Showing posts with label Ireland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ireland. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

1997 Letter Exposes Vatican's Refusal to Report Pedophile-Priests to Irish Civil Authorities (and a Trip Down Memory Lane: Benedict XVI, the Slapping Pope)

     As Pope Benedict moves towards beatifying John Paul II, the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church continues to balloon.

     The latest news out of Ireland is that a 1997 letter from the Vatican reveals how the John Paul II/Ratzinger-led Vatican resisted the Irish bishops' adoption of mandatory reporting to civil authorities of pedophile-priests.


     A newly disclosed document reveals that Vatican officials told the bishops of Ireland in 1997 that they had serious reservations about the bishops’ policy of mandatory reporting of priests suspected of child abuse to the police or civil authorities.  The document appears to contradict Vatican claims that church leaders in Rome never sought to control the actions of local bishops in abuse cases, and that the Roman Catholic Church did not impede criminal investigations of child abuse suspects.
     A documentary to be aired tonight reveals the contents of the letter and also claims that, on at least two occasions, the Vatican stepped in and stopped attempts by Irish bishops to defrock abuser priests.
     Last month, details of one of those occasions was made public when a High Court order finally allowed the full publication of a previously censored chapter in the Murphy Report on the Dublin Archdiocese.  That revealed that when bishops made moves to dismiss paedophile priest Tony Walsh, the Vatican instead sought to send Walsh to serve 10 years in a monastery.
     Tonight’s RTÉ programme, Unspeakable Crimes, shows Walsh went on to abuse another child after a Church court recommended that he was laicised because Rome insisted on a long, drawn- out appeal of his case.
     Watch the documentary by clicking here and then clicking on RTÉ's January 17, 2011 episode of Would You Believe?  The revelation of the letter's content comes at 0:12:00.  The connection to Benedict XVI/Ratzinger comes around 0:23:00, when he refuses to defrock pedophile-priests in both Ireland and the U.S.A.  The documentary's lack of sensationalism is damning.

     "The letter is of huge international significance, because it shows that the Vatican's intention is to prevent reporting of abuse to criminal authorities. And if that instruction applied here, it applied everywhere," said Colm O'Gorman, director of the Irish chapter of the human rights watchdog Amnesty International.
     The January 1997 letter is from papal nuncio Archbishop Luciano Storero to the Irish hierarchy. It states that the Vatican's Congregation for Clergy, which oversees policies for the more than 400,000 priests around the world, said the bishops' new policy of mandatory reporting of suspected sex crimes by priests to police "gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and canonical nature."
     Storero (who died in 2000) wrote that canon law, which governs abuses and legal matters within the church, "must be meticulously followed" and any bishop who took actions that did not follow canon law would face the "highly embarrassing" position of being overturned on appeal in Rome. Such a result would be "detrimental" to the bishop in question, the Vatican warned.
     The letter closes with a stern admonition to the bishops that Vatican policies must be "meticulously" adhered to.
     How the folks in the pew can continue to disassociate themselves from the overwhelming evidence of their "Holy Father's" collusion in such heinous crimes against children and humanity is beyond me.

Postscript:

     And, in case you forgot, here's a news report from last spring on Benedict XVI's and John Paul II's protection of Legionaries of  Christ founder and serial pedophile, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado.  (At 4:00, watch Ratzinger/Benedict slap the hand of the ABC reporter that questioned him about Maciel.  How's that for humbly turning the other cheek?)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Priest-Terrorist's Bombing in Northern Ireland Covered up by Catholic Church

     While American Christians are busy calling Muslims terrorists, a police report in Northern Ireland shows that a Catholic priest was not only a murderous terrorist, but was also allowed to escape thanks to deal struck between Holy Hypocritical Mother Church and the British government.  

     How's that for respecting the "sanctity of life"?

     The British government and the Roman Catholic church colluded to cover up the suspected involvement of a priest in a 1972 bombing that killed nine people and injured 30, a new report said Tuesday.
     The Northern Ireland police ombudsman's report determined that Father James Chesney was the prime suspect in the blast in the village of Claudy, just outside of Londonderry and that the police chose not to pursue him. The Irish Republican Army has been blamed for the attack.
     ''A senior (police) officer sought the government's assistance in December 1972, through their engagement with senior figures of the Catholic Church, to 'render harmless a dangerous priest,' '' the report said.
     Despite the suspicions of authorities, the church and U.K. officials struck a deal that allowed Chesney to move to a parish in Ireland where British prosecutors lacked the jurisdiction to investigate him. Police approached the leaders apparently because of fears that arresting a cleric would inflame a tense situation...  
     The deal was struck following a meeting between Cardinal William Conway, the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland at the time, and Britain's representative in Northern Ireland, William Whitelaw, documents cited by the report said.
     Of course, the current Cardinal Sean Brady of Ireland claims that the Catholic church had nothing to do with the cover-up of Father Chesney's murderous terror attack, just like Brady had nothing to do with the cover-up of the countless child rapes perpetrated by clergy.

The lives taken by Father Chesney's terrorist attack.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pope Benedict Is Marrying Two Gay Men in Irish Artist Kevin Shockey's Controversial New Artwork

     Irish artist Kevin Sharkey has completed an artwork that is sure to be a controversial masterpiece entitled "You May Now Kiss the Groom." 
     The work goes on display at the end of the month in Dublin, ground zero for the current iteration of the ongoing sexual abuse, rape, cover-up, and hypocrisy scandal in the Catholic Church.

     Critically acclaimed Irish artist Kevin Sharkey produced the startling image after the Pontiff labelled gay marriage one of the most "insidious and dangerous" threats to the world today.  Donegal-born Sharkey, 47, says he hoped the work would put the Pope's claim in context, and show the couple in an innocent and inoffensive light. 
     Sharkey said: "I got the idea for this piece when I read a newspaper headline, where the Pope had labelled gay marriage the biggest threat to our society.  I am familiar with the traditional stance which the Catholic Church is expected to take, but I just felt condemning thousands of innocent people with such strong remarks is both unchristian and insulting.
     "When I think all the evil in the World, from terrorism, to disease, to famine, I find it horrifying that a man with The Pope's incredible power and influence can only focus on something as minor as gay marriage.  I think some of the recent revelations of disgraceful behaviour by Priests within the Catholic Church is much more evil and disturbing than two people who wish to formally express their love."
     I couldn't have said it better myself.
BTW, I think I went to seminary with those two guys.

Credits:
Bump to Towleroad for the lead
Images from Click Liverpool

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Irish Catholic Church Pays $300,000 for Cardinal Sean Brady's Enabling of a Sexual Predator

     The Catholic Church in Ireland just paid $300,000 in a sexual abuse settlement to Marie McCormack, one of the many victims of Father Brendan Smith, whose abusive sexual proclivities in Ireland and the U.S. were covered-up and enabled by many clerics, including the current Cardinal Sean Brady.
Hypocrite Sean Brady, 
Image by Irish Central
     Brady has refused to step down in light of his participation in the thirty-five year long cover-up of Fr. Smith's sexual abuse of minors.

     [Cardinal Sean] Brady was charged with investigating the allegations of clerical abuse. Brady interviewed two young sex abuse victims and swore them to secrecy at the end of his investigation in the Kilmore diocese.
     [Marie] McCormack currently resides in Canada and according to an RTE report, her marriage and quality of life has being greatly affected by the sexual abuse she received between the ages of 14 and 20.
     In a sworn affidavit McCormack accused Brady of failing to notify the police of the sex crimes. McCormack also accused Brady of covering up the crimes by failing to take steps to prevent Smyth from abusing herself and other children despite the fact that he was aware that he was a sex predator.
     Now, it's just me, but if an executive cost a company $300,000 (not to mention enabled the sexual abuse of numerous employees' and clients' children), wouldn't that executive get fired?  But, if god is on the side of the management, anything is possible.

      Here is the response of two victims of Smith/Brady in response to Brady's refusal to step down (via Irish Central):
     Marie Collins, who was abused in the Crumlin Children’s Hospital, feels that Brady would have shown much stronger leadership by stepping down from his position.  “I think the Church needs new leadership and I’m disappointed that we’re not going to get it,” said Collins.  “It’s not a question of revenge; it’s a question of taking responsibility. We can’t have change in the Church here until everyone in the top realizes how actions of the past decimated so many lives.”
     Another survivor Andrew Madden said “I think they have a huge credibility problem if they try to speak, of child protection or other moral issues, when their own leadership was involved in the cover-up of the sexual abuses of children and kept it quiet for 35 years.  It’s very damaging for people on the ground who are doing child protection to see that they’re doing one thing, and that the leadership is minimizing what Brady did in 1975 while they’re trying to be taken seriously.”
 Cardinal Brady, Enabler, image by Irish Central

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Pope Benedict Assigns Clerics with Questionable Records on Abuse to Investigate Irish Church

     The press is abuzz with what the New York Times is calling Pope Benedict's "most concrete actions since a sexual abuse scandal began sweeping the Roman Catholic Church in Europe."  What is this concrete action?

     Pope Benedict XVI has ordered an investigation into child abuse in the Irish Catholic Church to begin in the fall and named top prelates to carry it out, the Vatican said Monday.
     And who's qualified to head this Church run investigation?  A handful of bishops and a nun, including Archbishop Timothy "Stop picking on our awesome pope" Dolan and Cardinal Sean "I can't believe he abused again because I didn't think the allegations were credible" O'Malley, neither of whose own hands are clean when it comes to sexual abuse.

     The AP reports:
     But U.S. victims of clerical abuse were not impressed by Benedict's selections, saying some of the bishops themselves had "troubling" records on confronting abuse.  "We must look outside a largely complicit church hierarchy for real solutions to this devastating ongoing crisis," said Barbara Dorris, outreach director for the U.S. victims' group Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests.
     Some American victims groups criticized the appointments of Cardinal O’Malley and Archbishop Dolan because of their mixed records on handling abuse cases within their own dioceses.  Terrence McKiernan, founder and president of BishopAccountability.org, which tracks church records on abuse cases, said an apostolic visitation was by its nature a secretive approach that recapitulated the fundamental problem underlying the sex abuse crisis. “To employ a secretive process to solve a problem caused by secrecy,” he said, “seems to us problematic.”
      The images above are taken from articles that explore Dolan and O'Malley's participation in the cover-up and enabling of sexual predators.  The Dolan image is from the New York Times.  The O'Malley photo is  from the SNAP website.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Senior Belgian Bishop Resigns Admitting Sexual Abuse, Irish & German Bishops also Resign

     A manage a tois of Roman Catholic Bishops in Europe resigned this week because of their participation in the abuse of minors and/or the cover-up of cases of abuse.  Pope Benedict remains enthroned in the Chair of Peter.

Bishop Mixa, Criminal

Bishop Moriarty, Criminal

     The New York Times reports:
     The longest-serving bishop in Belgium resigned Friday after admitting to sexually abusing “a boy in my close entourage” many years ago, becoming the latest cleric to quit in a spreading abuse scandal.     
     Having a "close entourage" of boys should have been the first clue.

     In a statement issued by the Vatican on Friday, Roger Vangheluwe, 73, the bishop of Bruges since 1985, said that the abuse had occurred “when I was still a simple priest and for a while when I began as a bishop.”      
     Here's a picture of Vangheluwe from those days so long ago, when he was a "simple priest" enjoying the company of young boys and in Pope John Paul II's entourage.

     “This has marked the victim forever,” he said. The bishop said that he had asked the victim and his family several times to forgive him, but that the wound had not healed, “neither in me nor the victim.” A recent media storm merely deepened the trauma, he said. “I am profoundly sorry,” he said.
     The resignation came 10 years after the church in Belgium set up a commission to look into complaints of abuse that frequently seemed at loggerheads with the church leadership.
Bishop Vangheluwe,
Boy Entourage Aficionado
     How convenient that Vangheluwe waited until he was retirement age to resign.  Must we all wait for abusive clerics to reach retirement age before they take responsibility for their actions?  As for you never healing from your "wound" of having abused a boy, Bishop Vangheluwe: good!  May you bleed for years to come, man of god.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Archbishop Dolan Defends Pope Benedict amid Sex Abuse Scandal, even though the Vatican Still Blames the U.S. and Ireland

     The pope "is seen as one 'who gets it' when it comes to the horror of clergy sexual abuse," Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York wrote in a blog this week. "Who can forget his forthright references to this scourge at least half a dozen times in his visit to our country nearly two years ago, and his moving meeting with victim-survivors? And now we have his blunt, realistic pastoral letter to Ireland on the crises there. He must be asking, as we all do, 'When will it all end?'"
     I'm sorry, +Tim.  If the pope is really someone who gets it, then why is the Vatican denying the written word of correspondence, which shows that the pope has a history of not getting it?  If he "got it" would he not specifically admit his personal sins in dealing with the sexual abuse crisis instead of pointing fingers at the Irish and American bishops?  Pope Ben should know how to be specific in his language of admitting wrongs.  Is he not a lifetime practitioner of the sacrament of reconciliation?

     As for Ben's "forthright references to this scourge" and "meeting with victim-survivors," these actions and words seem to have lost their sincerity and luster, now that we know Ben's been covering his own tracks and the tracks that other clerics have left on the sexual development of Catholic children for decades.  In light of what has been revealed about Ben's involvement in the scandal these past few weeks, everything Ben said from two years ago is meaningless deception.

     As for the number of these "forthright references," +Tim, you say that Ben made half a dozen.  Considering that there were roughly 3000 cases of sexual abuse reported to the Vatican in the past decade alone, over half of which were not prosecuted in the church, Ben's half a dozen apologies don't seem sufficient.  That's roughly one apology for every fifty abuse cases, a far cry from what seems more reasonable to me: seventy times seven, per victim, per incident of abuse.

     +Tim, a "realistic pastoral letter to Ireland," are you serious?  The Pope took no personal responsibility in the letter.  You can delegate power, but not responsibility.  The pope is the temporal head of the church, which sees itself as the Body of Christ.  Without the head taking responsibility for his limbs, there is neither realism nor sincerity in the mouth's words.

    As for putting thoughts into Ben's head, he probably is thinking "When will it all end?" so that he can go back to being deified and presented with children by parents desperate for the Holy Father's kiss upon their children's souls (not to mention their virginal lips).

     The Times reported a second U.S. cleric's defense of the pope:

     Father Thomas J. Reese, a Jesuit priest who is a senior research fellow at Georgetown University, said of the pope: "If you look at some of his early quotes, it's clear that he didn't quite get it, nor did anyone else in the church at that time. But he did grow. . . . He learned and came to understand the seriousness of this problem a lot faster than a lot of other people in the Vatican, including Pope John Paul II. And he's been a lot better on this than John Paul II."
      That's like saying Stalin was a lot better on human rights than Hitler.

     In the most telling of quotes in the Times article, we have a flashback quotation, from 1993, when Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls spoke out about the crisis of clergy sexually abusing children in the United States.
    "One would have to ask if the real culprit is not a society that is irresponsibly permissive, hyper-inflated with sexuality [and] capable of creating circumstances that induce even people who have received a solid moral formation to commit grave moral acts," he said.
     Hypocrite Benedict and his buddy Navarro-Valls need to eat their words.  It seems that the real culprit is a church society that is irresponsibly permissive of what happens behind closed doors, hyper-inflated with guilt and repression of sexuality, and capable of circumstances that induce even clerics who have received a solid moral seminary formation to commit grave immoral acts. 

Image Credits:
Archbishop Dolan from Roman Catholic Vocations
Pope Benedict Kissing a Child on the Lips from Joe. My. God.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Former Vatican Big-Wig, Irish Bishop John Magee Finally Resigns Amid Sexual Abuse Scandal

     There has been some action today in the wake of Pope Benedict's letter to the Irish church concerning the sexual abuse of minor by priests and the ensuing cover-up by bishops that was revealed in the Murphy Report.

     Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation Wednesday of Bishop John Magee, a former papal aide who stands accused of endangering children by failing to follow the Irish church's own rules on reporting suspected pedophile priests to police.
     Magee apologized to victims of any pedophile priests who were kept in parish posts since he took charge of the southwest Irish diocese of Cloyne in 1987.  "To those whom I have failed in any way, or through any omission of mine have made suffer, I beg forgiveness and pardon,"
     After two years of demands that Magee resign because of his involvement of covering-up for two priests, who sexually abused and raped boys, girls and women, the criminal bishop has finally stepped down. 

     Bishop Magee is no minor cleric in church circles.  He served as the private secretary to Popes Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II, and also as John Paul II's master of ceremonies.  These are top positions in the Vatican.  More proof that those in the intimate circles of the Vatican were involved in the mishandling and deliberate cover-up of sexual abuse.

     Hypocrite Benedict XVI has yet to accept the resignations of three other Irish bishops implicated in the sexual abuse scandal, nor has he taken responsibility for the mishandling of a repeat-offender, pedophile-priest during his tenure as a bishop in Germany

     I remain shocked by the lack of outcry from the majority of Catholics, who remain complacent and quiet in the face of such criminal hypocrisy. 


Image Credit: AP/MSNBC

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sinead O'Connor Calls Pope Benedict's Letter to the Irish Church "A Study on the Fine Art of Lying"

     My fellow heretic and survivor of sexual abuse, Sinead O'Connor and I agree about Pope Benedict's pastoral letter to the Irish bishops concerning the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy and the cover-up that followed at the hands of the bishops.

    In response to a papal letter apologizing to Irish victims of sexual abuse by priests, O'Connor said in a statement that the Vatican's strategy "is to sell the bishops down the river . . . making it seem (and they will try this in every country) that the Irish hierarchy were acting independently of the Vatican. That is a lie. . . . Yesterday's letter is a study on the fine art of lying and betraying one's own people." Pope Benedict avoided any direct mention of the abuse scandal on Sunday, his first public address since releasing the letter.
     I couldn't agree with you more, Sinead: "Yesterday's letter is a study on the fine art of lying and betraying one's own people."  However, I have no doubt that, in his pure and sacred heart, Hypocrite Benedict XVI believes that he is not lying. 

     When I was in seminary, I was formed in a system where the priests in power told me that it's not lying if you believe that the people who seek the information (about which you are not telling the entire truth) have no right to that information.  For example, if someone has a gun to your head and will kill you if you tell them the truth, they don't have a right to the truth and your life is more important, so it's not a lie to withhold the truth. 

     Here's a more practical example.  If you are gay and you believe you are called to be a priest in the Catholic church, the seminary faculty and bishop think you're golden, and the Holy Spirit is working through your gifts to help so many people find peace, truth, and healing in Jesus, then it's not lying to mislead people about your sexual orientation making them believe you're straight.  Your being gay is privileged information of the "internal forum" that others have no right to, so misleading them is not lying.

     Benny Boy (lover) has a loaded gun to his Christi capitis right now, and he believes that his vulnerable flock would be scandalized by his telling the whole truth.  He's not going to tell them the entire truth, but half-truths, using projection and misdirection, anything to protect his holy dysfunctional mother church and his own hemrroidal hairy Auschwitz.  And the beautiful thing about lying like this is that, Bentadict can lie in a letter on Saturday morning, confess sins of omissionon on Saturday afternoon, and then chew up and swallow Jesus at Mass on Saturday night. 

Rip away!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Pope Benedict Releases his Letter to the Catholic Church in Ireland Addressing the Sexual Abuse Scandal and Prescribes a Path of Repentance(?)

     Pope Benedict XVI released his pastoral letter concerning sexual abuse and cover up perpetrated by clergy to the Irish bishops this morning.  It is being read at all masses throughout Ireland this weekend, all seven pages:  seven pages of responsibility taking, admitting that the Vatican was wrong; admitting that he, Himself, made errors in dealing secretly with sexual abuse and shuffling perpetrators away to new parishes where they could abuse again instead of turning everything over to the civil authorities; apologizing for the bullying of victims that came forward; relinquishing the gag orders that the church forced upon victims; and begging forgiveness for all the scapegoating of priests, seminaries, victims, and homosexuals that the church authority has committed in the past. 

     In the end, Pope Benedict announced that he understands that the only way for the church to regain any credibility of authority in the world is to admit everything and that in order to do this, he will step down from the papacy as a sign that the church, at its head, is ready to effect change.  Pope Benedict said that Christ himself witnessed for the forgiveness of sins by making himself vulnerable on the cross, and that while he, Himself, is no sinless Christ because of his own grave errors in handling sexual abuse cases, he, Himself, will take the fall and turn the church over to a new generation of bishops and priests, who were not involved in the scandalous and self-serving cover-up. 

     The world reacted in shock to the announcement, but afterword, a new sense of awe and even respect blossomed for the pope.  "Perhaps the witness of Jesus Christ does mean something in the Vatican and in the Roman Catholic Church," Sinead O'Connor, a victim of sexual abuse in Ireland, responded.

     OK, this is not what happened.

     In reality, Hypocrite Benedict XVI took no responsibility upon himself, nor did he place any on the Vatican and the church's policies.  He did apologize to victims for the grievous sins of the priests and religious that abused, but stopped short of apologizing for the bishops' crime of covering it all up.  Instead, he cracked his ecclesial ruler across the hands of the Irish bishops and blasted them for their grave errors and issued a Vatican-run investigation into the Irish handing of abuse cases. 

     No resignations of any bishops involved in the cover-up and mishandling of abuse cases were demanded.  In fact, Hypocrite Ben has denied the resignation requests of three bishops, saying that "the church's leadership had already begun to remedy past mistakes."  The entire seven-page letter can be read here

     NBC reports:
     Pope Benedict XVI rebuked Irish bishops Saturday for "grave errors of judgment" in handling priest sex abuse cases and ordered an investigation into the Irish church. But he laid no blame for the problem on the Vatican's policies of keeping such cases secret.
    In a letter to the Irish faithful read across Europe amid a growing, multination abuse scandal, the pope apologized to victims but doled out no specific punishments to bishops blamed by Irish government-ordered investigations for having covered up abuse of thousands of Irish children from the 1930s to the 1990s.
    "I recognize how difficult it was to grasp the extent and complexity of the problem, to obtain reliable information and to make the right decisions in the light of conflicting expert advice," Benedict wrote.
    "Nevertheless, it must be admitted that grave errors of judgment were made and failures of leadership occurred. And this has seriously undermined your credibility and effectiveness."
     I don't think that Hypocrite Benedict has any room to speak of other bishops' credibility and effectiveness in dealing with sexual abuse of minors, especially after last week's revelations of abuse in his former diocese in Germany while he was a bishop.  Also, he wrote and released the 2001 Vatican letter that instructed bishops "to report all cases of abuse to his office and keep the church investigations secret under threat of excommunication."  Of course, the Vatican now claims that this letter didn't mean bishops weren't supposed to report abuse to the civil authorities, but in praxis this is how underling bishops "widely understood" Ratzinger's instructions.  With these black marks on his authority in dealing with sexual abuse, how can Pope Ben speak with any authority about the shame and sin of others' participation in the sexual abuse scandal?

     Who is to blame?  How to recover?  Here is a portion of Ben's prescription from the letter:
    At the same time, I must also express my conviction that, in order to recover from this grievous wound, the Church in Ireland must first acknowledge before the Lord and before others the serious sins committed against defenseless children.
    Such an acknowledgment, accompanied by sincere sorrow for the damage caused to these victims and their families, must lead to a concerted effort to ensure the protection of children from similar crimes in the future.
     The Church in Ireland?  What about the church in Rome?  Where is the Vatican's acknowledgment and sincere sorrow for the damage it caused? 

     So what is the cause of the sexual abuse?  Ben points fingers at secularization (repeatedly) and the liberal interpretations of Vatican II and, in this context, states:
    Certainly, among the contributing factors we can include: inadequate procedures for determining the suitability of candidates for the priesthood and the religious life; insufficient human, moral, intellectual and spiritual formation in seminaries and novitiates; a tendency in society to favor the clergy and other authority figures; and a misplaced concern for the reputation of the Church and the avoidance of scandal, resulting in failure to apply existing canonical penalties and to safeguard the dignity of every person.
     From what I heard, about what happened in U.S. seminaries in preparation for the Vatican's investigation after the 2002 scandal broke out here, is that seminaries reverted to smells and bells in an attempt to look more conservative.  Seminarians went further into the closet in dealing with their sexuality because they were afraid of speaking honestly about anything that rang of homosexuality or bisexuality for fear of being kicked out of the seminaries.  After all, the Vatican's response was to issue a letter saying that gays could not be admitted to the seminaries.  From all that I heard, the church recreated the system of silence, fear, and compartmentalization in the seminaries that formed the majority of the priests who were guilty of abuse in the United States in the twentieth century.

     Hypocrite Ben goes on in his letter by addressing different groups individually.  After this he prescribes some "concrete initiatives to address the situation."  These include:
     Through intense prayer before the real presence of the Lord, you can make reparation for the sins of abuse that have done so much harm, at the same time imploring the grace of renewed strength and a deeper sense of mission on the part of all bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful.


  • An apostolic visitation (Vatican investigation) into certain dioceses, seminaries, and religious congregations in Ireland.


  • A nationwide mission to be held for all bishops, priest, and religious. (Forget about the victims.)


  • An increase in intercessory prayer to St. John Vianney, the patron saint of priests, so that "the whole Church in Ireland grow in appreciation for the great gift of the priestly ministry."   It was John Vianney who said: "The priest holds the key to the treasures of heaven: it is he who opens the door: he is the steward of the good Lord; the administrator of his goods." (Didn't some of the abusive priests use that as a line to get into kids' pants?  "Jesus wants me to do it."  "I did it to bring that child closer to God.")
     That's the official plan: prayer, penance, fasting, eucharistic adoration, and renewed appreciation for the holy role of priests.  That will fix it all and wipe away all the scandal.  Ben is diluted and out of touch.

     When it comes to a specific plan of action in dealing with the interior working of preventing, reporting, and holding clerics accountable for abuse, Ben offered only this:
    While no effort should be spared in improving and updating existing procedures, I am encouraged by the fact that the current safeguarding practices adopted by local Churches are being seen, in some parts of the world, as a model for other institutions to follow.
     This seems quite a contradiction after he blasted the local church in Ireland at the beginning of the letter for their mishandling of sexual abuse allegations.  In the end, Pope Ben and the Vatican took no responsibility for the abuse and cover-up, but blamed the local church.  Then, the Vatican offered no solution at the institutional and procedural level for dealing with future cases of abuse, but told the Irish to look to other local churches for their role models.  Is it just me, or is Ben's logic here completely flawed?

     As, you might guess, the victims of abuse in Ireland are not pleased with Pope Ben's letter and his solution to pray-away the scandal.  The Washington Post reports:
    Irish victims of clerical child sexual abuse are deeply disappointed by Pope Benedict's letter of apology as it fails to address the role of senior church leaders, a group representing victims said on Saturday.
    "My first response was deep disappointment in the letter," said Maeve Lewis, executive director of victims group One in Four. "We feel the letter falls far short of addressing the concerns of the victims," Lewis told Reuters.
    She said the pope's letter focused too narrowly on lower-rank Irish priests without recognizing the responsibility of the Vatican and senior Irish clerics for protecting offenders and dealing with victims.
    "There is nothing in this letter to suggest that any new vision of leadership in the Catholic church exists," Lewis said.    
     Lewis continued:
    "Victims were hoping for an acknowledgment of the scurrilous ways in which they have been treated as they attempted to bring their experiences of abuse to the attention of the church authorities.
    "Pope Benedict has passed up a glorious opportunity to address the core issue in the clerical sexual abuse scandal: the deliberate policy of the Catholic church at the highest levels to protect sex offenders, thereby endangering children."
    Lewis also accused the Pope of dodging Vatican responsibility for failing to tackle child abuse.  "If the church cannot acknowledge this fundamental truth, it is still in denial," she added.
     Lewis is correct in many of her points.  There is no new vision of leadership in the Catholic church.  That died with John XXIII.  Since then, the pendulum has been pulled farther and farther into the old ways.  Hypocrite Benedict has no vision for a progressive, honest church.  He can't even acknowledge his own mistakes in the sexual abuse crisis.  Denial is his mighty fortress and his rock. 
 
     The pope's opportunity has been squandered, just like the innocence of the children abused and the of the hope of the adults that came forward only to be silenced and bullied by the church.  The bullying continues. 

     It's time for the people in the pews to quit being silent and passive co-conspirators in these abuse cases and to stand up for justice, truth, and accountability.  The Jesus of scripture would be flipping money tables, snapping a whip, and taking names.  It's time for the golden calf of the Vatican to be ground into powder and fed to its silent worshipers.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pope Benedict Opens Mouth to Irish Church in Pastoral Letter about Sexual Abuse

     Today's Roman Catholic Mad Libs:
Pope Benedict _____ has signed a _____ addressed to the Irish church in response to the _____ sexual abuse scandal.  Open mouth.  Insert _____.

    Bishop Ludwig Schick of Bamberg told Bavarian Radio on Tuesday that he was surprised by the number of [sexual abuse] cases that had come to light, and that the matter had to be dealt with openly and directly. “It’s bitter and it’s hard, but it absolutely has to be worked through,” he said. “This abscess must be opened and dried out so that it can heal.”
     Not the best choice of words, Schick: "bitter," "hard," "opened," and "absolutely has to be worked through."  Perhaps it's best if, from now on, clerics just keep their mouths shut, especially around altar boys.

     Not so for Pope Ben, who has opened his mouth again, amid his own alleged involvement in the sexual abuse scandal, by writing a "pastoral letter" to the Irish churchSigned today, the letter will be unveiled tomorrow

     How can anyone who has been a part of the hierarchy that harbored abusers at the expense of the victims speak with any dignity and authority concerning victims of sexual abuse and future preventative measures?  Pope Benedict needs to shut his mouth and resign.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Woman Tackles Pope; Seminarian Clutches Pearls

This video was taken at the 10 PM Christmas Eve Mass at the Vatican.


     It's shocking footage, for sure.  That anyone would physically attack someone while they are praying or performing a religious ceremony disgusts me.  I always had a fear of this sort of thing while I was a priest.  When up on the altar, one is completely exposed, and people have taken advantage of this vulnerability in history.  Liberation Theologian and Archbishop Oscar Romero, who sided with the poor of El Salvador against the rich and, for a long while, anti-liberation-theology-Vatican backed Salvadoran government, was shot dead while celebrating Mass.  When I was in El Salvador in 2001, I put my fingers in the bullet hole in the wall in the back of the sanctuary

     But in history there are also examples of religious people using the "sanctuary" of churches as a way to kill and commit genocide.  At the Rock of Cashel in Ireland, Protestants burned Irish Catholics.  In the Catholic churches of Rwanda, Tutsis took refuge only to have holy priests and nuns point the way for the military to massacre the vulnerable believers who thought they were safe in the Catholic churches.  In the Revolutionary war, there are reports that the British did the same to Americans in their churches, as the (not-so-good) film The Patriot portrayed so tragically.

     So, who was this Woman in Red that pulled Pope Ben to the floor during the Vatican Christmas Eve mass? She was not an angry atheist, not a militant lesbian protesting the church's continual ban on women's ordinations, not a radical Muslim terrorist, not a victim of sexual abuse by a priest (that we know of) seeking revenge, and not a Jew angry at Pope Ben's anti-Jewish blunders.

     The Associated Press reports that the woman was an unarmed Swiss-Italian national with psychiatric problems, Susanna Maiolo, 25, who attempted to do the same thing to the Pope at last year's Christmas Eve mass.  She's since been checked into a clinic for treatment.  The Pope is fine and he complete the Mass, but an elderly Cardinal Etchegaray was knocked to the ground in the commotion, broke his hip, and is awaiting surgery.

     While the gasps and screams of the faithful are understandable, a few of the clerics responses were a bit revealing.  Start the video below at about 1:00 to see the contrast between the old bishop's and the young seminarian's responses.


     The old bishop reacts like it's no big deal: "What to do?"


     The young straight seminarian (because the Vatican doesn't accept gays into the seminaries anymore) reacts instinctively by grasping his pearls.

First the gasp...


and then the grasp...


     But the Woman in Red (perhaps an undercover cardinal) wasn't the only believer taking the occasion of the high holy day to draw attention to herself.  Two of the bishops, who were just exposed in Ireland's Murphy Report as despicable participants in the cover-up and enabling of priests' sexual abuse of children, took Christmas as their occasion to resign and had priests throughout the Archdiocese of Dublin read their letters of resignation during Christmas masses.  While I'm happy they finally resigned and offered an apology, was Christmas really the best time to do this?  I thought Christ was the "reason for the season."

     There's nothing like religious men and women taking their own precious holy day and making it about themselves.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Why Sinead Ripped the Pope


     In 1992, I remember watching Sinead O'Connor tear up a picture of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live.  Eighteen at the time and mad at the world, I thought it was a brilliant act of protest.  Shocked, I watched as she was decried as "the devil" in the press and from pulpits.  People bulldozed her CDs and cassette tapes swearing to never listen again, which I found ridiculous (an act that would be repeated by we self-righteous Americans when the Dixie Chicks protested the invasion of Iraq).   For years, NBC hid away the footage of O'Connor's SNL performance refusing to let it be shown again on television.  Her career in the United States was over.  What I don't remember from that time in my life is why she actually did it.

     I was shocked to read in today's news that O'Connor tore up the picture of the pope, (while singing Bob Marley's "War") in protest of the child sexual abuse and cover up that was going on in the Irish Catholic Church at the time.  She was a prophet ahead of her time, and like most true prophets, who cry out in the face of vast social injustice, she was rejected, chastized, and destroyed (professionally).  A few hundred years earlier she probably would have lost her life burned as a witch, and a few hundred years before that, burnt at the stake as a heretic.

     An adult survivor of child sexual abuse, Sinead O'Connor risked her reputation and lost her career to stand up and challenge the Vatican about the child sexual abuse and cover up going on in the Catholic church.  Of course, instead of listening to her challenge, O'Connor was discarded as another crazy star.  No one listened to her point.  And the self-righteous Americans, Catholics, and Christians around the world that condemned her seventeen years ago have been proven hypocrites, because they gave pedophile priests and their protector bishops another decade to deflower children around the world.

     In a December 9th interview with Mark Dagostino at Tonic, O'Connor was asked to comment on the current sexual abuse scandal in Ireland and on her career ending act of prophetic defiance in 1992. Dagostino reports:
     What went completely over the heads of the American audience at the time is that O'Connor's defiant act was in protest of the Catholic Church's cover-up of child sexual abuse at the hands of its priests in Ireland — an issue that would take years to surface in the U.S., but which had been bubbling over in her homeland at the time of her SNL performance.
     "It had hit the public arena in Ireland that there was sexual abuse among the clergy, but it had not hit the public arena in America," O'Connor explains. "It was to be another 10 years before it became reality in America that these things had happened. So it's kind of understandable that everyone reacted the way they did, because no one could possibly believe — how could they? — that priests would be involved in the sexual abuse of children."
     "I mean, we talk about the sexual abuse, but we neglect to talk about the battery and assault and psychological abuse that went on," she adds. "But basically, in America in 1992, nobody believed for a moment that priests could be involved in these kind of things. But in Ireland it was very well known, and we were all pretty pissed off."
     Anger at the Catholic Church's handling of the child sex abuse situation continues to bubble over in Ireland to this day. Just last week, an independent commission released a report documenting years of systematic church cover-up when it came to issues of child abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin.
     So when O'Connor is asked if she regrets tearing up a picture of the Pope on live TV, her answer is clear: "Absolutely not!" she says.
     "People say, 'Why did she do what she did?' I did what I did because I actually do believe in God, and I love God, and I don't like to see God being libeled. If God were here now today he, she or it would be suing a whole lot of f**kers for libel," O'Connor says. "I'm not a rampaging Christian, but I know there's a God and I love that God and I don't like what these people have done with the name of God. It's disgusting. And they should be very, very afraid of the day they meet their maker."
     O'Connor steps back for a moment, and even apologizes for "ranting." But as an abused child herself, the issue hits close to home. And reading the Murphy Report on the church's long-established knowledge of child sex abuse brought tears to her eyes — and moved her countrymen to finally call for the resignation of the remaining clergy who were involved.
     "The Ireland that I grew up in was a very different place than what it is now," O'Connor says. "I saw my parents and grandparents give up anything that would have given them a moment's joy, because the Catholic Church told them that it was a sin to love yourself, or a sin to love sex, or a sin to feel good about yourself. Self-esteem was a sin, basically — to be a good Catholic you had to think you were a piece of sh*t, you know? When you think of the joy that people did not allow themselves to have because of what these people taught them they should be, it makes you very bloody angry when you think about it.
     "Everyone in the whole country is furious about it at the moment. And even this week, there's no response from the Vatican. The Papal Nuncio, all he has said is that the Pope doesn't comment on such matters. Yet they're happy to comment on 'Harry Potter is evil.' They're happy to comment when we wanted contraception and divorce. They have plenty to say about Naomi Campbell wearing jeweled crucifixes. They have plenty to say about The Da Vinci Code. But they have nothing to say about their priests having sex with their children. It's really sick.
     Sinead O'Connor is a true hero, tragically misunderstood.   After all these years of being ostracized as a punchline, I hope that people will finally realize that what she did was a courageous matter of conscience and prophetic genius.  Thank you Sinead for standing up for our abused children when nobody else would.  Thank you for being a true hero.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Egan-Giuliani 2012: The Roman (Catholic) Empire Strikes Back

     In the midst of the mess that is the Catholic church in Ireland and in the wake of the release of the Murphy Report that unmasked the systematic sexual abuse of minors by clergy and concurrent/ongoing cover up by bishops and government officials, one would think that the church would learn from its mistakes.  One would think that things at the Vatican and around the world might change.  After all, the church and bishops have apologized for the atrocities in Ireland and the United States and Australia and Canada/New Zealand/etc. etc. etc.  Right?

     But what's an apology if you don't change your ways?  I think the church would probably call this false contrition.

     Jesus said, "By their fruits you will know them (Mt 7:20).  And right now, it's raining sour fruits all across the Catholic church in America.

     An editorial in Sunday's New York Times speaks of the hypocrisy in the Diocese of Bridgeport, CT, where it wasn't compassion, reconciliation, repentance, or the love of Jesus Christ that compelled the diocese "to release more than 12,000 pages of documents relating to lawsuits alleging decades of sexual abuse of children by its priests.  It was a court order," that the diocese had fought for seven years! 


     One of the clerics that doesn't come out too well in the 12,000 pages is former bishop of Bridgeport, the retired Cardinal Edward Egan of New YorkThe Times states:
As he [Egan] skirmishes with lawyers, he betrays a distressing tendency to disbelieve accusers and to shuck off blame.  He responds to accounts of abuse not with shame but skepticism, and exhibits the keen instinct for fraternal self-protection that reliably put shepherds ahead of the traumatized flock.  Referring to the Rev. Raymond Pcolka, whom 12 former parishioners accused of abuses involving oral and anal sex and beatings, Bishop Egan said: “I am not aware of those things. I am aware of the claims of those things, the allegations of those things. I am aware that there are a number of people who know one another, some are related to one another, have the same lawyers and so forth.”
     Late last week, the Catholic church dropped another big piece of rotten fruit in New York, only a week after the release of the Murphy Report and the cascade of  bishops saying that they're sorry and that the church has changed.

     Welcome to Rudy Giuliani's own personal church.

     Catholic sex-abuse victims' groups are decrying a Vatican decision to clear a former high-ranking Long Island priest, and longtime friend of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, of sex-abuse allegations.
     The Diocese of Rockville Centre announced on Friday that the Catholic Church had found Monsignor Alan Placa not guilty of molesting teenage boys, an allegation that first surfaced in a local grand jury investigation in 2002. The grand jury report concluded that Placa could not be prosecuted criminally because the statute of limitations had expired.
     "While not surprising, it's still heart-breaking to see that a victim deemed credible by virtually everyone else -- prosecutors, grand jurors, journalists, survivors, relatives and lay Catholics -- is deemed not credible by a couple of Vatican bureaucrats thousands of miles away," said David Clohessy, the national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
     The victim mentioned is Richard Tollner who was molested repeatedly by Monsignor Placa in 1975 while he was a teen at a Catholic high school. He is one of three known victims of Placa.
     "What upsets me most is that it sends a message that it is okay to be a sex abuser," said Tollner. "The Church will just ignore it, sweep it under the rug, and nobody is going to care."
     Tollner says he was kept in the dark about the testimony presented at the proceedings and unsuccessfully sought information on its outcome for the past two and a half years. He did not learn about the "not guilty" ruling until a reporter called him about it on Friday.
     Tollner told Good Morning America in 2007 that the sexual abuse started when he and Placa were making posters for a Right to Life march.
     "As he started to explain how these posters should be done, I realized that something was rubbing my body," Tollner said. "After a minute or two, I realized that he's feeling me, feeling me in my genital area."
     The grand jury report concluded that Priest F [Placa] abused the boys sexually "again and again and again.  Priest F was cautious, but relentless in his pursuit of victims."
     Anne Barrett Doyle of Bishop-Accountablity.org, a group that tracks sex abuse allegations against Catholic priests, called the decision a "slap in the face to survivors and all Catholics who want to believe the Church can change its ways." 
     This is definitely a slap in the face not only to all the victims but to anyone with half a brain, who cares about the well being of children.  One person not in that group is former Republican Presidential Candidate Rudy Giuliani, who hired his best bud Placa, as soon as Placa was removed from ministry during the investigation.  Giuliani reportedly got on the phone and contacted several former students of he and Placa's childhood school and asked by "the Giuliani organization" to vouch for Placa.  Futhermore:
      Placa has been friends with Giuliani since they both attended Bishop Loughlin High School in Brooklyn. They were in an opera club together and would sometimes double date. Giuliani and Placa later attended Manhattan College together, where they were also fraternity brothers.
     Placa was ordained as a Catholic priest in May 1970. He was the best man at Giuliani's first marriage in 1968, then helped Giuliani get an annulment in 1982 so he could marry second wife Donna Hanover. Placa officiated at Hanover and Giuliani's 1984 wedding. He officiated at the funerals of Giuliani's father and mother and baptized both of Giuliani's children.
     With friends in both high and low places, it's no surprise that the Vatican cleared Placa of the charges.  And why?  Statute of limitations!  Once again unholy mother church pretends that something never happened, while with the other side of her mouth apologizes for the horrendous sexual abuse in a far off land.

      Postscript:  For those of you in the heartland, the scandal continues in your own backyard, where my home diocese of Davenport, Iowa, and its Bishop William E. Franklin, are fighting tooth and nail against a judge's ordre to release the diocesan files.  I hope that he and Father O'Baldy are enjoying the Advent season together.