17 May 2011

New Vatican rules rely on Bishops to deal with clergy crimes before reporting to police, still don't protect children

The Independent   -   Ireland       May 17, 2011

Victims furious over new Vatican abuse guidelines

By John Cooney Religion Correspondent

VICTIMS of paedophile priests reacted with fury yesterday after new guidelines from the Vatican insisted bishops, rather than gardai, should deal with child abuse cases in the first instance.

A document drawn up by Cardinal William Levada, the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, concludes that the responsibility for dealing with child abuse cases within the church "belongs in the first place to bishops".

In the past, there have been repeated accusations of cover-ups by the church and claims that bishops around the world have shielded child abusers.

The Vatican claimed that the document, to be circulated to all clergy worldwide, was "an important new step" to cleanse the church of recurring child abuse scandals and urged bishops to co-operate with police in reporting priests who rape and molest children.

Cardinal Levada, head of the Vatican's doctrinal watchdog, instructed bishops to send their updated national guidelines for preventing abuse by May 2012.

The guidelines are aimed at "facilitating the correct application" of rules that Pope Benedict XVI issued last year on handling sex abuse.

Besides repeating that suspected crimes should be reported to police, it called on bishops to "investigate every allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by a cleric".

It also made distribution of child pornography a crime in canon law.


There was no immediate reaction from Irish church leaders Cardinal Sean Brady and Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin.

But this latest Vatican instruction highlighted the continuing gulf between Rome and Irish abuse victims.

Maeve Lewis of the One in Four survivors' support group welcomed the new guidelines but said they were dangerously flawed and that bishops had little expertise or experience in recognising child abuse.

"It is not acceptable that reporting an allegation is at the discretion of a bishop," she said.

"The Vatican has missed an opportunity to deal definitively with the sex abuse scandal and to protect thousands of children throughout the Catholic world."

This article was found at:


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Monday, May 16, 2011

New Vatican child sex abuse guidelines; SNAP responds

Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)

Where’s the beef? There’s no enforcement here. There are no penalties for bishops who don’t come up with guidelines or who violate their own guidelines, just like right now, there are no penalties for bishops who ignore or conceal heinous child sex crimes. Until that happens – until top church officials who hide and enable abuse are severely disciplined – top church officials will continue to hide and enable abuse.

Words on paper don’t protect kid. Decisive action protects kids. This isn’t decisive action. This is yet another unenforcible “recommendation” that gives untrustworthy bishops continued power to abuse their power.

There’s no “zero tolerance” or “mandatory reporting” requirement here. There’s no insistence that bishops warn their flock about child molesting clerics. There’s nothing that will make a child safer today or tomorrow or next month or next year.

There is the hint of perhaps glacial “baby steps” to come later, but no assurance that any policy by a single bishop anywhere will, in fact, ever be followed.

To anyone unfamiliar with the church hierarchy’s long-standing secrecy surrounding child sex crimes and cover ups, these “guidelines” may seem decent. To those, however, who realize that, right now, across the world, kids are being molested by priests and crimes are being concealed by bishops, these “guidelines” are woefully inadequate.

“Guidelines” are for people who don’t understand and need education. Bishops, however, are well-educated men with staffs and resources. They understand that child sexual abuse is hurtful and illegal. Most of them, unfortunately, lack the courage to break from centuries of sexual secrecy and take real steps to prevent child sex crimes and oust those who commit and conceal it.

Giving these bishops voluntary “guidelines” is essentially worthless.

Our standard can’t be “what has been.” Our standard must be “what is needed.” We sell out and endanger and hurt kids – and ensure that more of them will be sexually violated – if we content ourselves with vague pledges instead of real reform.


Statement by David Clohessy, Director of SNAP

Ten reasons the Vatican’s new abuse guidelines will change little

They don’t impact the crux of the crisis: the virtually limitless power of bishops -
Bishops ignore and conceal child sex crimes because they can (because of archaic, predator-friendly laws, the deference of civill authorities, the devout faith and deep confusion of victims). So any “reform” that doesn’t diminish bishops’ power and discretion is virtually meaningless.

They're just "guidelines" -
They aren't binding or mandatory, just suggestions. (Unlike the new rules or "instructions” the Vatican just issued about the Latin mass.)

Such voluntary "guidelines" have been widely ignored for years in the past -
A notable example: throughout the 1990s, US bishops almost entirely ignored their own similar voluntary guidelines on abuse (adopted in 1993)

The “guidelines” won't even require bishops to call police when they know of or suspect child sex crimes -
This is, perhaps, the single most effective step a bishop can take to protect kids.

In the handful of nations with allegedly mandatory church abuse policies, those policies are unenforced -
For instance, the 2002 US policy, which is supposedly "church law," is increasingly being violated (especially the provisions around "transparency") with no consequences whatsoever to the wrongdoers.
The most egregious recent example is of course the Philadelphia archdiocese, which, according to prosecutors and grand jurors, kept dozens of credibly accused predator priests in ministry for years until just two months ago.

Even if Benedict wanted to enforce the guidelines, the church STRUCTURE is a huge obstacle -
he allegedly oversees 4,400 bishops across the planet, an inherently unworkable structure

Even if Benedict wanted to enforce the guidelines, the church CULTURE is a huge obstacle -
centuries of self-serving secrecy can't be easily reversed. . .look at how powerful prelates like Sodano protected Maciel for so long

Few, if any, church officials are apparently pushing for real reform -
if there were a vocal contingent, however small, of bishops who were strongly advocating truly effective prevention measures, some Vatican officials might feel some pressure to compromise with them. But there evidently, is no cadre of truly brave, outspoken bishops

Wrongdoers keep being promoted and whistleblowers keep being ostracized, so why would more vague words on paper bring any change in how bishops deal with abuse and cover up -
Bishops like Martin in Ireland, Robinson in Australia and Gumbleton in the US are increasingly isolated by their peers while prelates like Law and Rigali are tolerated and even promoted. (Just last month, Benedict tapped America's most widely-discredited prelate, Rigali of Philadelphia, to be the Pope's special representative at a big church celebration in the Czech Republic next month.) In the US, a number of highly controversial and compromised church officials - Coyne from Boston, Cistone from Philadelphia, Gomez from San Antonio) have been recently elevated by Pope Benedict.

They're a very belated move -
Top church staff have known of clergy sex crimes and cover ups for decades, if not centuries.

They're a very begrudging move -
The guidelines are being written now only because the crisis has reached the Pope's doorstep (due to investigative reporting on his own role concealing cases and due to increasing numbers and success of civil lawsuits).

These press statements and SNAP's contact information can be found at:


TIME  -   May 18, 2011

Vatican Gets Tough on Child Abuse, but Not Tough Enough

By Stephan Faris

When the Vatican issued a letter on Monday ordering bishops across the world to draw up tough guidelines for dealing with priests who rape or molest children, it addressed only half the scandal that has been rocking the Catholic Church.

To be sure, when it comes to the abusive clerics, the Vatican's new edict takes a firm stand, obliging local bishops to cooperate with local law enforcement in reporting sex crimes and recommending that policies be put in place to exclude accused priests from public ministry if they pose a continued danger to minors or could be a "cause of scandal for the community."

But what Monday's letter fails to do is put in place any sanctions on the bishops who oversee those clerics, should they fail to follow through with the recommendations. Child abuse is by no means unique to the Catholic Church. What sets the scandal apart is the sustained and widespread effort by church authorities to cover up for and protect the accused. And, in this regard, the new guidelines change little. "No threat of penalty will deter a child molester from committing a child sex crime," says David Clohessy, national director of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), which criticized the proposal as too lax. "But penalties can deter bishops from ignoring or concealing those crimes."

In drafting its directive, the Vatican has had to walk a fine line between ensuring its bishops cooperate with officials in the just prosecution of sex offenders under their authority while also ensuring their autonomy from civil authorities, especially in repressive regimes in East Asia or the Middle East, where the church can often have an antagonistic relationship with the state. Indeed, in the handling of individual cases, the letter specifically elevates the judgment of bishops over the civilian review boards that have been introduced in some countries, including the U.S. and Ireland.

But in its effort to make sure bishops retain their independence, the Vatican risks perpetuating what victims' groups say is a pattern that sees church officials place the protection of their priests over the well-being of their parishioners with few repercussions. For whatever reason, until recently, bishops have preferred to deal with clerical abuse internally — often transferring abusive priests from parish to parish — instead of handing them over to civil authorities. "The best explanation I can come up with is a profoundly misguided idea of what is in the good of the church," says Phil Lawler, editor of CatholicCulture.org. "They were paying more attention to its public image than to the spiritual, emotional and physical welfare of the faithful."

Doubly worrying is that the Vatican's new guidelines seem modeled on those set in 2002 in the U.S., where even with similar policies in place, the church continues to get hit with scandalous revelations. In February, a grand jury accused the Archdiocese of Philadelphia of covering up decades of wrongdoing and keeping up to 37 priests who were suspected of child abuse in active ministry. The Archbishop, Cardinal Justin Rigali, at first denied the accusation, but he later suspended 24 of the accused priests. "There were all the procedures in place for handling credible allegations," says Lawler. "But it was the bishop and his subordinates who were responsible for deciding what was a credible allegation."

And while the priests who allegedly committed the abuse face punishment, the man who failed to bring them to account has yet to suffer any sanction. Indeed, a few months later, Rigali was chosen to represent the church in a celebration in the Czech Republic in June. "As long as church officials who ignore and conceal abuse are tolerated and promoted, then nothing will change," says SNAP's Clohessy. "There simply have to be penalties for dreadful wrongdoing."

This article was found at:


Patheos - God vs Gavel      May 12, 2011

Eliminate Statutes of Limitation in Childhood Sexual Abuse Cases: A Litmus Test for the Vatican

If the Pope believes in truth and protection for the vulnerable, his letter to the bishops will endorse statutes of limitations reform.

By Marci A. Hamilton

According to the Vancouver Sun, the Vatican will soon be releasing a letter to Catholic bishops around the world dealing with child sex abuse. I know I'm excited.

After their persistent dithering and bobbing and weaving, it is hard to gin up much interest in this latest memo to the bishops. This is an institution that recently condemned a bishop for suggesting that women could be priests and priests should be married, but has been nearly mute about another bishop who publicly admitted, almost laconically, that he sexually abused two nephews. How can the Vatican claim any moral authority on the issue of child sex abuse when it has demonstrated such a lackluster response to disgusting, intrafamilial abuse by one of its own priests?

So how will we know when the Vatican is serious about protecting children from its pedophile priests? Actually, there is a litmus test.

Right now, the greatest comfort to a bishop who is looking over his shoulder and hoping no one can document his callous cover-up of child predators are the short statutes of limitations in many countries that keep the victims out of court.

So if they are sincere about changing the world to be a better place for children, or even the lesser goal of proving their mettle to protect children, they will endorse the elimination of childhood sexual abuse statutes of limitations (backwards and forwards), and encourage all victims to go to court. That is correct —they will have to embrace justice for the victims.

Without this legal change, the bishops' massive, inhumane, and orchestrated cover-up of child sex abuse will continue to fester. The vast majority of victims will continue to wonder how we could let them suffer so much, and the bishops will keep checking their backs to see who has learned what. Until they welcome the justice system and its values for every victim, they will have done less than is demanded by simple humanity.

(Of course, real justice can be achieved without the bishops' permission. That is what legislators are for—doing what is right for us even if those with a vested interest oppose it. And two states, California and Delaware, have done the right thing despite the bishops' opposition. Hawaii is on the verge of joining their distinguished ranks on child protection. In other states, the bishops continue to win the battle against victims in the state legislatures.)

It is obvious that it will take the Vatican to change the tortured course of this institution's opaque dealings with pedophiles. Even the most highly educated of Catholics in this country—distinguished academics - apparently still don't understand that the Church will have no moral authority on most issues until it does something spectacular on this issue, like endorsing legal justice for child sex abuse victims.

Speaker of the House John Boehner is scheduled to deliver the commencement address at Catholic University, and an impressive list of Catholic academics signed a letter castigating him, because "your voting record is at variance from one of the Church's most ancient moral teachings." Imagine the small rustlings of hope inside my soul as I thought that finally a powerful group of Catholics was going to remind those in power that Jesus taught first to do no harm to children.

Well, the letter is about harm to children, but it is about money, not abuse. The letter castigates Boehner for his record in voting for cuts to the Maternal and Child Health grants, Women Infants and Children, Medicaid, and Medicare. Repeatedly, the letter castigates Boehner for not following the Church's teaching to protect the vulnerable.

The academics tell Boehner that "Catholic social doctrine is not merely a set of goals to be achieved by whatever means one chooses. It is also a way of proceeding, a set of principles that are derived from the truth of the human person." They then quote Pope Benedict: "Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way....the word 'love" is abused and distorted, to the point where it comes to mean the opposite."

I would have paraphrased the Pope's words as follows: "Without truth about child sex abuse, there is suffering, suicide, and devastation." That is far too often the life of the victim who was abused by a pedophile priest, who, in turn, was aided by bishops more concerned with staffing than crimes.

A victim can never get to the bottom of the truth, so long as bishops succeed in lobbying to ensure that he or she can never get to court.

Congress itself has a shameful record on the clergy abuse crisis. Boehner may have voted to reduce funding for the poor into the future, but he has done nothing for the victims of sex abuse by clergy, past or present.

The members of Congress have seen no evil, heard no evil and spoken not at all since the Boston Globe first broke the news of the fraud perpetrated on one Catholic family after another by Catholics' own bishops. The letter ignores the elephant in the Capitol, where high-flown rhetoric about the sexual degradation of children is not unusual. It is only abuse by clergy that Congress has chosen to ignore.

If the Pope believes in truth and protection for the vulnerable, his letter to the bishops will order them to become advocates for children in the legislatures by endorsing statutes of limitations reform. If his letter lacks this legislative agenda, the Vatican will have failed the litmus test for the protection of children. Again.

Marci A. Hamilton is the Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University and author of Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children (Cambridge, 2008) and God vs. the Gavel: Religion and the Rule of Law (Cambridge, 2005, 2007).

This article was found at:

Globe and Mail  -  Canada   May 16, 2011

Vatican tells bishops to root out sex abuse



The Vatican told bishops around the world on Monday that they must make it a global priority to root out sexual abuse of children by priests.

The headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church told bishops in a letter that they should cooperate with civil authorities to end the abuse that has tarnished its image around the world.

“This is telling the world that we mean business. We want to be an example of prevention and care,” said one Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The letter is intended to help every diocese draw up its own tough guidelines, based on a global approach but in line with local criminal law. These must be sent to the Vatican for review within a year.

“The responsibility for dealing with delicts (crimes) of sexual abuse of minors by clerics belongs in the first place to the diocesan bishop,” the letter says.

It incorporates sweeping revisions made last year to the Church’s laws on sexual abuse, which doubled a statute of limitations for disciplinary action against priests and extended the use of fast-track procedures to defrock them.

The Vatican has for years been struggling to control the damage that sexual abuse scandals in the United States and several European countries, including Pope Benedict’s native Germany, have done to the Church’s image.


“This goes beyond what was done before,” the Vatican official said. “It is setting up a standard of best principles, best policy to be followed globally. It makes protection of minors a paramount principle and takes a long-term view because it talks about the formation of future priests.”

The scandal has led to the resignation of bishops in several countries. Last year, Benedict begged forgiveness from God and from abuse victims, and said the Church would do everything in its power to ensure that it never happened again.

The Vatican official said that if local criminal legislation requires that bishops report sex offenders directly to civil authorities, they are obliged to do so and the guidelines will include this.

Victims groups said they were not satisfied.

“There’s no “zero tolerance” or “mandatory reporting” requirement. There’s no insistence that bishops warn their flock about child molesting clerics. There’s nothing that will make a child safer today or tomorrow or next month or next year,” said SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

In an exclusive interview with Reuters Television, the Vatican’s “Justice Promoter”, Monsignor Charles Scicluna, responded to the accusation.

“This is a long-term planning procedure. It has taken some time for the Church to recognise that there have to be clear guidelines. It is a good day for people who expect that the Church gives the good example, even when it comes to the protection of minors,” Scicluna said.

The letter tells bishops they must be prepared to listen to the victims and their families and be committed to their spiritual and psychological assistance. Bishops must be more careful in choosing candidates for the priesthood in order to weed out early those who are or could become sex abusers.

It says that while those accused of being sexual abusers have to be treated fairly and with due process, those who are known to be abusers must be excluded from the public ministry.

In many of the cases of sexual abuse around the world, local bishops allowed known abusers to be moved from parish to parish instead of being defrocked.

This article was found at:


Review of sex abuse guidelines at US bishops conference will not close loopholes that continue to endanger children

Northern Ireland survivors of clergy crimes say Vatican investigation inadequate, call for government inquiry

Is the Catholic church in state of denial over clergy abuse, or is it honest and transparent?

Investigation uncovers Catholic practice of "geographic cure", shuffling pedophile priests around the globe

Priest Accused Of Abuse Moved From Parish To Parish

Lawsuit against L.A. and Mexico City Cardinals claims they moved known pedophile priest between dioceses 

San Diego diocese documents released, more evidence of Catholic leaders moving pedophile priests from parish to parish

Bishops were warned of abusive priests as early as the mid-1950s

1963 letter by church expert on pedophile priests shows Pope Paul VI and Vatican officials ignored warnings to expel problem priests

Current wave of global Catholic scandals just tip of iceberg says Quebec advocate who predicts many more to come

Boston Globe reporters who exposed widespread sex crimes scandal which led to current Catholic crisis say far more yet to come

As Vatican cardinal defends pope and church, African bishop says sex crimes of priests there not yet exposed


  1. Not So Fast, Your Holiness

    Pope Benedict XVI wants out. Who will hold him accountable for his sins against humanity?

    By Daniel Gawthrop, Today, TheTyee.ca

    For all his predictability as a cleric and thinker, Joseph Ratzinger -- the man everyone knows as Pope Benedict XVI -- has always retained a capacity to surprise. And this morning's announcement that he is stepping down as pope on Feb. 28 certainly qualifies as a humdinger. Even his Vatican aides were "incredulous" at the news -- this being the first papal resignation since the Middle Ages. But then, since many regard Benedict as a Middle Ages kind of pope, perhaps it's fitting.

    All joking aside ("Ex-Benedict for breakfast" was the one making the rounds as I sipped my morning coffee while absorbing the surprise), let us take a moment to consider today's solemn announcement in the spirit with which His Holiness delivered it.

    "After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry." (Having been raised Catholic, I've always enjoyed the papal flair for ostentatious language. Turning St. Peter into an adjective is a specialty of Benedict's.) At nearly 86, it is true that he is old -- as popes tend to become. Lately, he has suffered from arthritis in the knees, hips and ankles, which must make the prospect of another exhausting papal tour too daunting to contemplate. And so, after honouring all his public commitments and engagements until Feb. 28, he will move to his summer residence near Rome and then to a former monastery within Vatican territory. I suspect that, the closer he comes to death, he may opt for the bucolic German countryside of his birth.

    When an old man says "enough is enough" and makes a case for retirement, it is hard to resist his plea for peace, rest, and quiet contemplation. And sure enough, as the world was still taking in the news, one of my siblings offered a word of caution about the incendiary title of my as-yet-unpublished book: The Trial of Pope Benedict: Joseph Ratzinger and the Assault on Reason, Compassion, and Human Dignity. He urged me "to take into account the way human nature tends to be forgiving of people's failings when giving eulogies; even though Benedict is not dead, in the wake of his retirement, the tributes are already pouring in and people may not be ready to hear the dirt on his real performance yet, until history provides an overall balance, in time."

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  2. These are wise words, and my brother may well be right. But then, Pope Benedict isn't just any old man: he's the first pope to resign since Gregory XII quit in 1415 to end the western schism. Since then, the papacy has been something of a life sentence for its holder. Benedict's predecessor, John Paul II, held ultimate papal authority until his dying moment, after several years of suffering Parkinson's disease. Whatever challenges of mobility Benedict may be suffering now, today's announcement makes clear that he still has all of his mental faculties. So, even with "a progressive decline in his strength," what's to stop him from continuing the papacy from the confines of the Vatican, formally ending all travel plans and devoting the rest of his days to housebound service to his Lord? When he took the papacy on April 19, 2005, there was very much a Charlton Heston-like, "from these cold, dead hands" certainty in his embrace of the office. So what happened?

    Only His Holiness can answer that. While Vatican spokesmen deny that the resignation has anything to do with difficulties on the job (the sex abuse scandals, the Vatican Bank crisis, etc.), we are all left to speculate. The resignation may well have been "a personal decision taken with full freedom," as Federico Lombardi put it, but I am less inclined to give it the "maximum respect" that Lombardi and others insist the announcement deserves. And that's not because I think that Ratzinger is essentially a selfish man who lacked the humility of many of his predecessors and was never truly worthy of the office. It's because "maximum respect" lets him off the hook too easily, allowing him to sail off into the sunset like Henry Kissinger, diplomatically immune to prosecution or otherwise free of any further scrutiny or accountability for his many misdeeds.

    To be sure, there were several people willing to rain on the parade of accolades for Benedict this morning. The entire Irish Roman Catholic Church, for one, wasn't exactly throwing bouquets in his direction. The co-founder of Irish Survivors of Child Abuse said that the pope has let down abuse victims by failing to follow through on promises of inquiries, reform, or any Vatican commitment that priests or religious figures found guilty of child abuse will face civil authorities and be tried in the courts for their crimes. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) can't be any happier about the pope's retirement. In 2011, SNAP filed a complaint at the International Criminal Court in the Hague against Benedict and Cardinals Tarcisio Bertone, Angelo Sodano and William Levada, charging all four with "command responsibility" for aiding and abetting the systematic abuse of children on an international scale.

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  3. The child abuse scandals, of course, get all the headlines. But what kind of "balance" will history provide for Benedict/Ratzinger's record on the issues that matter to him most?

    There can be no denying that, over the years, his scorched-earth assault on modernity and the world of ideas has left an endless trail of shattered lives and bitterness in its wake.

    Let's not forget that Ratzinger did most of his damage while serving Pope John Paul II as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, from 1981 until 2005, the year he succeeded John Paul. What will history say about his antediluvian teachings about human sexuality, bioethics, and Original Sin, which have denied millions of women the right to make their own decisions about the bodies they inhabit?

    What will history say about the countless gay and lesbian teenagers who continue to commit suicide because Ratzinger/Benedict has ruled that they suffer from an "objective moral [and] intrinsic disorder"?

    Or the liberation theologians of Latin America, who in the 1980s and '90s lost their careers and livelihoods -- in some cases, their lives -- because Ratzinger decided that their "communist" ideas were a threat to Church authority and the Vatican's control of its flock?

    Or the millions of people of other world religions, whom Ratzinger antagonized with his triumphalist declarations of Roman Catholic supremacy -- in one infamous case prompting charges of a holy war against Muslims that led to violent protests and the death of a Somalian nun?

    In the spirit of fairness and balance, I am inclined to give Benedict a pass on the Vatican Bank scandal. (Well, except for the shoddy treatment of his butler, and the crocodile tears of his subsequent pardoning of the man.) But even in this case, any dispensation for the pontiff's attempts to fix a problem that has plagued the Vatican for decades must be tempered by our knowledge that a higher transparency rating tends to be good for public relations, as well as business. And Benedict, for all his bungling of the child abuse file, has always placed a high priority on good PR.

    There are those who would argue -- and I am one of them -- that Ratzinger/Benedict's overall record should preclude any possibility of a cozy retirement or diplomatic immunity from the abuse scandals. Even if he doesn't end up in the World Court (and that seems about as likely as an appearance there by Kissinger), the outgoing leader of the world's 1.3 billion Roman Catholics should at least be held accountable for promoting a toxic theology whose destructive impact can be felt far beyond the Church itself; for diminishing human life rather than sanctifying it; for suppressing truth rather than shedding light on it; and for turning the Church itself into a house of horrors rather than holiness for far too many.

    During his eight years on St. Peter's throne, Ratzinger/Benedict has attempted to rebrand himself from "God's Rottweiler" to Prince of Peace. History, I suspect, will not grant him his wish.


  4. During the 24 years that Ratzinger was head of the "Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith", more commonly known as the Inquisition that was created in 1184 to persecute heretics, he had personal oversight of the worldwide pedophile priest scandal. His office collected and kept files on all cases of child abusing priests. As Pope he has continued to keep those pedophile perversion files secret. He knows that the church and he himself have been corrupted by these crimes against humanity's children.

    If he had just one tiny bit of morality left in him, if he was a true shepherd and not just one in wolves clothing, he would do the right thing and release the pedophile perversion files as a demonstration of faith. If his church is the one true church, surely it can survive the purging of pedophile priests and their enablers in the church hierarchy.

    If there remains any doubt as to how vile the abuse of defenseless children by Catholic priests is, and the ongoing cover-up by the Church hierarchy including Ratzinger, both as Inquisitor and Pope, check out the new documentary, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God.


  5. Vatican impeded Mahony attempts to remove priests, files show

    Newly released documents trace the cardinal's frustration with ongoing delays in his efforts to get some accused abusers out of the priesthood.

    By Victoria Kim and Ashley Powers, Los Angeles Times February 15, 2013

    In 1993, Cardinal Roger Mahony wrote to the Vatican with an urgent problem. One of his priests in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles had been accused of plying teenage boys with alcohol and molesting them, sometimes during prayer.

    In less than eight years, Father Kevin Barmasse had, as one church official put it in newly released files, "left a wake of devastation that is hard to comprehend." Mahony yanked Barmasse out of his parish and wanted to make sure he couldn't return. But Barmasse appealed to the one body that could overrule Mahony: the Vatican.

    "The case has been there for many, many months," Mahony wrote to one Vatican office tasked with handling priest misconduct. "The lengthy delay has created serious problems for my own credibility as a Diocesan Bishop."

    In the wake of the court-ordered release of 12,000 pages of confidential archdiocese records, Mahony has been criticized for hiding abuse allegations from police and failing to protect parishioners from accused molesters. But the documents suggest that Mahony at times had to press an unresponsive Vatican to get molesting priests out of the church.

    Although local leaders had the authority to take troubled clerics out of parishes, only the pope could remove them from the priesthood entirely. And when Mahony turned to the Vatican, the papers show, he ran into a bureaucracy steeped in ritual, mired in delays and reluctant to come to terms with the burgeoning problem.

    "This was not just Mahony's experience. Anyone in the world who had dealings with the Vatican in the '80s and '90s was frustrated — who's in charge, what's the procedure, how long it took," said John Allen, a correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter who has written extensively on the Vatican.

    Mahony dealt with multiple offices on abuse cases, including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that defends church teaching and punishes those who commit delicta graviora — grave offenses. Joseph Ratzinger led the office for more than two decades before becoming Pope Benedict XVI in 2005. The pontiff recently announced that he will step down by month's end.

    Mahony appeared to feel particularly impeded in dealing with Barmasse. The priest, who was accused of abusing at least eight teenage boys, had challenged Mahony's decision to remove him from ministry. As the appeal dragged on, Mahony told a Vatican official with the Congregation for the Clergy that he planned to visit Rome in December 1993. He suggested they meet in person — he would be staying, he wrote, at "Via della Conciliazione, 36 — very near to your offices." But even after his visit, the case remained unresolved.

    Four months later, in March 1994, Mahony wrote: "Given the pastoral situation in the United States today, which is all too well known, Bishops need to be able to act quickly and decisively in cases of alleged clerical misconduct to assure the People of God that their rights are being fully protected."

    In April, he wrote to the Vatican official: "It is now almost five months since my meeting with you and yet nothing further has come from you or your Congregation."

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  6. Another decade would pass before Barmasse was defrocked. Troy Gray, 44, who said Barmasse molested him in the late '80s while working in Tucson, cringed at the lengthy delay.

    "They had their own procedures and protocols," he said in an interview. "It angers me that the children were put on the back burner."

    Neither Mahony nor Vatican officials responded to requests for comment. In a 2010 interview with an Italian newspaper that the Vatican posted on its website, a top official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said accusations that it moved glacially were "unjustified," particularly in recent years.

    Observers said the Vatican response was markedly slower in decades past.

    "This is not to give the American bishops a pass, but they really had no leadership from Rome," said Jason Berry, author of "Render Unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church."

    Bishops started asking the Holy See in the 1980s for the power to remove abusers from the priesthood. But a formal request by American bishops was turned down by the Vatican in 1993, observers said.

    At the Ratzinger-led Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a staff of 45 was left "struggling to cope" with the caseload generated by the world's 400,000 priests, wrote Timothy Radcliffe, a Dominican priest who worked with the Vatican as head of the order from 1992 to 2001.

    "It is generally imagined that the Vatican is a vast and efficient [organization]. In fact it is tiny," he wrote in a 2010 column for the British Catholic weekly The Tablet. "Documents slipped through the cracks. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger lamented to me that the staff was simply too small for the job."

    The labyrinthine protocol of the Vatican also made it ill-equipped to respond to a fast-evolving crisis. Each time bishops opened a case about a problematic priest, they cut a check to the Holy See for $500, a fee known as "taxa." Letters were sent to the Vatican embassy in Washington, D.C., then forwarded via diplomatic pouch. (Once, when Mahony seemed especially anxious for a response, he noted that he'd also sent the letter by fax.)

    When one Los Angeles priest was defrocked in 2007, the files show, he was sent two notarized copies of the Latin decree, a third copy in English and instructions to write the date by his signature "with the month spelt out in full rather than using a number."

    "It's not a court system," Berry said. "It's a system of tribunals in a monarchical form of government."

    The Vatican began revamping how it handled sex abuse cases in 2001, when Ratzinger centralized them in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The move has been hailed by observers as one of the Holy See's first concrete efforts to address the abuse crisis. Until Ratzinger became pope, he spent Friday mornings sifting through allegations of abuse from around the globe, work he reportedly called "our Friday penance."

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  7. Between 2001 and 2010, the office handled about 3,000 cases, the vast majority from the U.S., Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna, then the office's chief internal prosecutor, told the Italian paper. About 20% of the cases ended with the cleric being formally dismissed from the priesthood. In one such case, the documents show, Mahony asked the Holy See for a favor.

    By 2004, when Father Carl Sutphin was 72 and living with his ailing mother, at least 16 people had accused him of molesting them decades before, sometimes while hearing their confessions. Sutphin said Mass for his mother every day, which Mahony called "one of her few remaining consolations in this world." The cardinal asked if Sutphin could remain a priest as long as she was alive.

    The Vatican agreed. Although Sutphin was defrocked in December 2005, the Holy See held off notifying him until February 2006 — after officials learned that his mother had died.

    Neither Sutphin nor Barmasse responded to requests for comment.

    In another case, Mahony found himself in a familiar position: struggling with Vatican delays.

    Father Arwyn Diesta's alleged sexual abuse of a seminary student first came to Mahony's attention in 1992. By then, the priest had returned to his native Philippines. Mahony wrote to Diesta's bishop, urging him to keep the priest away from teenage boys and have him undergo a psychological evaluation. When the bishop scoffed at the claims, Mahony went over his head.

    "Obviously, if Father Diesta has indeed engaged in such sexual misconduct in the past, and I am convinced that he has, then he should not be in any ministry involving young people — especially young seminarians," Mahony told the Vatican office in charge of seminaries in 1993. The cardinal running the office, Pio Laghi, said he'd alert an archbishop in the Philippines.

    In 2001, Mahony visited a U.S. military base in Okinawa — and ran into Diesta. He was working as a U.S. Navy chaplain and at a seminary in the Philippines.

    Mahony again wrote to the Vatican, asking why nothing had been done. So did the mother of one alleged victim.

    "How many other young men have been needlessly subjected to sexual abuse by Fr. Diesta since he was reported ... 10 years ago?" wrote the mother, who learned that Diesta was still in ministry through an Internet search.

    In April 2002, the Vatican told Mahony that Diesta's bishop remained dead set against taking action. Nine years after Mahony's first letter, officials wrote: "We have forwarded the dossier on the aforementioned priest to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith."

    Clearly frustrated, Mahony tried to work around the Vatican. Over the next two years, the archdiocese reported the allegations against Diesta to church officials who worked with the military, the Los Angeles Police Department and child welfare officials in the Philippines.

    Diesta could not be reached for comment. According to the Diocese of Sorsogon in the Philippines, he remains a parish priest.

    Times staff writers Nita Lelyveld, Harriet Ryan and Alan Zarembo contributed to this report.


  8. Pope Benedict XVI charged with crimes against humanity

    BY: MICHAEL STONE Examiner FEBRUARY 25, 2011

    Charges against Pope Benedict XVI alleging crimes against humanity have been initiated at the International Criminal Court. Two German lawyers, Christian Sailer and Gert-Joachim Hetzel from the Pope's home state of Bavaria, have submitted a 16,500-word document indicting the Pope for various crimes against humanity.

    Wednesday the Irish Times broke this potentially explosive story, detailing charges initiated against the Pope for crimes against humanity.

    The charges were submitted to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court at the Hague, Dr Luis Moreno Ocampo. The charges allege that Pope Benedict preserved and directed an institution responsible for the coercion, extortion and subjugation of its members.

    Specific charges include endangering members health by forbidding the use of condoms, as well as enabling and promoting the sexual abuse of children by clergy.

    Pope Benedict is charged with the "establishment and maintenance of a worldwide system of cover-up of the sexual crimes committed by Catholic priests and their preferential treatment, which aids and abets ever new crimes.” The allegation goes on:

    Dr Joseph Ratzinger, as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of his church and as Pope, has up to the present day systematically covered up the sexual abuse of children and youths and protected the perpetrators, thereby aiding and abetting further sexual violence toward young people.

    It remains to be seen whether or not the International Criminal Court will address the charges.

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  9. Pope will have security, immunity by remaining in the Vatican

    By Philip Pullella Reuters February 15, 2013

    VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict's decision to live in the Vatican after he resigns will provide him with security and privacy. It will also offer legal protection from any attempt to prosecute him in connection with sexual abuse cases around the world, Church sources and legal experts say.

    "His continued presence in the Vatican is necessary, otherwise he might be defenseless. He wouldn't have his immunity, his prerogatives, his security, if he is anywhere else," said one Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    "It is absolutely necessary" that he stays in the Vatican, said the source, adding that Benedict should have a "dignified existence" in his remaining years.

    Vatican sources said officials had three main considerations in deciding that Benedict should live in a convent in the Vatican after he resigns on February 28.

    Vatican police, who already know the pope and his habits, will be able to guarantee his privacy and security and not have to entrust it to a foreign police force, which would be necessary if he moved to another country.

    "I see a big problem if he would go anywhere else. I'm thinking in terms of his personal security, his safety. We don't have a secret service that can devote huge resources (like they do) to ex-presidents," the official said.

    Another consideration was that if the pope did move permanently to another country, living in seclusion in a monastery in his native Germany, for example, the location might become a place of pilgrimage.


    This could be complicated for the Church, particularly in the unlikely event that the next pope makes decisions that may displease conservatives, who could then go to Benedict's place of residence to pay tribute to him.

    "That would be very problematic," another Vatican official said.

    The final key consideration is the pope's potential exposure to legal claims over the Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandals.

    In 2010, for example, Benedict was named as a defendant in a law suit alleging that he failed to take action as a cardinal in 1995 when he was allegedly told about a priest who had abused boys at a U.S. school for the deaf decades earlier. The lawyers withdrew the case last year and the Vatican said it was a major victory that proved the pope could not be held liable for the actions of abusive priests.

    Benedict is currently not named specifically in any other case. The Vatican does not expect any more but is not ruling out the possibility.

    "(If he lived anywhere else) then we might have those crazies who are filing lawsuits, or some magistrate might arrest him like other (former) heads of state have been for alleged acts while he was head of state," one source said.

    Another official said: "While this was not the main consideration, it certainly is a corollary, a natural result."

    After he resigns, Benedict will no longer be the sovereign monarch of the State of Vatican City, which is surrounded by Rome, but will retain Vatican citizenship and residency.


    That would continue to provide him immunity under the provisions of the Lateran Pacts while he is in the Vatican and even if he makes jaunts into Italy as a Vatican citizen.

    The 1929 Lateran Pacts between Italy and the Holy See, which established Vatican City as a sovereign state, said Vatican City would be "invariably and in every event considered as neutral and inviolable territory".

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  10. There have been repeated calls for Benedict's arrest over sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

    When Benedict went to Britain in 2010, British author and atheist campaigner Richard Dawkins asked authorities to arrest the pope to face questions over the Church's child abuse scandal.

    Dawkins and the late British-American journalist Christopher Hitchens commissioned lawyers to explore ways of taking legal action against the pope. Their efforts came to nothing because the pope was a head of state and so enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

    In 2011, victims of sexual abuse by the clergy asked the International Criminal Court to investigate the pope and three Vatican officials over sexual abuse.

    The New York-based rights group Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and another group, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), filed a complaint with the ICC alleging that Vatican officials committed crimes against humanity because they tolerated and enabled sex crimes.

    The ICC has not taken up the case but has never said why. It generally does not comment on why it does not take up cases.


    The Vatican has consistently said that a pope cannot be held accountable for cases of abuse committed by others because priests are employees of individual dioceses around the world and not direct employees of the Vatican. It says the head of the church cannot be compared to the CEO of a company.

    Victims groups have said Benedict, particularly in his previous job at the head of the Vatican's doctrinal department, turned a blind eye to the overall policies of local Churches, which moved abusers from parish to parish instead of defrocking them and handing them over to authorities.

    The Vatican has denied this. The pope has apologized for abuse in the Church, has met with abuse victims on many of his trips, and ordered a major investigation into abuse in Ireland.

    But groups representing some of the victims say the Pope will leave office with a stain on his legacy because he was in positions of power in the Vatican for more than three decades, first as a cardinal and then as pope, and should have done more.

    The scandals began years before the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope in 2005 but the issue has overshadowed his papacy from the beginning, as more and more cases came to light in dioceses across the world.

    As recently as last month, the former archbishop of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony, was stripped by his successor of all public and administrative duties after a thousands of pages of files detailing abuse in the 1980s were made public.

    Mahony, who was archbishop of Los Angeles from 1985 until 2011, has apologized for "mistakes" he made as archbishop, saying he had not been equipped to deal with the problem of sexual misconduct involving children. The pope was not named in that case.

    In 2007, the Los Angeles archdiocese, which serves 4 million Catholics, reached a $660 million civil settlement with more than 500 victims of child molestation, the biggest agreement of its kind in the United States.

    Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the pope "gave the fight against sexual abuse a new impulse, ensuring that new rules were put in place to prevent future abuse and to listen to victims. That was a great merit of his papacy and for that we will be grateful".

    (Reporting by Philip Pullella; Additional reporting by Robin Pomeroy; Edited by Simon Robinson and Giles Elgood)


  11. U.N. body says U.S. lax on clerical sex abuse cases

    By Tom Heneghan, Reuters Religion Editor
    VATICAN CITY | Mon Feb 18, 2013

    - A U.N. committee has accused U.S. legal authorities of failing to fully pursue cases of child sex abuse in religious groups, an issue especially troubling the Roman Catholic Church.

    The Committee on the Rights of the Child wrote this month that it was "deeply concerned" to find widespread sexual abuse by clerics and staff of religious institutions and "a lack of measures ... to properly investigate cases and prosecute them".

    Britain's National Secular Society, which drew attention on Monday to the little-noticed report, said it hoped the Catholic pope to be elected next month would open Church files to help prosecute as yet undiscovered cases of clerical sexual abuse.

    The scandal of predator priests has haunted the pontificate of Pope Benedict, who will resign on Feb 28. The pope has apologized for the abuse and met victims in several countries, but cases and damning internal files are still coming to light.

    After years of legal battles, the Los Angeles archdiocese bowed to a court order last month and released 12,000 pages of files showing its former head, Cardinal Roger Mahony, had sent accused abusers out of state to avoid justice in the 1980s.

    "The committee is deeply concerned at information of sexual abuse committed by clerics and leading members of certain faith-based organizations and religious institutions on a massive and long-term scale," said the report, which gave no details.

    It said it also found a "lack of measures taken by (U.S. legal authorities) to properly investigate cases and prosecute those accused" and urged them to order law enforcement officials to step up efforts to uncover and bring charges against abusers.


    The National Secular Society, which campaigns at the United Nations against privileges for religious groups, accused Benedict of hushing up abuse cases and obstructing justice.

    "We can only hope that his successor opens the secret files and treats victims with the respect they deserve," its executive director Keith Porteous Wood said in a statement.

    The abuse crisis is expected to be among issues cardinals discuss before they enter the Sistine Chapel in mid-March to elect a new pope, but the secrecy of their consultations means it is not clear how much of a role it will play in their choice.

    The committee, which drew its conclusions after a routine review of U.S. compliance with the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted its report in Geneva on Feb 1.

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  12. The Church and its insurance companies in the United States have already paid more than $2 billion in damages to victims. Clerics from other faiths have also been accused or convicted of sexual abuse of children, but on a lesser scale than Catholics.

    Catholic dioceses with known abuser priests have staff files on them and correspondence with the Vatican about some of them. These are confidential but courts and government inquiries in several countries have forced some of them to be opened.

    Sexual abuse cases in the Catholic Church began coming to light in the 1980s and became a major crisis in 2002, when U.S. media began reporting systematic cover-ups for abusive priests.

    Ireland, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands have grappled with similar scandals after official or Church-led reports exposed abuse in schools and church organizations.


    The Church in many countries has set up new guidelines to deal with past abuse, prevent new cases, report abuse to police and stop potential abusers from entering the priesthood.

    But campaigners say there is much still to be discovered about how the Church behaved in the past and want more bishops who were aware of abuse to be held responsible.

    "Hundreds if not thousands of clerics have wrongly escaped incarceration due to the continuing secrecy of the Church and the issue being almost ignored by law enforcers," Porteous Wood said. "Prosecuting authorities have some very awkward questions to answer, and not just in the U.S."

    Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law resigned after scandals were exposed there but was named to a prestigious Church post in Rome. Mahony, who had already retired as Los Angeles archbishop, was stripped of his public ministry when files were opened there.

    Victims' groups have tried to establish a legal link between abuse cases in countries such as the United States and Germany and the Vatican, which in some cases appeared more concerned about protecting the Church's image than helping the victims.

    Before his election in 2005, Benedict headed the Vatican's doctrinal office and took over handling of sexual abuse cases in 2001. Supporters say Vatican infighting kept him from responding decisively but he took a tougher stand once he was pope.

    Critics say he failed to take effective action. "He publicly spoke about the crisis more than his predecessor but that alone is no achievement," SNAP, an abuse victims' advocacy group, said after he announced his resignation on Feb 11.

    In 2010, Benedict was named as a defendant in a U.S. law suit alleging that he failed to take action as a cardinal in 1995 when he was allegedly told about a priest who had abused boys at a school for the deaf decades earlier.

    The lawyers withdrew the case last year and the Vatican said it was a major victory that proved the pope could not be held liable for the actions of abusive priests in their dioceses.


  13. Papal resignation linked to inquiry into Vatican gay officials, says paper

    Pope's staff decline to confirm or deny La Repubblica claims linking 'Vatileaks' affair and discovery of 'blackmailed gay clergy'

    by John Hooper in Rome, The Guardian February 22,2013

    A potentially explosive report has linked the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI to the discovery of a network of gay prelates in the Vatican, some of whom – the report said – were being blackmailed by outsiders.

    The pope's spokesman declined to confirm or deny the report, which was carried by the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica.

    The paper said the pope had taken the decision on 17 December that he was going to resign – the day he received a dossier compiled by three cardinals delegated to look into the so-called "Vatileaks" affair.

    Last May Pope Benedict's butler, Paolo Gabriele, was arrested and charged with having stolen and leaked papal correspondence that depicted the Vatican as a seething hotbed of intrigue and infighting.

    According to La Repubblica, the dossier comprising "two volumes of almost 300 pages – bound in red" had been consigned to a safe in the papal apartments and would be delivered to the pope's successor upon his election.

    The newspaper said the cardinals described a number of factions, including one whose members were "united by sexual orientation".

    In an apparent quotation from the report, La Repubblica said some Vatican officials had been subject to "external influence" from laymen with whom they had links of a "worldly nature". The paper said this was a clear reference to blackmail.

    It quoted a source "very close to those who wrote [the cardinal's report]" as saying: "Everything revolves around the non-observance of the sixth and seventh commandments."

    The seventh enjoins against theft. The sixth forbids adultery, but is linked in Catholic doctrine to the proscribing of homosexual acts.

    La Repubblica said the cardinals' report identified a series of meeting places in and around Rome. They included a villa outside the Italian capital, a sauna in a Rome suburb, a beauty parlour in the centre, and a former university residence that was in use by a provincial Italian archbishop.

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  14. Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said: "Neither the cardinals' commission nor I will make comments to confirm or deny the things that are said about this matter. Let each one assume his or her own responsibilities. We shall not be following up on the observations that are made about this."

    He added that interpretations of the report were creating "a tension that is the opposite of what the pope and the church want" in the approach to the conclave of cardinals that will elect Benedict's successor. Another Italian daily, Corriere della Sera, alluded to the dossier soon after the pope announced his resignation on 11 February, describing its contents as "disturbing".

    The three-man commission of inquiry into the Vatileaks affair was headed by a Spanish cardinal, Julián Herranz. He was assisted by Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, a former archbishop of Palermo, and the Slovak cardinal Jozef Tomko, who once headed the Vatican's department for missionaries.

    Pope Benedict has said he will stand down at the end of this month; the first pope to resign voluntarily since Celestine V more than seven centuries ago. Since announcing his departure he has twice apparently referred to machinations inside the Vatican, saying that divisions "mar the face of the church", and warned against "the temptations of power".

    La Repubblica's report was the latest in a string of claims that a gay network exists in the Vatican. In 2007 a senior official was suspended from the congregation, or department, for the priesthood, after he was filmed in a "sting" organised by an Italian television programme while apparently making sexual overtures to a younger man.

    In 2010 a chorister was dismissed for allegedly procuring male prostitutes for a papal gentleman-in-waiting. A few months later a weekly news magazine used hidden cameras to record priests visiting gay clubs and bars and having sex.

    The Vatican does not condemn homosexuals. But it teaches that gay sex is "intrinsically disordered". Pope Benedict has barred sexually active gay men from studying for the priesthood.

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  15. Cardinal sidelined over abuse record says he’s intent on voting in papal conclave

    Araminta Wordsworth | National Post February 22, 2013

    It’s probably too much to expect any cardinal to pass up the possibility of becoming the next pope.

    They’re only human after all. But the hope is the next wearer of the triple tiara won’t come with dirty laundry, especially the kind stained by the numerous scandals over sex-abuser priests.

    Singled out for opprobrium has been Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, one of 11 American members of the College of Cardinals. This month he was barred by his successor in the diocese from undertaking any public engagements in a stunning vote of non-confidence.

    Documents released by Archbishop Jose Gomez show Mahony fostered a pattern of obfuscation and delay in handling sex abuse cases. In a series of blog posts, Mahony is painting himself as a martyr to duty.

    Also in the spotlight in Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York — he is due to be deposed over his performance in his previous job in Milwaukee. But unlike Mahony, 77, the 63-year-old is considered papabile, i.e., pontiff material.

    Other cardinals with less than stellar records for curbing sex abuse include Cardinal Sean Brady of Ireland, Godfried Danneels of Belgium, and Justin Rigali, retired archbishop of Philadelphia, says The Daily Telegraph.

    The sex abuse scandals that rocked the Catholic Church over the last decade were so extensive that it was not surprising so many cardinal electors were mired in controversy, said Robert Mickens, a veteran Vatican analyst for The Tablet, the British Catholic weekly.

    “If they banned all the cardinals who have mismanaged sex abuse or have been involved in other unsavoury business, they’d end up holding the conclave in a broom cupboard. But under Vatican laws, cardinals cannot be excluded from the conclave for any reason, even excommunication.”

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  16. Opposition to Mahony is generally coming from the U.S., spearheaded by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, but, as The Associated Press’s Nicole Winfield reports, concerns are also being raised closer to Rome.

    This week, the influential Italian Catholic affairs magazine Famiglia Cristiana asked its readers if the Los Angeles-based cardinal Mahony should participate in the conclave given the revelations. “Your opinion: Mahony in the conclave: Yes or No?” reads the online survey of one of Italy’s most-read magazines.

    The overwhelming majority among more than 350 replies has been a clear-cut “No.”

    The magazine is distributed free in Italian parishes each Sunday. The fact that it initiated the poll is an indication that the Catholic establishment in Italy has itself questioned whether tarnished cardinals should be allowed to vote — a remarkable turn of events for a conservative Catholic country that still is deferential to the church hierarchy in its backyard.

    In the ABC News blog The Note, David Wright says at least one cardinal is concerned about Mahony’s participation in the conclave.

    [A] fellow prince of the church even chimed in, suggesting, in the most diplomatic way possible, that Mahony think twice before coming to Rome.

    Speaking to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Cardinal Velasio de Paolis called it “disturbing” that Cardinal Mahony should participate in the election the new pope.

    “But,” he noted, “the rules have to be respected.”

    Those rules make it clear that it is the right and duty of every cardinal under age 80 to attend the conclave.

    De Paolis said: “[Mahony] could be advised not to attend only by a private intervention by someone of great authority.
    You can use persuasion; you can’t do any more.”

    Rebecca Hamilton, a contributor to the Patheos blog, is just plain fed up with Mahony.

    I just wish [he] would give it a rest. I also wish that he would stay home from the conclave. I wish that he would stop publishing bizarre blog posts and that he would find the humility to accept that he is not a martyr. He is a miscreant who has been caught in his own sins.

    I wish he could have been a better cardinal and a better priest. If he couldn’t muster that, I wish he had at least been able to be a better man and a better Christian.

    In the final analysis, if he had been either a good man or a good Christian, that would have been enough. If he had just been following Jesus, he would never have enabled priests he knew were abusing children to keep on abusing more children. His conscience would not have allowed him to do it.


  17. Vatican says reports about secret dossier a ploy to sway cardinals

    NICOLE WINFIELD The Associated Press Globe & Mail
    February 23 2013

    VATICAN CITY — The Vatican lashed out Saturday at the media for what it said has been a run of defamatory and false reports before the conclave to elect Pope Benedict XVI’s successor, saying they were an attempt to influence the election.

    Italian newspapers have been rife with unsourced reports in recent days about the contents of a secret dossier prepared for the pope by three cardinals who investigated the origins of the 2012 scandal over leaked Vatican documents.

    The reports have suggested the revelations in the dossier, given to Benedict in December, were a factor in his decision to resign. The Pope himself has said merely that he doesn’t have the “strength of mind and body” to carry on and would resign Feb. 28.

    On Saturday, a day before Benedict’s final Sunday blessing in St. Peter’s Square, the Vatican secretariat of state said the Catholic Church has for centuries insisted on the independence of its cardinals to freely elect their pope — a reference to episodes in the past when kings and emperors vetoed papal contenders or prevented cardinals from voting outright.

    “If in the past, the so-called powers, i.e., States, exerted pressures on the election of the pope, today there is an attempt to do this through public opinion that is often based on judgments that do not typically capture the spiritual aspect of the moment that the church is living,” the statement said.

    “It is deplorable that as we draw closer to the time of the beginning of the conclave ... that there be a widespread distribution of often unverified, unverifiable or completely false news stories that cause serious damage to persons and institutions.”

    Vatican spokesman Reverend Federico Lombardi was asked how specifically the media was trying to influence the outcome; Lombardi didn’t respond directly, saying only that the reports have tended to paint the Curia in a negative light “beyond the considerations and serene evaluations” of problems that cardinals might discuss before the conclave.

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  18. Some Vatican watchers have speculated that because the Vatican bureaucracy is heavily Italian, cardinals might be persuaded to elect a non-Italian, non-Vatican-based cardinal as pope to try to impose some reform on the Curia.

    While Lombardi has said the reports “do not correspond to reality,” the Pope and some of his closest collaborators have recently denounced the dysfunction in the Apostolic Palace.

    Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, for example, criticized the “divisions, dissent, careerism, jealousies” that afflict the Vatican bureaucracy. He made the comments Friday, the penultimate day of the Vatican’s weeklong spiritual exercises that were attended by the pope and other officials. Ravasi, himself a papal contender, was chosen by Benedict to deliver daily meditations and on Saturday Benedict praised him for his “brilliant” work.

    The divisions Ravasi spoke of were exposed by the documents taken from the pope’s study by his butler and then leaked by a journalist. The documents revealed the petty wrangling, corruption and cronyism and even allegations of a gay plot at the highest levels of the Catholic Church.

    The three cardinals who investigated the theft had wide-ranging powers to interview even cardinals to get to the bottom of the dynamics within the Curia that resulted in the gravest Vatican security breach in modern times.

    Benedict too has made reference to the divisions in recent days, deploring in his final Mass as pope on Ash Wednesday how the church is often “defiled” by attacks and divisions from within. Last Sunday, he urged its members to overcome “pride and egoism.”

    On Saturday, in his final comments to the Curia, Benedict lamented the “evil, suffering and corruption” that have defaced God’s creation. But he also thanked the Vatican bureaucrats for having helped him “bear the burden” of his ministry with their work, love and faith these past eight years.

    The Vatican’s attack on the media echoed its response to previous scandals, where it has tended not to address the underlying content of accusations, but has diverted attention away. During the 2010 explosion of sex abuse scandals, the Vatican accused the media of trying to attack the Pope; during the 2012 leaks scandal, it accused the media of sensationalism without addressing the content of the leaked documents.


  19. Britain's top Catholic cleric accused of inappropriate acts against FOUR priests just days before he helps choose the new Pope

    by OLIVIA WILLIAMS, Daily Mail Uk
    February 23, 2013

    Britain's most senior Catholic clergyman, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, has been reported to the Vatican for alleged inappropriate behaviour, it emerged last night.

    Three priests and one former priest have sent statements to the papal nuncio, Antonio Mennini, alleging impropriety dating back to 1980.

    As head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, next week O'Brien will be part of the conclave choosing the next Pope, but now he faces demands for his immediate resignation.

    As reported by The Observer, one of the priests alleges that he has needed counselling after an inappropriate relationship with O'Brien.

    A second complainant said that he was 18-years-old when O'Brien made an inappropriate approach after night prayers.

    A third said he was invited to 'get to know' O'Brien at the archbishop's residence only to face 'unwanted behaviour' from O'Brien after late-night drinking.

    The four are all from the diocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh.

    A spokesman for the cardinal said that he contests the allegations.

    The four are worried that their complaints may not be fully addressed if O'Brien casts his vote in the election of a new pope.

    One said: 'The church is beautiful, but it has a dark side and that has to do with accountability. If the system is to be improved, maybe it needs to be dismantled a bit.'

    Another, an ex-priest who is now married, was ordained after the alleged incident, but said in his statement that he resigned when O'Brien was promoted to bishop.

    'It was assumed I left the priesthood to get married,' he said. 'I did not. I left to preserve my integrity.'

    It was reported that Cardinal O'Brien missed Sunday Mass at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh this morning, where he was due to celebrate eight years of Pope Benedict holding office.

    The BBC News website said Bishop Stephen Robson told the congregation there: 'A number of allegations of inappropriate behaviour have been made against the cardinal.

    'The cardinal has sought legal advice and it would be inappropriate to comment at this time. There will be further statements in due course.

    'As always in times of need such as this we cannot not be saddened by the events of the last 24 hours.'

    No one from the Scottish Catholic Media Office was immediately available to comment.

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  20. The former archbishop of Westminster said Cardinal O'Brien should be allowed to help choose the next Pope despite facing allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

    Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor also expressed sadness at the claims on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.

    He said: 'I was obviously very sad to hear that.

    'The cardinal has denied the allegations, so I think we will just have to see how that pans out.

    'There have been other cases which have been a great scandal to the church over these past years.

    'I think the church has to face up - has faced up - to some of them very well indeed.'
    Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said it was up to Cardinal O'Brien - who is reported to have sought legal advice - 'how he faces the allegations'.

    He pointed out that Cardinal O'Brien was due to retire when he turns 75 next month.

    Asked whether the cardinal should still be able to go to the Vatican to take part in the selection of Pope Benedict's successor, Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said: 'That is up to Cardinal O'Brien to decide... it will be up to him, and I think rightly so.

    'The allegations have not been proved in any way, so he will have to decide whether he wants to go.'

    He has said he has not yet decided who should be elected as Pope during the conclave, which is expected to be held next month.

    Cardinal O'Brien, originally from Northern Ireland, has been Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh since 1985.

    In November, he was named 'bigot of the year' by Stonewall, a gay rights charity, for his comments about same-sex marriage.

    In August Cardinal O'Brien described it as a ‘grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right’.

    Last week he said the Church should overturn centuries of tradition and allow priests to marry as many clerics struggle with celibacy and a wife and family could offer comfort and support.

    He said: ‘I would be very happy if others had the opportunity of considering whether or not they could or should get married.

    'I realise that many priests have found it very difficult to cope with celibacy... and felt the need of a companion, of a woman, to whom they could get married and raise a family.’

    The cardinal also appeared to support the Catholic taboo of not allowing women priests, saying that the teachings of Jesus do not mention the issue.

    Last week Cardinal O’Brien insisted that it was not for him to judge whether Cardinal Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles, who is accused of covering up child sex allegations, should take part in the Conclave to elect Benedict XVI’s successor.

    Abuse claims have dogged the papacy of Benedict XVI, who is to step down at the end of February.

    see links and video at:


  21. Pope considering response to alleged inappropriate acts by UK cardinal

    by Severin Carrell, Catherine Deveney, John Hooper and Sam Jones
    The Guardian UK February 24, 2013

    Pope Benedict XVI is considering how to respond after being told about allegations that the UK's most senior Catholic has been accused of "inappropriate acts" against fellow priests.

    The Vatican confirmed the pope had seen allegations made by priests against Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the head of the Scottish Catholic church, by three serving priests and a former priest in his diocese which date back to 1980.

    The claims – which are denied by the cardinal and remain unproven – add to a series of controversies over senior figures in the church and within the Vatican that will overshadow Benedict's final days as pontiff and the first weeks of his successor.

    As the pope gave his last pontifical blessing to crowds in St Peter's Square on Sunday morning before stepping down this Thursday, his spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said: "The pope is informed about the problem and the issue is now in his hands." O'Brien, who is also due to retire on his 75th birthday next month, is the only Catholic in the UK within the elite group of 117 cardinals eligible to vote on the pope's successor. It is not known whether he will attend the vote.

    The claims against O'Brien, reported in the Observer, surround allegations of "unwanted behaviour" following late-night drinking and "inappropriate contact" involving the three priests, who are all serving within the cardinal's diocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh, and a former priest who is now married.

    One complainant alleges the cardinal and he developed an "inappropriate relationship" that led to him needing long-term psychological counselling.

    Hours after the allegations were published, O'Brien decided not to give mass at his cathedral in Edinburgh on Sunday morning, where he had been due to celebrate Pope Benedict's eight years in office. He cited legal advice.

    Bishop Stephen Robson, who is auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh, the cardinal's diocese, told the congregation: "A number of allegations of inappropriate behaviour have been made against the cardinal. The cardinal has sought legal advice and it would be inappropriate to comment at this time. There will be further statements in due course.

    "As always in times of need such as this we cannot but be saddened by the events of the last 24 hours. It is to the Lord that we turn now in times of need."

    O'Brien, who has already stood down as chair of the Scottish Catholic bishops' conference because of his age and health, has been a vigorous and outspoken critic of gay rights, denouncing plans for the legalisation of gay marriage as "harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of those involved".

    He was named bigot of the year in 2012 by the gay rights group Stonewall. But in an interview broadcast by the BBC on Friday, O'Brien said he believed Catholic priests ought to be able to marry and have children, claiming many priests found it "very difficult to cope" with celibacy.

    The allegations against O'Brien were sent to the pope's emissary to the UK, the papal nuncio, Antonio Mennini, in the week before Benedict announced his resignation. They raise questions about whether the cardinal will now attend the conclave in Rome.

    The revelation of the priests' complaints – which included a demand for O'Brien's immediate resignation – will be met with consternation in the Vatican.

    Allegations of misconduct by members of the church have dogged Benedict's papacy. Following his resignation statement, rumours have swirled in Rome that Benedict's shock move may be connected to further scandals to come.

  22. There are growing demands from Catholics in the US for another cardinal, Roger Mahony, not to take part in the conclave.

    In January, the archdiocese of Los Angeles stripped Mahony – its former archbishop – of his public duties after it was revealed he tried to conceal child molestation by priests.

    Senior figures in the Catholic church said O'Brien was highly unlikely to stay away from the conclave: they said the claims were unproven and dated back 30 years, while cardinals had a duty to the pope to take part in conclaves.

    The former archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, who will be travelling to the Vatican to advise voting cardinals, said he was "very sad" to hear about the allegations. Speaking on BBC1's Andrew Marr programme, the cardinal said the church had faced up to other controversies, and "some of them very well indeed". He added: "I don't know what the church will do. I think Cardinal O'Brien is very near to retirement and I suspect his resignation, which is already with the pope, because he's nearing 75 and every bishop has to retire – then presumably that will be accepted."

    Murphy-O'Connor said it was up to O'Brien to decide whether to travel to the Vatican: "The allegations have not been proved in any way, so he will have to decide whether he wants to go."

    Catherine Pepinster, editor of the leading Catholic newspaper the Tablet, said many people who had met O'Brien would be shocked by the allegations. "He is an immensely personable, warm man, although his language at times, on issues such as gay marriage, can be intemperate," she said.

    Adding that O'Brien was obliged by his office as cardinal to go to the conclave, Pepinster said efforts to investigate the allegations would be delayed by the pope's resignation: "There will be an interregnum until the next pope is elected and much of the work of the Vatican will come to a halt.

    "Cardinal O'Brien is due to take part in the conclave to elect the next pope. As a cardinal elector he has not only a right but a duty to participate. The participants are there because the pope who gave them the 'red hat' chose them to join the college of cardinals. That is the only stipulation. The conclave is not obliged to be made up of saints."

    This is the second time in a few days that allegations of clerical misconduct have intruded on the controversial end to Benedict's stormy papacy. Last Thursday, an Italian daily newspaper linked his resignation to the discovery of a network of gay prelates in the Vatican, some of whom – it said – were being blackmailed by outsiders. La Repubblica said the pope had taken his decision to resign on 17 December, on the day he received a dossier compiled by three cardinals delegated to look into the so-called "Vatileaks affair".

    Last May, Benedict's butler, Paolo Gabriele, was arrested and charged with having stolen and leaked papal correspondence that depicted the Vatican as a seething hotbed of intrigue and infighting.

    On Saturday the Vatican dismissed the La Repubblica report as an attempt to influence the cardinals choosing a new pontiff. Michael Walsh, a Catholic historian and former Jesuit priest who has recently revised the Oxford Dictionary of Popes, said the Vatican would do well to step back from the allegations and let them be dealt with by the appropriate authorities.

    "The Vatican should really leave issues like this to be dealt with locally," he said. "But it's averse to letting that happen; it's power-hungry and what the next pope has to do is bring the Vatican under control. It interferes in these issues but it shouldn't; they should be handled locally."


  23. Cardinal Keith O'Brien resigns as Archbishop

    By Robert Pigott, Religious affairs correspondent, BBC News February 25, 2013

    Britain's most senior Roman Catholic cleric, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, is stepping down as leader of the Scottish Catholic Church.

    He had been accused of inappropriate behaviour towards priests dating back to the 1980s - claims he contests.

    Cardinal O'Brien, the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, apologised to "all whom I have offended" for "any failures" during his ministry.

    He will not take part in electing a new pope, leaving Britain unrepresented.

    The cardinal said in a statement: "I have valued the opportunity of serving the people of Scotland and overseas in various ways since becoming a priest.

    "Looking back over my years of ministry: For any good I have been able to do, I thank God. For any failures, I apologise to all whom I have offended."

    He remains a cardinal and would be entitled to join the conclave selecting the new Pope after Benedict XVI announced on 11 February that he would resign - but said he would not go.

    "I do not wish media attention in Rome to be focused on me - but rather on Pope Benedict XVI and on his successor," he said.

    "However, I will pray with them and for them that, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, they will make the correct choice for the future good of the Church."

    The Vatican confirmed the cardinal has stepped down from his post.

    Although the announcement has only just been made public, the Scottish Catholic Media Office said Pope Benedict had accepted the cardinal's resignation on 18 February.

    The allegations against Cardinal O'Brien emerged in a report in the Observer newspaper on Sunday.

    It said three priests and one former priest, from the diocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh, complained to the Pope's representative to Britain, nuncio Antonio Mennini, in the week before 11 February.

    It said:

    --The former priest claims Cardinal O'Brien made an inappropriate approach to him in 1980, after night prayers, when he was a seminarian at St Andrew's College, Drygrange. The complainant says he resigned as a priest when Cardinal O'Brien was first made a bishop

    --A second statement from another complainant says he was living in a parish when he was visited by O'Brien, and inappropriate contact took place between them

    --A third complainant alleges dealing with what he describes as "unwanted behaviour" by the cardinal in the 1980s after some late-night drinking

    --And the fourth complainant claims the cardinal used night prayers as an excuse for inappropriate contact

    In Rome, the BBC's world affairs correspondent James Robbins said for a long time the Vatican had been able to "bat away" some criticism of other cardinals who may have been involved in covering up allegations of sexual abuse.

    continued in next comment...

  24. But these were more serious because they alleged Cardinal O'Brien was involved directly in improper behaviour towards other priests.

    He added that there was also a sense of regret that Britain would have no voice in the conclave to choose Pope Benedict's successor.

    Cardinal O'Brien has been known as a outspoken defender of Catholic teaching on abortion, euthanasia and homosexuality.

    He was named Bigot of the Year last year by gay rights group Stonewall Scotland, after he said gay marriage was a "grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right".

    Catherine Deveney, who wrote the Observer piece, said the story was important because the cardinal had set a "moral blueprint" for the way other people should lead their lives.

    She said the complainants were "men of integrity" who had "done a difficult thing and acted according to their conscience".

    Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said: "It would be a great pity if a lifetime of positive work was lost from comment in the circumstances of his resignation.

    "None of us know the outcome of the investigation into the claims made against him but I have found him to be a good man for his church and country."

    Jack Valero, from Catholic Voices, a media lobby group that represents many Catholics in Britain, said it was the right move for the cardinal to resign.

    "I am very happy that they have been taken seriously, that the nuncio - the Pope's representative in the UK - has written to the four people who have made the allegations to thank them for speaking out, and that the whole thing has been done so quickly. I think this shows a new spirit."

    Colin MacFarlane, director of Stonewall Scotland, said he hoped there would be a full investigation.

    And that the cardinal's successor should "show a little more Christian charity towards openly gay people than the cardinal did himself".

    But Clifford Longley, a religious commentator and columnist for the Catholic newspaper The Tablet, said the cardinal's resignation was "the worst thing that could possibly have happened to the Church at this moment - to have another row like this when there already so many going on."

    Cardinal O'Brien was due to retire when he turned 75 next month. His resignation statement said the Pope would appoint someone to govern the archdiocese in his place, until his successor was appointed.


  25. Pope forces out Cardinal Keith O'Brien

    by Severin Carrell and Sam Jones, The Guardian, February 25, 2013

    The pope has forced the abrupt resignation of Britain's most senior Roman Catholic as the church made a frantic attempt to minimise the impact of allegations of "inappropriate acts" committed by Cardinal Keith O'Brien against fellow priests.

    O'Brien stood down as archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh the day after the Observer published accusations by three serving priests and a former priest about his conduct towards them during the 1980s.

    He issued a statement in which he ambiguously apologised for "any failures" and to those he had "offended", and announced that he would no longer travel to the Vatican to help select a successor to Pope Benedict XVI, who retires at 8pm on Thursday. O'Brien had been due to be the only British cardinal with a vote.

    The cardinal revealed in his statement that he had been asked by the outgoing pope to stand down immediately. Already due to retire next month, the cardinal stated: "The Holy Father has now decided that my resignation will take effect today."

    Senior Catholics said his resignation was intended to stop the allegations turning into a crisis. The church is already under pressure over unrelated abuse and corruption scandals in other dioceses.

    Professor John Haldane, one of Scotland's senior Catholic theologians and an adviser to the Vatican, said O'Brien's decision was "shocking and sad" but, given the timing of the allegations and the "inevitable" media interest, it was not a surprise. "He would not want that burden to fall upon the church and the pope at what is obviously a critical moment in the life of the Roman Catholic community," Haldane said.

    But the move led critics to demand that other cardinals at the centre of scandals over failures to report sex abuse by priests – including Roger Mahony, emeritus archbishop of Los Angeles, and Seán Brady, the primate of all Ireland – "recuse" themselves from the papal conclave, citing O'Brien's decision as a precedent.

    Insiders said O'Brien's abrupt departure had left the Scottish Catholic church, which he had led for 10 years, disoriented and shocked. One source said it meant that only three out of eight Scottish dioceses now have full-time, permanent bishops in charge.

    In a detailed statement, O'Brien said: "I have valued the opportunity of serving the people of Scotland and overseas in various ways since becoming a priest. Looking back over my years of ministry: For any good I have been able to do, I thank God. For any failures, I apologise to all whom I have offended.

    "I also ask God's blessing on my brother cardinals who will soon gather in Rome to elect his successor. I will not join them for this conclave in person. I do not wish media attention in Rome to be focused on me – but rather on Pope Benedict XVI and on his successor."

    That statement did not repeat his earlier denials at the weekend rebutting the allegations. After he failed to appear on Sunday to take a mass at St Mary's cathedral celebrating Pope Benedict's eight years as pontiff, his deputy hinted that O'Brien was considering his future.

    continued in next comment...

  26. In another sign the Vatican is anxious to appoint Benedict's successor quickly and smoothly, the Vatican announced on Monday that the pope had changed the rules governing the conclave so that it could begin its deliberations immediately after he formally stands down on Thursday.

    The move means cardinals no longer have to wait 15 days before beginning the conclave after the papacy becomes vacant on Thursday. That means a new pope could be elected before the end of Lent.

    The four complainants went public with their allegations against O'Brien at the weekend in protest at his involvement in selecting the next pope. The four men had urged him to resign immediately, arguing that they wanted the conclave electing the new pope to be "clean".

    In early February, the four submitted their detailed allegations against the cardinal, which date back to the 1980s, in a letter given by an intermediary to the pope's ambassador to the UK, Antonio Mennini.

    On 11 February, Pope Benedict surprised the world by announcing he was stepping down, citing his own ailing health. On 18 February, O'Brien disclosed in his resignation statement, the pope accepted his retirement request but said it was "nunc pro tunc", in order words, "now, but to take effect later".

    In a pre-recorded interview broadcast by BBC Scotland last Friday, in which he also surprised many in his church and outside by calling for priests to be allowed to marry, O'Brien confirmed that he expected to retire on St Patrick's day, his birthday.

    The following evening, the Observer published the allegations against him. Those included claims by one man, then an 18-year-old seminarian, that O'Brien had made an inappropriate approach one night; allegations of "inappropriate contact" with a second man, a priest; and of "unwanted behaviour" after a late night drinks session by another priest. The third priest also alleged "inappropriate contact" after night prayers.

    In his statement on Monday, O'Brien implied he had been told to resign immediately, stating: "The Holy Father has now decided that my resignation will take effect today, 25 February 2013, and that he will appoint an apostolic administrator to govern the archdiocese in my place until my successor as archbishop is appointed."

    Many observers assumed O'Brien would press ahead with his plans to attend the conclave: the allegations were about 30 years old, unproven and he had denied them. Experts said he was obliged, as one of only 117 cardinals eligible to vote, to take part.

    Professor Tom Devine, a prominent Catholic, said O'Brien's resignation was "the gravest single public crisis to hit the Catholic church in Scotland since the Reformation and its effects in the short term are incalculable".

    O'Brien had been "a courageous leader of his flock, well liked and respected," he said. Devine added, however, that some perspective was needed: the church had survived crises for centuries and was larger than a single man.

    He said O'Brien's accusers should make themselves known "in the cause of transparency and indeed fairness to all. [If] Catholicism in Scotland is to move on from this tragic affair, a number of serious questions urgently require frank and honest answers from all concerned".


  27. Scandal Spectacle: The 10 Most Corrupt and Compromised Cardinals Voting For the New Pope

    By Adele M. Stan AlterNet February 27, 2013

    Ordinarily, the prelates of the Roman Catholic Church like a good spectacle. If you’ve ever witnessed the pomp and regalia of a bishops’ procession, you know what I mean: the robes rendered in luxurious fabrics, the exotic millinery, the swinging brass chancer billowing clouds of fragrant smoke. But as the cardinals assemble this week in Rome to begin the task of choosing a pope to replace the retiring Benedict XVI, the convergence of men in red hats and ankle-length cassocks is less a glorious display than a spectacle of scandal.

    The pope’s abdication, unprecedented in the post-Renaissance period, comes under an acrid cloud of corruption that includes scandals involving the Vatican Bank, sexual harassment by prelates, and most troubling, the collusion of the hierarchy in covering the crimes of sexually predatory priests who preyed on young children and guileless teenagers, and once discovered, turned many of them loose to prey on still more.

    Leaving aside issues concerning some fishy doin’s at the Vatican Bank (recounted here [3] by Lynn Parramore), or the sexual harassment scandal [4] that inspired this week’s resignation of Cardinal Keith O’Brien, archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh (in which three priests and one former priest accused the cardinal of making sexual advances toward them*), we focus our gaze here on 10 cardinals who either aided and abetted the priests who abused children, or who served as apologists for the church in its failure to report their crimes. This list is by no means definitive or complete; there are likely many more among the 120 cardinals entrusted with the election of the next pope who traded the safety and welfare of children entrusted to the church’s spiritual care for the safety of their own place in the hierarchy of the world’s oldest Christian denomination.

    It is worth noting that during the height of the sex abuse of children by priests, the church’s presiding disciplinarian was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who went on to become Pope Benedict XVI. Offending priests were rarely disciplined, and were almost never reported to law enforcement authorities; Ratzinger instead focused his energy [5] on silencing liberation theologians, threatening feminist nuns with expulsion, and punishing a bishop for being too accepting of gay people.

    1. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York. For flash and visibility, the archbishop’s post in New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral offers a level of media-conferred power second only to that commanded by the pope himself. (Pope John Paul II famously dubbed [6] the New York post as “archbishop of the capital of the world.”) In the wake of Benedict’s abdication, Dolan fast became the subject of talk, perhaps generated by his own noise machine, that he was a contender for the church’s top spot.

    Just days before he took off for Rome, however, Dolan sat for three hours of questioning [7] during a legal deposition for a case brought by survivors of sexual abuse by priests in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee during Dolan’s tenure there. According to New York Times reporter Laurie Goodstein, lawyers for the plaintiffs, who claim to have been abused by priests when they were children, sought to ascertain [7] when Dolan first learned of the allegations against the priests in relation to when he made those allegations public. It appears the plaintiffs seek to show that Dolan deliberately stalled in order to let the clock run out on the statute of limitations governing the prosecution of such crimes. In the meantime, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee declared bankruptcy, apparently a result of settlements made with abuse claimants.

    continued in next comment...

  28. From Goodstein’s report [7]:

    In the Milwaukee Archdiocese, 575 people have filed claims saying that they were abused, over many decades, by Catholic clergymen. About 70 said they were victims of the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy [8], who, church records show, admitted having molested deaf students [9] at a boarding school outside Milwaukee, said Jeff Anderson, a lawyer in St. Paul who represents 350 of the 575 plaintiffs.

    A report [10] filed by Goodstein last year revealed that while presiding over the Milwaukee Archdiocese, Dolan approved payouts to abusive priests of as much as $20,000, in exchange for their agreement not to contest their defrocking. They also continued to receive their pensions.

    2. Cardinal Roger Mahony, former Archbishop of Los Angeles. Upon receiving the shocking news of Pope Benedict’s resignation, I speculated [11] that recent revelations in the sexual abuse scandal involving the cardinal archbishop of the City of Angels might have something to do with the timing of the unusual papal retirement.

    In a settlement reached with some 500 survivors of priestly sexual abuse, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was compelled to release tens of thousands of pages of documents about the abuse scandals -- including correspondence between then-Archbishop Mahony and Cardinal Ratzinger, the Vatican official who went on to become Pope Benedict XVI.

    Some of the documents revealed in the settlement dump are harrowing, including a letter [12] from Mahony to Ratzinger in which he reports that one Father Lynn R. Caffoe initiated more than 100 “masturbatory and copulative acts” with a single boy, and another report of Father Peter Garcia’s abuse of 20 boys, including one he tied up and raped. Instead of turning Garcia in to law enforcement authorities, Mahony sent the criminal priest to a treatment facility in New Mexico, and warned him to stay away from California, where he would be liable for prosecution.

    As I wrote [11] earlier this month:

    What is clear, though, is that Mahony repeatedly failed to act on concerns about the sexual abuse of children by priests that were brought to him by pastors and church officials throughout the diocese, and that when he did, his actions were designed to avoid criminal prosecutions of the predator priests.

    3. Cardinal William Levada, Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. When Ratzinger won election to the papacy, the man he chose to replace himself in his old job of top Vatican enforcer was Levada, the former archbishop of Portland, Oregon and former archbishop of San Francisco.

    Like Ratzinger before him, he valued the reputation of the church above the welfare of its victims and, like Ratzinger, has made a specialty of tormenting feminist nuns -- most recently claiming control [13] over the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an umbrella group for most orders of U.S. sisters.

    While in San Francisco, Levada dealt with the case of a pedophile priest by punishing and defaming the whistleblower. As I wrote [13] last year:

    Such was Levada's brutality, in fact, that he punished a priest who reported a child-abusing fellow priest to the police -- a move that came back to haunt him when the whistleblower, Father Jon Conley, brought a defamation case against the archdiocese after paving the way for the family of an abused child to win a $750,000 settlement from the archdiocese. (Politics Daily contributor Jason Berry told the sordid tale here [14] in 2010.)

    Berry also reports [14] the story of Robert McMenamin, the former Portland church counsel who said Levada refused, against the counsel’s advice, to inform the clergy of their obligation to report crimes against children to law enforcement authorities. When McMenamin subsequently resigned and began representing plaintiffs in the sex-abuse cases, Levada “petitioned the Oregon State Bar Association to disqualify McMenamin from such cases,” according to Berry’s report [14]. The Bar declined to do so.

  29. 4. Cardinal Angelo Sodono, Dean of the College of Cardinals. In an unprecedented speech on Easter Sunday 2010 that opened the Vatican’s religious services for the day, Sodano blamed the church’s pedophilia scandal on people with “visions of the family and of life that run contrary to the Gospel,” according to [15] the Associated Press.

    He went on to exonerate the bishops and the pope from any role in the scandal, saying [15]:

    "But it's not Christ's fault if Judas betrayed" him, Sodano said. "It's not a bishop's fault if one of his priests is stained by grave wrongdoing. And certainly the pontiff is not responsible."

    If he sounds a bit defensive, Sodano had his reasons. It was he, among other prelates, who championed the works of Father Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ, who was found to have sexually abused dozens of seminarians, in addition to fathering at least three children out of wedlock. And even though Maciel’s crimes were revealed by a 1998 exposé in the Hartford Courant, Sodano put the kibosh on an investigation begun at the time by the Vatican.

    Later it was learned that Maciel won the allegiance of many inside the Vatican by plying them with expensive gifts -- cars and foodstuffs worth thousands, and envelopes of cash. Sodano, it turns out, was among thebeneficiaries [16].

    5. Cardinal Justin Rigali, former Archbishop of Philadelphia. The level of abuse experienced by children in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia under Rigali’s predecessor, the late Anthony Bevilacqua, is epic. As described [17] by the National Catholic Reporter’s Tom Roberts: “Bevilacqua oversaw priests who were involved in nothing short of sexual torture of youngsters.”

    As Robert Huber of Philadelphia magazine recounted [18]: “Instead of being reported to the DA’s office, pedophile priests were moved -- sometimes repeatedly, from parish to parish to parish. Abusive priests kept right on abusing children.”

    Rigali’s claim to fame is that he did nothing to stop it.

    In 2005, a damning grand jury report was issued, detailing many of the crimes committed against children, such as the anal rape [19] of a boy at Roman Catholic High School by his guidance counselor, Father Schmeer. Rigali seems to have regarded it as water under the bridge, because he was shocked, according to people present at a meeting where he received the news, that a 2011 grand jury investigation laid the continuing scandal at his own feet. According to Huber’s account [18] of the 2011 investigaton, “[t]he Archdiocese of Philadelphia still allowed alleged pedophile priests -- 37 of them, the report said -- to continue ministering to children.”

    In August, Monsignor William Lynn became the first church official convicted [20] of a crime in the coverup of pedophilic assaults by priests; Lynn had worked for Bevilacqua. While Lynn languishes in prison, Rigali is off to Rome to join the conclave.

    6. Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz, former Archbishop of Santiago, Chile. In 2003, José Murillo claims, he wrote to Cardinal Errázuriz to complain of sexual abuse by a prominent priest, Father Fernando Karadima, who led an organization for young people known as Catholic Action. According to a 2010 report [21] in the New York Times, no action subsequent action was taken against Karadima.

    James Hamilton, now a 47-year-old medical doctor, told the Times [21] that he filed an official complaint against Karadima two years later for abuse that began when he was a teenager and went on for 20 years. Hamilton says he never heard back from the diocese.

    In 2010, Errázuriz claimed that he had opened an investigation into the complaints against Karadima in 2005, then shut it down to await further evidence, according to an AP report [22]. He reopened it in 2009, not long before four men came forward claiming to have been abused by Karadima -- one said he was 14 when the abuse began -- and criminal complaints were filed. A total of eight men ultimately came forward with accusations against the priest.

  30. The AP reported that, after a criminal investigation of Karadima was initiated, Errázuriz sent a letter that was read aloud to all parishes in the archdiocese. It read [22], in part:

    "He is a priest who has worked fruitfully and generously nearly his whole life," Errázuriz said of Karadima. Nevertheless, "There is no place in the priesthood for those who abuse minors, and no excuse that can justify this crime."

    7. Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago. As part of a 2008 settlement with victims of child sex-abuse by priests in the Archdiocese of Chicago, Cardinal George released the deposition he had given in the case. It revealed some of the details of a coverup at the highest levels of his staff.

    For instance, wrote Chicago Tribune reporters Margaret Ramirez and Manya Brachear, George’s testimony revealed [23] “evidence of his repeated refusal to follow recommendations and promptly remove abusive Chicago priests from ministry.” These were priests like Rev. Daniel McCormack and the Rev. Joseph Bennett, who were accused of molesting dozens of children.

    In fact, George said in his deposition, his vicar of priests, Edward Grace, actually coached the pedophiles on how to beat the rap, according to the Chicago Tribune account [23]:

    Rev. Edward D. Grace, and Auxiliary Bishop George J. Rassas withheld information about abuse allegations.

    Grace coached Joseph Bennett on how to handle questions involving a victim's knowledge of Bennett's private parts, according to a memo included in the deposition. Grace also advised McCormack not to talk to police when first arrested in August 2005, the cardinal said.

    The deposition also revealed that George had sought [24] to help another pedophile priest, Norbert Maday, who had been sentenced to 20 years in prison, win a commuted sentence. (He later changed his mind on that idea.)

    George served as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2007-2010.

    8. Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. The former Archbishop of Quebec is said to be a frontrunner for the papacy, but Canada has not been immune to the clergy sexual abuse scandal. While Ouellet has not been accused of covering for pedophilic priests -- indeed he issued an apology in 2007 for the sex-abuse scandal -- he has been criticized for refusing to meet [16] with the victims of abuse by priests. One notorious case in his archdiocese involved children at a school for the deaf, with allegations dating from before his tenure as archbishop. Some 30 clergy at the school of Clercs de Saint-Viateur stand accused [25] of abusing and raping children from 1944 to 1982.

    Adding insult to injury is that, acting as the papal legate, Ouellet traveled to Ireland [26] to meet with victims of sexual abuse by Irish priests.

    9. Cardinal Sean Brady, Primate of all Ireland. While the widespread scandal of the sexual and other abuse of children in schools run by the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland cannot be laid at the feet of any one bishop (a recent report damned four [27] in the Archdiocese of Dublin alone), Brady played a special role in the scandal in 1975 when, as a priest, he met with children to hear their complaints of sexual abuse, and then swore them to secrecy. As reported [28] by the BBC:

    Brendan Boland was 11 years old when he was sexually abused by Fr Brendan Smyth. Back in 1975, he reported the abuse to Fr (now Cardinal) Sean Brady and two other priests, hoping to end the abuse of him and others. After giving evidence to them he was sworn to secrecy.

  31. Cardinal Brady signed two reports about the abuse of Boland and another boy and passed them on to his bishop, but the police were never informed.

    It was not until 1994 that Smyth was convicted of dozens of offences against children over a 40-year period.

    (The BBC profile of Smyth and his crimes is here [29].)

    Honestly, there must be a special place in hell...but not before stopping off at the conclave and electing the next pope.

    10. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State. Before he was a globe-trotting diplomat, Bertone was the Number Two at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, reporting to Cardinal Ratzinger, the future pope. It was then that he personally called a halt to the 1998 investigation of Father Lawrence Murphy [30], who was accused of abusing some 200 disabled children at St. John’s School for the Deaf in Milwaukee, according to [15] the AP. Several months later, Murphy died, still a priest, and never arrested, despite decades of crimes against children, some of whom had alerted authorities [31] in the church.

    When confronted, during a visit to Chile (where parishioners were reeling from that country’s priest sex-abuse scandal, about the church’s role in the sexual victimization of children, Bertone played the Vatican’s favorite card: blame the gays. From an AP report [32]:

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

    Bertone is also part of the VatiLeaks scandal. That’s the one in which the pope’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, was convicted [33] of leaking papal correspondence to an Italian journalist in what is widely believed to be an internecine Vatican war. Bertone is said to have set himself against Cardinal Carlo Maria Viganò, a reformer in a top Vatican job who reportedly sought to cut waste and introduce greater transparency to the Holy See. After after making his recommendations, Viganò was abruptly shipped out [34] of Rome to become the Papal Nuncio to the United States. He received word of his new post from Bertone.

    *Members of the priesthood are bound by a vow of celibacy, a rule that Cardinal Keith O’Brien, just before accusations against him emerged,suggested [35] had outlived its usefulness.

    to read the links embedded in this article go to:


  32. Former Catholic Priest on "The Pope’s War" and Clergy's Child Molestation

    Matthew Fox says the Catholic Church has "become a viper’s nest. It’s really sick, what’s going on."

    By Juan Gonzalez, Matthew Fox Democracy Now February 28, 2013

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: As Pope Benedict formally stepped down on Thursday, speculation mounts over who will become the next pope. On Wednesday, Pope Benedict bid an emotional farewell at his last general audience, saying he understood the gravity of his decision to become the first pontiff to resign in nearly 600 years. The 85-year-old pope cited ill health as the reasons for his departure. Addressing an estimated 150,000 supporters in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict said he is resigning for the good of the church.

    POPE BENEDICT XVI: [translated] In these past months, I have felt that my strength has decreased, and I have asked God, earnestly in prayer, to enlighten me and, with His light, make me take the right decision, not for my good, but for the good of the church. I have taken this step in full awareness of its gravity and also its rarity; however, with a profound serenity of spirit. Loving the church also means having the courage to take difficult and anguished choices, always having in mind the good of the church and not oneself.

    [in English] I was deeply grateful for the understanding, support and prayers of so many of you, not only here in Rome, but also around the world. The decision I have made, after much prayer, is the fruit of a serene trust in God’s will and a deep love of Christ’s church. I will continue to accompany the church with my prayers, and I ask each of you to pray for me and for the new pope.

    AMY GOODMAN: Pope Benedict’s tenure was marked by several scandals, perhaps most notably his handling of sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, including allegations he ignored at least one case of abuse while serving as a cardinal. Documents show in 1985, when he was known as Cardinal Ratzinger, he delayed efforts to defrock a priest convicted of molesting children. Meanwhile, last year he oversaw an assessment from the Vatican that found the largest and most influential group of Catholic nuns in the United States had, quote, "serious doctrinal problems" because it had challenged the church’s teachings on homosexuality and the male-only priesthood, among other things. More recently, Italian news sources say an investigation by three cardinals into leaked Vatican documents show rampant corruption in the Vatican ranks.

    For more, we go to San Francisco, where we’re joined by Matthew Fox. He’s the author of over two dozen books, most recently, The Pope’s War: Why Ratzinger’s Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved. He’s a former Catholic priest, who was first stopped from teaching liberation theology and creation spirituality by then-Cardinal Ratzinger. Fox was then expelled from the Dominican Order, to which he had belonged for 34 years. He currently serves as an Episcopal priest.

    Matthew Fox, welcome to Democracy Now! Can you first respond to the pope stepping down, and the significance?

    MATTHEW FOX: Well, thank you, Amy and Juan. I really appreciate your journalism. It means a lot to a lot of us.

    Yeah, I think I’ll take the pope at his word here when he says he’s tired. I would be tired, too, if I left as much devastation in my wake as he has, first as inquisitor general under the previous pope. He brought the Inquisition back. And it’s true I was one of the theologians expelled by him, but I list 104 others in my book, and it keeps growing, the list keeps growing. So, that’s how history will remember this man, as bringing the Inquisition back, which is completely contrary to the spirit and the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, which was never to reform the church. So I think he’s stepping down because he can’t take it anymore.

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  33. It’s become a viper’s nest there, obviously—the Vatican is. I really think that, as a theologian, I see the Holy Spirit at work in all this. I think that the Catholic Church as we know it, the structure of the Vatican, is passé. We’re moving beyond it. And it’s become a viper’s nest. It’s really sick, what’s going on, obviously—the cover-up of the pedophile priests. And you can see it everywhere: Cardinal Mahony in Los Angeles; this cardinal in Scotland; Cardinal Law, who was elevated after he left Boston, given a promotion, running a fourth century basilica in Rome; and this pope himself, the recent documentary that came out a year—a week or two ago from HBO about how the buck stopped with him. We’re hearing these horrible things that went on at a school for the deaf in Milwaukee, where over 200 boys, deaf boys, were abused by a priest, and Ratzinger knew it. There’s Father Maciel, who was so close to the previous pope that he took him on plane rides with him, abused 20 seminarians, and he had two wives on the side and abused four of his own children, and Ratzinger knew about this man for 10 years. That document was on his desk, and he did nothing until the year 2005.

    So, history and cheerleading of popes, what I call papolatry, will not cover up the facts. This has been the most sordid 42 years of Catholic history since the Borgias. And as I say, I think it’s really about ending that church as we know it. I think Protestantism, too, needs a reboot. I think all of Christianity can get back more to the teachings of Jesus, a revolutionary around love and justice. That’s what it’s about. And that’s why there’s been such fierce resistance all along from the right wing. The CIA has been involved in, especially with Pope John Paul II, the decimation of liberation theology all over South America, the replacing of these heroic leaders, including bishops and cardinals, with Opus Dei cardinals and bishops, who are—well, frankly, it’s a fascist organization, Opus Dei is. It’s all about obedience. It’s not about ideas or theology. They haven’t produced one theologian in 40 years. They produce canon lawyers and people who infiltrate where the power is, whether it’s the media, the Supreme Court or the FBI, the CIA, and finance, especially in Europe.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, I’d like to ask you for—

    MATTHEW FOX: So, it’s been a very sordid mess that’s been going on.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In some of your writings, you have raised the point of view that both Pope Benedict and his predecessor, John Paul, were actually leading the schism and that, in fact, that they were attempting to overthrow the decisions of the Second Vatican Council. But for many Americans who are no longer familiar, because they’re young, they don’t know about the impact of the Second Vatican Council and Pope John XXIII, could you give us the broader historical movement that’s occurred here?

    MATTHEW FOX: Yes. Pope John XXIII called the council in the early ’60s, and it brought together all the bishops of the world and all the theologians, many of whom had been under fire under the previous papacy, Pope Pius XII. And it definitely was a reform movement, and it gave inspiration to the poor, especially in South America. And after the council, the movement of liberation theology, which had a principle of preferential option for the poor, this really took off, and it created base communities, which was a new way of doing church where everyone had a voice, not just the person at the altar.

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  34. And this non-hierarchical, this far more horizontal and circular approach to Christianity and to worship was a big threat, of course, to certain people in Rome, but it was even a bigger threat to the CIA. When Reagan was elected, two months later there was a meeting of his National Security Council in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to discuss one thing: How can we destroy liberation theology in Latin America? And they concluded: We can’t destroy it, but we can divide the church. And so they went after the pope. They gave him lots and lots of cash for solidarity in Poland. And in exchange, they got the permission, if you will, the commitment on the part of the papacy, to destroy liberation theology.

    And this is very much documented. It’s actually documented by Carl Bernstein, of all people, in a cover story in Time magazine, where he kind of creates a hagiography of Reagan and the pope together creating so much good. But Bernstein, I think, was very naive about what was really going on in terms of the church itself, because the reform of the church, part of the council was to declare freedom of conscience, and it said every Christian has a right to freedom of conscience. But all that was destroyed by Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger.

    So, the reforms of the Vatican Council were stuffed. And the reason this is a schism, therefore, is that in the Catholic tradition a council trumps a pope. Popes do not trump councils. For the last 42 years, these two papacies have been undoing all the values that the council stood for. And this is what the sisters are now undergoing. Just as they attacked the 105 theologians, now they’re accusing the sisters of, what should I say, not participating in the Inquisition. And God bless these sisters, who—the Nuns on the Bus. And so many of us know them because they have been on the front lines carrying out the values of Vatican II, especially values of justice and peace work and working with the marginalized.

    AMY GOODMAN: Matthew Fox, why were you defrocked? Why were you forced out of the Catholic Church? You say it’s because of liberation theology. Explain.

    MATTHEW FOX: Well, I was—first, I was silenced for 14 months by Ratzinger, and then I was allowed to speak again, and then, three years later, I was expelled. But he drew up a list of complaints.

    Number one was that I was a feminist theologian, he said. I didn’t know that was a heresy.

    Number two, I called God "Mother." Well, I proved that all kinds of medieval mystics called God "Mother," and so does the Bible, although not often enough.

    Number three, I prefer "original blessing" to "original sin." I wrote a book calledOriginal Blessing, in which I prove that original sin—Jesus never heard of it; no Jews ever heard of it. How can you build a church in the name of Jesus on a concept which is fourth century A.D.—that is, orginal sin? You know what else happened in the fourth century besides original sin ideas is the church inheriting the empire. If you’re going to run an empire, original sin is a real fine dogma to promote, because it makes everyone confused about why they’re here, and so they get in line much more efficiently.

    And they accused me of not condemning homosexuals, which of course I do not. Obviously, God intends homosexuals, or there wouldn’t be 8 to 10 percent of our population all over the world with this special grace.

    They said I work too closely with Native Americans. Well, I do work closely with Native Americans. I’ve learned so much from Native American teachers and rituals, such as sweat lodges, sun dances, vision quests. I don’t know that that’s a heresy to—I don’t know what working too closely means.

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  35. So, those were some of the objections. And really, none of them hold water. They’re really Rorschach tests about what really freaks out the Vatican. And, of course, above all, it’s women and sex. And that is the agenda. Whenever there’s fundamentalism and fascism, it’s about control. That’s why the Vatican, the Taliban and Pat Robertson have this in common: They’re all freaked out by the possibility of bringing the divine feminine back, and with it, of course, the equal rights of women.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And the current—the scandals that have been rocking the Vatican and the entire church—obviously the pedophile scandals in recent years, but also the corruption scandals within the Vatican itself—there’s this report that has been produced by a group of cardinals investigating some of the corruption, but they’re not going to release it until the new pope is named. Your sense of whether any of this had to do with the pope’s decision to resign?

    MATTHEW FOX: I’m sure it did. I was actually told that when he received the report and looked at it, six hours later he announced he was resigning, and he put it in a safe and said the next pope can deal with this. So, I think it’s pretty clear that there is a connection. But again, it was building up. I mean, as you say, there’s been—and there’s a lot more going on there behind the scenes than the press has yet learned, I can assure you. There’s been so much cover-up.

    And when Ratzinger made himself pope, I went to Wittenberg and pounded the 95 Theses the door. And a year-and-a-half ago, I was in Rome, so I translated them into Latin—I mean, Italian, and pounded them at Cardinal Law’s basilica on a Sunday morning. And it was so interesting. A 40-year-old Italian man came up to me, a Roman. He said to me—very simply, he said, "I used to call myself a Catholic. Now I just call myself a Christian." I was very struck by that. Right under the pope’s nose there, Italians, too, are beginning to catch the truth of things, that we’re at a great historic moment. An 1,800-year-old institution in the West is melting before our eyes. And it’s painful. It’s ugly. On the other hand, it’s also a moment for breakthrough and for pushing the restart button on Christianity, returning to the really powerful message of Jesus and His followers throughout the centuries, the mystics and the prophets.

    And just hearing your broadcast about Dr. King brings it all back, and this French fellow who stood up to fascism. You know, when my book was translated into German, I got a letter from the translator saying, "I cried many times translating your book," she said, "because my generation" — she’s in her forties — "in Germany was promised, 'Never again, no more fascism.' But your book proves that fascism is back, it’s in the church, especially the German and Polish wing of the church." She said, "Every German has to read this book, whether they’re religious or not." And I think it’s true in America, too, that, like this fellow who died at 95 reminds us, fascism is worth fighting, and it’s worth acknowledging it’s there.

    Susan Sontag defines "fascism" institutionalized violence. Catholics have been going through institutionalized violence for 42 years. Ask any of these theologians who have had their jobs ripped away from them. Some of them have died of heart attacks. Some have died of poverty in the streets because they couldn’t get work. But, of course, talk to these young people who were abused by priests, and then the cover-up was put into place by people like Ratzinger, who protected the institution at the expense of every one of these children.

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  36. And Jesus has something to say about that: Put a millstone around your neck, and throw yourself in the water. I think that’s what Cardinal Ratzinger’s confessor should tell him to do, in symbolic terms, before he meets his maker. I think he has some reparation to do, at least internally, before he leaves the scene.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And Matthew Fox, in terms of the speculation as to who the—who will be the successor to Pope Benedict, obviously there’s a lot of talk about there may be for the first time a pope from the Global South. Do you see any—any possibility for real substantive change in church policy, no matter who the successor is?

    MATTHEW FOX: Sadly to say, I do not, because every one of these voters was appointed by Ratzinger or the previous pope with Ratzinger’s approval, so they all think like them. You see, the dumbing down of the church has been what’s really brought about this pedophile crisis, because when you don’t have leaders who are intelligent and with conscience, but only yes men, which is what they’ve been appointing for 42 years, you know, you don’t have intelligent response to crises such as finding a pedophile in your midst. And there’s a North American bishop—I will not name him—archbishop, who 20 years ago wept in the presence of a friend of mine and said to him, "There’s not a single bishop they’ve appointed the last 20 years that I can respect." Well, now we can say the last 42 years.

    So, frankly, I think there are a few names that come up. There’s this fellow in Africa, who unfortunately, though, is a complete homophobe, who’s been endorsing all the homophobic violence in African laws lately. So—and he’s head of the peace and justice commission in the Vatican. One would hope it won’t go that far. There is an Austrian cardinal, who is a Dominican, who actually showed a little bit of independence once or twice. There’s this O’Malley from Boston, who’s a Franciscan, and therefore did not—does not want to be pope. And I think that might be a real good criterion, although I don’t know anyone in their mind, at this time in history, who would want to be pope.

    AMY GOODMAN: Matthew Fox, we’re going to leave it there.

    MATTHEW FOX: But I don’t think he has a chance, being—

    AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you very much for being with us, author of over two dozen books, most recently, The Pope’s War: Why Ratzinger’s Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved. Matthew Fox is a former Catholic priest who was first stopped from teaching liberation theology and creation spirituality by Cardinal Ratzinger, then expelled from the Dominican Order to which had belonged for 34 years. He currently serves as an Episcopal priest, speaking to us from San Francisco.

    When we come back, a federal judge has ordered the state of Louisiana to release former Black Panther Albert Woodfox. He has served nearly 40 years in solitary confinement at Angola Prison in Louisiana. Stay with us.


  37. NOTE: The key quotation in the article below is: "O'Brien's resignation was remarkable in its speed; his apology is all but unprecedented in its frankness. Many sexual scandals or allegations of misconduct against individuals or the wider church have dragged on for years." The main difference between this case and those other crime cases that drag on for years is that O'Brien's victims were other priests, whereas in cases that drag on for years the crimes were committed against children. The Church obviously considers victimized priests more credible than victimized parishioners or there children.

    Even O'Briens accusers faced disbelief by some in the church hierarchy, so imagine what a child victim faces who reports abuse either as a child or as an adult survivor. Usually, the church attacks survivors of abuse, doing everything to cover up the abuse, discredit the accusers, and undermine the survivors allegations with all kinds of immoral tactics. I have read hundreds of articles related to Catholic child abuse and I cannot recall any priest at any level admitting so quickly to his immoral behaviour and resigning immediately, even if he was forced to by the Vatican. The Catholic Church really has lost its moral compass.


    Cardinal Keith O'Brien admits and apologises for sexual misconduct

    UK Catholic leader who was forced to resign early by the pope admits in statement that his sexual conduct 'fell below standards'

    Severin Carrell, Scotland correspondent The Guardian, Sunday 3 March 2013

    Cardinal Keith O'Brien, who was forced to resign by the pope last week, has made a dramatic admission that he was guilty of sexual misconduct throughout his career in the Roman Catholic church.

    In a short but far-reaching statement issued late on Sunday, the 74-year-old stated that "there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal".

    The former archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, and until recently the most senior Catholic in Britain, apologised and asked for forgiveness from those he had "offended" and from the entire church.

    O'Brien was forced to resign last week by Pope Benedict XVI, barely 36 hours after the Observer disclosed that three serving priests and a former priest were accusing him of "inappropriate acts" against them nearly 30 years ago, in a formal complaint to the pope's ambassador to the UK.

    The cardinal had "contested" those allegations, while his officials said he was taking legal advice.

    But now O'Brien has effectively admitted he had been breaching the church's strict rules on celibacy and its bar on homosexuality since he became a priest – and during his 10 years as a cardinal.

    It was alleged that some of these incidents were "drunken fumblings". One case reported by the Observer involved repeated sexual contact.

    On Friday, there were claims that complaints had been made to the nuncio, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, by a fifth priest last year, about an alleged incident in 2001.

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  38. Announcing that he would now retire entirely from public life and from the frontline duties for the church he once led, O'Brien said: "In recent days certain allegations which have been made against me have become public. Initially, their anonymous and non-specific nature led me to contest them.

    "However, I wish to take this opportunity to admit that there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal.

    "To those I have offended I apologise and ask forgiveness. To the Catholic church and people of Scotland, I also apologise. I will now spend the rest of my life in retirement. I will play no further part in the public life of the Catholic church in Scotland."

    His statement goes significantly further than the apology and partial admissions which he made in his resignation statement last week, when he said: "Looking back over my years of ministry, for any good I have been able to do, I thank God. For any failures, I apologise to all whom I have offended."

    O'Brien's much wider admissions are a significant rebuff to some senior figures in the Scottish church who had repeatedly downplayed the allegations disclosed in the Observer, calling them unsubstantiated, non-specific and anonymous.

    The cardinal's office warned the Observer it faced legal action after it first contacted him. In further disclosures this weekend, the Observer reported that one complainant had alleged: "He started fondling my body, kissing me and telling me how special I was to him and how much he loved me."

    In a fresh interview with the Observer, the former priest, who made his complaint to the nuncio in early February, said that after his disclosures he sensed "the cold disapproval of the church hierarchy for daring to break ranks. I feel [that] if they could crush me, they would."

    O'Brien's resignation was remarkable in its speed; his apology is all but unprecedented in its frankness. Many sexual scandals or allegations of misconduct against individuals or the wider church have dragged on for years.

    The cardinal was forced out only three days before the pope retired last Thursday. There is growing speculation that the Vatican acted swiftly because O'Brien had challenged one of the church's greatest orthodoxies – saying, in a BBC interview and only two days before the Observer story was published, that priests ought to be allowed to marry and have children.

    Catherine Pepinster, editor of the weekly Catholic newspaper the Tablet, said Benedict and his close aides may have been extremely irritated because O'Brien had promised to renounce his once liberal views on some church teachings when he became a cardinal in 2003.

    On becoming a cardinal the Vatican had made him swear an oath to uphold the teachings of the church, binding him to uphold its orthodox positions. He then took a hardline stance against gay issues and abortions.

    Pepinster said his new statement would, however, allow the Scottish church to move on. "This is a shocking admission, but one that is in many ways welcome, not least because it seems Cardinal O'Brien must have been leading a double life, and that is now at an end.

    "That must surely be a relief to him and a burden lifted. But it must also be a relief to Catholics in Scotland. The boil has been lanced, and it's time to move on. Too many scandals in the Catholic church drag on and on, but this one has been dealt with speedily, and a line can be drawn."


  39. Priest abuse victims group blacklists 12 cardinals for pope

    By Richard Allen Greene, Laura Smith-Spark and Hada Messia, CNN March 6, 2013

    Rome (CNN) -- A group representing survivors of sexual abuse by priests named a "Dirty Dozen" list of cardinals it said would be the worst candidates for pope based on their handling of child sex abuse claims or their public comments about the cases.

    The list names three U.S. Roman Catholic cardinals and nine from other countries.

    SNAP, the Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests, said as it released the list Wednesday that its accusations were based on media reports, legal filings and victims' statements.

    A representative for one of the cardinals on list dismissed the group. The remaining cardinals or their representatives couldn't be immediately reached by CNN for comment Wednesday.

    "I'm not going to respond to this group which has little to no credibility," said Joseph Zwelling, a spokesman for Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.

    When asked about the SNAP list, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a spokesman for the Vatican, told CNN: "We believe it is not up to SNAP to decide who comes to conclave and who is chosen. ... cardinals can decide themselves without asking SNAP for advice."

    Lombardi and another Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Thomas Rosica, read the SNAP press release together, Rosica said. Lombardi declined to comment further.

    The two other U.S. cardinals on the list are Sean O'Malley of Boston and Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., the group said.

    A spokeswoman for Wuerl declined to comment.

    The others listed are Leonardo Sandri of Argentina, George Pell of Australia, Marc Ouellet of Canada, Dominik Duka or the Czech Republic, Peter Turkson of Ghana, Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, Tarcisio Bertone and Angelo Scola of Italy, and Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico, the group said.

    Not all of them are linked to alleged coverups of sexual abuse, SNAP said. Some were placed on the list because of their public remarks related to the abuse scandal, SNAP said.

    On Monday, SNAP also called for some of the older cardinals to remove themselves from the meetings held before the election of the new pope, arguing that some have been accused of complicity in protecting priests accused of sexually abusing children.

    Cardinals from around the globe have been summoned to Rome to take part in the process of choosing the next pontiff, after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI last week.

    As of midday, 113 of the 115 cardinals eligible to elect the new pope are in Rome, according to Lombardi. To be eligible to be a part of the group, a cardinal must be under the age of 80.

    The two cardinal-electors who are not yet there are Kazimierz Nycz of Warsaw, who was due to arrive later Wednesday, and Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man of Vietnam, who is arriving Thursday.

    No date has yet been proposed for the secret election, or conclave, to select the former pontiff's successor.
    Meanwhile, a new study says American Catholics view sex abuse by clergy as the most important problem facing the church today, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

    When asked to put in their own words what's the most pressing issue facing their church, 34% of the U.S. Catholics questioned cite pedophilia, sex abuse or another phrase for the same problem, Pew said. No other problem received a more than 10% response; the next biggest issue named is low trust and low credibility, at 9%, Pew said.

    'Silence didn't work'

    SNAP is intentionally focusing on candidates with a realistic chance of being named pope, its executive director David Clohessy said Wednesday as the group released its list.

    "The single quickest and most effective step would be for the next pope to clearly discipline, demote, denounce and even defrock cardinals and bishops who are concealing child sex crimes. We think that's the missing piece," he said.

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  40. The new pope should order each bishop around the world to hand over "every piece of paper he has on proven, admitted or credibly accused child-molesting clerics to law enforcement," Clohessy said.

    Barbara Dorris, victims' outreach director for SNAP, said: "The short answer is we've tried silence, silence didn't work, so we have to speak out. We have to do everything we can to get this information out there."

    The Catholic Church has been rocked by a series of child sex abuse scandals in recent years -- and the new pope will be under pressure to deal more effectively with a crisis that has shaken public confidence in the church.

    SNAP says it's vital to look at how the world's bishops have handled claims of abuse by priests because the crisis is far from over.

    "This scandal, we believe, has yet to surface in most nations. It's shameless spin and deliberate deception to claim otherwise. It's tempting to reassure the public and the parishioners by making this claim. But it's also irresponsible," a statement on SNAP's website said.

    "Clergy sex crimes and coverups remain deeply hidden in the vast majority of nations (where most Catholics live), and has really only become widely known -- and barely addressed -- in the U.S. about a decade ago and in a few European countries even more recently."

    Media leaks concern

    A news conference scheduled by American cardinals for Wednesday, following media briefings on Monday and Tuesday, was canceled at short notice.

    Asked if the Vatican had told the American cardinals to stop their daily media briefings, Vatican spokesman Rosica suggested that the details of what was discussed in the general congregations were not meant to be publicized.

    "It's not up to Father Lombardi or myself to tell them what to do," he said. "It could be that among themselves they realized that there are different ways and different methods of getting things out."

    Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of media relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said via e-mail that the U.S. cardinals were committed to transparency and had wanted to share "a process-related overview of their work" with the public "in order to inform while ensuring the confidentiality" of the general congregations.

    "Due to concerns over accounts being reported in the Italian press, which breached confidentiality, the College of Cardinals has agreed not to give interviews," she said.

    In total, 153 cardinals gathered Wednesday at the Vatican for a third day of meetings, known as general congregations, before they set the timetable for the election.

    The cardinals spoke about new evangelization, restructuring of the church hierarchy, or curia, and the need for good governance of the church, Lombardi said.

    A five-minute limit has been imposed on cardinals speaking at the meetings, although the microphone is not being switched off if they run over the time allowed.

    The cardinals have decided to meet twice Thursday, in the morning and afternoon, in order to "intensify the rhythm of work," Lombardi said.

    Video shown at a Vatican news conference showed workers preparing the Sistine Chapel for the secretive conclave.

    An elevated floor is being put in place to protect the elaborate mosaic tiling, said Lombardi, where seats will be placed for the cardinals.

    The Sistine Chapel and its ornate ceiling by Michelangelo are normally a must-see for tourists in Rome, but it was closed to the public beginning Tuesday afternoon to allow for preparations to take place.

    CNN's Richard Allen Greene and Hada Messia reported from Rome, and Laura Smith-Spark reported and wrote in London.

    CNN's Michael Martinez also contributed to this report.


  41. Pope Expands Sex Abuse Laws in Response to U.N. Criticisms

    Faced with demands for explanations from the U.N.’s body on children’s rights, Pope Francis expanded the Vatican’s legal system to allow broader prosecution of sex crimes.

    by Barbie Latza Nadeau, The Daily Beast July 11, 2013

    After years of noncompliance, the Vatican is finally being taken to task by the United Nation’s Commission for the Rights of the Child about its dodgy record on child sex abuse. And it looks like Pope Francis is taking it seriously.

    The Holy See was given until January to submit a detailed report to the United Nations answering very specific questions and providing confidential records and documentation about how and why Catholic dioceses moved predatory priests between them like chess pieces. And on Thursday, Pope Francis issued a “motu proprio” extending the scope of the Vatican City legal system to bolster criminal legislation against child sex abuse, possession of child pornography, and child prostitution on Vatican grounds by Vatican staff, seen as a shot across the bow to those in the Holy See who have harbored secrets of the sex abuse scandal. The extended scope of the legal system should pave the way to greater transparency and even prosecution of those who may have been the great enablers of the church’s worst sinners.

    The U.N.’s request, called the “List of Issues to be Taken Up in Connection with the Consideration of the Second Periodic Report of the Holy See” outlines a series of concerns the U.N.’s child protection arm wants addressed, including requests like “please indicate whether the Holy See still label children born outside wedlock as ‘illegitimate children’ and whether it has assessed the consequences of the use of such terminology on the rights of these children.”

    The commission also asks the Holy See to clarify its procedure in investigations of child sex abuse claims both regarding the recent pedophile priest scandal and the historical use of so-called Magdalene’s laundries as Catholic slave workhouses where women of ill repute were kept. These laundries, according to the U.N.'s accusations, were widely used in Europe and North America from the 18th to the 20th centuries and were still in use in Ireland until 1996. “Please indicate whether an investigation was conducted by the Holy see into the complaints of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and of subjection to force labor of girls held in Magdalene’s laundries run by Catholic Sisters in Ireland until 1996,” the report demands. The U.N. also wants a clear record on the number of babies taken from their mothers in the Magdalene’s laundries, and placed in Catholic orphanages or given for adoption.

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  42. The U.N. is also demanding that the Vatican turn over sensitive records concerning the long history of child sex abuse by Catholic clergy members. “In light of the recognition by the Holy See of sexual violence against children committed by members of the clergy, brothers and nuns in numerous countries around the world, and given the scale of the abuses, please provide detailed information on all cases of child sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy, brothers and nuns brought to the attention of the Holy See over the reporting period.” The U.N. wants concrete proof of punitive action against the clergy and whether policy changes have been implemented.

    If the Holy See fails to comply with the United Nations’ requests, they risk sanctions or even losing their coveted place as an observer-state on the commission. The observer state status means that the Vatican as a city-state can engage in debate that affects global policies adopted by the U.N., including weighing in on birth control and abortion. The Vatican became a signatory on the Commission for the Rights of the Child in part to push for the recognition that a child’s life begins at conception, which reinforces their anti-abortion stance.

    The Vatican did not respond when asked specifically for a comment on the U.N.'s report, but Massimo DeGregori, a priest with the Holy See’s diplomatic corps in Geneva, told Religion News Service that the U.N. is being manipulated by enemies of the church. “While we don’t deny the gravity (of child sex abuse), someone is trying to take advantage of the U.N. committee procedure,” he said.

    Rights groups for victims of predatory priests have welcomed the U.N. report, but they are not optimistic that the Holy See will comply, even in light of the pope’s new Vatican City legislation. The Vatican has answered requests before, but this is the first time any international body has asked for full disclosure and the turning over of highly confidential records. The Vatican is expected to send representatives to testify before the U.N. panel in January 2014. “These high-ranking church officials should answer for their wrongdoing,” says Barbara Dorris of SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests). “That’s how this scandal will finally begin to end—when those who help cause it and can stop it face the consequences if they don’t.”


  43. Cardinal blocked abuse investigation, says Archbishop of Glasgow

    By STAFF REPORTER, Catholic Herald August 23, 2013

    The former Archbishop of Glasgow has said that Cardinal Keith O’Brien blocked an investigation into the Scottish Catholic Church’s handling of sex abuse in 2012.

    In a letter to the Tablet, Archbishop Mario Conti wrote: “It was the intention of all but one member of the bishops’ conference to commission an independent examination of the historical cases we had on file in all of our respective dioceses and publish the results.”

    He continued: “But this was delayed by the objection of the then-President of the Conference; without full participation of all the dioceses the exercise would have been faulty.”

    A statement from the Catholic Church in Scotland said: “Archbishop Conti’s letter refers to a decision taken in 2011 by the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland to commission an independent academic analysis of statistics relating to abuse and allegations of abuse over a 60 year period from 1952 to 2012.

    “This project, with the cooperation of each of the eight dioceses in Scotland, started and ran until 2012, at which time, the then President of the Conference, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, withdrew from the project.

    “Without the participation of all the dioceses a ‘National Audit’ was not possible so the analysis was stopped.”


  44. Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski Extradition Declined: Former Papal Nuncio Accused Of Sex Abuse Remains In Vatican

    Huffington Post January 10, 2014

    Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski will not be extradited to his native Poland, despite accusations of sex abuse there and in the Dominican Republic, where he served as papal nuncio until his August 2013 dismissal.

    The Warsaw Office of the Prosecutor reported the the Vatican had tersely replied to their extradition request, saying that "Archbishop Wesolowski is a citizen of the Vatican, and Vatican law does not allow for his extradition," according to Catholic Culture.

    Polish TV channel N24 commented that "The Holy See's response is concise and fits in a half-page. The letter's authors noted that the Vatican is investigating the Catholic hierarch about the alleged practice of pedophilia," according to Dominican Today.

    The Vatican recalled Wesolowski to Rome before Dominican prosecutors announced their investigation, though it said that it was cooperating with prosecutors. Wesolowski is the highest-ranking Vatican official to be investigated for sex abuse, and his case raises questions of sovereignty when it comes to prosecution.

    At the time of the recall, Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi denied that the Vatican was trying to shield Wesolowski.

    According to The Tablet, Wesolowski is currently believed to be living in the Vatican.

    More from AP:

    VATICAN CITY (AP) - The Vatican has told Polish prosecutors that its former ambassador to the Dominican Republic, under investigation for alleged sex abuse, is covered by diplomatic immunity and that the Vatican doesn't extradite its citizens, Polish officials said in the latest development in an embarrassing case for the Holy See.

    Polish Archbishop Josef Wesolowski is the highest-ranking Vatican official to be investigated for alleged sex abuse, and his case has raised questions about whether the Vatican, by removing him from Dominican jurisdiction, was protecting him and placing its own investigations ahead of that of authorities in the Caribbean nation.

    The Holy See recalled Wesolowski on Aug. 21 and relieved him of his job after the archbishop of Santo Domingo, Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez, told Pope Francis in July about rumors that Wesolowski had sexually abused teenage boys in the Dominican Republic. Dominican authorities subsequently op ened an investigation, but haven't charged him.

    Poland, too, has opened an investigation into Wesolowski and a friend and fellow Polish priest.

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  45. Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi has denied Rome was shielding Wesolowski and that the Vatican was cooperating with the investigations while conducting its own probes.

    The spokesman for Warsaw's provincial prosecutor's office, Przemyslaw Nowak, told The Associated Press that Polish prosecutors had recently asked the Vatican for information about Wesolowski's legal status as part of its own investigation. He said the Vatican had confirmed that Wesolowski is a citizen of the Vatican city state, that the Vatican doesn't extradite its citizens and that as a nuncio, or Holy See ambassador, Wesolowski enjoys full diplomatic immunity.

    Lombardi confirmed Saturday that the Vatican's embassy in Warsaw had responded to the request, though he declined to confirm the legal principles Nowak said were outlined in the letter. Lombardi as well as Nowak stressed that the Polish were not seeking Wesolowski's extradition but merely information about his legal status.

    Lombardi did confirm that Wesolowski was being investigated by two separate Vatican tribunals for alleged canonical crimes and violations of the Vatican city state's criminal code. Canon law convictions can result in being defrocked; convictions in the Vatican's civil tribunals can carry jail terms.

    The criminal code was updated last summer to criminalize sexual violence against children. Lombardi said it would be up to legal experts to determine if the new law can be applied retroactively, or if the Vatican's previous laws would cover Wesolowski's case. Sexual crimes did exist in the previous law, but in a general form in the archaic code as a crime against "good customs."

    That two Vatican entities are investigating Wesolowski suggests that he has remained inside the Vatican ever since his recall. The Vatic a n has refused to say where he is, provide information about whether he has a lawyer or how he has responded to the accusations.

    The case is particularly problematic for the Vatican since Wesolowski was a representative of the pope, accused of grave crimes that the Holy See has previously sought to distance itself from by blaming the worldwide sex abuse scandal on wayward priests and their bishops who failed to discipline them. The Wesolowski case is also delicate because he was both ordained a priest and bishop by his Polish countryman, Pope John Paul II, who will be made a saint in April.


  46. Vatican to be grilled by UN panel about child sex abuse

    Holy See to be forced to defend itself against broad accusations it ignored pedophiles

    The Associated Press January 15, 2014

    The Vatican is gearing up for a bruising showdown over the global priest sex abuse scandal, forced for the first time to defend itself at length and in public against allegations it enabled the rape of thousands of children by protecting pedophile priests and its own reputation at the expense of victims.

    The Holy See on Thursday will be grilled by a UN committee in Geneva on its implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Among other things, the treaty calls for signatories to take all appropriate measures to protect children from harm and to put children's interests above all else.

    The Holy See ratified the convention in 1990 and submitted a first implementation report in 1994. But it didn't provide progress reports for nearly a decade, and only submitted one in 2012 after coming under criticism following the 2010 explosion of child sex abuse cases in Europe and beyond.

    Victims groups and human rights organizations rallied together to press the UN committee to challenge the Holy See on its abuse record, providing written testimony from victims and evidence outlining the global scale of the problem. Their reports cite case studies in Mexico and Britain, grand jury investigations in the U.S., and government fact-finding inquiries from Canada to Ireland to Australia that detail how the Vatican's policies, its culture of secrecy and fear of scandal contributed to the problem.

    Their submissions reference Vatican documents that show its officials knew about a notorious Mexican molester decades before taking action. They cite correspondence from a Vatican cardinal praising a French bishop's decision to protect his abusive priest, and another Vatican directive to Irish bishops to strike any mandatory reporting of abusers to police from their policies.

    The submissions even quote the former Vatican No. 2 as saying bishops shouldn't be expected to turn their priests in.

    Never defended record

    "For too many years, survivors were the only ones speaking out about this and bearing the brunt of a lot of criticism," said Pam Spees, a human rights attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, which provided a key report to the committee. "And so this is a very important moment for many, many people who are here in Geneva and around the world who will be watching as the Holy See is called for the first time ever to actually answer questions."

    Indeed, to date the Holy See has never had to defend its record to any large extent or in court since it has successfully argued that it is immune from lawsuits as a sovereign state and that, regardless, bishops were responsible for pedophile priests in their care, not the pope or his policies. While the Holy See has had to answer some questions about abuse at the separate UN Human Rights Council, this is the first UN hearing dedicated to the issue and the Vatican was compelled to submit to it as a signatory of the convention. Officials have privately said they are hoping at best to do damage control at Thursday's session.

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  47. The UN committee, which is composed of independent experts, not other UN member states, will issue its final observations and recommendations Feb. 5. The recommendations are not binding and the committee has no ability to sanction the Vatican for any shortcomings. Rather, the process is aimed at encouraging — and occasionally shaming — treaty signatories into abiding by their international commitments.

    The Vatican will be represented by its most authoritative official on the issue, Monsignor Charles Scicluna, for a decade the Holy See's chief sex crimes prosecutor. He is credited with having overhauled the Vatican's procedures to better prosecute pedophiles in-house. But the Vatican to date has refused to instruct its bishops to report suspected cases of abuse to police, saying they need only do so when required by local laws.

    "When abusers are in jail, they don't harm kids," said Miguel Hurtado, a member of the main U.S.-based victims' advocacy group SNAP, who said he was abused by a priest in the Catholic youth group he attended as a youngster in Catalonia, Spain. "And they failed to do that."

    Hurtado and Spees spoke to UN correspondents in Geneva before Thursday's session, during which the Vatican will be asked about its overall policies, what it has done to protect children and specific cases including the mistreatment of seminarians in the disgraced Legion of Christ religious order, which is currently being run by the Vatican itself.

    The committee had also asked the Holy See to provide detailed information on all cases of abuse that were brought to its attention — a number the Vatican has acknowledged tops 4,000.

    'Particularly disingenuous'

    But in its written response to the committee submitted last month, the Vatican declined to provide such information and ducked many of the committee's questions. It argued that it was not responsible for the actions of every Catholic, much less every priest or parish in the world. It says it is really only responsible for implementing the UN treaty where it exercises territorial control: the 44 hectares (110 acres) of the Vatican City State in downtown Rome, where 31 children currently live.

    "This representation by the Holy See is particularly disingenuous in light of the all-too-numerous accounts of efforts by bishops, archbishops, cardinals and other church officials around the world to cover up these crimes and subvert the course of justice in other states, further compounding the harm to victims," the Center for Constitutional Rights and SNAP said in response.

    They accused the Vatican of failing to acknowledge the "authority, control and oversight it exercises" over church institutions and personnel worldwide.

    While arguing that its jurisdiction is limited to the Vatican City State, the Holy See at the same time sought to highlight the ways in which it has promoted programs to protect children and keep pedophiles out of the priesthood. Bishops' conferences are now required to have guidelines to fight abuse.

    Last month, Pope Francis established a commission to study best practices and the Vatican last summer updated its local laws to criminalize abuse of children.



    By JOHN HEILPRIN and NICOLE WINFIELD, The Big Story January 16, 2014

    GENEVA (AP) — The Vatican came under blistering criticism from a U.N. committee Thursday for its handling of the global priest sex abuse scandal, facing its most intense public grilling to date over allegations that it protected pedophile priests at the expense of victims.

    The Vatican insisted it had little jurisdiction to sanction pedophile priests around the globe, saying it was for local law enforcement to do so. But officials conceded that more needs to be done and promised to build on progress already made to become a model for others, given the scale of the problem and the role the Holy See plays in the international community.

    "The Holy See gets it," Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the Vatican's former sex crimes prosecutor, told the committee. "Let's not say too late or not. But there are certain things that need to be done differently."

    He was responding to a grilling by the U.N. committee over the Holy See's failure to abide by terms of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child which, among other things, calls for signatories to take all appropriate measures to keep children from harm. Critics allege the church enabled the rape of thousands of children by encouraging a culture of cover-up to defend its reputation.

    Groups representing victims of clerical abuse, who have been active in civil litigation against the church, gave the U.N. committee hundreds of pages of documents that informed the questioning. The groups have welcomed the hearing as the first time the Vatican has had to publicly defend its record in what amounted to a courtroom cross-examination where no limits were placed on the questioning.

    But Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said Thursday that the Vatican's responses seem like "more of the same."

    The scene inside the conference room at U.N. headquarters in Geneva was remarkable by U.N. standards, with committee members themselves marveling at how such a powerful institution as the Holy See could be hauled before a relatively obscure U.N. human rights committee to answer uncomfortable questions before a packed audience.

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  49. It also was remarkable by Vatican standards. Traditionally the Holy See has insisted that the Vatican as an institution bore little or no responsibility for the problem, blaming scandals and cases on individual priests or their bishops over whom the Vatican has no real control.

    While insisting on that legal separation, though, the Vatican did respond to questions about cases even where it had no jurisdiction or involvement, and on many occasions welcomed recommendations on ways to make children safer.

    "I'm with you when you say, 'All these nice words will not mean anything ... if there is not more transparency and accountability on the local level,'" Scicluna told committee member Benyam Mezmur, an Ethiopian academic who asked what it would take for the Holy See to sanction bishops who fail to report pedophiles to police.

    Scicluna has been credited even by victims with helping bring the Vatican around over the past decade, overhauling its internal norms to make it easier to defrock abusers and calling for greater accountability by bishops who allowed priests to roam free.

    He said local criminal prosecutors must go after anyone — "whoever these people are" — who obstructs justice.

    The committee's main human rights investigator, Sara de Jesus Oviedo Fierro, was particularly tough on the Vatican delegation, asking repeated and informed follow-up questions and refusing to let the Vatican duck the answers. Oviedo, a sociologist from Ecuador who was elected in June to serve as the committee's vice president, pressed the Vatican delegation on the frequent ways abusive priests were transferred rather than turned in to police.

    Given the church's "zero tolerance" policy, she asked, why were there "efforts to cover up and obscure these types of cases?"

    Committee members repeatedly asked the Holy See to provide data about the scale of the problem, but the Vatican deferred, saying it would consider the request. They also asked what Pope Francis intends to do with a new commission announced last month to find best practices to protect children from abuse and help victims heal. In addition, the members sought information about accusations that the Vatican's own ambassador to the Dominican Republic had sexually abused teenage boys.

    The U.N. committee is made up of independent experts — not other U.N. member states — and it will deliver final observations and nonbinding recommendations on Feb. 5 . The committee has no ability to sanction the Vatican for any shortcomings, but the process is aimed at encouraging, and sometimes shaming, treaty signatories into honoring their international commitments.

    The Holy See ratified the U.N. convention in 1990, and submitted a first implementation report in 1994. But it didn't provide progress reports for nearly two decades. It only submitted one in 2012 after coming under criticism following the 2010 explosion of child sex abuse cases in Europe and beyond.

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  50. Victims groups and human rights organizations teamed up to press the U.N. committee to challenge the Holy See on its abuse record, providing it with reports of written testimony from victims and evidence outlining the global scale of the problem.

    Their reports cite case studies in Mexico and Britain, grand jury investigations in the U.S., and government fact-finding inquiries from Canada to Ireland to Australia that detail how the Vatican's policies, its culture of secrecy and fear of scandal contributed to the problem.

    Despite the unprecedented public scrutiny, Blaine of SNAP said, "When they say that these crimes should be prosecuted by states, it seems so disingenuous because we know that the church officials at the state level obstruct those efforts to bring justice."

    In an interview with The Associated Press midway through the hearing, she said the Vatican seemed to be telling the committee only "lofty words" and what it wanted to hear.

    The Holy See has long insisted that it isn't responsible for abusive priests, saying they aren't employees of the Vatican but rather members of the broader 1.2-billion-strong Catholic Church over which the Vatican exercises limited control. It has maintained that bishops are responsible for the priests in their care, not the pope.

    "Priests are not functionaries of the Vatican," Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's U.N. ambassador in Geneva, told the committee. "Priests are citizens of their own states, and they fall under the jurisdiction of their own country."

    But victims groups and human rights organizations provided the U.N. committee with the Vatican's own documentation showing how it discouraged bishops from reporting abusers to police. In one famous case, a Vatican cardinal sent a directive to Irish bishops warning them to strike any mandatory reporting of abusers to police from their internal policies.

    Tomasi also was asked about the case of the Vatican's ambassador to the Dominican Republic, who is under investigation by Dominican prosecutors for alleged abuse. The Vatican recalled Archbishop Josef Wesolowski in August, before Dominican prosecutors announced their investigation, and he hasn't been seen since.

    Tomasi dodged the committee's question about whether Wesolowski would be turned over to secular authorities for prosecution. The Vatican has said it doesn't extradite its own citizens. Rather, Tomasi said Wesolowski is being tried by the Vatican's own prosecutors.

    "It will be judged with the severity that the crimes might demand," Tomasi assured the committee.

    Victims groups and human rights organizations were closely monitoring the hearing.

    "I think it's time for the church to stop this secrecy," Teodoro Pulvirenti, who said he was abused by a priest, told The Associated Press in New York. "I believe the church puts too much of its reputation before the victims and you know the pain of this abuse that we carry. That's why I was so excited when I heard about this final meeting between the Vatican representatives and the U.N."

    Winfield reported from Rome.


  51. Vatican must immediately remove child abusers - UN

    BBC February 5, 2014

    The UN has said that the Vatican should "immediately remove" all clergy who are known or suspected child abusers.

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

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

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

    A group representing the victims of abuse by priests in the US welcomed the report.

    In its findings, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) said the Holy See should open its files on members of the clergy who had "concealed their crimes" so that they could be held accountable by the authorities.

    It said it was gravely concerned that the Holy See had not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed, and expressed its "deepest concern about child sexual abuse committed by members of the Catholic churches who operate under the authority of the Holy See, with clerics having been involved in the sexual abuse of tens of thousands of children worldwide".

    It also lambasted the "practice of offenders' mobility", referring to the transfer of child abusers from parish to parish within countries, and sometimes abroad.

    The committee said this practice placed "children in many countries at high risk of sexual abuse, as dozens of child sexual offenders are reported to be still in contact with children".

    The UN report called on a Vatican commission created by Pope Francis in December to investigate all cases of child sexual abuse "as well as the conduct of the Catholic hierarchy in dealing with them".

    Ireland's Magdalene laundries scandal was singled out by the report as an example of how the Vatican had failed to provide justice despite "slavery-like" conditions, including degrading treatment, violence and sexual abuse.

    The laundries were Catholic-run workhouses where some 10,000 women and girls were required to do unpaid manual labour between 1922 and 1996.

    The report's findings come after Vatican officials were questioned in public last month in Geneva about why they would not release data and what they were doing to prevent future abuse.

    The Vatican has denied any official cover-up. However, in December it refused a UN request for data on abuse on the grounds that it only released such information if requested to do so by another country as part of legal proceedings.

    In January, the Vatican confirmed that almost 400 priests had been defrocked in a two-year period by the former Pope Benedict XVI over claims of child abuse.

    The UN committee's recommendations are non-binding and there is no enforcement mechanism.


    The BBC's David Willey in Rome says the Vatican has set up new guidelines to protect children from predatory priests.

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  52. But, he adds, bishops in many parts of the world have tended to concentrate on protecting and defending the reputation of priests rather than listening to the complaints of victims of paedophile priests.

    Meanwhile several Catholic dioceses in the US have been forced into bankruptcy after paying out huge sums in compensation to victims of abuse by clergy.

    The Vatican said in a statement following the report's publication: "The Holy See takes note of the concluding observations...which will be submitted to a thorough study and examination... according to international law and practice."

    But it added that it "regrets to see in some points of the concluding observations an attempt to interfere with Catholic Church teaching on the dignity of human person and in the exercise of religious freedom" and "reiterates its commitment to defending and protecting the rights of the child... according to the moral and religious values offered by Catholic doctrine".

    Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, head of the Holy See's delegation to the United Nations in Geneva, told Vatican Radio the report had failed to take into account the fact that the Vatican had made "a series of changes for the protection of children", and its efforts at reform were "fact, evidence, which cannot be distorted".

    He added that the UN could not ask the Church to change its "non-negotiable" moral teachings.

    Victims groups welcomed the report as a wake-up call to secular law enforcement officials to investigate and prosecute Church officials who were still protecting "predator priests".

    Barbara Blaine, president of a group representing US victims of abuse by priests - Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (Snap) - told the BBC that the UN report "reaffirms everything we've been saying. It shows that the Vatican has put the reputation of Church officials above protection of children".

    "Church officials knew about it and they refused to stop it. Nothing has changed. Despite all the rhetoric from Pope Francis and Vatican officials, they refuse to take action that will make this stop."

    Analysis by David Willey, BBC News, Rome

    The Vatican quickly moved into damage control mode after publication of the UN report.

    While promising "thorough study" of the criticisms, the Holy See robustly rejects some of the points made by the UN.

    The Vatican has always given precedence to Church law, called Canon Law, over local criminal law in dealing with ecclesiastical crime. It does not easily tolerate interference by civil authorities in ecclesiastical matters.

    The recent case of a senior Vatican diplomat, a Polish archbishop, who was suddenly recalled to Rome from his post in Santo Domingo after serious police accusations of sexual abuse of minors there is a case in point.

    The Vatican has refused an extradition request by justice authorities in Poland and says an internal police investigation is under way inside Vatican City.