Posts Tagged “roman catholic”

Monsignor Battista Ricca with Pope Francis. Credit: Catholic Press Photo, via L'espressoNote: There’s a recent cringe-worthy update to this story appended to this post.

I blogged a short time ago about the most recent Vatican Bank scandal. Things are heating up, what with some arrests, a number of firings/resignations, and the Pope’s appointment of a supposed review panel to examine that institution. But now, it’s taken an extremely odd turn. The Italian magazine L’espresso reports that this Vatican Bank scandal has now intersected the rumored, elusive “Vatican gay lobby” (WebCite cached article):

“In the curia there is talk of a ‘gay lobby.’ And it is true, it’s there. Let’s see what we can do,” Francis said on June 6 to Latin American religious received in audience.

And again: “It is not easy. Here there are many of the pope’s ‘bosses’ with great seniority of service,” he confided a few days ago to his Argentine friend and former student Jorge Milia.

In effect, some of these ‘bosses’ have hatched against Jorge Mario Bergoglio the cruelest and most subtle deception since he was elected pope.

They kept in the dark important information that, if he had known it before, would have kept him from appointing Monsignor Battista Ricca “prelate” of the Institute for Works of Religion.

With this appointment, made public on June 15, Francis intended to place a trusted person in a key role within the IOR. With the power to access all of the proceedings and documents and to attend all of the meetings both of the cardinalate commission of oversight and of the supervisory board of the disastrous Vatican “bank.” In short, with the task of cleaning house.…

Before the appointment, Francis had been shown, as is customary, the personal file on Ricca, in which he had not found anything unseemly. He had also heard from various personalities of the curia, and none of them had raised objections.

Just one week after appointing the “prelate,” however, during the same days in which he was meeting with the apostolic nuncios who had come to Rome from all over the world, the pope became aware, from multiple sources, of some episodes from Ricca’s past previously unknown to him and such as to bring serious harm to the pope himself and to his intention of reform.

L’espresso goes on to chronicle a number of incidents in Ricca’s checkered history working in the Vatican’s diplomatic corps — see page 2 and page 3 of the report (cached and cached) for all the details. There are enough of them that it’s inconceivable nothing untoward could have shown up in his file at the time Pope Francis reviewed it.

It may be a bit of a leap to suggest (as L’espresso does) this set-up of the new Pope (which is certainly what it appears to be) was done the “gay lobby” that’s rumored to be embedded deep within the machinery of the Vatican. Even so, this attempt to drive a wedge between the Pope and other Vatican officials who’d no doubt known about Ricca’s past, must have been the work of people with authority in Vatican offices and extremely close to the Pope; having the ability to doctor a prelate’s personal file, and to prevent the Pope from speaking with those who might have warned him against appointing Ricca.

I can’t help but view this as additional evidence — as though anyone needed more! — that the R.C. Church is pervasively and inherently dysfunctional. It may seem I’m sympathetic to the Pope here, but I’m not. He’s been part of the Church’s global machinery more than long enough to have been aware of the nature and extent of its dysfunction. Maybe he’s working to change it … or maybe he’s not … but when he took the job of Pope, he made himself its caretaker, and thus accepted responsibility for the dysfunction. Having been the target of a set-up, he now has a choice: To face this matter head-on and undertake to rid his Church of the dysfunction; or to allow it to continue simmering and festering, even at the risk of undermining his own reign. If he’s anything like previous Popes, his choice will be the latter. Which is precisely why things have reached this point in the first place.

Update: The (UK) Independent reports Ricca was found stuck in an elevator a couple days ago (cached), with a “rent boy” known to police. Talk about your “facepalm” moments!

Photo credit: Catholic Press, via L’espresso.

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

Comments 2 Comments »

Archdiocese of Hartford / Parishes / St. Philip ChurchNote: See below for a couple updates on this story.

A couple years ago, America’s Catholic bishops commissioned a report on child sexual abuse among its clergy, which concluded that it was a “historical problem” (in other words, something that had happened “historically,” but had stopped occurring). Unfortunately for the bishops and their sycophants who wrote this report, the reality is that child abuse by R.C. clergy is anything but “historical.” Here in Connecticut, just within the archdiocese of Hartford, it’s been an issue a few times within those past two years.

As one would expect — given that this is the archdiocese that dared use the “but the victims enjoyed it” defense in court during a lawsuit — the Hartford Courant reports on yet another example of this “historical problem” that won’t seem to go away (WebCite cached article):

An East Windsor priest has been placed on leave by the Catholic Church after being accused of sexually abusing a minor, the Hartford Archdiocese said Monday.

The Rev. Paul Gotta had earlier come to public attention in June when he told police about an 18-year-old who had told him he was planning a memorable prank for his graduation ceremonies. Police later charged the teenager with attempting to make a bomb, possession of explosives and other charges.

The state Department of Children and Families has received a complaint of sexual abuse of a minor involving Gotta, who is administrator of St. Philip and St. Catherine churches in East Windsor, said Maria Zone, spokeswoman for the archdiocese. Police are investigating the allegation, she said in a written statement.

Note, this revelation didn’t reach police attention because of anything the archdiocese did. It appears — somehow — to have been a side-effect of Gotta having reported a teen’s threat of violence against his school. The Courant article itself is strange reading, since it doesn’t connect the child-abuse allegation with the bomb threat. The article, as written, is basically a single report of two different incidents. A pretty substantial amount of information is completely missing from the story. Given the decline of journalism, this isn’t really surprising … sorry to say.

At any rate, the bishops’ contention that child abuse by its clergy is merely “historical,” is a lie. And they know it.

Update 1: Things just got a whole helluva lot worse for the Rev. Gotta. The Courant reports he was just arrested on federal charges (cached). The ATF and East Windsor police accuse him of helping a juvenile get firearms. It also seems the Reverend may have helped him make a gun:

The warrant also states that Bass said he and Gotta had discussed making a shotgun, which he tested in the backyard in the presence of the priest.

This is one seriously bad situation for a priest — of all people! — to have gotten himself into.

Update 2: Back in November most of the charges against Rev Gotta were dismissed, and he pled guilty only to a minor count (cached). Yes, this latest news is 2+ months old, but I only just became aware of it.

Photo credit: Archdiocese of Hartford.

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

Comments No Comments »

Madonna in the music video for 'Like a Prayer', in one of the most controversial scenes, displaying the burning crosses, via WikipediaA civil war raging in Syria. The Eurozone crisis causing financial chaos. US spies rummaging through Europeans’ private lives. Youth unemployment all through the continent.

One would think Europe has a lot of problems that really need to be solved. And a bunch of European exorcists are getting together to solve some of Europe’s woes. But as the (UK) Telegraph reports, among the problems they’re taking on, is … of all things … Madonna (WebCite cached article):

Long the scourge of the Catholic Church, Madonna has often triggered Christian ire, once going through a mock crucifixion during one her stage shows.

Now her music and shows will come under the scrutiny of priests trained in the art of defeating demons, treating satanic possession and looking for the devil in a section of the conference dedicated to finding evil in popular culture.

“Part of the conference is dedicated to the hidden subliminal message in communication, and the choice of this subject was inspired by the woman who dares to call herself Madonna,” said Father Andrzej Grefkowic, an exorcist and one of the organisers of the conference. “We’ve been worried about her concerts.”

I hate to break it to the good Reverend, but “Madonna” is not a moniker the musician/dancer/actress appropriated for herself as an insult to the Virgin Mary. It’s the first name she was born with.

In any event, I just love how, with lots of crises wracking Europe or raging near its borders, the real problem to be faced, is Madonna, along with the horrific scourges of body piercings, tattoos, and — yes! — magic shows:

Father Grefkowic also warned of a growing risk from Satan, highlighting the increasing popularity of tattoos, body piercing, horoscopes and magic shows as ways evil could corrupt people.

Curiously, they’re not addressing the fact that religionism can corrupt people. And they’re also not addressing the Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal. Oh well.

Photo credit: Wikipedia.

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

Comments 2 Comments »

John Paul II Monument in Borkowo Ko?cielneThe Vatican has been eager to get the late Pope John Paul II canonized as soon as possible. That process is amazingly protracted and cumbersome. It can take decades or even centuries for people to be sainted. For instance, the Catholic Church took almost 300 years just to beatify the Martyrs of Otranto, and over 500 years to make them saints. Yet, this same wizened and supposedly-deliberate group, as the CNN Belief Blog reports, is on the cusp of granting the same honor to their late associate: (WebCite cached article):

The Catholic Church is on the verge of declaring late Pope John Paul II a saint, a Vatican source familiar with the process told CNN on Tuesday.

The committee that considers candidates for sainthood voted Tuesday to credit the late pope with a second miracle, the source said, asking not to be named discussing internal Vatican deliberations.…

The Polish-born pope was fast-tracked to beatification when he died in 2005 [cached], and became “the blessed” John Paul II barely six years after his death — the fastest beatification in centuries.

“For an institution that typically thinks in centuries, this is remarkably quick,” said CNN Vatican analyst John Allen.

In fact, the phrase “record-breaking speed” leaps to mind, and not without reason, as CNN explains:

The record for the fastest canonization is [sic] modern times is St. Jose-Maria Escriva, the Spanish-born founder of Opus Dei, a Catholic order of laypeople and saints dedicated to finding God in daily life. Escriva was made a saint 27 years after his death.

John Paul could shatter that record.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to point out that Pope John Paul II had built up something of a “cult of personality” during is reign, and many of the hierarchs now in charge of the R.C. Church had been appointed by him, or had put them into position to move up into the hierarchy. They appear now to be clamoring to repay his favors posthumously.

It would be nice if they could instead find a way to devote more of their attention and energy to something other than a dead man. Figuring out how to deal constructively and candidly with the worldwide clerical child-abuse scandal that’s wracked their institution for more than a decade, would be one of those things.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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

Comments No Comments »

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.

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

Comments No Comments »

'Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth' / Matthew 6:19a, New American Bible / PsiCop original graphicThe Vatican Bank … more formally known as the Institute for Works of Religion, which sounds vaguely like some kind of interfaith charity even if it’s not … is the sort of secretive institution that virtually begs to become the target of whispered tales and conspiracy theories of all kinds. And not all of this is totally unreasonable. The Vatican Bank has been the subject of a few scandals over the years. It was, for example, entangled in the failure of Italy’s Banco Ambrosiano in 1982.

For the past few years it’s been the subject of a money-laundering investigation. That inquiry had simmered for a while, then appeared to die down a year ago. But it seems to have ramped up again, as the New York Times reports, with the arrest of a prominent cleric and some other associates (WebCite cached article):

Claiming to have foiled a caper worthy of Hollywood, or at least Cinecittà, the Italian police on Friday arrested a prelate and two others on corruption charges as part of a complex plot last summer in which they say the priest — already suspected of money laundering — plotted to help wealthy friends sneak the money, the equivalent of about $26 million, into Italy while evading financial controls.

Along with the prelate, a financial broker and a military police agent deployed to the Italian Secret Service were arrested and charged with corruption, and the priest also with slander, in an investigation that developed out of a broader three-year inquiry into the Vatican Bank. The case is the latest black mark on the bank, which under Pope Francis and Benedict XVI has been trying to shake its image as a secretive offshore haven and bring itself into compliance with European norms so that it could use the euro.

Rome prosecutors say the three men hired a private plane last July with the intention of bringing the cash into Italy from Locarno, Switzerland. The money was to be carried by the Secret Service agent, who would not be required to declare it at the border. But the scheme fell through, the prosecutors said, as the three began bickering and, eventually, lost their nerve. Cellphones used by the three in arranging the money transfer were later burned, prosecutors said.…

Even before his arrest on Friday, the prelate, Msgr. Nunzio Scarano, was no stranger to the authorities. An employee of Deutsche Bank before entering the priesthood, and until recently an accountant in a top Vatican financial office that oversees the Catholic Church’s real estate holdings, Monsignor Scarano was under investigation by magistrates in Salerno on accusations that he had illegally moved $730,000 in cash from his account in the Vatican Bank to Italian banks, his lawyer said.

The Times article explains a little more about the scheme and those behind it. And then there’s this whopper:

[Scarano’s attorney Silverio] Sica said that Monsignor Scarano’s aims were purely altruistic. The money came from a donor, and he wanted to put the apartment up for sale and use the proceeds to finance a hospice for terminally ill patients in Salerno.

Yeah right. As though I buy that.

About the only positive note here, is that Vatican officials appear to have worked with Italian authorities in this particular investigation. That’s unusual. Like most tax-haven financial institutions, in the past the Vatican Bank usually resisted working with government investigators. I have no idea if this means they’ve truly changed their ways, or if they cooperated only in this one case.

I suggest any Catholic prelates involved in high finance crack open their Bibles for the first time since leaving seminary (assuming they read the Bible there … I’m not even sure about that). Have a look at verses like Matthew 6:19-20, Luke 12:33-34, Hebrews 13:5 or James 5:1-3 … among many other verses I could cite … and then tell me this kind of operation is even remotely appropriate for the organization that views itself as God’s Holy Church.

Hat tip: Apathetic Agnostic Church.

Photo credit: PsiCop original graphic, based on Matthew 6:19a.

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

Comments 1 Comment »

St Patrick's Cathedral-Gothic Revival Style (East Side)The Australian state of Victoria has been investigating child abuse within the Roman Catholic Church there. As part of this investigation, Cardinal George Pell, current Archbishop of Sydney and former Archbishop of Melbourne, was questioned by the committee. As The Australian reports, he admitted at least some of what many of us had long suspected, but which most hierarchs had avoided saying (WebCite cached article):

Australia’s most senior Catholic cleric has taken the stage today as the final witness for the Victorian inquiry into how religious and non-government organisations have responded to sexual abuse claims.

Cardinal Pell said while he had personally never covered up offending, it had largely escaped the view of church officials who didn’t know what a “mess” they were presiding over.…

Cardinal Pell agreed under questioning that the fear of scandal led to a cover-up.

“The primary motivation would have been to respect the reputation of the church.

“There was a fear of scandal.”

About the victims, Pell made this excuse we’ve heard already from other hierarchs:

“Many in the church did not understand just what damage was being done to the victims. We understand that better now.”

The hierarchs who’ve said similar, if not identical, things are Rembert Weakland, former Arcbishop of Milwaukee, and Cardinal Roger Mahony, former Archbishop of Los Angeles.

The Age of Melbourne offers this video of Cardinal Pell being questioned (cached):

Interestingly, Pell further conceded that the practice of priest shuffling led to additional pedophilic crimes having been committed. But, I must also note that Pell engaged in a little excuse-making, as described in the Australian article:

“If we’d been gossips, which we weren’t … we would have realised earlier just how widespread this business was,” Cardinal Pell said.

This is, of course, nowhere near a valid excuse. If an allegation had been made against a priest that appears to have some weight, it wouldn’t be “gossip” to warn other bishops about him; rather, it’d be “prudent” to do so. I guess I’ll have to add “We’re not gossips!” to the long list of the Church’s sniveling excuses for why it chose not to deal with child abuse by its clergy.

At any rate, what Pell said to the Victoria inquiry is remarkable in its candor, even if he did punctuate it with an excuse or two. Would that more R.C. hierarchs had been as candid.

Hat tip: Red Prince at Pulling to the Left forum on Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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

Comments 1 Comment »