Posts Tagged “child abuse”

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.

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Photograph of St Aidens Cathedral, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, Republic of IrelandWhat the Roman Catholic Church has done to the children of one of the most-Catholic countries in the world — i.e. Ireland — is a travesty that reaches beyond the imagination. This timeline of the scandal there, courtesy of the Irish Times (WebCite cached version), shows the Church there had been insuring itself against child-abuse claims in the 1980s; allegations began emerging in the 1990s, and the Magdalene laundries became infamous by the end of that decade. Since then the Irish judiciary has undertaken a number of investigations into the abuse. The Ferns report (focused on the diocese of Ferns) was released in 2005. The Ryan Report, with a national scope, was released in 2009. The Murphy Report (focused on the archdiocese of Dublin) was released a few months later. Just yesterday, the Cloyne Report (focused on the diocese of Cloyne) was released, and as the New York Times explains, the situation is even grimmer than had been thought (cached):

The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland was covering up the sexual abuse of children by priests as recently as 2009, long after it issued guidelines meant to protect children, and the Vatican tacitly encouraged the cover-up by ignoring the guidelines, according to a scathing report issued Wednesday by the Irish government.

Alan Shatter, the Irish justice minister, called the findings “truly scandalous,” adding that the church’s earlier promises to report all abuse cases since 1995 to civil authorities were “built on sand.” Abuse victims called the report more evidence that the church sought to protect priests rather than children.

That’s right, folks. This means that, even as the Irish government was wrapping up the Ryan and Murphy investigations — and four years after the Ferns Report had been released — Ireland’s Catholic bishops were still actively covering up for child-abusing clergy whom they supervised:

The Cloyne Report, as it is known, drafted by an independent investigative committee headed by Judge Yvonne Murphy, found that the clergy in the Diocese of Cloyne, a rural area of County Cork, did not act on complaints against 19 priests from 1996 to 2009. The report also found that two allegations against one priest were reported to the police, but that there was no evidence of any subsequent inquiry.

It’s clear the Church knew what this latest report would say, long before its release:

John Magee, the bishop of Cloyne since 1987, who had previously served as private secretary to three popes, resigned last year.

The Irish foreign ministry summoned the papal nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, to a meeting, to answer for the Holy See’s conduct. The Irish Times reports on his comments afterward (cached):

The papal nuncio today said he was “very distressed” by the report into child sexual abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne. …

“I wish to say, however, the total commitment of the Holy See for its part to taking all the necessary measures to assure protection.”

Except, the Holy See actually did nothing of the sort! The Cloyne Report shows — via documentation — that the Vatican actively worked to undermine Irish bishops’ cooperation with secular authorities in child-abuse cases, as the NY Times story explains:

Most damaging, the report said that the Congregation for the Clergy, an arm of the Vatican that oversees the priesthood, had not recognized the 1996 guidelines. That “effectively gave individual Irish bishops the freedom to ignore the procedures” and “gave comfort and support” to priests who “dissented from the stated Irish church policy,” the report said.

The report gave details of a confidential letter sent in 1997 by the Vatican’s nuncio, or ambassador, in Ireland to Irish bishops, warning them that their child-protection policies violated canon law, which states that priests accused of abuse should be able to appeal their cases to the Vatican. The nuncio also dismissed the Irish guidelines as “a study document.”

I blogged about this letter six months ago when it was reported in media outlets and released on the Internet. So this particular item is not really news. The Cloyne report, however, places it in perspective and demonstrates its effect on Ireland’s bishops.

Ireland’s chief Catholic hierarch, Cardinal Seán Brady, apologized — again:

Cardinal Brady issued an apology on Wednesday and called for more openness and cooperation with civil authorities. He has been fighting calls for his resignation since last year, when he acknowledged helping to conceal the crimes of one serial-rapist priest from Irish authorities in the mid-1970s.

I’ve already blogged about that particular skeleton in Brady’s closet. What a marvelous, stand-up kind of guy. (Not!)

I have to wonder how many more of these reports are going to be released; how many more times are we going to hear Catholic hierarchs express their regrets and promise to do better; and how many more times are we nevertheless going to discover that they continue to refuse to do so? How long is it going to be before the Roman Catholic Church finally admits what it has done and actually tries to make things right?

My guess is, they never will. (After all, there are Catholics who — even now — are convinced Galileo deserved to be destroyed because he insolently agreed with Copernicus!)

Final note to anyone who will complain that child abuse happens in all religions and I’m not supposed to report on the Catholic Church’s abuses … I’ve already answered that tired whine, and quite frankly, I’m tired of hearing it. It shouldn’t matter — and it doesn’t! — that other religions’ clergy abuse children. What the Catholic Church has done, is what it has done, and no amount of any other religions’ wrongdoing can possibly justify it. (That’s known as “two wrongs make a right” thinking, and is both fallacious and amoral. It needs to fucking stop.)

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Papal tiaraThe Roman Catholic Church is nothing if not predictable. The Los Angeles Times provides this story on a report that the Church released about the abuse of children in the care of Catholic clergy (WebCite cached article):

Sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests in the United States is a “historical problem” that has largely been resolved and that never had any significant correlation with either celibacy or homosexuality, according to an independent report commissioned by Catholic bishops — and subjected to fierce attack even before its release on Wednesday.

The report [cached] blamed the sexual revolution for a rise in sexual abuse by priests, saying that Catholic clerics were swept up by a tide of “deviant” behavior that became more socially acceptable in the 1960s and ’70s.

First, I find I must comment on the writing of this story. It is contradictory to say that a report “commissioned by” the bishops, is “an independent report.” If the bishops commissioned it, then it’s their report, not someone else’s. They may not have written it themselves, or even researched it, but they “own” it nevertheless, so it cannot logically be said to have been “independent.”

Second, I note that the report refuses to acknowledge that the Church’s actions, including protecting abusers, played anything other than an incidental role in the scandal:

“The abuse is a result of a complex interaction of factors,” said Karen Terry, a John Jay criminal justice professor who led the research team. One major factor, she said at a news conference in Washington, was social turmoil in the 1960s and ’70s that led some priests “who had some vulnerabilities” to commit child sexual abuse. She said Catholic seminaries had done a poor job of preparing priests “to live a life of chaste celibacy,” as their vows demanded.

In other words, it was all the fault of society … and the “sexual revolution” … and if the Church did anything wrong, it was in failing to deal with that as well as it might have.

It’s absolutely stunning how the bishops continually rationalize their own criminal behavior. When they chose to shield abusers from prosecution, and when they chose to move them around in order to avoid letting anyone know their dirty little secrets, that was NOT because society or the sexual revolution put a gun to their heads and forced them to do it. No. It was a cold, calculated choice based on the information they had at the time they had it, and it was made in order to protect their Church’s reputation and wealth. Neither society nor the sexual revolution had anything to do with that. Not the slightest damn thing. Oddly enough, the report itself describes at least one instance of inaction by the Church hierarchy:

On October 18, 1984, a Louisiana grand jury indicted Gilbert Gauthe, a former priest of the Diocese of Lafayette, for a long list of sexual crimes against children. The Diocese of Lafayette had received multiple reports of Gauthe’s abusive acts for seven years before he was indicted but had not managed to control his behavior. Gauthe had been repeatedly cautioned about his behavior but was not removed from ministry until 1983, when, following another report of abuse by a parent who demanded action, he was sent to the House of Affirmation in Massachusetts for treatment. The specifics of the Gauthe case were shocking: Gauthe had not only raped and sodomized dozens of boys, he had used the “cloak” of his status as a priest to justify his actions to the victims and to intimidate them into silence. Harm to Gauthe’s victims was profound, requiring hospitalization for some and psychotherapy for many. The criminal case and related civil litigation filed by the families of the victims drew national and international press attention. Despite the sensational press coverage and extensive discussion of the case, the failures of the leaders of the Diocese of Lafayette were many. Diocesan leaders hesitated to remove Gauthe from ministry even after he admitted to the abuse, and they failed to redress the harm to the child victims and their families. They were preoccupied with controlling negative publicity and so were not forthcoming with information to the affected parishes. Such failures on the part of the Diocese of Lafayette were to be repeated by leaders of some other dioceses in the coming years. (p. 77)

Nevertheless, elsewhere the report downplays the bishops’ furious efforts to cover up for the abusers, passing them off as something all institutions tend to do:

This response framework, as well as the lack of transparency, is not an atypical response to deviant behavior by members of an institution. (p. 4)

Of course, most institutions do not claim to be the sole remaining arbiters of morality in the world. The R.C. Church cannot legitimately use “But other organizations do the same thing!” as an excuse. That’s “two wrongs make a right” thinking, and is fallacious.

Leave it to Bill Donohue, head of the Catholic League, to rationalize why the “scandal” was not really a “scandal” and why neither the abusive clergy nor the bishops had done anything wrong:

William Donohue, the outspoken president of the conservative Catholic League, noted on the group’s website that the report found that 81% of abuse victims were male and 78% were beyond puberty. “Since 100% of the abusers were male, that’s called homosexuality, not pedophilia or heterosexuality,” he said.

Aha. So it’s “just” homosexuality. Oh well, I guess that makes the abuse of children OK, then, eh Bill?

What a fucking reprehensible bunch of creatures we’re dealing with, in the Catholic Church and its defenders … ! If you’re a Catholic and you’re not sickened by these people, then there’s something wrong with you.

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Jesus wept. (Jn 11:35)Not only does the Roman Catholic Church have pedophiles in its ranks — as most people now realize, even if at one time they preferred not to — but it also has unrepentant pedophiles-in-denial in its ranks. Time magazine reports on a Belgian bishop who admitted to molesting his nephews but who insists he’s not a pedophile and says it was just a game (WebCite cached article):

The Belgian Catholic Church must have felt it hit a nadir last year when it had to face harrowing revelations of rampant child sex abuse among its priesthood. However, the church’s reputation is now at a new low, thanks to the ill-judged comments of the disgraced former Bishop of Bruges, who in April 2010 admitted to abusing his nephew. Belgians have been left in open-mouthed disbelief after the airing of a TV interview with Roger Vangheluwe in which he glossed over his history of abusing children.

Speaking on Belgian television on Thursday evening, April 14, Vangheluwe, 74, said he had in fact abused a second nephew as well. That would have been shocking enough: last year, when Vangheluwe initially owned up to the abuse — and stepped down as bishop — the move unleashed a flood of revelations by other victims of abuse in the church.

The former bishop downplayed what he did:

But it was no tearful confession that Belgians witnessed on Thursday. Looking relaxed and sometimes smiling, Vangheluwe described the sexual abuse as no more than “a little piece of intimacy.” While he claimed to recognize that he had done wrong and said he often went to confession about it, Vangheluwe played down his actions. “I had the strong impression that my nephew didn’t mind at all. On the contrary. It was not brutal sex. I never used bodily, physical violence,” he said.

Ah. I see. So in the ex-bishop’s mind, sex with minors is just fine, so long as it’s not violent. OK. Got it. I don’t agree, of course … nor do most of the world’s legal systems … but I got it.

Other Belgian bishops, to their credit, condemned Vangheluwe’s downplaying of his immorality and criminality, yet the ex-bishop remains a priest in good standing in the Church, and there is no known effort underway to defrock him. The Vatican seems happy to continue calling him one of its own.

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

Photo credit: Beliefnet.

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Ihs-logoNews continues to trickle in concerning the worldwide clerical child-abuse scandal which has dogged the Roman Catholic Church for at least a decade. The latest news is that a chapter of the Jesuit order (aka the Society of Jesus) reached a settlement with clerical child-abuse victims in the northwestern US, as the AP reports via Google News (WebCite cached article):

In one of the largest settlements in the Catholic church’s sweeping sex abuse scandal, an order of priests agreed Friday to pay $166.1 million to hundreds of Native Americans and Alaska Natives who were abused at the order’s schools around the Pacific Northwest.

The Jesuit order, called the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, has been accused of using its schools in remote villages and on reservations as dumping grounds for problem priests. …

The settlement between the more than 450 victims and the province also calls for a written apology to the victims and disclosure of documents to them, including their medical records. …

The settlement is believed to be the Catholic Church’s third-largest in the sex abuse cases, behind the Los Angeles Diocese, which agreed to pay $660 million to 508 victims, and the San Diego Diocese, which agreed to pay $198 million to 144 victims, according to the website BishopAccountability.org.

I blogged late last year about a cache of documents that had been released as a result of the San Diego case. Those documents reveal that the Church made calculated decisions intended to keep abusive priests in the Church — and able to continue abusing children elsewhere. But worse, it also revealed that California officials colluded with them to allow this to happen.

It’s a fucking disgrace … but to date the R.C. Church has refused to handle it head-on. The Church still prefers to evade accountability. Instead, they remain convinced this scandal is a vile diabolical attack on God’s holy, perfect Church; the real victims here are not the abused children, but rather, the priests who’ve abused them. Those poor priests, you see, were forced by the Devil to abuse children in their care. The Devil worked through the children, you see … which implies the children were actually the perpetrators of these crimes, not the abusive priests.

Yes, folks, the Vatican has a horribly deviant worldview, a result of which is that it never concedes error since it never considers itself capable of doing wrong. Any wrongdoing can only be coerced out of it, by outside forces, such as the Devil, “masonic secularists,” “great foreign newspapers,” etc.

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Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and PaulThe Philadelphia archdiocese has had a bad time of it, lately. A number of its priests, including one diocesan official, have been accused by a grand jury of abusing children in their care — and in the case of the official, of covering up for them. Yesterday the archdiocese announced it had suspended some of them, as reported by the New York Times (WebCite cached article):

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced Tuesday that it had suspended 21 priests from active ministry in connection with accusations that involved sexual abuse or otherwise inappropriate behavior with minors.

The mass suspension was the single-most sweeping in the history of the sexual-abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, said Terence McKiernan, president of BishopAccountability.org, which archives documents from the abuse scandal in dioceses across the country.

Wow. Sounds like drastic and definite action, doesn’t it? But really, it’s not. The grand jury report, as the Times explains, was issued about a month ago:

The archdiocese’s action follows a damning grand jury report issued Feb. 10 that accused the archdiocese of a widespread cover-up of predatory priests, stretching over decades, and said that as many as 37 priests remained active in the ministry despite credible accusations against them.

And note, only 21 of the 37 were suspended. It took the archdiocese an entire month to figure out that it should suspend some — but not all! — of the 37. My guess is that almost any other employer, whether a private entity or a government agency, would have immediately suspended anyone on their payrolls who’d been cited by a grand jury of child abuse or obstruction of justice. But clearly, the Roman Catholic Church is not just any other employer … they have rigorous standards to uphold. Apparently. I’m not sure what those standards are … but they must have them. Right?

How many more examples of Mafia-like behavior does one need, in order to understand what a stinking, festering cesspool of criminality and depravity the Catholic Church is?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons / Bruce Andersen.

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Image of a 1997 letter from the Vatican warning Irish bishops not to report suspected child-abuse cases to police.The Mafia-like philosophy of the Roman Catholic Church’s hierarchy continues to be revealed as information emerges from the Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal. The latest revelation comes in the form of a letter, originally written by Vatican officials to Ireland’s bishops in 1997, ordering them not to report child abuse to local authorities. The AP reports via Canada’s The Globe and Mail on this remarkable document (WebCite cached article):

A newly revealed 1997 letter from the Vatican warned Ireland’s Catholic bishops not to report all suspected child-abuse cases to police – a disclosure that victims groups described as “the smoking gun” needed to show that the Vatican enforced a worldwide culture of coverup.

The letter, obtained by Irish broadcasters RTE and provided to The Associated Press, documents the Vatican’s rejection of a 1996 Irish church initiative to begin helping police identify pedophile priests following Ireland’s first wave of publicly disclosed lawsuits.

What makes this a “smoking gun” is that it shows the Vatican to have lied about the scandal:

The letter undermines persistent Vatican claims, particularly when seeking to defend itself in U.S. lawsuits, that the church in Rome never instructed local bishops to withhold evidence or suspicion of crimes from police. It instead emphasizes the church’s right to handle all child-abuse allegations, and determine punishments, in house rather than hand that power to civil authorities.

The letter also shows the Vatican’s primary concern was to ensure that canon law — i.e. the Church’s own internal legal system — handled these cases and that secular courts would never see them. Once again we see that the Church views itself as being above the law of the countries in which it operates, and assumes itself answerable to no one and nothing else.

The Globe and Mail hosts a copy of the letter, just large enough to read if one works at it (WebCite cached version).

My guess is that Catholicism’s apologists will refuse to acknowledge the lie demonstrated in this letter and will refuse to accept any possibility of wrongdoing by Church hierarchs.

Hat tip: Repi at Atheist/Agnostic/Herding Cats on Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: The AP, via The Globe and Mail.

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