Sunday, 28 March 2010

Italy: More Cases Expected?

One of the striking features of the stories of clerical abuse that have been emerging around the world, is how in one country after another, early isolated reports are followed by first a few more, and then by a flood. It is well victims of abuse do not easily go public with their stories, but once the first person does so, others become encouraged to do so too - and the more cases that become known, the more encouragement the victims feel, to make themselves known to support groups and lawyers.  It is on this basis that a spokesman for an Italian support group argues that the emergence of some stories in
Italy will surely emerge soon.

He is right.  In exactly the same way, the emergence of stories in the US and Ireland also prompted a new set from Germany and Austria, followed by a string of other countries.  There will still be more reports from still more countries, as well as a continuing rise in the numbers reported in each of those countries.

After the latest allegations - that Pope Benedict XVI took no action in the United States when he was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican's enforcer - the church is now "terrified" as more victims stand up to be counted in Italy, according to Mr Roberto Mirabile, head of La Caramella Buona, an Italian anti-abuse group. 
"With the scandals erupting abroad, we will see a huge growth in victims' groups in Italy in coming weeks," said Mr Mirabile on Saturday. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now the Pontiff, handled abuse cases at the Vatican for 24 years.
"We are likely to discover that the Vatican worked even harder in Italy with bishops than elsewhere to hide cases, simply because the contact was closer and the church is so powerful in Italy," Mr Mirabile added.

Italian lawyer Sergio Cavaliere, who has documented 130 cases of clerical paedophilia, believes that the Vatican's backyard could follow Ireland, the United States and Germany in producing a wave of abuse revelations. 
"The cases I have found are just the tip of the iceberg given the reluctance of many victims to come forward until now," said Mr Cavaliere. "And in no case did the local bishop alert police to the abuse."
Another startling development is how recent most of the allegations are, unlike the decades-old cases in Munich and Milwaukee that the Pope was last week accused of failing to act on.
Monsignor Charles Scicluna, who investigates abuse accusations passed on to the Vatican, denied that abuse had reached "dramatic proportions" in Italy, but he was concerned about "a certain culture of silence" among Italy's 50,000 priests.

US, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Brazil, Chile, Denmark, France - ITALY

From the Guardian:

Pope faces fresh wave of child abuse scandals in Italy

Pope Benedict XVI is facing growing pressure over his handling of paedophile priests as new cover-ups come to light in Italy, the country with the greatest concentration of Roman Catholic clerics.
After the latest allegations – that Benedict took no action in the US when he was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican's enforcer – the church is now "terrified" as more victims stand up to be counted in Italy, according to Roberto Mirabile, head of La Caramella Buona, an Italian anti-abuse group. "With the scandals erupting abroad, we will see a huge growth in victims' groups in Italy in coming weeks," said Mirabile yesterday. As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict handled abuse cases at the Vatican for 24 years before he became pope in 2005.
"We are likely to discover that the Vatican worked even harder in Italy with bishops than elsewhere to hide cases, simply because the contact was closer and the church is so powerful in Italy," Mirabile added.
Sergio Cavaliere, an Italian lawyer who has documented 130 cases of clerical paedophilia, also believes that the Vatican's backyard could follow Ireland, the United States and Germany in producing a wave of abuse revelations. "The cases I have found are just the tip of the iceberg given the reluctance of many victims to come forward until now," said Cavaliere. "And in no single case did the local bishop alert police to the suspected abuse."

In the Vatican, Reality Begins to Intrude

From Reuters:

Vatican say abuse response crucial for credibility

(Reuters) - The Catholic Church's response to cases of sexual abuse by priests is crucial to its credibility and it must "acknowledge and make amends for" even decades-old cases, a Vatican spokesman said on Saturday.

The church is reeling from a series of media reports this week that Pope Benedict, before being elected pontiff, may have looked the other way in the case of the abuse of hundreds of boys by a priest at an American school for the deaf.

The Vatican has denied any cover-up in the abuse of 200 deaf boys by Reverend Lawrence Murphy from the 1950s to the 1960s, after the New York Times reported he was not defrocked despite warnings sent to the Vatican and to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then the church's top doctrinal official, now Pope Benedict.

The New York Times report came after many new allegations of sexual abuse by priests in Europe, especially in Ireland and Germany, with pressure on bishops to resign for failing to report cases to civil authorities.

"The nature of this issue is bound to attract media attention and the way the church responds is crucial for its moral credibility," said the Vatican's chief spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, to Vatican Radio.

Although the cases cited happened long ago, "even decades ago, acknowledging them and making amends to the victims is the price for reestablishing justice and looking to the future with renewed vigor, humility and confidence," Lombardi said.

The Vatican spokesman defended action taken by the church to educate priests and lay members of the church about abuse. While warning against complacency, Lombardi said the number of cases reported had fallen by more than 30 percent in the past year and most of those "concern events of over 30 years ago."

He said "any non-superficial observer" could see "the authority of the pope" and of the doctrinal body he once presided over -- the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith -- had not been weakened by events because of the firm response.

Mexico: A Ghost Returns

From the LA Times:

In Mexico, Catholic order is haunted by past

Reporting from Mexico City - He hobnobbed with Mexico's rich and famous, cut lucrative real estate deals and was rumored to travel on occasion with a briefcase full of cash. He fathered at least one child, molested seminarians and boys and is said to have boasted that he had the pope's permission to get massages from young nuns.

And all the while the conservative priest was building one of the most influential organizations in the Roman Catholic Church.

Two years after the death of the Rev. Marcial Maciel, a Mexico native, scandals continue to unfold: Just the other day in Mexico City, two brothers came forward, claiming tearfully that not only was Maciel their father, he had also sexually abused them.

Buffeted by the string of revelations, Maciel's powerful Legion of Christ is fighting for its survival in Rome, the headquarters of the church. But here in Mexico, where the Legion has long-standing ties with the ruling class and an expansive network of elite schools, the organization remains strong.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Abuse: Czech Republic

The cases from the Czech Republic are not new, are not many - but the protestations by the Archbishop are yet another example of the half truths we have been getting from Benedict XVI, and from others in the episcopal club. It turns out here that "no cases" means "except for the other diocese". True to episcopal form, there are also the usual attempts to minimize the importance, deflect blame, and allege anti-church malice on the part of the critics.

Extracts from the Prague Post
As the Catholic Church's top officials in Rome struggle to cope with the ongoing sex abuse scandal in Europe, church leadership in the Czech Republic is proving equally inept at responding to growing public outrage.

Dominik Duka, who will take over as the archbishop of Prague in April, asserted the Irish end of the scandal is being driven by militant atheism that aims to harm the financial solvency of the church.

"It is a clear campaign that aims at pushing the church from its position in upbringing and education that it has held from time immemorial and in which it has proved itself," he wrote in a pastoral letter March 22.

Besides, only about 10 percent of the accusations made are proved," he continues.

Cardinal Miroslav Vlk, whom Duka will replace, struck an equally defensive posture in blog postings on his personal Web site.

"On behalf of the diocese, I must say that no concrete specific documented pedophile case had reached me in 20 years," he wrote.

While Vlk may be technically correct in this assertion, as the highest-ranking church official in the Czech Republic he does glaze over an abuse scandal in the country's other archdiocese, Olomouc, dating back 10 years.

In 2000, František Merta, a priest in the Olomouc Archdiocese, was criminally charged with molesting 20 boys, beginning in 1995. A civil court convicted him and gave him a two-year suspended sentence. He served no jail time.

At the time, one whistleblower accused Jan Graubner, the archbishop of Olomouc, of covering up the case and moving Merta to different posts as accusations surfaced. Merta remains employed by the church, working in the archdiocese archives. Graubner remains archbishop.

US Abuse: Ratzinger’s Failure to Act

When Pope Benedict rebuked the Irish bishops for their failure to act on priests abusing those in his care, he made no made no mention of his own failures to act.  We already knew that there were many such failures, simply because Vatican requirements were that all allegations of abuse were to be referred to his office at the CDF, and the bulk of them resulted in no action being taken.  What has not been known, are the specifics. That will change, as more facts are swept out from under the Vatican , such as this story from the NY Times:

"John Pilmaier from Milwaukee, and Peter Isely of the SNAP bureau (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), during a press conference in front of the Vatican on Thursday. Photo: AP"]

Warned About Abuse, Vatican Failed to Defrock Priest

Top Vatican officials — including the future Pope Benedict XVI — did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys, even though several American bishops repeatedly warned them that failure to act on the matter could embarrass the church, according to church files newly unearthed as part of a lawsuit.
The internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal.
The documents emerge as Pope Benedict is facing other accusations that he and direct subordinates often did not alert civilian authorities or discipline priests involved in sexual abuse when he served as an archbishop in Germany and as the Vatican’s chief doctrinal enforcer.
To put this into context, it is worth noting the reports elsewhere, such as this one (from the BBC which remind us of how very well- informed Benedict usually is: he has an impressive reputation as a man who is a stickler fr detail, and is believed to have read every on of over 3000 cases of abuse that crossed his desk. Claims that he "didn't know" are just not believable:

The Pope, as a senior Vatican cardinal head of department, was responsible for dealing with these cases for more than 20 years before his election as pontiff in 2005 and is therefore one of the best informed in the Vatican about the extent, and even the detail, of every paedophile scandal reported to Rome.
So although he now appears to be instructing his 5,000 bishops scattered around the world to apply a new policy of "zero tolerance" of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests, similar to that devised by US bishops earlier this decade, the suspicion remains that for many years the best informed person in the Vatican about priestly paedophilia failed to react to the damning evidence which arrived on his desk.
Then we have a revealing comment tacked on to the end of this story from EuroNews. The Vatican knew that Murphy had committed a crime, but took no action because there was no civil case against him. But why was there no civil case? Could it be, do you suppose, that this was because the church simply failed to report what they knew to the police?
Today a Vatican spokeman said Murphy had broken the law, but as there was no civil case against him church laws did not require automatic punishment.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Abuse: Mormons, Boy Scouts.

In all the storm around clerical abuse in the Catholic church, there is one are where I agree with the Vatican.  To avoid any misunderstanding, I wan to make this absolutely clear:  the Catholic Church is not alone in its culpability.  (Now, I do not buy the claim by some Catholic apologists that the church is no worse than any others - but I'm not going to explore that today.) It is undeniable that there are other individuals and institutions also at fault.It is undeniable for instance, that the bulk of abuse takes place within the family, by close relatives or family friends.  There are also well-known stereotypes of figures popularly believed to get a little too close to the young people in their care:  choirmasters, for instance, or scoutmasters.
My own experience of childhood sexual abuse was by a scoutmaster. (Earlier  the abuse I received at the hands of the church had been physical, not sexual).  Even at that age (about twelve or thirteen), it was obvious to me that this man's activities were well known to the other adult scouters, who ignored them. There is no reason to assume that he was unique, or that the popular stereotype had no grounding in reality. Yet, in all the public outcry and endless US lawsuits for compensation, the allegations have primarily been against people inside the Catholic Church. When  I first started thinking about the problem of abuse for QTC, I resisted writing anything at all, because the issues as publicly encountered in the press were so grievously oversimplified and distorted in so many respects.  This was one of them. Why, I wondered, should the scale of the  attacks against the church be so enormous, when it was obvious that other institutions also had guilt of their own?  The cynic in me considered the possibility that the perceived wealth of the church, and its concentration in clear centralized accounts, left it a much more tempting target for claims for financial  compensation.
However, I did proceed to start writing about the problems of Catholic abuse, in several dozen posts over the past year. I have explored many of the issues that I felt, a year ago, were being unduly ignored:  the complexity of the issue, the deeper causes linked to celibacy and centralized power, and the global nature of the problem . I have discussed the many different forms of abuse, and the range of victims affected, which is more extensive than just the young boys and girls who in figure in most press reports.  But I too have forgotten to draw attention to the problems elsewhere, which also deserve serious attention.
I was grateful then for the reminder of this omission that I encountered at Box Turtle Bulletin, who draw attention in this post to the problem in the US of child abuse in the boy scouts,  and their close association with the Mormons. (Is it a co-incidence, I wonder, that the two religious groupings most closely identified with abuse are also the two most actively involved in the Proposition H8 campaign?).
As this report is specific to the US, and to the Mormons about whom I have limited knowledge (I did not know, for instance, that there was any connection at all with the scouts), I offer no comment at all, except to offer the link to Box Turtle Bulletin.  Do not stop, though, at the main post;  this comment by Ben in Oakland was fascinating, and includes much useful information that goes well beyond the immediate issue of Mormons and scouts.)
Here at QTC, William has twice noted in comments that this problem goes beyond just the Catholic church.  German chancellor Angela Merkel, responding to the allegations against the Catholic Church there, has agreed that they need full and careful investigation - but she too notes that the investigations need to go beyond just the Catholic Church.
She, and William, are right.

Michael Walsh on the Vatican’s Problem: Abuse and Renewal

At Open Democracy, there is one of the clearest analyses of the problem in the  Vatican that I have yet seen. Here are some extracts
There are many reasons given for the imposition of celibacy on (the majority of) Catholic clergy, an obligation with a long and problematic history. Some of these reasons are practical, others ascetical, but there are good arguments for claiming that celibacy was originally imposed to mark off clergy as a separate caste within an increasingly Christian society. That was a long time ago, but the “caste” mentality survives to this day.
It is not true, of course, for all Catholic clergy, many of whom are well adjusted human beings, but it is true for some that they socialise almost entirely within clerical circles. ..... There is, in other words, a distinctive clerical culture which celibacy has an obvious role in maintaining. In their daily lives they are not challenged by wives or children.
The most deleterious aspect of this culture is the assumption by the clergy of the mantle of authority and the power they assume goes with it. It is insidious. It is exercised without reflection. It used to have some kind of basis in the better education clergy enjoyed, but that distinction is now gone. Their parishioners rightly show reverence to an ordained minister, but that is exploited. It is exploited unthinkingly in many minor ways, but it is also exploited by some in their abuse of women and of children. They are in a position of power bestowed on them by the church’s law, and they make use of that power for their own ends, sometimes immoral ones. Not all, of course, do so, not even most, but enough have done so in so many different countries of the world (clerical culture is a global phenomenon) that they have brought about the greatest crisis in the Catholic church since the 16th-century reformation. And just as in the 16th century, the Vatican is floundering.
The problem with the Vatican is that it shares this clerical culture, and to excess. There is a pious belief among Catholics that the Vatican is run by the best clerical civil servants the church can produce. It isn’t. With some few exceptions it is staffed by people who have drifted into their jobs by inertia, because they happened to be in Rome, or because they wanted to be close to the source of power in the church. And they regard that power as untouchable, answerable to no one under God. There was a canonical phrase, much beloved by medieval canonists, that the pope may be judged by no one. Papal power has in fact waxed and waned, but at the moment it is at its height. The so-called Magisterium - or teaching authority to which obeisance is demanded and is widely made - dates (in its present incarnation) only from the mid-19th century. It is a new thing, but no one except academics seems ready to question it.
And it is no longer limited only to the papacy. It has been extended to the Vatican offices, the “congregations”, tribunals and committees that make up the administrative structure of the Catholic church. This is a nonsense, but again it goes unquestioned. The Vatican does what it likes. It is imposing a new and unwelcome (by many if not by most) English translation of the liturgy. It is attempting to attract back into the fold the highly reactionary Society of St Pius X which went into schism as a result of the Second Vatican Council. It has, apparently without consulting even those in the Vatican charged with ecumenical matters, made an offer to dissident Anglicans to reunion, which has caused embarrassment to the English Catholic bishops and irritation to their Church of England counterparts.
The publication in 1968 of the encyclical Humanae Vitae banning artificial means of birth-control was the turning-point - in two ways. First, the pope of the day, Paul VI, rejected advice from a reasonably representative committee of Catholics, both lay people (including a married couple) and clerics. Had he not done so, and quite irrespective of the decision reached, it would have been a potent symbol of consultation within the people of God. Second, after initial heartsearching the ban was in any case widely ignored by Catholics. This seriously undermined papal authority. Pope Paul was aware of the danger, and never issued another encyclical. Pope John Paul II and his successor tried to make the acceptance of their interpretation of papal authority on these matters the test of one’s Catholicity. It hasn’t worked. Catholics haven’t necessarily left the church in droves, though many have indeed ceased to practice. They are simply paying less and less attention to Rome.
The Vatican is helpless in the face of the current abuse scandals because it shares the same mindset, the same clerical culture, that gave rise to it. It recognises such abuse as a scandal, but wants to contain it within the ranks. It acknowledges the moral failings of some of its clergy, but has for too long failed to insist that such behaviour is not only sinful but it is a crime. The letter of Pope Benedict XVI to the church in Ireland at last acknowledges that priests guilty of paedophilia must answer to the civil, as well as to the ecclesiastical, authorities (see “Pastoral letter of the Holy Father...”, Bollettino, 20 March 2010). That is an important step from a man who, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, appeared to want to keep these accusations secret within the bosom of the church. But who does he blame for this scandal? The modern world, and the misinterpretation of Vatican II. His remedy? Just more old-time religion.
After the crisis of the reformation the Vatican survived, oddly enough with its prestige enhanced, for two reasons. A reforming council was called, the Council of Trent (1545-63); and there was an extraordinary renewal of the men at the top. The modern church has had its reforming council, Vatican II. It has not yet had the renewal of the men at the top. This is long overdue - and some women would be a start.

Dutch Abuse: 1100 Allegations.

While we digest the Pastoral letter to the Irish Church, consider this.  The letter is quite specifically addressed only to the Irish Church, and this is the justification offered for remaining silent on the problems elsewhere. But that begs the question how and when will he respond to  the problems elsewhere? In just the past few weeks, new storm clouds  have started to blow over Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Brazil and Chile, as well as the already well known stories from the USA, Mexico and elsewhere. Other countries have not been spared the abuse - just the publicity.
In case anyone thinks that these other problems are not significant in scale, I offer the news report below, which might otherwise be lost in the flood of reporting over the Irish:  the Dutch Church is now dealing with 1100 allegations of abuse by Catholic clergy. This is very much a global, not a local, problem.  Yet the most notable practical step taken by Benedict to correct the failings, is a visitation of the Irish Church. Leaving aside the uncomfortable suspicion that this smacks of the old parliamentary trick of shunting difficulties into subcommittees, or commissions of inquiry where they can languish before being forgotten, does this precedent mean that we will see similar visitations in every other country where sexual abuse has been a problem?  The process would never end.
It would be far more constructive if he could begin instead far closer to home - with a visitation of the Vatican.
From Sydney Morning Herald

Church flooded with sex abuse claims

March 21, 2010 - 5:54AM
At least 1,100 allegations of sexual abuse committed by members of the Dutch Roman Catholic clergy in the three decades from 1950 have emerged this month, a church official says.
"According to latest figures, there have been 1,100 accounts," Pieter Kohnen, a spokesman for the Dutch Catholic church, said on Saturday.
The reports have been logged by a commission set up in 1995 by the church to help victims of sexual abuse by the clergy, he added.
Dutch religious leaders on March 9 ordered a "broad, external and independent" investigation of alleged sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests, and apologised to victims.
The announcement was made by the Dutch Religious Conference after a meeting to discuss abuse claims by about 200 alleged victims dating from the 1960s and 1970s.
On Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI apologised in a letter for child sex abuse by Irish priests and spoke of the "shame and remorse" he felt over the scandals.
Similar scandals have also emerged in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

Monday, 22 March 2010

The Worst Logo Ever?

Yes, I know that sexual abuse is serious; that clerical misdemanours are scandalous, and not a laughing matter; and that 1973 was a long time ago, in an age of greater innocence. But STILL - sometimes it's good to have a giggle. A singularly inappropriate logo for a church youth commission comes to you from Andrew Sullivan, who got it from Afrojacks (who notes that it even won an art award for design. Go figure - it's not only the church that missed the boat on this one.

Danish Church to Probe Abuse

From Straits Times.
COPENHAGEN - FOLLOWING pressure from its members, the Danish Catholic Church will probe a number of cases involving sexual abuse of children, it said in a statement on Sunday.
'The Catholic Church in Denmark has recently been criticised by its members for not investigating and reporting to the police cases of sexual abuse which date back 100 years,' the statement said.
'Bishop Czeslaw Kozon now addresses this criticism by, as soon as he comes back from an official visit to the pope on March 27, setting up a group of competent people to investigate these cases.'
Around 35,000 catholics live in Denmark, according to the Ritzau news agency, which said the Church's declarations were brought about by 'massive pressure.'
On Saturday Pope Benedict XVI apologised in a letter for child sex abuse by Irish priests and spoke of the 'shame and remorse' he felt over the scandals.
Similar scandals have also emerged in Austria, Germany and Switzerland and the Netherlands. --

Abuse: Latin America Takes Its Turn

A few years ago, it was mostly the US that was disturbed by endless stories of abuse, last year Ireland was convulsed. Over the last month, scandals have burst into the open right across Northern Europe, including Germany, with questions asked about both Benedict himself in his years as a German bishop, and his brother.
Now, there are new stories emerging right across the world, in Brazil and Chile, to go alongside the problem of Father Marcial Maciel in Mexico, which has been simmering for years.
In Brazil, the story that has surfaced is not about old crimes that have recently surfaced, but about an incident from just over a year ago - and was secretly videotaped.
Child sex scandals roiling the Roman Catholic church spread to Brazil on Tuesday after the Vatican said three priests were under investigation following allegations of child abuse.The Vatican's acknowledgment takes controversies that have rocked the church in the United States and more recently in Europe to the country with the largest Catholic population in world. About 74 per cent of Brazil's 140 million people identify as Catholics. SBT television last week aired video from a hidden camera showing father Marques Barbosa, 82, having sex with a 19-year-old boy in the northeastern state of Alagoas.
After the act, the priest's face is identified as he looks toward the camera and says "Who's there?" "Who is it?"
The report on the program Conexao Reporter also included charges by three former altar boys that they too had been sexually abused by local priests.
I suppose we should be grateful that the church seems to have learnt something  from recent uproars:  the three priests implicated have been suspended from ministry, and will face criminal charges. (After the footage was screened on national television, a cover-up was hardly feasible.) More extraordinary than the acts themselves, were the words of one of the priests, before he knew he had been busted:
An SBT reporter visited Barbosa's house to conduct an interview and confront him with the allegations. Before raising the allegations of sexual abuse, the reporter asks if the priest had ever sinned. "Who has never committed a sin?" Barbosa responds. The priest is then asked if the region has problems with pedophilia. "I think it is more (a problem) of homosexuality than pedophilia," Barbosa says. Asked directly if he ever abused boys, Barbosa says he could only answer such a question "in confession." He then ends the interview, which was aired Thursday and posted on SBT's YouTube page.
In Chile, by contrast, the issue is somewhat tamer:  mere possession of child pornography.
Elsewhere in Latin America, a Spanish religious instructor was reported to have been jailed in Chile for possession of pornographic images of children. A prosecutor said the priest, Jose Arregui, 53, would be tried for child pornography possession on March 24, the newspaper La Tercera's website reported. The lessons from elsewhere, though, is that once people start to talk about clerical abuse, one story soon leads to another, and another....   For Chile and the rest of South America - watch this space.
Meanwhile, in Mexico , the tale of Father Maciel simmers on.  At NCR on-line, John Allen has just released a story claiming that since becoming Pope, Benedict has stamped down hard on the problem of clerical abuse, adopting a strict policy of zero tolerance. The evidence he produces describes the many priests who have been dealt with by internal procedures, and been suitable punished - by being removed from ministry.  The start of this no tolerance regime, Allen claims,  came with the removal from ministry of Maciel, back in 2006.
When the same axe fell a few months later on Mexican priest Marcial Maciel Degollado, the high-profile founder of the Legionaries of Christ, against whom accusations of abuse had likewise been hanging around for the better part of a decade, the message seemed unmistakable: There's a new sheriff in town.
So what happened to him?
In 2006 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, removed Maciel from active ministry, inviting him to spend the rest of his days in prayer and penance.
In May 2006, Pope Benedict XVI disciplined him, inviting him to "a reserved life of prayer and penitence"; no explanation was given to the public or to the Legionaries of Christ. In July 2009, a Spanish daily published an interview with a woman who had a child with Maciel in 1986 and now lives in a luxury apartment in Madrid which Maciel purchased for her.
This is harsh punishment?
In his commentary, columnist Andrew Sullivan puts ithe matter precisely:
How much more do we have to see, how much more damage has to be done to human beings, before the hierarchy cones to terms with its denial about homosexuality, its warped psyche on sexuality, the brutal consequences of its celibacy requirements ... and the total iniquity of allowing children and teens in your care, entrusted to men of God, to be raped and abused and molested with impunity for years?
When will this Pope step down?

A Theologian's 12-step recovery Program for the church

Enda McDonagh is one of Ireland's foremost theologians, with a particular interest in prayer through art and poetry. (I once attended a short retreat he led got our Soho Masses group, using this approach.) Now, he has turned his attention to the crisis of the Irish Church, and how it might regain the trust and respect of the Irish people. It needs, he says, something like a 12 step recovery program. This could usefully be adapted for the wider, global church, too.

Theologian maps 12-step recovery for church

ONE OF Ireland’s most distinguished theologians has recommended a 12-step programme of recovery for the Catholic Church in Ireland.
Fr Enda McDonagh, former professor of Moral Theology at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, calls for the church leadership to repent more convincingly their failure “in dealing with the crimes of clerical and religious sexual abuse”.
He says “the intellectual weakness of the Irish Church will also require attention” in a contribution that, he says, was prompted by watching excerpts on the TV3 Tonight with Vincent Browne programme of the Catholic bishops’ press conference in Maynooth last Wednesday and, having attended the Tom Kilroy play Christ Deliver Us! at the Abbey Theatre earlier that evening.
The 12 steps are as follows:
“1. All Catholics must remember who the Irish Church is: the whole People of God in Ireland and that it is the whole People of God under the direction and by the energy of the Holy Spirit who will enable the Church to become a ‘recovering’ Church.
“2. Those in official leadership positions in the Church, bishops, clergy and religious, must acknowledge more openly and repent more convincingly the failure of that leadership over many years in dealing with the crimes of clerical and religious sexual abuse.
“3. The process of ‘recovery’ will only effectively start when serious and public involvement of the whole Church with the ‘abused’ and their representatives is initiated.
“4. This involvement may have to develop in stages among small groups at parish and diocesan level, using all the groupings available from parish councils to justice and peace groups to Legion of Mary presidia to ad hoc gatherings.
“5. The natural difficulty which many of the ‘abused’ may experience in accepting to attend such meetings should be greeted with loving patience and understanding.
“6. Bishops, priests and religious should encourage such meetings but should not attempt to dominate or manipulate them. The absence of episcopal or clerical encouragement or approval should not prevent the believing people from pursuing such initiatives. Neither should the continuing refusal of some of the abused to attend as long as some people expert or experienced in these matters participate. The understanding and energy generated by such meetings are also directed towards educating and energising the wider Irish Church .
“7. Critical to the value of these meetings is the growing understanding of the depths of the suffering and anger of the abused who were for so long rejected. The widespread anger at the official failures and the disillusionment of the faithful with the episcopal responses so far will also have to be exposed and explored.
“8. As much more openly repentant officials join the conversation the way to a recovery programme may be taken beyond the necessary guidelines in relation to clerical sex abuse and their implementation, beyond any talk of mismanagement and managerial reform to the radical restructuring in relationship and decision-making which the recovering Church will badly need.
“9. These meetings and discussions will also need to be nurtured by prayer, in particular prayer services at least sometimes of a penitential kind. However too quick and easy declarations of repentance and hasty requests for forgiveness and reconciliation will prove empty. There is a long and difficult path to tread here.
“10. The intellectual weakness of the Irish Church will also require attention in the path to recovery. Local and national theological ‘think tanks’ including experts from other disciplines and engaged lay people should be studying and promoting the various needs and possibilities of recovery based on the scriptures, the traditions, doctrines and the history of the Church and the insights of contemporary culture.
“11. Meantime regular sacramental worship and the practical works of charity and justice, of peace and care for environment at home and abroad, will continue to strengthen the convalescent church. These activities should include the practices of ecumenism as other Christian Churches come to our aid.
“12. At some stage the Irish Church as a whole, attentive to the gifts of the Spirit which its more localised gatherings have revealed, may be ready for a truly representative assembly. Only in such an assembly can the fruits of the earlier consultations be synthesised and stabilised.
“The ‘recovering’ Church for all its continuing fragility may be then enabled to address anew its divine mission to Irish society and the wider world.”

Vatican Meltdown

"The crisis of confidence affecting the church has not occurred because the church is an association of abusers. The church is in crisis precisely because, confronted with undeniable evidence of abuse, it expresses concern for itself instead of offering to help the victims of the abuse, by offering compensation, for instance. This crisis results from the church's refusal to admit that the priesthood and religious orders are attractive to men with sexual identity issues."
- Andrew Sullivan, "The Vatican Death Throes, II"
The sudden, panicky flurry of Vatican pronouncements on the mounting problems with reports of clerical abuse are quite extraordinary.  Note, please, that I say deliberately that the panic is about the reports of abuse, not about the abuse itself: for decades, the Vatican has known about the problems, but sought to keep it secret.  Its own rules dictated secrecy, and that all cases should be referred to the Vatican. Any suggestion that they did not know, just doesn't wash. As a German reporter has noted,
These scandals progressed in America and we read about them, a reporter writes, but it turns out that exactly the same thing was going on all over Germany--but the German church was better able to keep it all under wraps.
Exactly.  And in precisely the same way, it's a pretty safe bet that in still more countries where there have not yet been major stories emerging, this is not because the clergy have been better behaved, but because there has been better news management by the ecclesiastical structures.  But exactly as the stories from the US and from Ireland have encouraged people to start speaking up in northern Europe, so the gathering tide will also encourage still others elsewhere to follow. Already, there have been references in some reports to recent disclosures in Poland, Italy and Spain as well as Germany, Austria, Netherlands and Switzerland, but I have been unable to track down any detail or verification. But today, I do not want to rehash the abuse itself: I have written extensively on that before. No, the really fascinating part now, is why after so much reticence in the past, are so many Church spokesmen suddenly falling over themselves with something to say - mostly in defence of the Church and of Benedict himself? Is it, perhaps, because they are suddenly aware of a real threat to their survival? In a lengthy opinion piece in today's Independent, Peter Popham reflects on the many contradictions in Benedict XVI:  how the radical young theologian at Vatican II became the reactionary custodian at the CDF, muzzling  the man who had appointed him to his post at Thubingen; how the "brilliant scholar and scheming politician" could make so many disastrous PR gaffes; and above all, how the man who swept triumphantly into office promising to clean up the church, could have presided while the church became mired in a crisis of credibility of current proportions. If it is possible to summarize five thoughtful pages into a few sentences, I would suggest that Popham's key thesis lies in the well known story of Benedict's horror at the excesses of the student radicals in the heady days of the late sixties, which he saw as an assault on the Church and the Christian faith.   This led him to retreat from anything that smacked of "modernism", and to reformulate almost any tragedy as an attack on Christianity.  For example, Popham shows how, even when he lamented the Holocaust while in Israel, he managed to reinterpret the story of the Nazis as an attack on the fundamentals of Christianity. In this retreat from "modernism", Benedict has simply repeated the pattern shown by his predecessors time and again. The First Vatican Council, which created the doctrine of papal infallibility, was a response to the democratic wave which swept Europe in the nineteenth century. In Italy, this meant a direct assault on papal territorial power.
For centuries, the Catholic Church tried to carry on as though the modern world did not really exist. Galileo's imprisonment and the denial of the truths elucidated by the likes of Darwin were all part of that compulsion. And when the unification of Italy liquidated the Church's secular power and drove it in upon itself in the few thousand square metres of the Vatican City, something of the sort happened intellectually too. The vast church with its thousands of bishops and millions of believers became a little room, crammed with musty certainties, and with the windows blacked out.
Vatican II attempted to open these windows and let in some fresh air, but Popes John Paul II and his acolyte Benedict XVI have shit them again. Is it any wonder that when the modern world forces itself onto their attention, demanding accountability and transparency about serious problems in the global governance of the church, the reaction should be primarily defensive, as though all criticism of behaviour or specific practices were an attack on the Church itself?
Meanwhile, the theologian John McNeill has written again about the hope we may legitimately find in the current Vatican meltdown.  he does not attempt to go into the "causes" of the problem, but instead he describes the opportunity of the Kairos moment we are in:  out of the chaos and disaster, the Holy Spirit has an opportunity to rebuild a new church, better able to serve the modern world.  Here are some extracts:
At the last supper Jesus told his disciples. "If I do not die, the Spirit cannot come to you! But if I die I will send the Holy Spirit, who will dwell in your hearts and lead you into all truth." Jesus was revealing a basic truth about spiritual maturity. Our external authorities must fail us before we can find the presence of God's spirit within us and within our experiences.
This message of Jesus was repeated in the teaching of Vatican II on freedom of conscience: "Humans have in their hearts a law written by God. To obey it is the very dignity of the human; according to it we will be judged. Conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of the human. There we are alone with God, whose voice echoes in our depths."
The Holy Spirit is trying to lead the Catholic church into a mature "freedom of conscience." In order to do so the Spirit had to grant us the gift of obviously fallible leaders. This is the context which gives meaning to the terrible failure of leadership from the hierarchy.
The refusal of leaders in the Church to accept married men and women into the priesthood has been a major factor in the worldwide pedophile crisis. Pope John Paul II paid special honor to Fr Marcial Degollado, a known pedophile and deposed Pedro Arrupe, the General of the Jesuits, a man with the reputation of being a saint, because he supported welcoming gay and lesbian Catholics to full membership in the Church, favored the ordination of married men and women and supported liberation theology.
The priesthood, limited to heterosexual chaste men is rapidly disappearing in the developed world and will soon do so in the rest of the world. Through all these actions the Holy Spirit is trying to transform the Church into a democratic institution where authority comes from the bottom up. Leaders of the Church are being asked to carefully discern what the Spirit is up to, to listen carefully to what the Spirit is saying through the "People of God".
It is time now to reconvene the Vatican council and complete the reformation of the Church which the Spirit began in Vatican II. Let us all pray that the Church will be open to this invitation of the Holy Spirit.
Amen, John, Amen.
Let us pray.

Abuse: Is it OK if everybody else is doing it?

An Irish prelate has lashed out at "the media" for making so much fuss about clerical abuse, when so much more abuse occurs elsewhere.
A senior bishop has attacked the media for singling out the Catholic Church for covering-up paedophile priests when 95pc of child abuse occurs in families and community life.
Christopher Jones, the Bishop of Elphin and head of the bishops' committee on the family, said in Maynooth last night that he strongly objected to the way the church was being isolated. "Of course we have made mistakes," Dr Jones added.

"But why this huge isolation of the church and this huge focus on cover-up in the church when it has been going on for centuries?

"It is only now for the first time ever that victims have been given their voice." Dr Jones said that it was known that "95pc of abuse out there is in families, communities and other institutions.
He is right, of course.  There is far more abuse outside the church than in it.  But that completely misses the point.  We do not point to "families" as at fault, because they do not represent a cohesive group, subject to the same  corporate rules and controls as the church.
But let's take Bishop Jones' figures at face value, and consider their implication.  If 95% of abuse takes place outside the chruch, then presumably 5 % is "within" . That implies that 5% of abusers are priests ( or other church staff).  Wikipedia gives the number of secular clergy in Ireland as about 3000, with a further 700 in religious orders.  Call it 4000 for round numbers, or even 5000 in case of undercount. The total population of the country is about five million: one person in a thousand is a priest.  So, 0.1% of the population are responsible for 5%  of the of the abuse.  That equates to a propensity to abuse which is 50 times greater than the general population (or 25 times more if we assume all abusers to be male). That is the point - not the total number of cases, but the incidence, especially in an institution that claims to be a moral guardian, guiding us in right living.

Abuse as the "Defining Moment" of Benedict's Papacy

In an effective analysis at the Times, Richard Owen argues that the whole clerical abuse saga may well turn out to be Pope Benedict's defining moment.  For far too long, the church authorities appeared to totally ignore the problem and brush it under the carpet. Even as recently as the visit of the Irish bishops, the impression created was that he was totally underestimating the problem.
"Papal Whitewash" ran one headline in the Irish press after Pope Benedict’s encounter with the Irish bishops. No bishops were sacked, no abuse victims were heard, and the Pope — who is to visit Britain in September — announced no plans to visit Ireland to apologise and to mend fences.
More recently, there has been some grudging recognition that more may need to be done, but this still does not go beyond absolute basics.  Instead, they have gone on the defensive, trying to argue (against all the evidence) that the Vatican response has been "decisive" and that other institutions are equally guilty.
The Vatican has only slowly — and reluctantly — moved from refusal to face the problem of clerical sex abuse to attempts to deal with it publicly as the scandals and lawsuits multiply. The Pope’s spokesman argued defensively this week that the problem was wider than the Church, and even claimed the Church had acted "decisively and swiftly".
The suspicion lingers in the Vatican that the crisis is all part of an anti-Catholic plot to undermine the Church — or as the Pope’s brother put it this week, to foster "a spirit of animosity" towards it. The Church, Vatican officials maintain, is being singled out unfairly. Last year the Holy See stated that "in the last 50 years somewhere between 1.5 per cent and 5 per cent of the Catholic clergy has been involved in sexual abuse cases," adding that the figure was comparable to that of other groups and denominations.
Nor is this defensiveness surprising: Pope Benedict himself oversaw a critical document insisting on absolute secrecy in dealing with complaints - itself part of the problem.
It was Pope Benedict himself who as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — the successor to the Inquisition — who imposed secrecy on sex abuse cases in 2001, making them subject to "papal confidentiality" in a document called "Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela" or Safeguarding the Sanctity of the Sacraments.
Now, however, the problem is widening,with problems now reported from his own home turf of Germany, )with questions about his own record when in Munich, and also that of his brother) and from Austria and Netherlands. There are increasingly urgent calls from senior clergy for deeper investigations than ever before.
"An immense tragedy is becoming apparent," said Father Stefan Dartmann, head of the Jesuit order in Germany.
How he responds to that tragedy could be the defining moment of Pope Benedict’s pontificate. The pastoral letter he is due to issue to the faithful in Ireland on the sex abuse crisis will be closely scrutinised for evidence that the Pontiff can confront the scale of the crisis. "Sexual abuses of minors by representatives of the clergy are criminal acts, shameful, inadmissible mortal sins, ignoble actions, among the darkest of the Church," Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Council for Christian Unity, said this week. "There needs to be a serious house cleaning in our Church. The Pope is not just going to stand by and watch."
We shall see - the world is waiting. (Full report from Times Online)

Vatican Admission: We Need Serious House Cleaning

Finally, the Vatican is starting to acknowledge that the problem of clerical sexual abuse needs wider attention than they have given it before. Just this past week, a Cardinal Walter Kasper has stated clearly that the church needs "serious house cleaning", that the current German scandal must be investigated fully, and that Pope Benedict wants to see every single case come into the open.  This is a stunning (and most welcome) turnaround from the decades - old policy, endorsed and enforced by Cardinal Ratzinger when still at the CDF, that required absolute secrecy and central reporting.
What I find encouraging in this, is that after years during which the Church first ignored all suggestions of a problem, then tried to shunt the blame on to gay priests and local problems of governance, over the past year there have been an increasing number of increasingly senior and reputable churchmen getting closer to the real issues:  deal with the fundamental problems.
These extracts are from Catholic News Service:

Vatican supports German bishops' probe into priestly sex abuse

The Vatican fully supports the efforts of German bishops to investigate claims of child sexual abuse in Catholic institutions, even if the cases are decades old, L'Osservatore Romano reported.
"Full disclosure regarding abuse in Germany," said the front-page headline of the March 7 edition of the official Vatican newspaper. "The church is working rigorously to shed light on what happened in religious institutions," it said. As has happened in the United States, Ireland, Australia and other countries, dozens of Germans have made claims recently that they suffered sexual abuse as children while attending Catholic schools. And as in those situations, the church leadership has been accused of protecting priests rather than children. Cardinal Walter Kasper, a senior German prelate and the Vatican's chief ecumenical official, said in an interview in La Repubblica that priestly sexual abuse must be punished and the church must take responsibility. "Enough! We need serious housecleaning in our church," he said, adding that "the pope is certainly not standing idly by." The leadership of the German bishops' conference will be meeting with Pope Benedict March 12 at the Vatican. The visit was scheduled previously, but the rapidly developing sex abuse scandal was sure to be discussed. The pope met in February with Irish bishops to discuss the problem of widespread sexual abuse of minors in Catholic schools after a scathing independent report accused the Irish church of maintaining a culture of secrecy for many years. The pope was to write a pastoral letter to Irish Catholics regarding what he called the "heinous crime" of priestly sexual abuse. Cardinal Kasper said that while the question of the pastoral letter was up to the pope, he felt that because "such a difficult problem has emerged not only in Ireland, but in Holland, Germany and the United States, perhaps it deserves a more general analysis that applies to the universal church and not just a single nation. Cardinal Kasper said that while the question of the pastoral letter was up to the pope, he felt that because "such a difficult problem has emerged not only in Ireland, but in Holland, Germany and the United States, perhaps it deserves a more general analysis that applies to the universal church and not just a single nation."
So, the Vatican is (finally) making good progress, but they still have a way to go to grasp the real crux of the issue. Fr Hans Kung, the renowned theologian (and one-time close associate of Cardinal Ratzinger), who was stripped of his authority to teach for daring to question the doctrine of papal infallibility (shock! horror! scandal!) has a clear diagnosis for the problem of clerical sexual abuse currently destroying the credibility of the Catholic Church on sexual ethics: the dogmatic insistence on an exclusive, all male and (supposedly) celibate priesthood.     He is only partly right.  Writing in the Tablet last year, the one time world head of the Dominicans, Fr Timothy Radcliffe, described another- the obsession with central power and control. There is also still no admission that the problems are not only of child abuse, but also affect many adults - seminarians, women religious, and the voluntary partners of sexually active priests, who are forced into an involuntary and unhealthy secrecy because of the rule on compulsory celibacy. Still, I am grateful for the progress thus far. This is what Hans Kung had to say: From  Times Online:
A leading Roman Catholic theologian has linked clerical sex abuse with priestly celibacy, blaming the Church’s “uptight” views on sex for child abuse scandals in Germany, Ireland and the US.
Father Hans Kung, President of the Global Ethic Foundation and professor emeritus at the University of Tübingen in Germany, said that the Church’s attitude was also revealed in its opposition to birth control.
He said that it was the case that abuse was found also in families, schools and other churches. But he asked: “Why is it so prevalent in the Catholic Church under celibate leadership?” He said that celibacy was not the only cause of the misconduct but described it as “the most important and structurally the most decisive” expression of the Church’s uptight attitude to sex.
Citing the New Testament, he says that Jesus and St Paul practised celibacy but “allowed full freedom in this matter to each individual”. St Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians wrote: “Because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.” Peter and the apostles were married and their ministries did not suffer, he said, pointing out that thousands of priests protested when the new law was introduced as late as the 11th century.
Father Kung said: “Compulsory celibacy is the principal reason for today’s catastrophic shortage of priests, for the fatal neglect of eucharistic celebration, and for the tragic breakdown of personal pastoral ministry in many places.”
He argues that there are two simple solutions to the shortage of priests: “Abolition of the celibacy rule, the root of all these evils, and the admission of women to ordination. The bishops know this, but they do not have the courage to say it in public.”
(Also see NCR, on "Pope to meet top German bishop to address abuse")

Church Sexual Abuse: Tame the Rottweiler

Now here’s a nice idea:   Benedict XVI, in his earlier incarnation as head of the CDF, was known as “God’s Rottweiler”, for his diligence in guarding the faith from all threats . Every dog owner knows that Rottweiler’s for all their skill as watchdogs, need training, lest they themselves become a threat to those they are supposedly protecting.  Ergo – train the Rottweiler.
Benedict’s career has been woefully short on pastoral or administrative experience. He started out as a celebrated academic theologian, in which capacity he made a renowned contribution to the proceedings of Vatican II.  Later, he served briefly  as Archbishop of Munich. Now, recall that the origin of the post of Bishops” was as an “overseer” for the diocese, implying management and supervision.  We now know that in Munich, Rat zinger's supervision skills in overseeing his priests and protecting the people were somewhat underdeveloped. EITHER he was remiss in allowing a know paedophile priest to return to active ministry against strong professional advice; OR he was remiss in leaving the required supervision to a junior underling, who has now accepted full responsibility.  However, as has been pointed out elsewhere, one can delegate tasks and decisions to subordinates: one cannot delegate the responsibility.

He was soon recalled to Rome to head the CDF (successor to the old and notorious Inquisition) , where he earned the soubriquet “God’s Rottweiler” for his enthusiasm and vigour in reigning in and silencing dissenting opinion:  opinions in dissent, that is, from the views of John Paul II and his own.  It was also here that he sent out  the notorious 2001 letter demanding that all cases of sexual abuse by clergy be referred to his own office, and treated with the utmost secrecy, in another aspect of his role as guard dog – seeking to protect, in this context, not the ideas but the reputation of the Church.

It was clearly this document an the earlier version that it replaced, that were responsible for the widespread cover-ups and protection of abusive clergy that have caused, if anything, even greater anger to be directed against the church than the individual cases of abuse themselves.  They could be seen as the faults of the individuals.  The cover-ups were failings of the Church as a whole.  In seeking to guard the Church from criticism, the watchdog has simply inflicted still greater harm himself. The Rottweiler must be trained.

The problem, of course, is that technically, Benedict as pope is answerable to no one.  He reigns as absolute monarch over a fiefdom  tiny in extent, but with global reach.  He has absolute control over the world's largest corporation and largest employer, but is controlled by no one. Together with his predecessor, he has colluded to undermine the reforms of Vatican II which might have introduced some measure of collegiality, and is left untrammelled by any human constraints outside of himself.

There is no legal power on earth capable of clipping his, wings, of providing the training he so obviously needs. In the absence of formal constraints, informal ones must do instead.  In a powerful argument at Religion Dispatches, Anthea Butler argues that what is needed is relentless reporting.

Amen to that.

Here are some extracts. 
"The recent reporting on scandals throughout Europe could (I hope) prove to be the proverbial straw that breaks a very feeble Vatican back. The Pope’s involvement in the “hot potato” philosophy of moving bishops and facilitating sexual abusers has come back to haunt him in a very real and dangerous way. It is not simply a smear campaign, as Vatican insiders protest. Will the avalanche of revelations and investigations force the Vatican to break its secrecy and double-speak? I doubt it, but it's clear that celibacy isn't the only thing that has held Catholics hostage to heinous behavior. The institutionalization of sexual abuse as a matter of course permeates the organization of the church. After all, the Vatican is the biggest don’t-ask-don’t-tell outfit in the world.
Finally, and most important, no one should think that this current Pope is going to clean up anything. This is the man (yes, just a man) who instructed bishops in a secret 2001 letter that the church should keep allegations of sex abuse cases secret for at least ten years. Who knows what revelations will be discovered that then-Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, shielded from the public and legal authorities? The “grave sin” — to use the words of the then-Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith — was teaching everyone how to elude prosecution, and not to call out sin. Now, while Pope, his own sins have been found out, trapping him in a web of his own making."
"The scandal unfolding in Europe is not surprising, because the Church’s inability to dialogue with its own theologians who dissent has taken away the intellectual and moral core needed to bring together a Vatican III, where the church could finally deal with the issue of sexuality. The entrenchment of a theology of the body that honors a fetus but ignores the child who is raped and molested by spiritual authorities is reprehensible. It is not theology, it is a perverted practice, designed to paralyze people. It claims homosexuals are disordered and those who engage in premarital sex are sinners. Nothing, nothing is said about those in spiritual authority who rape and abuse children going to hell. The silence is deafening."
"I am not going to pretend that I can be impartial about this story. This Pope, who relished gutting the church of prominent theologians like Sobrino, Haight, and Boff, is not the kind of person who is going to admit that the organizational structure he presides over is rotten from the top on down. The only thing that is going to bring this Pope to repentance and change are relentless reporters who will uncover his secrets. It is time to start thinking about the Catholic church as not just a church, but as an organization that has been allowed to institutionalize rape and sexual abuse on a global scale, while attempting to hold its members hostage to its distorted views of sexuality and celibacy."

Read the full post at Religion Dispatches.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Hand Wringing and Blame

The pastoral latter is carefully constructed to address several groups of people affected by clerical sexual abuse, or implicated in it as perpetrators, or as complicit in their protection. Benedict speaks directly to the survivors and heir families, and to the rest of the Irish people.  He speaks to the priests who were guilty, and to the bishops who shielded them. He speaks also to the rest of the Irish clergy ,to those priests and bishops who were not implicated, but are now shamed by mere association with the rotten eggs in the clerical basket.  But - where's Wally? Who's missing from the line-up?
Vatican Cardinals:  Free from blame?

In treating this as an entirely Irish affair, in speaking only to the Irish priests and clergy, are we really to believe that culpability lies solely on those flawed Irish, and none in his own domain, the Cardinals of the Curia?