Posts Tagged “catholic clerical child abuse”

Archdiocese of Hartford (Connecticut) crestNote: See below for a “good-news update” about this case, as well as another update.

I’ve already blogged about the reprehensible defense offered up by the archdiocese of Hartford, facing a court case over one of its priests who abused children — which is that the youthful victims “liked it” so it was OK and no big deal. Never mind that a minor “liking” sex with an adult is not a legitimate defense. Never mind that the victim “liking it” at the time it happened does nothing to make it acceptable. Oh no. Those little facts carry no weight, in the eyes of the achdiocese. The Hartford Courant reports on the latest chapter in this bone-chilling judicial proceeding (WebCite cached article):

A psychiatric expert called to testify Tuesday in Superior Court by the Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford disputed an earlier diagnosis that an adolescent victim of sexual abuse by a priest would likely suffer from mental health problems for the rest of his life.

Dr. J. Alexander Bodkin testified that the most significant mental disorder suffered by the victim — depression — was not the result of the sexual abuse he experienced in the early 1980s, but is the result of stress caused 26 years later by litigation associated with the abuse.

This is truly precious. This “expert” is saying that the victim’s problem is not that he was abused by a priest … rather, it’s that he pursued a case against the Church over the abuse.

That’s right, folks. Bodkin is saying that the victim wouldn’t be having any trouble, had he simply “accepted” the abuse, kept quiet about it, and never made any attempt to hold the priest who abused him or the archdiocese of Hartford responsible for it.

Really. That’s what this guy said. Yes, this … from a “hired gun” working for an organization that dares set itself forth as an arbiter of morality and ethics.

In the words of every informercial you’ve ever seen, though … “But wait! There’s more!”

In fact, Bodkin testified that Doe’s experiences with Ferguson — which included being given pornographic materials and alcoholic beverages when he was 13, 14 and 15 years old — was a “positive relationship.”

“He was eager to keep up the relationship,” Bodkin said. “This was his choice. He was eager to see Ferguson. From his perspective, this was something he was looking forward to.”

So you see, because Fr Ferguson — an adult, and a clever manipulator — was able to convince a minor child, at that time, that having sex was just fine, then no harm could possibly have befallen the victim. It was all terrific fun!

Yes, that is precisely what the archdiocese’s “expert” said at trial.

Of course, Dr Bodkin at least made an attempt to distance himself from his own downplaying of the damage:

“It ain’t nice. I’m not approving any aspect of it,” he said. “But it is not the type of thing that is prerequisite to long-term mental illness, expecially 26 years later.”

So while Dr Bodkin claims he doesn’t “approve of any aspect of” child sexual abuse, he nevertheless doesn’t see that it can cause any harm. One wonders, then, what logical reason he’d have for saying he doesn’t “approve of any aspect of” it? If it causes no harm to a child, then there would seem to be no rational reason for him not to “approve of” it.

Just goes to show that you can pretty much find any “expert” who will say or do just about anything one wants him/her to do, if the check one writes has enough zeroes in it. (And yes, the archdiocese of Hartford can most certainly afford to pump lots of zeroes into the check it writes to Dr Bodkin.)

Really, the amount of evil the Roman Catholic Church has brought to the world, is staggering. But what’s even more staggering, is the amount of evil it continues to bring into the world … and the amount of it that it actually tries to rationalize and justify!

I’m not sure there ever was a Jesus Christ, but if he did live, I can’t imagine he could possibly have wanted to be represented by this hideous bunch.

I honestly hadn’t though the archidiocese of Hartford could possibly have stooped any lower than they already have … but they managed this immense feat nonetheless. I suppose they’re proud of themselves; but in reality, they have nothing to be proud of. With every word they speak, with every action they take, with their every step, they condemn themselves as amoral and despicable, in every conceivable way.

Update: The Hartford Courant reports the jury has found the archdiocese of Hartford reckless and negligent in its dealings with Fr Ivan Ferguson, and awarded “Jacob Doe” a million dollars (cached). I’m sure the archdiocese will appeal and continue litigating this case, stalling as long as they can. But at the very least, it’s clear the jury did not buy into the archdiocese’s horrific defense.

Update 2: The archdiocese brought its appeal to the Connecticut Supreme Court, asking that the statute of limitations be rolled back so it can’t be held accountable for its actions.

Photo credit: Archdiocese of Hartford.

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Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Hartford 3, 2009-09-02Note: See below for a “good-news update” about this case, as well as another update.

Most of us realize that, when we’ve dug ourselves into a hole, the best thing to do is drop the shovel and climb out. Apparently, the archdiocese of Hartford never got the memo on this. With the Roman Catholic Church already having dug itself into the abyss of an international child-abuse scandal, the archdiocese and its attorneys have decided the solution is to keep right on digging. Toward that end they pulled a truly reprehensible stunt, as the Hartford Courant reports in a little nugget near the end of the story (WebCite cached article):

In his cross-examinations, [church lawyer Jack] Sitarz has implied that, since [plaintiff] Doe and his friend never forcefully resisted [Fr] Ferguson’s advances, they may have enjoyed them.

That’s right, folks. In a court of law, no less, an archdiocesan lawyer dared imply that the victims of sexual abuse at the hands of a Roman Catholic priest enjoyed being abused!

I’m almost at a loss for words to use to describe this maneuver. This is truly sick behavior.

Sitarz must, I’m sure — being an attorney — know full well that minors cannot legally consent to any kind of sexual activity, and that “liking” the abuse cannot and never will make it legal, much less moral or acceptable.

Yet he trotted out that old saw anyway — knowing it’s legally pointless.

Once again, I’m left asking: Why oh why, lay Catholics, are you tolerating the self-serving, greedy, manipulative, crafty, hateful, and horrific antics of the robed old men who rule your Church? When you are going to say to them, “Enough! No more!” When are you going to take back your own Church, turn them out, and change it into the organ of humility and compassion your own Jesus Christ himself supposedly taught about? What part of any of this behavior do you find acceptable … and why? If (as I hope) you don’t find it acceptable, why are you tolerating it?

Update 1: The Hartford Courant reports the jury has found the archdiocese of Hartford reckless and negligent in its dealings with Fr Ivan Ferguson, and awarded “Jacob Doe” a million dollars (cached). I’m sure the archdiocese will appeal and continue litigating this case, stalling as long as they can. But at the very least, it’s clear the jury did not buy into the archdiocese’s horrific defense.

Update 2: The archdiocese brought its appeal to the Connecticut Supreme Court, asking that the statute of limitations be rolled back so it can’t be held accountable for its actions.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Irish Times / Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Cloyne report told 'a tale of a frankly brazen disregard for protecting children'Just under a week ago, I blogged about the release of the Cloyne Report into Catholic clerical abuse of children in that diocese. There’s been no small amount of furor over it in Ireland. Taoiseach (prime minister) Enda Kenny recently addressed the Dáil (or lower house of parliament) over it, as reported by RTÉ, and he minced few words in his condemnation of the Vatican (WebCite cached article):

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has strongly criticised the Vatican for what he said was an attempt to frustrate the Cloyne inquiry, accusing it of downplaying the rape of children to protect its power and reputation. …

Never before has a Taoiseach used such language in criticising the Catholic Church.

Mr Kenny told the Dáil that the Cloyne Report highlighted the ‘dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day.’

The rape and torture of children had been downplayed or ‘managed’ to uphold, instead, the primacy of the institution, which are its power, standing and ‘reputation’.

The hierarchy had proved either unwilling or unable to address what he called the horrors uncovered in successive reports, a failure which he said must be devastating for so many good priests.

Mr Kenny said that the Catholic Church needed to be truly and deeply penitent for the wrongdoing it perpetrated, hid and denied.

Kenny all but accused the Vatican of being a criminal enterprise. Virtually every news outlet which has reported on the Taoiseach’s condemnation of the Vatican, has noted its vehement and unprecedented nature.

Another Irish official had similarly harsh words of a papal spokesman, based on the latter’s denials of Vatican wrongdoing:

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi, speaking in a personal capacity, has said that there was nothing in the advice given by the Papal Nuncio in 1997 to encourage bishops to break Irish laws.

He said that the Vatican’s advice to Irish bishops on child protection policies could not be interpreted as an invitation to cover up abuse cases.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said the comments were disingenuous and he said he expected a more considered, formal response from the Vatican.

The minister called Lombardi a liar. He had very good reason to. The Vatican’s 1997 order to Ireland’s bishops was most assuredly an instruction to cover up abuse.

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

Photo credit: Irish Times.

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Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and PaulI’ve already blogged about the slow response of the Philadelphia archdiocese to a grand jury report covering cases of abuse by its clergy. It took an entire month for them to finally get around to suspending some — but not all — those accused in the report of abusing children. This is staggering, since most companies or government agencies will usually suspend employees accused of crimes almost immediately, as a protective measure.

Since the report was issued, and especially after the suspension of some — but not all — the accused, folks have been asking if and when Cardinal Justin Rigali, the archbishop of Philadelphia, would resign. Until now he and his archdiocese have resisted discussing his own fate, and it looked as though he’d remain in place, even though just a short time before the grand jury report was issued, he stated that he knew of no abuse cases in his see. (He must have known about the grand jury’s investigation, which endured for two years, at the time he made that statement … so he had no viable excuse for having made it.)

At long last, the Vatican finally decided to let him resign, as the Voice of America reports (WebCite cached article):

Pope Benedict has accepted the resignation of the leader of the Roman Catholic archdiocese in the U.S. city of Philadelphia — which has faced accusations of covering up sexual abuse by priests.

The Vatican said Tuesday that Cardinal Justin Rigali’s departure was on the grounds of age. The 76-year-old Rigali submitted his resignation when he reached the traditional retirement age of 75, but the pope did not immediately act on it.

As for why the Vatican would hold out for so many months, for Rigali’s benefit, the VoA story offers a clue:

Rigali, a former bishop in St. Louis , spent decades as an official at the Vatican.

Hmm. Yes, it turns out Rigali is a Vatican insider!

I honestly must ask the question posed in the title of this blog post: Was it really so fucking hard to just get rid of Rigali? Seriously?

It seems the Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal just won’t die … because the Roman Catholic hierarchs steadfastly refuse to meet it head-on, like grown men, and continue to try to sneak their way out of it, hoping each revelation is the last and that the world will somehow forget the horrors it has inflicted on so many children around the world. But, as everyone knows, scandals like this never die on their own. They need to be dealt with substantively … and until they do, they just linger on forever. Yes, it takes courage to do so, courage which is rare if not non-existent these days. The Catholic Church is run by cowards … and every minute of every day that they allow this scandal to keep going on, they prove it.

Photo credit: elPadawan.

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