Posts Tagged “clerical child abuse”

Hooligans papistasI’d considered not blogging about this latest event. After all, I’ve blogged about the Catholic clerical abuse scandal many times over the last few weeks. There doesn’t seem to be any end in sight to the continued revelations, nor to the Vatican’s repeated evasions of its ramifications. Whatever credibility and moral authority the Roman Catholic Church might once have had, is vanishing or has already disappeared … yet the Holy See appears casually oblivious to this. The folks who lurk in the Vatican continue to view themselves as being “under attack” by a spiritual enemy (a model I’ve discussed before) and are unable to view themselves as anything but the innocent, hapless victims of a horrid conspiracy to make them look bad, by accusing them of things they never did — in spite of tangible documentary evidence to the contrary.

At any rate, the Vatican’s delusional denials have become so pathetic as to be almost laughable … I say “almost,” because there are victims of abusive Catholic clergy around the world, many of whom will never see justice done, and there’s absolutely nothing funny about that. At any rate, the latest word coming out of Rome, is that the Jews are to blame for the scandal.

That’s right. The Jews. The (UK) Guardian reports on this claim, made by a retired Italian bishop, Giacomo Babini (WebCite cached article):

A furious transatlantic row has erupted over quotes that were attributed to a retired Italian bishop, which suggested that Jews were behind the current criticism of the Catholic church’s record on tackling clerical sex abuse.

A website quoted Giacomo Babini, the emeritus bishop of Grosseto, as saying he believed a “Zionist attack” was behind the criticism, considering how “powerful and refined” the criticism is.

The comments, which have been denied by the bishop, follow a series of statements from Catholic churchmen alleging the existence of plots to weaken the church and Pope Benedict XVI.

Allegedly speaking to the Catholic website Pontifex, Babini, 81, was quoted as saying: “They do not want the church, they are its natural enemies. Deep down, historically speaking, the Jews are God killers.”

I’ve located the exact posting on the Pontifex Web site where this is reported (here’s a cached version, and here are automated translations into English, courtesy of Microsoft and Google).

As bizarre as this claim sounds, it’s not all that odd, considering that various Italian government officials have previously claimed the scandal is “a masonic-secularist offensive against Catholics” and that it’s part of a “campaign against the pope and … the holy see by certain great foreign newspapers.” Now, I guess, we have to add the Jews to this vicious conspiracy, because they are, after all, “God killers.”

That’s right, folks. If you believe all these guys, children were never abused by Catholic clergy, and the Catholic hierarchy never contrived to protect its clergy from secular prosecution and allowed them to continue their depravity. Oh no. None of it ever happened! Rather, it’s all just a vicious lie, cooked up by masonic secularists, great foreign newspapers, and Jews.

Here’s an open question for any Roman Catholics who might still be reading this: When, exactly, do you intend to say, “Enough! No more!”? At what point have you had your fill of the delusional lies and pathological denials of the Vatican and its various mouthpieces? Do you have any idea how fucking ridiculous the Holy See looks? Do you see, now, that the time has come to do something?

Or do you think nothing is wrong with any of this? That your Church truly is “under attack” by the Devil, or the Forces of Darkness, or “masonic secularists,” or newspapers, or the Jews? Do you honestly believe this?

If you don’t, how in good conscience can you continue to support an organization that would act this way?

Remember: What you will not correct, you condone.

Hat tip: AntiBible Project Forum on Delphi Forums.

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This 1985 letter, written in Latin to the bishop of Oakland, Calif., was signed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was head of the Vatican office that disciplined abusive priests.As the Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal has continued to rumble around Europe — most recently having made its appearance in Malta — the Vatican’s position has consistently been that the current Pope, Benedict XVI, who once headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which had been responsible for handling such allegations, had known nothing about it until the early 2000s, and since becoming Pope in 2005, he has taken command of the problem and dealt with abusers harshly. But the AP got its hands on a 1985 letter which suggests otherwise. As they report via Google News, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was actually reluctant to discipline or defrock a priest in the Oakland, California diocese who had already been convicted of abuse (WebCite cached article):

The future Pope Benedict XVI resisted pleas to defrock a California priest with a record of sexually molesting children, citing concerns including “the good of the universal church,” according to a 1985 letter bearing his signature.

The correspondence, obtained by The Associated Press, is the strongest challenge yet to the Vatican’s insistence that Benedict played no role in blocking the removal of pedophile priests during his years as head of the Catholic Church’s doctrinal watchdog office.

The letter, signed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was typed in Latin and is part of years of correspondence between the Diocese of Oakland and the Vatican about the proposed defrocking of the Rev. Stephen Kiesle.

The case against Rev Stephen Kiesle had already languished for four years by the time Cardinal Ratzinger wrote back to John Cummins, then bishop of Oakland:

In the November 1985 letter, Ratzinger says the arguments for removing Kiesle are of “grave significance” but added that such actions required very careful review and more time. He also urged the bishop to provide Kiesle with “as much paternal care as possible” while awaiting the decision, according to a translation for AP by Professor Thomas Habinek, chairman of the University of Southern California Classics Department.

But the future pope also noted that any decision to defrock Kiesle must take into account the “good of the universal church” and the “detriment that granting the dispensation can provoke within the community of Christ’s faithful, particularly considering the young age.” Kiesle was 38 at the time.

Kiesle’s guilt by that time was not in question, and Kiesle himself had requested to be defrocked:

Kiesle had been sentenced in 1978 to three years’ probation after pleading no contest to misdemeanor charges of lewd conduct for tying up and molesting two young boys in a San Francisco Bay area church rectory.

As his probation ended in 1981, Kiesle asked to leave the priesthood and the diocese submitted papers to Rome to defrock him.

So by the time of this 1985 letter, Ratzinger had been working to keep a man who wanted out of the priesthood, in his vestments for 4 full years! And it would take 2 more until he was finally tossed out!

The Vatican’s denials that Cardinal Ratzinger wasn’t aware of the problem of priests abusing children, decades ago, are quite obviously untrue. How many more lies will they tell in order to keep propping him up?

Photo credit: Kim Johnson / AP (via USA Today)

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St. John's Co-Cathedral in Valletta, Malta | Kon-Katidral ta' San Gwann #0649 Just when you thought this twisted, sordid tale of institutional rot and moral bankruptcy couldn’t get any stranger than it already has, the Roman Catholic Church’s clerical child abuse scandal has gone strange. First, the backstory, which is — unfortunately — not strange at all, but instead, predictable. This scandal hit Malta — some time ago, actually, but it’s only now that the extent of the abuse there has become known. The AP via Google News reports on this development (WebCite cached article):

Pope Benedict XVI visits Malta in two weeks, and some victims of sex abuse by priests on the predominantly Roman Catholic island say they want him to use the trip to apologize for their suffering. …

Last week, as the European church, the Vatican and pope were under fire for accusations of covering up sex crimes by its priests, a response team in Malta announced that it had received 84 allegations of child abuse allegedly involving 45 Maltese priests since it was established by the Maltese Catholic Church 11 years ago.

The article mentions the nature of this “response team,” the fact that no criminal charges have been made and likely won’t be made, and notes how intensely Catholic Malta is. But the strange part comes in its last three paragraphs:

One prominent case in Malta involved a U.S. congressman, Rep. Mark Foley.

The Florida Republican resigned from Congress in 2006 after he was confronted with sexually explicit computer messages he had sent to male teenage congressional pages. His attorneys have said that Foley is gay, suffers from alcohol addiction and was molested by a Catholic priest as a teenage altar boy.

The Rev. Anthony Mercieca, who has retired to Malta, has admitted having inappropriate encounters with Foley, including massaging him in the nude and skinny-dipping together. He denies ever having sex with Foley.

Fr Mercieca’s admission of “inappropriate encounters” but denials of having sex, are eerily similar to the old protestation that “I tried marijuana, but I didn’t inhale.” (President Clinton once said something along these lines.) I’m just not buying it.

I’m not sure, but it looks as though Mark Foley is the highest-profile victim of this worldwide scandal.

I’m guessing the Vatican won’t take this report very seriously, and instead, accuse the AP of being “anti-Catholic” for having reported on the Malta response team’s results. Yes, even though the Maltese Catholic Church itself appointed that panel! The black-robed and red-hatted men who rule the Vatican aren’t above a little paranoid irrationality, if it helps them dodge and swerve out of the way of yet another batch of bad news about its own affairs.

Photo credit: p_valdivieso.

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Saint Peter's Square, RomeIn a development that makes clear what an amoral abyss the Vatican is, the preacher to the Pope himself has equated reporting on the Catholic clerical abuse scandal with anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. Reuters filed this report on Fr Raniero Cantalamessa’s remarks (WebCite cached article):

Attacks on the Catholic Church and Pope Benedict over a sexual abuse scandal are comparable to “collective violence” against Jews, the pontiff’s personal preacher told a Vatican Good Friday service.

The sermon by Father Raniero Cantalamessa, a Franciscan whose title is “Preacher of the Pontifical Household”, drew sharp criticism from both Jews and victims of sexual abuse by priests.

It further racheted up tensions over the abuse scandal, forcing even the Vatican spokesman to distance himself from Cantalamessa, the only person authorized to preach to the pope.

Fr Cantalamessa used Holy Week services, as well as the coincidence of Passover and Easter this year, to get additional attention for his crass comments:

Cantalamessa, speaking with the pope sitting nearby, drew the parallel at an afternoon Good Friday service in St Peter’s Basilica on the day Christians commemorate Jesus’ crucifixion.

Noting that this year the Jewish Passover and Christian Easter fell during the same week, he said Jews throughout history had been the victims of “collective violence” and drew comparisons between Jewish suffering and attacks on the Church.

Nice. How marvelous. The worldwide mass media reporting on a long-simmering, insidious child-abuse scandal within the Roman Catholic Church, somehow is the same as centuries of anti-Semitism, many generations of harassment of and attacks on Jews throughout Europe, leading up to and including the Third Reich’s attempt to wipe them out, culminating in the mechanistic murder of millions of Jews in central and eastern Europe.

Oh yeah, obviously they’re the same thing! Exactly the same!

not!

It goes without saying that Fr Cantalamessa’s comments have been condemned by Jews, as the AP reports via Google News (cached article):

“What a sad irony this would be on Good Friday, where so much of the anti-Semitism was brought about by the church against Jews,” said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. “Anti-Semitism was pogroms, inquisitions, expulsions that led to death … What a grotesque comparison.” …

Hours later, the Vatican sought to distance itself from the incident. A Vatican spokesman said that remarks are not the church’s official position and that such parallelism can lead to misunderstandings.

Gee, ya think?

As I’ve posted before, this sort of reasoning seems egregious, extreme, and weird to those of us capable of thinking rationally about it. But as I’ve blogged already, most of the Roman Catholic Church — especially those high up in the Vatican — does not view this scandal rationally. To them, this scandal is not something they’ve created on their own. It is, instead, an external attack upon the God’s appointed Church, by the forces of the Devil himself. To them, the reports of abuse either are absurd and false, fabricated by diabolical forces or “secularists”; or they’re real, but the product of diabolical infestation of the abused children, who “tempted” the poor priests into behaving inappropriately. Either way, by this reasoning, the Church is not in the wrong here; the children harmed by clerical crimes are not “victims,” but rather, the abusive clergy are “victims.” The R.C. Church has not done anything to deserve being “attacked,” other than to have been God’s appointed Church. Such thinking inevitably leads to a comparison with Jews, then, who were persecuted because they viewed themselves as “God’s chosen people.”

Under the “scandal-as-a-spiritual-war” model, then, Fr Cantalamessa’s comparison is perfectly valid and reasonable.

So long as this model of thinking about the scandal holds sway in the cavernous, amoral halls of Vatican City, nothing will be done, because the Church will never concede that anything is wrong. It can’t, because to do so would grant the Devil a “victory,” and they cannot permit that.

Photo credit: Humpalumpa.

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St Augustine Cathedral, Tucson, Arizona, United StatesThe list of abusive priests whom the Vatican — and especially then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would later become current Pope Benedict XVI — refused to discipline, grows longer and longer. The latest examples of years of Vatican stalling were in Arizona. The AP reports via Google News on these revelations (WebCite cached article):

The future Pope Benedict XVI took over the abuse case of an Arizona priest, then let it languish at the Vatican for years despite repeated pleas from the bishop for the man to be removed from the priesthood, according to church correspondence.

Documents reviewed by The Associated Press show that in the 1990s, a church tribunal found that the Rev. Michael Teta of Tucson, Ariz., had molested children as far back as the late 1970s. The panel deemed his behavior — including allegations that he abused boys in a confessional — almost “satanic.” The tribunal referred his case to then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would become pope in 2005.

But it took 12 years from the time Ratzinger assumed control of the case in a signed letter until Teta was formally removed from ministry, a step only the Vatican can take.

The problem is not that Arizona church officials wouldn’t do anything about Fr Teta. They did. But there were limits, and dangers remained that they could not do anything about:

Teta was removed from ministry by the bishop, but because the church’s most severe punishment — laicization — can only be handed down from Rome, he remained on the church payroll and was working with young people outside the church.

Another Arizona priest, Msgr Robert Trupia, similarly was allowed access to children for many years in spite of diocesan requests for the Vatican to act.

Astonishingly enough, however, the Tucson diocese claims nothing was done wrong in either case:

Fred Allison, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson, defended the Vatican’s handling of the Teta and Trupia cases. Internal church trials took years and the priests’ appeals took years more, Allison said.

Oh well. I guess that makes it OK to let a known abusive priest retain access to children. We can’t let a minor consideration such as the safety of children stand in the way of ensuring a long protracted ecclesiastical process be honored, now, can we?

Isn’t it strange how the organization that claims to be the world’s sole remaining arbiter of morality, can keep rationalizing allowing evil to continue to be done, within its ranks, and keeps justifying inaction, secrecy, and evasiveness?

P.S. Now that the AP is reporting on priests whom the Vatican wouldn’t stop, I wonder if the Vatican will now go on the offensive and claim the AP is “anti-Catholic” or part of a “masonic secularist” conspiracy — as they did when the New York Times reported on a similar priest in Wisconsin?

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Pope Benedict XVI has apologised to victims of sex abuse / Telegraph photoAfter dispatching his network of parish priests in Ireland to read his letter to Irish Catholics, which ostensibly acknowledged the misdeeds there (it even referred to them as “criminal”), the very next Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI proceeded to use Bible passages to justify the evil that had been done to children in the R.C. Church’s care. The (UK) Telegraph writes about his latest address (WebCite cached article):

Campaigners had hoped that after his seven page letter on Saturday to Irish victims of child abusing priests in which he said he was “truly sorry” the Pope would use his weekly sermon to apologise in public.

But he failed to do so and instead he asked Roman Catholics around the world to be “indulgent towards sinners and pray to God to ask for forgiveness for our failings.”

He used as an example the Bible parable from John’s Gospel in which Christ asks people about to stone an adulteress: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

Honestly, I can’t think of any other way to describe this, than to call it “rubbing salt into Ireland’s wounds”:

The pontiff didn’t mention his letter chastising Ireland’s church hierarchy as he made his weekly appearance Sunday from his studio window overlooking St. Peter’s Square. He cited the Gospel passage about Jesus’ inviting those without sin to cast the first stone toward an adulterer.

“While acknowledging her sin, he does not condemn her, but urges her to sin no more,” Pope Benedict said. told English-speaking pilgrims in the square. “Trusting in his great mercy toward us, we humbly beg his forgiveness for our own failings, and we ask for the strength to grow in his holiness.”

The Pope here is actually asking people not to “condemn” the child-rapists, child-beaters, and assorted other criminals who hid behind their vestments, cassocks and habits, and were sheltered for decades by the Catholic hierarchy. How nice of him. Let’s go over the many moral and contextual errors in the Pope’s use and abuse of one of the most famous gospel passages, shall we?

The story of “the woman taken in adultery” is found in the gospel of John, and the original passage is as follows:

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.” (John 8:1-11)

Let’s look at this. First, the Pope is comparing the ongoing and often systematic abuse of children, by adults, with a single instance of adultery, which is a consensual act between two adults. How, exactly, is there any equivalence here? If there is one, I can’t see it.

Second, this gospel story implies that the woman was at least remorseful, and it’s possible that she did, in fact, “sin no more” after this episode. The Roman Catholic clergy who abused children in their care, however, have been anything but remorseful, and they abused children for decades, often going on to later victims even after having been caught; and they were consciously protected by an organization that supported them and frequently prevented them from being prosecuted. Here again, an equivalence fails.

Usually it’s the fundamentalist Christians who abuse scripture in order to justify doing the wrong thing … but in this case it’s none other than the head of the Roman Catholic Church who’s doing so. Obviously he has no shame, no remorse, and no understanding of what has been going on in his own Church. But conveniently, he does know just enough to be able to use Jesus’ own putative words to tell people not to “judge” criminality within the Church he ostensibly commands.

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Cardinal Sean Brady (Niall Carson, PA Wire)At long last, a high-ranking Roman Catholic figure admits having done the wrong thing, in at least one case of child abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest. The (UK) Daily Mail reports that Sean Brady, the R.C. Church’s Primate in Ireland, was present for, and complicit in, at least one cover-up during the 1970s (WebCite cached article):

Under-fire Cardinal Sean Brady, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, has apologised for not reporting a notorious paedophile priest to the police. …

Cardinal Brady, who as Archbishop of Armagh is Primate of All Ireland, was a priest in 1975 and attended meetings where children signed vows of silence over complaints of sexual abuse against Father Brendan Smyth.

Earlier this week it emerged that the children, aged 10 and 14, had been asked to sign a pact of silence so that the ‘Church could carry out its own investigation’.

Irish Catholic officials did not explain why neither Cardinal Brady nor his superiors at the time shared their information with the police. Fr Smyth went on to abuse more children in the following years.

This admission may be the end of Brady’s tenure. One may assume he will — like Cardinal Bernard Law, who as Archbishop of Boston shuffled pedophile priests around in order to protect them — be “kicked upstairs” and retire to a cushy post somewhere in the bowels of the Vatican.

Note here what the R.C. Church did, to these two children back in 1975: Not only did they allow them to be victimized by a priest, they had the temerity to forcibly place on them — by making them take a vow of silence — the burden of remaining forever silent on the matter. They compounded this immorality by then allowing Fr Smyth to continue abusing other children. This is unconscionable behavior … yet it seems to have been routine, and may have been done to any number of other child-victims.

One can only wonder why it took so long for the Archbishop to confess his complicity in this case. The Ryan Report was released back in May 2009, so it’s not exactly “breaking news.” Until this revelation, Brady had insisted he would not resign unless the Pope asked him to, however, this admission is likely to trigger such a request, and one can safely assume he knew that, at the time he made it.

Photo credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire, via the (UK) Daily Mail.

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