Posts Tagged “clerical abuse scandal”

Monsignor William Lynn walks to the Criminal Justice Center before a scheduled verdict reading, Friday, June 22, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, via CBS News)I blogged some time ago about the Philadelphia archdiocese being investigated by the state of Pennsylvania for its complicity in child abuse by its clergy. A long trial, followed by a long and apparently contentious deliberation, finally paid off: As CBS News reports, an official of the archdiocese was found guilty of child endangerment (WebCite cached version):

A Roman Catholic church official was convicted Friday of child endangerment but acquitted of conspiracy in a groundbreaking clergy-abuse trial, becoming the first U.S. church official convicted of a crime for how he handled abuse claims.

Monsignor William Lynn helped the archdiocese keep predators in ministry, and the public in the dark, by telling parishes their priest was being removed for health reasons and then sending the men to unsuspecting churches, prosecutors said.

Lynn, 61, had faced about 10 to 20 years in prison if convicted of all three counts he faced — conspiracy and two counts of child endangerment. He was convicted only on one of the endangerment counts, leaving him with the possibility of 3 1/2 to seven years in prison.

Lynn and his attorneys naturally insist he’d done nothing wrong and that he was not responsible for the transfer and redeployment of abusive priests, even though he was the one who had lied in order to cover up for them:

Lynn’s lawyer, Thomas Bergstrom, pledged in opening statements in late March that the monsignor would not run from the sins of the church. However, he said in closing arguments that Lynn should not be held responsible for them.

He suggested his client was a middle manager-turned-scapegoat for the clergy-abuse scandal. Lynn, he said, documented the abuse complaints and did his best to get reluctant superiors to address it.

“And now, now of all things, the commonwealth wants you to convict him for documenting the abuse that occurred in the archdiocese, …. the evil that other men did. They want to hold him responsible for their sins.”

It’s true that Lynn himself abused no one. It’s also true that Lynn himself was not responsible for the duplicitous behavior of his superiors. But that said, he is still responsible for what he did — which was to watch the abuse occur, lie in order to cover it up, and refuse to hand over any of his supposed documentation to police (which he most certainly could have done at any time, had he truly wished to). Instead, he remained where he was, doing what he was, surrounded by abuse he knew was going on, and which was being covered up by his archdiocese …

And he never so much as lifted a finger to try to stop it or see that it was prosecuted. Not once.

As I said, Lynn was no abuser, but he’s still a walking piece of garbage who willingly played along with the Roman Catholic Church’s policy of hiding the abuse rather than allow abusers to be prosecuted. He’s most certainly no hero or unwitting dupe, as his attorneys have portrayed him.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Matt Rourke, via CBS News.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments 1 Comment »

This image shows a copy of a newly revealed 1997 letter from the Vatican, obtained by Irish broadcasters RTE and provided to The Associated Press, warning Ireland's Catholic bishops not to report all suspected child-abuse cases to police, a disclosure that victims groups described as "the smoking gun" needed to show that the Vatican enforced a worldwide culture of cover-up. The letter documents the Vatican's rejection of a 1996 Irish church initiative to begin helping police identify pedophile priests following Ireland's first wave of publicly disclosed lawsuits. Via the Globe and Mail.The aftermath of the Cloyne Report, about which I’ve blogged already, continues to play out, in Ireland and in Vatican City. The Vatican threw a fit, recalling their nuncio to Ireland because Taoiseach Enda Kenny dared call the Vatican out for its conduct in the clerical child-abuse scandal. This nuncial recall was, all by itself, a childish reaction to criticism, and showed how out-of-touch the Holy See is. But as is normal with the Holy See, it has not changed. The BBC reports that the Holy See once again has dug its heels in and remains firmly in denial that it could have done anything wrong (WebCite cached article):

The Vatican has rejected claims by Irish PM Enda Kenny that it sabotaged efforts by Irish bishops to report child-molesting priests to police. …

In a speech to parliament in July, Mr Kenny accused the Church of putting its reputation ahead of abuse victims.

The Vatican said it was “sorry and ashamed” over the scandal but said his claims were “unfounded”.

“The Holy See is deeply concerned at the findings of the commission of inquiry concerning grave failures in the ecclesiastical governance of the diocese of Cloyne,” said the Vatican, in a detailed response to the allegations [cached].

“The Holy See… in no way hampered or sought to interfere in any inquiry into cases of child sex abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne.”

“Furthermore, at no stage did the Holy See seek to interfere with Irish civil law or impede the civil authority in the exercise of its duties.”

The Vatican continues to claim innocence in spite of the discovery of a “smoking gun” document … a (then) secret letter to Ireland’s bishops in 1997 … which showed the Holy See had derailed efforts by those same bishops to cooperate more fully with secular authorities (cached). As the BBC article relates, the Vatican insists any such conclusion about the letter is a “misinterpretation”:

But the Holy See’s response, published on Saturday, said Mr Kenny’s blistering accusations were based on a misinterpretation of a 1997 Vatican letter expressing “serious reservations” about the Irish bishops’ 1996 policy requiring bishops to report abusers to police.

I challenge anyone to read this letter (available at the NY Times and on this server) and not conclude — rather than “interpret” — that it was intended to do anything other than prevent the sort of cooperation with local authorities that the Irish bishops had been contemplating in the mid-90s. It clearly and explicitly states that, for example, mandatory reporting requirements are, in papal eyes, canonically and morally problematic:

In particular, the situation of ‘mandatory reporting’ gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and a canonical nature.

What Irish bishop, reading this Vatican instruction, would fail to conclude that he should not follow mandatory reporting guidelines? Seriously?

Once again the Vatican demonstrates its proclivity to act in denialistic and juvenile fashion, continually refusing to acknowledge any wrongdoing, even in light of demonstrable evidence of its own wrongdoing. The robed denizens of the Holy See — nearly all of them middle-aged or elderly — are far too old to be acting as childishly as this. It’s time for them to act their ages.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments No Comments »

Image from Franciscans (Friars Minor Conventual)A couple months ago I blogged about the claim made by the country’s Catholic bishops that the clerical child abuse scandal which has plagued the Church worldwide for some time now is a “historical” problem (i.e. it’s “history,” a mere relic of the past) and is now no longer an issue. The report, written by a cadre of academics — but commissioned and paid for by the bishops — said (WebCite cached article):

The “crisis” of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests is a historical problem.

Of course, I didn’t believe the bishops academics when they said this, and — unfortunately — I’ve been proven right, by the arrest of a priest in Berlin, Connecticut. The New Britain Herald reports on this story (cached):

The same police officers who stood by [the Rev. Michael Miller’s] side while tending to the injured took him into custody Tuesday to charge the popular St. Paul Catholic Church priest with five counts of risk of injury to a minor and one count of attempted obscenity. …

In the wake of allegations of inappropriate contact with a minor, Miller was suspended from public ministry July 4, according to a news release issued Tuesday by the Franciscan Friars.

The archdiocese of Hartford is supposedly cooperating with police in this case, which has been investigated for about a month. And they’re offering to “help out,” as revealed in another article in the Herald (cached):

“Anyone who has experienced inappropriate contact and/or conduct by Fr. Michael Miller should contact the Berlin Police Department. They are also encouraged to contact Sister Mary Kelly at the Archdiocese of Hartford at 860-541-6491. She is the coordinator of the Victim Assistance Program and can offer some assistance.”

By making this offer, the archdiocese hopes to intercept any reports before they get to the police. Nice. Really nice.

Photo credit: From Friars Minor Conventual Web site (Wayback Machine cache).

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments 5 Comments »

Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and PaulThe Philadelphia archdiocese has had a bad time of it, lately. A number of its priests, including one diocesan official, have been accused by a grand jury of abusing children in their care — and in the case of the official, of covering up for them. Yesterday the archdiocese announced it had suspended some of them, as reported by the New York Times (WebCite cached article):

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced Tuesday that it had suspended 21 priests from active ministry in connection with accusations that involved sexual abuse or otherwise inappropriate behavior with minors.

The mass suspension was the single-most sweeping in the history of the sexual-abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, said Terence McKiernan, president of BishopAccountability.org, which archives documents from the abuse scandal in dioceses across the country.

Wow. Sounds like drastic and definite action, doesn’t it? But really, it’s not. The grand jury report, as the Times explains, was issued about a month ago:

The archdiocese’s action follows a damning grand jury report issued Feb. 10 that accused the archdiocese of a widespread cover-up of predatory priests, stretching over decades, and said that as many as 37 priests remained active in the ministry despite credible accusations against them.

And note, only 21 of the 37 were suspended. It took the archdiocese an entire month to figure out that it should suspend some — but not all! — of the 37. My guess is that almost any other employer, whether a private entity or a government agency, would have immediately suspended anyone on their payrolls who’d been cited by a grand jury of child abuse or obstruction of justice. But clearly, the Roman Catholic Church is not just any other employer … they have rigorous standards to uphold. Apparently. I’m not sure what those standards are … but they must have them. Right?

How many more examples of Mafia-like behavior does one need, in order to understand what a stinking, festering cesspool of criminality and depravity the Catholic Church is?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons / Bruce Andersen.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments 2 Comments »

St. Michael's residential school, Alert Bay, BCThe Roman Catholic clerical abuse scandal has erupted a few times over the last decade, and especially during the last year — in a cascade of revelations beginning with the release of the Ryan Report just over a year ago — but elsewhere, scandals of a similar nature have been dealt with for much longer, and are getting closer to a resolution. An example of this is the Canadian residential schools scandal. The abuses of the period in question came to light some time ago, and the Canadian government has been working on compensating victims for over a decade. The question — for all that time — has not been whether or not the Canadian government and the churches who operated the residential schools did anything wrong, but over what kind of compensation would be provided to the victims, their survivors, and the rest of the native peoples.

CTV reports on what victims said at a hearing before a commission set up to address this matter:

Hundreds of aboriginals gathered in Winnipeg Wednesday to share their stories of abuse suffered during years of living in Canada’s disgraced residential school system.

The hearing was the first in a series of seven national events being run by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which aims to document the physical and sexual abuse and other horrors endured by children at residential schools across Canada.

While there’s still a lot of debate over this effort in Canada — including victims who think not enough has been done, and others who think it’s going to cost the country too much — the fact is that a resolution is being worked out. The same cannot be said for the Roman Catholic Church, which continues to evade its guilt and its responsibilities, and continues to view the scandal dysfunctionally, as a spiritual attack upon it by the forces of Satan, rather than as a catastrophic moral and ethical failing of its own making. The Vatican ought to watch what’s happening in Canada, and be ashamed of themselves for not being as willing to admit fault and change its ways.

Photo credit: Canada’s World.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments 1 Comment »

Saint Peter's Square, RomeIn a development that makes clear what an amoral abyss the Vatican is, the preacher to the Pope himself has equated reporting on the Catholic clerical abuse scandal with anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. Reuters filed this report on Fr Raniero Cantalamessa’s remarks (WebCite cached article):

Attacks on the Catholic Church and Pope Benedict over a sexual abuse scandal are comparable to “collective violence” against Jews, the pontiff’s personal preacher told a Vatican Good Friday service.

The sermon by Father Raniero Cantalamessa, a Franciscan whose title is “Preacher of the Pontifical Household”, drew sharp criticism from both Jews and victims of sexual abuse by priests.

It further racheted up tensions over the abuse scandal, forcing even the Vatican spokesman to distance himself from Cantalamessa, the only person authorized to preach to the pope.

Fr Cantalamessa used Holy Week services, as well as the coincidence of Passover and Easter this year, to get additional attention for his crass comments:

Cantalamessa, speaking with the pope sitting nearby, drew the parallel at an afternoon Good Friday service in St Peter’s Basilica on the day Christians commemorate Jesus’ crucifixion.

Noting that this year the Jewish Passover and Christian Easter fell during the same week, he said Jews throughout history had been the victims of “collective violence” and drew comparisons between Jewish suffering and attacks on the Church.

Nice. How marvelous. The worldwide mass media reporting on a long-simmering, insidious child-abuse scandal within the Roman Catholic Church, somehow is the same as centuries of anti-Semitism, many generations of harassment of and attacks on Jews throughout Europe, leading up to and including the Third Reich’s attempt to wipe them out, culminating in the mechanistic murder of millions of Jews in central and eastern Europe.

Oh yeah, obviously they’re the same thing! Exactly the same!

not!

It goes without saying that Fr Cantalamessa’s comments have been condemned by Jews, as the AP reports via Google News (cached article):

“What a sad irony this would be on Good Friday, where so much of the anti-Semitism was brought about by the church against Jews,” said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. “Anti-Semitism was pogroms, inquisitions, expulsions that led to death … What a grotesque comparison.” …

Hours later, the Vatican sought to distance itself from the incident. A Vatican spokesman said that remarks are not the church’s official position and that such parallelism can lead to misunderstandings.

Gee, ya think?

As I’ve posted before, this sort of reasoning seems egregious, extreme, and weird to those of us capable of thinking rationally about it. But as I’ve blogged already, most of the Roman Catholic Church — especially those high up in the Vatican — does not view this scandal rationally. To them, this scandal is not something they’ve created on their own. It is, instead, an external attack upon the God’s appointed Church, by the forces of the Devil himself. To them, the reports of abuse either are absurd and false, fabricated by diabolical forces or “secularists”; or they’re real, but the product of diabolical infestation of the abused children, who “tempted” the poor priests into behaving inappropriately. Either way, by this reasoning, the Church is not in the wrong here; the children harmed by clerical crimes are not “victims,” but rather, the abusive clergy are “victims.” The R.C. Church has not done anything to deserve being “attacked,” other than to have been God’s appointed Church. Such thinking inevitably leads to a comparison with Jews, then, who were persecuted because they viewed themselves as “God’s chosen people.”

Under the “scandal-as-a-spiritual-war” model, then, Fr Cantalamessa’s comparison is perfectly valid and reasonable.

So long as this model of thinking about the scandal holds sway in the cavernous, amoral halls of Vatican City, nothing will be done, because the Church will never concede that anything is wrong. It can’t, because to do so would grant the Devil a “victory,” and they cannot permit that.

Photo credit: Humpalumpa.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments 1 Comment »

During an audience of Pope Paul VI in 1977The Roman Catholic clerical abuse saga continues to grow worse for the Church and the Vatican. CBS News reports on a letter which had been sent to then-Pope Paul VI in 1963 advising the removal of pedophile priests (locally cached image):

The head of a Roman Catholic order that specialized in the treatment of pedophile priests visited with the then-pope nearly 50 years ago and followed up with a letter recommending the removal of pedophile priests from ministry, according to a copy of the letter released Wednesday.

In the Aug. 27, 1963 letter, the head of the New Mexico-based Servants of the Holy Paraclete tells the pope he recommends removing pedophile priests from active ministry and strongly urges defrocking repeat offenders.

The letter, written by the Rev. Gerald M.C. Fitzgerald, appears to have been drafted at the request of the pope and summarizes Fitzgerald’s thoughts on problem priests after his Vatican visit.

One would expect that the Pope — having requested the advice — would then have taken it. The Roman Catholic hierarchy, of course, is denying that Paul VI even saw the letter, so he hadn’t been warned. Even so, it’s documentary evidence that someone within the Church, with knowledge of the issue, had tried to inform the Vatican of its extent:

“It [the letter] shows without a shadow of a doubt that … how pervasive the problem was was communicated to the pope. He was able to share with him their knowledge of how pervasive this problems was, how destructive this problem was,” [abuse victims’ attorney Tony] DeMarco said.

In an additional news item which is not really news, the Vatican continues to complain that newspapers — especially the New York Times — have dared to report factual information about the Church:

The Vatican’s top doctrinal official, Cardinal William Levada, specifically called out the New York Times for coverage he called “deficient by any reasonable standards of fairness.” The pope, he said, is owed a debt of gratitude for introducing needed reforms.

Translation from Vaticans-speak: Waaah waah wah waaaah wah!

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments No Comments »