Posts Tagged “child abuse”

St Patrick Cathedral, Norwich CT / K Ripley, via PanoramioFor years now I’ve blogged about the worldwide Catholic clerical abuse scandal. I’ve also said numerous times that Catholic bishops bear a large part of the responsibility for it, since in many cases, they were the ones who got the abuse reports and then moved the priests around in order to protect them. Despite this, there were, it turns out, cases of abuse so egregious that even bishops admitted there was a severe problem and begged the Vatican to act … yet no action was taken. I’ve blogged about such cases from California, Arizona, and Wisconsin. Well, as the Hartford Courant reports, it turns out something similar happened right here in Connecticut too (WebCite cached article):

The Vatican’s refusal to let the Norwich diocese remove an accused pedophile from the priesthood is expected to play a role in the upcoming trial involving a New London woman who says the priest molested her when she was 12.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger received the Norwich request days before being elected pope in 2005. It’s unclear, though, if Ratzinger himself decided against laicizing Father Thomas Shea, who was accused of molesting as many as 15 girls at 11 different parishes throughout the Diocese of Norwich in a career that started in 1953.

Although the request to defrock Shea was very late in coming, it appears Norwich bishop Michael Cote was horrified over what Shea had done:

In an April 8, 2005, letter to Ratzinger, Cote wrote that the “trail of destruction caused by Thomas W. Shea is staggering.” He wrote there were at least 15 credible cases of abuse by Shea of girls under the age of 18, including one girl who tried to kill herself three times before she turned 23.

“The psychological, emotional, and spiritual damage wrought by this man is immeasurable,” Cote wrote. “The people who have been directly affected by his behavior as well as the entire People of God would welcome his involuntary dismissal from the clerical state.”

But the Vatican office — at the time of the letter, headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the man who would later become Pope Benedict XVI — decided to take no action:

On May 12, 2005, less than a month after Ratzinger became pope, the Vatican responded to Cote, denying his request to remove Shea. The letter indicates that the status quo — Shea in retirement with the restrictions not to wear a collar or say Mass — was sufficient.

Once again the Vatican displays its moral bankruptcy for all to see.

Update: Diocesan attorneys have asked the court to delay the trial in question, because of the Penn State abuse scandal (cached). That’s right, folks … the diocese is saying that, because some other institution just got nailed for doing the sort of thing the R.C. Church has been doing, everything has to be put on hold for several months while the hubbub dies down. That, my friends, is just too fucking precious!

Photo credit: Panoramio.

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WatchtowerThe Jehovah’s Witnesses are something of an apocalyptic religion, whose members eagerly look forward to Jesus’ return. That their past predictions of this event never came true as they promised, doesn’t seem to matter much to them; they still look forward to “Judgement Day.”

Well, at long last, a judgement day of sorts for this religion has arrived — but it’s far from what they wanted. The AP reports via the New York Times on a court judgement that came down recently against them (WebCite cached article):

A Northern California jury has awarded $28 million in damages to a woman who said the Jehovah’s Witnesses allowed an adult member of a Fremont, Calif., church to molest her when she was a child.

Alameda County jurors awarded $7 million in compensatory damages on Wednesday and an additional $21 million in punitive damages on Thursday to the plaintiff, Candace Conti, said Rick Simons, her lawyer. …

Ms. Conti also said in her lawsuit that the Christian denomination’s national leaders formed a policy in 1989 that instructed the church’s elders to keep child sex abuse accusations secret. Congregation elders followed that policy when Mr. Kendrick [her abuser] was convicted in 1994 of misdemeanor child molestation in Alameda County, according to Mr. Simons.

The cloak of secrecy behind which the JW’s operated is reminiscent of how the Roman Catholic Church handled similar allegations.

And that leads me — once again — to restate the obvious: Child abuse within a religion does not only happen in the Catholic Church. It happens in all religions. I’ve blogged on that many, many times. So you Catholics out there who whine and bellyache that I only mention child abuse when it’s reported within Catholicism, are lying. Just stop already with the martyr complex, grow up, and deal with it.

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WYD Mass with Archbishop Timothy DolanIt’s been about a decade since the Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal hit the United States. During that time, Catholic hierarchs here have not handled it well. Most recently they’ve resolved not to accept criticism any more: they’ve decided to blame it all on society, or worse, on the child victims; some of them no longer accept that there had been any wrongdoing; others have hurled the slur of “anti-Catholic” at media outlets that dare continue reporting on it (cached); and recently they’ve launched a political and societal pushback campaign in order to regain the authority and influence they lost because of their refusal to deal properly with abusive clergy.

What one never sees from them, is a plain, simple, contrite, and candid admission of fault. Their patttern of behavior … over a period of decades … has been to move the abusers so they won’t be caught and silence the victims so no one hears about the abuse.

But as though these weren’t bad enough on their own, it seems one hierarch in particular — and possibly others — have used yet another tactic: To bribe abusive priests into leaving the clergy and keeping quiet about what they did. Another term for this which you may have heard about, is “hush money.” ABC News reports that the current Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, used precisely this tactic, back when he was archbishop of Milwaukee (WebCite cached article):

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the archdiocese of New York is keeping quiet today after his old diocese, the archdiocese of Milwaukee, confirmed that under his leadership the church paid individual sums of $20,000 to priests accused of molesting children.

Dolan, who became a cardinal in February and serves as the head of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is recorded discussing the payments in the minutes of financial committee meetings in 2003, documents released as the Milwaukee archdioecese goes through bankruptcy court in Wisconsin.

The archdiocese of Milwaukee confirmed to the Associated Press Wednesday that the church paid the priests money to voluntarily sign papers to leave the priesthood because it was cheaper and faster than removing them by other administrative routes, which would have included going through the Vatican.

The reason cited for this, was in order to get rid of the abusive priests quickly:

“In 2002, the Church affirmed that priest offenders should no longer be functioning as priests in any capacity and having someone seek laicization voluntarily is faster and less expensive and it made sense to try and move these men out of the priesthood as quickly as possible,” Archdiocese spokeswoman Julie Wolf told local news station WTMJ-TV.

Here’s accompanying video, courtesy of ABC News:

This scenario triggers a couple of questions. First, the overall R.C. hierarchy handles the process of laicization, which happens via canon law. As such, the nature of that process itself is under the hierarchs’ control. If that process is so long and arduous as to be unusable, then why didn’t they instead simply alter that process and make it quicker?

Second, if they were so eager to get these guys out of the Church, they must have been fully aware of their criminality and convinced of their guilt. If that’s the case, why did they not also want to turn them over to the police?

Once again, documentary revelations allow us to peer deep into the seedy side of the Roman Catholic Church. The picture they paint is not a pretty one. I continue to be amazed that so many Catholics in the US have remained so steadfastly loyal to an organization which clearly has degraded into amorality. When are they finally going to admit their Church is a stinking cesspool? When are they going to seize control of their own Church and wrench it back into shape? What are they waiting for? What more evidence do they need?

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

Photo credit: Lawrence OP, via Flickr.

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Mordechai Jungreis, right, walks his mentally disabled son, 16, home from school in Brooklyn. (James Estrin/The New York Times)I blog often about the Roman Catholic Church’s worldwide child-abuse scandal. It may seem that I concentrate on Catholic cases at the expense of other institutions’ abuses. But I have mentioned other faiths’ abuses, and this blog post also concerns another religion. Worse than child abuse itself, is the manner in which religions close ranks around abusers. You see, it’s not only the Catholic Church that protects them; as the New York Times reports, it also happens in the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities of New York (WebCite cached article):

The first shock came when Mordechai Jungreis learned that his mentally disabled teenage son was being molested in a Jewish ritual bathhouse in Brooklyn. The second came after Mr. Jungreis complained, and the man accused of the abuse was arrested.

Old friends started walking stonily past him and his family on the streets of Williamsburg. Their landlord kicked them out of their apartment. Anonymous messages filled their answering machine, cursing Mr. Jungreis for turning in a fellow Jew. …

Abuse victims and their families have been expelled from religious schools and synagogues, shunned by fellow ultra-Orthodox Jews and targeted for harassment intended to destroy their businesses. Some victims’ families have been offered money, ostensibly to help pay for therapy for the victims, but also to stop pursuing charges, victims and victims’ advocates said.

That’s right, the abuse victims’ families are victimized a second time, merely for having stood up to the abusers. Wonderful, eh?

The retribution against the reporters of abuse has had some unfortunate ramifications:

When ultra-Orthodox Jews do bring abuse accusations to the police, the same cultural forces that have long kept victims silent often become an obstacle to prosecutions.

In Brooklyn, of the 51 molesting cases involving the ultra-Orthodox community that the district attorney’s office says it has closed since 2009, nine were dismissed because the victims backed out. Others ended with plea deals because the victims’ families were fearful.

“People aren’t recanting, but they don’t want to go forward,” said Rhonnie Jaus, a sex crimes prosecutor in Brooklyn.

The article is lengthy, and offers many examples of this kind of reprehensible behavior. It’s well worth reading to the end.

The article also mentions that the situation has begun to change. That’s all well and good, I suppose, but given that both Jews and Christians frequently sing the praises of their vaunted “Judeo-Christian ethics” and waltz around telling everyone else that only they have any morals, the fact that this could have happened at all, is telling: It tells me that theists may talk a good game of “morality,” but when it comes down to actually behaving morally … well, too often they can’t be bothered.

Sorry, but given situations such as this … wherein entire communities of people who belong to the same religion all behave in such a horrific manner … I am forced to conclude that the common theists’ claim that “religion makes morality” is, very clearly, nothing but fucking bullshit. It’s obvious these peoples’ religiosity did nothing to make them “moral” — just the opposite, in fact! What’s worse, the sense of righteousness that theists feel, actually prevents them from improving their behavior. Now more than ever, we need to stop giving theists the right to proclaim themselves morally superior to everyone else. Their hypocrisy really needs to end, and those of us who see it for what it is, must make it clear and stop giving them a “pass.”

Photo credit: James Estrin / New York Times.

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crying baby leoThe Roman Catholic Church in Ireland is still having trouble getting over the fact that the government has decided to hold it accountable for its decades of abuse of children in its care. A number of years ago, the order of Christian Brothers attempted to prevent the Irish government from investigating the abuse. Although the order successfully prevented the naming of abusive priests, they failed to prevent the inquiries, which proceeded: the Ferns Report was released in 2005; the Ryan Report in 2009; the Murphy Report later that year; and the Cloyne Report in 2011. The Church has met each of these reports with increasing resistance, intransigence, and sanctimony, reaching the point of irrationality when the Vatican recalled their Irish nuncio because Taoiseach (prime minister) Enda Kenny condemned the Church for how it (failed to) deal with the scandal.

It’s no surprise that the Irish government has chosen to ignore the Church’s kvetching and is moving ahead with measures intended to prevent Catholic clergy from abusing children again, in spite of the Church’s growing hostility toward what it views as an insolent and ungrateful Irish government that has no right to dare criticize it. Among the preventive measures advanced by Justice Minister Alan Shatter, is a mandatory-reporting requirement for clergy where abuse of children is concerned, which would apply even to abuse revealed in the confessional. According to the Irish Independent, though, Catholic priests in that country are absolutely livid over this (WebCite cached article):

Catholic priests will defy a new law that requires them to report sexual abuse disclosed to them in the confession box — despite the threat of 10-year jail sentences.

It came after Justice Minister Alan Shatter confirmed the mandatory reporting requirement would apply to priests hearing confession.

Fr Sean McDonagh of the Association of Catholic Priests, which represents 800 clergymen, warned last night: “I certainly wouldn’t be willing to break the seal of confession for anyone — Alan Shatter particularly.”

It’s nice to see that Ireland’s Catholic priests care so little for the welfare of children. Way to go, guys. Really. Well done! You must be so proud of yourselves for making a stand in favor of child abusers! I am just so fucking goddamned impressed by your exemplary values!

<end sarcasm mode>

Yeah, I get that the Catholic Church views the confessional as sacred and inviolate and all the rest of that metaphysical bullshit … but the cold fact is that the perceived inviolate nature of the confessional is the rationale that bishops and other hierarchs have historically used in order to justify remaining silent even when they knew abuse had occurred. “That abusive priest told me what he did in the confessional, so I couldn’t call the police,” they would always claim in hindsight. What Shatter’s proposal does, is deprive them of this rationale. If any of them had any sense of morality or ethics, they’d understand this. They wouldn’t like abusers using the sacred rites of their own Church as a tool to protect themselves and keep abusing children. And they wouldn’t want to make themselves into the willing accomplices of those abusers. But since the Catholic Church has no sense of morality or ethics, the priests and hierarchs are all too happy to comply with abusers’ wishes and shield them — using any and all justifications they can cook up, in order to do so.

Once again, the Catholic Church acts like a collection of Mafia “goodfellas” who will never “rat” on each other. Wonderful, eh?

Photo credit: storyvillegirl, via Flickr.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

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VeghellambertuskerkJust when you thought the R.C. Church couldn’t have reached a new low in depravity — for instance, they stole newborns from “wayward” mothers in Australia, and in Spain, and probably lots of other places — the (UK) Telegraph reveals the Church managed, back in the 50s, to have had boys mutilated because they were “homosexual” (WebCite cached article):

Evidence of the castrations has emerged amid controversy that it was not included in the findings of an official investigation into sexual abuse within the church last year.

The NRC Handelsblad newspaper identified Henk Heithuis who was castrated in 1956, while a minor, after reporting priests to the police for abusing him in a Catholic boarding home.

This particular form of abuse was apparently not included in an abuse report released a few months ago. The claim is that there was no way to trace the allegations, however, the real reason is that the report’s writers were trying to cover up government participation:

Evidence emerged on Monday that government inspectors were aware that minors were being castrated while in Catholic-run psychiatric institutions.

Minutes of meetings held in the 1950s show that inspectors were present when castrations were discussed. The documents also reveal that the Catholic staff did not think parents needed to be involved.

There are also allegations that Vic Marijnen, a former Dutch Prime Minister, who died in 1975, was linked to the case.

In 1956, Mr Marijnen was the chairman of the Gelderland children’s home where Mr Heithuis and other children were abused. He intervened to have prison sentences dropped against several priests convicted of abusing children.

The involvement of former prime minister Marijnen — even though he’s long since deceased — certainly might cast a shadow on the Dutch government, so it’s natural the report may have avoided this matter.

It’s amazing how the R.C. Church continues to lament its lack of influence on occidental society, and even pitches fits when it feels it’s being disrespected … but clearly the Church tore up and burned its “respect” card long ago. It no longer deserves anyone’s deference or respect. The sooner society understands this, the better off we’ll all be.

Oh, and once again, I have to ask all the lay Catholics out there who may read this (and since I’ve heard from some of you, I know you’re out there): When the hell do you plan to get the fuck off your sorry, lazy little asses and do something about the horrific monstrosity that is your own Church? Only you can change it. Either you have the courage to force it to change, or you don’t. But since you refuse to try, I can only assume you approve of this abusive behavior.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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

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Cardinal Edward Egan, archbishop of New YorkThe sorry outfit known as the Roman Catholic Church continues to reveal itself as a morally bankrupt monstrosity, but that’s no surprise to those of us who’ve watched it closely over the years. Just over a week ago, I posted a recap of all the evasive, sniveling, paranoiac excuses for the worldwide child-abuse scandal that’s rocked the Church for over a decade. Since then, the archdiocese of Hartford has defended its (non-existent) handling of child sexual abuse by its priests, by claiming — in open courtthat the victims “liked it,” so it was no big deal … and have persisted with this bone-chilling defense.

In that same time, too, another former Connecticut hierarch has weighed in on the scandal, demonstrating that he’s gone off the deep end. Retired Cardinal Edward Egan, who’d served as bishop of Bridgeport (CT), offered some demented and dishonest comments in a recent interview with Connecticut Magazine (WebCite cached article):

You know, I never had one of these sex abuse cases, either in Bridgeport or here (New York). Not one. …

I’m not the slightest bit surprised that, of course, the scandal was going to be fun in the news—not fun, but the easiest thing to write about. …

There really wasn’t much in the way of hidden. I don’t think even now you’re obligated to report them [the abuse cases] in CT. …

Well, the media everywhere made that the whole thing. I never had a case. And I believe that the cases I had were each handled just exactly as they should have been.

The retired Cardinal lied, in all of these remarks. It is not true that he “never had a case” involving sexual abuse of a child by a priest in his service. Connecticut Magazine itself had reported on some of them back in 1999 (cached). That he shuffled abusive priests around has been documented. I’ve even blogged about the case of Fr Raymond Pcolka, and about Egan’s dismissive, snarky attitude toward child-abuse reports.

Also, even more demonstrably, Egan is dead wrong about the diocese of Bridgeport having no legal duty to report child abuse. In Connecticut, all clergy are mandatory reporters of child abuse, and this has been the case since the early 1970s, prior to his tenure as bishop. Of course Egan knew this was the case. He absolutely knew it. But like any good “prince of the Church,” he chose not to accept that; in his mind, the Church is above Connecticut law.

But beyond Egan’s lies about his own record on the matter and the nature of Connecticut law, Egan proceeded to dig himself even deeper during the interview:

CT Magazine: In 2002, you wrote a letter to parishioners in which you said, “If in hindsight we discover that mistakes may have been made as regards prompt removal of priests and assistance to victims, I am deeply sorry.”

EGAN: First of all, I should never have said that. I did say if we did anything wrong, I’m sorry, but I don’t think we did anything wrong.

So, here we have a man who, 10 years ago, had issued a non-apology apology; but now, he’s taking back even that sorry, cowardly measure.

Way to go, Cardinal. Well done. I am so fucking goddamn impressed with you! Why, of course the worldwide Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal was woven out of whole cloth by reporters who gleefully fabricated all its details. Why, of course, it’s all a horrid fiction, cooked up by the media because it was so “easy” for them to do. Why, you’re absolutely right, Cardinal; and the media are, of course, completely wrong to have so maligned you over nothing.

And congratulations to all the Catholics out there who remain steadfastly loyal to this reprehensible, Mafia-like crew who are shepherding you through life. I admire the tenacity with which you actively defend these cretins and monsters. I’m sure it’s hard work trying to justify and rationalize their evil behavior and their lies about it. You must be so proud!

Photo credit: Archdiocese of New York Web site.

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