Posts Tagged “vatican city”

This image shows a copy of a newly revealed 1997 letter from the Vatican, obtained by Irish broadcasters RTE and provided to The Associated Press, warning Ireland's Catholic bishops not to report all suspected child-abuse cases to police, a disclosure that victims groups described as "the smoking gun" needed to show that the Vatican enforced a worldwide culture of cover-up. The letter documents the Vatican's rejection of a 1996 Irish church initiative to begin helping police identify pedophile priests following Ireland's first wave of publicly disclosed lawsuits. Via the Globe and Mail.The aftermath of the Cloyne Report, about which I’ve blogged already, continues to play out, in Ireland and in Vatican City. The Vatican threw a fit, recalling their nuncio to Ireland because Taoiseach Enda Kenny dared call the Vatican out for its conduct in the clerical child-abuse scandal. This nuncial recall was, all by itself, a childish reaction to criticism, and showed how out-of-touch the Holy See is. But as is normal with the Holy See, it has not changed. The BBC reports that the Holy See once again has dug its heels in and remains firmly in denial that it could have done anything wrong (WebCite cached article):

The Vatican has rejected claims by Irish PM Enda Kenny that it sabotaged efforts by Irish bishops to report child-molesting priests to police. …

In a speech to parliament in July, Mr Kenny accused the Church of putting its reputation ahead of abuse victims.

The Vatican said it was “sorry and ashamed” over the scandal but said his claims were “unfounded”.

“The Holy See is deeply concerned at the findings of the commission of inquiry concerning grave failures in the ecclesiastical governance of the diocese of Cloyne,” said the Vatican, in a detailed response to the allegations [cached].

“The Holy See… in no way hampered or sought to interfere in any inquiry into cases of child sex abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne.”

“Furthermore, at no stage did the Holy See seek to interfere with Irish civil law or impede the civil authority in the exercise of its duties.”

The Vatican continues to claim innocence in spite of the discovery of a “smoking gun” document … a (then) secret letter to Ireland’s bishops in 1997 … which showed the Holy See had derailed efforts by those same bishops to cooperate more fully with secular authorities (cached). As the BBC article relates, the Vatican insists any such conclusion about the letter is a “misinterpretation”:

But the Holy See’s response, published on Saturday, said Mr Kenny’s blistering accusations were based on a misinterpretation of a 1997 Vatican letter expressing “serious reservations” about the Irish bishops’ 1996 policy requiring bishops to report abusers to police.

I challenge anyone to read this letter (available at the NY Times and on this server) and not conclude — rather than “interpret” — that it was intended to do anything other than prevent the sort of cooperation with local authorities that the Irish bishops had been contemplating in the mid-90s. It clearly and explicitly states that, for example, mandatory reporting requirements are, in papal eyes, canonically and morally problematic:

In particular, the situation of ‘mandatory reporting’ gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and a canonical nature.

What Irish bishop, reading this Vatican instruction, would fail to conclude that he should not follow mandatory reporting guidelines? Seriously?

Once again the Vatican demonstrates its proclivity to act in denialistic and juvenile fashion, continually refusing to acknowledge any wrongdoing, even in light of demonstrable evidence of its own wrongdoing. The robed denizens of the Holy See — nearly all of them middle-aged or elderly — are far too old to be acting as childishly as this. It’s time for them to act their ages.

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Papal Nuncio Giuseppe Leanza has been called back to Rome to discuss the impact of the recent Cloyne Report / BBCI’ve already blogged about the damning Cloyne Report, and the justifiable anger of the Irish government over what it revealed about the Catholic hierarchy’s behavior.

A key element of the report, and which sparked so much ire, is this: In the midst of several Irish investigations into the abuse of children by Catholic clergy, it turns out that, as late as 2009, Ireland’s Catholic bishops were still actively protecting abusers, in spite of promises made as long ago as the 1990s that things had changed. The Vatican itself had, in a 1997 letter to Ireland’s bishops, intervened and specifically ordered them not to turn reported abuses over to secular authorities.

In other words, the cover-up went all the way to the very top echelons of the Catholic hierarchy.

One would think that the Roman Catholic Church — which ostensibly teaches the humility and contrition that Jesus demanded of his followers — would respond humbly and show some contrition over this. However, that’s precisely what they are not doing. In the wake of the documentary evidence of wrongdoing provided in the Cloyne Report, the Vatican continues to lie … insisting it never did anything wrong and never ordered bishops not to cooperate with secular authorities.

After Taoiseach (prime minister) Enda Kenny ripped the Vatican a new one the other day, the Holy See responded … by recalling their nuncio (ambassador) to Ireland. The BBC reports on this latest event in the history of Catholicism in the Emerald Isle (WebCite cached article):

The Vatican has recalled its special envoy in Ireland after a damning report on the Catholic Church’s handling of child abuse by priests.

Papal Nuncio Giuseppe Leanza has been called back to Rome to discuss the impact of the recent Cloyne Report. …

Vice-director of the Vatican press office Father Ciro Benedettini said the nuncio’s recall “should be interpreted as an expression of the desire of the Holy See for serious and effective collaboration with the (Irish) government”.

He added that it “denotes the seriousness of the situation and the Holy See’s desire to face it objectively and determinately.

“Nor does it exclude some degree of surprise and disappointment at certain excessive reactions.”

That last sentence is the real cause of this ambassadorial recall. Yes, folks, it’s true … the Vatican is so angry that the Irish government and people are (understandably) angry at the Church for what it did, that they’ve brought their nuncio home in protest! How dare the Taoiseach publicly condemn the Vatican for what it was shown to have done wrong! Why, that kind of insolent response just can’t be tolerated!

Fucking childish is what it is. And a fucking disgrace.

Photo credit: BBC.

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Irish Times / Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Cloyne report told 'a tale of a frankly brazen disregard for protecting children'Just under a week ago, I blogged about the release of the Cloyne Report into Catholic clerical abuse of children in that diocese. There’s been no small amount of furor over it in Ireland. Taoiseach (prime minister) Enda Kenny recently addressed the Dáil (or lower house of parliament) over it, as reported by RTÉ, and he minced few words in his condemnation of the Vatican (WebCite cached article):

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has strongly criticised the Vatican for what he said was an attempt to frustrate the Cloyne inquiry, accusing it of downplaying the rape of children to protect its power and reputation. …

Never before has a Taoiseach used such language in criticising the Catholic Church.

Mr Kenny told the Dáil that the Cloyne Report highlighted the ‘dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day.’

The rape and torture of children had been downplayed or ‘managed’ to uphold, instead, the primacy of the institution, which are its power, standing and ‘reputation’.

The hierarchy had proved either unwilling or unable to address what he called the horrors uncovered in successive reports, a failure which he said must be devastating for so many good priests.

Mr Kenny said that the Catholic Church needed to be truly and deeply penitent for the wrongdoing it perpetrated, hid and denied.

Kenny all but accused the Vatican of being a criminal enterprise. Virtually every news outlet which has reported on the Taoiseach’s condemnation of the Vatican, has noted its vehement and unprecedented nature.

Another Irish official had similarly harsh words of a papal spokesman, based on the latter’s denials of Vatican wrongdoing:

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi, speaking in a personal capacity, has said that there was nothing in the advice given by the Papal Nuncio in 1997 to encourage bishops to break Irish laws.

He said that the Vatican’s advice to Irish bishops on child protection policies could not be interpreted as an invitation to cover up abuse cases.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said the comments were disingenuous and he said he expected a more considered, formal response from the Vatican.

The minister called Lombardi a liar. He had very good reason to. The Vatican’s 1997 order to Ireland’s bishops was most assuredly an instruction to cover up abuse.

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

Photo credit: Irish Times.

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Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and PaulI’ve already blogged about the slow response of the Philadelphia archdiocese to a grand jury report covering cases of abuse by its clergy. It took an entire month for them to finally get around to suspending some — but not all — those accused in the report of abusing children. This is staggering, since most companies or government agencies will usually suspend employees accused of crimes almost immediately, as a protective measure.

Since the report was issued, and especially after the suspension of some — but not all — the accused, folks have been asking if and when Cardinal Justin Rigali, the archbishop of Philadelphia, would resign. Until now he and his archdiocese have resisted discussing his own fate, and it looked as though he’d remain in place, even though just a short time before the grand jury report was issued, he stated that he knew of no abuse cases in his see. (He must have known about the grand jury’s investigation, which endured for two years, at the time he made that statement … so he had no viable excuse for having made it.)

At long last, the Vatican finally decided to let him resign, as the Voice of America reports (WebCite cached article):

Pope Benedict has accepted the resignation of the leader of the Roman Catholic archdiocese in the U.S. city of Philadelphia — which has faced accusations of covering up sexual abuse by priests.

The Vatican said Tuesday that Cardinal Justin Rigali’s departure was on the grounds of age. The 76-year-old Rigali submitted his resignation when he reached the traditional retirement age of 75, but the pope did not immediately act on it.

As for why the Vatican would hold out for so many months, for Rigali’s benefit, the VoA story offers a clue:

Rigali, a former bishop in St. Louis , spent decades as an official at the Vatican.

Hmm. Yes, it turns out Rigali is a Vatican insider!

I honestly must ask the question posed in the title of this blog post: Was it really so fucking hard to just get rid of Rigali? Seriously?

It seems the Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal just won’t die … because the Roman Catholic hierarchs steadfastly refuse to meet it head-on, like grown men, and continue to try to sneak their way out of it, hoping each revelation is the last and that the world will somehow forget the horrors it has inflicted on so many children around the world. But, as everyone knows, scandals like this never die on their own. They need to be dealt with substantively … and until they do, they just linger on forever. Yes, it takes courage to do so, courage which is rare if not non-existent these days. The Catholic Church is run by cowards … and every minute of every day that they allow this scandal to keep going on, they prove it.

Photo credit: elPadawan.

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Cosmological Models: Disquisitiones MathematicaeIt’s now the 21st century, and by now people are well-acquainted with the fact that our solar system is heliocentric (i.e. the sun, not the earth, is at its center). Of course, the Catholic Church, in the 16th and 17th centuries, attempted to prevent the world from understanding this. The Vatican ultimately lost its war on science, even if men like Galileo Galilei paid the price for having dared speak up for the heliocentric principle.

While today one might assume the Catholic Church would prefer to move on and fight new battles against rationality, one would be very, very wrong to think so. Oh no. The Catholic battle against the heliocentric model has by no means been ended. The Chicago Tribune reports on a Catholic organization which teaches that the heliocentric model is a wicked, vile conspiracy, cooked up and propagated solely to undermine the Catholic Church’s authority (WebCite cached article):

A small group of conservative Roman Catholics is pointing to a dozen biblical verses and the Church’s original teaching as proof that the Earth is the center of the universe, the view that prompted Galileo Galilei’s clash with the Church four centuries ago.

The relatively obscure movement has gained a following among a few Chicago-area Catholics who find comfort in knowing there are still staunch defenders of original Church doctrine.

This parish belongs to a Catholic organization called the Society of St Pius X (or SSPX). They’re a paranoid bunch:

Indeed, those promoting geocentrism argue that heliocentrism, or the centuries-old consensus among scientists that the Earth revolves around the sun, is nothing more than a conspiracy theory to squelch the church’s influence.

“Heliocentrism becomes ‘dangerous’ if it is being propped up as the true system when, in fact, it is a false system,” said Robert Sungenis, leader of a budding movement to get scientists to reconsider. “False information leads to false ideas, and false ideas lead to illicit and immoral actions — thus the state of the world today. … Prior to Galileo, the church was in full command of the world; and governments and academia were subservient to her.”

That rotten, stinking, horrible Galileo! He ruined everything!!! All by himself, he destroyed the “command of the world” which the Roman Catholic Church once enjoyed. How awful it must be for the poor, downtrodden Church not to run the show any more!

Boo fucking hoo hoo.

Some of their “proof” that the earth is the center of the universe is offered in the story:

There is proof in Scripture that the Earth is the center of the universe, Sungenis said. Among many verses, he cites Joshua 10:12-14 as definitive proof: “And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, while the nation took vengeance on its foe. … The sun halted in the middle of the sky; not for a whole day did it resume its swift course.”

While it once had been a schismatic group, four of its bishops have been readmitted to the Church (cached article), so one would assume its teachings to be considered authoritative by the wider Church. Therefore this can’t be taken as the word of just a few screwy “fringe” Catholics with strange and deviant ideas.

Note that one of the aforementioned four un-excommunicated bishops, Richard Williamson, is — like the rest of his organization, apparently — a paranoid thinker. He’s denied the Holocaust on the grounds that it’s an attempt to elevate each Jew in the world to the status of messiah, as I’ve blogged previously. Yeah, SSPX is a really nice crew.

Hat tip: Apathetic Agnostic Church.

Photo credit: Vicious Bits.

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IT07 2928 Pope John Paul II, Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli, AssisiContinuing its effort to divert attention to its dismal lack of action in the wake of the clerical child abuse scandal which has pummeled the Catholic Church periodically for many years now, Pope Benedict XVI beatified his predecessor, John Paul II, today, as CNN reports (WebCite cached article):

Catholic faithful from around the world poured into Rome on Sunday as the Catholic Church declares Pope John Paul II “blessed,” a step below sainthood.

There were cheers as Pope Benedict XVI personally beatified his predecessor, and a huge tapestry protrait [sic] of John Paul II was unveiled, showing him as the healthy, vigorous and relatively young man he was early in his papacy.

As I blogged some time ago, this beatification had been preceded by a great deal of salesmanship by the Vatican, which included Facebook and Youtube marketing campaigns. They worked very hard to turn this into something other than the routine affair that beatifications usually are (since beatification is merely another step on the road to the final destination of canonization or sainthood).

At any rate, it’s remarkable that the man who sat atop the Church while the “priestly pedophilia” scandal was brewing — and who was the architect of its policy of refusing to respond to it and refusing to do anything about it — is now “the Blessed John Paul II” and soon will become “Saint John Paul II.” It also comes almost exactly one year after the Vatican seized the priestly order known as the Legion of Christ, because of irregularities in how it was run and because its deceased founder had been discovered to be a sick, amoral degenerate (cached) operating under cover of the order. What makes this remarkable is that the Legion of Christ had been favored by John Paul, was heavily patronized and promoted by him, and even protected by him in the late ’90s and early ’00s when word of its degeneracy started leaking out.

One is forced to ask whether or not John Paul can possibly be thought of as a “blessed” or even “saintly” character, given these facts. The Vatican denies John Paul’s involvement in the corruption of the Legion of Christ; while it’s probably true that he didn’t know everything that order or its founder were up to, it’s still the case that he worked to hinder investigations into it, meaning that he didn’t want them exposed. That’s hardly “saintly” behavior.

Photo credit: Templar1307.

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Faithful gather in St. Peter's Basilica during the Easter Vigil mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI, at the Vatican, Saturday, April 23, 2011. The pontif began Saturday night's ceremony by lighting a candle that symbolizes the resurrection of Christ, which the faithful mark on Easter Sunday. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)Not to be outdone by the Religious Right armies which at the moment are stomping around the US rolling the country back to medievalism, Pope Benedict XVI used his Easter Vigil homily to leap aboard the Creationism bandwagon, as the AP reports via Google News (WebCite cached article):

Pope Benedict XVI marked the holiest night of the year for Christians by stressing that humanity isn’t a random product of evolution.

Benedict emphasized the Biblical account of creation in his Easter Vigil homily Saturday, saying it was wrong to think at some point “in some tiny corner of the cosmos there evolved randomly some species of living being capable of reasoning and of trying to find rationality within creation, or to bring rationality into it.”

“If man were merely a random product of evolution in some place on the margins of the universe, then his life would make no sense or might even be a chance of nature,” he said.

This is a curious development, since as the AP article notes, the Catholic Church hasn’t been opposed to evolution, and does not support Creationism:

Church teaching holds that Roman Catholicism and evolutionary theory are not necessarily at odds: A Christian can, for example, accept the theory of evolution to help explain developments, but is taught to believe that God, not random chance, is the origin of the world. The Vatican, however, warns against creationism, or the overly literal interpretation of the Bibilical account of creation.

It’s interesting that Benedict used the adjective “random” as a way of trying to discredit evolution. That particular rhetorical trick has been Creationists’ stock in trade for decades now. This is why his remarks appear to support Creationism. As for the validity of calling evolution “random” … I suppose one might call its results “random,” however, that’s just a subjective value judgement having no objective basis. So really, it means nothing other than that the person speaking doesn’t like evolution.

The trouble with that, of course, is that the veracity of evolution doesn’t depend on whether anyone likes it or not. Its veracity has, time and again, been scientifically demonstrated. In the end, to not like evolution is akin to not liking the fact that the sky is blue. There isn’t much doubt that it’s the case, and there’s absolutely nothing one can do to change it.

What sane person would rant and rave and bluster and fume over the fact that the sky is blue? No one. It would make no sense; no one else would listen to such a person. It’s time for humanity to mature to the point where we can finally admit the same thing about Creationism … that it’s irrational, that time and energy spent on it is wasted, that nothing human beings say or do can ever make Creationism true, and that we need to stop paying heed to it and giving comfort to its delusional, childish proponents.

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

Photo credit: AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia (cached).

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