Posts Tagged “roman catholic church”

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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Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst (2008)The Roman Catholic bishop of Limburg, a man with the remarkably pompous-sounding name of Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, met with Pope Francis last Thursday, and resigned from his post. He’d been suspended since autumn due to an uproar over the colossal cost of renovations to his episcopal residence (around $42 million dollars). Germany’s edition of The Local reports on what Tebartz-van Elst spent that led to Tebartz-van Elst’s meeting with Francis, and his resignation (WebCite cached article):

A disgraced German bishop who resigned on Wednesday after building costs at his new headquarters spiraled to at least €31 million, spent €213,000 on a fish tank. On Thursday he passed some of the blame onto his deputy.

The 108-page report [cached] into extortionate spending at the Bishop of Limburg’s headquarters was published by the leadership of Germany’s Catholic Church on Wednesday.

Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst handed in his resignation [cached] to Pope Francis the same day. He had been suspended in October after details of his spending emerged [cached].

Tebartz-van Elst himself has not responded to the controversy since it erupted in October, but he provided a statement on Thursday. He admitted having had a “disorderly, unfocused” approach to the project in question, but then offered a number of excuses:

Yet he then claimed that the reported total costs were inaccurate.

He argued that his out of control spending was a result of other construction projects he had seen go wrong.

As soon as it began, he felt he needed to “observe the quality and the durability of the entire project”. His spending choices should have been overseen by his deputy, Vicar General Franz Kaspar, but he maintained they were not.

Yes, you read that right. This putative “man of God” not only pulled the classy stunt of throwing his own vicar-general under the bus, he actually claimed that his employee was supposed to have managed him, a prince of the Church:

“As I am not an authority in the area of church management, as my qualification is in pastoral theory, I have to relinquish the responsibility to Dr Kaspar who was [according to the report into the spending] ‘the only person with an overarching view of the seat’s assets’.”

The Local article lists some of the expenditures in question, and they’re insane:

  1. A €213,000 (over $290,000) fish tank
  2. €1.17 million (over $1.5 million) for artwork
  3. €1.73 million (over $2.3 million) for genuine bronze window frames
  4. €18,000 (almost $25,000) for a crane-installed advent-wreath fixture in the chapel ceiling

There’s a lot more, and I suggest looking at the list. It’ll astound you. I wonder what Jesus might say about Tebartz-van Elst’s ostentatiousness and profligacy. I’m betting he wouldn’t approve; after all, he reportedly taught the following:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.… No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:19-21, 24)

He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.” (Mark 12:41-44)

“Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” (Luke 12:33-34)

When Jesus heard this he said to him, “There is still one thing left for you: sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when he heard this he became quite sad, for he was very rich. Jesus looked at him (now sad) and said, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who heard this said, “Then who can be saved?” (Luke 18:22-26)

The sad part is, this disgraced ex-bishop may not be all that different from other Catholic hierarchs. Many of them are obsessed with their own possessions and those of their dioceses. This effort to cling desperately to everything they’ve accumulated in part explains their lackluster response to the worldwide Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal, their evasions, and the justice they obstructed along the way. Some of them have admitted their resistance to doing anything is because they want to hold onto everything they have, at all costs.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Where Are the Children? / Schools: British Columbia / Lejac Indian Residential School (Fraser Lake, BC)Among the Catholic Church’s many faults is its presumption that it’s above the law and accountable to no one on the planet. If one looks back, for example, at how it handled the worldwide child-abuse scandal that’s plagued it for over a decade, one sees a familiar pattern of resistance by the Church and its hierarchs.

Theirs is a pattern of behavior that plays out with each incident that comes to light. First there are flat denials; then efforts to avoid subpoenas and depositions; then complaints of “persecution” once those have failed; then there are admissions that something untoward might possibly have happened somewhere in a diocese or order; then there are grudging apologies (or more like, non-apology apologies); then complaints that child abuse happens in other institutions, so why is the Church always a target; and on and on it goes.

A lot of the time the evidence is overwhelming and a diocese or order must consent to a legal remedy; but even then, it continues to resist. For example, back in 2007 the archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to release documents regarding abusive clergy, but then they turned around and resisted actually releasing them for a whopping 6 years.

The latest example of this comes from Canada and is part of the ongoing residential schools scandal. For those who may not be aware of it, this program began in the late 19th century and involved a large number of aboriginal children being sent to residential schools operated by Canada’s churches and paid for by the Canadian government. Children in this program, which lasted into the late 20th century, were often subjected to horrible abuse as well as neglect (mortality was quite high).

For most of the 2000s, the Canadian government has been working to investigate the abuse, and has been working with the churches that had operated residential schools (mainly, the Anglican and Catholic Churches) to compensate victims. The CBC, however, recently discovered that the Roman Catholic Church — which ostensibly had cooperated with this effort — has been holding back money that it had agreed to pay out (WebCite cached article):

Court documents obtained by CBC News allege that the Catholic Church is withholding millions from former students of Indian residential schools.

The church was part of the Indian residential school settlement reached in 2006. While the government paid the lion’s share of the billion-dollar settlement, the churches were also required to make reparations.

The Anglican, Presbyterian and United churches have met their obligations, but according to the federal government, the Catholic Church is shirking its responsibility.

The article provides details of this; the bottom line is that the R.C. Church has been keeping some of the settlement money it was supposed to have paid to victims’ foundations under the guise of “administrative expenses.” Seems to me, if they’d just paid out what they’d agree to pay, there wouldn’t be any ongoing expenses … but hey, what can this cold-hearted, cynical, godless agnostic heathen possibly know about such things?

Near the end of the CBC article is the whiney, paranoid Catholic response:

Pierre Baribeau, a lawyer in Montreal and director of the Catholic Entities corporation, says the Catholic Church will fight these allegations in court.

“The federal government has always adopted an aggressive attitude towards the Catholic Entities and we have offered reconciliation process to them and they firmly answered negatively, they don’t want to apply the agreement as negotiated in 2006, so we are going to present our arguments to the courts.”

Oh pity the poor, put-upon Canadian Catholic Church! The government there is just picking on them … or something. I guess. How dare the Canadian government and the First Nations foundations actually expect the Church to pay out money it had agreed, years ago, to pay out! Why, it’s intolerable!

</sarcasm>

At any rate, one can see, here, yet another manifestation of the Church’s perpetually-resistant attitude toward such allegations. They always have to be dragged kicking and screaming into settling up … and even after that, they must be dragged a whole lot more. I’m not surprised they’re pulling this kind of crap, and you shouldn’t be, either.

Photo credit: Where Are the Children?

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

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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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This 2011 file photo shows the Cathedral of St. Helena in Helena, Mont. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena filed for bankruptcy protection Jan. 31 in advance of proposed settlements for two lawsuits that claim clergy members sexually abused 362 people over decades and the church covered it up. (Photo: Ron Zellar, AP)For what I believe is the tenth time over the last decade, yet another Roman Catholic diocese has been forced to declare bankruptcy, in the face of allegations it allowed its clergy to abuse children. As USA Today reports, this would be the Helena, MT diocese (WebCite cached article):

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena planned to file for bankruptcy protection Friday as part of a proposed settlement of $15 million for hundreds of victims who say clergy members sexually abused them over decades while the church covered it up.

Diocese spokesman Dan Bartleson said the bankruptcy reorganization plan comes after confidential mediation sessions with the plaintiffs’ attorneys and insurers, resulting in the deals to resolve the abuse claims.

Those bastions of Christian charity managed to hand off most of the bill for this:

The church anticipates paying at least $2.5 million of the costs, with the rest paid by insurers, which were part of the settlement talks, he said. Bartleson said the diocese does not expect to have to liquidate any of its assets or close any programs because of the filing.

Gee, how convenient … no? In this case the Church managed, successfully, to prevent its personnel from being prosecuted, and avoided most of the payout to victims.

Photo credit: Ron Zellar/AP, via USA Today.

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

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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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Comments by Fernando Sebastian Aguilar, who was named one of 19 new cardinals by Pope Francis last week, provoked an immediate backlash in Spain. Photo: EFE/EPAWhat is it about metaphysical beliefs that gives people the idea that they’re experts on things they know nothing about? I’ve frequently complained, for instance, about Christians pronouncing Jesus’ existence as a historical fact merely because they believe he lived, even though this is by no means certain. In that way, they’re claiming credentials … i.e. as historians … which in fact they do not possess.

But this phenomenon is hardly limited to just that. It reaches into many disciplines — including medicine — and causes people to make laughable pronouncements which are counter-factual and anti-scientific.

Well, one of Pope Francis’s newly-appointed cardinals (WebCite cached article) just tried playing doctor himself, and ended up looking like a hateful prick. The (UK) Telegraph reports on a Spanish hierarch who compared homosexuality with blood pressure (cached):

Spain’s newly appointed cardinal to Rome has insisted homosexuality can be cured with treatment and likened it to other “bodily deficiencies” such as high blood pressure.

The comments by Fernando Sebastian Aguilar, who was named one of 19 new cardinals by Pope Francis last week, provoked an immediate backlash in Spain.

The 84-year-old Archbishop Emeritus of Pamplona said: “Homosexuality is a deficient way of manifesting sexuality because (sexuality) has a structure and a purpose, which is procreation.” “Homosexuality, which can’t achieve this purpose, is a failing,” he said in an interview with Malaga-based newspaper Diario Sur, published Sunday.

He went on to compare it to his own deficiency of high blood pressure. “Our bodies have many deficiencies. I have high blood pressure — a deficiency I have to correct as I can.”

Even as he said this, Aguilar must have realized the offensive implications of his words:

With this in mind he continued: “Saying homosexuals suffer a deficiency is not an insult. It’s a help because in many cases of homosexuality it is possible to recover and become normal with the right treatment.” His comments brought swift criticism from some quarters.

I believe this is Diario Sur‘s original story on this interview (cached).

Note the old and tired refrain that sexuality is only for procreation. The truth is, it’s not … and the soon-to-be Cardinal knows it. If it were true, then infertile people would not be able to have sex.

I get that the cardinal-to-be doesn’t approve of homosexuality and doesn’t like gays. There are lots of Christians — and people of other faiths — who agree with him on that. In a free world, that sort of thing is going to happen. What shouldn’t happen, is for people to lie about homosexuality and gays in order to rationalize and justify their disapproval.

Ultimately it shouldn’t matter to Aguilar (or anyone else) that someone somewhere might be gay. Really, honestly, it doesn’t affect him (or them). It just doesn’t. Hating homosexuality and gays serves no useful purpose for anyone, but it does cause immense harm. It’s time for the world’s gay-haters to just fucking grow the hell up and get over their pitiful, whiney hang-ups already.

Photo credit: EFE/EPA, via the (UK) Telegraph.

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