Showing posts with label scandal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label scandal. Show all posts

Monday, September 17, 2012

Catholic Bishop Conlon Reinstates Priest Who Abused a 14-Year-Old, Because According to the Vatican That Was OK in the 70s

Bishop R. Daniel Conlon, chair of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops' Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, has once again shown that he and the bishops are failing to correct past mistakes and crimes surrounding the handling of sexually abusive priests.  The Vatican backs them up on this.


Bishop Conlon's spokesperson told the Chicago Tribune that the decision to reinstate Rev. F. Lee Ryan "had been difficult."  I wonder how difficult it's been for Ryan's victim to hear this news:
"He will not return to (full) ministry, but he is being permitted (a) very narrow ministry," the statement said. "This was a very difficult decision. I believe it respects the law of the Church and protects children."  (Chicago Tribune)
Father Ryan's (partial?) ministry that "protects children" will be visiting the homebound parishioners of two parishes in Watseka and Crescent City, IL.  Apparently in Bishop Conlon's universe, children don't live in the homes of sick people.  

Church officials said the man's complaint was assessed by a local review board, then sent to the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Catholic officials in Rome decided that because of church law in the 1970s, which stated that 14 was the age of consent, Ryan did not commit a serious crime by the church's standards and could not be permanently removed from ministry, a spokesman for Bishop R. Daniel Conlon said.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests criticized the diocese for allowing Ryan to return to some of his duties as a priest.  "This is a shocking and dangerous move by Bishop Conlon," SNAP said, noting that the bishop leads the U.S. Catholic bishops' committee on sexual abuse. "What part of 'one strike and you're out' do Catholic officials not understand?"
Apparently, every part.

The age of sexual consent in the Vatican is 12.  Yes, 12, but there are some exceptions that bump it up to 15.  Here's a link to The Daily Dish that expounds upon this absurdity.

How convenient for the Catholic hierarchy that a U.S. District Court recently ruled that the Vatican is not the employer of Catholic priests.  The Vatican can't be held accountable in U.S. courts for its priests' perpetration of sexual abuse against minors.  But when it comes to reinstating sexually abusive priests, the U.S. bishops determine whether a crime really took place using the Vatican's outdated age of consent.  How sweet it is for the Catholic hierarchy to eat its cake.

Next up, reinstating those priests found guilty of child-porn charges before May 3, 2011.  That was the date the Vatican allowed the USCCB to apply the federal legal age defining child pornography (under 18) to local church law, as opposed to Vatican child-porn, which is under 14.  You can read about this in the bishops' inappropriately named Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.  



Boston Archdiocese Continues to Pay Salary to Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse; Vatican Unwilling to Defrock

This is an interview on Radio Boston concerning Rev. James Foley, who was accused of sexual abuse in 1999.

Over the past thirteen years, Foley has received his priestly salary, even after the Archdiocese of Boston settled the abuse suit and another victim came forward.

Meanwhile, those of us priests, who were whistle-blowers over the past decade, were turned out without pay.

Foley remains a priest.  This interview discusses how the Vatican and the U.S. bishops have not yet removed Foley from priesthood.  I wonder how many priests, who left to get married since 1999, have been successfully laicized by the Vatican?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Catholic Bishop, Robert F. Finn, Found Guilty of Shielding a Pedophile Priest, But the True Winner in the Case Is the Catholic Church

Last week, a Catholic bishop was finally found guilty for covering-up sexual abuse. Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City was found guilty of: 
failing to report a priest who had taken hundreds of pornographic pictures of young girls. The counts each carried a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine, but Bishop Finn was sentenced to two years of court-supervised probation. (New York Times)
It's about time that a criminal Catholic bishop was held accountable.  But in the long run, the Catholic Church won this case.

Win Number One.  The church's defense team avoided a long and drawn out, public trial by jury and its unrelenting media scrutiny.  NBCNews.com reports:
Lawyers for Finn and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph released the following statement after the verdict:  "Bishop Finn is grateful that the court and prosecutor have allowed this matter to be resolved. This could have been a lengthy and emotionally difficult trial for all persons affected. The bench trial, with a stipulation of testimony, has avoided the need for live testimony from diocesan employees, parishioners and others. This process has also resulted in the charges against the Diocese being dismissed by the state. The diocesan process and procedures as previously existed failed to adequately identify the necessity to inform the Children's Division of Shawn Ratigan's behavior in a more timely manner. For this, the bishop is truly sorry."
Who wants to hear witnesses rehashing the dirty deeds of the bishop and diocese?  Who wants the media  printing testimony that details the process of how abuse allegations are covered-up, ignored, and kept from civil authorities?  The church can thank its god that the details of this case will now quickly sink into the Google Sea.

Win Number Two.  As indicated in the previous statement, the charges against the Diocese of Kansas City were dismissed.  How wonderful for the church.

Win Number Three.  The judge let Finn off easily; he should have given Finn the maximum penalty of one year in jail.  Finn protected a Father Shawn Ratigan for five months after learning Ratigan had taken pornographic pictures of hundreds of girls.  Finn didn't report the crime, even though he knew of previous accusations made against Ratigan.  Would not one month of jail time for each month that Finn kept information from civil authorities be justified?  The pedophile priest's crimes went unreported until church officials contacted civil authorities without Finn's permission.  How the judge didn't see this as grounds for a maximum sentence will remain on the judge's conscience.

Win Number Four.  The Catholic theology of forgiveness, confession, and a fresh start is strengthened.  Finn can now retreat to the confessional and release the guilt he carries for his actions, if he harbors any.  His courtroom apology indicates that he might not:  
Before being sentenced, Bishop Finn, 59, his jaw quivering, rose in court and said: “I am pleased and grateful that the prosecution and the courts have allowed this matter to be completed. The protection of children is paramount.” 
He added, “I truly regret and am sorry for the hurt that these events have caused.” (NYT)
According to Catholic theology, contrition is necessary for forgiveness to be granted during the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Finn's "apology" is not sufficient for the sacrament, because Finn displayed no contrition for his part in the crime and resulting scandal.  Finn said he was sorry for the hurt caused by "these events," not, I'm sorry that I protected this pedophile from civil authorities and in doing so betrayed the children this priest abused, their families, the people I've sworn to shepherd, and the society in which I present myself as a law-abiding citizen.  No.  Bishop Finn took the easy way out.  

He admitted being "pleased and grateful" -- pleased that he's not going to jail and can get back to his phony, "paramount" "protection" of children.  For that is his immediate future, as The Washington Post reports:
But even as he became the first U.S. bishop ever convicted in criminal court for shielding an abusive priest, Finn’s standing inside the church appears uncertain, and the subject of intense debate.  Should he stay or should he go? Finn has indicated that he wants to tough it out.
“The Bishop looks forward to continuing to perform his duties, including carrying out the important obligations placed on him by the Court,” Finn’s spokesman, Jack Smith, said in a statement to Religion News Service on Friday.
Pope Benedict XVI is the only one with the authority to force a bishop from office, and the Vatican said nothing on Friday about Finn.
While waiting for the pope to act or commit yet another sin of omission, Catholics throughout the Diocese of Kansas City will continue to pray before the "Real Presence" of their savior Jesus Christ at every Mass in the Diocese of Kansas City, "for our bishop, Robert."  

In spite of the church's wins in the Finn case, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has once again shown that it's incapable of responsible leadership when confronting the institutionalized culture of covering-up sexual abuse.
The point man on the abuse crisis for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop R. Daniel Conlon of Joliet, Ill., was circumspect about Finn’s conviction.  Conlon, who recently acknowledged that the hierarchy’s credibility on abuse was “shredded” in part because of cases like Finn’s, said that he did not know the details of the trial. (The Washington Post)
Bishop Conlon is the chair of the USCCB's Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People.  One would think he has a responsibility to be familiar with the details of the first case involving one of his brother bishops being tried for covering up sexual abuse.  For the Catholic bishops ignorance continues to be bliss, and ecclesiastical justice for the victims of sexual abuse is again cast into the sea.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Response to Father Benedict Groeschel's Apology

     I have another piece on The Huffington Post:
The condemnations and apologies have been forthcoming since Father Benedict Groeschel, a founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, told the National Catholic Register that some teenage victims of sexual abuse seduce their priest perpetrators. He also referred to convicted sex felon Jerry Sandusky as "this poor guy" before implying that Sandusky's victims should have spoken out sooner.
The National Catholic Register removed the interview from its website and posted an apology explaining the publication of Groeschel's "comment was an editorial mistake." In addition, the Register "sought clarification from Father Benedict," as if Groeschel's 468 word "comment" wasn't clear enough.

     Read the rest on The Huffington Post by clicking here.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Oregon Priest Arrested for Sexual Abuse After Pursuing His Victim Dressed Only in His Underwear

In recent years, I've heard Catholics say, "I believe in the Catholic Church.  I mean, we're all sinners."  "The bishops have taken care of the sexual abuse crisis."  "The pedophiles have been weeded out.  They were just old priests, who went to seminary decades ago."  "Why won't the media leave us alone?  Can't we just move on?"  

No, we can't just move on.  Sexual abuse by Catholic clerics continues.  

Perez was arraigned in Marion County Circuit Court on Tuesday, appearing via video from Marion County Jail, wearing a black V-neck top with his hands secured in front of his waist. He faced allegations of first-degree sexual abuse, abuse of a child in the display of sexually explicit conduct, furnishing alcohol to a minor and driving under the influence of intoxicants.
Father Perez was arrested after he chased a twelve-year-old boy down the street at midnight wearing only his underwear.  The priest had told the boy's parents that he was taking him on a trip to the mountains.  Instead, the priest took the boy to his rectory, got the boy drunk, waited for the boy to fall asleep and then assaulted him.  Thankfully, the boy was able to run away and find help.

Father Perez is not the product of some seminary past.  Like me, he was ordained in 2002, which as you might recall, was when sexual abuse and cover-up in the Catholic Church was on the front page of nearly every U.S. publication.  We baby priests were under a great deal of pressure.  We needed to be the new life, the new hope that the church needed.  We needed to provide people with the assurance that our generation would change the abusive culture that had been exposed.  We would make things right.  

In 2002, Father Perez was interviewed by The Oregonian.  He was praised for being the only priest ordained by the Diocese of Portland that year.  The following excerpts from that article show how Mount Angel Seminary formed Father Perez well.  He knew the right things to say in order to distract Catholics from smelling the predator in their midst: 

The sex scandals trouble him, but Perez says he is confident bishops are dealing with the problems. His new duties come first... "There are rules. There are so many rules," he said, walking back to the parish. "They taught us at the seminary -- we are not supposed to touch. I don't have any problems with that. I know my boundaries."
Rev. Angel Perez, in 2002 (via  The Oregonian

The 2002 article provides an accounting of Father Perez's Mass of Thanksgiving -- the grand Mass newly ordained priests celebrate in their parish.  Again, Father Perez said all the right things:


The new priest's hands were shaking. In the cavernous sanctuary of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Corvallis, hundreds of college-town Catholics waited to hear what the Rev. Angel Perez would say. In heavily accented but fluent English, he assured them he would be a priest for all, not just for the Latino parishioners. I will need your help, he said. "I said to them, my faith is very strong," he recalls. "That even though we have these problems in the church right now, these sex scandals, I really believe the Holy Spirit sustains us.  God is with us," he said, and stopped to look at his notes. Silence. In the pews, he heard one parishioner applaud. Then another, and another, until they all were clapping. For a moment, the anxiety that accompanies a new Catholic priest in 2002 went away.
Ten years later, that anxiety lives on in the communities of Woodburn and the victim's hometown, Salem.  

After losing the boy to a couple of good Samaritans, who took the boy to the police, Father Perez went to the boy's home at two in the morning and told his victim's parents, "I am just one who serves in the church, and I have sinned; don't stop believing in the church."

I won't stop believing in the Catholic Church.  I still believe that it is incapable of protecting its children from its priests.

The police report goes on to state that Father Angel Perez refused to leave his victim's home until "the mother forgave him and 'gave him her blessing.'"  

How Catholic of him: Go to confession.  Be forgiven. Go out and sin again.  I can only hope that no other parents have granted this same "blessing" to Father Angel in the past.

Rev. Angel Perez, Today.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Catholic Seminary's Website Contains Picture of Priest Removed for Alleged Sexual Abuse of Minors

     When recently visiting my alma mater's website, I discovered that St. Mary's Seminary and University of Baltimore is still using pictures taken during my first semester in 1998.  One photo includes a classmate of mine, who was removed from ministry in 2002 after he was accused of sexually abusing children.


     Very classy, St. Mary's.


     Perhaps the Catholic Church should divert some of the funds that it's using to fight LGBT rights into procuring pedophile-less pictures for its seminaries' websites.


St. Mary's Seminary and University
(Photo taken by me.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia Suspends 21 Priests for Sexual Abuse, Is It 2002 Again?

     Here's the NPR report from Philadelphia  (My comments are interspersed.):
     The archbishop of Philadelphia has suspended 21 priests connected to allegations of child sex abuse, the latest in a series of actions by the archdiocese to deal with findings in a disturbing grand jury report released last month. The grand jury report accused a monsignor, three priests and a parochial schoolteacher of abusing kids or failing to prevent abuse by others. It also said that as many as 37 priests remained in active ministry with allegations or reports of inappropriate behavior or sexual abuse of minors...    
     I'm  relieved that these 21 abusive priests in Philadelphia have been removed from ministry and will not have access to children.  But it's been over nine years since this iteration of the sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church broke into national headlines from Boston.  What took Philadelphia so long to act?
Cardinal Rigali, Serious about Pedophiles 
     Cardinal Justin Rigali said in a statement that he's sorry for the harm done to the victims of sexual abuse and is determined to work for a solution that deals effectively with the issue in the church.  Rigali added that he knows many people's trust in the church has been shaken, and that he prays that the efforts of the archdiocese to address these cases and re-evaluate how it handles such allegations will help rebuild that trust in truth and justice.
     It's been nine years since Boston and nearly 30 years since the media started widespread reporting of Catholic priests sexually abusing children in the early 1980s.  The church has had thirty years to, as Cardinal Rigali stated, "work for a solution that deals effectively with the issue in the church."  They have failed miserably.

     The Dallas Charter, which the US Catholic Conference of Bishops promulgated in June 2002, was touted as to be the church's greatest response to prevent sexual abuse, remove abusive clerics from ministry, and prove to the nation that they were trustworthy.  Since its implementation, this charter has been consistently ignored and violated by bishops throughout the nation.

     So today, when a story breaks that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has suspended 21 more priests due to allegations of child sexual abuse while leaving "as many as 37 priests with allegations" in active ministry, why anyone, Catholics included, would believe that the church is effectively protecting its children is beyond me.  

   Here's a bit more more the NPR article:
     The archdiocese's move is a "long overdue and welcomed step," says David Clohessy, the executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP. But "it's only a very partial first step. It would be incredibly naive for anybody to think that a mere suspension of these men somehow signifies a new day in the archdiocese," Clohessy says. "Anytime a credibly accused child molester is publicly identified or suspended, kids are safer. However, it's crucial to remember that the grand jury found widespread fault and deceit and recklessness by church officials."
      But Patrick Wall, a former Roman Catholic priest who is now a canon lawyer in California, says the grand jury report and the moves by the archdiocese mark a historic moment. "This report takes it to another level because they go after the vicar for clergy — that person who has the authority of the Archbishop Justin Rigali to handle priest affairs and priest assignments, and that person now is being called to justice," says Wall, who has worked on priest sex abuse cases across the country.  He says the situation in Philadelphia could have ripple effects on litigation nationwide. "It really does change the face of things, because not only can we look to the bishop or the religious superior, but now we can specifically look at how different lower, midlevel managers could be charged with child endangerment," Wall says.
     We can only hope that some of the "princes of the Church" will finally face the criminal charges they deserve.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Adults Are Also Victims of Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church

     A recent Religion Dispatches' article, "Sex Abuse in the Catholic Church: When Adults Are Victims," tells a story that I know all too well from my own experience of being sexually assaulted, exploited, and abused by my priest while I was in college.  The article tells the story of Katia Birge, who at 25 was raped by a charismatic lay minister in her Denver parish only to be bullied by church officials when she came forward and sued.  (Click here to read the full account, which because of it's length I will not repost.)

     This particular quote from the article sums up what I learned in therapy after seeing my case covered-up:
     To Jeb Barrett, Denver Director of the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a peer counseling group that Birge turned to after the attack, her story follows classic lines of abuse of authority. “There are many cases where very charismatic men develop very close and controlling relationships with the people given to them for pastoral care. There’s a kind of intimacy that’s of a different level than the grooming of a child. You groom a child with favors and candy and strokes and get their trust. With an adult, it’s different.”
     Adult victims could comprise up to 25% of all clergy abuse cases, estimates David Clohessy, National Director of SNAP, but often face considerable skepticism about their stories. “In the eyes of the law, victims like Birge are adults. But that doesn’t mean that emotionally, psychologically, in the presence of a trusted, powerful, charismatic clergy person, that in fact they can function like adults.” Considering the abundant ethical and legal prohibitions against doctors or therapists having even consensual sex with patients, in recognition of coercive power imbalances in play, Clohessy notes, “none of us have been raised from birth to think that a therapist is God’s representative or that a doctor can get me into heaven.”  [Another estimate is that over 95% of the victims of sexual exploitation by clergy are adult women.]
     In my case, I was completely groomed by my perpetrator.  Like Ms. Birge, who's perpetrator (Hernadez) called her a "whore" and told her that no man would want to be with her, after he'd just raped her, I was told by my confessor/priest/perpetrator that I was "seductive," "manipulative," and "sinful."   Because he was "God's representative," I believed him.  I believed that I was was the depraved sinner who had corrupted a holy priest.  This dynamic gave him more power over me by increasing my dependency upon him for his spiritual insights and sacramental graces, including forgiveness.  After I escaped his grasp, it took years of therapy and the recognition that my perpetrator was continuing to groom other barely-legal students--who my friends at the time referred to as "the new Tom"--for me to find the strength to come forward.

     Here are a few more paragraphs from Ms. Birge's case that ring true to my experience of coming forward:
     To victims’ advocates, this level of intimidation, and the attempt to recast Hernandez as an insignificant volunteer, is par for the course across the country, and especially in Denver, where Church lawyers have used increasingly aggressive, victim-blaming tactics as part of a brutal Church defense industry, composed of attorneys, insurers and the bishops who hire them. 
      “That’s been our experience here,” says Jeb Barrett, “that people who have gone to the Archdiocese have found their families scrutinized and questioned. It’s revictimizing, and it discourages other victims from coming forward.”
     I was told by the powers-that-be to be extremely careful with whom I spoke about my accusations and that reputations were at stake.  They asked "Why would you want to hurt your parishioners by scandalizing them with this?"  Those in power refused to speak to my parents and to respond to my sister's emails, even though my family was reeling in the face of the abuse and in need of pastoral care.  My counselor's advice and prescriptions were summarily dismissed, for she was a woman, and a lay woman, at that.  (This wasn't 1950.  It was 2004.)
     If anything, adds David Clohessy, “I think Church officials are even more reckless and callous when a predator exploits adults.”
      This is very true.  A priest exploiting an adult is almost a relief to some bishops: "Well, it's not like he raped an altar boy."  But the psychological/spiritual damage to the victimized adult is horrendous.  Like Ms. Birge, I also suffered depression and panic attacks.  After church officials covered things up, I became suicidal.  While I left the priesthood, my job, my community, and the church, losing everything I knew, my perpetrator was given a promotion to be in charge of "Catholic Identity" for the diocesan schools and remained in his campus ministry position, where he continued to have an ongoing supply of handsome, naive, and malleable young men fresh out of high school; gay boys like me, who were closeted, feeling rejected by the church's anti-gay teachings, in need of acceptance and love by God and his ministers, and ripe for exploitation by a known predator allowed to remain in power.

     Thank you Ms. Birge for coming forward.  May your witness inspire other adult victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests to speak out.  The scandal doesn't end at the age of consent.


If you or anyone you know has been abused by clergy, here are some resources:

Another (Conservative) Priest from My Alma Mater Goes Down

     Another priest, with whom I was in seminary, has been removed from ministry because of scandal.  And, I'm not surprised.  After seeing a classmate removed for having sexually abused minors decades ago, hearing about one of the most conservative fellows going down in an assault/adultery case, and seeing another one die after drinking himself to death, nothing surprises me anymore.  I'm just thankful that I got out when I did.

     Delaware Online reports:
     A Roman Catholic pastor of two city parishes -- including one that counted Vice President Joe Biden as a past congregant -- is being accused of embezzling more than $350,000 from the parishes.  
     The Rev. Cornelius J. Breslin, 59, who had been pastor of the parishes of St. Patrick and St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception until Wednesday, turned himself in at the New Castle County Courthouse and entered pleas of not guilty to the charges.  Breslin faces two felony charges of theft over $100,000 -- one for each parish -- and two misdemeanor charges of falsifying business records.  If convicted on all charges, he faces up to 32 years in prison, but likely would face far less -- including a sentence of probation -- given his lack of a criminal record and state sentencing guidelines.
     Adding insult to injury:
     St. Mary's, meanwhile, is one of the 28 parishes in the diocese facing a priest sex-abuse lawsuit. The plaintiff in the case is an anonymous "Jane Coe" who charges she was molested as a 13-year-old by the Rev. Edward Carley, who has since died.
     But the "good" news is:
     Krebs said Wednesday that he did not believe the alleged thefts by Breslin would have any effect on the diocese's bankruptcy proceedings -- because they involved parishes, not the diocese -- or the ongoing efforts by diocesan officials to reach a "global settlement" to resolve all outstanding priest-abuse lawsuits against both the diocese and its parishes. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI Blasts Italian Premier for Having Sex with 17-Year-Old Prostitute

     You've got to read this hypocrisy to believe it.  Or you could just have faith in the Pharisaism of the Unholy Father.

     Premier Silvio Berlusconi came under mounting criticism Friday from the Catholic Church over his dalliances with young women, with the pope saying public officials must set good moral examples and Italian bishops planning to discuss the sex scandal.  Pope Benedict XVI didn't mention the scandal or Berlusconi by name. But during an audience with Rome's police chief and police officers, he said public officials must "rediscover their spiritual and moral roots."  "The singular vocation that the city of Rome requires today of you, who are public officials, is to offer a good example of the positive and useful interaction between a healthy lay status and the Christian faith," Benedict said, echoing more direct comments about the scandal a day earlier by his No. 2.
     Prosecutors have placed Berlusconi and three associates under investigation, alleging he paid for sex with a 17-year-old girl nicknamed Ruby and used his office to cover it up. Prosecutors have said Berlusconi had sex with several prostitutes during parties at his Milan estate.
     Why a premier would need to pay for sex and with a seventeen-year-old girl is scandalous.  That said, the age of consent in Italy is fourteen (frighteningly low, by U.S. standards).  The age of consent rises to sixteen if the elder party is in a position of power over the minor (parent, teacher, priest--I'm not sure if premier is included, but it would make sense.).  However, the fact that Berlusconi used his office's power to cover it up is reprehensible and deserving of investigation and punishment if laws were broken.  But...

     When it comes to morally shaming the premier is Pope Benedict, who covered-up for priest-pedophiles and dragged his ruby slippers for years rather than remove the child molesters from positions of power, thus enabling them to rape and abuse uncounted children under their nations' various ages of consent, really the best moral judge?   Benedict's own Vatican was exposed for a prostitution sex scandal less than a year ago.   Of course, since they were renting out little boys, it was okay.

     Perhaps the true scandal is that that the media and Catholics throughout the world continue to give Pope Ben's words moral credence. 

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?)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dutch Catholic Sexual Abuse Scandal Report: Nearly 2,000 Victims

     An investigative panel in the Netherlands released a report this week showing that almost 2,000 of the country's four million Catholics have made complains of sexual or physical abuse against priests and bishops.

     The New York Times reports:
     “The Roman Catholic Church has not faced a crisis like this since the French Revolution,” Peter Nissen, a professor of the history of religion at Radboud University in the Netherlands, said of the growing abuse scandal...
      Asked in March on television about the hundreds of complaints already surfacing, one of the church’s most senior figures, Cardinal Adrianus Simonis, shocked the nation by replying not in Dutch but in German. “Wir haben es nicht gewusst” — We knew nothing — he said, using a phrase associated with Nazi excuses after World War II.
     “A lot of people perceived it as an affirmation of the culture of covering up cases,” said Professor Nissen, adding that it meant to many, “ ‘We should have known’ or ‘We knew but we didn't want to know.’ ”
     The Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said that he had no comment and that the matter was in the hands of Dutch bishops.
     "In the hands of bishops," because that has worked so well in the past.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New Study Reveals that 60% of Chicago Parishes Once Housed Pedophile Priests

     This sort of undermines the argument that sexual abuse by a small percentage of Catholic priests doesn't really impact that many Catholics.
     A new study conducted by three local advocacy groups paints a devastating picture of abuse by priests and other clergy within Chicago--showing that more than half of the Chicago Archdiocese's Catholic parishes have employed priests accused of sexual abuse.
     Reform groups Voice of the Faithful, African American Advocates for Victims of Clergy and Sexual Abuse and the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) spent five years combing through data for the report--and they believe the number of unreported cases of abuse could make that percentage even larger.
     "Almost 60% of the parishes have had a publicly accused predator," SNAP founder and President Barbara Blaine said in a statement. "But the key word is 'publicly accused.' History, psychology and common sense tell us there are dozens and dozens of other offending nuns, seminarians, brothers, priests, bishops and lay employees who have molested or are molesting kids now whose identities are not known. And both groups of child molesters - known and unknown - have been at or worked at the 40% of the Chicago parishes that don't seem to have been affected."

Friday, October 1, 2010

Texas School Teacher Taped Himself Having Sex with Students: It's Not Just Priests & Ministers.

     Here's the latest out of El Paso, Texas.

     Dance teacher Marco Alferez accused of taping himself having sex with children.  Marco Alferez, a high school dance teacher in El Paso, Texas is accused of filming himself in sexual encounters with dozens of children -- some of them as young as elementary school age. Authorities say they’ve found over 200 videos of the Irvin High School teacher having sex with children.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bishop Eddie Long's Sexual Abuse Victims Speak Out: Long's "Fresh Sperm" Job Description

     A couple of Bishop Eddie Long's alleged victims, Jamal Parris and Spencer LeGrand, spoke to the press about how Long grooms, controls, and sexually exploits boys.  Long uses scripture, money, gifts, jewelry, and trips to seduce fatherless boys in their mid-teens.  When they reach sixteen, the age of "consent" in Georgia, Long has sex with the boys.  After a few years, he dumps them for a younger fresher version and repeats the cycle of abuse again.

     Here are links to the allegations of the one, two, three, and four different lawsuits filed against Long.

     Here are a few quotes from the FOX 5 interview.  These are Jamal Parris' words.  This first quote is classic PTSD for a sexual abuse victim.  I know, because I have had similar experiences.
     I cannot get the sound of his voice out of my head.  And I cannot forget the smell of his cologne.  And I cannot forget the way that he made me cry many nights when I drove in his cars on the way home not able to take enough showers to wipe the smell of him off my body.
     Jamal had this to say to Long:
     That man cannot look me in my eye and tell me we did not live this pain.  While you can sit in front of the church and tell them that you categorically deny it, you can't say that to our face.  And you know this.  You are not a man.  You are a monster.
     The Jamal Parris interview, part one:


     The Jamal Parris interview, part two:

     Here is the Spencer LeGrand interview.  He gives no details of the lawsuit, but says that he is relieved to be living the truth and is praying for the bishop, who knows the truth.

     Here is Eddie Long fundraising for his sexual seductions of boys in the name of tithing to his god.

     Here is Eddie Long using an unfortunate metaphor: the word of god is like sperm.  So guess what the preacher's job is?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pope Benedict Named as Defendant in Minnesota Sexual Abuse Suit

     The Daily Mail reports:
     The Pope has been named as a defendant for the first time in a lawsuit over the child abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic church.  Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as he was known then, is said to have failed to take action against an American priest who molested up to 200 boys at a deaf school.  Father Lawrence C Murphy abused the children in their dormitory beds in Wisconsin where he worked between 1950 and 1974.
     It became one of the most notorious cases to engulf the Catholic Church and was brought to the attention of The Pope whilst he was in charge of the body that dealt with serious sins.  The lawsuit is the first to name The Pontiff as an individual defendant, supposedly because culpability for the molestation went right to the top.  It raises the possibility that he could be called as a witness during court proceedings or faces the humiliation of being subpoenaed should he refuse to attend.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Anti-Gay, Opposite-Sex-Married, Baptist Bishop Eddie Long Goes Down in Homo-Sex Scandal

     Another anti-gay, fundamentalist Christian minister is going down in a gay sex scandal.  Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, who once said that "homosexuality is a spiritual abortion," is currently facing three lawsuits from former church members/employees who claim Long forced them into sexual acts.

     A lawsuit filed Wednesday by Jamal Parris, 23, a former member of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, claims Long made Parrish call him “Daddy” and coerced him into sexual acts...
     The suit, similar to two filed on Tuesday, accuses Long of using his power to force the plaintiff into a sexual relationship. In exchange, Long placed Parris and the two other men on the church’s payroll, bought them cars and other gifts, and took them on lavish trips, according to the suits filed in DeKalb County Superior Court. Long adamantly denies the allegations...
     Parris' allegations are similar to claims made by Anthony Flagg, 21, and Maurice Robinson, 20, who filed suits Tuesday.   Robinson and Flagg say Long began having inappropriate relations with them when they were 16. They are seeking a trial by jury and unspecified damages...
     “It is unfortunate that these young men have chosen to take this course of action,” Long's attorney, Craig Gillen, told the AJC Tuesday night...
      Bernstein claims Long abused his pastoral relationship with the men and convinced them that the sexual relationships were a “healthy component of [their] spiritual lives.”   
     The sex acts occurred when the men were 16, which is the legal age of consent in Georgia, Bernstein said. But Bernstein said some of the acts which occurred at hotels in other states could be considered criminal, which is why she contacted the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Bernstein said.
     Just a few things:  Sex with one's employees is a form of sexual exploitation and/or sexual harassment.  The media's use of "inappropriate relations" sounds more like consensual sex between two adults, than a bishop preying off the trust and confusion of sixteen-year-old boys under his power.  That is the work of a repeat-offending predator and ephebophile.   It is abuse.  Best wishes to the U.S. Attorney's Office on their investigation into Long's abusing these boys over state lines.

     And how is it "unfortunate" that these young men have sued?  It's unfortunate for Long's facade, yet, but it's very fortunate for the other confused, vulnerable boys of his congregation.


    Speaking of clichés, formerly-gay Pastor Ted Haggard rushed to Long's defense saying "Nobody's guilty until the court says he's guilty."  In a court of law, yes.  But with three possible victims speaking up, it's likely that there will be more.  And the pictures of Eddie Long (embedded above) in this post were sent to to one of Long's alleged victims.  How many straight, married, conservative, anti-gay bishops send muscle-shirt photos to the barely legal boys of their congregations?

     For a few more viewpoints on the Long accusations, check out:

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pope's UK Visit Has Been One Long Non-Apology Apology for the Cover-Up and Sexual Abuse of Children

     The first three days of Pope Benedict's controversial £19 million+ visit to the United Kingdom are over.  The big question continues to be when and if he will apologize for his participation in the cover-up of sexual abuse committed by priests.  But sticking to the role of politician rather than shepherd, Ben continues walk the familiar path of the non-apology apology.

     On his flight to the UK, Ben dodged questions about child rape without giving an all-out apology.  Southern California Public Radio reports:
     Speaking in Italian to reporters on board a flight to Scotland, the pope acknowledged that the church failed to act decisively or quickly enough to deal with cases of child rape and molestation by priests that have spanned decades and involved tens of thousands of victims.
     Benedict, who led the Vatican office that investigated child abuse claims during Pope John Paul II's papacy, said he was shocked and saddened on learning of the scope of the abuse partly because priests take vows to be Christ's voice upon ordination.
     "It's difficult to understand how a man who has said this could then fall into this perversion. It's a great sadness," Benedict said. "It's also sad that the authority of the church wasn't sufficiently vigilant, and not sufficiently quick or decisive to take necessary measures" to stop it.
     But, he didn't say "I'm sorry. I was a part of this failure to protect and respect our most vulnerable and innocent children. I acted out of self-preservation, pride, and malice.  I take responsibility for the wrongs I committed." 

     Instead and once again, the spineless pontiff "acknowledged" a general failure of some amorphous "church," but failed himself to take personal responsibility for his actions in shuffling and protecting pedophile priests.  As I learned in seminary, if there is no contrition there can be neither absolution nor reconciliation.

Above photo of papal shoes via Gaurdian.
Below photo of Pope in a bulletproof bubble via Telegraph
     In regards to Ben's statement about the difficulty of understanding how priests could possibly become abusers, he's living in a bulletproof bubble.  It's not difficult to understand, unless of course you don't understand the psychology of sexual predators and if you've lived your entire life in an organization that views priests as stand-ins for one's god.  

     Priests are men first.  They are human.  They are just as corruptible as any other person.  It's that simple.  But dressing priests up as divine media and protecting them within an organization that is anti-science and anti-reason blinds those within the church, like Ben, from seeing simple reality.

     Using his strongest language so far when discussing the child abuse scandal the pope said: "I express my deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes."
     But victims' representatives said his comments did not, in fact, add up to an apology.  Colm O'Gorman, from the Irish victim support group One in Four, said: "I feel deep sorrow about the suffering I see on the news, but there's an enormous difference between an expression of sorrow and an apology and acknowledgement of responsibility.  "The Vatican chooses its words very carefully and that so-called apology could have been written by lawyers. It has 'no liability' all over it."
     Peter Isely of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests asked: "Why, if the pope feels so much remorse, won't he take action? Showing remorse isn't leadership. Taking decisive action is leadership."
     Here's the homily from Ben's mass at Hyde Park today.  There is no mention of sexual abuse, the scandal, contrition, or responsibility for these acts.  There is only talk of how great and glorious the church is and the need for young people to dedicate their lives to serving the church's "culture of life."  As certain priests in my past use to rail on sinners: Out of sight, out of mind.

     Many gathered at Hyde Park in protest of Pope Ben and the Catholic Church's teachings that are supposed to promote "truth" and "life."  From the Guardian:
     Day three of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Britain and it was a day for protests and anti-papists under bright blue skies in central London. Around 10,000 people took to the capital's streets for a Protest the Pope rally and march against what the organisers called "papal intolerance" and to condemn the state funding of the visit.
     They came in red cardboard papal hats scrawled with the words "bigot" and "homophobe" and carrying placards, rainbow flags, pledges of atheism and balloons made of condoms. One giant banner showing the Pope carrying a swastika was later taken down after offending many of the protesters, who went as far as complaining to the police officers lining the route of the march to Downing Street.... [Wouldn't it be great if Americans were this intelligent in their protests?]
     The protest organiser Peter Tatchell told the Observer the event was held both to send a message to the Pope that child abusers had to be brought to account and to call on the British government not to tolerate the Pope's "harsh, intolerant views on women's rights, on gay equality and on the use of condoms which is so vital to stopping the spread of the HIV virus".
     If the pope's key message during his visit has been to warn against atheism and secularism, then this rally was the chance of those with those views to present their view of Benedict. "An enemy of humanity" was the unminced words of prominent atheist Richard Dawkins, who gave a strong speech to the rally on its arrival at Downing Street.
     Comedian Al Murray also figured among the crowd. He said: "Like a lot of people I am a perplexed that it is a state visit. The pope's opposition to condoms kills people. It is all very well him lecturing us on morals, but he should look at his own organisation's view."
     What will tomorrow's itinerary in Birmingham bring?  We can only assume more of the same.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Belgian Catholic Church, Sexual Abuse, Suicide, Admissions, and Disappearances

     The Roman Catholic sexual abuse scandal in Belgium is not slowing down.  Here are some quick updates of what happened this week.

    A Belgian commission looking into sexual abuse by Catholic clergy says it has received testimony from hundreds of victims.  The commission's chairman Peter Adriaenssens said 488 witnesses came forward, most of them after the April resignation of a bishop for sexual abuse set off a deep crisis within the Belgian church.  A report by the commission lists in great detail how victims say they were abused by clergy, and lists one witness as saying it started as young as two.
     A Belgian Catholic Church-backed commission Friday published a report revealing hundreds of cases of alleged sexual abuse of minors by clergy and church workers, and 13 suicides by abuse victims...It noted that one fact in particular showed "the extent of the negative effects: the high number of suicides," the report said.  The commission received 13 reports in which "the person concerned died by suicide and this in relation to sexual abuse by a cleric," it said, adding that another six victims said they had attempted suicide.
     The former head of Belgium's Roman Catholic Church has admitted he made mistakes in dealing with a case of sexual abuse and should have demanded the resignation of the bishop involved.  In interviews published in newspapers Het Laatste Nieuws and La Libre Belgique and the weekly magazine Knack on Wednesday, Cardinal Godfried Danneels described his failure to urge the bishop to go as his "most serious error of judgment."
     "Up until today I have the feeling that I had stepped into a trap. Call it naivete. You can make all sorts of assumptions about the intentions of Roger Vangheluwe. But the error of assessment was mine," Danneels said.
     The former Belgian bishop who resigned in April after admitting he sexually abused a nephew for years said Saturday he would go into hiding to assess his future, despite calls for him to leave the church immediately.  Roger Vangheluwe said in a statement he would immediately leave an abbey in his bishopry of Bruges, where he has been staying since his April 23 resignation. His bishopry has urged him to seek another place to live, and several victims of sexual abuse by clergy as well as a prominent senator have called on him to leave the church as an institution.  Vangheluwe gave no response to the calls for him to step out of priesthood, but said that "as of today, I will contemplate my life and future somewhere hidden, outside the bishopry of Bruges."

Catholic Father Alejandro Flores, Ordination Class of 2009, Gets Four to Fifteen for Sexual Assault of a Child

     Pope Benedict XVI says repentance is more effective than structural change within the Church to counter sexual abuse by priests.  Using an indirect historical analogy, the pope on Wednesday recalled the words of XII century Saint Hildegard, according to whom "a true renewal of the ecclesiastic community is the result less of structural changes than of a sincere spirit of repentance and an active path towards conversion."  Saint Hildergard at the time was fighting the criticism by German sects "proposing a radical reform of the Church in order to fight abuses by clergy," Benedict told 7,000 pilgrims at his weekly general audience.  (The Sydney Morning Herald, September 8, 2010)
     The rhetoric coming from bishops, cardinals, and the pope about how the Catholic Church has repented, reformed itself and is no longer ordaining pedophile priests, all the claims that priest-perpetrated sexual abuse was a problem for elder generations of priests and that newly ordained undergo improved psychological procedures to weed out abusers, and all the reassurances that the church knows best how to reform itself have once again been proven false.

     On Wednesday, Father Alejandro Flores, 37, priest in the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois, and a member of the ordination class of 2009, changed his previous plea of not-guilty to guilty.  His crime: sexually assaulting a boy  over the past five years, beginning when the boy was eight years old.  He also hit on the boy's older brother.  Which means, Flores was sexually assaulting his prepubescent child-victim, while Flores was in seminary and going through the church's rigorous "formation" that is supposed to weed out abusive candidates.

     Here's the kicker.  Five years ago, then-seminarian Flores was spotted engaging in what is known as grooming behavior by the the diocese's vocations director.  Twice, the diocese delayed Flores ordination, but in the end, he was ordained anyway.

     The Chicago Tribune reports (My comments are interspersed):
     Flores, 37, a native of Bolivia, started abusing the boy over a five-year period in 2005 after befriending members of his family, who were parishioners at St. Mary Catholic Church in West Chicago. Flores was posted there as a seminarian and deacon while working toward ordination.  Assistant State's Attorney Deb Bree said Flores' crimes took place during the time church officials were deciding whether to elevate him to the priesthood.
     During an internship, Flores told his supervisor that as a child he had been the victim of sexual abuse at a Bolivian orphanage. That supervisor, the Rev. Burke Masters, vocational director for the Joliet Diocese, saw Flores alone in a car with the victim in 2005 and told him it was not appropriate to be alone with young boys, according to authorities.
      But he wasn't sent for counseling to deal with his inappropriate boundaries with children.  He was told it was "not appropriate."  Nor was he wasn't sent to counseling to better understand the dynamics of having been sexually abused as a child.  The counseling came when:
     Diocesan officials also later learned that Flores had viewed male pornography on a church-owned computer. The revelation again pushed back his ordination, Bree said, as Flores was sent for counseling.
     Doug Delany, a Joliet Diocese spokesman, said that with hindsight, Flores would not have been ordained. But he said the delays were part of what he called "extraordinary caution" exercised by Bishop J. Peter Sartain before deciding to elevate Flores.  "We were told he was ready for the priesthood," Delany said.
     Here again, the church passes the blame onto those who "told" the diocese that Flores was ready for the priesthood.  Still, it was Bishop Sartain who laid his hand on Flores at the ordination ceremony.
     Flores told the bishop that he had viewed pornography only once, Delany said. 
     That was probably the only time he masturbated, as well.
     And Flores' sexual abuse as a child did not necessarily indicate that he was a pedophile, the spokesman said.  Meanwhile, Flores maintained a relationship with the victim, now 13, and his older brother, now 18.
     Thankfully, someone other than the diocese's vocational director saw Flores alone in a car with a boy:
     Flores was ordained in June 2009 and remained at Holy Family, but his actions were drawing the attention of a man dating the victim's mother. The boyfriend said he saw Flores and the boy "in a suspicious position" in Flores' parked car, and in November the boyfriend found the boy and Flores in the bedroom of the boy's St. Charles home, Bree said.  In January, the victim's mother alerted Joliet Diocese officials to her suspicions.
     Once again, this story shows how the Catholic church is incapable of dealing with issues of sexual abuse.  Flores should have been investigated after being caught (by his superior) alone in a car with a possible victim.  But the church failed the victim and favored the seminarian.

     After the boy's mother came forward this January, the church did the right thing in handing Flores over the law, but that was after five years of abuse, during which time Flores was supposedly undergoing the best pyscho-spiritual counseling and formation that the church has to offer.

     Pope Ben, what good is your church's repentance, when the structures in place have consistently proven inefficient in preventing sexual abuse?

                   The Newly Ordained Priest                                       The Newly Convicted Pedophile