Posts Tagged “priestly sexual abuse”

Pope Francis in Prato (87)Over the last few years, Chile’s Catholic Church has been rocked by priestly pedophilia allegations. Many of them involve Fr Fernando Karadima, who was convicted in 2011 by the Church itself of having abused children (Archive.Is cached article). Karadima had been powerful and influential within Chile’s Church, having groomed many of its clergy. Among them is Juan Barros, whose elevation to bishop a few years ago was protested due to allegations he’d known about Karadima’s abuse but hadn’t tried to stop it (cached). There’s been acrimony in the Chilean Catholic Church ever since.

When it was announced that Pope Francis would visit Chile, it was widely assumed there’d be some drama. And sure enough … there was! His visit started out well enough, when he asked for forgiveness for “priestly pedophilia” (cached). I mean, it was an empty plea, but it was at least moderately conciliatory. But things went downhill from there, and as the Associated Press reports via RNS, the Pope left Chile on an unexpectedly harsh note (cached):

Pope Francis accused victims of Chile’s most notorious pedophile of slander, an astonishing end to a visit meant to help heal the wounds of a sex abuse scandal that has cost the Catholic Church its credibility in the country.

Francis said that until he sees proof that Bishop Juan Barros was complicit in covering up the sex crimes of the Rev. Fernando Karadimas [sic], such accusations against Barros are “all calumny.”

The pope’s remarks on Thursday (Jan. 18) drew shock from Chileans and immediate rebuke from victims and their advocates. They noted the accusers were deemed credible enough by the Vatican that it sentenced Karadima to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” for his crimes in 2011.…

“As if I could have taken a selfie or a photo while Karadima abused me and others and Juan Barros stood by watching it all,” tweeted Barros’ most vocal accuser, Juan Carlos Cruz. “These people are truly crazy, and the pontiff talks about atonement to the victims. Nothing has changed, and his plea for forgiveness is empty.”

What childishness! While I’ve been disappointed with how Francis has dealt with this scandal, this kind of response is beyond the pale.

I’m not sure why Francis asked Chile’s priestly-pedophilia victims for their forgiveness, only to accuse them of slander a couple days later. It sure seems as though the Catholic Church’s handling of this scandal has been set back to the days when Pope John Paul II and his enforcer, who’d later become Pope Benedict XVI, were in charge, pathologically denying it all and desperately trying to keep it all quiet. That didn’t work out too well for them — but apparently Pope Francis never got the memo. Or he did, but decided to rip it up in the middle of his sojourn in Chile. What a fucking prick.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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cittá di vaticano | piazza di san pietroI blogged this morning about the Pope’s own personal involvement in the case of at least one pedophile priest (known only as “H”) during his tenure as Archbishop (and Cardinal) of Munich and Freising. This involvement is incontrovertible, since then-Cardinal and Archbishop Ratzinger signed the orders to reassign H — but the Vatican is saying that, somehow, in spite of this fact, the Pope had not actually been involved. (I guess they define “signing an order” as something other than “involvement,” although this defies logic.) The New York Times reports on this Vatican push-back campaign (WebCite cached article):

Vatican Sees Campaign Against the Pope

As new details emerged on allegations of child sexual abuse by priests in the Munich archdiocese then led by Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican spoke out on Saturday to protect the pope against what it called an aggressive campaign against him in his native Germany. …

In a note read on Vatican Radio on Saturday, the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said it was “evident that in recent days there are those who have tried, with a certain aggressive tenacity, in Regensburg and in Munich, to find elements to involve the Holy Father personally in issues of abuse.” He added, “It is clear that those efforts have failed.”

I don’t know how this “failure” came about, since H’s reassignment order could only have been approved by his Archbishop … i.e. Joseph Ratzinger. Moreover, it had been Ratzinger, who — after leaving the archdiocese of Munich and Freising, had presided over the Church’s doctrinal-watchdog arm, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — had personally ordered any abuse proceedings to be kept secret and thus out of reach of secular criminal authorities:

In the interview on Saturday, Monsignor Scicluna also addressed accusations that the Vatican was obstructing justice by imposing secrecy on reports of abuse.

In 2001, Benedict, who was then in charge of Vatican investigations of abuse allegations, sent a letter to bishops counseling them to forward all cases of abuse of minors to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, where they were to be subject to secrecy.

While dismissing the idea that the Vatican imposed secrecy “in order to hide the facts,” Monsignor Scicluna said that “secrecy during the investigative phase served to protect the good name of all the people involved; first and foremost, the victims themselves, then the accused priests who have the right — as everyone does — to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.”

But he said church secrecy had “never been understood as a ban on denouncing the crimes to the civil authorities.”

Nevertheless, it is this same policy which Catholic bishops around the world have — since it was issued — used to justify refusing to hand over information on accused priests to secular criminal authorities. Scicluna can say this was not intended … and it may not have been … but it did, nevertheless, happen.

The Vatican’s paranoid, “it’s-just-a-nefarious-anti-papal-plot” reasoning is, at best, irrational, and at worst, downright delusional. It’s time for Catholics to stop letting them get away with these responses.

Photo credit: p_valdivieso.

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