Posts Tagged “priestly pedophilia”

The retired bishop Peter Ball, pictured with Prince Charles in 1992. Photograph: SWNS.com, via (UK) Guardian.I’ve blogged about the worldwide Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal repeatedly over the last few years, and more than a few correspondents have complained that I seem to be targeting only Catholic abusers, and not those in other churches or faiths. (As though this somehow absolves abusive Catholic clerics of their guilt … to be honest I have no idea how that works, but it seems to be a common presumption among Catholic apologists.)

That said, it’s just not true that I’ve solely blogged about Catholic child abusers. I’ve stated explicitly — and repeatedly — that child abuse at the hands of clergy is not only a Catholic problem, and have highlighted this in lots of other blog posts on the matter.

This time, it’s my sad duty to report this scandal has hit the Anglican Church in its homeland. As the Guardian reports, a retired English bishop has been arrested and charged with abuses a couple decades ago (WebCite cached article):

The arrest of Bishop Peter Ball on suspicion of sexual offences against boys and men at addresses in East Sussex and elsewhere is the latest development in a wide-ranging and often contentious series of official inquiries into decades of alleged child protection failures in the diocese of Chichester on England’s south coast.

Sussex police said on Tuesday that Ball is suspected of committing offences [cached] during the late 1980s and early 90s, when he was Bishop of Lewes, with responsibility for most of the parishes of East Sussex.

As big a “catch” as this is, it seems to be merely the beginning of this case:

Ball is the highest-profile church figure yet to be arrested, but the attention the scandal is likely to receive is only set to rise. Between now and next April, three separate child abuse cases against priests in the diocese of Chichester will be heard at Lewes crown court.

It’s not as though this diocese hasn’t been investigated. The Guardian explains that there had been prior reviews of child-abuse cases there, and some of them had concluded there were failures. But, until now, there hadn’t been any arrests. There might be more, this time.

Once again we see similar behavior to what we’ve seen in other churches and faiths: A reflexive desire to protect the reputation — and wealth — of the organization, even at the cost of allowing children to be abused. To what degree the civil authorities went along with this desire, remains to be seen … but the multiple reported cases, over a few decades, had to have alerted them to the fact that someone unsavory was going on. Why they waited until now to take action, is incomprehensible.

Photo credit: SWNS.Com, via (UK) Guardian.

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Father Benedict Groeschel, founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal order, is shown in this undated photo. Via ABC News..Over two years ago I blogged about a letter to the Irish Times in which the victim of a Roman Catholic priest’s abuse recalled the priest blaming him for his own heinous actions. I’ve also blogged many times about how the Roman Catholic considers the clerical child-abuse scandal that has spread like wildfire around the world for a decade or more, is not its own fault, but rather a vile attack upon God’s unwaveringly holy Church by Satan and the Forces of Darkness. These are in addition to the litany of other slimy excuses they’ve trotted out over the years.

Of course, Church officials haven’t often overtly blamed the victims for the abuse. They’re more likely to imply such a thing by their behavior, than say it out loud. Even so, every once in a while, some cleric or other lets it slip. ABC News reports on one recent example of it (WebCite cached article):

The Rev. Benedict Groeschel, 79, who hosts a weekly show on the Catholic television network EWTN, originally made the comments in an interview with the National Catholic Register. He also referred to convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky as a “poor guy.”

“People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to — a psychopath. But that’s not the case. Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him. A lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer,” Groeschel was quoted as saying in the interview, which is no longer available on the paper’s website.

Groeschel even offered his own pet theory as to why these kids “seduce” pedophiles:

“Well, it’s not so hard to see. A kid looking for a father and didn’t have his own — and they won’t be planning to get into heavy-duty sex, but almost romantic, embracing, kissing, perhaps sleeping, but not having intercourse or anything like that. I’s an understandable thing, and you know where you find it, among other clergy or important people; you look at teachers, attorneys, judges, social workers,” Groeschel was quoted as saying.

Now, all of this is bad enough. But in the wake of the shitstorm this creature’s remarks have kicked up, Groeschel and the National Catholic Register took it all back. Sort of. They yanked the interview off their Web site and replaced it:

The interview has now been replaced by a statement from Fr. Benedict:

“I apologize for my comments,” it said. “I did not intend to blame the victim. A priest (or anyone else) who abuses a minor is always wrong and is always responsible. My mind and my way of expressing myself are not as clear as they used to be. I have spent my life trying to help others the best that I could. I deeply regret any harm I have caused to anyone.”

Jeanette R. De Melo, the site’s editor in chief, included her own apology for posting the interview.

“Child sexual abuse is never excusable,” she wrote. “The editors of the National Catholic Register apologize for publishing without clarification or challenge Father Benedict Groeschel’s comments that seem to suggest that the child is somehow responsible for abuse. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

These apologies are pathetic, however. Groeschel denies having said something which — in fact — he very clearly said, having elaborated on it with hypothetical scenarios to explain his position. He might not have “intended to blame the victim,” but he actually did do so … undeniably! And the NCR’s apology amounts to, “We’re sorry we got caught running something we shouldn’t have,” which is basically no apology at all. By removing the article, they tried to make it seem as though Groeschel hadn’t said anything heinous. Well, he has … and the Internet has taken notice.

I continue to wonder why lay Catholics keep swearing allegiance to an institution which is governed by a collection of amoral reprobates. I just don’t get it. Really, I don’t. Obviously there’s a lot more wrong with the Roman Catholic Church, than just the mafiosi who run it. They have legions of followers who apparently have no problem with what they’re doing and are happy to let them continue doing it.

Update: Groeschel is off the air at EWTN (cached).

Photo credit: ABC News.

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Monsignor William Lynn walks to the Criminal Justice Center before a scheduled verdict reading, Friday, June 22, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, via CBS News)A month ago I blogged about Monsignor William Lynn, the manager of clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia who was convicted of child endangerment. As the AP reports via NBC News, he was sentenced today to 3 years in prison (WebCite cached article):

The first U.S. church official convicted of covering up sex-abuse claims against Roman Catholic priests was sentenced Tuesday to three to six years in prison by a judge who said he “enabled monsters in clerical garb … to destroy the souls of children.”

Monsignor William Lynn, the former secretary for clergy at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, “helped many but also failed many” in his 36-year church career, Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina said. …

She believed he initially hoped to address the sex abuse problem and perhaps drafted a 1994 list of accused priests for that reason. But when Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua instead had the list destroyed, Lynn chose to remain in the job and obey his bishop – by keeping quiet – as children suffered, she said.

“You knew full well what was right, Monsignor Lynn, but you chose wrong,” Sarmina said.

And that, folks, is the crux of this whole matter. Here you have a man who knew what clergy in the Philadelphia archdiocese were doing, and who’d attempted to address it, but then caved in to archepiscopal pressure and proceeded to remain utterly silent on the matter for an entire decade thereafter. He had other options: He could have continued to ask his archbishop to deal with the abusers; he could have turned the abusers in to local authorities but remained at his post; or he could have resigned in protest of the archbishop’s refusal to act and then turned them in. But those actions all required a certain amount of courage. Lynn had no courage, so he took the coward’s way out, silently acquiescing to his archbishop’s disgusting abuse-enablement scheme.

Hopefully this won’t be the only conviction of a diocesan official. Msgr Lynn might not have abused any children himself, but he consented (via silence) to the abuse of children by others, and that’s just as evil.

P.S. As an aside, I find the practice of giving out sentences which are a range of numbers (in this case, “3-6 years”) to be confusing, if not dishonest. I assume the sentence Lynn will serve is the lowest end of that range, i.e. 3 years. Why the inclusion of a supposed extra three years which — in all likelihood — he will never serve? What does that accomplish, except to make it seem as though he’ll spend more time in prison than he actually will?

AP Photo/Matt Rourke, via CBS News.

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Monsignor William Lynn walks to the Criminal Justice Center before a scheduled verdict reading, Friday, June 22, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, via CBS News)I blogged some time ago about the Philadelphia archdiocese being investigated by the state of Pennsylvania for its complicity in child abuse by its clergy. A long trial, followed by a long and apparently contentious deliberation, finally paid off: As CBS News reports, an official of the archdiocese was found guilty of child endangerment (WebCite cached version):

A Roman Catholic church official was convicted Friday of child endangerment but acquitted of conspiracy in a groundbreaking clergy-abuse trial, becoming the first U.S. church official convicted of a crime for how he handled abuse claims.

Monsignor William Lynn helped the archdiocese keep predators in ministry, and the public in the dark, by telling parishes their priest was being removed for health reasons and then sending the men to unsuspecting churches, prosecutors said.

Lynn, 61, had faced about 10 to 20 years in prison if convicted of all three counts he faced — conspiracy and two counts of child endangerment. He was convicted only on one of the endangerment counts, leaving him with the possibility of 3 1/2 to seven years in prison.

Lynn and his attorneys naturally insist he’d done nothing wrong and that he was not responsible for the transfer and redeployment of abusive priests, even though he was the one who had lied in order to cover up for them:

Lynn’s lawyer, Thomas Bergstrom, pledged in opening statements in late March that the monsignor would not run from the sins of the church. However, he said in closing arguments that Lynn should not be held responsible for them.

He suggested his client was a middle manager-turned-scapegoat for the clergy-abuse scandal. Lynn, he said, documented the abuse complaints and did his best to get reluctant superiors to address it.

“And now, now of all things, the commonwealth wants you to convict him for documenting the abuse that occurred in the archdiocese, …. the evil that other men did. They want to hold him responsible for their sins.”

It’s true that Lynn himself abused no one. It’s also true that Lynn himself was not responsible for the duplicitous behavior of his superiors. But that said, he is still responsible for what he did — which was to watch the abuse occur, lie in order to cover it up, and refuse to hand over any of his supposed documentation to police (which he most certainly could have done at any time, had he truly wished to). Instead, he remained where he was, doing what he was, surrounded by abuse he knew was going on, and which was being covered up by his archdiocese …

And he never so much as lifted a finger to try to stop it or see that it was prosecuted. Not once.

As I said, Lynn was no abuser, but he’s still a walking piece of garbage who willingly played along with the Roman Catholic Church’s policy of hiding the abuse rather than allow abusers to be prosecuted. He’s most certainly no hero or unwitting dupe, as his attorneys have portrayed him.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Matt Rourke, via CBS News.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s accompanying video, courtesy of ABC News:

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: Lawrence OP, via Flickr.

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

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

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

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

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

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

<end sarcasm mode>

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

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

Photo credit: storyvillegirl, via Flickr.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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

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