Posts Tagged “catholic child abuse”

Pope Francis in IsraelThe current pope, Francis, has been in office for over a year. During that time he’s skirted the edges of a number of controversies, and even kicked up a few of his own (such as the astonishingly raw outrage engendered by his having washed the feet of — gasp! — women, of all people, during a Maundy Thursday rite). But so far he’s had little, if anything, to say about the worldwide “priestly pedophilia” scandal that’s swirled through and around his Church for many years now.

But that changed this past weekend. As the New York Times reports, he delivered a rare (for Popes, anyway) apology and asked forgiveness from the scandal’s victims (WebCite cached article):

Pope Francis on Monday used his first meeting with victims of clerical sex abuse to offer his strongest condemnation of a crisis that has shaken the Roman Catholic Church, comparing priests who abuse minors to “a sacrilegious cult,” while begging forgiveness from victims and pledging to crack down on bishops who fail to protect children.

By meeting with six victims from three countries, Francis was trying to show resolve — and personal empathy — to address an issue on which he has faced criticism in what has otherwise been a popular papacy. While some advocates for victims praised the meeting, others dismissed it as little more than a publicity stunt.

Francis first greeted the six victims — two people each from Ireland, Britain and Germany — on Sunday after they arrived at a Vatican guesthouse. On Monday morning, he led them in a private Mass at a Vatican chapel, where he offered a strongly worded homily condemning an abuse scandal that began to surface decades ago under John Paul II. Francis also met with each victim individually in sessions that, in total, lasted more than three hours.

For a pope … and considering he hadn’t yet addressed the scandal squarely … he was remarkably frank:

“Before God and his people, I express my sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you,” Francis said during his homily, according to a text released by the Vatican. “And I humbly ask forgiveness. I beg your forgiveness, too, for the sins of omission on the part of church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse made by family members, as well as by abuse victims themselves.”

In his homily, Francis also vowed “not to tolerate harm done to a minor by any individual, whether a cleric or not,” and declared that bishops would be held accountable for protecting minors. He said the abuse scandals had had “a toxic effect on faith and hope in God.”

Since this admission and request for forgiveness is virtually unprecedented, I can see why a lot of the Church’s critics are unimpressed. It’s one thing for the Pope to say all of this; it’s another entirely to put those words into action. Just a few days ago, for example, the Pope’s own minions in the Holy See told the Australian commission investigating clerical child abuse in that country to go fuck itself (cached). That position directly and materially contradicts the Pope’s claims that his hierarchs are to “be held accountable for protecting minors.”

Given that — and given the Church’s consistent and many-years-long pattern of denying the scandal and blaming it on anything and everything but itself — I’m not really sure Francis means what he said. I’m really not. Only time will tell … but I don’t expect time will reveal any meaningful change within the Church.

P.S. Oh, and you Catholic apologists who always stamp and fume that child abuse is reported only in relation to your precious Church … take a look at the bottom of this Times article. Under “More In Europe,” you’ll see a link entitled to another Times article about the UK investigating decades-old government-related abuse allegations that reportedly had been hushed up by that same government (cached). So put away your laughable fucking martyr complex and just admit what you damned well know your Church did. That other institutions, religious and otherwise, pulled the same shit doesn’t make any of it right; using the whiney crybaby claim that the mass media is out to destroy your Church has gotten ridiculous. Quite obviously the media are not ignoring other groups’ similar transgressions so they can make it seem only your Church is guilty of systemic child sexual abuse. Grow up and get the hell over it already.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Cardinal-Francis-George 110516 photoby Adam-BielawskiYet another archdiocese has been forced to release documentation that it was complicit in the abuse of children by its clergy. This time it’s the Windy City, as the Chicago Tribune reports (WebCite cached article):

Thousands of pages of secret church documents [cached] released Tuesday as part of a court settlement provide an unprecedented and gut-wrenching look at how the Archdiocese of Chicago for years failed to protect children from abusive priests.

The documents provide new details and insights into how the nation’s third-largest archdiocese quietly shuttled accused priests from parish to parish and failed to notify police of child abuse allegations. The paper trail, going back decades, also portrays painfully slow progress toward reform, accountability and openness.

Most of the 30 clergymen tied to the documents were not prosecuted. They were shielded by Roman Catholic Church officials who thought the men could be cured with counseling or bishops blinded by a belief in second chances and forgiveness.

Some of the abuse and cover-ups in this document cache involves the current archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Francis George, as the Tribune explains. The most outrageous quote in the article comes from the good Cardinal himself, referring to the abuse and cover-ups:

“That’s in the past, we’re hoping,” Cardinal Francis George said in an interview Sunday.

He’s “hoping” it’s “in the past”? He merely “hopes” his archdiocese’s custom of protecting abusive clergy is “in the past”? Seriously!?

The man is the fucking archbishop! What he says in his archdiocese, goes. The man needs to pull up his big boy pants and make this not just a “hope,” but a “reality.” As archbishop it’s entirely within his power to make it so. He’s in charge, and needs to fucking act like it. Yet, he doesn’t seem to want to.

If anyone wondered how decades of child abuse could have occurred at the hands of Catholic clergy and under the watch of the Catholic hierarchy, now you know why. Because not even a powerful Catholic hierarch is willing to take ownership of his own archdiocese and run it the way he sees fit. No. He just “hopes” it will be run better from now on.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Cathédrale Catholic de Churchill au Manitoba (Cathédrale Saints-Martyrs-Canadiens-et-Reine-des-Martyrs), via Wikimedia CommonsNote: There’s been some news about this case; please see below.

Although I’ve condemned the Roman Catholic Church for the many decades it allowed its personnel to abuse children in its care, and protected those abusers by moving them around so they wouldn’t get caught, that’s not the entirety of the scandal. The Church couldn’t have pulled all this abuse off, without the willing assistance of other elements of the societies in which it operated, including secular officials who granted the Church a wide berth.

One example is that of Connecticut’s own Fr Stephen Foley, a Catholic priest and state police chaplain who, in the 1990s, had been accused of assaults; despite a criminal investigation that ended with Foley being fired as a chaplain by the state police and as a parish pastor by the Hartford archdiocese, he was never charged with anything (WebCite cached article). Foley went on to abuse more children afterward. The state police went so far as to allow him to drive a police cruiser, complete with lights, sirens and police-radio scanners, even though he was no longer a chaplain (cached) … and despite the fact that, had he remained a chaplain, he still wasn’t legally entitled to drive such a vehicle!

Another example of criminal-justice officials being complicit in a priest evading prosecution, came to light recently in Canada. The Canadian Press reports via the CBC about this cringe-worthy story that dates back to 1995 (cached):

A priest who this week is to face 76 sex charges involving Inuit children might have been tried years ago but for a quiet nod from Canada that allowed him to leave the country, says a church leader.

Georges Vervust is the top official with the Belgian Oblates, an order of Catholic priests that sent Eric Dejaeger to several communities in what is now Nunavut.

Vervust sheds light on questions that have troubled Dejaeger’s alleged victims for nearly a decade: How was a man facing child abuse charges allowed to leave the country days before his trial? And why did it take so long for him to be returned?

“What I have heard is that he got advice from people from the Justice Department, off the record, that he should leave,” Vervust said in a Belgian documentary. He confirmed his comments to The Canadian Press.

The CP goes on to tell the details of this story. It includes evasiveness and excuse-making by Justice officials at that time, including whines about being understaffed and the charges against Dejaeger not being a big deal. Ultimately, Dejaeger ended up on trial for his abuse many years after he fled the country, not because anyone in Canada bothered tracking him down, but quite accidentally:

In the end, it was an immigration violation, not an extradition order, that brought him back to face the charges he ran away from 18 years ago.

Dejaeger was eventually returned in January 2011 when a Belgian journalist realized that Dejaeger had lost his Belgian citizenship in 1977 when he became a naturalized Canadian. He had been living in Belgium since 1995 without a visa and was kicked out.

As I said, it’s not possible for the Church to have gotten away with child abuse, over the course of decades and in so many places around the world, if people around the Church weren’t willing to let them get away with it. At this point, societal collaboration with the Church appears much less of a problem than it once was, but it’s something we must always guard against.

Update: Canada’s National Post reports Dejaeger was convicted of 24 counts (cached).

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Peter at Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.

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Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)In one of the most laughable examples of “spin” that I can think of, the archdiocese of New York actually bragged about Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s deposition concerning his time as archbishop of Milwaukee. CNN reports on their ridiculous claim (WebCite cached article):

“Today Cardinal Dolan had the long-awaited opportunity to talk about his decision nine years ago in Milwaukee to publicize the names of priests who had abused children and how he responded to the tragedy of past clergy sexual abuse of minors, during the time he was privileged to serve as archbishop of Milwaukee,” Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, said in a written statement.

“He has indicated over the past two years that he was eager to cooperate in whatever way he could, and he was looking forward to talking about the good work and progress that took place to ensure the protection of children and pastoral outreach to victims.”

You may remember, while he headed the Milwaukee archdiocese, Dolan bribed abusive priests $20,000 a piece to walk away from the Church, rather than defrocking them and then handing them over to the authorities for prosecution. The stated reason for paying the abusers was that defrocking is a long, arduous process, so paying abusers to quit was easier. That may be true, however, the defrocking process (or “laicization”) is something the Church’s hierarchs — Dolan among them — control. If they find it too difficult, they can change it to make it more efficient. This excuse also does not explain why Dolan didn’t forward accusations he thought were solid enough to merit bribing a priest to quit the Church to the police. It’s an idiotic pretense that I am nowhere near stupid enough to buy into.

As for Zwilling’s claim that his boss “was eager to cooperate in whatever way he could,” well … most folks who are “eager” to be deposed, don’t spend something like two years dodging and swerving away from them. Rather, they call the lawyers and stenographers together and they get it the hell over with — immediately. They don’t have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the table as Dolan was.

Their disingenuousness places Dolan and his spokesman into my “lying liars for Jesus” club.

Photo credit: Fred R. Conrad / The New York Times.

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Roger MahonyI’d hoped I was done blogging about retired Cardinal Roger Mahony, former Archibishop of Los Angeles. If you recall, he claimed to have been blissfully unaware of the fact that child abuse was a bad thing. After blogging about how his successor managed to “punish” him without actually punishing him, I’d expected that’d be all that needed to be said about the creep.

But I was wrong. Mahony, apparently, refuses to let go of the matter. He took to his personal blog to proudly declare to the world that he forgives the insolent folks who dare criticize and rebuke him (WebCite cached article):

From our earliest catechism days we learn about the virtue of humility. We study it, we think about it; but we don’t embrace it.

And why? Because humility is all about self-effacing, about seeing ourselves as far more diminished than we had hoped. As a result, few of us set out to embrace humility for Lent or as a pattern for our lives. Most us us accept a few affronts and neglects as humility, and then move on.

But as disciples of Jesus Christ, we are actually called to the fullness of humility: humiliation, and publicly. …

In the past several days, I have experienced many examples of being humiliated. In recent days, I have been confronted in various places by very unhappy people. I could understand the depth of their anger and outrage–at me, at the Church, at about [sic] injustices that swirl around us.

Thanks to God’s special grace, I simply stood there, asking God to bless and forgive them.

There are so many things wrong with this, I hardly know where to begin. Nevertheless, I’ll dive in and point out the following:

  • Mahony punctuates this lecture on “humility” by declaring — as publicly as he can, by posting it on the Internet — that he’s been humiliated. Excuse me? That’s the opposite of “humility.” True “humility” would be taking the criticism and keeping it to himself. Not broadcasting it to the planet.
  • It’s not up to Mahony to “forgive” his critics. Any criticism Mahony has taken, is something that, by all rights, he actually earned, by virtue of his behavior. If anyone should be doing any “forgiving” here, it’s the child-abuse victims. Not him.
  • In these remarks, Mahony reveals that he views himself as a victim of the “priestly pedophilia” scandal. This isn’t unusual, since most Catholic hierarchs think that way. They blame anyone and everyone but themselves for it. Truthfully, neither Mahony nor any other hierarch is a victim here, and not one of them has any right to claim to be one.
  • Another revelation of this childish screed is Mahony’s egotism and self-centeredness. He views the scandal as being all about him. No one else really matters. This is about as un-Christian an attitude as one can have, which is surprising in a man who’s supposed to be Christ-like and act as Jesus’ representative.
  • Mahony says he is “being called to … be humiliated.” In other words, this is something that was inflicted upon him from outside … sort of like Job being used as a pawn by God and Satan. He refuses to acknowledge that he, himself, did anything to be criticized for.
  • And what’s up with his blog being hosted on a Blogspot domain in the UK? Huh? What does a blog about Los Angeles (according to its name) have to do with the UK? I don’t get it.

It’s long past time for Cardinal Mahony — and the rest of the sniveling crybaby hierarchs — to stop whining and bellyaching about what’s happened to them as a result of a scandal which they, themselves, worked diligently and for decades to manufacture. What childish fucking bullshit. When are they going to grow up and act like grown adults. Oh, and when do lay Catholics plan to understand their Church is run by a cabal whose ethics and morals are little different from the Mafia? Remember … what you refuse to correct, you condone.

P.S. For anyone who plans to pontificate on the virtues of humility: It’s best to begin by actually being humble and contrite. Mahony clearly hasn’t gotten there yet, and is in no position to tell anyone about “humility.”

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

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Father Benedict Groeschel, founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal order, is shown in this undated photo. Via ABC News..Over two years ago I blogged about a letter to the Irish Times in which the victim of a Roman Catholic priest’s abuse recalled the priest blaming him for his own heinous actions. I’ve also blogged many times about how the Roman Catholic considers the clerical child-abuse scandal that has spread like wildfire around the world for a decade or more, is not its own fault, but rather a vile attack upon God’s unwaveringly holy Church by Satan and the Forces of Darkness. These are in addition to the litany of other slimy excuses they’ve trotted out over the years.

Of course, Church officials haven’t often overtly blamed the victims for the abuse. They’re more likely to imply such a thing by their behavior, than say it out loud. Even so, every once in a while, some cleric or other lets it slip. ABC News reports on one recent example of it (WebCite cached article):

The Rev. Benedict Groeschel, 79, who hosts a weekly show on the Catholic television network EWTN, originally made the comments in an interview with the National Catholic Register. He also referred to convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky as a “poor guy.”

“People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to — a psychopath. But that’s not the case. Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him. A lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer,” Groeschel was quoted as saying in the interview, which is no longer available on the paper’s website.

Groeschel even offered his own pet theory as to why these kids “seduce” pedophiles:

“Well, it’s not so hard to see. A kid looking for a father and didn’t have his own — and they won’t be planning to get into heavy-duty sex, but almost romantic, embracing, kissing, perhaps sleeping, but not having intercourse or anything like that. I’s an understandable thing, and you know where you find it, among other clergy or important people; you look at teachers, attorneys, judges, social workers,” Groeschel was quoted as saying.

Now, all of this is bad enough. But in the wake of the shitstorm this creature’s remarks have kicked up, Groeschel and the National Catholic Register took it all back. Sort of. They yanked the interview off their Web site and replaced it:

The interview has now been replaced by a statement from Fr. Benedict:

“I apologize for my comments,” it said. “I did not intend to blame the victim. A priest (or anyone else) who abuses a minor is always wrong and is always responsible. My mind and my way of expressing myself are not as clear as they used to be. I have spent my life trying to help others the best that I could. I deeply regret any harm I have caused to anyone.”

Jeanette R. De Melo, the site’s editor in chief, included her own apology for posting the interview.

“Child sexual abuse is never excusable,” she wrote. “The editors of the National Catholic Register apologize for publishing without clarification or challenge Father Benedict Groeschel’s comments that seem to suggest that the child is somehow responsible for abuse. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

These apologies are pathetic, however. Groeschel denies having said something which — in fact — he very clearly said, having elaborated on it with hypothetical scenarios to explain his position. He might not have “intended to blame the victim,” but he actually did do so … undeniably! And the NCR’s apology amounts to, “We’re sorry we got caught running something we shouldn’t have,” which is basically no apology at all. By removing the article, they tried to make it seem as though Groeschel hadn’t said anything heinous. Well, he has … and the Internet has taken notice.

I continue to wonder why lay Catholics keep swearing allegiance to an institution which is governed by a collection of amoral reprobates. I just don’t get it. Really, I don’t. Obviously there’s a lot more wrong with the Roman Catholic Church, than just the mafiosi who run it. They have legions of followers who apparently have no problem with what they’re doing and are happy to let them continue doing it.

Update: Groeschel is off the air at EWTN (cached).

Photo credit: ABC News.

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VeghellambertuskerkJust when you thought the R.C. Church couldn’t have reached a new low in depravity — for instance, they stole newborns from “wayward” mothers in Australia, and in Spain, and probably lots of other places — the (UK) Telegraph reveals the Church managed, back in the 50s, to have had boys mutilated because they were “homosexual” (WebCite cached article):

Evidence of the castrations has emerged amid controversy that it was not included in the findings of an official investigation into sexual abuse within the church last year.

The NRC Handelsblad newspaper identified Henk Heithuis who was castrated in 1956, while a minor, after reporting priests to the police for abusing him in a Catholic boarding home.

This particular form of abuse was apparently not included in an abuse report released a few months ago. The claim is that there was no way to trace the allegations, however, the real reason is that the report’s writers were trying to cover up government participation:

Evidence emerged on Monday that government inspectors were aware that minors were being castrated while in Catholic-run psychiatric institutions.

Minutes of meetings held in the 1950s show that inspectors were present when castrations were discussed. The documents also reveal that the Catholic staff did not think parents needed to be involved.

There are also allegations that Vic Marijnen, a former Dutch Prime Minister, who died in 1975, was linked to the case.

In 1956, Mr Marijnen was the chairman of the Gelderland children’s home where Mr Heithuis and other children were abused. He intervened to have prison sentences dropped against several priests convicted of abusing children.

The involvement of former prime minister Marijnen — even though he’s long since deceased — certainly might cast a shadow on the Dutch government, so it’s natural the report may have avoided this matter.

It’s amazing how the R.C. Church continues to lament its lack of influence on occidental society, and even pitches fits when it feels it’s being disrespected … but clearly the Church tore up and burned its “respect” card long ago. It no longer deserves anyone’s deference or respect. The sooner society understands this, the better off we’ll all be.

Oh, and once again, I have to ask all the lay Catholics out there who may read this (and since I’ve heard from some of you, I know you’re out there): When the hell do you plan to get the fuck off your sorry, lazy little asses and do something about the horrific monstrosity that is your own Church? Only you can change it. Either you have the courage to force it to change, or you don’t. But since you refuse to try, I can only assume you approve of this abusive behavior.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Mark at Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.

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