Posts Tagged “catholic clerical abuse scandal”

DownView CathedralBasilicaSH / Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Interior), Newark, NJThis is a story which is a couple weeks old, but sadly, it might as well have been decades old. Why? Because it’s merely the latest example of a long-standing pattern of behavior which the Roman Catholic Church has engaged in around the world. Several years ago a priest in the Newark archdiocese admitted to having been a pedophile, and agreed to stay away from children thereafter. But as the (Newark, NJ) Star-Ledger reports, he failed to abide by that agreement, and did so — as a priest still in good standing! — under the noses of his bosses in the archdiocese (WebCite cached article):

Six years ago, to avoid retrial on charges that he groped a teenage boy, the Rev. Michael Fugee entered a rehabilitation program, underwent counseling for sex offenders and signed a binding agreement that would dictate the remainder of his life as a Roman Catholic priest.

Fugee would not work in any position involving children, the agreement with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office states. He would have no affiliation with youth groups. He would not attend youth retreats. He would not hear the confessions of minors.

But Fugee has openly done all of those things for the past several years through an unofficial association with a Monmouth County church, St. Mary’s Parish in Colts Neck, The Star-Ledger found.

The archdiocese can’t plead ignorance of Fugee’s agreement with prosecutors, because it was made with their knowledge and even their blessing:

In addition to Fugee and Prosecutor John Molinelli, the archdiocese’s vicar general signed the agreement on behalf of Myers, pledging to abide by the restrictions on Fugee’s ministry.

The document — which can be found on NJ.com, the online home of The Star-Ledger — states explicitly that Fugee may not have unsupervised contact with children, minister to children or work in any position in which children are involved.

“This includes, but is not limited to, presiding over a parish, involvement with a youth group, religious education/parochial school, CCD (or Sunday school), confessions of children, youth choir, youth retreats and day care,” the agreement says.

Amazingly, the archdiocese contends Fugee’s activities didn’t actually violate the agreement:

But [Archbishop Myers’s spokesman Jim] Goodness denied the agreement had been breached, saying the archdiocese has interpreted the document to mean Fugee could work with minors as long as he is under the supervision of priests or lay ministers who have knowledge of his past and of the conditions in the agreement.

“We believe that the archdiocese and Father Fugee have adhered to the stipulations in all of his activities, and will continue to do so,” Goodness said.

Even if Fugee heard private confessions from minors, those supervising Fugee were always nearby, Goodness said.

“The fact is, he has done nothing wrong,” the spokesman said. “Nobody has reported any activity that is inappropriate, and I think that’s important to know, especially given that he’s a figure whose name is public and whose past is public.”

It’s clear that Mr Goodness and the rest of the Newark archdiocese have parted ways with reality, if they think anyone is going to buy into this idiotic claim. I’m certainly not stupid enough to accept it.

In any event, a few days after this revelation, the Rev Fugee contradicted Mr Goodness by admitting his behavior was, in fact, a breach of his agreement, and attempted to deflect any blame for it from the archdiocese (cached):

Asserting his actions were “my fault alone,” the Roman Catholic priest who violated a court-sanctioned agreement to stay away from children wrote in his resignation letter that he attended youth retreats and heard confessions from minors without the knowledge of his superiors in the Archdiocese of Newark. …

“In conscience, I feel it necessary to make clear to all that my actions described in recent news stories were outside of my assigned ministry within the archdiocese,” Fugee wrote. “… My failure to request the required permissions to engage in those ministry activities is my fault, my fault alone.”

This latter Star-Ledger article includes a revealing tidbit that bolsters what I’ve said, since this blog’s inception, about the worldwide Catholic child-abuse scandal:

For years, Myers has faced criticism for his handling of Fugee, whom he has characterized as a victim in the criminal case. In correspondence with priests of the archdiocese, he referred to the criminal case as an “acquittal” despite the fact Fugee entered a rehabilitation program and underwent counseling for sex offenders.

You see, the hierarchs who rule over the R.C. Church are largely convinced that abusive priestsnot the children they abusedare the real victims in this scandal. It sounds crazy, but it’s absolutely true. The abusive clergy and the Church sincerely and truly do not consider themselves responsible for any of the bad behavior uncovered by numerous investigations around the world; according to the Church, the scandal is anyone and everyone else’s fault.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Picard Facepalm: Because expressing how dumb that was in words just doesnt workOne would think Roman Catholic hierarchs would, by now, have learned to shut their faces when it comes to pedophilia. After all, it’s not as though they aren’t aware of the Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal that’s torn through the Church globally for over 10 years now, and which continues to make sporadic headlines.

Yet, it seems they just can’t resist commenting on it, especially in ways that minimize the severity of the abuse and thus rationalize their unwillingness to deal with it in any way other than shuffling reported abusive clergy around. In an interview on BBC Radio, a South African cardinal has done precisely that (WebCite cached article):

The Catholic Archbishop of Durban, Wilfrid Fox Napier, has described paedophilia as a psychological “illness, not a criminal condition”.

The South African cardinal told the BBC that people who were themselves abused as children and then abused others needed to be examined by doctors.

He further explained why he thinks pedophilia is not criminal:

In an interview with the Stephen Nolan programme on BBC Radio 5 live, Cardinal Napier referred to paedophilia as “a psychological condition, a disorder”.

“What do you do with disorders? You’ve got to try and put them right.…

He said he knew at least two priests, who became paedophiles after themselves being abused as children.

“Now don’t tell me that those people are criminally responsible like somebody who chooses to do something like that. I don’t think you can really take the position and say that person deserves to be punished. He was himself damaged.”

There are a few problems with this position:

  1. Even if pedophilia is truly an “illness,” that doesn’t mean pedophilia can’t simultaneously also be criminal too, meaning pedophiles may still be criminally liable for their actions. It’s possible for someone both to have an illness, and yet still be aware of the fact that they have it and that indulging it is a crime.
  2. Napier assumes pedophilia has only one cause, that being psychological damage as children. That’s an assumption that may well not be borne out by the facts. Sure, Napier might personally know two pedophiles who fit that bill, but he’s leaping to conclusions about all pedophiles, based only on these two.
  3. The point of Napier’s remarks is that he has more sympathy for pedophiliac priests than he has for their victims. This is misplaced. If, as he assumes, pedophilia is truly a cyclical illness, transmitted from pedophile to victim through successive generations, the best thing for him to do when it happens, is to nip it in the bud: To take all such allegations seriously; see that victims are helped as soon as possible; and wall off the pedophiles from doing it again and thus spreading their “illness” any further.

Once again, we have here a Catholic hierarch whose priorities are completely out of whack, and whose thinking has no basis in reason or fact. The cold truth is that pedophiliac acts are criminal, in virtually every jurisdiction on the planet. Trying to justify or rationalize it, can never change that. But it seems they quite simply will not stop doing so. They can’t, because they view the Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal as a vicious attack that comes from outside their own Church. In the hierarchs’ minds, no one within the Church — not the abusers, nor the bishops who protected them — have done anything wrong. They’re all totally innocent. And they absolutely, totally refuse to accept responsibility for it — ever.

Photo credit: Science After Sunclipse.

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

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Cardinal Keith O'Brien is to resign amid allegations of inappropriate behaviour. Photograph: David Cheskin/PA, via the (UK) GuardianThings just keep getting worse for the Roman Catholic Church. Great Britain’s senior hierarch, Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien, has resigned over abuse allegations, as the (UK) Guardian reports (WebCite cached article):

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the UK’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric, has resigned with immediate effect after being accused of “inappropriate acts” towards fellow priests.

The Scottish Catholic church announced that Pope Benedict had accepted the cardinal’s resignation as archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, which came after the Observer disclosed a series of allegations by three priests and one former priest [cached].

O’Brien has denied the allegations and had been expected to continue in his post as head of the Scottish Catholic church until mid-March, when he was due to retire at age 75.

But in a detailed statement, O’Brien said he resigned on Monday, and apologised to any people he had let down. He said he did not want the controversy to overshadow the election of the new pope.

Note, these accusations aren’t exactly like most of the abuse that’s been investigated and reported worldwide for more than a decade now. O’Brien’s four accusers were seminarians at the time of the abuse, three of whom are currently priests. That, of course, does not make what he did right. I’m just pointing out this is not a case of pedophilia; it means children are not the only victims of Catholic clerics’ abuse.

I also note that O’Brien is the Cardinal who, last week, announced he’d support ending the Church’s celibacy requirement for priests (cached):

The Scottish Catholic leader, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, has said he would be happy for priests to be able to marry. Many priests struggle to cope with celibacy and should be able to marry and have a family, he added, in advance of a trip to Rome where he will help elect the next pope.

O’Brien told the BBC: “I’d be very happy if others had the opportunity of considering whether or not they could or should be married. It’s a free world and I realise many priests have found it very difficult to cope with celibacy as they lived out their priesthood, and felt the need of a companion, of a woman, to whom they could get married and raise a family.”

He said this at the very same time he knew he’d been accused of abusing seminarians and while he was awaiting papal acceptance of his resignation … so this is not a coincidence. One wonders why he’d say such a thing, under those circumstances?

Photo credit: David Cheskin/PA, via the em>Guardian.

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Cardinal Tukson 987The Roman Catholic Church’s continual effort to pin blame for the worldwide clerical child-abuse scandal that’s dogged it for over a decade now on anyone and everyone but itself, continues apace. This time, one of the leading lights of the Church, Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana — who happens to be among the contenders for the papacy — proudly declared that his own continent’s fierce intolerance for homosexuality somehow protected it from that scandal, hence, the his implication that homosexuality itself is somehow responsible for “priestly pedophilia.” He made this announcement during an interview on CNN (WebCite cached article):

When Amanpour asked Turkson about the possibility of the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal spreading to Africa, he said it would unlikely be in the same proportion as it has in Europe.

“African traditional systems kind of protect or have protected its population against this tendency,” he said. “Because in several communities, in several cultures in Africa homosexuality or for that matter any affair between two sexes of the same kind are not countenanced in our society.”

This is, of course, totally false. Sexual orientation and sexual fixation are unrelated:

According to the American Psychological Association, “homosexual men are not more likely to sexually abuse children than heterosexual men are.”

CNN offers video of Turkson’s appearance on Christiane Amanpour’s show (cached):

So not only is this claim counter-factual on its face, it also fails in another way: It says nothing about the Catholic hierarchs’ ongoing cover-ups of the abuse by its clergy. Does Turkson seriously contend that “gayness” somehow forced the world’s bishops to repeatedly shuffle priests around in order to protect them, and worked to ensure the abusers would never be prosecuted? Maybe the Cardinal and some other Catholics are willing to go with that, but the thinking world knows how utterly asinine such a contention is.

Once again, I can’t help but ask when this fucking bullshit is going to stop? When, exactly, are the supposedly-godly men who run the Catholic Church going to “man up” and take responsibility for their own behavior? I don’t see it ever happening, until lay Catholics decide they’ve had enough, and take control of the situation. They could easily do so if they wished, using the power of the collection plate: Starving the Church for donations would coerce its hierarchs into changing their behavior. That the world’s Catholics haven’t done this, shows they support the hierarchs’ behavior and approve of the Church’s criminality.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Secular Web News Wire.

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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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Cathedral of Our Lady of the AngelsPity the poor archdiocese of Los Angeles. It’s beset by huge bills which have racked up during several years of legal gamesmanship over its complicity in the abuse of children by its own clergy. It’s in dire financial straits, as the Los Angeles Times reports, and needs big money to pay it all off (WebCite cached article):

In the midst of renewed public outrage over its handling of clergy sex abuse, the Los Angeles Archdiocese is considering a $200-million fundraising campaign that could erase debts brought on by the scandal.

The archdiocese has hired a New York company, Guidance In Giving Inc., to study the feasibility of a large-scale fundraiser that would shore up a bottom line hit hard by costly abuse litigation. It would be the archdiocese’s first capital campaign in 60 years.

The archdiocese’s $660-million settlement in 2007 with more than 500 victims was the largest in U.S. history. According to a December financial report, the archdiocese is still paying down loans it used to cover the settlement, and its liabilities now outstrip its assets by $80 million.

Attempting such a massive fundraising campaign may be especially difficult, just now:

If the new fundraiser occurs, it would place Archbishop Jose Gomez in the potentially difficult position of seeking large contributions from people whose anger at the abuse scandal has been stoked anew. Files released in a court case last month showed how Gomez’s predecessor, Cardinal Roger Mahony, and a high-ranking church official, Thomas J. Curry, plotted to hide molestation from police in the 1980s and 1990s.

How a fundraising push would resonate with parishioners remains an open question.

What a wonderful, moral way to handle a scandal: Spend years, if not decades, allowing clergy to abuse children; whenever there’s a risk the abusers may be caught, shuffle them around to keep it quiet; when you’re found out, issue denials and hang up the cases in court for years; when that runs out, blame the abuse and the intentional thwarting of justice on everything and everyone else you can think of; and finally consent to pay off your victims, but turn around and demand the money from your parishioners, because you staunchly refuse to cough up any of your own. Yeah, that’s the way to handle it. No doubt!

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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