Cleaning house

March 25, 2010

in Law, Politics, Security

Not to direct this at any particular organization, but it seems to me that if you want to start repairing your credibility after giving shelter to child rapists for decades, it is pretty clear how you should start. First, admit that you have entirely failed to prevent criminal abuse through your internal processes. Second, openly encourage civil authorities around the world to prosecute your members and affiliates just as they would any other criminals. Third, make all your internal records available to assist them in securing arrests and convictions. Fourth, encourage the prosecutions of those involved in covering up known crimes, as well as those who actually committed them.

Anything less than that and you can be rightly accused of just perpetuating the aiding and abetting of vile crimes, and continuing to utterly fail to act as an ethical or responsible organization.

As for those looking into the matter from outside, it is time to stop allowing organizations to hide behind pathetic euphemisms and false contrition.

[Update: 12 Apr 2010] Things are heating up, rhetorically at least: Richard Dawkins calls for Pope to be put on trial.

Report a typo or inaccuracy

{ 73 comments… read them below or add one }

. March 26, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Vatican attacks media on ‘Pope role’ in sex abuse cases

The Vatican has attacked the media over charges that the Pope failed to act against a US priest accused of abusing up to 200 deaf boys two decades ago.

A Vatican newspaper editorial said the claims were an “ignoble” attack on the Pope and that there was no “cover-up”.

The head of the UK Catholic church said the Pope had made important changes to the way abuse was dealt with.

The Catholic church has been hit by a series of allegations in Europe and the US over the past months.

The latest allegations stem from the US, after it emerged that Archbishops had complained in 1996 about a priest, Fr Lawrence Murphy. Their complaints went to a Vatican office led by the future Pope Benedict XVI, but apparently received no response.

One victim told the BBC the Pope had known of a cover-up “for many years”.

Arthur Budzinski, now 61, said Pope Benedict should confess about what he knew.

zoom March 27, 2010 at 9:22 am

I agree wholeheartedly.

R.K. March 27, 2010 at 11:26 am

Half the Catholic Church would end up in prison!

. March 27, 2010 at 4:35 pm

How Do Doctors Treat Pedophiles?
With drugs, psychotherapy, or scalpels.
By Brian Palmer
Posted Friday, March 26, 2010, at 6:01 PM ET

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, before becoming Pope Benedict XVI, was informed of a decision to send a pedophile priest back to work only days after beginning therapy, according to a memo reported on in Wednesday’s New York Times. How do doctors treat pedophiles?

Hormone suppressors, group therapy, and sometimes castration. Doctors do not attempt to permanently rid pedophiles of their fantasies, which are remarkably persistent. Instead, they use techniques to decrease the likelihood that the patient will act on his urges. Studies have suggested that testosterone-reducing drugs, called anti-androgens, are the most reliable option. Patients receive a monthly shot, and doctors monitor their testosterone levels to make sure the drug is working. Prozac, which is known to decrease libido as a side effect of its intended anti-depressant use, is a somewhat common but less effective alternative.

Group therapy is a part of almost all treatment regimens. Participants discuss the nature and frequency of their sexual fantasies, as well as everyday life stresses that increase their chances of falling off the wagon. They are taught to empathize with past and potential victims. In cases where a pedophile abused his own children, doctors ask the patient’s wife—and his judge—to weigh in on whether a reunion may be possible in the future. If so, doctors often recommend family therapy as a prelude to heavily supervised father-child visits. Some patients eventually get to see their children alone.

Most patients attend 90-minute, 10-member group sessions every week for a couple of years before treatment tapers off. Still, doctors usually require pedophiles to check back in every few months for the rest of their lives. Patients who suffer from overwhelming cravings or demonstrate particularly poor self-control are occasionally hospitalized during periods of acute urges or high stress, when the chances of recidivism are highest.

XUP March 28, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Right on!

mudmama March 28, 2010 at 4:02 pm

Absolutely.

. March 28, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Pope mass hints at fightback against abuse critics

The Pope has spoken of the need not to be intimidated by critics, in a veiled reference to anger at the Catholic Church over past sex abuse scandals.

At a mass in Rome’s St Peter’s Square, he said his faith would help give him the courage to deflect “petty gossip”.

The Pope has been accused of failing to act over the case of a US priest alleged to have abused 200 deaf boys.

But the Archbishop of Westminster defended the Pope, saying he had introduced rules to protect children.

Anne Onimos March 28, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Let’s not forget root causes and their remedies. RC clergy cannot marry nor have a love partner, cannot masturbate without committing a sin, cannot be women. That cuts a lot of people out, and leaves those still around in a tight spot.

Remedies:

1. clergy may marry (again–they used to be able to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Catholic_priest#Clerical_celibacy); no requirement of celibacy or continence
2. masturbation is not a sin
3. women may be clerics

Milan March 28, 2010 at 10:33 pm

Things would also change a lot if the church helped to aggressively prosecute rapist priests.

The others would know that – rather than be protected and shifted off to new victims – the organization they are in would actually help uphold the law.

oleh March 29, 2010 at 4:30 am

I agree with Anne that the conditions of celibacy required by the RC church upon its clergy does create an atmosphere where there would be a greater incidence of unhealthy sexual or even predatory behaviour.

I also wonder if the RC Church does not simply weaken the quality of its clergy overall when it excludes women or requires celibacy from its clergy. Assuming that 50% of the RC Church are women and 50% of the men are not prepared to agree to be celibate, you then diminish your pool of available candidates by 75%.

mudmama March 29, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Those of you who see this as a case against celibacy…what are you suggesting? Tat a voluntary vow of celibacy causes violence against children? I disagree.

I do think that a young person who sees themselves as aberrant sexually (as all pedophiles must) might see taking a vow and a somewhat cloistered life being a way of avoiding dealing with it, but I don’t think celibacy causes child abuse.

Institutional child abuse is not about sex anyway, its about violence against children. Its about power over the most vulknerable members of society. This is why ALL FORMS of violence against children – and the disabled – are UNDER REPORTED *AND* make up a disporportionately large segment of reported crime.

In the case of institutional child abuse in the Church I think its multigenerational, and that the only way to address it is to aggressively support and pursue criminal investigation of it – NO internal investigations. Bring in experts at the first sign of issues.

Milan March 29, 2010 at 3:49 pm

The Pope’s recent comments certainly make it seem as though cover-ups will remain the norm within the church.

Perhaps civil authorities should recognize that and start some independent investigations – both into criminal abuse and into obstruction of justice on the part of church officials.

. March 29, 2010 at 3:53 pm

The Pope Is Not Above the Law
The crimes within the Catholic Church demand justice.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, March 29, 2010, at 1:53 PM ET

One by one, as I predicted, the pathetic excuses of Joseph Ratzinger’s apologists evaporate before our eyes. It was said until recently that when the Rev. Peter Hullermann was found to be a vicious pederast in 1980, the man who is now pope had no personal involvement in his subsequent transfer to his own diocese or in his later unimpeded career as a rapist and a molester. But now we find that the psychiatrist to whom the church turned for “therapy” was adamant that Hullermann never be allowed to go near children ever again. We also find that Ratzinger was one of those to whom the memo about Hullermann’s transfer was actually addressed. All attempts to place the blame on a loyal subordinate, Ratzinger’s vicar general, the Rev. Gerhard Gruber, have predictably failed. According to a recent report, “the transfer of Father Hullermann from Essen would not have been a routine matter, experts said.” Either that—damning enough in itself—or it perhaps would have been a routine matter, which is even worse. Certainly the pattern—of finding another parish with fresh children for the priest to assault—is the one that has become horribly “routine” ever since and became standard practice when Ratzinger became a cardinal and was placed in charge of the church’s global response to clerical pederasty.

So now a new defense has had to be hastily improvised. It is argued that, during his time as archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany, Ratzinger was more preoccupied with doctrinal questions than with mere disciplinary ones. Of course, of course: The future pope had his eyes fixed on ethereal and divine matters and could not be expected to concern himself with parish-level atrocities. This cobbled-up apologia actually repays a little bit of study. What exactly were these doctrinal issues? Well, apart from punishing a priest who celebrated a Mass at an anti-war demonstration—which incidentally does seems to argue for a “hands-on” approach to individual clergymen—Ratzinger’s chief concern appears to have been that of first communion and first confession. Over the previous decade, it had become customary in Bavaria to subject small children to their first communion at a tender age but to wait a year until they made their first confession. It was a matter of whether they were old enough to understand. Enough of this liberalism, said Ratzinger, the first confession should come in the same year as the first communion. One priest, the Rev. Wilfried Sussbauer, reports that he wrote to Ratzinger expressing misgivings about this and received “an extremely biting letter” in response.

So it seems that 1) Ratzinger was quite ready to take on individual priests who gave him any trouble, and 2) he was very firm on one crucial point of doctrine: Get them young. Tell them in their infancy that it is they who are the sinners. Instill in them the necessary sense of guilt. This is not at all without relevance to the disgusting scandal into which the pope has now irretrievably plunged the church he leads. This is not at all without relevance to the disgusting scandal into which he has now irretrievably plunged the church he leads. Almost every episode in this horror show has involved small children being seduced and molested in the confessional itself. To take the most heart-rending cases to have emerged recently, namely the torment of deaf children in the church-run schools in Wisconsin and Verona, Italy, it is impossible to miss the calculated manner in which the predators used the authority of the confessional in order to get their way. And again the identical pattern repeats itself: Compassion is to be shown only to the criminals. Ratzinger’s own fellow clergy in Wisconsin wrote to him urgently—by this time he was a cardinal in Rome, supervising the global Catholic cover-up of rape and torture—beseeching him to remove the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy, who had comprehensively wrecked the lives of as many as 200 children who could not communicate their misery except in sign language. And no response was forthcoming until Father Murphy himself appealed to Ratzinger for mercy—and was granted it.

Lucke March 29, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Would that be easier if we support the international criminal court? Big organisations or states could be easily prosecuted anywhere, anytime… Humm?

Milan March 29, 2010 at 4:37 pm

The ICC has a very specific purpose and mandate: to prosecute the most serious crimes, which is to say essentially genocide and large-scale war crimes and crimes against humanity. It can also only prosecute crimes that took place after 1 July 2002.

National legal systems should be quite capable of charging priests. Being tax exempt doesn’t make you exempt from criminal law, after all.

. March 29, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Op-Ed Columnist
A Nope for Pope

By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: March 27, 2010

Yup, we need a Nope.

A nun who is pope.

The Catholic Church can never recover as long as its Holy Shepherd is seen as a black sheep in the ever-darkening sex abuse scandal.

Now we learn the sickening news that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, nicknamed “God’s Rottweiler” when he was the church’s enforcer on matters of faith and sin, ignored repeated warnings and looked away in the case of the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy, a Wisconsin priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys.

The church has been tone deaf and dumb on the scandal for so long that it’s shocking, but not surprising, to learn from The Times’s Laurie Goodstein that a group of deaf former students spent 30 years trying to get church leaders to pay attention.

“Victims give similar accounts of Father Murphy’s pulling down their pants and touching them in his office, his car, his mother’s country house, on class excursions and fund-raising trips and in their dormitory beds at night,” Goodstein wrote. “Arthur Budzinski said he was first molested when he went to Father Murphy for confession when he was about 12, in 1960.”

It was only when the sanctity of the confessional was breached that an archbishop in Wisconsin (who later had to resign when it turned out he used church money to pay off a male lover) wrote to Cardinal Ratzinger at the Vatican to request that Father Murphy be defrocked.

Roy Weston March 30, 2010 at 2:28 am

This is not the middle ages and the Church is no longer dealing with ignorant peasants, yet the pope is acting like a medieval king trying to rally the faithful against the foes of Catholicism, especially since the foes are now the faithful themselves.

Tristan March 30, 2010 at 8:28 am

The Church is becoming more and more explicitly a caricature of itself. This is especially amusing because the Pope knows it is happening. (The following is from Ratzinger’s “RELATIVISM: THE CENTRAL PROBLEM FOR FAITH TODAY”)

“There are many explanations for the re-editing of pre-Christian religions and cultures which is being attempted frequently today. If there is no common truth in force precisely because it is true, then Christianity is only something imported from outside, a spiritual imperialism which must be thrown off with no less force than political imperialism. If no contact with the living God of all men takes place in the sacraments, then they are empty rituals which tell us nothing nor give us anything. At most, they let us perceive what is numinous, which prevails in all religions.”

Roughly, I think it means that when Christianity stops having the force that it probably did in the middle ages (a common truth in force because it is true, not simply because it is believed), then it necessarily appears as a set of empty rituals to be thrown off like any other arbitrary political imperialism. We’d be better off – literally – going to pagan dance dance parties rather than trying to experience the “numinous” through the Church.

. March 30, 2010 at 9:51 am

Germany’s Catholic Church launches sex abuse hotline

The Roman Catholic Church in Germany is launching a telephone hotline for victims of sexual abuse.

The helpline will be run from the western city of Trier. Its bishop has been appointed to handle any allegations made against clergy.

Hundreds of people have come forward saying they were abused by priests as children between the 1950s and 1980s.

Lucke March 30, 2010 at 10:01 am

Hot line… it should be independent of the church, I suppose. Complaining against them to them? Do they have a good record of trusting?

Milan March 30, 2010 at 10:04 am

It does seem strange to me that the civil authorities grant the church such deference to investigate their own matters.

Given the record of the church, it does seem more sensible for people with evidence of abuse to call the police directly.

Tristan March 30, 2010 at 4:02 pm

RE: the Church having been granted the right to self-investigate.

The church, logically, has zero credibility here. The historical (and possibly still current, despite appearances) practice of simply having a priest moved when accusations of abuse are made is widely known.

However, the church maintains much moral authority with “believers”, specifically followers of RC. This isn’t an accident – it becomes part of someone’s identity, and the psychological cost of letting the RCC lose its moral authority could be seriously difficult for people – perversely, even more for those in distress over abuse.

It’s easy to use this as a time to ridicule religion. And we should – religion is really awful. But, at the same time, many of the most haneous crimes Church’s have committed has been with the approval or direction of states, including the one we live in. The political program (called “residential schools) to reduce first nations populations to a non-political force was in fact carried out largely by the Churches, but on behalf of the government of Canada (and in its racist interests of the time). It’s easy to look at these events and say “how could you still be a member of a church which participated in this, and is still active or complicit in covering it up, making certain that justice is not served even in those cases where it still could be?” And we should say this – but at the same time, the state remains actively complicit in these crimes through the very structure of the truth and reconciliation movement (no new names of criminals are taken down, to make sure the TnR proceedings do not lead to any new convictions of former church officials).

The point is, as nasty as Churches can be/have been, states which direct them to carry out crimes and then aid in the cover up of those crimes are also blameworthy – but the difficulty here is it is much more difficult to renounce one’s citizenship than one’s religion. Or at least, it looks that way to us – perhaps for people inside RCC renouncing allegiance to the church would be as strange and unbelievable as renouncing allegiance to their state.

. March 31, 2010 at 11:58 am

How To Prosecute Your Local Priest
What are the laws on mandatory reporting of child abuse around the world?
By Juliet Lapidos
Posted Tuesday, March 30, 2010, at 6:03 PM ET

Pope Benedict XVI continues to face criticism over a 2001 letter he sent advising bishops to forward cases of sexual abuse to the Vatican, rather than suggesting they call the police. Meanwhile, allegations of Catholic priests molesting children have surfaced by the hundreds in Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, and the United States. Do the legal systems in those countries allow people to keep mum if they know about a crime?

Sometimes. Generally speaking, the rules are more strict in the United States than in Europe. All states plus the District of Columbia have statutes identifying “mandated reporters” with a “duty to report” suspected child abuse; usually these are professionals who come in frequent contact with kids, including social workers, teachers, physicians, mental health professionals, and law enforcement officers. More than 20 states specifically mention that members of the clergy count as “mandated reporters.” Reporting laws often recognize clergy-penitent confidentiality, yet this privilege is interpreted narrowly in a child-abuse context—so if a priest learns of abuse outside the context of confession or counseling, he can be held liable for keeping that information to himself. Canada (which had its own pedophile priest scandal in the 1980s) has laws very comparable to ours. And according to the U.S. Embassy in Italy, Italian law requires any citizen who suspects child abuse to notify law enforcement. But Germany, the Netherlands, and Ireland do not mandate reporting.

Prosecution for failure to report, as a stand-alone crime, is rare in North America. Many states classify failure to report as a misdemeanor, punishable with a fine or by a maximum of one year’s imprisonment. In Canada, failure to report can also result in a short sentence or a fine.

. March 31, 2010 at 3:51 pm

The Vatican
When words fail, again
Why ire over child abuse is unabated

Mar 31st 2010 | ROME | From The Economist print edition

THE way the Roman Catholic church responds to the global scandal over clerical sex abuse, said Pope Benedict’s spokesman on March 27th, would be “crucial for its moral credibility”.

The next day, Benedict had a perfect chance to respond, as he addressed the faithful at the start of Easter week. He made no specific mention of the scandal, but did say that faith helped believers not to be intimidated by the “chatter of dominant opinion”. Inevitably, he was assumed to be referring to the scandal, and an impression was left that Benedict thought accusations of paedophilia were mere tittle-tattle. It was a slip the Vatican could ill afford, amid a crisis that threatens the loyalty of many Catholics.

. March 31, 2010 at 5:56 pm

“Germany’s Catholic church is striving to avoid the secrecy and complacency that shaped the response to similar horrors in Ireland and America. It has appointed a representative for sexual abuse, Stephan Ackermann. He promises “no minimisation or cover-up”. The director of the Ettal school and the abbot of the monastery that runs it have been pushed out. There is talk of strengthening the church’s 2002 guidelines for dealing with sexual abuse.

The law provides no clear remedy, since the statute of limitations bars prosecution for abuses that occurred decades ago. In the vacuum a debate has flared about whether the church is doing enough, which has split the government. The justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, who comes from the Free Democratic Party (FDP), a partner in Mrs Merkel’s coalition, accuses the Catholic church of erecting a “wall of silence”. Church policy, she claims, is to investigate abuse allegations internally. She wants the church to compensate victims and participate in a “round table” with their representatives. In the stridency of her demands, Catholics smell a whiff of anti-clericalism. “

. March 31, 2010 at 5:57 pm

“Realities are indeed changing, even in the most conservative corner of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland. In recent weeks, none of Ulster’s regular prelates has drawn a fraction of the attention enjoyed by Pat Buckley, a Catholic cleric who styles himself a bishop even though the Vatican has defrocked him. In the mainly Protestant port of Larne, he cheerfully weds same-sex couples and divorcees.”

Milan March 31, 2010 at 5:58 pm

It seems worth noting how absurd and unethical it is that the Catholic Church defrocks people for being willing to marry gay adults, but sometimes refuses to do so after they have abused large numbers of children.

Milan March 31, 2010 at 6:13 pm

This reminds me of another situation in which the Catholic Church has badly skewed priorities: The Pope on homosexuality and the environment

R.K. March 31, 2010 at 6:43 pm

These problems tie back to the central delusions of Catholicism – namely that there is a deity out there that watches what you do in life and then punishes or rewards you on the basis of whether or not you follow some rather strange rules and doctrines.

If you take all that to be true, considering homosexuality a huge problem and climate change or child abuse relatively trivial follows naturally enough (depending which rules and doctrines you consider most important).

R.K. March 31, 2010 at 6:44 pm

Also, nobody as invested in an institution as the Pope is can be expected to intentionally bring the thing crashing down around themselves. And that is probably what coming clean about all the abuse of children and allowing civil prosecutions would accomplish.

Sarah April 1, 2010 at 4:15 pm

I think it can also be said that only an institution run by either a) imbeciles, or b) people utterly lacking the barest sense of decency or sensitivity would decide that April Fool’s Day is the appropriate date to announce their apology for condoning decades of child sex abuse – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/apr/01/pope-church-abuse-forgiveness . You couldn’t make it up.

Tristan April 3, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Things are getting worse: the Pope has read his Schmitt and is openly asserted that he is not a person, that he is not subject to the principle of ethical universality, because he is a sovereign.

http://blogs.kansascity.com/crime_scene/2010/04/pope-has-immunity-vatican-says.html

. April 7, 2010 at 2:11 pm

“Vatican II liberalized rules but left the most outdated one: celibacy. That vow was put in place originally because the church did not want heirs making claims on money and land. But it ended up shrinking the priest pool and producing the wrong kind of candidates — drawing men confused about their sexuality who put our children in harm’s way.

The church is dying from a thousand cuts. Its cover-up has cost a fortune and been a betrayal worthy of Judas. The money spent came from social programs, Catholic schools and the poor. This should be a sin that cries to heaven for vengeance. I asked a friend of mine recently what he would do if his child was molested after the church knew. ‘I would probably kill someone,’ he replied.

We must reassess. Married priests and laypeople giving the sacraments are not going to destroy the church. Based on what we have seen the last 10 years, they would be a bargain. It is time to go back to the disciplines that the church was founded on and remind our seminaries and universities what they are. (Georgetown University agreeing to cover religious symbols on stage to get President Obama to speak was not exactly fierce.)

The storm within the church strikes at what every Catholic fears most. We take our religion on faith. How can we maintain that faith when our leaders are unworthy of it?”

. April 9, 2010 at 4:10 pm

The Vatican on Friday urged Catholic dioceses around the world to co-operate with police investigating sex abuse allegations against priests.

Father Lombardi acknowledged that the Church had lost public trust and said Church law could no longer be placed above civil laws if that trust were to be recovered.”

. April 12, 2010 at 3:16 pm

We Can’t Let the Pope Decide Who’s a Criminal
Bringing priestly offenders and the church’s enablers to justice.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, April 12, 2010, at 10:47 AM ET

On April 10, the New York Times—the apparent center of this “planned campaign”—reprinted a copy of a letter personally signed by Ratzinger in 1985. The letter urged lenience in the case of the Rev. Stephen Kiesle, who had tied up and sexually tormented two small boys on church property in California. Kiesle’s superiors had written to Ratzinger’s office in Rome, beseeching him to remove the criminal from the priesthood. The man who is now his holiness the pope was full of urgent moral advice in response. “The good of the Universal Church,” he wrote, should be uppermost in the mind. It should be understood that “particularly regarding the young age” of Father Kiesle, there might be great “detriment” caused “within the community of Christ’s faithful” if he were to be removed. The good father was then aged 38. His victims—not that their tender ages of 11 and 13 seem to have mattered—were children. In the ensuing decades, Kiesle went on to ruin the lives of several more children and was finally jailed by the secular authorities on a felony molestation charge in 2004. All this might have been avoided if he had been handed over to justice right away and if the Oakland diocese had called the police rather than written to the office in Rome where it was Ratzinger’s job to muffle and suppress such distressing questions.

It must be noted, also, that all the letters from diocese to Ratzinger and from Ratzinger to diocese were concerned only with one question: Can this hurt Holy Mother Church? It was as if the children were irrelevant or inconvenient (as with the case of the raped boys in Ireland forced to sign confidentiality agreements by the man who is still the country’s cardinal). Note, next, that there was a written, enforced, and consistent policy of avoiding contact with the law. And note, finally, that there was a preconceived Ratzinger propaganda program of blaming the press if any of the criminal conduct or obstruction of justice ever became known.

. April 12, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Richard Dawkins calls for Pope to be put on trial

Critics including Christopher Hitchens are exploring legal options for Pope Benedict XVI to face trial in UK

Prominent atheists Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are paying lawyers to investigate the possibility of prosecuting the pope for crimes against humanity, their solicitor confirmed today.

The pair argue that Pope Benedict XVI should be arrested when he visits Britain in September and put on trial for his alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic church. Last week a letter emerged from 1985 in which the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger urged that a paedophilic priest in America not be defrocked for the “good of the universal church”.

The Vatican has already suggested the pope is immune from prosecution because he is a head of state. But Dawkins and Hitchens believe that because he is not the head of a state with full United Nations membership, he does not hold immunity and could be arrested when he steps on to British soil.

This is the advice they have been given by their lawyers – solicitor Mark Stephens and human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson QC.

“I’m convinced we can get over the threshold of immunity,” said Stephens. “The Vatican is not recognised as a state in international law. People assume that it has existed for time immemorial but it was a construct of Mussolini, and when the Vatican first applied to become a member of the UN, the US said no. So as a sop they were given the status of permanent observers rather than full members.”

. April 13, 2010 at 11:57 am

“Confession and repentence are not among the Christian virtues practised by the Pope. He has apologised for the rape of children by Catholic priests in Ireland; but this is one of the few paedophilia scandals now shaking the Church in which neither he nor members of his inner circle were involved. He condemned the Irish bishops’ “grave errors of judgement” and “failures of leadership”, but of his own grave errors and failures – in Munich, Wisconsin and California – he says not a word, except to dismiss the issue as “petty gossip”. His response to this scandal reminds you of the origins of the verb to pontificate.

A few days ago in the Guardian Geoffrey Robertson, the barrister they are consulting, explained that senior churchmen who protected paedophile priests, swore their victims to secrecy and allowed the perpetrators to continue working with children committed the offence of aiding and abetting sex with minors. Practised on a large scale, this becomes a crime against humanity recognised by the International Criminal Court. This is the general Vatican policy over which the then Cardinal Ratzinger is accused of presiding. When Benedict comes to the UK in September he could, if Dawkins and Hitchens get their warrant, be arrested.”

Milan April 13, 2010 at 4:39 pm

The Catholic Church just keeps digging holes for itself to fall into:

“Many psychologists and psychiatrists have demonstrated that there is no relation between celibacy and pedophilia. But many others have demonstrated, I have been told recently, that there is a relation between homosexuality and pedophilia. That is true,” said Bertone. “That is the problem.”

The church’s problem certainly isn’t homosexuality, and it isn’t even pedophilia directly – rather, it is the way the church responds to pedophilia. Rather than calling the cops, as they should, they try to hush it up.

. April 14, 2010 at 12:18 pm

The pope should stand trial

Why is anyone surprised when Christopher Hitchens and I call for the prosecution of the pope? There is a clear case to answer

Richard Dawkins
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 13 April 2010 14.00 BST

Sexual abuse of children is not unique to the Roman Catholic church, and Joseph Ratzinger is not one of those priests who raped altar boys while in a position of dominance and trust. But as so often it is the subsequent cover-ups, even more than the original crimes, that do most to discredit an institution, and here the pope is in real trouble.

Pope Benedict XVI is the head of the institution as a whole, but we can’t blame the present head for what was done before his watch. Except that in his particular case, as archbishop of Munich and as Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (what used to be called the Inquisition), the very least you can say is that there is a case for him to answer. See, for example, three articles by my colleague Christopher Hitchens here, here, and here. The latest smoking gun is the 1985 letter obtained by the Associated Press, signed by the then Cardinal Ratzinger to the diocese of Oakland about the case of Father Stephen Kiesle, mercilessly analysed by Andrew Sullivan here.

Lashing out in desperation, church spokesmen are now blaming everybody but themselves for their current dire plight, which one official spokesman likens to the worst aspects of antisemitism (what are the best ones, I wonder?). Suggested culprits include the media, the Jews, and even Satan. The church is hiding behind a seemingly endless stream of excuses for having failed in its legal and moral obligation to report serious crimes to the appropriate civil authorities. But it was Cardinal Ratzinger’s official responsibility to determine the church’s response to allegations of child sex abuse, and his letter in the Kiesle case makes the real motivation devastatingly explicit.

. April 14, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Suppose the British secretary of state for schools received, from a local education authority, a reliable report of a teacher tying up his pupils and raping them. Imagine that, instead of turning the matter over to the police, he had simply moved the offender from school to school, where he repeatedly raped other children. That would be bad enough. But now suppose that he justified his decision in terms such as these:

“Although I regard the arguments in favour of prosecution, presented by the local education authority, as of grave significance, I nevertheless deem it necessary to consider the good of the government and the party, together with that of the offending teacher. And I am also unable to make light of the detriment that prosecuting the offender can provoke among voters, particularly regarding the young age of the offender.”

The analogy breaks down, only in that we aren’t talking about a single offending priest, but many thousands, all over the world.

R.K. April 26, 2010 at 12:49 pm

The Vatican is already brushing off one lawsuit filed in the United States.

. April 26, 2010 at 3:05 pm

“It is not as if they have no arguments. Sexual abuse of children is scarcely confined to Catholic priests (though figures from Malta where, according to the diocesan authorities, 45 of the 850-odd priests on the island have been accused, suggest it is alarmingly widespread). Pope Benedict, unlike his predecessor, has not ignored the problem of clerical sex abuse and has improved procedures for tackling it.

But there is also abundant evidence that the Catholic hierarchy remains addicted to secrecy, and that it instinctively sees as its main task the safeguarding of the reputation of the church, rather than co-operation with the civil authorities or protecting potential victims. One recent case involves a priest found to be working in India, four years after criminal charges for sexual assault, which he denies, were laid against him in America. Father Palanivel Jeyapaul had been tried under canon law in India, but not defrocked, even though, according to a statement from the Vatican’s lawyer on April 5th, it had recommended he be dismissed from the clergy.

Something was obviously wrong in the handling of that case, as in the management of many others. It doesn’t help much when all concern about the Vatican’s approach is dismissed as mere “chatter”.”

. May 12, 2010 at 10:27 am

Pope Issues His Most Direct Words to Date on Abuse

LISBON —In his most direct condemnation of the sexual abuse crisis that has swept the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday said that the “sins inside the church” posed the greatest threat to the church, adding that “forgiveness does not substitute for justice.”

“Attacks on the pope and the church come not only from outside the church, but the suffering of the church comes from inside the church, from sin that exists inside the church,” Benedict told reporters aboard his plane en route to Portugal, speaking about the abuse crisis.

“This we have always known, but today we see it in a really terrifying way, that the greatest persecution of the church does not come from the enemies outside but is born from the sin in the church,” he added. “The church has a profound need to relearn penance, to accept purification, to learn on the one hand forgiveness but also the necessity of justice. And forgiveness does not substitute justice.”

. May 12, 2010 at 11:06 am

Why Did the Pope Keep Quiet About Hitler?
Newly opened archives reveal what Pius XII knew and when he knew it.
BY HUBERT WOLF | MAY 6, 2010

How much did the Catholic Church hierarchy know about Hitler’s oppression of the Jews as it was happening? And why didn’t it speak up? With the opening of the Vatican archives from the pre-World War II years, we can finally explore these heated questions — and German historian Hubert Wolf has dug through the files to find damning evidence that Pope Pius XII, known to critics as “Hitler’s pope,” made a conscious decision to pass on the issue, leaving it up to his bishops in Germany to protect the Jews and Catholics who were being persecuted. Even when directly confronted with the growing enormity of the situation, as in this story of a German bishop who did stand up for his morals, the pope avoided public action.

Matt May 17, 2010 at 3:48 pm

This youtube video may be appropriate for this conversation (strong language, NSFW, small animated penises, etc):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TN002ejgC6I&feature=youtube_gdata

. June 24, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Belgian Catholic offices raided in sex abuse probe

Belgian authorities have raided the headquarters of the Belgian Catholic Church during an investigation into child sex abuse claims.

A spokesman for the Brussels prosecutors’ office confirmed that the palace of the Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels had been sealed off.

Police have also raided the home of retired archbishop Godfried Danneels.

Belgium is one of several countries in which a stream of abuse claims have shaken the Roman Catholic Church.

Brussels prosecutors were looking for material relating to allegations of sex abuse, a spokesman for the prosecutors’ office said.

“This is a case that the Brussels prosecutors’ office received recently, containing a statement of facts in relation to alleged sexual abuse of minors by a number of people within the church,” said Jean-Marc Meilleur.

“The object of the searches is to verify the declaration and eventually gather evidence about these declarations,” he added.

. June 25, 2010 at 11:00 am

Vatican ‘indignant’ over Belgium police raids

The Vatican has expressed “shock” at raids, including a “violation” of a cathedral crypt, by Belgian police investigating alleged child sex abuse.

As well as searching a couple of main Church offices and a cardinal’s home, police had drilled holes in two archbishops’ tombs, said the Church.

Prosecutors said the raids were over alleged “abuse of minors committed by a certain number of Church figures”.

Belgium is one of many countries where the Church has been hit by sex scandal.

In April, the Bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, resigned after admitting he had sexually abused a boy more than 20 years ago.

Milan June 25, 2010 at 11:02 am

Note to the Catholic Church – protesting when police investigate sex abuse cases is not the way to look as though you are taking the problem seriously. Instead, it makes it look like your penchant for cover-ups is alive and well.

. June 27, 2010 at 9:52 pm

Pope deplores ‘sex abuse’ raids by Belgian police

Pope Benedict has joined mounting Vatican criticism of raids by Belgian police investigating alleged child sex abuse, calling them “deplorable”.

In a message to Belgian bishops, the pope expressed solidarity “in this moment of sadness”.

Several buildings were searched in raids targeting a retired archbishop and the graves of two prelates.

Belgium’s justice minister has responded to the criticism robustly, saying normal procedures were followed.

Stefaan De Clerck defended the police action, in a series of TV interviews on Sunday, and said the investigation was legitimate.

“The bishops were treated completely normally during the raid on the archdiocese and it is false to say that they received no food or drink,” he said.

Mr De Clerck said the Vatican’s reaction had been excessive as it was based on false information.

Prosecutors said the action concerned alleged “abuse of minors committed by a certain number of Church figures”.

Police in Leuven, central Belgium, on Thursday seized nearly 500 files and a computer from the offices of a Church commission investigating allegations of sex abuse.

They also searched the Church’s headquarters and the Brussels archdiocese in Mechelen, north of the Belgian capital.

Belgium’s bishops, who were holding a meeting at the time of the raids, were kept incommunicado for nine hours while the searches were conducted.

. July 2, 2010 at 2:42 pm

German Bishop Walter Mixa ‘could return to work’

By David Willey
BBC News, Rome

A German bishop who resigned after claims he hit children could be allowed to return to work, it has emerged.

Pope Benedict XVI told Bishop Walter Mixa of Augsburg that he must take time off for treatment and reconciliation if he wanted to return to pastoral work.

He had been accused of financial misconduct as well as physically abusing children in his care.

The case has caused controversy in Germany amid the sexual scandals which have hit the Catholic Church recently.

The Pope received the bishop in private audience at the Vatican during which – according to a Vatican statement – the bishop admitted he had made mistakes, but asked that the good he had done as a pastor not be forgotten.

. July 16, 2010 at 10:34 am

Women priest law ‘a slap in face’

The Vatican’s decision to declare the attempted ordination of women a “grave crime” has been fiercely condemned by women’s church groups in the UK.

Pat Brown, of the group Catholic Women’s Ordination, said she was deeply shocked and called the change to Church law “a slap in the face to women”.

She said of the Pope: “He is not doing himself any favours.”

The Vatican says ordaining women is “grave” as is sex abuse, but denied it was equating the two.

. August 10, 2010 at 5:14 pm

The church and the law
Calling time on theocracy
Complacency has blinded the Vatican to the gravity of the abuse crisis

Aug 5th 2010

WHEN a crisis hits a vast institution it can seem reasonable to say that the task of handling the crisis falls mainly to the institution itself. It must regroup and survive, or else fail and collapse. But things change when there is evidence of criminal activity and of efforts to hide it. At that point it becomes urgent for everybody, including good people inside the institution, to let daylight in and expose wrongdoing without hesitation to outside authorities.

All that might seem obvious, but for some of those responsible for handling the abuse scandal now afflicting the Roman Catholic church, especially in Europe, the penny has yet to drop. Instead of fully accepting the primacy of secular law, the Vatican still gives the impression that the problem is mainly one of internal housecleaning.

. September 13, 2010 at 10:27 am

“Years of rumours that Father James Chesney had taken part in the attack were formally confirmed in a report on August 24th by Northern Ireland’s police ombudsman, Al Hutchinson. But this was only the start. The eight-year investigation laid bare a high-level conspiracy to hush up his involvement and whisk him out of Northern Ireland.

After the bombing William Whitelaw, then secretary of state for Northern Ireland and later Margaret Thatcher’s deputy prime minister, took aside Cardinal William Conway, head of the Catholic church in Ireland. He showed him a police file containing compelling evidence that Chesney had participated in the plot to bomb Claudy.

Together they decided that the way to rid themselves of this turbulent priest was not to have him pursued by the law, but to transfer him across the border to Donegal in the Irish Republic. Middle-ranking police officers wanted to question Chesney but the chief constable was content to let him leave the jurisdiction.”

. September 14, 2010 at 4:08 pm

“As we have recently been forcibly reminded, the Roman Catholic Church holds it better for the cries of raped and violated children to be ignored, and for the excuses and alibis of their rapists and torturers indulged, and for a host of dirty and wilful untruths to be manufactured wholesale, and for the funds raised ostensibly for the poor to be paid out in hush money and shameful bribery, rather than that one tiny indignity or inconvenience be visited on the robed majesty of a man-made church or any limit set to its self-proclaimed right to be judge in its own cause.

Earlier this year, as Roman Catholic authorities from Ireland to Germany to Australia to Belgium to the United States were being confronted with the fallout of decades of sexual assault and subsequent denial, I asked a simple question in print. Why was this not considered a matter for the police and the courts? Why were we asking the church to “put its own house in order,” an expression that was the exact definition of the problem to begin with? Why had almost no offending priest or bishop faced justice, and even then usually after a long period of protection from the church’s own “courts”? I followed this up with a telephone call to Geoffrey Robertson, a British barrister with a second-to-none record in international human rights cases. (If it matters, the last time we had both cooperated was in a campaign against the British Act of Succession, an archaic piece of legislation that explicitly discriminates against Catholics.) This was one of the best dimes I have ever dropped. After a group of generous humanists and atheists agreed to pay his extremely modest fee, Robertson produced a detailed legal brief against the papacy and has made it widely available for the use of all interested or aggrieved parties. Titled The Case of the Pope: Vatican Accountability for Human Rights Abuse, it has just been published in the United Kingdom by Penguin Books. (It will be available in the United States in October.)

As if almost timed to coincide with its publication, and with the impending arrival of Ratzinger on British soil, the recent disclosures of the putrid state of the church in Belgium have thrown the whole scandal into an even sharper relief. Consider: The now-resigned bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, stands revealed by his own eventual confession as being guilty of incest as well as rape, having regularly “abused” his male nephew between the ages of 5 and 18. The man’s superior as head of the Belgian church, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, has been caught on tape urging the victim to keep quiet. A subsequent official report, commissioned by the country’s secular authorities, has established that this level of morality was the rule throughout the hierarchy, with the church taking it upon itself to “forgive” the rapists and to lean upon their victims. Very belatedly, a few months ago, the Belgian police finally rose from their notorious torpor and raided some ecclesiastical offices in search of evidence that was being concealed. Joseph Ratzinger, who had not thus far found a voice in which to mention the doings of his Belgian underlings, promptly emitted a squeal of protest—at the intervention of the law.

Robertson’s brief begins with a meticulous summary of the systematic fashion in which child-rape was covered up by collusion between local Catholic authorities and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, an office that under the last pope was run by Ratzinger himself. (So flagrant was this obstruction of justice that many senior Catholic apologists have now started to blame the deceased pontiff in an effort to excuse his deputy and successor, all the while continuing to put forward Pope John Paul II as a candidate for sainthood!) The brief continues with a close examination of the Vatican’s claim to be a state, and its related claim that statehood confers legal immunity on the pope, even in gross cases of abuse of human rights. Without undue difficulty, Robertson shows both claims to be laughably void and based, furthermore, on a history of disgraceful collaboration with dictatorship and sheltering of wanted criminals.”

. October 22, 2010 at 10:15 am

East Sussex sex abuse fear vicars allowed to work

Two vicars were allowed to work at churches in East Sussex following serious sex abuse allegations, a BBC South East investigation has revealed.

Roy Cotton, who died in 2006, worked as a parish priest in Brede near Rye in the 1990s despite being convicted of a sexual offence against a boy in 1954.

Collin Pritchard served as the vicar of St Barnabas, Bexhill, until 2007 after being arrested over sex abuse claims.

The Diocese of Chichester has appointed a judge to carry out an investigation.

In 2008 Pritchard pleaded guilty to sexually abusing two boys in the 1970s and 1980s and was jailed for five years.

Church sex abuse victims call on Pope to take action

Campaigners who say they were sexually abused by Catholic priests as children have demanded “action not words” from the Pope.

They plan to compile messages to the Pope in a book to give to him during his visit to Scotland and England.

The campaigners want a statutory inquiry into clergy sex abuse, pastoral care and funding to support victims.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference said the church in England and Wales has put in place measures to protect children.

Pope Benedict XVI is due to arrive on 16 September for a four-day visit.

Belgium church abuse detailed by Adriaenssens report

Harrowing details of some 300 cases of alleged sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy in Belgium have been released by a Church investigator.

Peter Adriaenssens said cases of abuse, mostly involving minors, had been found in nearly every diocese, and 13 alleged victims had committed suicide.

Two-thirds of victims were boys but 100 girls also suffered, he said.

Belgian media have accused the Church of seeking to hide abuse despite prosecutions of abusers.

German Catholic Church rewrites sex abuse guidelines

The Catholic Church in Germany has issued tougher guidelines on the handling of reports of sex abuse.

The revised rules insist all allegations must be reported to prosecutors in an attempt to prevent cases being covered up.

But critics say the new advice does not go far enough to tackle the issue.

The Catholic Church in Germany and other European countries has been hit by repeated accusations of abuse.

. January 23, 2011 at 4:46 pm

“A 1997 letter from the Vatican warned 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 church enforced a worldwide culture of covering up crimes by pedophile priests.”

. March 3, 2011 at 12:14 am

The Catholic church
Chapter 11, verse 8
Facing mounting lawsuits, Catholic dioceses turn to bankruptcy

FOR the archdiocese of Milwaukee, the past looms large. Its main office is the Cousins Centre, named after William Cousins, archbishop from 1959 to 1977. The cathedral’s pastoral office is the Weakland Centre, after Rembert Weakland, archbishop from 1977 to 2002. Victims allege that both men knew that certain priests had a history of molesting boys, yet failed to act or simply transferred the priests elsewhere. Last month the past caught up with the present: the archdiocese, besieged by lawsuits, filed for bankruptcy. The creditors’ committee is due to hold its first meeting on February 11th.

Since 2002, when scandal erupted in Boston, more and more victims have sued the Roman Catholic church. As the number of suits has risen, so too has the number of dioceses seeking the protection of bankruptcy. Portland was the first diocese to file, in 2004; Milwaukee is the eighth. Each case is different. All are difficult.

Milwaukee has a particularly tortured history. It has been rife with scandal—a Father Lawrence Murphy was alleged to have abused some 200 deaf students, for example, and a convicted priest was sent to work with children in California. Yet civil suits have only recently proved successful. Plaintiffs in other states have charged the church with negligent supervision of priests, but this argument found little traction in Wisconsin’s courts. Victims made progress, at last, in 2007. The archdiocese, plaintiffs claimed, had committed fraud in the 1970s and 1980s by misrepresenting such priests to future victims. The state Supreme Court let that claim stand.

. March 30, 2011 at 7:00 pm

The Catholic church
Sins of the fathers
The archdiocese of Philadelphia suspends 21 accused priests

Mar 10th 2011 | NEW YORK | from the print edition

ASH WEDNESDAY is the first day of Lent, a season of penance and reflection. Fitting then that on March 8th, the day before it, the Catholic archdiocese of Philadelphia faced up to its own transgressions and put on administrative leave 21 priests accused of sexually abusing minors. The mass suspension, thought to be the largest of its kind, follows a grand jury report issued last month by the Philadelphia district attorney’s office. The report revealed that as many as 37 priests accused of inappropriate behaviour around children or sexual abuse of minors were still in active ministry even after the archdiocese learned of the allegations.

The report outlined some of the sordid acts perpetrated by priests and how the archdiocese endangered the welfare of children by neglect. “Billy”, a ten-year-old boy, was in effect “shared” by at least two priests who raped and abused him a decade ago. Four years earlier, one of the priests had been secretly sent to a sexual-offender treatment centre run by the archdiocese. He was released on condition that he had no contact with adolescents. But he was assigned to a parish with a school and later assigned to another school, where he raped Billy. Many Philadelphia parishioners think the administrators who swept everything under the rug are just as guilty as the abusers.

A week after the critical report was released the archdiocese hired Gina Maisto Smith, a former child-abuse prosecutor, along with a forensic psychiatrist to conduct a review of the 37 cases. Cardinal Justin Rigali, who heads the archdiocese, suspended the 21 priests on March 8th on Miss Smith’s recommendation; they were to be named to their parishes on Ash Wednesday. Cardinal Rigali has said he is truly sorry for the harm done to the victims, which he described as a “great evil”. He vows openness and continued co-operation with the district-attorney’s office, which is investigating the allegations.

. April 20, 2011 at 11:22 pm

TORONTO – — Premier Dalton McGuinty called on hospitals Wednesday not to shred documents after The Free Press reported a law firm was advising hospitals to avoid scandal by “cleansing” files of damning records.

Hospitals shouldn’t destroy documents in advance of records becoming subject to access requests by citizens on Jan. 1, he said.

“It’s wrong . . . you shouldn’t be doing that,” he said. “There’s the letter of the law, and there’s the spirit. I would ask that people who work in our hospitals respect both. There’s a legitimate expectation on the part of Ontarians that we get a better understanding of what is happening inside our hospitals. That does not justify, it does not authorize, it does not give licence to people working in our hospitals to start destroying documents.”

The Free Press broke the story this week about a law firm that recommended Ontario hospitals avoid an eHealth-like scandal by “cleansing” files of anything that might embarrass them before the access law takes effect — the firm mentions the eHealth fiasco that cost taxpayers $1 billion.

. April 23, 2011 at 5:50 pm

Celibacy was vital in the battle against corruption and rent-seeking within the church, both of which were the typical consequences of patrimony. The reforms gave the church the moral stature to evolve into what Mr Fukuyama describes as “a modern, hierarchical, bureaucratic and law-governed institution” that established its authority for spiritual affairs—and by so doing set the ground rules for the subsequent rise of the secular state.

Mr Fukuyama (a pupil of Samuel Huntington who wrote a seminal work on political order 40 years ago) begins his own search for the origins of political order with the shift from small hunting bands to tribes. This eventually brought about the “coming of the Leviathan” or the coercive state. It was a development driven partly by the increasing complexity of societies founded on agriculture but much more by the organisational challenges of conducting warfare on an ever-greater scale.

With impressive erudition, the author travels across China, India, the Islamic world and different regions of Europe looking for the main components of good political order and at how and why these emerged (or failed to) in each place. The three critical ingredients, he argues, are a strong state, the application of the rule of law to all parts of society and a means of holding rulers to account for their actions.

. May 14, 2011 at 1:52 pm

JOHN PAUL II’s beatification on May 1st will be the most exalted ceremony at the Vatican since his funeral six years ago. More than 50 heads of state are expected, plus hundreds of thousands of the faithful, largely from the late pope’s native Poland. The former pope is now just one stage—canonisation—away from full sainthood. The adulation of his communism-toppling 27-year reign and powerful personality will inevitably highlight the less stellar record of the accident-prone Benedict XVI.

Pontifical aides hope the event may mark a turning point. The second, most important volume of Benedict’s trilogy on Jesus has been published, with no gaffes and much praise. He has given a television interview (carefully staged, but a papal first). He has tried to defuse the crippling clerical sex-abuse scandal, expressing unreserved shame for the crimes and cover-ups and meeting victims in Malta, Portugal and Britain. Giovanni Maria Vian, editor of the Vatican’s semi-official daily, L’Osservatore Romano, says that Benedict’s actions show him to be “not just a great intellectual, but also a simple, humble, good man”. The peak of the scandal, in the “annus horribilis” of 2010, is past, he says. But he acknowledges that the situation in Ireland still requires a “long penitential journey”.

. July 27, 2011 at 7:22 pm

The Vatican on Monday recalled its envoy to Ireland to formulate an official response to a damning report on the Catholic Church’s handling of child abuse by priests that sparked government outrage. Vatican spokesman Ciro Benedittini said the recall was a first step toward coming up with an official response, but added that the Vatican was “slightly surprised and disappointed at some of the excessive reactions” to the report. The publication of the report into more than a decade of sex abuse by priests in the diocese of Cloyne in southern Ireland triggered a blistering attack on the Vatican by Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny that was widely welcomed.

. August 4, 2011 at 5:14 pm

The Gentle People
Nadya Labi / Legal Affairs / Jan 2005

How incest and rape go unpunished in the Amish community.

. October 15, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Bishop Indicted; Charge Is Failing to Report Abuse
By A. G. SULZBERGER and LAURIE GOODSTEIN

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A bishop in the Roman Catholic Church has been indicted for failure to report suspected child abuse, the first time in the 25-year history of the church’s sex abuse scandals that the leader of an American diocese has been held criminally liable for the behavior of a priest he supervised.

The indictment of the bishop, Robert W. Finn, and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph by a county grand jury was announced on Friday. Each was charged with one misdemeanor count involving a priest accused of taking pornographic photographs of girls as recently as this year. They pleaded not guilty.

The case caused an uproar among Catholics in Kansas City this year when Bishop Finn acknowledged that he knew of the photographs last December but did not turn them over to the police until May. During that time, the priest, the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, is said to have continued to attend church events with children, and took lewd photographs of another young girl.

. April 22, 2012 at 7:06 pm
. May 17, 2012 at 11:30 am

Ultra-Orthodox Shun Their Own for Reporting Child Sexual Abuse

https://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/10/nyregion/ultra-orthodox-jews-shun-their-own-for-reporting-child-sexual-abuse.html

The first shock came when Mordechai Jungreis learned that his mentally disabled teenage son was being molested in a Jewish ritual bathhouse in Brooklyn. The second came after Mr. Jungreis complained, and the man accused of the abuse was arrested.

Old friends started walking stonily past him and his family on the streets of Williamsburg. Their landlord kicked them out of their apartment. Anonymous messages filled their answering machine, cursing Mr. Jungreis for turning in a fellow Jew. And, he said, the mother of a child in a wheelchair confronted Mr. Jungreis’s mother-in-law, saying the same man had molested her son, and she “did not report this crime, so why did your son-in-law have to?”

By cooperating with the police, and speaking out about his son’s abuse, Mr. Jungreis, 38, found himself at the painful forefront of an issue roiling his insular Hasidic community. There have been glimmers of change as a small number of ultra-Orthodox Jews, taking on longstanding religious and cultural norms, have begun to report child sexual abuse accusations against members of their own communities. But those who come forward often encounter intense intimidation from their neighbors and from rabbinical authorities, aimed at pressuring them to drop their cases.

Abuse victims and their families have been expelled from religious schools and synagogues, shunned by fellow ultra-Orthodox Jews and targeted for harassment intended to destroy their businesses. Some victims’ families have been offered money, ostensibly to help pay for therapy for the victims, but also to stop pursuing charges, victims and victims’ advocates said.

. June 2, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Catholic Church paid handful sexually abusive priests to leave archdiocese

NEW YORK — New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan authorized $20,000 payments to a handful of sexually abusive priests so they would immediately leave the Milwaukee archdiocese when Dolan was archbishop there nearly a decade ago, a church spokeswoman said on Thursday.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) first announced the payments on Wednesday upon discovering minutes of a March 2003 meeting of the Milwaukee archdiocese finance council meeting. SNAP is demanding full disclosure of all such payments.

. June 5, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Catholic Cardinal authorized $20K to pay priests who raped children, then railed against ‘immorality’ of gay marriage

Cardinal Timothy Dolan has led the charge against same-sex marriage, describing gay and lesbian unions as “unjust,” “immoral,” and unnatural. “This is a very violation of what we consider natural law that’s embedded in every man and woman and we’re really worried as Americans that it’s going to be detrimental to the common good,” Dolan said in a radio interview in June, as New York prepared to legalize marriage equality. “[W]e still worry about the detrimental effect upon society, upon culture, and certainly upon our individual churches.”

But church documents showing that Dolan paid off priests who had been accused of sexually abusing minors suggest that the prominent Catholic leader was willing to overlook these very same religious convictions to help colleagues accused of egregious wrong doing. The documents, obtained by the New York Times, also show that Dolan lied to reporters when he initially dismissed news of the payments as “false, preposterous and unjust.”

. June 21, 2012 at 11:29 am

The Final Battles of Pope Benedict XVI

By Fiona Ehlers, Alexander Smoltczyk and Peter Wensierski

The mood at the Vatican is apocalyptic. Pope Benedict XVI seems tired, and both unable and unwilling to seize the reins amid fierce infighting and scandal. While Vatican insiders jockey for power and speculate on his successor, Joseph Ratzinger has withdrawn to focus on his still-ambiguous legacy.

Finally, there is clarity. The Holy See has cleared things up and made the document accessible to all: a handout on checking whether apparitions of the Virgin Mary are authentic.

Everything will be much easier from now on. The Roman Catholic Church has taken a step forward.

This “breaking news” from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) reveals the kinds of issues the Vatican is concerned with — and the kind of world in which some there live. It’s a world in which the official Church investigation of Virgin Mary sightings is carefully regulated while cardinals in the Roman Curia, the Vatican’s administrative and judicial apparatus, wield power with absolutely no checks and the pope’s private correspondence turns up in the desk drawers of a butler.

It’s a completely different apparition of the Virgin Mary that has pulled the Vatican and the Catholic Church into a new crisis, whose end and impact can only be surmised: the appearance of a source in the heart of the Church, a conspiracy against the pope and a leak code-named “Maria.”

Since the end of May, the pope’s former butler, Paolo Gabriele, has been detained in a 35-square-meter (377-square-foot) cell at the Vatican, with a window but no TV. Using the code name “Maria,” he allegedly smuggled faxes and letters out of the pope’s private quarters. But it remains unclear who was directing him to do so.

Even with Gabriele’s arrest, the leak still hasn’t been plugged. More documents were released to the public last week, documents intended primarily to damage two close associates of Pope Benedict XVI: his private secretary, Georg Gänswein, and Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s top administrator. According to one document, “hundreds” of other secret documents would be published if Gänswein and Bertone weren’t “kicked out of the Vatican.” “This is blackmail,” says Vatican expert Marco Politi. “It’s like threatening total war.”

. September 23, 2012 at 10:54 pm

The pastor of an Oklahoma megachurch where five employees reportedly waited two weeks to report the alleged rape of a 13-year-old girl began encouraging congregants this weekend to speak up about sexual abuse.

“I want to personally say, that if anybody here is aware of any child being neglected or abused, physically or sexually, that you should please inform the authorities immediately,” Victory Christian Center pastor Sharon Daugherty said Saturday during services, according to the Tulsa World. “Our children are precious, and we owe them our full protection.”

. October 8, 2012 at 1:16 am

Catholic theologian preaches revolution to end church authoritarian rule

by Kate Connolly posted on October 07, 2012 01:27PM GMT

One of the world’s most prominent Catholic theologians has called for a revolution from below to unseat the pope and force radical reform at the Vatican.

Hans Küng is appealing to priests and churchgoers to confront the Catholic hierarchy, which he says is corrupt, lacking credibility and apathetic to the real concerns of the church’s members.

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Küng, who had close contact with the pope when the two worked together as young theologians, described the church as an “authoritarian system” with parallels to Germany’s Nazi dictatorship.

“The unconditional obedience demanded of bishops who swear their allegiance to the pope when they make their holy oath is almost as extreme as that of the German generals who were forced to swear an oath of allegiance to Hitler,” he said.

. January 19, 2014 at 3:41 pm
. February 5, 2014 at 8:44 am

Vatican ‘must immediately remove’ child abusers – UN

The UN has demanded that the Vatican “immediately remove” all clergy who are known or suspected child abusers.

The UN watchdog for children’s rights denounced the Holy See for adopting policies allowing priests to sexually abuse thousands of children.

In a report, it criticised Vatican attitudes towards homosexuality, contraception and abortion.

The Vatican responded by saying it would examine the report – but also accused its authors of interference.

“The Holy See takes note of the concluding observations on its reports… [but] does, however, regret to see… an attempt to interfere with Catholic Church teaching on the dignity of the human person… [and] reiterates its commitment to defending and protecting the rights of the child,” it said in a statement.

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