Posts Tagged “usccb”

St Peter's Square, Vatican City - April 2007Among the defenses the Roman Catholic hierarchs have relied on, regarding their mishandling of clerical child-abuse worldwide, is the assertion that it’s something which is “in the past.” Done. Over. Finished. No longer an issue. The US bishops, for instance, used a report they commissioned to declare it a “historical” problem — as in, “it’s history.” Unfortunately for the bishops, it turns out this isn’t actually the case. Reuters reports that an audit actually showed an uptick in child-abuse incidents (WebCite cached article):

An annual audit of reports of sexual abuse by members of the U.S. Roman Catholic clergy released on Friday showed sharp increases in the number of new claims and in the value of settlements to victims.

The audit showed that 838 people came forward from July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015, to say they had been sexually abused by priests, deacons or members of religions orders while they were children, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said.

That is up 35 percent from 620 new reports of abuse a year earlier, an increase that the bishops said largely reflected a large number of claims in six dioceses that had either filed for bankruptcy or were located in states that opened windows allowing victims to sue over old cases of sexual assault.

It’s true that bankruptcies and changes to the law can bring out more reports of abuse that took place long ago, but this audit included more recent reports:

While the bulk of the reports related to cases of abuse date back to the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, there were 26 reports made by minors of more recent abuse.

If in fact the “priestly pedophilia” scandal truly was the “historical” phenomenon bishops have claimed, this number would have been zero, not 26. Once again, the truth rears its head and reveals the hierarchs as the inveterate liars they actually are. It’s long past time they owned up to what they’ve done — i.e. to protect abusive clergy — rather than making excuses for it or dismissing it (e.g. insisting it’s not an ongoing issue).

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Comments Comments Off on No, It’s Definitely Not a “Historical” Problem

Apostolic Nunciature Washington DCWhen the media initially reported that Pope Francis had met the gay-hating Religious Right aspiring martyr Kim Davis, clerk of Rowan Cty, KY, while he was in Washington last week (WebCite cached article), I admit having been skeptical. At first, only she and her people (i.e. the Christofascist outfit called Liberty Counsel, led by her attorney Mat Staver) had made this claim. The Vatican and its nunciature (aka embassy) initially wouldn’t confirm or deny it. This was just the sort of thing Staver and his cadre might try to cook up in an effort to make their client appear saintly. So I was suspicious.

My skepticism was proven wrong when they confirmed a meeting took place, but said nothing about its nature (cached). That seemed pretty odd, since Ms Davis and Staver had painted a rather rosy picture of how the Pope had told her to soldier on for Jesus in her crusade against marriage in her county, because gays. After continued questions, the Pope’s people finally had to say more about it. And what they did say, as the New York Times reports, didn’t exactly match Ms Davis’ contention (cached):

Pope Francis’ encounter with Kim Davis last week in Washington, which was interpreted by many as a subtle intervention in the United States’ same-sex marriage debate, was part of a series of meetings with dozens of guests and did not amount to an endorsement of her views, the Vatican said on Friday.

The church distanced itself on Friday from the case of Ms. Davis, the Rowan County, Ky., clerk who defied a judge’s order and refused to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. It said “the only real audience” Francis gave in Washington was to a former student of his.

The Times hosts a copy of the Vatican’s statement (cached), which says, among other things:

The Pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects.

What’s odd about this is that the one personal audience the Pope’s office admits occurred in Washington wasn’t just with any old former student of his. This person, the Times explains, was gay, and he’d brought his long-time partner along:

Contacted by phone, a former student of Francis, Yayo Grassi, said he had been granted a meeting with the pope. Mr. Grassi is an openly gay man living in Washington, and he said he had been accompanied by his partner of 19 years, Iwan Bagus, as well as four friends.

CNN has also reported on this part of the story (cached). I find it incredibly odd that Pope Francis would have arranged his own meeting with a former student who was gay, on the one hand, yet also met with — and supposedly encouraged — an anti-gay crusader for Jesus on the other. It all seems improbable on its face.

A possible explanation for this incongruity may lie in a report by a LGBT advocacy group, the New Civil Rights Movement, with new details on how Ms Davis’s meeting was arranged (cached):

The New Civil Rights Movement has learned through a source within the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican embassy, that Kim Davis’ meeting with the Pope was arranged – contrary to theories espoused in the media – by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The USCCB is led by President Joseph E. Kurtz, the Archbishop of Louisville, in Davis’ home state of Kentucky, and by the Archdiocese of Washington led by Cardinal Donald Wuerl. Both institutions have actively opposed same-sex marriage. In 2009, Cardinal Wuerl signed the Manhattan Declaration, an ecumenical statement calling on Evangelical, Orthodox, and Catholic Christians to defy laws permitting same-sex marriage and other issues they claim challenge their religious freedom.

The USCCB has ties to organizations designated as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, including the Family Research Council and the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM).

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the papal nuncio (aka ambassador) to the US is, according to some reports, a conservative within the hierarchy who’d participated in an anti-gay-marriage rally in Washington earlier this year (cached). As nuncio, Viganò very well could have arranged to insert Ms Davis and her goofy hick husband into a receiving line for the Pope, and possibly have done it with only a few people aware of who she really was. In other words, Viganò may well have blindsided his own boss, in the name of pushing an anti-gay crusade and promoting Ms Davis’s desired martyrdom, at the behest of the very-conservative American bishops.

I haven’t seen any other reports definitely linking this strange meeting with the USCCB. But other outlets, such as The Atlantic, have mentioned oddly cagey comments by Archbishop Kurtz (cached):

Joseph Kurtz, the archbishop of Louisville, Kentucky, and the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wouldn’t comment on the meeting itself and how it came about, noting that he stayed about a mile away from the nunciature where Pope Francis stayed during his visit to D.C. But “I can comment on the fact that in Kentucky, I had said that I’m not a lawyer or a politician, but I had certainly hoped that room could be made for people of conscience,” he said on Wednesday. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was the primary coordinator of the pope’s schedule during his visit to the United States.

The more I read about this, the more I smell a rat. And that rat stinks like episcopal incense.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Comments Comments Off on About The Pope’s Meeting With Gay-Hating County Clerk …

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.

Photo credit: kevingessner.

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