Posts Tagged “holy see”

Papa Francisco na JMJ - 24072013For well over a decade the Vatican has fiercely denied that any of its clergy abused children or that its hierarchs protected the abusers. This scandal has traveled around the world and reared its head on every continent (except Antarctica), but the Church’s commanders have repeatedly insisted they’re the true victims, not the abused children, and have blamed the scandal on anyone and everyone other than themselves. So I find it remarkable that, as the Religion News Service reports, Pope Francis asked for forgiveness over it (WebCite cached article):

“I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil that some priests — quite a few in number, though not compared to the total number — and to ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done by sexually abusing children,” Francis said [cached].

“The church is aware of this damage,” he said. “It is personal and moral damage, but carried out by men of the church. And we do not want to take one step backward in dealing with this problem and the sanctions that must be imposed. On the contrary, I believe that we have to be very firm. Because you cannot take chances with children!”

Catholic News Service provides video of the Pope, via Youtube:

Of course, the Pope’s request for forgiveness is a far cry from the sort of true accountability that people around the world have been looking for, for over a decade. But given the Vatican’s long history of excuse-making and refusal to date even to admit the possibility it might have done anything wrong, it does show a somewhat different attitude. Let’s hope Francis does take additional steps and actually holds his Church responsible for what it did.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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St. Peter's Basilica, VaticanI’ve blogged many times already about how the Roman Catholic Church blames the worldwide Catholic clerical abuse scandal on anyone and everyone other than itself or its own personnel. The blame-game is old and tired, but it seems the Church just won’t give up playing it. The latest example of this comes in the wake of a UN committee’s report on how the Vatican obstructed justice and aided abusive clergy around the world for decades. As the AP reports via CBC News, the Vatican denounced this report, blaming its content on “pro-gay ideologues” (WebCite cached article):

The Vatican “systematically” adopted policies that allowed priests to rape and molest tens of thousands of children over decades, a UN human rights committee said Wednesday, urging the Holy See to open its files on pedophiles and bishops who concealed their crimes.

In a devastating report hailed by abuse victims, the UN committee severely criticized the Holy See for its attitudes toward homosexuality, contraception and abortion and said it should change its own canon law to ensure children’s rights and their access to health care are guaranteed.

The Vatican promptly objected and its UN ambassador accused the committee of having betrayed the international body’s own objectives by allowing itself to be swayed by pro-gay ideologues. He said it appeared the committee simply hadn’t listened when the Holy See outlined all the measures it has taken to protect children.

The Vatican’s reasoning here is absurd: They’re saying they shouldn’t be held accountable for child abuse and obstruction of justice in the past, because they’re better about them, now. Applied elsewhere, this sort of thinking would promptly be dismissed as ridiculous. For example, take a guy arrested for a murder a couple years after it happened; should he be able to insist that he shouldn’t be prosecuted for it, because he hadn’t killed anyone since then?

As usual, the R.C. Church once again complains it’s being attacked; in this case by these “pro-gay ideologues” who, they think, are trying to destroy them. This latest whine is just one more example of the Church’s denials: They continue to insist their clergy never abused any kids and their hierarchs never protected them. It’s all fabricated. The Church, its spokesmen, and defenders have cited plenty of other bogeymen in the past, ranging from “masonic secularists” to the Jews to the Devil, and even to the abuse victims themselves.

Clearly the Church hierarchy is committed to its ongoing plan to repeatedly deny and blame, deny and blame, then deny and blame some more. They cannot and will not admit fault, nor will they willingly allow themselves to be held accountable for what they did. Nevertheless, they claim to be the world’s sole remaining arbiter of morality. That’s the sort of hypocrisy that their own Jesus explicitly condemned … but like most Christians, they happily engage in it anyway.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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

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Cardinal Timothy F. Dolan in 2012. He reiterated in a statement Monday that these were 'old and discredited attacks.' Credit: Seth Wenig/Associated Press, via the New York TimesI’ve blogged about Cardinal Timothy Dolan, current Archbishop of New York, having paid abusive priests to leave the priesthood while he was archbishop of Milwaukee and refused to report them to authorities. As though that weren’t bad enough, as the New York Times reports, documents released today show he hid over $50 million in assets from accusers (WebCite cached article):

Files released by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee on Monday reveal that in 2007, Cardinal Timothy F. Dolan, then the archbishop there, requested permission from the Vatican to move nearly $57 million into a cemetery trust fund to protect the assets from victims of clergy sexual abuse who were demanding compensation.

Cardinal Dolan, now the archbishop of New York, has emphatically denied seeking to shield church funds as the archbishop of Milwaukee from 2002 to 2009. He reiterated in a statement Monday that these were “old and discredited attacks.”

However, the files contain a 2007 letter to the Vatican in which he explains that by transferring the assets, “I foresee an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability.” The Vatican approved the request in five weeks, the files show.

Only a Roman Catholic hierarch could possibly consider a document that he, himself, composed, to be an “old and discredited attack.” The reason, you see, is because the hierarchs view the priestly-pedophilia scandal itself as an attack by the Forces of Darkness … and various other bogeymen, such as Jews, the “Sexual Revolution,” and homosexuality … upon God’s Holy Church. It’s all fabricated, you see, and if there was any abuse, it was at the hands of the Devil himself acting through the children, who weren’t innocent victims.

Yes, the list of excuses to which the R.C. Church assigns blame for this scandal is legion. They refuse to acknowledge any wrongdoing, aside from a little naïvité and an aversion to “gossip.”

At any rate, Dolan’s nasty, off-hand dismissal of his own documents demonstrates how irrational the man is and the extent to which hierarchs will go, in order to avoid accepting any responsibility for their behavior.

Photo credit: Seth Wenig/Associated Press, via the New York Times.

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Vincenzo Pinto/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images, via the New York TimesBy now most of my readers will already have heard the news: the College of Cardinals has elected a new pope. The New York Times reports on the cardinals’ choice (WebCite cached article):

With a puff of white smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel and to the cheers of thousands of rain-soaked faithful, a gathering of Catholic cardinals picked a new pope from among their midst on Wednesday — choosing the cardinal from Argentina, the first South American to lead the church.

The new pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio (pronounced Ber-GOAL-io), will be called Francis, the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. He is also the first non-European pope in more than 1,200 years and the first member of the Jesuit order to lead the church.

A lot of folks will speculate as to what it means that a non-European was elected Pope, and that the new Pope named himself for St Francis of Assisi. It’s true that Francis is the first “New World” pope, and it’s also true that St Francis had — like Jesus himself — preached the virtue of poverty. But don’t be deceived. The Roman Catholic Church is a colossal juggernaut that works in its own way, moves at its own pace, and in many ways governs itself. It almost doesn’t matter who heads the Holy See. It’s the bishops who, collectively, run the Church, and they’ll continue to do so just as they always have. Even if he’d wanted to — and I’m positive he doesn’t — Pope Francis can’t “change” the Church in any meaningful way … because it can’t be changed.

Photo credit: Vincenzo Pinto/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images, via the New York Times.

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Pope Benedict XVI BlessingWith today being his last day in office as Pope, I thought I’d recap some of Benedict’s “greatest hits” since I’ve been blogging here. These are categorized and listed in blog order:

That about covers it, I think.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Pope Benedict XVI blessing members of the Order of the Knights of Malta at the Vatican on Saturday. Samantha Zucchi Insidefoto/European Pressphoto Agency, via the New York Times.The big religious news this morning is that Pope Benedict XVI plans to resign at the end of this month. The New York Times reports on this news which has taken a lot of people by surprise (WebCite cached article):

Pope Benedict XVI, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger who took office in 2005 following the death of his predecessor, said on Monday that he will resign on Feb. 28, the first pope to do so in six centuries.

Regarded as a doctrinal conservative, the pope, 85, said that after examining his conscience “before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are longer suited to an adequate exercise” of his position as head of the world’s Roman Catholics.

The announcement is certain to plunge the Roman Catholic world into frenzied speculation about his likely successor and to evaluations of a papacy that was seen as both conservative and contentious.

In a statement in several languages, the pope said his “strength of mind and body” had “deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”

Elected on April 19, 2005, Pope Benedict said his papacy would end on Feb. 28.

The reason this is a surprise, is that previously, spokesmen for the Church — and “experts” on the Vatican and Catholicism — had claimed it was impossible for popes to resign. That had been their response a few years ago when the Pope’s involvement in the case of a pedophilic priest in the 1980s had been revealed, as the Times explains:

Vatican officials and experts who follow the papacy closely dismissed the idea of stepping down at the time. “There is no objective motive to think in terms of resignation, absolutely no motive,” said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman. “It’s a completely unfounded idea.”

I said, back then, that this was not true; the Pope can, indeed, resign. There are precedents for it (Pope Celestine V had established the ability of popes to resign, then did so himself a few months later in 1294; and Gregory XII also resigned, in 1415, in order to end the decades-long Great Western Schism). Thanks to Celestine V, in fact, a provision for papal abdication is provided explicitly in canon law:

Should it happen that the Roman Pontiff resigns from his office, it is required for validity that the resignation be freely made and properly manifested, but it is not necessary that it be accepted by anyone. (Canon 332 §2)

So all those presumed “experts” who had insisted differently, are clearly wrong. I find it difficult to believe that most of them — if not all — didn’t know better.

Photo credit: Samantha Zucchi Insidefoto/European Pressphoto Agency, via the New York Times.

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Vatican CityIt seems Agnosticism has hit the big time. How do I know that? The Pope launched an attack on it, that’s how I know! As Reuters reports, he declared war on agnosticism, of all things, during his Epiphany address (WebCite cached article):

Pope Benedict said on Sunday that Roman Catholic leaders must have the courage to stand up to attacks by “intolerant agnosticism” prevalent in many countries.

The pope and the Church have come under increased attack because of their opposition to homosexual marriage and women priests. The pope has repeatedly denounced what he says are attempts to push religion out of public debate.

As usual, he misinterprets what’s really going on. He confuses an effort to make sure religion is not forced on anyone, with an effort to destroy religion entirely. The two are not the same thing, no matter how fervently he thinks otherwise.

“Today’s regnant agnosticism has its own dogmas and is extremely intolerant regarding anything that would question it and the criteria it employs,” the pope said.

“Therefore the courage to contradict the prevailing mindset is particularly urgent for a bishop today. He must be courageous,” he said.

Benedict calls agnosticism “regnant,” meaning “ruling,” “governing,” “controlling,” or “dominating.” In fact, it doesn’t govern anything. The majority of people in the world are assuredly religious. In most countries, agnostics and other non-believers are vastly outnumbered, and have virtually no say. This is true even in the 21st century US, where politicians are almost uniformly religious, and there are no non-believers in national office or in any position with national influence. There are absolutely no rational grounds for the Pope to assert that agnosticism is “regnant.” Because — unfortunately — it’s not.

But even if it were, I must ask the obvious question: So the hell what? Once upon a time, religion ruled humanity with an iron fist. Benedict’s own Catholic Church once towered over Europe, politically and socially. What did that get us? Not a lot, unless you think things like the Inquisitions, the Crusades, wars fought against pagans, heretics, and other kinds of ecclesiastical controversies were good for humanity. If agnosticism dominated, could things be any worse?

The age in which a Pope could summon an army and send it off to smite the Forces of Darkness are long gone … thankfully … but it appears Benedict wants that same power back. The fact that occidental society won’t let him have it, appears to gnaw at him. So he ends up making ridiculous accusations, such as that agnosticism is “regnant” and that efforts to keep religion and state separate are the same as efforts to destroy religion entirely. His claim that agnostics are “intolerant” is stupid and childish. Failing to believe what someone else tells one to believe is not “intolerance.” Not wanting to be forced to live according to someone else’s metaphysics, is also not “intolerance.” Both of those are “choices,”, and they’re choices that people in free countries are entitled to make — whether the Pope likes it or not.

Lastly, I’ve said it before and will say it again: Pope Benedict has no viable grounds for propounding morals at anyone. The Church he governs is guilty of having orchestrated institutional abuse of children in its care; of having conspired to cover up that abuse; of having bullied states and societies into letting it get away with it; and of thwarting justice once those states and societies decided they weren’t going to knuckle under to the Church’s bullying any more. Benedict could regain the “moral high ground” he thinks he stands on, by accepting responsibility for all of this, ordering all abusive and obstructionist clergy to immediately turn themselves in for prosecution and accept whatever punishment they merit, and fundamentally altering the Church’s structure and operations so that it can never again do any such thing.

But we all know, he won’t do any of that. No way. Until he does … he can just go fuck himself.

Does my saying that make me “intolerant”? I guess so. I don’t “tolerate” evil, and neither should you.

Photo credit: John G. Walter, via Flickr.

Hat tip: Apathetic Agnostic Church.

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