Posts Tagged “child abuse”

Vatican MuseumThe disclosure of a quarter million US diplomatic cables by Wikileaks has confirmed there was a good deal of tension between the Vatican and the Irish government over its inquiry into the abuse of children by the Roman Catholic Church there. The (UK) Guardian reports that the Vatican had been “offended” by requests for information and testimony by the Murphy commission (WebCite cached article):

The Vatican refused to allow its officials to testify before an Irish commission investigating the clerical abuse of children and was angered when they were summoned from Rome, US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks reveal.

Requests for information from the 2009 Murphy commission into sexual and physical abuse by clergy “offended many in the Vatican” who felt that the Irish government had “failed to respect and protect Vatican sovereignty during the investigations“, a cable says.

Note here the total lack of concern for the fact that the Murphy commission was investigating wrongdoing by Catholic clergy within Ireland … wrongdoing which had — by then — already been documented, to an extent, by the Ryan Commission. Oh no. The Vatican had no concern for priestly abuse, no interest in doing anything about it, and no interest in allowing the Irish to know what had been going on in their own country.

No way!

Rather, the Vatican was concerned about its “sovereignty.” After all, isn’t that much more important than the welfare of children in the Church’s care?

What is, perhaps, a bit worse than the fact that the Vatican chose to stonewall the Murphy commission, is that — ultimately — the Irish government surrendered on the matter:

According to [Irish ambassador to the Vatican City, Joel] Fahey’s deputy, Helena Keleher, the government acceded to Vatican pressure and granted them immunity from testifying. Officials understood that “foreign ambassadors are not required or expected to appear before national commissions”, but Keleher’s opinion was that by ignoring the commission’s requests the clergy had made the situation worse.

As usual, if it bellyaches and whines long enough and hard enough, the Vatican usually gets what it wants. It would, of course, be much better for the world if — instead of childishly stamping their feet every time someone tries to hold them accountable for their actions — the robed denizens of the Vatican finally grew the fuck up, came clean as to what they did or didn’t do, and took ownership of their own (mis)behavior.

But like politicians, the clergy will never mature, and they will never admit fault. So that won’t happen.

Photo credit: Wikitravel.

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Cathedral in BruggeThe Roman Catholic clerical child abuse scandal, unfortunately, refuses to go away. Nor — given the nature of the crimes committed, compounded by the many long decades of time during which they happened — should it. A report by a pedophilia expert in Belgium makes clear how extensive and enduring the child abuse was, as reported by the (UK) Guardian (WebCite cached article):

Some of the most damning evidence of systematic child abuse by the Roman Catholic clergy to come to light was unveiled today by Belgium’s leading authority on paedophilia, who published hundreds of pages of harrowing victim testimony detailing their traumas and suffering.

The explosive report by Peter Adriaenssens in the town of Louvain, east of Brussels, lists evidence of 476 instances of child abuse by priests and bishops going back 50 years.

What’s truly remarkable here is that this report was not the product of a government investigation, nor was it done by victims’ advocates. It was, instead, the Catholic Church’s own doing:

Adriaenssens was appointed by the church last year to head an independent inquiry into the scandal. Since April, when Roger Vangheluwe, the bishop of Bruges, resigned after admitting persistently molesting a nephew, the Adriaenssens commission has been inundated with evidence, with hundreds of victims coming forward.

He has since documented cases of abuse occurring in almost every diocese in the country and in virtually every school run by the church. “We can say that no part of the country escapes sexual abuse of minors by one or several [church] members,” said Adriaenssens.

“This is the church’s Dutroux dossier,” he added in reference to the notorious Belgian paedophile serial killer, Marc Dutroux, who kidnapped, tortured, abused and murdered six girls in 1995-6.

The extent of the damage caused by this systemic abuse is apparent:

Speaking of the victims, Adriaenssens said that 13 had killed themselves, according to relatives, and another six had attempted suicide.

13 suicide victims and 6 attempted suicides may not sound like a lot, but any life ruined by, or lost to, the abuse, is one too many. This abuse is not of recent vintage, either:

The abuse went back to the 1950s, was most common in the 60s and was tailing off by the 1980s, Adriaenssens said.

“The exposed cases are old, of course,” he said. “Society has developed. But there’s nothing to indicate that the number of paedophiles has diminished. Where are they today?”

Adriaenssens asks a very good question: Where are the abusers within the ranks of Catholic clergy? No one knows. The Roman Catholic Church continues with “business as usual” and continues to resist being held accountable, either for the actions of the individual priest-abusers, or for the bishops and other hierarchs who covered for them, shielded them from prosecution and lawsuits, and held onto them in spite of the abuse they were guilty of.

Hat Tip: Peter at the Antibible Project Forum (on Delphi Forums)

Photo credit: 8ran.

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St Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral / Brian Shaw…or should I have headlined this, “Hell no, he won’t go!” … ?

It seems the Roman Catholic Church has gone deeper into “defiance mode” regarding its worldwide clerical child-abuse scandal. The Primate of All Ireland, Cardinal Seán Brady, has decided he will not resign over the scandal, or over his own personal involvement (prior to his elevation) in covering up one particular priest’s abuses. CNN reports on his childish resistance to accepting responsibility for his own actions (WebCite cached article):

Months after the revelation that he helped cover up for one of Ireland’s most notoriously abusive priests, the country’s top Catholic churchman, Cardinal Sean Brady, says he has “moved on” and will not resign.

“I’ve moved on there, I think, and I got a lot of support in my decision,” he told CNN in a rare interview.

Brady was, as a priest, not only a witness to one priest’s abuse, but engineered to cover-up what that priest did:

Brady was part of an internal church investigation into Father Brendan Smyth in 1975, he confirmed early this year. He did not report his findings to the police and asked two teenagers who gave him evidence to sign oaths of secrecy.

How nice of him to decide that, since he — personally — has “moved on,” he need do nothing more. What’s more, Brady is blissfully unaware of any problem with how the Church has dealt with this scandal:

Told that there are priests who say the crisis has hurt the morale of the clergy, Brady said: “I haven’t met many of those priests, to be honest.”

This is a laughable position for Brady to take. Was he not aware, for example, of the Ferns Report released some 5 years ago, concerning abuse within the diocese of Ferns? And the Ryan Report on abuse in Irish schools — the product of a years-long investigation which included litigation over its scope, concerning abuse ? And the Murphy Report which followed it, concerning abuse within the archdiocese of Dublin? Of course he’s aware of all of this, and of course he knows the clergy’s morale has been affected by it (priests’ worries over being personally prosecuted for what they did, lay at the heart of the litigation which tied up the Ryan Commission for years). Since Brady’s claim is nonsensical on its face, one can only logically conclude either that he is lying when he says he’s unaware of a morale problem, or he is in such fierce denial that he’s truly deluded himself into believing there isn’t one. Either way, it’s clear that Brady is neither willing nor able to be held accountable for what he did — and he’s engaging in a bit of childish “push-back” by resisting calls for him to resign.

It’s high time for Catholics to realize that the slippery, manipulative, amoral and sometimes criminal creatures who comprise the hierarchy of their Church are collectively inseparable from the “brood of vipers” that the founder of their own religion condemned, long ago:

You brood of vipers, how can you say good things when you are evil? For from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks. A good person brings forth good out of a store of goodness, but an evil person brings forth evil out of a store of evil. (Matthew 12:34-35)

The Catholic hierarchy may talk a good game about how upstanding they are, and they might even issue an occasional non-apology apology when they absolutely must … but the evil that lies in their hears is made manifest by their actions, and those actions are undeniably immoral, cruel, and in many cases illegal. When will you all finally understand just who is running your Church and admit you have been misled?

Photo credit: Brian Shaw / Geograph Project and Wikimedia Commons.

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St. Michael's residential school, Alert Bay, BCThe Roman Catholic clerical abuse scandal has erupted a few times over the last decade, and especially during the last year — in a cascade of revelations beginning with the release of the Ryan Report just over a year ago — but elsewhere, scandals of a similar nature have been dealt with for much longer, and are getting closer to a resolution. An example of this is the Canadian residential schools scandal. The abuses of the period in question came to light some time ago, and the Canadian government has been working on compensating victims for over a decade. The question — for all that time — has not been whether or not the Canadian government and the churches who operated the residential schools did anything wrong, but over what kind of compensation would be provided to the victims, their survivors, and the rest of the native peoples.

CTV reports on what victims said at a hearing before a commission set up to address this matter:

Hundreds of aboriginals gathered in Winnipeg Wednesday to share their stories of abuse suffered during years of living in Canada’s disgraced residential school system.

The hearing was the first in a series of seven national events being run by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which aims to document the physical and sexual abuse and other horrors endured by children at residential schools across Canada.

While there’s still a lot of debate over this effort in Canada — including victims who think not enough has been done, and others who think it’s going to cost the country too much — the fact is that a resolution is being worked out. The same cannot be said for the Roman Catholic Church, which continues to evade its guilt and its responsibilities, and continues to view the scandal dysfunctionally, as a spiritual attack upon it by the forces of Satan, rather than as a catastrophic moral and ethical failing of its own making. The Vatican ought to watch what’s happening in Canada, and be ashamed of themselves for not being as willing to admit fault and change its ways.

Photo credit: Canada’s World.

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Benedict XVI in FatimaPope Benedict XVI has come one tiny step closer to contrition over the Catholic clerical abuse scandal, and asked for forgiveness, as the New York Times reports (WebCite cached article):

Addressing the sexual abuse crisis from the seat of the Roman Catholic Church before thousands of white-robed priests, Pope Benedict XVI on Friday begged forgiveness, saying the church would do “everything possible” to prevent priests from abusing children. …

The pope did not outline specific actions that the church would take to combat abuse, as many had hoped — and as Benedict had pledged at an audience in April. Nor did his remarks go much beyond what he had already said in a letter to Irish Catholics in March and in a private meeting with victims of sexual abuse on Malta in April.

But it was the first time that Benedict had asked forgiveness for the crisis from St. Peter’s Square, the heart of the church itself, and on an occasion focused on priests.

Even so, the Pope could not help but try to evade responsibility for everything that happened:

The pope said the Devil was behind the scandal, saying it had emerged now, in the middle of the Vatican’s Year of the Priest, because “the enemy,” or the Devil, wants to see “God driven out of the world.”

“And so it happened that in this very year of joy for the sacrament of the priesthood, the sins of priests came to light — particularly the abuse of the little ones,” the pope added.

So you see, once again, the Vatican’s thinking implicit behind everything that’s happened … this is not really a failing of the Church and by the Church. It is, instead, an external affliction, imposed on the Church from outside it, by the Devil; in other words, it’s part of an ongoing spiritual struggle between the godly Church and the Forces of Darkness, and it’s the clergy who are its real victims (having popped up during the Year of the Priest). The “little ones” or children who were abused, are merely incidental players in this drama, in the Vatican’s eyes.

So while I can say the Pope has become more contrite about this scandal than he has been in the past, by not accepting full responsibility for it, I cannot really say is truly 100% contrite yet.

Photo credit: Catholic Church (England and Wales).

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rodin gates of hell with thinker detail 05In a story I don’t know what to make of, a Vatican official has declared that abusive priests are damned to hellfire. CBS News reports on this declaration (WebCite cached article):

The Vatican prosecutor of clerical sex abuse warned perpetrators on Saturday that they would suffer damnation in hell that would be worse than the death penalty.

The Rev. Charles Scicluna, a Maltese priest who is a top official at the Vatican’s morality office, led a special “make amends” prayer service in St. Peter’s Basilica. …

“It would be really better” for priests who sexually abuse minors that their crimes “cause them death” because for them, “damnation will be more terrible” in hell, Il Sole 24 Ore online news reported. …

Scicluna, who could not immediately be reached for comment, began with a meditation from St. Mark’s Gospel saying those who harm children would be better off tying a millstone to their neck and throwing themselves into the sea.

In case you’re not familiar with the passage in question, here it is, including as much of its context as I can reasonably provide in this space:

Sitting down, He [Jesus] called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, “Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.” John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is for us. For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward. Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if the salt becomes unsalty, with what will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” (Mark 9:35-50)

Scicluna’s rhetoric, therefore, is a bit harsh, especially given the Church has only recently — as in, just over the past couple of months — begun the slow process of acknowledging that its clergy have actually done something wrong and that this scandal is not merely the invention of “masonic secularists” or “Jews” or “great newspapers” or any of the rest of the denials they’ve offered.

Photo credit: Jon Himoff via Flickr.

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Pope Benedict XVI talks to journalists during a press conference aboard the airplane, Tuesday, May 11, 2010, on the way to Lisbon for his four day visit to Portugal. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)To date the Roman Catholic Church — and specifically, the Vatican which heads it — has consistently disavowed any responsibility of the Church in the clerical abuse scandal which has dogged it for some time and which really heated up during the last year (since the release of the Ryan Report). The Vatican, through various spokesmen, has instead blamed it on any number of other external agents, including (for example) Jews, and has even claimed there is no problem at all, that abuse claims were all trumped up by anti-Catholic people and groups, ranging from gays and abortionists to “masonic secularists” and “great newspapers.” These attempts at deflection have, for the most part, failed miserably.

It is, therefore, remarkable that none other than the Pope himself has finally admitted that the problem is real and that it was born within the Church itself. The AP via Google News reports on this admission (WebCite cached article):

In his most thorough admission of the church’s guilt in the clerical sex abuse scandal, Pope Benedict XVI said Tuesday the greatest persecution of the institution “is born from the sins within the church,” and not from a campaign by outsiders.

The pontiff said the Catholic church has always been tormented by problems of its own making — a tendency that is being witnessed today “in a truly terrifying way.” …

In a shift from the Vatican’s initial claim that the church was the victim of a campaign by the media and abortion rights and pro-gay marriage groups, Benedict said: “The greatest persecution of the church doesn’t come from enemies on the outside but is born from the sins within the church.”

Note that the Pope still calls this scandal a “persecution.” This is entirely in line with my own hypothesis that the Church views this scandal primarily as a spiritual contest with the Forces of Darkness; i.e. as a diabolical “attack” on the divine institution. That dimension remains the case. What has changed is that the Pope has admitted that this contest was generated from within the Church. The Pope is no longer blaming external agents for it, nor is he suggesting that it never happened, that it was merely a fictional construct woven out of whole cloth by people who hate the Catholic Church.

Thus, his admission is a step in the right direction. It’s merely one step, to be sure, but a definite step nonetheless. As such, it should be welcomed, as the step (only) that it is.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia.

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