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SNAP blacklists 12 cardinals for pope; Cardinal Timothy Dolan on list


SNAP blacklists 12 cardinals for pope; Cardinal Timothy Dolan on list

ROME (CNN) – A group representing survivors of sexual abuse by priests named a “Dirty Dozen” list of cardinals it said would be the worst candidates for pope based on their handling of child sex abuse claims.

Their presence on the list is based “on their actions and/or public comment about child sex abuse and cover up in the church,” the group said.

The list includes Roman Catholic cardinals from several countries.

SNAP, the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests, said as it released the list Wednesday that its accusations were based on media reports, legal filings and victims’ statements.

The 12 cardinals on SNAP’s list are:
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Cardinal Timothy Dolan
Cardinal Dominik Duka
Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga
Cardinal Patrick O’Malley
Cardinal Marc Ouellet
Cardinal George Pell
Cardinal Norberto Rivera
Cardinal Leonardo Sandri
Cardinal Angelo Scola
Cardinal Peter Turkson
Cardinal Donald Wuerl

The cardinals named on the list have not yet responded to the move by SNAP.

But when asked about it by CNN, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a spokesman for the Vatican, said: “We believe it is not up to SNAP to decide who comes to conclave and who is chosen … cardinals can decide themselves without asking SNAP for advice.”

Monday, SNAP also called for some of the older cardinals to remove themselves from the meetings held before the election of the new pope, arguing that some have been accused of complicity in protecting priests accused of sexually abusing children.

Cardinals from around the globe have been summoned to Rome to take part in the process of choosing the next pontiff, after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI last week.

As of midday, 113 of the 115 cardinals eligible to elect the new pope are in Rome, according to Lombardi. To be eligible to be a part of the group, a cardinal must be under the age of 80.

The two cardinal-electors who are not yet there are Kazimierz Nycz of Warsaw, who should arrive later Wednesday, and Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man of Vietnam, who is arriving Thursday.

No date has yet been proposed for the secret election, or conclave, to select the former pontiff’s successor.

‘Silence didn’t work’

SNAP is intentionally focusing on candidates with a realistic chance of being named pope, its executive director David Clohessy said Wednesday as the group released its list.

“The single quickest and most effective step would be for the next pope to clearly discipline, demote, denounce and even defrock cardinals and bishops who are concealing child sex crimes. We think that’s the missing piece,” he said.

The new pope should order each bishop around the world to hand over “every piece of paper he has on proven, admitted or credibly accused child-molesting clerics to law enforcement,” Clohessy said.

Barbara Dorris, victims’ outreach director for SNAP, said: “The short answer is we’ve tried silence, silence didn’t work, so we have to speak out. We have to do everything we can to get this information out there.”

The Catholic Church has been rocked by a series of child sex abuse scandals in recent years — and the new pope will be under pressure to deal more effectively with a crisis that has undermined public confidence in the church.

SNAP says it believes it is vital to look at how the world’s bishops have handled claims of abuse by priests because the crisis is far from over.

“This scandal, we believe, has yet to surface in most nations. It’s shameless spin and deliberate deception to claim otherwise. It’s tempting to reassure the public and the parishioners by making this claim. But it’s also irresponsible,” a statement on SNAP’s website said.

“Clergy sex crimes and cover-ups remain deeply hidden in the vast majority of nations (where most Catholics live), and has really only become widely known — and barely addressed — in the U.S. about a decade ago and in a few European countries even more recently.”

Media leaks concern

A news conference scheduled by American cardinals for Wednesday, following media briefings on Monday and Tuesday, was canceled at short notice.

Asked if the Vatican had told the American cardinals to stop their daily media briefings, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Thomas Rosica suggested that the details of what was discussed in the general congregations were not meant to be publicized.

“It’s not up to Father Lombardi or myself to tell them what to do,” he said. “It could be that among themselves they realized that there are different ways and different methods of getting things out.”

Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of media relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said via e-mail that the U.S. cardinals were committed to transparency and had wanted to share “a process-related overview of their work” with the public “in order to inform while ensuring the confidentiality” of the general congregations.

“Due to concerns over accounts being reported in the Italian press, which breached confidentiality, the College of Cardinals has agreed not to give interviews,” she said.

In total, 153 cardinals gathered Wednesday at the Vatican for a third day of meetings, known as general congregations, before they set the timetable for the election.

The cardinals spoke about new evangelization, restructuring of the church hierarchy, or curia, and the need for good governance of the church, Lombardi said.

A five-minute limit has been imposed on cardinals speaking at the meetings, although the microphone is not being switched off if they run over the time allowed.

The cardinals have decided to meet twice Thursday, in the morning and afternoon, in order to “intensify the rhythm of work,” Lombardi said.

Video shown at a Vatican news conference showed workers preparing the Sistine Chapel for the secretive conclave.

An elevated floor is being put in place to protect the elaborate mosaic tiling, said Lombardi, where seats will be placed for the cardinals.

The Sistine Chapel and its ornate ceiling by Michelangelo are normally a must-see for tourists in Rome, but it was closed to the public beginning Tuesday afternoon to allow for preparations to take place.

 

 

Abuse Victims Ask Court to Prosecute the Vatican


Abuse Victims Ask Court to Prosecute the Vatican

By       Published: September 13, 2011
From the link:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/14/world/europe/14vatican.html?_r=1

Human rights lawyers and victims of clergy sexual abuse filed a complaint on Tuesday urging the International Criminal Court in The Hague to investigate and prosecute Pope Benedict XVI and three top Vatican officials for crimes against humanity for what they described as abetting and covering up the rape and sexual assault of children by priests.

The formal filing of nearly 80 pages by two American advocacy groups, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, was the most substantive effort yet to hold the pope and the Vatican accountable in an international court for sexual abuse by priests.

“The high-level officials of the Catholic church who failed to prevent and punish these criminal actions,” the complaint says, “have, to date, enjoyed absolute impunity.”

A spokeswoman at the court said the prosecutor’s office would examine the papers, “as we do with all such communications.” The first step will be “to analyze whether the alleged crimes fall under the court’s jurisdiction,” Florence Olara, the prosecutor’s spokeswoman said.

Complaints about the Vatican and child abuse by Roman Catholic priests have been received at the court before, court records showed. But Ms. Olara said details were not normally disclosed by the court unless a case went forward.

Lawyers familiar with the international court said it was unlikely the complaint against the Vatican would fit the court’s mandate to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The Rev. Federico Lombardi, the spokesman for the Vatican, said he had no comment.

Vatican officials have often said that the decisions about priests accused of abuse are made by bishops — not by the Vatican hierarchy — and that the church is far more decentralized than is widely believed.

But the lawyers and abuse victims from the United States and Europe who held a news conference at the court on Tuesday said their action was necessary because all the investigations and prosecutions of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in various countries had not been sufficient to prevent continuing crimes and cover-ups.

Two of the victims whose cases are highlighted in the filing say the priests who sexually abused them simply moved to different countries and are still in ministry working with children, with the knowledge of church superiors. “National jurisdictions can’t really get their arms around this,” said Pamela Spees, a lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights, who helped prepare the filing. “Prosecuting individual instances of child molestation or sexual assault has not gotten at the larger systemic problem here. Accountability is the goal, and the I.C.C. makes the most sense, given that it’s a global problem.”

In addition to Pope Benedict XVI, the filing asks the court to prosecute Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state; Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the previous secretary of state and the current dean of the College of Cardinals; and Cardinal William J. Levada, who is head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office designated to receive cases of clergy sexual abuse that are forwarded by bishops.

A central question is whether the accusations will fit the court’s mandate. The International Criminal Court has jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed after July 1, 2002, when the court opened. It is independent of the United Nations and has jurisdiction in the 117 countries that so far have ratified the Rome Statute that created the court. Italy, Germany and Belgium are signatories, while the Vatican and the United States are not.

The filing cites five cases in which priests have been accused of abuse in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the United States; the priests in these cases are from Belgium, India and the United States.

Ms. Spees said she hoped to persuade the court that the cases were within its jurisdiction, because they involve abuses that she said were “systematic and widespread.”

Experts in international law said the sexual abuse of minors by Roman Catholic priests was sufficiently heinous and widespread to be taken to the court.

Mark Ellis, executive director of the International Bar Association, which is based in London, said he thought that the court would open a preliminary investigation to determine whether it has jurisdiction — and that it would probably conclude that it did not.

“Crimes against humanity means acts that are committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against a civilian population,” Mr. Ellis said. “What you’re looking at is really a policy, in which the government or the authorities are planning the attack.”

“When you look at the concept of why and how the I.C.C. was created, I just don’t think this fits,” he said. “But the filing does something that’s important. It raises awareness.”

Pope Put Off Punishing Abusive Priest


Pope Put Off Punishing Abusive Priest

from the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/10/world/europe/10pope.html?_r=0

By LAURIE GOODSTEIN and MICHAEL LUO
Published: April 9, 2010

The priest, convicted of tying up and abusing two young boys in a California church rectory, wanted to leave the ministry.

But in 1985, four years after the priest and his bishop first asked that he be defrocked, the future Pope Benedict XVI, then a top Vatican official, signed a letter saying that the case needed more time and that “the good of the Universal Church” had to be considered in the final decision, according to church documents released through lawsuits.

That decision did not come for two more years, the sort of delay that is fueling a renewed sexual abuse scandal in the church that has focused on whether the future pope moved quickly enough to remove known pedophiles from the priesthood, despite pleas from American bishops.

As the scandal has deepened, the pope’s defenders have said that, well before he was elected pope in 2005, he grew ever more concerned about sexual abuse and weeding out pedophile priests. But the case of the California priest, the Rev. Stephen Kiesle, and the trail of documents first reported on Friday by The Associated Press, shows, in this period at least, little urgency.

The letter that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later pope, wrote in Latin in 1985, mentions Father Kiesle’s young age — 38 at the time — as one consideration in whether  he should be forced from the priesthood. The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said it was wrong to draw conclusions based on one letter, without carefully understanding the context in which it was written.

“It’s evident that it’s not an in-depth and serious use of documents,” he said. Earlier Friday, Father Lombardi suggested that the pope would be willing to meet with sexual abuse victims.

But John S. Cummins, the former bishop of Oakland who repeatedly wrote his superiors in Rome urging that the priest be defrocked, said the Vatican in that era, after the Second Vatican Council, was especially reluctant to dismiss priests because so many were abandoning the priesthood.

As a result, he said, Pope John Paul II “really slowed down the process and made it much more deliberate.”

The letters and memos, released to The New York Times by Jeff Anderson, a co-counsel representing some of the priests’ victims, reveal a rising level of exasperation among  church officials in Oakland about the delays from the Vatican.

Bishop Cummins wrote to Cardinal Ratzinger in February 1982: “It is my conviction that there would be no scandal if this petition were granted and that as a matter of fact, given the nature of the case, there might be greater scandal to the community if Father Kiesle were allowed to return to the active ministry.”

In late 1981 Cardinal Ratzinger had just been appointed to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the church’s doctrinal office. This office was supposed to handle abuse cases only when they were considered violations of the sacrament of Confession, before the policies were clarified in 2001 and the doctrinal office took on all the abuse cases. (It is unclear why the doctrinal office was handling the case of Mr. Kiesle in the 1980s).

Bishop Cummins had first petitioned the doctrinal office to defrock Mr. Kiesle in 1981. He also wrote directly to Pope John Paul II. Cardinal Ratzinger  requested more information, which officials in the Oakland Diocese supplied in February 1982. They did not hear back from Cardinal Ratzinger until 1985, when he sent the letter in Latin suggesting that his office needed more time to evaluate the case.

The Rev. George Mockel, a diocesan official in Oakland, wrote in a memo to Bishop Cummins: “Basically they are going to sit on it until Steve gets quite a bit older. My own feeling is that this is unfortunate.”

Mr. Kiesle was finally defrocked in 1987.

Mr. Kiesle was convicted for the first time of child molesting in 1978, just six years after he was ordained. He pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of lewd conduct while he was a pastor at Our Lady of the Rosary in Union City, Calif.

Mike Brown, a spokesman for the Oakland Diocese, said that after Mr. Kiesle was convicted, the diocese withdrew permission for him to work as a minister. Mr. Kiesle served three years’ probation for his misdemeanor and underwent treatment, enabling him to eventually get his record wiped clean.

In 1985, while the bishop in Oakland was pressing Cardinal Ratzinger to defrock Mr. Kiesle, the priest began volunteering in the youth ministry at one of his former parishes, St. Joseph’s in Pinole, Calif., news reports say.

Maurine Behrend, a former employee in the diocese’s youth ministry office, recalled encountering Mr. Kiesle at a Youth Day in April 1988 and learning from another minister that Mr. Kiesle had been convicted of molestation. Ms. Behrend alerted the head of the youth ministry office and personally warned Bishop Cummins two weeks later.

In May 1988, she wrote an outraged letter to a church official, demanding to know why “a convicted child molester is currently the youth ministry coordinator at St. Joseph’s parish in Pinole.”

Bishop Cummins, who is now 82, contested news reports that Mr. Kiesle was volunteering at his old parish for three years, saying diocesan officials would have heard and acted earlier. Bishop Cummins did not recall ever being alerted, despite Ms. Behrend’s irate letter.

Bishop Cummins said Mr. Kiesle was finally removed from his volunteer position when the bishop happened to bump into him at a child’s confirmation ceremony at the parish. The next day, the bishop said he made sure Mr. Kiesle was banned from working at the parish.

In 2002, Mr. Kiesle was charged in several cases of molestation, including abusing at least a half-dozen young girls while at his former parishes in the 1960s and 1970s. But those charges had to be dropped when the United States Supreme Court struck down a California law that extended the statute of limitations on child molestation cases.

He eventually pleaded no contest in 2004 to a separate felony charge of molesting a child at his vacation home in Truckee, Calif., in 1995 and was sentenced to six years in prison.

Rick Simons, an attorney in Hayward, Calif., who represented two of the victims who later sued the Diocese of Oakland, said he met Father Kiesle when he took his deposition in prison.

“Of all the priests who abused children that I have met, and there’s probably a couple dozen, he was by far the most evil, remorseless sociopath of the lot,” he said.

Mr. Kiesle was released, and is listed in California’s sex offenders registry as living in Walnut Creek, Ca. He lives in a gated community, where guards on Friday prevented a reporter from approaching his home.

Mr. Simons said that about eight victims of Mr. Kiesle reached a settlement with the Diocese of Oakland in 2005, and that on average each received about $1 million to $1.5 million.

 

Vatican Letter Warned Bishops on Abuse Policy


Vatican Letter Warned Bishops on Abuse Policy

By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
Published: January 18, 2011

from the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/19/world/europe/19vatican.html?ref=williamjlevada

A newly disclosed document reveals that Vatican officials told the bishops of Ireland in 1997 that they had serious reservations about the bishops’ policy of mandatory reporting of priests suspected of child abuse to the police or civil authorities.

The document appears to contradict Vatican claims that church leaders in Rome never sought to control the actions of local bishops in abuse cases, and that the Roman Catholic Church did not impede criminal investigations of child abuse suspects.

Abuse victims in Ireland and the United States quickly proclaimed the document to be a “smoking gun” that would serve as important evidence in lawsuits against the Vatican.

“The Vatican is at the root of this problem,” said Colm O’Gorman, an outspoken victim of abuse in Ireland who is now director of Amnesty International there. “Any suggestion that they have not deliberately and willfully been instructing bishops not to report priests to appropriate civil authorities is now proven to be ridiculous.”

But a spokesman for the Vatican said that the document, while authentic, was further proof that past missteps on handling sexual abuse allegations were corrected by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a top official in the Vatican before he became the current pope, Benedict XVI.

The document, a two-page letter, was first revealed by the Irish broadcaster RTE and obtained by The Associated Press.

The letter was written just after a first wave of scandal over sexual abuse by priests in Irish Catholic schools and other facilities — a scandal so big it brought down the Irish government in 1994.

By 1996, an advisory committee of Irish bishops had drawn up a new policy that included “mandatory reporting” of suspected abusers to civil authorities. The letter, signed by Archbishop Luciano Storero, then the Vatican’s apostolic nuncio — or chief representative — in Ireland, told the Irish bishops that the Vatican had reservations about mandatory reporting for both “moral and canonical” reasons. Archbishop Storero died in 2000.

The letter said that bishops who failed to follow canon law procedures precisely might find that their decisions to defrock abusive clerics would be overturned on appeal by Vatican courts.

“The results could be highly embarrassing and detrimental to those same diocesan authorities,” the letter said.

Jeffrey S. Lena, a lawyer for the Vatican, said in a statement that the letter “has been deeply misunderstood.” He said that its primary purpose was to ensure that bishops used proper canonical procedures to discipline their priests so that the punishments were not overturned on technical grounds. He said the letter was also intended to question the validity of the Irish bishops’ policies, because they were issued merely as a “study document.”

Mr. Lena added, “In stark contrast to news reports, the letter nowhere instructed Irish bishops to disregard civil law reporting requirements.”

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said that the letter represented an approach to sexual abuse cases shaped by a particular Vatican office, the Congregation for the Clergy, before 2001. That year, Pope John Paul II charged the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then led by the future Pope Benedict, with handling such cases.

“It refers to a situation that we’ve now moved beyond,” Father Lombardi said. “That approach has been surpassed, including its ideas about collaborating with civil authorities.”

He played down the idea that the letter was a smoking gun. “It’s not new,” he said. “They’ve known about it in Ireland for some time.”

But Mr. O’Gorman said that the letter was not known until its disclosure on Monday by RTE.

Martin Long, a spokesman for the Irish bishops, said that the revelation that the bishops had faced Vatican disapproval for resolving to report abuse cases to the police as far back as 1996 had prompted an outpouring of supportive e-mails and phone calls.

“The church in Ireland did receive a great number of public calls that reflected the public welcome for the fact that the Irish bishops have been so proactive for so long in working to improve child protection guidelines,” he said.

Mr. Long would not comment on the letter, but he reflected a widespread feeling among church officials that the Irish bishops had borne an unfair share of the recriminations that have been heaped on the church.

He noted that the Irish church had adopted a policy of mandatory reporting of all cases of child sexual abuse to the civil authorities in 1996, and said the policy had been progressively strengthened since then, despite the fact that mandatory reporting in such cases was not required by law in the Irish Republic.

An investigation by the Irish government that took nine years and was released in 2009 found that abuse was “endemic” in church-run schools and orphanages for decades, and that thousands of children were victims.

Pope Benedict sent a pastoral letter to the church in Ireland, accepted the resignations of some bishops and ordered an investigation, known as an “apostolic visitation,” of Irish seminaries and several dioceses. Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, who is in charge of the seminary visitation, announced that he would spend about three weeks from now until early February interviewing seminarians in Rome and in Ireland.

Rachel Donadio contributed reporting from Rome, and John F. Burns from London.