Posts Tagged “roman catholic”

'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.

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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.

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Church of the Gesù in Rome / By Maus-TraudenOnce again, the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church must be dragged kicking and screaming (metaphorically, anyway) into admitting their complicity in the abuse of children by clergy working under them. The Chicago Tribune reports the Jesuits in that city finally owned up to having protected and aided an abusive priest, for several decades (WebCite cached article):

Internal church records released Tuesday show that Chicago Jesuits consciously concealed the crimes of convicted sex offender Donald McGuire for more than 40 years as the prominent Roman Catholic priest continued to sexually abuse dozens of children around the globe.…

The documents contributed to a $19.6 million settlement between the Jesuits and six men from four states announced Tuesday. With an average payout of $3 million per person, the amount per individual is the largest in the history of the U.S. Catholic sexual abuse crisis, the victims’ lawyers said. The settlement and the documents add one more chapter to the still unfolding story of sexual abuse in the church.

Although the Jesuits insisted they’d found out about McGuire only recently, this turns out to have been a lie. They’d been warned long ago, and had even corresponded between themselves about it:

A memo in February 1991 expressed concern about a boy from Anchorage, Alaska, who traveled with McGuire and slept in the same room during a retreat in California. “This travel business is at least very imprudent, perhaps much more serious,” wrote the Rev. Robert Wild. He could not be reached for comment.

Another memo, dated April 1993, documented a call from the Rev. Joe Fessio, reporting that McGuire had been accompanied by several young men in Russia, “one of whom he was taking showers with and reading hard pornography.” Fessio reportedly contacted the boy’s father and “asked him to keep this quiet until he could represent this to McGuire’s provincial.”

Fessio could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

In 1995, the Rev. Francis Daly, then acting provincial, wrote to McGuire after a mother copied his superiors on a memo telling him to stay away from her son. Daly could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

“Let us hope that no more alleged incidents come to light,” Daly wrote. “You must understand the complaints raised in these situations are serious. There must be no more. I am calling you to a prudence greater than that which you have shown in recent years.”

Now, I’m pretty sure Catholic apologists out there who agree with the hierarchs that the Church has done nothing wrong, and that the whole scandal was caused by outside forces trying to destroy their precious holy Church, will continue to deny these documents show any awareness of McGuire’s wrongdoing. But Daly’s letter to him does indicate McGuire had crossed the line before. “I am calling you to a prudence greater than that which you have shown” makes no sense except in light of such knowledge.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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The Inauguration Mass For Pope FrancisPope Francis has bucked more than a few traditional Catholic trends since taking office a couple months ago. The most recent example of this is a dual one, and came in a homily he delivered today. The RNS reports via Hartford FAVS (WebCite cached article):

Pope Francis is warning Catholics not to demonize those who are not members of the church, and he specifically defended atheists, saying that building walls against non-Catholics leads to “killing in the name of God.”

“(T)his ‘closing off’ that imagines that those outside, everyone, cannot do good is a wall that leads to war and also to what some people throughout history have conceived of: killing in the name of God,” Francis said Wednesday (May 22) in remarks at the informal morning Mass that he celebrates in the chapel at the Vatican guesthouse where he lives.

“And that, simply, is blasphemy. To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy.”

Francis explained that doing good is not a matter of faith: “It is a duty, it is an identity card that our Father has given to all of us, because he has made us in his image and likeness.”

To both atheists and believers, he said that “if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good.”

Both of the pope’s concessions are remarkable: That non-Catholics — atheists even! — might be “redeemed” by virtue of their good works, is a departure from traditional Catholic teachings. It would seem to make the Catholic Church itself useless and irrelevant. As remarkable, too, is his admission that killing in God’s name is blasphemy. Since the time of St Augustine, the R.C. Church has used the principle of “just war” to do an awful lot of killing in the name of their God. For Francis to state categorically that killing in God’s name is blasphemy, flies in the fact of this long tradition.

I expect traditional Catholics will scream to high heaven about these remarks. Just as they did when he dared wash the feet of women during Holy Week. But then again, sanctimonious outrage isn’t new to them. They more or less live in a perpetual state of sanctimonious outrage, all the time; all that changes is what they claim drives their outrage.

Photo credit: Catholic Church (England & Wales), via Flickr.

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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, 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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Francis washed the feet of a dozen inmates at a juvenile detention center in a Holy Thursday ritual that he celebrated for years as archbishop and is continuing now that he is pope. / AP photo, via (NY) Daily NewsAmong the various elements of Holy Week pageantry in the Roman Catholic Church, is the Pope washing people’s feet on Maundy Thursday. This rite, which began in the Middle Ages, emulates the tale of Jesus washing his apostles’ feet as related in John 13:1-17. Naturally, owing to Catholicism’s hangups about women, the Popes have washed only men’s feet. Newly-installed Pope Francis performed this medieval rite, but in the process, broke the “men-only” tradition; as the AP reports via the Washington Post, this has a lot of conservative Catholics up in arms over it (WebCite cached article):

Pope Francis has won over many hearts and minds with his simple style and focus on serving the world’s poorest, but he has devastated traditionalist Catholics who adored his predecessor, Benedict XVI, for restoring much of the traditional pomp to the papacy.

Francis’ decision to disregard church law and wash the feet of two girls — a Serbian Muslim and an Italian Catholic — during a Holy Thursday ritual has become something of the final straw, evidence that Francis has little or no interest in one of the key priorities of Benedict’s papacy: reviving the pre-Vatican II traditions of the Catholic Church.

One of the most-read traditionalist blogs, “Rorate Caeli,” reacted to the foot-washing ceremony by declaring the death of Benedict’s eight-year project to correct what he considered the botched interpretations of the Second Vatican Council’s modernizing reforms.

“The official end of the reform of the reform — by example,” “Rorate Caeli” lamented in its report on Francis’ Holy Thursday ritual.…

Virtually everything he has done since being elected pope, every gesture, every decision, has rankled traditionalists in one way or another.

The article goes on to relate several outrages that have erupted as a result of various minor departures from papal tradition that Francis has done since taking office. That all of these alterations are cosmetic in nature, and quite trivial, doesn’t seem to make any difference to these sanctimoniously-outraged traditionalist Catholics. They truly are alarmed and angry that Pope Francis may well abort the efforts of his predecessors to roll back the Second Vatican Council reforms — even though those reforms weren’t nearly as drastic as is often thought. When you’re a fervent, perpetually-outraged religionist, little things like “facts” don’t really seem to matter very much.

Photo credit: AP via (NY) Daily News.

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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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