top assistant, by Cardinals Law’s, O’Malley’s  and Mueller’s predictable and pliable longtime canon lawyer, Fr. Robert Oliver.

Twelve years after the Boston Globe Catholic priest child abuse revelations and almost 30 years after Father Thomas  Doyle’s abuse report to Cardinals Law, Levada, Bevilacqua, Laghi, et al. and Pope John Paul II, for  O’Malley to say on CBS we are looking into “protocols” is a farce. And he seems to have gotten away with it!

Moreover, the Boston Globe has recently reported, based on legal documents the Globe examined, that Pope Francis’ choice to replace Fr. Oliver as the Vatican’s top prosecutor of clerics accused of child abuse, a prominent American Jesuit, was himself one of several Catholic officials who allowed a notorious abusive priest to remain in ministry for years after learning of his long history of sexual abuses. Fr. Robert Geisinger, named in September as the Vatican’s “promoter of justice,’’ was the second-highest-ranking official among the Chicago Jesuits in the 1990s when leaders were facing multiple abuse complaints against the Rev. Donald J. McGuire..

But, the Globe reported, the Jesuits failed to notify police or take effective steps to prevent McGuire from continuing to molest minors. Documents examined by the Globe show that Geisinger had detailed knowledge of the complaints against McGuire as early as 1995 and advised officials in Chicago on how to discipline McGuire as late as August 2002. McGuire was finally convicted in 2006 by a Wisconsin jury of molesting two boys who had notified civil authorities. He was also convicted on federal charges in 2008 and is serving a 25-year-prison sentence.

The Globe also reported: “It’s astonishing that, for such a high-profile, sensitive position, the Vatican wouldn’t want someone whose background is unassailable, in the sense that there shouldn’t even be questions raised,” Philip F. Lawler, the editor of Catholic World News, said of Geisinger.

Yes, it is astonishing that this Jesuit, with questionable credentials, has joined Fr. Oliver, Cardinal Law’s former canon lawyer, as Pope Francis’ two man priest abuse response team. After a year and a half as pope, is this the best Pope Francis can do to curtail the worst scandal facing the Catholic Church since the Reformation?  That seems impossible to conceive. Pope Francis needs to address this scandal effectively now while he still has time.

It would seem more appropriate that Fr. Geisinger and Fr. Oliver be subjects of Vatican investigations, rather than to be the investigators!

I have to wonder, as an international lawyer, if O’Malley, Oliver and Geisinger, all presumably US citizens, were picked to work on the latest papal public relations ploys to “do little or nothing” to really curtail clerical  abuse also because the US has not ratified the International Criminal Court (ICC) Treaty. Since the ex-pope had already been a subject of a complaint filed with the ICC, it must have occurred to the Vatican and its lawyers that whomever handles these matters can expect to face a further complaint at the ICC, a very serious matter. It might be more difficult to prosecute them under the ICC Treaty as US citizens if they had returned to the USA when the ICC prosecutor finally pursues the Vatican again, as I am confident as an international lawyer she will.

For the current “big picture” on the Vatican’s continuing failures here, please see the recent report by Fr. Thomas P. Doyle, O.P., the world’s leading expert on curtailing priest child sexual abuse, at:

http://christiancatholicism.com/how-survivors-have-changed-history-by-thomas-p-doyle-o-p/

Pope Francis seems, for over a year and a half now, to have made as his highest priority, protecting Catholic cardinals and bishops from prosecution, especially related to allegations of child abuse and/or related cover-ups, and of financial corruption, (A) by easing out, quietly and with minimal recriminations, controversial hierarchs by comfortable retirements, demotions or transfers (O’Brien, Brady, Conry, Tebartz-van Elst (Bling Bishop), Liveries, Burke, Rigali, even Wesolowski so far, et al.), and (B) by trying to co-opt completely all independent government investigations of hierarchs with Vatican controlled and secretive proceedings (especially Archbishop Wesolowski), that conveniently also protect against disclosures about other hierarchs that may have been implicated.

The USA situation seems equally bleak as the UK situation for the Vatican. Minneapolis whistleblower and former top diocesan official, Jennifer Haselberger, is reporting on her blog some unusual current Vatican attention possibly  to Archbishop Nienstedt’s status  and seeking diocesean bankruptcy protection. Meanwhile, Minneapolis media are also currently reporting about child porn video evidence that allegedly may have been destroyed, with a Vatican official’s involvement, by Obama’s Chief of Staff’s brother, Fr, Kevin McDonough. Child porn, and related evidence destruction, appear to involve Federal crimes as well as state crimes, which raise sensitive issues for Obama’s US Justice Department and his new Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, a no-nonsense prosecutor.
Who knows what is really going on with Obama, but if concerned citizens don’t demand much more Federal law enforcement involvement, including a national commission investigation as openers, like the one that Geoffrey Robertson just called for in the UK and Aletha Blayse has called for in the USA,  the USA is likely missing the one “fix” that could really make a long term difference, as the civil litigation process enters its fourth decade, with some good results but not enough.
It is unclear what impact the investigation of the brother of President Obama’s Chief of Staff has had on Obama’s apparent failure to step up here with a national commission, but it is troubling, to me at least. And of course, the media as far as I know has not raised the matter with the White House, as I think they should. Again, the Vatican seems to benefit here from another media pass.

Please see also my related remarks at:

http://christiancatholicism.com/popes-child-abuse-commission-crawls-while-his-family-synod-slips/

http://christiancatholicism.com/crisis-pope-francis-and-the-synod-face-a-mess-in-the-house-of-cards/

Incidentally, Pope Francis thanked Fr. Hans Kung for sending him his important new book on how to reform of the Catholic Church, “Can We Save the Catholic Church” (2013). Here is an excerpt from his book:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/07/save-the-catholic-church-_n_4740030.html

For more, see:

http://amzn.com/0007522029

Hans Kung, a Swiss priest, has for over a half century been a world recognized Catholic scholar, a best selling author on church history and theology and even an occasional adviser to top political leaders. As mentioned, Pope Francis’ preferred theologian, Cardinal Walter Kasper, served as a younger scholar as an assistant to Fr. Kung at Tuebingen University, Germany’s foremost theological faculty.

Hans Kung has for more than a half century engaged with, or influenced, several popes, including his former university colleague, Joseph Ratzinger (ex-Pope Benedict XVI), as well as John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II and even during his student years at the Jesuits’ Gregorian University in Rome, Pope Pius XII. Cardinals and bishops have sought his advice, at least as early as his time serving as a key theological expert with Joseph Ratzinger and Jesuit Karl Rahner at the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). Fr. Kung has for decades offered to many interested Catholics worldwide, including Cardinals Bergoglio (Pope Francis) and Kasper, his own well articulated and scholarly supported alternative vision to that of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

For Hans Kung’s full warning to the effect that letting the ex-Pope, Joseph Ratzinger, stick around the Vatican would be a real mistake, please see:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/28/hans-kung-pope-benedict-will-be-a-shadow-pope_n_2781248.html

For Charles Curran’s important, informative and insightful new call for Pope Francis to acknowledge the the Vatican has made some mistakes, at least in the are of sexual morality, please :

http://ncronline.org//news/accountability/some-kind-gradualism-curran-says-papacy-should-admit-some-its-teachings-are

For former US President Carter’s address to Call To Action, a large Catholic reform group, supporting a reform agenda for the Catholic Church, please see:

http://ncronline.org/news/censured-priest-carter-support-cta

For Australian human rights activist, Aletha Blayse’s recent call on President Obama, to set up a US national presidential commission to investigate institutional child abuse, like the Australian Royal Commission, please see:

http://christiancatholicism.com/post-elections-obama-kids-the-catholic-church-the-salvation-army-et-al-child-abuse-war-and-the-need-for-a-national-commission-of-inquiry-into-child-abuse-by-aletha-blayse/

My remarks, “The Crisis Pope Francis Faces”, follows:

  1.  A Ray of Hope In A Crisis of Trust — A Holy Mess: Pope Francis says Catholics should “create a mess” to help him promote changes in the Catholic Church. The Catholic majority are pleased for now; although many are skeptical. Some see a bright ray of hope shining through the crisis of trust triggered by Church scandals. Others think the window of opportunity for hopeful light from Pope Francis will close soon if he is not prophetic and transparent. Indeed, some even think the Vatican’s current “holy mess” will be its final mess.
  2. Yet, Francis has so far offered few indications about concrete changes he really wants. Many Church leaders seem fearful of any changes. Yet, many Catholics and others are finally pressing for permanent changes. They have by now seen Vatican misconduct up close and too often. They now also understand better that many of the Vatican’s frequently ambiguous, if not vague, basic biblical and historical sources supporting papal power have too often been overplayed, if not misused, in encyclicals and a Catechism, to justify supreme papal power . Significantly, these permanent changes, that the Catholic majority seeks in good conscience and good faith, may differ ultimately from what many in the Vatican now want. As the “infallible Supreme Pontiff” for millions of Catholics, Pope Francis has the best papal opportunity in many years, if not centuries, to fix the broken Catholic Church. This may also be the final papal opportunity to clean up the “holy mess”. Time will soon tell.
  3. This crisis has led to one papal resignation already. Pope Francis appears for many reasons to be the Vatican’s best and last chance to lead on initiating overdue Church changes. Pressures beyond Vatican control can be expected to compel more severe changes if Francis fails to act effectively and transparently. This has already begun to happen with respect to Vatican finances, as a result of the continuing European governmental investigations of multiple misdeeds involving both the Vatican Bank and the Vatican’s own significant portfolio assets. Prospects for criminal prosecutions of Catholic Church officials have seemingly caused the Vatican to focus on overdue reforms in ways that earlier financial penalties and shameful publicity had rarely done before. As with corporate criminal executives worldwide, prosecution risk is generally a uniquely effective deterrent to future crimes by senior leaders.
  4. Almost 150 years ago, facing a similar crisis, Pope Pius IX refused to initiate overdue changes to his arbitrary and ineffective leadership of his Kingdom of the Papal States in central Italy. His key misguided “fix” was to push to be declared “infallible” in July 1870. Two months later, he militarily lost the Kingdom completely to Italian nationalists. Traditional papal protectors like France and Austria-Hungary stood by and passively watched, unwilling to support further papal mismanagement and capriciousness. Will Pope Francis make a similar mistake like Pius IX did by misjudging his precarious position?
  5.  The Vatican no longer even has comparable powerful protectors. It is mostly on its own now in the international political arena, like Pius XI’s Vatican was by 1870. Popes since 1870 have counter culturally tried secretively to rule mainly as “semi-divine infallible” absolute monarchs with tightly controlled subordinate bishops worldwide in an increasingly democratic world now linked by an open Internet and an 24/7 worldwide free media. The Vatican is running out of time to adjust to current reality and may be forced to do so soon.
  6. Building governmental pressures indicate currently that if the Vatican does not adopt key changes voluntarily and soon, the Vatican can be expected to be compelled to change involuntarily. This has recently already happened repeatedly, for example, in the financial area. Another recent example of increasing governmental pressure is the Australian national investigation into child abuse in religious organizations. It has already led to the Vatican changing both internal policies, and key leadership in Australia, including Cardinal George Pell, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Papal Nuncio, following a massive effort by government investigators. Similar investigations can be expected in other countries as well.
  7. The Vatican likely will be unable to contain much longer the cumulative and growing pressure, both internal and external, for change. Well publicized Vatican scandals continue to proliferate before a steadily skeptical world audience that is unconvinced either by the Vatican’s limited efforts so far or by its many public relations diversions. Many Catholics and others are becoming more impatient about protecting innocent victims of continuing Vatican scandals and misguided policies — including millions of poor women, children, couples, divorced persons and gay folks. The building governmental pressures indicate increasingly that the Vatican can change voluntarily or, as has already repeatedly happened in the financial area generally and in the child protection area in Australia, the Vatican will be compelled to change involuntarily.
  8. Significantly, the Vatican no longer benefits from the powerful international protection that had enabled the Vatican to avoid overdue changes for centuries. In the current world of democracies and a free press and Internet, the secretive Vatican is vulnerable. Neither the Vatican’s high priced consultants, lawyers and lobbyists, nor the Vatican’s opportunistic financial elite allies, who seek Vatican backing to protect the income inequality status quo that benefits them so disproportionately, are hardly comparable substitutes for the earlier military backing of the Holy Roman Emperor and other powers. These powers had effectively protected the Vatican for centuries from demands for change. No more.
  9. Meanwhile, Pope Francis’ Synod strategy has pulled back the curtain on the Vatican’s fallible and incoherent management structure and helped explain why ex-Pope Benedict had no real choice but to resign. In our 24/7 media world, as the Church’s scandal and mismanagement dominoes fall, a further domino effect will likely take over beyond the Vatican’s power to control it. Fear of this effect has likely contributed to provoking some of the strong opposition that Pope Francis is facing among many in the Church’s leadership.
  10. Pope Francis acts at times like a radicalized realist. He is pressing forward relentlessly on a novel path to change. When necessary, he is even bypassing or sidelining fearful and entrenched opponents and factions. His opponents often overlook the many risks that presently exist in the Vatican’s vulnerable predicament. Pope Francis is evidently well aware of these risks. At times, some of his opponents prefer “to play their fruitless fiddles while Rome burns”.
  11. And of course, money is usually lurking in these factions’  approaches to changes. For example, the German and US bishops seem to have basically different approaches to changes like permitting communion for divorced and remarried Catholics. German bishops depend mainly on a per capita government subsidy, presently totally more than $6 billion a year, that pays the bishops more if more Catholics remain on the government registry; hence the German bishops’ inclusive approach to divorced and remarried Catholics and their families. US bishops, on the other hand, depend significantly on fewer major donors who reward the bishops’ ability to draw out fundamentalists to vote for low-tax right wing US political candidates. These fundamentalists oppose most changes, especially those relating to traditional marriage. Not surprisingly, US bishops tend to oppose changes to traditional marriage sacramental rules. As with understanding approaches to other changes, sometimes it pays to follow the money.
  12. Significantly, the Catholic majority intuitively understands that these risks generated by the present crisis, especially from building governmental pressures on the Vatican, have paradoxically also generated an unprecedented opportunity to restore the Church to an earlier condition — to a Church that Jesus’ first disciples would have recognized as completely consistent with Jesus’ Gospel message of love of God and of neighbors, even of enemies. This will be a welcoming Church again that satisfies the needs of both conservative and progressive Catholics.
  13. Well publicized Catholic Church scandals have triggered a unique situation — both an unprecedented crisis and an unexpected opportunity. This crisis (A) erodes Catholic trust in light of the longstanding gap between the Vatican’s words and deeds, (B) invites outside governmental intervention at a time when the Vatican lacks powerful international protectors like it had for centuries, and (C) underscores the urgent need for key changes in Church structure and doctrine. The crisis has also contributed, as indicated, to one pope’s unanticipated resignation and to the replacement pope’s unpredictable revolution.
  14. Before his 80th birthday in barely two years, Pope Francis can successfully seize the opportunity, follow his conscience and apply his unique status, forceful temperament and popular appeal. Most importantly, he can declare “infallibly” key changes. By then, he will have received new input from his two advisory Synods of Bishops. He has already been enlightened by his valuable almost two years of  experience as pope. He now also is unhampered by his prior pastoral positions and unfettered by his earlier ideological constraints as an obedient cardinal, bishop and Jesuit. If Francis fails to act effectively soon, the consequences will likely be quite negative for the leadership of the Catholic Church.
  15. Pope Francis can accomplish much if he wants to and finds the wisdom and courage to do so. Equally important, it seems unlikely any of his successors will get a more propitious opportunity in the foreseeable future to adopt long overdue changes. It may be now or never for Pope Francis and the Vatican.
  16. Any needed changes that Pope Francis leaves uncompleted, whether by choice or circumstances, Catholics can then push to complete soon thereafter, with or without Vatican support. Catholics can be expected to do so, given the current Catholic majority’s momentum and mounting democratic governmental pressures. The Catholic majority can expect help in effecting these changes from powerful forces, outside the Church structure, that are now pressing harder for key Vatican changes, like greater accountability and transparency.
  17.  The Making of the Unique Present Crisis: The Catholic Church is in the throes of its worst crisis since the Reformation. Vatican leaders in the 16th Century, aided by powerful outside military protectors, had mainly evaded making overdue structural changes, and their successors also managed with outside protection to avoid such changes mostly during the four centuries since.
  18. Nevertheless, Church changes are badly needed now and the Vatican no longer has any dominant outside protectors willing to help it avoid the changes. The changes cannot be deferred much longer if the Vatican wants to avoid both further Church decline and splintering into competing factions and constant interference from outside governments. Pope Francis’ confident and bold approach, and the Vatican’s evident need to avoid further negative repercussions from the current crisis, are both generating some hope now, as well as creating what appears to be the best opportunity since the Reformation for the worldwide Catholic majority to press the Vatican successfully for key overdue changes.
  19. According to Augustine: “God judged it better to bring good out of evil, than to suffer no evil to exist.” Catholics are now pondering whether God will soon bring some good changes out of this evil crisis, likely with some help from either Pope Francis or the worldwide Catholic majority or some international investigators or some combination of all three.
  20. There are now hopeful indications (A) that the Catholic Church may restore some of its management structure to its earliest consensual, bottom up and distributed form, from its current coercive, top down and hierarchical form, and (B) that some questionable traditional Church teachings may change to fit mercifully the actual lived experience of sincere Catholics and to conform honestly to current biblical, historical and scientific scholarship, all with or without the Vatican’s affirmative assistance.
  21. The scandals underlying the crisis have deeply discouraged millions of concerned Catholics, yet many of them now also see a new ray of hope. This hope springs less from Pope Francis’ skillful public relations efforts than from the likelihood that the present crisis will necessarily help accelerate Church changes. Moreover, some of these changes are ones that the usually silent Catholic majority can and likely will play a key role in bringing about. This would be a refreshing change in itself for the Catholic majority, a change from only being able to react passively to misguided top down Vatican decisions dictated by a celibate, aging, conflicted and self perpetuating all male leadership.
  22. It appears likely now that the Pope Francis will soon make, or be induced by outside pressures to make, major structural and other changes — changes that the Vatican had been able to resist making for centuries under earlier better positioned popes. Powerful governmental, legal and media forces are now pressing from the outside for changes, whether the presently weakened Vatican wants changes or not.
  23. While Pope Francis mostly can only play the bad cards that ex-Pope Benedict dealt him, he can use both his papal authority over bishops and the Catholic majority and this mounting outside pressure, enhanced by the power of his personal popularity and his strong will, to help convince his entrenched Vatican opposition that voluntary Church changes are more in their interest than the otherwise inevitable involuntary changes could be expected to be.
  24. Paradoxically, these anticipated changes can also help restore the Catholic Church to one that is much closer, in essential structure and compassionate spirit, than the current Church is to the Church that Jesus’ earliest disciples, including prominently some women, left behind for over three centuries.
  25. Pope Francis has brought fresh hopes after centuries of papal evasions. Martin Luther, an Augustinian friar, by 1520 had sought similar changes to an earlier Vatican bureaucracy then slithering through major scandals. Only military protection initially from the Holy Roman Emperor ultimately saved, for another 350 years until 1870, the Vatican’s centuries old Kingdom of the Papal States from many of the religious wars, internal divisions and radical reforms that followed Luther’s revolt. But Vatican scandals and structural shortcomings continued mostly as unresolved problems.
  26. The usually well positioned papacy generally remained unchanged structurally after the Reformation until the popes’ imperial protectors faded by 1870 and then finally disappeared in the First World War. This was almost 1,600 years after the powerful Roman Emperor Constantine in the Fourth Century first sought, often in practice by threats and bribes, to redirect the early Catholic Church leadership to become part of his imperial bureaucracy. Constantine’s and his successor’s imperial designs still infuse the current Vatican’s coercive and top down leadership structure.
  27. In 1870, Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) lost his last major monarchical protector due to the Franco-Prussian War. Pius IX then, without a strong outside protector, promptly lost the Kingdom of the Papal States finally on September 20, 1870 to a direct military assault on the Vatican by Italian nationalists. Both the Vatican and the Italians suffered fatalities. Two months prior to this assault, Pius IX had desperately tried to offset some of the projected negative effects of the Vatican’s expected military and political defeats. He sought to salvage some papal prestige on July 18, 1870, by being declared infallible at the First Vatican Council (Vatican I) that then soon ended prematurely due mainly to the military risks.
  28. A new era of “semi-divine Supreme Pontiffs”  thus began in 1870 and still continues under Pope Francis today, as he presses to solidify, at least temporarily, his extensive power over the Vatican bureaucracy, the Curia, as well as over the world’s bishops.
  29. The powerful prestige of infallibility has been the keystone of papal power from 1870 until now. Papal infallibility, ironically, has also been the tragic papal flaw. Concerns for preserving a claim to being infallible have, it seems, prevented politically insecure popes from making long overdue changes out of fear of appearing to be fallible and, yes, a mere mortal.
  30. This almost obsessive papal concern has been quite evident, for example, in the continuing papal opposition to contraception, mainly based on outdated natural law philosophy and medieval physiology, despite the overwhelming contrary witness in good conscience of the Catholic majority, and the latest strong and contrary evidence from natural science and modern philosophy.
  31. Incidentally, the Vatican’s opposition to family planning seems to be  a “win win” proposition for the Catholic leadership and a “lose lose” situation for couples. especially with other children, who cannot afford more children financially or emotionally.  From the Vatican’s perspective, if Catholic babies survive and thrive, they can then become potential future Church donors and docile voters to enhance the Vatican’s position in bargains with desperate vote seeking political forces. If the babies do not thrive, they become their parents’ or society’s problems, not the Vatican’s to be sure.
  32. Nevertheless, the Vatican’s strong pro-pregnancy opposition to contraception is unlikely to generate at current birthrates enough new Catholic babies to offset the Church’s escalating exodus among the practicing Catholic majority. This ongoing net decline in practicing Catholics is further eroding the Vatican’s already declining political influence and financial resources.
  33. Ironically, the more that recent popes press their opposition to positive ongoing human advances like pharmaceutical contraception, that enable couples, especially poor women, to plan their families, the less infallible they appear to be to more Catholics. The present crisis, exacerbated by the disarray among the pope and some cardinals and bishops exhibited at the recent Vatican Synod that ironically had been intended to curtail part of this crisis, also has put unsustainable additional weight on the already weak claim to papal infallibility.
  34. For almost 150 years until now, popes have been shrewdly able, despite the loss by 1870 of their actual Kingdom in central Italy, to maneuver politically, diplomatically and financially to retain some of their international influence, operational independence, considerable wealth and legal immunity, free of international laws and foreign restraints. Are the Vatican’s unique international status and contrived legal immunity claim both now about to collapse in the present crisis? Yes, it appears that the Vatican’s unique status and legal immunity are both likely facing collapse soon enough, no matter what Pope Francis now does.
  35. Many of the problems Luther initially noted in 1517 remained unresolved even after Vatican I in 1870, and still remain unresolved. These include Luther’s issues with the Vatican’s top down, coercive and unaccountable Renaissance structure and with recent popes’ historically and biblically questionable, if not idolatrous, claim of unaccountable absolute papal power. Vatican I was terminated abruptly and prematurely due mainly to the military risks, before the relationship of bishops and the Catholic majority to the newly proclaimed infallible popes could be addressed fully. Pius XI and many of his successors, through Pope Benedict XVI (2005-2013), have at times used this uncompleted and unexpected result for almost 150 years to extend papal power over bishops and the Catholic majority.
  36. These continuing problems remain after (A) unsuccessful Vatican efforts prior to 1945 to seek favorable and special political arrangements with powerful leaders, such as with the Fascist dictators of Italy, Germany and Spain, (B) numerous Vatican efforts since 1945 to solidify in many countries favorable arrangements with various powerful political, financial and media elites, and (C) significant and still uncompleted and frustrated reform efforts from 1962 to 1965 at the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II).
  37. Most significantly, there are no longer any Holy Roman Emperors, or any other powerful monarchs, dictators or even democratically elected leaders, who appear willing to save the Vatican from facing the international legal and political consequences of its seeming sins and harmful policies. On the contrary, outside governments are already currently and forcefully pressing the Vatican firmly on its financial misconduct. Moreover, these outside forces are now also pressing hard, including through UN committees and national investigation commissions, on other Vatican misconduct, including facilitating priest child abuse.
  38. The current crisis paradoxically presents all Catholics worldwide with an unprecedented, even hopeful, opportunity to resolve longstanding problems, some that even predate Luther. Whether the Vatican will on its own initiative seize this opportunity positively or will imprudently wait, like Pius IX did in 1870, (A) to be invaded, now by Italian, Australian and other government investigators and prosecutors, and (B) to be forced to accept the latest geopolitical reality, remains to be seen.
  39. Catholics believe that God providentially guides their Church in mysterious ways. Some even wonder if God is not using this crisis as an opening for Church structural reforms overdue for centuries. Catholics increasingly are losing trust in their top leadership and want effective changes now. Many Catholics are curtailing their donations or just leaving the Church. Others are remaining nominally, but opting out of many Church rituals and doctrines for themselves and their children. And many younger Catholics are at best just indifferent about participation in a seemingly out of touch organization run, in effect from all appearances, as an all male absolute monarchy for the benefit of a few.
  40. The well publicized Church scandals include clerical sexual misconduct and widespread child abuse, as well as financial corruption and excesses — some longstanding and pervasive. As mentioned above, this crisis paradoxically may offer Catholics some hope and the best opportunity since the Reformation to restore the Church to the consensual, bottom up and distributed management structure that Jesus’ first disciples, prominently including women, originally left behind for centuries.
  41. Catholics overwhelmingly want leaders they can trust, which essentially means leaders who are accountable, not absolute, and who act transparently, not secretively. Given the Catholic Church’s pervasive worldwide influence and its universal potential as a strong public force, and counterweight to non-religious leaders, for either good or evil, the issue of how the Catholic Church is structured matters to all the world’s citizens, and to their political leaders as well.
  42. Governments worldwide are responding more actively to citizen complaints and media pressure about these Church scandals by investigating and prosecuting clerical crimes being revealed. Catholics elect and influence their political leaders, who in turn can influence Church leaders, who currently remain completely free of any democratic oversight by the Catholic majority.
  43. At present, the pope is still the last word on almost all matters concerning the Church and its leadership and laws, even on matters that impact the overall society like access to contraception and protection of children. The pope, as Supreme Pontiff, is purportedly accountable to nobody else, which is at the heart of the present crisis. Making sure no man is above the law is the modern antidote to the ailment of modern popes who seek to be, and to operate as, Supreme Pontiff without accountability.
  44. Citizens worldwide can be expected steadily and increasingly to encourage their political leaders to press the Vatican for major Church structural reforms, especially by these leaders enacting and enforcing vigorously civil laws against Catholic leaders who commit crimes. This legal process, especially prosecutions of alleged crimes, will very likely, if not inevitably, lead to the outside imposition of Church structural reforms in the near term if the Vatican fails to adopt the reforms on its own initiative.
  45. Continually hard pressed Vatican leaders really have no alternative, as earlier European absolute monarchs in France, Germany, Italy and elsewhere painfully learned, other than to submit to independent oversight by the Catholic majority.
  46. Meanwhile, the Vatican is risking the division of the Church into numerous splinter cults and the incarceration of some of its leaders for crimes related to the sexual and financial scandals, as the Catholic hierarchy wastes precious time at Synods debating arcane theological topics like graduality.
  47. This crisis for the “99.99% Catholic faithful majority” appears to be mainly about TRUST. For many of them, it is mostly about losing trust in the “0.01% Catholic leadership minority”, given the leadership’s frequently flawed and unaccountable management and the scandalous and repetitive misbehavior of too many of them.
  48. By contrast, the crisis for the leadership minority appears to be mainly about SURVIVAL. For many cardinals, bishops and priests, this crisis seems too often to be largely about trying to save at all costs the current top down and coercive Church structure that has supported and rewarded many of them so handsomely.
  49. The present crisis has already led to unintended negative consequences — even to unprecedented and growing challenges to worldwide Catholicism, including: (A) a leadership challenge, to the Pope’s ethical authority and doctrinal infallibility as the “last word”; (B) a political challenge, to the Vatican’s modern immunity from outside governmental oversight and to its opportunistic support of plutocratic political promoters;(C) a financial challenge, to the Vatican’s long term financial viability and to its self interested arrangements with selective financial, oil and media moguls; and (D) a competitive challenge, to the Catholic Church’s prospects in its continuing competition with other Christian and world religions, especially Islam, and even with non-religious secularism.
  50. These accelerating challenges surely have influenced, if not at times dictated, the Vatican’s recent tactics, and even its public style on many issues. This historically is almost a new papal experience, since modern popes mostly had operated secretly as near absolute monarchs for centuries. It is becoming increasingly evident, however, that popular popes alone are insufficient to resolve the crisis — the Vatican can no longer defer confronting these challenges fully, honestly, transparently and promptly, even if they would rather defer them as recent popes often have. Both internal Church political factions, and external governmental legal forces, are increasingly pressing for greater papal accountability, sooner rather than later. Deferral is no longer a viable papal alternative.
  51. Jesus left a short, simple and revolutionary oral message of “Good News” about a caring and trustworthy God. Jesus, it appears, thought this message could be passed on by word of mouth by his usually uneducated disciples. 2,000 years later the oral message has been buried seemingly under millions of written words by thousands of scribes that have obscured Jesus’ direct simplicity, often to advance the personal agenda of those overseeing the scribes with their countless and opportunistic “explications” of what Jesus really meant.
  52. Was Jesus naive or foolish? And is his originally oral message essentially that simple? Even a quick perusal of the New Testament indicates Jesus’ core message is simple and direct, especially when stripped of some of the heavily philosophical and selectively imposed explications in Latin and Greek. This often stultifying and self serving explication process was most recently illustrated amply by the Catechism of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
  53. Will the Vatican now finally begin to try to remove the self serving papal gloss and counterproductive clerical crust that have for many centuries obscured Jesus’ radical and revolutionary Good News —  to trust in a caring God and to love one’s neighbors, even enemies, as oneself? Or will the the Catholic leadership minority once again futilely try to contain the current crisis within its latest hierarchical structure?
  54. Will the Church leadership minority now restore its management structure to the early Church’s consensual and distributed network of bishops accountable to the faithful majority from the current coercive, top down and unaccountable model? And will the leadership minority now restore its general Church-state policy to Jesus’ earliest approach of peaceful coexistence with political leaders and prophetic witness for the poor and disadvantaged from the current Vatican approach that seeks opportunistic financial, legal and other leadership preferences in exchange for papal political support?
  55. Hopefully, the coercive and top down Vatican will finally soon restore, or be required to restore, some meaningful consensual and bottom up power to the Catholic faithful majority. Anything less will merely be at best a temporary glue on a crumbling structure. 500 years after Luther had been more than enough time to fix the structure, but the Vatican has failed, and is continuing to fail, to do so. It will continue to fail unless and until it submits to effective and transparent oversight by the Catholic majority, as almost all other absolute monarchies in history have already learned, often the hard way following violent revolutions.
  56. A consensual and bottom up Church management approach had been a common norm in the Church that Jesus’ disciples, including women, left behind for the first three centuries. That was before the decisive top down takeover, in effect, of the Church hierarchy that began under the powerful Roman Emperor Constantine and his imperial successors. Constantine’s top down and coercive Fourth Century legacy has survived in Rome in key respects, and still fundamentally overshadows Vatican decision making and operations. This must and will change, perhaps much sooner than the Vatican presently anticipates.
  57. As indicated with Pius IX’s underestimation of Italian nationalists, and Pius XI’s and Pius XII’s overestimation of Mussolini’s and Hitler’s protections, whatever else infallibility encompasses, international politics is evidently excluded. Time will soon tell if the current Vatican leaders are any wiser than their modern predecessors were.
  58. Millions of disrespected couples, women, children, divorced and gay persons and other innocent and marginalized victims of the Vatican’s current unchristian policies deserve the initiation of positive Church changes, as soon as practicable. Moreover, the beneficial worldwide potential for Jesus’ simple message of loving God and one’s neighbor, including enemies, needs to be freed of the blinders and constraints that too many popes have opportunistically and selectively imposed on it for centuries. Not only were modern popes “Prisoners of the Vatican” unnecessarily. So was Jesus.
  59. It is important in my judgment that citizens of the world, especially Catholics, weigh in now strongly and often, and try to influence the potential Vatican outcomes. Since the Vatican operates mostly secretively and often covers its real objectives with frequent and well funded media diversions, I have at times tried to draw my best inferences and projected what seemed to me to be likely outcomes, in light of the evidence available to me and my long legal experience. Some, of course, will object, but this appears necessary to assess the actions of an organization that still too often is shown to be dissembling considerably.
  60. My approach is intended to assist concerned readers in acting timely and proactively to advance structural and other reforms, and not just reacting defensively, after the fact, to papal faits accomplis. It is the Church of all Catholics, including the 99.99% faithful majority, and not just of the 0,01% leadership minority, and all need to weigh in now as their situations permit.
  61. The present crisis presents major risks for the Catholic Church’s leadership minority. Providentially, it also presents an unprecedented opportunity for the Catholic majority to recover their Church from the clerical clique that centuries ago hijacked Jesus’ message. By recovering their Church, Catholics can then re-direct it and unleash the full potential of Jesus’ simple message of love of God and neighbor to a world that at times seems eager to hear that needed message of hope and peace.
  62. The Current Unprecedented Situation:A free media in a steadily more accountable world is pulling back the Vatican’s dark curtain letting all see the scandals, up close and personal. Luther, as mentioned above, had complained loudly about similar scandals as early as 1517. Yet, it took 500 years for the many misdeeds of Pope Alexander VI and other Renaissance clerics to be featured in several “Borgia TV Series”. Today, the latest “Secrets of the Vatican” are widely reported almost simultaneously, as in a recent PBS documentary by that name covering several current Vatican scandals.
  63. Moreover, Renaissance popes were protected by a powerful Holy Roman Emperor whose last successor lost power a century ago. Politically and militarily, popes since the end of the Second World War in 1945 have been dependent for protection and support mainly on Western democratically elected leaders.
  64. Even now after 1700 years, however, Constantine’s Fourth Century legacy of an imperial top down and coercive leadership structure remains influential in Rome, centuries after most of the world had rejected unaccountable monarchs. European monarchical protection of the Vatican diminished after 1850 and disappeared completely by 1918, replaced soon thereafter with de facto alliances with Fascist dictators in Italy and Germany and Spain until Italy and Germany’s defeat by 1945.
  65. As late as 1903, significantly, the Austria-Hungary Emperor reportedly vetoed a top contender in a papal election leading to the election of Pope Pius X. That was the last election prior to the start of World War I, in which the Austria Hungary Empire was dismembered, in effect, ending imperial veto power in papal elections. That veto power, however, had sometimes worked positively to restrain elections of some less dependable papal candidates.
  66. The defeat of the Fascist powers by 1945 has contributed to popes subsequently having almost to scramble opportunistically at times to make arrangements on a local basis with many countries for political protection and financial advantage for the Vatican and its bishops and priests. These papal arrangements have often been negotiated with local dictators and wealthy elites, as well as with some democratically elected leaders seeking local papal political support as opportunities arose in particular countries, most noticeably Pope John Paul II’s close ties with US President Ronald Reagan and his right wing Republican successors, including President George W. Bush.
  67. Popes Benedict XVI and Pope Francis continued to maintain close ties with right wing US Republicans and continue to provide them with political support through the US bishops and otherwise.  This is reportedly already underway for the 2016 US presidential election. Popes tend to be more pragmatic than ideological when under considerable pressures as in the present crisis.
  68. With the unrelenting spotlight that the 24/7 modern media now shines, the timeless “philosopher king” leadership question of Plato’s Republic now arises in Rome publicly and dramatically: Can any man, even a popular pope, be trusted honestly to face a major crisis of trust like the Vatican is facing, and to set important policies for over a billion people, unless he is truly accountable to others and also decides key issues transparently?
  69. Given the current pope’s age, the further question arises, are his successors also to be trusted without accountability? What have Catholics learned from the sordid history of bad popes, as well as from the revelations of current scandals that seem at times to be as sordid as the earlier scandals? Given the present crisis, the Vatican’s procedures and processes, now and in the future, in evaluating and adopting reforms are almost as important as the potential substantive reforms themselves.
  70. Pope Francis had little choice, it appears, but to try to contain this crisis of trust, after suddenly, in the midst of this crisis, unexpectedly succeeding the first pope to resign in almost 600 years. Francis’ Synods of Bishops strategy, his ongoing sophisticated and well funded media campaign, and his efforts to shore up favorable arrangements with some powerful world leaders of government, finance and media, all appear to be key parts of his strategy to contain this crisis.
  71. The Vatican under the current pope and his successor surely must soon either “lead and act”, or they will most likely be compelled, by internal and external pressure, to “follow and react”. Neither this present crisis of trust, nor the resulting challenges, can be avoided much longer to any significant extent.
  72. Some Relevant Recent History: The Vatican under Pope Pius XII (1939-1958) had aligned itself in the Second World War (1939-1945) with the once seemingly invincible, but losing Fascist dictators, Hitler and Mussolini and their “neutral” ally, Franco. Pius XII had been born into a Roman family that had been immersed earlier in the monarchical Papal States. He served for almost two decades under the autocratic Pope Pius XI (1921-1939). A top down coercive leadership must have seemed natural to Pius XII.
  73. Nevertheless, it had become increasingly clear by Mussolini’s removal in July 1943 that Western autocratic structures were losing to Western democratic structures and that major Catholic Church reforms were sorely needed, if not inevitable. By September 1943, Pius XII was endorsing modern biblical scholarship, which eventually planted the seeds that undermine some papal claims as Supreme Pontiff.
  74. Pius XII’s less well born immediate successor, Pope John XXIII (1958-1963), an experienced diplomat and church historian, knew change was inevitable in the postwar situation populated by powerful Western democracies and decided boldly in early 1959, after only a short time as pope, that major Church reforms were badly needed and even overdue. This was clearly evident, especially after the defeat of the Vatican’s powerful European allies, Italy and Germany, and the takeover by 1950 of Eastern European Catholic countries like Poland, Hungary, Croatia and the Baltic States, by the Soviets.
  75. John XXIII must have also understood that as an “infallible pope” that he could ultimately control the key outcomes of the Second Vatican Council (1962- 1965), or “Vatican II”. He called for the Council in 1959 less than a decade after Pius XII had in 1950 exercised the ultimate papal “infallibility power” in declaring Mary’s Assumption. That dramatic papal exercise appears to have been a desperate attempt to flex his “semi-divine infallibility” power after suffering the defeat of his Fascist allies and in the face at the time of the rise of Soviet power under Stalin.
  76. So John XXIII could risk letting the 2,500 plus Vatican II bishops talk with some freedom at Vatican II. As Pope, he would still have the last say.  Pope Francis seems to have a similar understanding that he has the last word no matter what his current Synods may decide or however the Synod bishops may vote. For modern popes since the 1870′s declaration of papal infallibility, councils like Vatican II and  Synods of Bishops are ultimately only advisory. This positions Francis to act decisively on Synod Bishops’ advice and otherwise.
  77. Unfortunately, John XXIII died in 1963 before he could implement many essential reforms as he may have planned to do. John had served in key diplomatic posts directly under two autocratic popes, Pius XI and Pius XII. These popes had enjoyed until 1945 powerful Fascist protection and support. John XXIII evidently understood well that the days of unaccountable autocratic popes protected by conservative European monarchs or Fascist dictators were over, especially with the postwar expansion of democratically accountable governments in many Catholic countries, including Italy and Germany.
  78. John XXIII in January 1959 had suddenly, unexpectedly and almost haphazardly announced publicly his reform intentions and initiated the preparation for the massive 2,500 plus bishops’ Second Vatican Council. His old friend, Paul VI, who was an experienced Vatican bureaucrat and his successor, reportedly thought in 1959 that John was stirring up a “hornets’ nest”. Similarly, Pope Francis appears intentionally now to be “creating a mess” with his unusual Synods. Undeterred, however, by John XXIII’s unexpected boldness and realizing that a retrenchment opportunity had been presented by John’s death early in the Council’s proceedings, the Vatican’s “hornets” reacted, specifically some of its entrenched bureaucrats like powerful Cardinal Ottaviani (1890-1979), and their preferred choices of subsequent Curial accommodating Popes, Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
  79. These Vatican bureaucrats like Ottaviani and their successors, in effect, sidelined several key Vatican II era reforms for a half century with their “reform of the reform”, generally, a rhetorical euphemism for obstruction. These sidelined reforms included those relating to papal power sharing, married priests, contraception and even priest child abuse.
  80. These and other inevitable reforms can no longer be sidelined by the Vatican without risking dire consequences, given the escalating internal and external pressures at present on the Vatican. Maintaining, at times, the almost medieval Vatican status quo is no longer a papal option, as it may earlier have been for Pope Francis’ predecessors.
  81. This current crisis is now forcing the Vatican to try harder (A) to defend its exclusive doctrinal authority, (B) to maximize its wealth and solidify its allies among powerful national elites, and (C) to counter its religious competitors, as it tries try to survive reasonably intact.
  82. After a half century of frequent papal resistance and Vatican bureaucratic diversions that thwarted key elements of John XXIII’s and Vatican II’s reform approach, Pope Francis appears to be seeking to resume some of what John XXIII had tried to initiate. But Francis may not be doing enough, soon enough, as he approaches his eightieth birthday in two years.
  83. Many Catholics’ mistrust has now even led some of the Catholic 99.99% publicly to question the Vatican’s selective interpretation and application of Jesus’ simple Gospel message of love of God and neighbor. The Vatican’s opportunistic approach to the Gospels had earlier been at least widely tolerated, if not accepted by many Catholics. Now even at the initial Vatican Synod of the Family in October 2014, a significant number of bishops selected by  prior conservative popes even voted against several traditional Vatican positions. Such episcopal independence had been scarce since 1980 under the prior two popes.
  84. The Vatican dam has burst under the pressure of the current scandals and the the floods being released will not likely by contained by anything short of a return to the consensual, bottom up approach that prevailed in the Church and that Jesus’ disciples, including some women, left behind for over three centuries. The current coercive and top down papal management structure is not likely to contain the floods much longer, without major reforms, including especially power sharing with an independent Catholic majority. Cardinals and bishops who resist this pressure will likely be swept away by the flood of reforms, as happened with Cardinal Raymond Burke even before Pope Francis strengthened his authority to remove bishops.
  85. Strategic Alternatives and Assumptions: Any serious and objective assessment of this current Church crisis must consider at the outset several key questions. How is Pope Francis, after almost two years as pope, addressing this current crisis, as well as the related challenges to the Pope’s moral leadership and doctrinal authority, to the Vatican’s political and financial positions, and to the Catholic Church’s competitive advantage that this crisis has dramatically and unexpectedly provoked? What are Francis’ strategic options to resolve the crisis and which strategy has he selected? Is his selected strategy based on valid assumptions and truthful analysis? What are the likely outcomes from this crisis for the Vatican?
  86. The Expanding Crisis and Interplay of Related Challenges: The current Catholic Church crisis, and the four challenges the crisis has provoked, have been occasioned by almost unending scandals These scandals involve priest child abuse, bishop misconduct and financial corruption. The yet uncontrolled scandals have caused the ongoing crisis, while the insatiable 24/7 media cycle and the Internet are accelerating it non-stop.
  87. The scandal fallout is even leading many Catholics to question the previously accepted assumption that “The Holy Father knows best.” Basic questions now arise about infallible papal authority, as well as the Vatican’s hierarchical structure and unquestioned control of biblical and moral theology, especially regarding sexual and gender matters.
  88. Pope Francis indicated as the new pope at the World Youth Congress in July 2013 that he wanted a “mess” to stimulate change, and now he has one he helped create. He cannot now avoid confronting and attempting to defuse the expanding crisis, since it has unleashed unstoppable international legal and political responses. Previously, modern popes could discuss some pressing issues, while also deferring other important issues, and then sit on or even avoid the implications of these discussions, even for a half century as with some of the key issues discussed in the 1960′s during the Second Vatican Council period, such as married priests, power sharing among bishops and contraception.
  89. No more! With the pressure from the current crisis increasing, the Vatican can no longer just table these issues, and must address them now, along with additional significant issues, like (A) holding bishops accountable to the 99.9% faithful majority, (B) ordaining women priests, (C) celebrating gay marriages, (D) welcoming divorced and remarried Catholics at Mass, and (E) protecting children.
  90. These scandals in today’s wide open media world have created unprecedented reputational, political, financial and competitive risks and also generated related challenges for the Vatican. One pope has already resigned under pressure, the first to do so in almost 600 years. Many tough questions, rarely asked earlier, are now proliferating rapidly and are being raised constantly and publicly. The days of popes on pedestals are over permanently, notwithstanding the rapid acceleration of Pope Francis’ new pope saint making spree as part of his crisis response.
  91. Will Pope Francis be next to resign under similar pressure? Who will succeed him? How many Vatican officials are now being investigated by outside government prosecutors? Could the Vatican financially go broke, as over a dozen US dioceses and religious orders already have, under the weight of rising scandal related legal costs and declining donations and subsidies? Will even more Catholics now leave the Church seeking greener pastures and truer shepherds?
  92. Until recently, the Vatican’s decades’ old strategy aimed simultaneously and defensively at protection and preservation. Protecting, as the Vatican’s highest priority, its top leaders from governmental legal accountability, has meant employing media management tactics with help, it appears from billionaire media masters and seeking opportunistic arrangements with powerful political leaders and wealthy financial barons.
  93. Preserving Vatican wealth and membership statistics, both to maximize its eroding income worldwide and to reverse declining Catholic birth and retention rates in key countries, has meant continuing to pursue a “pro billionaire” fundraising approach and a “pro-pregnancy” population policy. This population policy had been earlier declared in Pope Pius XI’s 1930 anti-birth control papal encyclical occasioned by both the rising threat of atheistic Soviet communism against a declining Western European birthrate and the military ambitions of Pius XI’s key protector, Mussolini. Today, the Vatican’s pro-baby policy appears directed at the Vatican’s near obsession with the threat of radical Islam and Muslims’ high birth rate.
  94. The Vatican’s defensive instruments of power currently include (A) endlessly quoting in Vatican public relations releases from Jesus’ appealing message of brotherly love, while avoiding the message too often in actual Vatican actions,  (B) constantly fronting a smiling  “semi-divine infallible pope”, preferably hugging babies, (C) shrewdly managing a self interested, obedient and self perpetuating hierarchy, (D) carefully applying its significant worldwide wealth advantage,  and (E) tightly controlling its considerable political influence in key countries, like the USA and Germany.
  95. The major current Church challenges, on top of the present scandal crisis, are:
  96. (A) A leadership challenge — diminishing papal authority and declining adherents, as millions of older Catholics are leaving the Church, many due the Vatican’s rigid sexual policies and its mismanagement of the scandals, while many younger Catholics are similarly disaffected and are increasingly marrying in non-Church ceremonies, are having and baptizing fewer Catholic babies, and are even avoiding or deferring the early introduction of their children to the Church’s formative indoctrination process associated with First Communion/First Confession;
  97. (B) A political challenge — to the Vatican’s modern immunity from outside governmental oversight and to the Vatican’s opportunistic arrangements with plutocratic political promoters ;
  98. (C) A financial challenge — declining personal donations and governmental subsidies while facing unending legal expenses and litigation penalties — fewer Catholics are donating, while billions in scandal related expenses are still being incurred, as more dioceses go broke and bankrupt and more Churches and schools are closed and sold off; and
  99. (D) A competitive challenge — increasing competition from other faiths and from secularism, ranging from Christian pentecostals, to Islamic converts, to the growing category of “nones”, unaffiliated with any faith group.
  100. Many of the world’s billion Catholics worry increasingly about the future of their scandal infected Church. While many millions still support the Catholic Church devoutly, millions of others, including women, children, poor couples, divorced and remarried, gay folks and even non-Catholics, suffer under Vatican policies that often seem unchristian and unnecessary.
  101. Pope Francis must currently confront this crisis and these challenges. He needs a comprehensive strategy to do so. His individual actions cannot really be assessed adequately or intelligently, except in the context of his overall strategy.
  102. Strategic Alternatives Presently Available to the Vatican: Pope Francis has given many Catholics new hope for a Church cure, for positive changes and for overdue reforms. Recent developments make clear that major changes for the papal monarchy are underway and that more are coming. When and how the newest changes may come surely raise complicated questions that demand responses, even if “final answers” are yet unavailable.
  103. Some Catholic Church changes may come voluntarily and others involuntarily, but come soon they will to the current papal monarchy, as they long ago came to other European monarchies. Depending on the specific change, either voluntary consensus among many Catholics or involuntary coercion from outside governments (as has already occurred in the financial area), or both, are driving these changes relentlessly. As a Catholic, I hope the changes come voluntarily. As an international lawyer, I expect the major changes will come involuntarily in any event, if needed voluntary changes are not implemented soon.
  104. Of course. the Church’s future options necessarily depend on, and are limited by, its present situation, as influenced by its unique history and traditions. Pope Francis cannot start afresh. He also faces considerable opposition from many sides. In some respects, Pope Francis’ situation today is like that of Pope Pius IX, who lost his large Papal States’ kingdom a century and a half ago to outside Italian governmental forces. Pius XI tried to recover some lost power by being “declared infallible” at the 1870 First Vatican Council. That move, however, may have created more problems for the Church than it solved.
  105. Pope Francis appears similarly desperately to be trying, with recent papal saint making spectacles and his Synods of Bishops, to make changes to try to head off some of the likely changes he may anticipate being imposed on the Church by escalating outside government pressure. His fine tuning the rules recently on his power to remove bishops suggests he does not plan on endless debates with the likes of Cardinal Burke.
  106. Moreover, Pope Francis must try to follow Jesus’ message closely if he wants to succeed. But traditions about Jesus, especially the all important “Good News” of the four Gospels, have been interpreted in different ways, prophetically, theologically and even politically, by earlier Catholic leaders and thinkers. These influential leaders and thinkers and their specific interpretations have generally dominated Church dogma and practice over much of its 2,000 year history, often in unpredictable ways at times with unanticipated consequences.
  107. For much of this long period, popes benefited from considerable protection from powerful monarchs, and at times even tyrants. But this has generally no longer been the case since the end of Fascist hegemony in Germany and Italy by 1945. Since then, the Vatican has had to nimbly weave its web of political protection by trading Vatican support on an ad hoc opportunistic basis for national arrangements. These alliances ranged from close ties since the 1980′s with elected US Republican leaders to alliances with military dictators in Latin America and Africa.
  108. Importantly, the Bible, including the Catholic New Testament, has a complex and complicated origin and multiple textual, linguistic, and cultural sources. It is now well known by scholars that the Bible is no straightforward guidebook on many modern problems. Early Church history also is poorly documented, quite diverse and easily manipulated by selective sourcing and quotations.
  109. Indeed, millions of words have been written by modern biblical and church history scholars. Nevertheless, in recent years, there has frequently been greater rather than less uncertainty about some important aspects of Jesus’ reported words and deeds and about some of his “clear mandates”, than had sometimes been assumed as beyond question by earlier popes. “The Tradition is …”, is at times much more complicated than modern popes have sometimes suggested in their encyclicals and the Catechism.
  110. The Vatican’s Current Strategy and Strategic Assumptions: Modern popes, including Francis, in their key dogmatic and moral pronouncements and proclaimed pastoral policies and practices, rely on many assumptions, occasionally unstated ones, sometimes selectively derived from preferred “in house” Catholic scholarship on scripture, history and theology. There are several assumptions in essential areas that are less certain than at times presented by self interested Vatican officials and their opportunistic apologists.
  111. These assumptions are a major part of the foundation for the Vatican’s claims about the Church’s (A) origins and sources, including some key New Testament mandates, (B) structure, leadership and management, and (C) dogma and practice. On closer inspection, these assumptions are more doubtful than modern popes, including Pope Francis, have at times indicated and the propositions popes construct on these assumptions are often more uncertain than not.
  112. By acknowledging these uncertainties now, some “unchangeable” dogmas and practices at variance with the lived experiences and informed consciences of hundreds of millions of Catholics can, and will be, changed voluntarily or involuntarily by the Vatican, to conform truthfully and honestly to Catholics’ current knowledge of, and daily experience, with reality. These truthful acknowledgements are often, as well, an essential prerequisite for the Vatican to survive the crisis and challenges it must face to survive.
  113. The Vatican can no longer avoid addressing the current relentless questioning of some of its key assumptions, given the growth in the Catholic scholarship community beyond Vatican control, as well as the 24/7 media coverage and Internet revelations that at times undercut Vatican positions. And future papal pronouncements, without ample underlying independent scholarly support, are hardly going to influence many Catholics for long. The Vatican can no longer address modern day “Galileos” solely by placing them under house arrest.
  114. Acknowledging honestly the uncertainty of the Vatican’s assumptions is fundamentally important, and also provides additional reasons to hope that positive changes in Church structure and doctrines are likely in the near term. If, as Jesus reportedly said, the truth makes us free, it is  mandatory that the Church’s options for change henceforth be pursued based honestly on truthful assumptions, and not opportunistically on “selective truths”, as at times still occurs and has also occurred in the past.
  115. Pope Francis had as a young Jesuit provincial in Argentina direct experience with the outside government power of a military dictatorship. He understands well that the Vatican he inherited from the ex-Pope was and remains in several areas, especially priest child abuse, on a collision course with outside governments armed with a coercive rule of international law. Longtime Vatican players, that had been accustomed until recently to living in a Vatican bubble in an Italy run by a seemingly billionaire swinger, do not yet seem to understand, as Francis appears to, that the days of “The Holy Father says … ” are over. Francis appears to know that either the Vatican reforms itself now or it risks being forced soon to reform, with the chaos and divisions that forced reforms would likely entail.
  116. These assumptions, in varying degrees, have shaped much of the Catholic Church’s present. They will also influence significantly its future, no matter what Pope Francis decides to do. Understanding better these often unstated assumptions creates hopeful opportunities for adopting long overdue positive reforms by eliminating non-essential and questionable “certainties” that at times have been impediments to needed changes.
  117. The overarching Vatican “framework” at present, based on current Vatican assumptions, appears to be mainly that (A) Jesus endorsed popes as supreme papal monarchs, (B) who are accountable only to God, (C) who uniquely interpret infallibly matters of “faith and morals”, including New Testament moral themes, and (D) who appoint as unaccountable bishops superior men, exclusively, (E) to implement and enforce unchangeable dogmas and practices mandated by popes. The Vatican currently, in effect, requires a billion plus Catholics to operate within this framework as well. This framework does not stand up well to close scholarly scrutiny.
  118. Complicating Pope Francis’ difficult tasks are many opportunists, including several very wealthy and powerful Church donors, who appear to be seeking, for their own personal agendas, to exploit the considerable “spiritual power” possessed by the modern papacy and to benefit from the political prestige and financial assets that popes control. For more than the last three quarters of the Catholic Church’s  2,000 year history, popes have at times been important “players”, sometimes a major player, in the international political economy; hence, the age old objective of wealthy donors to influence both papal decision making and wealth management.
  119. These opportunistic donors at times rely implicitly and selectively on several present weak papal assumptions, as do many in the Catholic hierarchy of cardinals and bishops. Of course, some of these Catholic religious leaders, with over 1,500 year years of accumulated political and economic traditions behind them, often also share some of their wealthy donors’ primary goals of maximizing their personal wealth, while also minimizing their individual accountability.
  120. Neither Pope Francis, nor any of his potential successors, can make many of the needed positive changes, without at a minimum revising key elements of his weak assumptions. Pope Francis and his successors, of course, may be unwilling voluntarily to make these revisions. That may matter significantly for the 0.01% minority leadership who may then not survive. It may not matter much, however, to the 99.9% faithful majority, who may still get to see these reforms imposed on the leadership majority by outside governments.
  121. The current likelihood is that Francis or his successor will, nevertheless, be compelled soon enough to make many of these changes, by pressure from outside governments accountable to their constituents, many of whom are Catholic. This is not the 1960′s, with the Second Vatican Council, when a collusive Vatican bureaucracy and their selected popes can stymie for a half century needed reforms agreed to by almost all of the world’s bishops at the Council.
  122. European governments are already beginning to apply considerable pressure in the financial area with mandated reforms for the Vatican Bank and the Vatican’s own asset management operation. This pressure has included so far a Vatican Bank asset seizure, a Vatican City credit card facility freeze and criminal investigations, even an arrest of a key Vatican financial official by the Italian government. The Vatican has been, in effect, required to hire some of the world’s most influential and expensive financial and banking consultants, lawyers and auditors and that may still not be enough to keep all Vatican officials out of prosecutors’ reach.

123. While Francis bobs and weaves and seeks political allies like anti-gay American fundamentalists, Catholics need to cover their bets by continuing to press their leaders, including President Obama to act. Papal promises of change are no longer a safe bet without concrete papal actions fulfilling the promises. Insufficient papal action to date suggests a need for more caution and prudence, and less cheerleading and wishful thinking.

 

HOW SURVIVORS HAVE CHANGED HISTORY by Thomas P.Doyle, O.P.


HOW SURVIVORS HAVE CHANGED HISTORY by Thomas P.Doyle, O.P.

From the Link: http://christiancatholicism.com/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.

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The incredible Father Thomas Doyle.

The incredible Father Thomas Doyle.

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.

What Happened
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

Support the victims not the victimizers


Frank LaFerriere: Support the victims not the victimizers

Published Date Thursday, April 24,2014
From the Link: http://www.berlindailysun.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=49465:frank-laferriere-support-the-victims-not-the-victimizers&catid=73:letter&Itemid=428

To the editor:

If you were to find out that the leadership of a group or organization you belonged to had appeared before commissions and grand juries and openly admitted to covering up the abuses of children, from rape to severe beatings, to even the death of a child, and that this involved tens of thousands of members own children, and that the cover ups are wide spread throughout the organization or group, you would think that the membership of the group would rise up in arms and make sure that the leadership is arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent the law allows. That they would stand up and defend and protect their children over the leadership of their group or organization. Yet there is one such organization…though there are others….that its leadership is totally immune from liability for crimes such as these by it’s membership. This organization is known as the Roman Catholic Church.

While they have come far with this problem of child abuse, the Vatican announced that for 2011-2012 almost 400 priests had to be let go because of credible accusations of child abuse, including rape, there is still much to be done. While it is commendable that they caught and fired these priests, what about those whom participated in the cover ups of these crimes? Why are they not called to account for their crimes of the members own children? Why are the leadership of the church put above the law and those whom they have harmed? Why are they defended and even praised or made a saint?

There have been at least a half a dozen commission reports, like the Ryan Report, that detail the systematic sexual, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual abuse of children and teens, children of the Roman Catholic Church; and the cover ups of these abuses by the leaders and even their highest leaders, ones whom are supposed to be the Vicars of Jesus while on this earth and in their position. Yet even to this day, not one credibly accused leader has ever been arrested or prosecuted for their crimes save one, Bishop Robert Finn and that case is being retried. Matter of fact, one of these, John Paul II was given sainthood. There is overwhelming evidence he participated in the cover up of and through acts of omission, turned a blind eye to, the pederast Rev. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ. Yet he is given sainthood? This is an insult to all those whom are survivors of these evil crimes against us.

There are some incredible priests and leaders of the Roman Catholic Church. I have met some of them. From Fr Tom Doyle, ret., whom has fought tirelessly for the victims of priest abuse, at the cost of his being a priest, to even our own local priest Fr Kyle Stanton whom has helped me immensely, to groups like Catholic Whistleblowers, and others, they have sort of restored my faith that this problem of priests and nuns abusing children and teens will stop. Yet to truly set things right the following must be done.

1. All credibly accused leaders, from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, to Cardinals like Timothy Dolan, Donald Wuerl, Roger Mahony, Bernard Law, George Pell, and many others, against whom there is overwhelming evidence, through commission reports, grand jury testimonies and the churches own documents, must be fired. They must be arrested and prosecuted. We do this to other criminals, we demand this of any rapist or those whom cover up the rapes and abuses of children. They may be leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, but these men are criminals and deserve to be arrested and prosecuted and the victims deserve their day in court and justice for the crimes committed against them because of these leaders actions.

2. Abide by the Pledge to Protect, Promise to Heal charter all of the diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States signed. All attacks against the victims must stop. We are not responsible for our rapes, we did not enjoy being raped. We are not homosexuals because we were raped by a male priest. We are not liars, gold diggers who are out looking for a payday from the Roman Catholic Church.

We are your sons, we are your daughters, who want justice, whom want those who perpetrated these crimes against us punished, whom went through one of the most horrifying and terrifying experiences a human being can go through. We trusted these priests and nuns and they destroyed that trust with their evil crimes against us. We were raped, we were beaten, we had our souls, our hearts stolen from us, we had our bodies destroyed and abused. We did not deserve this, we were not willing participants and we refuse to remain silent while those whom are responsible for these crimes against us go free while we still remain trapped inside the prisons they created for us.

3. No matter what….put your children before your leaders. Protect and stand up and defend your children….not the leaders whom committed these evils against us. Your children should come first. Stand up for the victims of these crimes, whom are your own children. You may know one. Again, we are your sons, your daughters, your nieces and nephews, your God children, whom you vowed and promised to protect and defend.

I started going back to church. I even started photographing St Annes, an incredibly beautiful place of worship. I had no choice though, I had to stop because I felt like such a hypocrite. Far too many of us whom were victims still see those responsible for these evils against us in their positions as if nothing in the world is wrong. We victims are still being attacked, by people like Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League. We are still being attacked by parishioners whom have called me a liar to my face and how dare I spread lies and rumors and false accusations and gossip against the leaders. Well, sadly, I am not spreading lies, rumors and false accusations, these statements I have made can all be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law if it were allowed.

Yet while these leaders whom perpetrated these crimes against us are still in power, I cannot in good conscious go into the church. I cannot be part of a church where the leadership covered up the crimes of child abuse, child rape and put the church before the children and are still in power, for that makes me a hypocrite in my eyes.

I would love to go on a regular basis to St Anne, to be among the other worshipers, some of whom I made acquaintance and even friends with, especially Fr Kyle, but I cannot, for while the wolves are still in control….someone must stand outside the door for the defense and protection of the children and the victims.

Sin is one thing…sin can be forgiven when there is true repentance from the sin. There has been no true repentance among the leadership whom covered up these crimes. There have been staged acts of contrition, but no true repentance. For if they are to truly repent they must also submit to prosecution for the crimes they committed. They must not hide behind their robes of religion. If they seek to make laws for man like they do, they also must submit to the laws of man and be arrested and prosecuted for their crimes. No one, not even religious leaders, should be allowed to get away with crimes against children. They should not be above the law!

When it comes time to the crimes of the rapes and abuses of children and teens and the cover up of these crimes by the leadership…only justice in a court of law, where the victims may have their day in court to see those responsible for the crimes against them be tried and if found guilty sentenced to prison…that is true justice. The Roman Catholic Church promised this to victims and to prosecuting attorneys…but have failed to deliver on this promise. Instead they still fight the victims and hide behind the statue of limitations to deny justice to the victims. Ask yourself is this true justice? If you were raped would you say this is true justice?

In closing whom do you think Jesus Christ will stand up for in the end?

Those whom perpetrated these crimes against children and teens…or the children and teen victims?

Here is a clue: “For it would be better for you to tie a huge boulder around your neck and throw yourself into the deepest of lakes than to harm a single hair on the head of a child.”

Well the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church did a lot more than harm a hair on the head of a child. Whom are you going to stand besides? The ones Jesus Christ would stand up for? Or the ones He would toss into the pit of hell for their evils against children?

Frank LaFerriere, Berlin

Expert: Donohue’s claim that most abusive priests are gay is “unwarranted”


Expert: Donohue’s claim that most abusive priests are gay is “unwarranted”

Blog ››› April 2, 2010 11:23 AM EDT ››› JEREMY SCHULMAN

One of the researchers responsible for a landmark statistical study of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church saysthat Catholic League president William Donohue “drew an unwarranted conclusion” from her work when he claimed that “most” of the clergy who committed the abuse have been “gay.”

In a March 30 ad published in The New York Times, Donohue described the sex abuse scandal as a “homosexual crisis.” Donohue added: “Eighty percent of the victims of priestly sexual abuse are male and most of them are post-pubescent. While homosexuality does not cause predatory behavior, and most gay priests are not molesters, most of the molesters have been gay.”

During a March 31 appearance on CNN, Donohue elaborated on his claim, specifically citing a 2004 study produced by researchers at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which found that 81 percent of the alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests were male. During the CNN segment, Donohue repeated his assertion that “most of the molesters have been gay.”

But in an interview with Media Matters, Margaret Smith — a John Jay College criminologist who worked on the 2004 study — said that while Donohue “quoted the study’s data correctly,” he “drew an unwarranted conclusion” in asserting that most of the abusers were gay.

Explaining that it is an oversimplification to assume to that priests who abuse male victims are gay, Smith said: “The majority of the abusive acts were homosexual in nature. That participation in homosexual acts is not the same as sexual identity as a gay man.”

As an example, Smith pointed to the case of Marcial Maciel Degollado, a prominent Mexican priest who allegedly abused male children and also allegedly carried on affairs with multiple women. Smith noted that while Maciel allegedly abused boys, most people would not think of him as a gay man.

In a November 18, 2009, Politics Daily column about Smith’s research, David Gibson reported:

“What we are suggesting is that the idea of sexual identity be separated from the problem of sexual abuse,” said Margaret Smith, a researcher from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, which is conducting an independent study of sexual abuse in the priesthood from 1950 up to 2002. “At this point, we do not find a connection between homosexual identity and an increased likelihood of sexual abuse.”

A second researcher, Karen Terry, also cautioned the bishops against making a correlation between homosexuality in the priesthood and the high incidence of abuse by priests against boys rather than girls — a ratio found to be about 80-20.

“It’s important to separate the sexual identity and the behavior,” Terry said. “Someone can commit sexual acts that might be of a homosexual nature but not have a homosexual identity.” Terry said factors such as greater access to boys is one reason for the skewed ratio. Smith also raised the analogy of prison populations where homosexual behavior is common even though the prisoners are not necessarily homosexuals, or cultures where men are rigidly segregated from women until adulthood, and homosexual activity is accepted and then ceases after marriage.

Such conclusions, moreover, are not unique to analyses of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. As Think Progress noted, Gregory Herek, a psychology professor at the University of California-Davis, analyzed a number of studies and concluded: “The empirical research does not show that gay or bisexual men are any more likely than heterosexual men to molest children. This is not to argue that homosexual and bisexual men never molest children. But there is no scientific basis for asserting that they are more likely than heterosexual men to do so.”

Dying abuse victim celebrates giving bedside testimony to Royal Commission


Dying abuse victim celebrates giving bedside testimony to Royal Commission

By Alyssa Allen

15 April, 2014 6:22PM AEST

From the link: http://www.abc.net.au/local/audio/2014/04/15/3986141.htm?site=ballarat

Barry Wilson waited fifty years to tell his horrific story of child sexual abuse. It was years of abuse while in the care of the Christian Brothers at St Augustine’s Orphanage in Highton, Geelong that saw Barry’s life spiral out of control. Barry found out six weeks ago that he had liver cancer and only had a few days to live. Amazingly, he found the courage to tell his story of child sexual abuse to the Royal Commission last Tuesday.

Barry died on Sunday but his brother Peter Wilson could not be more proud of him.

Peter says members of the SANO Task Force (Victoria Police sex-crimes squad) took a recorded statement from Barry’s bedside in Kerang hospital in Northern Victoria.

“The detectives were very gentle with Barry, allowing him time to have breaks, so he could get his breath, that took probably an hour or a half or so, they were passionate.”

Peter, also a victim of child sexual abuse at the hands of the Christian Brothers, was asked by his brother stay in the room for his statement.

But Peter says he didn’t stay due to his own ongoing investigation with the Royal Commission.

“I didn’t want to hear them, as much as I wanted to hear them, I knew that later on this year I’m going before the Royal Commission myself, we don’t need stories to be conflicting.”

Peter says it meant everything to Barry to be able to share his story before he died.

“Barry knew that when he died, everything died with him, he would never have the chance to be heard in court or his story couldn’t be told to the Royal Commission.”

“Barry didn’t want anyone to know but he had the courage to say ‘Ok I want to tell my story, because if I go to my grave at least I know I’m dying a happy man’, so that’s why we organised it.”

Once Barry gave his statement, he celebrated with a fist pump.

Fifty years of keeping a dark secret to himself was finally set free.

“I went in with my wife and Barry closed his fist and put them up in the air, he goes ‘I done it.'”

“We gave him a hug and congratulated him.”

Peter says he is grateful for the work of Leonie Sheedy, Chief Executive Officer of Care Leavers Australia Network for organising Barry’s Royal Commission visit.

“She worked miracles that lady, she made it so much easier for me and Barry.”

Peter says there is no need for victims of child sexual abuse to carry their trauma alone.

“Eventually it will bring you down, it will affect your family life, it could cost you your marriage.”

“These people from the Royal commission and the SANO taskforce,they’re very sensitive, they understand, they will not pressure you, they will help you and guide you and give you all the support that you would need so you could get through without having any major problems or breakdowns over it.”

ABC’s Nicole Chvastek spoke to Peter Wilson

Vatican Faces Second UN Hearing On Sex Abuse Policies; Compliance To Convention Against Torture


Vatican Faces Second UN Hearing On Sex Abuse Policies; Compliance To Convention Against Torture

Posted: 04/16/2014 7:15 am EDT Updated: 04/16/2014 7:59 am EDT
From the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/16/vatican-un-hearing-sex_n_5154753.html

VATICAN CITY (RNS) The Vatican next month will face yet another crucial United Nations hearing that will scrutinize the Catholic Church’s response to clerical sex abuse.

The U.N. committee responsible for monitoring implementation of the Convention Against Torture treaty will hear from Vatican officials on May 5-6 during three weeks of hearings to be held in Geneva, starting on April 28.

At issue is whether the church’s handling of the sexual abuse scandal violates international norms against subjecting minors to torture, something that the Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, skirted on Tuesday (April 15).

“The Holy See continues to carry out its obligations undertaken on behalf of the Vatican city state and present periodic reports, according to procedures under the convention,” he said.

The Holy See will present its initial report on adherence to the Convention Against Torture, alongside Cyprus, Lithuania, Guinea, Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Thailand and Uruguay.

“It is a normal procedure to which all ‘state parties’ to the convention endorse,” he said. “Taking account of the obligations under the convention, the Holy See endorsed the convention in the name of and on behalf of the Vatican in 2002.”

It will be the second time this year that the Vatican’s global response to clerical sexual abuse has faced intense scrutiny from the U.N. In January, Vatican officials testified for eight hours before a U.N. watchdog for children’s rights in Geneva.

That committee’s report, released in February, denounced the Vatican for adopting policies that allowed priests to sexually abuse thousands of children, and the report called for abusers to be removed immediately.

In a rare interview with an Italian newspaper to mark his first anniversary as pontiff, Pope Francis strongly rejected the report’s findings, saying that no other organization had done more to fight pedophilia and that the church had acted with “transparency and responsibility.”

He has also said dealing with abuse is vital for the church’s credibility and perpetrators should face sanctions.

Last Friday (April 11), Francis said he took personal responsibility for the “evil” of clerical sex abuse, sought forgiveness from victims and said the church must do more to protect children.

The pontiff has established a committee to look at the issue of sex abuse. Half its members are women; among them is Marie Collins, an Irish victim who was abused by a priest as a child.