Posts Tagged “clerical child abuse”

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

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

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

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

No way!

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: Wikitravel.

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San Diego Mission Church, San Diego, California (Wikipedia/Dmadeo)The Roman Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal continues to generate stories — if not at quite the same pace as it did earlier this year. The latest revelation comes from the Diocese of San Diego, which recently was forced by a court to cough up documents. What they reveal is positively bone-chilling, as this report offered by KCBS-TV explains (WebCite cached article):

Nearly 10,000 pages of previously sealed Catholic church documents have been made public and showed that the Diocese of San Diego long knew about abusive priests, some of whom were shuffled from parish to parish despite credible complaints against them.

After a three-year legal battle over the diocese’s internal records, a retired San Diego Superior Court judge ruled late Friday that they could be made public. Attorneys for 144 people claiming sex abuse made the papers public Sunday.

The report is, unfortunately, very typical of other, similar revelations made over the years by various dioceses around the country (and around the world):

The files show what the diocese knew about abusive priests, starting decades before any allegations became public, and that some church leaders moved priests around or overseas despite credible complaints against them.

What is remarkable, in this particular case, is the complicity of secular authorities, who actively enabled the diocese to shield its priests from prosecution:

In at least one instance, the files included documented abuse by a priest whose name had not before surfaced in any lawsuit or criminal case, the Rev. Luis Eugene de Francisco, who was originally from Colombia. Police investigated de Francisco for allegedly abusing children, but the diocese convinced authorities to drop the case if the priest would return immediately to his Colombian diocese and never return to the U.S.

“In early August 1963, Father was placed under arrest by the civil police of the City of San Diego for violation of the State Penal Code,” then-Bishop Charles F. Buddy wrote the Colombian bishop in the Diocese of Cali. “At that time, arrangements were made between this Chancery and the civil authorities of San Diego in which, if Father left the United States with the promise never to return, the charges against Father would be set aside by Civil Law.”

I find this incredible. Both the diocese and the district attorney consciously chose to throw the children of Colombia under the bus, in order to avoid having to deal with one criminal priest. It’s one thing for the Catholic Church to protect its own … it’s quite another for the district attorney to allow them to get away with it. At some point there’s going to have to be an investigation into the complicity of secular authorities which, no doubt, has helped contribute to the priestly abuse and which helped the Church get away with it as long as it did.

At this point, though, I can only wonder at how pointless all these revelations have been. After all, if it’s not clear to anyone by now that the Roman Catholic Church’s hierarchy is morally bankrupt and not much better than the Mafia, then further exposés, such as this one, will hardly help. I can’t imagine why Catholics continue to support this stinking, festering amoral sewer of a Church — but they do. And they do so happily, and most of them will defend it to the hilt.

So much for “suffer the little children,” eh? Nah. Better to just let them be abused, rather than allow the Church to look bad for having harbored criminals.

If you’re interested, the cache of documents is available online, courtesy of a group that advocates for victims of clerical abuse.

Hat tip: Lordrag at iReligion Forum on Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: Wikipedia / Dmadeo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: 8ran.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jesus statueFor a while now the Vatican has been promising to issue new guidelines for handling clerical abuse claims within the realm of Church law. The unspoken implication behind the Holy See’s promises has been that the procedures would change for the better … that is, by tightening accountability of all involved and declaring that accusations should be relayed to local civil authorities. But one of the things the Vatican is most famous for is its reluctance to change; thus, it’s no surprise that its newly-announced guidelines are really not much more than a restatement of the status quo. The New York Times reports on this latest piece of evidence that the Catholic Church is in the throes of a moral collapse (WebCite cached article):

In its most significant revision to church law since a sex abuse crisis hit the United States a decade ago and roared back from remission in Europe this spring, the Vatican on Thursday issued new internal rules making it easier to discipline priests who have sexually abused minors.

But in a move that infuriated victims’ groups and put United States bishops on the defensive, it also codified “the attempted ordination of women” to the priesthood as one of the church’s most grave crimes, along with heresy, schism and pedophilia.

Note here the effort at diversion: In the midst of responding to one issue, the Catholic clerical abuse scandal, the Vatican couldn’t resist getting a dig in at another — completely unrelated — issue, that being the (potential for) ordination of women. How obvious … not to mention juvenile!

Of course, the Vatican is denying reality and misrepresenting the nature of this document:

In a statement, the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the changes were a sign of the church’s commitment to addressing child sex abuse with “rigor and transparency.”

There is, in fact, nothing “rigorous” about this, and nothing has been done to enhance “transparency.” Bishops are still free to shuffle clergy around and allow abusers to prey on new victims, even when their wrongdoing is known. There is no accountability for the hierarchy. None whatsoever. That was the case before, and it remains the case now.

Photo credit: missliz.

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Pope Benedict XVI delivers his blessing during the weekly general audience, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, April 14, 2010.  (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)Everything that’s come out of the Vatican over the last couple months, only confirms what I’ve been saying for a while now (first here, then more recently here), which is that the Roman Catholic Church views the clerical child-abuse scandal as a merely-spiritual attack upon their righteous institution by the Forces of Darkness, rather than as a true criminal problem they need to address as such. Recently the Vatican alluded to the scandal, but in the process claimed that the scandal itself was an “attack,” thus confirming — once again — my assumption that this is how the Holy See views it. CBS News reports on this statement (WebCite cached article):

Pope Benedict XVI spoke Thursday about “attacks” on the church and the need for Catholics to repent for sins and recognize their mistakes, in an apparent reference to the clerical abuse scandal.

Benedict made the comments during a homily at a Mass inside the Vatican for members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. …

“I must say, we Christians, even in recent times, have often avoided the word ‘repent’, which seemed too tough. But now under attack from the world, which has been telling us about our sins … we realize that it’s necessary to repent, in other words, recognize what is wrong in our lives,” Benedict said.

To the Pope, then, “telling the Church about its sins” is equivalent to an “attack” on the Church.

In addition to this little snippet of evasiveness, I note that the Pope referred to “we Christians” and mentioned “Christians” throughout this homily. He did not refer to “the Church” or to “the clergy” in his comments … but to all “Christians.” Thus, he attempts to generalize the problem — as if to suggest the laity and non-Catholic Christians, who are “Christians” just as much as the R.C. clergy are — were somehow involved, and had something to “repent” that they were refusing to. Some of the laity have, to be sure, aided, abetted, and advocated for the criminal clergy and the hierarchy which enabled them (lay Catholics like Bill Donohue of the Catholic League leap immediately to mind in this regard*), but for the most part, lay Catholics as well as non-Catholics were not responsible for the decades or centuries of child abuse that the Roman Catholic Church allowed to happen. The Pope is wrong to include them in his comments about “repentance.” He is not admitting that it’s largely only the abusive priests, and the Catholic hierarchy — who covered up their activities, going as far as shuffling them around to different parishes, dioceses, and even countries in order to evade prosecution (cached article) — are the ones who have anything to “repent.”

Thus, the Pope implicates all of the world’s Christians in the criminality of this relative few. He’s doing this, of course, to make his own clergy and hierarchy appear less guilty than they truly are.

* To see some reasons why I say this, check out the Media Matters archive of Donohue material, among other sources.

Photo credit: AP Photo / Pier Paolo Cito via CBS News.

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Rev James J Scahill (St Michael's, E Longmeadow MA)A priest in East Longmeadow, MA took an unusual and courageous step this weekend. He called for Pope Benedict XVI to resign, and his bishop dutifully dressed him down for it. The Springfield Republican reports on his remarks and the bishop’s rebuke (WebCite cached article):

Less than 24 hours after calling for Pope Benedict XVI to step down, Rev. James J. Scahill drew a rebuke from the Roman Cathocic Diocese of Springfield Monday.

A longtime critic of the church’s sexual abuse crisis, Scahill delivered four sermons over the weekend suggesting that the 82-year old Pontiff should take greater responsibility for solving the church’s clergy abuse problems or resign.

Fr Scahill is one of the few Roman Catholic clergy in the country to dare take on his own Church’s leadership and issue a public reprimand for its conduct. His bishop, of course, couldn’t handle that, so he complained about it:

In a response issued Monday afternoon, Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell [of the Springfield diocese] faulted Scahill for bringing up the issue on a Sunday meant to foster reconciliation and forgiveness in the church.

“There is a sad irony in that Father Scahill’s remarks were delivered on Divine Mercy Sunday,” said McDonnell, adding the church has expressed “tremendous sorrow, sadness and shame” about clergy abuse cases.

For the record, Scahill’s parish is behind him:

St. Michael’s Parish Council president Thomas LaMondia said the congregation was largely generally supportive of Scahill’s message.

Bishop McDonnell’s response parrots the Church’s mantra — through all the reporting, criticism, etc. of this scandal — that “Things are different now, so stop complaining, and stop asking the Church to be punished!” The Church is not interested in making amends for its past conduct … aside from the occasional mealy-mouthed apology … and continually resists any attempt at being punished over this scandal. It believes this scandal is not “real,” not a collection of truly criminal acts by abusive clergy against children, or by hierarchs who covered it up, but rather, a merely-spiritual attack by various anti-Catholic villains (ranging from “the Devil,” to “masonic secularists,” “great foreign newspapers,” or even Jews). So the Church does not accept that it has done anything wrong, for which it ought to suffer any consequences. The abusive priests were victims — either of entirely-false allegations fabricated by said villains, or of children who’d been infested with the Devil and thus forced the poor defenseless clergy to behave criminally — and the hierarchs who covered up their activities were merely responding accordingly by not giving into the Forces of Darkness.

The bottom line is that the Roman Catholic Church … as a worldwide organization … views itself as the collective innocent victims of a spiritual assault. They will never do anything to concede defeat.

At any rate, I for one salute the Rev Scahill for taking the stand he has, and his parish for generally being supportive of him, in the face of his bishop’s rebuke and Vatican propaganda minimizing the scandal.

Photo credit: Dave Roback, The Republican

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