Posts Tagged “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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Benedict XVI in FatimaThe wizened, robed denizens of the Vatican continue to evade responsibility for how their own institution handled clergy who abused children in their care for decades in various countries. They continue to act as though they’ve done nothing wrong and are being unfairly maligned by insidious, vile forces who are out to destroy them. CNN reports on the latest example of this head-in-the-sand thinking, mouthed this time by the Catholic Church’s doctrinal enforcer (WebCite cached article):

A top Roman Catholic official opened a conference on protecting children from sexual abuse Monday by defending Pope Benedict XVI, arguing that he deserved thanks for his efforts.

Cardinal William Levada said Benedict, before becoming pope, enacted many of the reforms that followed the eruption of the church’s sex-abuse scandal a decade ago.

“But the pope has had to suffer attacks by the media over these past years in various parts of the world, when he should receive the gratitude of us all, in the church and outside it,” Levada said in his opening address to the conference.

All I can say to this is, boo fucking hoo, Cardinal. I call bullshit on this claim. Prior to becoming Pope, Benedict had been the doctrinal enforcer, and in that capacity had, in fact, ordered bishops not to cooperate with local authorities’ investigations of child abuse, and to continue the longstanding policy of silence and cover-up. He personally intervened to keep a known predator priest in active service. When Irish authorities discovered that this hideous policy of obfuscation and interference was still being followed as recently as 2009 — even after Irish bishops had promised to stop — the Pope was offended, and recalled the Vatican’s nuncio to that country.

No, Cardinal Levada. Pope Benedict is by no means innocent in this scandal, and is not being “unfairly” maligned by a vicious and evil “media.” Moreover, the Pope has most certainly not been “attacked” by anyone in the media. A punch in the face is an “attack.” Being called to account for conduct he engaged in and which was documented, is no “attack.”

Cardinal Levada’s lie about the Pope’s innocence places him in my “lying liars for Jesus” club.

Clearly the Cardinal is adhering to the notion — prevailing within the halls of the Vatican and in diocesan chanceries around the world — that the Roman Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal is a spiritual attack by the Forces of Darkness upon a totally-innocent and forever-saintly Church that has done nothing wrong. They’re convinced that it’s not the abusive clergy who are guilty of anything, but instead, the Devil within the child-victims who — somehow — forced those poor, virtuous souls into abusing them. Alternatively, it’s all society’s fault; the “sexual revolution” forced clergy to abuse kids in their care. The Church hierarchs continue to point the finger of blame everywhere but toward themselves.

Enough is enough. When does the Pope — or Cardinal Levada — or any other hierarch plan to finally “man up” and take responsibility for this horrific worldwide scandal? They won’t. They’re all a bunch of sniveling crybaby cowards.

Photo credit: Catholic Church (England and Wales).

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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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Raymond Lahey walks quickly past reporters Wednesday after leaving an Ottawa courthouse a free man. (CBC)I’ve already blogged about the case of Raymond Lahey, erstwhile Catholic bishop of Antigonish (NS), who was found to have had child porn on his computer. He pleaded guilty, and the CBC reports on his sentence, which appears rather lenient (WebCite cached article):

Raymond Lahey, the disgraced Roman Catholic bishop who admitted he was addicted to looking at child pornography, has been released from prison after being sentenced to time served.

He was sentenced Wednesday to 15 months in prison and two years probation but received a two-for-one credit for time served. Lahey pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography for the purposes of importation to Canada.

What’s ironic here is that, as a bishop — presumably at the same time that he was collecting child porn — Lahey had negotiated a settlement a substantial settlement over child abuse in his diocese. So one would assume he’d been well aware of the fact that what he was doing was wrong, and that it harmed children, at the time he was doing it. Moreover, it turns out his child porn was religiously-flavored:

The Crown’s case involved 588 photos and 63 videos, with the Crown pointing out that some involved adolescent boys engaged in sex acts while wearing a Crucifix and rosary beads.

Naturally the current bishop of Antigonish had some remarks on the sentencing:

In a written statement, the current bishop of Antigonish said many people have been disturbed and upset by Lahey’s case.

“This entire matter has caused a great deal of hurt, disappointment and anger within and outside of our Diocese,” said Bishop Brian Joseph Dunn.

“Church leaders are called to provide good example and to show moral integrity in their lives. When they commit serious moral failures, this can have a significant impact on the faith community.”

This sounds all nice and contrite, but that apparent contrition is contradicted by the fact that, in most cases (albeit apparently not in Lahey’s), the R.C. Church goes to bat for abusive clergy and refuses to acknowledge they might have done anything wrong. This repeated denial is a pattern of conduct the Church has exhibited around the world. And I find it difficult to believe they’ve given up this particular habit.

Photo credit: CBC.

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St. Catharine's Church in Utrecht (the Netherlands). Picture taken by Fruggo, September 2004.I blogged a long time ago about the Roman Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal hitting the Netherlands. The AP via CTV relates the release of a report into the abuse of children by Catholic clergy there, and the numbers are staggering (WebCite cached article):

Thousands of children suffered sexual abuse in Dutch Catholic institutions over the past 65 years, and church officials knew about the abuse but failed to adequately address it or help the victims, a long-awaited report said Friday. The release of the report was followed by an apology to victims by the archbishop of Utrecht, who said the revelation “fills us with shame and sorrow.” …

The Dutch report said Catholic officials failed to tackle the widespread abuse, which ranged from “unwanted sexual advances” to rape, in an attempt to prevent scandals. Abusers included priests, brothers, pastors and lay people who worked in religious orders and congregations, it said. The investigation followed allegations of repeated incidents of abuse at one cloister that quickly spread to claims from Catholic institutions across the country.

The suspected number of abuse victims who spent some of their youth in church institutions likely lies somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000, according to a summary of the report investigating allegations of abuse dating back to 1945.

It’s nice, I suppose, that Archbishop Wim Eijk apologized and expressed remorse over this, and compensation will be offered to victims, but once again I must ask why it took so long — the culmination of a thorough examination and investigation — for the apology to be forthcoming? Would it have been so fucking hard for the Dutch Catholic Church simply to have owned up, right at the start? Why is the Catholic Church, which claims to be the sole remaining arbiter of morality in the world, so fiercely unwilling to show some damned courage and moral fortitude, just once? They love telling everyone else what they ought to do, but refuse to be held accountable for their own actions, or inaction as the case may be, and must have all concessions of wrongdoing dragged out of them. Hypocrites!

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Papal Nuncio Giuseppe Leanza has been called back to Rome to discuss the impact of the recent Cloyne Report / BBCI’ve already blogged about the damning Cloyne Report, and the justifiable anger of the Irish government over what it revealed about the Catholic hierarchy’s behavior.

A key element of the report, and which sparked so much ire, is this: In the midst of several Irish investigations into the abuse of children by Catholic clergy, it turns out that, as late as 2009, Ireland’s Catholic bishops were still actively protecting abusers, in spite of promises made as long ago as the 1990s that things had changed. The Vatican itself had, in a 1997 letter to Ireland’s bishops, intervened and specifically ordered them not to turn reported abuses over to secular authorities.

In other words, the cover-up went all the way to the very top echelons of the Catholic hierarchy.

One would think that the Roman Catholic Church — which ostensibly teaches the humility and contrition that Jesus demanded of his followers — would respond humbly and show some contrition over this. However, that’s precisely what they are not doing. In the wake of the documentary evidence of wrongdoing provided in the Cloyne Report, the Vatican continues to lie … insisting it never did anything wrong and never ordered bishops not to cooperate with secular authorities.

After Taoiseach (prime minister) Enda Kenny ripped the Vatican a new one the other day, the Holy See responded … by recalling their nuncio (ambassador) to Ireland. The BBC reports on this latest event in the history of Catholicism in the Emerald Isle (WebCite cached article):

The Vatican has recalled its special envoy in Ireland after a damning report on the Catholic Church’s handling of child abuse by priests.

Papal Nuncio Giuseppe Leanza has been called back to Rome to discuss the impact of the recent Cloyne Report. …

Vice-director of the Vatican press office Father Ciro Benedettini said the nuncio’s recall “should be interpreted as an expression of the desire of the Holy See for serious and effective collaboration with the (Irish) government”.

He added that it “denotes the seriousness of the situation and the Holy See’s desire to face it objectively and determinately.

“Nor does it exclude some degree of surprise and disappointment at certain excessive reactions.”

That last sentence is the real cause of this ambassadorial recall. Yes, folks, it’s true … the Vatican is so angry that the Irish government and people are (understandably) angry at the Church for what it did, that they’ve brought their nuncio home in protest! How dare the Taoiseach publicly condemn the Vatican for what it was shown to have done wrong! Why, that kind of insolent response just can’t be tolerated!

Fucking childish is what it is. And a fucking disgrace.

Photo credit: BBC.

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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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