The Vatican Can’t Be Held Responsible For Things It Couldn’t Have Known. The Problem Is… It Knew A Lot
The Vatican Can’t Be Held Responsible For Things It Couldn’t
Have Known. The Problem Is… It Knew A Lot.
Where does accountability begin and end? I hosted a heated HuffPost Live discussion about that question with Marci Hamilton, a lawyer trying to hold the Vatican accountable for pedophile priests.
This week, the Church won a victory over Hamilton when an Oregon federal court ruled that the Holy See is not the “employer” of molester priests. The case could shield the Church from possible monetary damages, although Hamilton says she’ll appeal.
The Vatican’s responsibility for the actions of priests on the other side the world is not just a legal question. It’s a moral one. Defending the Vatican on HuffPost Live was writer-reporter James Marshall Crotty, who asked: “Is the Pope responsible for every action of anybody who works in a church? … Is the Pope responsible for the part-time guy who helps in a church with the liturgy and does something wrong? Is the Pope responsible for the person who volunteers at a shelter that’s overseen by the Church?”
No. He has a point. The Church can only be held responsible for what it should reasonably have known. The problem for Crotty and the Church’s other defenders is… it knew a lot. The Vatican is not an impartial head office, detached from the daily workings of its dioceses. Nor does it lack moral influence over its global franchise. It is a deeply engaged institution — and it has systematically enabled child rapists to escape justice and freely rape again. When Pope Benedict ran the diocese of Munich and Freising in 1980 as Archbishop Ratzinger, it came to his attention that one of his priests had taken an 11-year-old boy into the mountains, fed him alcohol, locked him up, stripped him naked, and forced the boy to give him a blow job. Ratzinger’s response was to send the priest off for “therapy.”
Quite apart from the absurdity of the idea that a man of Ratzinger’s character enjoys the deepest possible kinship with an all-wise creator of the universe, is there any doubt that he, his predecessors, and his colleagues have presided over a global operation that encourages its foot soldiers to turn the same blind eye he did?
As I argued on HuffPost Live, imagine if the Catholic Church were a secular child care institution that ran a franchise of dormitories and boarding schools. Imagine if that child care company was implicated in a vast, recurring cover-up of child rape. Would we absolve the CEO of responsibility because he didn’t know about every instance? Would we leave the board of directors in place, on the narrow grounds that its pedophile employees were technically hired by subsidiary operations — even though they wore the company’s uniform, adhered to its instruction manual, used the same training methods, provided the same services, hired and fired whom the head office told them to, and pledged fealty to the CEO every day? The company would be shut down in a heartbeat. Its owners would be in jail.
Barbara Blaine, a survivor of sexual abuse by a priest, was the third guest in the HuffPost Live conversation. As the founder and president of the Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests, she argued that Church officials try to have it both ways. “When it comes to something that has to do with the abuse of children, they want to wipe their hands of it and keep a distance,” she said. “But if that same priest were to come out in support of same-sex marriage, you can be sure that he or she would be removed or disciplined, and the Vatican would assert their authority.”
Sadly, most lawyers I’ve spoken with regard Hamilton’s case against the Vatican as a loser. When it comes to employment law, the Holy See has successfully distanced itself from the priests who work for it (or rather, apparently, who don’t.) It’s unsurprising that the institution has structured itself in such a way as to evade legal responsibility for its crimes. But that has no bearing on its moral responsibility. The Vatican may win in the courts of law. But in a higher court — a court whose judgment the Church, of all institutions, should care most about—the Vatican still has a case to answer.
Man acquitted of beating of priest he said sexually abused him
SAN JOSE, Calif. (WLS) – William Lynch, the California man who admitted he pummeled a priest who he said abused him as a boy, has been found not guilty of felony assault and elder abuse charges.
The jury of nine men and three women could not reach a verdict on a lesser charge of misdemeanor assault for the 2010 attack at a retirement home.
The jury began deliberations late Monday after hearing impassioned closing arguments from both sides.
The defense’s strategy had long been to prove to the jury that the wrong man was on trial. However, prosecutor Vicki Gemetti urged jurors to focus on the assault.
“Two wrongs don’t make a right,” she said in her closing arguments on Monday.
Lynch’s crusade for his own form of personal justice against the priest, Jerry Lindner, drew supporters to the courthouse in San Jose, Calif., during his nearly three-week trial. They carried signs that read “stop clergy sex abuse” and condemned the “pedophile playground” retirement community that is home to Lindner, who has had previous allegations against him.
Lynch testified last Friday that he visited Lindner with the intention of having the aging Jesuit sign a confession, but when the priest “looked up and leered” at Lynch in the same manner he did more than 35 years ago when he sexually abused him, Lynch said he ordered the priest to take off his glasses and hit him.
Lynch passed up a plea deal of one year in jail and instead chose to go to trial to publicly shame the man who he said haunted his memories for 35 years.
On a family camping trip 35 years ago, Lynch said he was brutally raped at age 7 by Lindner and was then forced to perform sex acts on his 4-year-old brother.
The boys kept their painful secret for years, long past the six-year statute of limitations California had in place at the time of the alleged crimes.
Lynch got his wish to see the priest in court, even if the tables were turned. Lindner was forced to testify, but a short time later the Jesuit invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The judge struck his testimony from the record.
During his short time on the stand, Lindner, now 67, told the court he remembered Lynch, but only as the man who attacked him at a Los Gatos, Calif., Jesuit retirement community where the priest has resided since 2001.
Lindner denied molesting Lynch and his younger brother on a camping trip to the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1974.
Lynch’s attorney declared the priest had perjured himself and even prosecutor Vicki Gemetti said in her opening statement that she expected Lindner to lie on the stand or say he didn’t remember certain events.
“The evidence will show [Lindner] molested the defendant all those years ago,” she said, but urged the jury to focus on Lynch’s attack.
Lynch’s case of alleged vigilante justice has attracted support from around the world and has shed light on a justice system many view as flawed.
Lynch and his brother were awarded $625,000 after filing a civil suit against Lindner in 1997. The priest was removed from active ministry and was moved to the Jesuit retirement community in 2001.
Lindner was named in two other abuse lawsuits, according to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
ABC Radio News Contributed To This Report
8 Ugly Sins of the Catholic Church
If pedophile payouts weren’t enough to convince you the Catholic leadership is often anything but moral, take a look at some of their other sins.
Did the Catholic Bishops wince last week when their leader, anti-contraception Cardinal Timothy Dolan, was exposed for paying pedophiles to disappear? One can only hope. After all, these are men who claim to speak for God. They have direct access to the White House, where they regularly weigh in on issues ranging from military policy to bioethics, and they expect us all to listen – not because of relevant expertise or elected standing, but because of their moral authority.
If pedophile payouts weren’t enough to convince you that this “moral” authority is often anything but moral, take a look at some of their other sins against compassion and basic decency.
1. Excommunicating doctors and nuns for saving lives. In 2009, a 27-year-old mom, pregnant with her fifth child, was rushed to a Phoenix hospital, St. Josephs, where her doctors said she would almost certainly die unless her pregnancy was aborted immediately. The nun in charge approved the emergency procedure, and the woman survived. The local bishop promptly excommunicated the nun. “There are some situations where the mother may in fact die along with her child. But — and this is the Catholic perspective — you can’t do evil to bring about good. The end does not justify the means,” said Rev. John Ehrich, the medical ethics director for the Diocese of Phoenix.
How far are the Church authorities willing to take this “moral” logic? In Brazil last year, with Vatican backing, the Church excommunicated a mother and doctor for saving the life of a 9-year-old rape victim who was pregnant with twins. (At four months pregnant, the girl weighed 80 pounds.) Cardinal Giovanni Batista Re, who heads the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, said “life must always be protected.” Perhaps Mr. Batista Re can explain the Vatican’s 1,500-year tradition of “just war.”
2. Protecting even non-Catholic sex-offenders against child victims. As we have seen, the moral priorities of the bishops are laid naked when they decide who to excommunicate and who not. The doctor and the mother of the pregnant 9-year-old got the boot for approving an abortion, but not the stepfather who had sexually assaulted the child, probably over a period of years. A similar contrast can be seen between the case of the Phoenix nun and hundreds of pedophile priests who were allowed to remain Catholic even after they finally were identified and removed from the Church payrolls.
It gets worse. In New York, a bill that would give child molestation victims more time to file charges has been blocked seven times by the Catholic hierarchy led by none other than Cardinal Dolan. Why? “We feel this is terribly unjust, we feel it singles out the church, and it would be devastating for the life of the church.” In other words, regardless of whether the abuse really happened or what the consequences were for victims, what matters is how much additional lawsuits might cost the Church. Isn’t that the ends justifying the means?
3. Using churches to organize gay haters. When the Washington State legislature approved marriage equality this spring, fundamentalist Christians across the state organized to reverse the legislation. Even though three quarters of American Catholics think that gay marriage or civil unions should be legal, Archbishop Peter Sartain jumped to the front of the pack, decreeing that Western Washington parishes under his “moral authority” should gather signatures for an anti-equality initiative. To their credit, a number of priests refused, and a group called Catholics for Marriage Equality is raising money for ads. In contrast to the Catholic League, which has made the degrading argument that sex between priests and adolescent boys is consensual homosexuality, lay Catholics appear to know the difference.
4. Lying about contraceptives to poor Africans. Of all the mortal sins committed by the men of the cloth, the most devastatingly lethal in the last 30 years has been the Catholic hierarchy’s outspoken opposition to condom use in Africa. In 2003, the president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family publicly lied about the efficacy of condoms in preventing both pregnancy and HIV: “The AIDS virus is roughly 450 times smaller than the spermatozoon. The spermatozoon can easily pass through the ‘net’ that is formed by the condom.” The archbishop of Nairobi told people that condoms were spreading HIV. Some priests told parishioners that condoms were impregnated with the virus.
The motivation for such flagrant falsehoods? The Church has practiced competitive pro-natalism for centuries, but lately anti-contraceptive edicts have been ignored by most educated European and American Catholics, and Italy has the second lowest birthrate in the Western World, at 1.3 per woman. The bishops see this as a “catastrophe” and are looking to Africa as “a reservoir of life for the Church.” They wrap their opposition to contraception in lofty moral language such as that offered by Pope John Paul II: It seems profoundly damaging to the dignity of the human being, and for this reason morally illicit, to support a prevention of AIDS that is based on a recourse to means and remedies that violate an authentically human sense of sexuality. As late as 2009, John Paul’s successor, Benedict, continued to tell poor African Catholics that condoms were “wrong” and even suggested that they were making the epidemic worse. With god-knows –how-many lives lost and children orphaned, he finally softened his stance in 2010.
5. Obstructing patient access to accurate information and services in secular hospitals. In rural Arizona near the Mexican border, women delivering babies by cesarean section were refused tubal ligations because their independent hospital was negotiating a merger with a healthcare network run by Catholics. Worse, when a woman arrived at the same hospital in the middle of a miscarriage and need a surgical abortion to complete the process, she was forced to travel by ambulance to Tucson, 80 miles away, risking hemorrhage on the way. All over the U.S. secular and Catholic-run health systems are merging, and patients are quietly losing the right to make medical decisions based on the best scientific information available and the dictates of their own conscience.
Even when the Catholic-owned hospital is a small part of the merger, administrators insist that Catholic directives apply to the system as a whole. These directives prohibit not only abortions but also contraceptives, vasectomies and tubal ligations, some kinds of fertility treatment, and compliance with end-of-life patient directives. Ectopic pregnancies cannot be handled in keeping with the medical standard of care. As biotechnologies and treatments relevant to the beginning and end of life advance, we can expect the list to grow longer. Patients cannot trust that they will be told other options are available elsewhere.
One of the bitter ironies here is that even wholly “Catholic” hospitals and charities are staffed primarily by non-Catholics and largely provide services to people of other faiths or of none, paid for with tax dollars. In healthcare much of the money flows from Medicare and Medicaid. In 2010, non-medical affiliates of Catholic Charities received 62 percent of annual revenue from the taxpayers – nearly $2.9 billion. Only 3 percent came from church donations, with the remainder coming from investments, program fees, community donations and in-kind contributions. And yet all of those dollars get directed according to the dictates of bishop conscience rather than individual conscience.
6. Slapping down nuns. Catholic charities and hospitals are at some competitive advantage in part because of hard-working nuns, many of whom have skills and responsibilities that exceed their compensation. The bishops are the Catholic Church’s 1 percent; the nuns are managers and service workers –and many have taken the kind of poverty vows that America’s 1 percent is trying to impose on the rest. Because many nuns live in the real world, where suffering and morality are complex, they often make care-based decisions and take nuanced positions on moral questions that the Council of Bishops resolves by appealing to dogma and authority.
In April, the Vatican decided to remind the nuns who’s on top. Rome issued an 8-page assessment accusing the Leadership Conference of Women Religious of disagreeing with the bishops and of “radical feminism.” It appears that their labors on behalf of poor, vulnerable people had distracted them from a more Christian priority: controlling other people’s sex lives—oh, and standing up against the ordination of women. The Archbishop assigned by the Vatican to rein in unruly American nuns is none other than Peter Sartain of Seattle, the same moral authority who has declared a holy crusade against gay marriage.
7. Bullying girl scouts. Unlike the Boy Scouts, who recently earned media and public attention by booting out a gay den-mother, the Girl Scouts have been stubbornly inclusive and focused on preparing girls for leadership. For example, last year a Colorado troop included a trans-gender 7-year-old. That’s a problem for the Bishops, and since up to a quarter of American Girl Scouts are Catholic kids with troops housed in churches, they see it as their problem. To make matters worse, the American Girl Scouts refused to leave their international umbrella, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, which has stated that young women “need an environment where they can freely and openly discuss issues of sex and sexuality.” The World Association would appear to believe the data that girls who can’t manage their sexuality and fertility are more likely to end up in poverty than leadership positions.
Then again, maybe that’s what the church hierarchy is after. According to an article last month at the Huffington Post, “The new inquiry will be conducted by the bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. It will look into the Scouts’ ‘possible problematic relationships with other organizations’ and various ‘problematic’ program materials, according to a letter sent by the committee chairman, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne, Ind., to his fellow bishops.” We’re talking about an organization run by women for girls facing an all-male inquisition. In today’s Catholic church, leadership still requires a y chromosome.
8. Purging popular and scholarly interfaith bridge builders. Lest some reader assert that the sins of the Bishops are all a consequence of sexual repression – some contorted pursuit of sexual purity that degrades both sex and compassion—it is important to note that the current cohort of Church authorities are as obsessed with doctrinal purity as sexual purity. It would take me many paragraphs to describe their tireless pursuit of purity as well as retired Anglican bishop, John Shelby Spong, does in one:
Hans Kung, probably the best read theologian of the 20th century, was removed from his position as a Catholic theologian at Tubingen because his mind could not be twisted into the medieval concepts required by his church. This action was carried out by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who at that time under Pope John Paul II held the office that in another time gave us the Inquisition. Matthew Fox, one of the most popular retreat and meditation leaders and an environmental activist, was then silenced by the same Cardinal Ratzinger. Professor Charles Curran, one of America’s best known ethicists, was removed from his tenured professorship at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., also by the same Cardinal Ratzinger. Father Leonardo Boff, the best known Latin American liberation theologian, was forced to renounce his ordination in order to continue his work for justice among the poor of Latin America by the same Cardinal Ratzinger. Next we learn that the Vatican, now headed by Cardinal Ratzinger under his new name Pope Benedict XVI, has ordered the removal of a book from all Catholic schools and universities written by a popular female theologian at Fordham University, Sister Elizabeth A. Johnson. Now the nuns are to be investigated. Conformity trumps truth in every direction.
The Catholic tradition defines deadly or “cardinal” sins as those from which all other sins derive. In addition to lust, gluttony, wrath, sloth and envy, the traditional seven include pride and greed, which, to my mind, drive much of the appalling behavior in this list. If an attempt to assert autocratic control over the spiritual and physical lives of lay people isn’t pride, I don’t know what is. And if a willingness to silence child victims to protect church assets isn’t greed, I don’t know what greed is. The BBC’s revelation last month of money laundering in the Vatican Bank pales by comparison.
To me, ultimately, the sins of the Catholic bishops are “deadly sins” because they kill people, whether pregnant mothers or depressed gay teens or African families, or simply desperate people who are forced into greater desperation by “moral” priorities that distract from real questions of well-being and harm.
What the Bishops will have to account for when they meet their maker, none of us can say. For some American Catholics, the process of holding them to account has already started. The Women Religious have pushed back against the condescending “assessment” issued by the Vatican. Small groups of lay Catholics have rallied to their support. Picketers meet monthly outside Sartain’s cathedral to protest his stance against equality. The Franciscan brothers issued a statement of solidarity with the nuns, many of whom have remained solidly focused on economic justice instead of sexual transgressions.
Given the arrogant cruelty of Church leaders, criticism to date has been remarkably tempered. As the Bishops flash their moral authority in the White House and media and pulpit, clothed in white robes and draped in crimson, they should be glad they aren’t eyeball to eyeball with Jesus himself. As the writer of Matthew tells it, he called out the corrupt religious leaders of his day in no uncertain terms: Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.
Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington and the founder of Wisdom Commons. She is the author of “Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light” and “Deas and Other Imaginings.” Her articles can be found at Awaypoint.Wordpress.com.
Ex-Kansas priest found guilty of plotting death of accuser
Prospective victim was man who had accused him of sexual
abuse. He could face life in prison.
DALLAS — A former Roman Catholic priest with ties to the Kansas City area was found guilty Thursday of plotting the death of a man who accused him of sexual abuse.
The Dallas County jury returned its verdict on John M. Fiala after a few hours’ deliberation.
After the verdict, testimony began in the penalty phase. Fiala could be sentenced to up to life in prison for solicitation of capital murder.
Prosecutors alleged that Fiala tried to hire a neighbor’s brother to kill the man who accused the priest of abusing him in 2008. That’s when the man was 16 and Fiala was the priest at a rural West Texas parish.
Defense attorney Rex Gunter told the jury that Fiala had no true intentions of having his accuser killed.
Fiala testified earlier Thursday that he was told by his neighbor, Scottie Fisher, that the neighbor’s brother would likely turn on him if he wasn’t convinced that the hit was on.
“I knew that if I didn’t do this, I’d be the one on the list, marked to be killed, according to what Scottie said,” Fiala said.
But the man Fiala met with in November 2010 and instructed to kill his accuser for $5,000 was actually an undercover police officer. Their entire conversation was recorded on video and played for the jury on Wednesday.
During closing arguments Thursday, prosecutors urged jurors not to believe Fiala’s claims that his actions were motivated only by fear that his own life was in danger.
“John Fiala is not a puppet,” said prosecutor Brandon Birmingham. “He is a puppeteer.”
Fiala was arrested September 2010 in Lawrence, Kan., and extradited to Edwards County, Texas, on four counts of sex crimes against children. The indictment in Edwards County is still pending.
From August 1998 until mid-2001, Fiala served as spiritual director to the SOLT (Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity) community, which maintains a religious house in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. He did not have a parish assignment in the diocese.
Fiala was an associate pastor at St. Joseph Parish in Shawnee from Aug. 31, 2001, to January 2002. He helped at a parish in Holton, Kan., from January to April 2002, according to the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
No sexual abuse charges have been filed against Fiala in Kansas or Missouri.
When Fiala was charged with plotting a murder in the fall of 2010, Catholic officials on both sides of the state line said they received no complaints about Fiala when he was in the area.
Vatican laments Irish dissent, silences priests
Apr. 26, 2012
DUBLIN, IRELAND — Just weeks after a report from a Vatican inquiry into the Irish church lamented what it described as “fairly widespread” dissent from church teaching, it was revealed that the Vatican has “silenced” Redemptorist Fr. Tony Flannery.
The Holy See’s move provoked fury among the members of the 800-strong Association of Catholic Priests, which has accused the Vatican of issuing a fatwa against liberal clerics.
It’s not exactly clear why Flannery, a popular author and retreat director, has come under Vatican suspicion. He has voiced support in the past for opening up debates around the ordination of women, a change to the church’s ban on artificial birth control and an end to mandatory celibacy. He also provoked dismay among senior Irish bishops when he publicly backed Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s 2011 attack on the Vatican in the wake of the report into the mishandling of clerical abuse in the Cloyne diocese. Kenny accused the Vatican of “dysfunction,” “disconnection,” “elitism” and “narcissism.” Flannery described the speech as “wonderful.”
By acting against Flannery now, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith may well have scored an own goal by provoking the ire of the priests’ association. As well as his retreat work, Flannery is a founder of the association, which now represents some 20 percent of Ireland’s clergy. Since its founding less than two years ago, the group has campaigned for liberal reforms in the church and is due to hold a national assembly in early May to harness momentum. Key priorities for the group include “a re-evaluation of Catholic sexual teaching” and “a redesigning of ministry in the Church, in order to incorporate the gifts, wisdom and expertise of the entire faith community, male and female.”
Flannery is the latest Irish priest to face Vatican censure. In mid-April, it was revealed that moral theologian Fr. Seán Fagan had been silenced by the Vatican two years ago. His Marist order even took the bizarre step of buying up unsold copies of his 2008 book What Happened to Sin?.
Capuchin Fr. Owen O’Sullivan also fell foul of the doctrinal congregation in late 2010 after he published an article suggesting that homosexuality is “simply a facet of the human condition.”
More of the same is likely to be in the cards given some of the findings of the apostolic visitation, published on March 19. The summary of the document — oddly, only four of Ireland’s 27 serving bishops have seen the full report — warned that “dissent from the fundamental teachings of the Church is not the authentic path towards renewal.”
The tendency “among priests, religious, and laity, to hold theological opinions at variance with the teachings of the Magisterium” required, the visitation concluded, “particular attention directed principally towards improved theological formation.”
A war of words has now broken out — of sorts, since no one of the Vatican side of the argument is speaking at all. Renowned ecologist Fr. Seán McDonagh, a member of the priests’ association’s leadership team, accused the Holy See of “outrageous” behavior in silencing of the clerics.
He accused the Vatican of “throwing a fatwa” at the priests and said that some of Rome’s recent actions were like a return to the Inquisition.
“This isn’t the time for heresy-hunting,” he warned.
The association has rallied behind Flannery, insisting, “This intervention is unfair, unwarranted and unwise.”
The association has also resisted attempts to cast it simply as a liberal pressure group. “The issues surfaced by the ACP since its foundation less than two years ago and by Tony Flannery as part of the leadership team are not an attack on or a rejection of the fundamental teachings of the Church. Rather they are an important reflection by an association of over 800 Irish priests — who have given long service to the Catholic Church in Ireland — on issues surfacing in parishes all over the country,” the group said in a statement.
A recent survey commissioned by the association seems to demonstrate that the priests are not the Irish church’s only restive members. While weekly Mass attendance is still relatively high, three out of four people who identify themselves as Catholic say they find the church’s teaching on sexuality “irrelevant.”
The survey — conducted by the respected research association Amarach — also showed that almost 90 percent of those surveyed believe that divorced or separated Catholics in a stable second relationship ought to be able to receive Communion at Mass.
The figures were compiled from a sample of 1,000 Catholics and, according to researchers, have a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
According to the results, 35 percent of those surveyed attend Mass at least once a week; 51 percent attend at least once a month. Just 5 percent of Irish people who identify themselves as Catholics never attend Mass.
Eighty-seven percent disagreed with church teaching on an unmarried priesthood and said they believed that the church ought to allow priests to get married, while 77 percent said the church should admit women to the priesthood.
When asked “to what extent do you agree with the Catholic church’s teaching that any sexual expression of love between a gay couple is immoral,” 61 percent said they disagreed while 18 percent of those surveyed believed homosexual acts to be immoral.
Seeming to set himself on a collision course with the Vatican, McDonagh said the survey “confirms that those who are advocating for change in the church are not a tiny minority, but are, in fact, at the heart of the church.”
He said Irish Catholics are “crying out for change and do not want the church to go backward, but to move forward and change.”
A spokesman for the Irish bishops’ conference, pointedly not commenting directly on the findings, said, “The results of this survey confirm the importance of all in the church taking up this task in a spirit of communion and sharing the good news of the Gospel in a rapidly changing social and cultural environment in Ireland today.”
The Vatican seems to be drawing a clear line in the sand. From Rome’s point of view, whatever the future shape of Irish Catholicism will be, it must be a future marked by greater adherence to church teaching. The Association of Catholic Priests strikes a decidedly different note. This Vatican approach, it warns, “may have the unintended effect of exacerbating a growing perception of a significant ‘disconnect’ between the Irish church and Rome.”
[Michael Kelly is deputy editor of The Irish Catholic, an independent, lay-owned weekly newspaper.]
Convicted Hunter priest to retire
TORONTO Catholic priest Tom Brennan will break a three-year silence today in a statement announcing his retirement over church handling of a notorious Hunter paedophile priest case.
Victims and their families expressed relief yesterday that Brennan, convicted in 2009 of a charge flowing from a police investigation of the paedophile priest, would no longer hold the position of parish priest.
‘‘Thank God for that. Finally some justice,’’ said a victim who described the church’s failure to act against the Toronto priest until now as an ‘‘open wound’’.
Brennan will express regret for the ‘‘terrible things’’ that happened to young boys at a Hunter Catholic school where he was principal in the 1970s and 1980s when the paedophile priest, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was a teacher.
He will express ‘‘sincere hope’’ that his retirement, from today, will bring peace to victims and their families experiencing ‘‘ongoing hurt’’ after he remained a parish priest following his conviction for making a false statement to police investigating the paedophile priest.
Brennan told police he could not recall boys, parents and teachers reporting sexual abuse allegations about the teacher-priest in the 1970s and 1980s.
In late 2009 a District Court judge rejected Brennan’s appeal against the conviction, saying he did not believe the priest could not remember the multiple complaints.
Brennan is retiring before completion of a church investigation ordered by Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Bill Wright early this year after meetings with victims and their families. The investigation is considering whether ‘‘any act or omission’’ of Brennan’s while at the school ‘‘might be subject to penalty under church law’’, Bishop Wright said.
It will be finalised, but will not be made public.
It follows former bishop Michael Malone’s repeated refusal to take action against Brennan after his conviction.
In a statement yesterday, Bishop Wright said some victims of the paedophile priest would ‘‘probably always think chiefly of Father Brennan as the man from whom they should have received help and protection’’.
While Brennan had consistently stated he could not remember requests for help relating to the paedophile priest, he had shown Bishop Wright the statement being released today in which he hoped his retirement would assist victims in their recovery and ‘‘bring them the peace they justly deserve’’.
Brennan announced his retirement at services on the weekend. He will remain at Toronto as caretaker priest until a new parish priest is appointed.
Vatican approach to child abuse in Ireland absolutely disgraceful, says PM
Enda Kenny says laws being drawn up making it impossible for anyone to avoid obligation to report abuse allegations
Ireland’s prime minister has denounced the Vatican‘s approach to allegations of child abuse in the republic as absolutely disgraceful.
Enda Kenny said new laws are being drawn up that will make it impossible for anyone – even those high up in the Roman Catholic church – to avoid their obligations regarding reports of child abuse.
“The law of the land should not be stopped by crosier, or by collar,” Kenny said.
He added that he hopes the response from the Irish government to the Cloyne report will clarify to everyone that the law of the land applies in situations where appalling actions took place.
Kenny called on the Vatican to repeat its commitment that civil law should always be followed. The Irish Catholic church and the Vatican have faced severe criticism over repeated attempts to deal with incidents of abuse behind closed doors rather than by handing over suspects to the Garda Síochána.
The Irish deputy prime minister and foreign minister, Eamon Gilmore, met with the Vatican’s ambassador to Ireland to discuss the report’s findings.
“There’s one law in this country. Everybody is going to have to learn to comply with it. The Vatican will have to comply with the laws of this country,” Gilmore said after the meeting.
Gilmore said the report would be debated in the House next Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on the availability of ministers and spokespersons.
He said the failure of the church to co-operate with the law was one of the greatest problems and that the coalition government was determined that there would be consequences for any institution which failed to work with the legal authorities of the state when it came to child abuse.
The Socialist party’s Joe Higgins said people were “throwing their hands in the air” at the revelations in the Cloyne report.
Rape is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person. It does injury to justice and charity. Rape deeply wounds the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every person has a right. It causes grave damage that can mark the victim for life. It is always an intrinsically evil act. Graver still is the rape of children committed by parents (incest) or those responsible for the education of the children entrusted to them.
So Pope Benedict I have a couple of questions for you.
1. If you accept the catechism statement on rape, then why have you not turned over the priests who have raped the children of the Roman Catholic Church to the police for prosecution to the fullest extent the law allows? Why did you allow two priest whom you knew to be pedophiles to continue in the priesthood, to rape even more children, instead of doing what you are morally and legally obligated to do and turned them into the police for prosecution? Why did you not immediately excommunicate these two priests for their crimes against the children of the Roman Catholic Church?
2. Why must victims of priest sexual abuse sign non disclosure forms upon pain of excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church and must swear to secrecy under the Crimen Sollicitationis? Why must all priests and witnesses have to sign oaths of secrecy upon pains of being excommunicated from the church?
3. Why are not all the priests who raped children, the leaders who have covered up their actions not been excommunicated from the church for their crimes against the children of the church and the laws of the land? Why have these priests and leaders continued to be in this church for their crimes against the children of the church? Why are they not allowed to be prosecuted to the fullest extent the law allows?
4. Why do you Pope Benedict, the priests who raped us, the leaders who covered this up believe you are above man’s laws? Does not your Jesus Christ even demand you submit to man’s laws in relations to crimes committed? Your priests raped us children, you and your leaders covered it up and yet you demand not to be given justice for your crimes against humanity and the children of the church because you are religious leaders and should not be prosecuted by the law? How can you call yourself a man of God, Jesus Christ and a leader of the church, yet set a poor example in the children seeking justice against this church for the crimes your priests and leaders perpetrated against us by denying justice to us victims? If you are a true man of God, then submit yourself for justice for your role in covering up the two priests who raped children.
See Pope Benedict, you would excommunicate a homosexual, an adulterer, and many others at the drop of the hat, but you will not excommunicate your own priests and leaders who raped children and covered this up.
Is it no wonder why I call you His Unholiness the Papal Bullshitter?
Sex Crimes and the Vatican Documentary
Created in 1962, a now infamous document was issued in secret to bishops. Called Crimen Sollicitationis, it outlined procedures to be followed by bishops when dealing with allegations of child abuse, homosexuality and bestiality by members of the clergy. It swore all parties involved to secrecy on pain of excommunication from the Catholic Church.
This document was reissued in 2001 by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and sent to all bishops. Yet rather than ordering more openness and cooperation with the authorities as demanded by both law enforcers and the victims, he reiterated its policies and ensured that the Code of Silence be applied to all cases of child abuse involving a priest. Cardinal Ratzinger also instructed that all cases should now be referred to his office directly and that he would maintain ‘exclusive competence’ over the handling of allegations. This is the Catholic Church’s policy to this day and Cardinal Ratzinger is now Pope Benedict XVI.
The policy laid out in the above document has led to systemic failure by the result that a significant number of priest have, in effect, been allowed to abuse again, and further children have been put at risk.
As the documentary explores, Colm O’Gorman is the man responsible for breaking open decades of abuse by Catholic Priests in Ireland in the BAFTA award-winning BBC special Suing the Pope. He links international ‘systemic evidence’ to argue the Vatican has a policy to cover up the sexual abuse of thousands of children across the world.
In Sex Crimes and the Vatican O’Gorman explores four separate cases internationally of widespread clerical abuse, putting the Roman Catholic Church on trial for the reckless endangerment of children. O’Gorman raises the question, ‘Is the Church in default of its obligation as a signatory to the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child?’
A link to the documentary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=MwOV8QF9d88
This article comes from this link http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/panorama/5389684.stm
Sex crimes and the Vatican
A secret document which sets out a procedure for dealing with child sex abuse scandals within the Catholic Church is examined by Panorama.
Crimen Sollicitationis was enforced for 20 years by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became the Pope.
It instructs bishops on how to deal with allegations of child abuse against priests and has been seen by few outsiders.
Critics say the document has been used to evade prosecution for sex crimes.
Crimen Sollicitationis was written in 1962 in Latin and given to Catholic bishops worldwide who are ordered to keep it locked away in the church safe.
It instructs them how to deal with priests who solicit sex from the confessional. It also deals with “any obscene external act … with youths of either sex.”
It imposes an oath of secrecy on the child victim, the priest dealing with the allegation and any witnesses.
Breaking that oath means excommunication from the Catholic Church.
Reporting for Panorama, Colm O’Gorman finds seven priests with child abuse allegations made against them living in and around the Vatican City.
One of the priests, Father Joseph Henn, has been indicted on 13 molestation charges brought by a grand jury in the United States.
During filming for Sex Crimes and the Vatican, Colm finds Father Henn is fighting extradition orders from inside the headquarters of this religious order in the Vatican.
The Vatican has not compelled him to return to America to face the charges against him.
After filming, Father Henn lost his fight against extradition but fled the headquarters and is believed to be hiding in Italy while there is an international warrant for his arrest.
Colm O’Gorman was raped by a Catholic priest in the diocese of Ferns in County Wexford in Ireland when he was 14 years old.
Father Fortune was charged with 66 counts of sexual, indecent assault and another serious sexual offence relating to eight boys but he committed suicide on the eve of his trial.
Colm started an investigation with the BBC in March 2002 which led to the resignation of Dr Brendan Comiskey, the bishop leading the Ferns Diocese.
Colm then pushed for a government inquiry which led to the Ferns Report.
It was published in October 2005 and found: “A culture of secrecy and fear of scandal that led bishops to place the interests of the Catholic Church ahead of the safety of children.”
The Catholic Church has 50 million children in its worldwide congregation and no universal child protection policy although in the UK there is the Catholic Office for the Protection of Children & Vulnerable Adults.
In some countries this means that the Crimen Sollicitationis is the only policy followed.
The Vatican has refused repeated requests from Panorama to respond to any of the cases shown in the film.