FRANCIS RULES – Failing the ‘Zero Tolerance’ test

“HISTORY HAS TAUGHT US THAT THE VATICAN, WITH ITS SELF PROCLAIMED LAWS AND PROCEDURES, IS INCAPABLE OF PROTECTING INNOCENT CHILDREN FROM BEING SEXUALLY ABUSED”

In what may prove to be the final  lost opportunity to demonstrate his much vaunted ‘Zero tolerance policy’,  the new rules announced by Pope Francis to deal with sexual abuse by clergy, fall short of requiring that police be informed of any  allegation. Mitchell Garabedian, the lawyer whose efforts to expose predator priests was dramatized in the Oscar-winning movie ‘Spotlight’, has commented:   “The new Vatican laws concerning the reporting of sexual abuse, continue the secrecy which has enabled clergy sexual abuse to exist, allows the Catholic Church to continue to ineffectively self-police and basically discourages victims from just calling the police,”  Anne Barrett Doyle, a co-director of BishopAccountability.org  stated “We would have been far more impressed if this new law required church officials to report to police and prosecutors instead,”  The new law does nothing to enact zero tolerance for child sexual abuse or for cover-up.” The problem, according to advocates, is that bishops remain as the investigators when local law enforcement should be in charge of the reporting process, as they are for all other alleged crimes.

Survivors of sexual abuse demonstrate outside Castel Sant’Angelo – Rome 2019

STEPS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION: The new law requires all Catholic priests and nuns, who have “well-founded motives to believe” that a cleric or sister has engaged in sexual abuse of a minor, sexual misconduct with an adult, possession of child pornography – or that a superior has covered up any of those crimes, must report this to their superiors. The new rules protect whistleblowers by prohibiting a requirement of secrecy for those making allegations and a no-retaliation clause protects the person reporting abuse from obligations to keep quiet.  Catholic dioceses around the world must now have a “public and accessible” system in place for reporting abuse by June 1, 2020. The metropolitan bishop has an initial 90 days to conduct an investigation, he must immediately ask permission from the Vatican to open a preliminary investigation unless the bishop finds the claim “manifestly unfounded,” and must hear back from Rome within 30 days.

Currently licensed medical professionals, law enforcement and educators are required to report child abuse to the police.  On May 9, Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna, considered the Catholic Church’s most respected abuse investigator, said “it would be a good thing” for abuse to be reported to police. “No one in the leadership is above the law,”  Yet Pope Francis chose not to enforce this. The Bill introduced two months ago by Monica Wallace, a Democrat of the New York State Assembly, would require clergy of all religions to report child abuse to law enforcement agencies. Predictably, a Buffalo Catholic bishop objected, saying such a law would create conflict for priests if they heard of an abuse allegation during confession, as priests are prevented from reporting on disclosures heard in the confessional. One more example of the safeguarding of children being subject to religious doctrine as opposed to civil law.

For decades Catholic clerical sexual abuse of the most vulnerable in society has been normalised through a culture of clerical entitlement and opportunity.  It has become apparent that abuse is institutional, exercised at every level of ministry up to and including the Vatican itself, the church has a history of protecting perpetrators and silencing victims. In the face of the global scandal of child sexual abuse by priests, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops prepared to vote on closing existing policy loopholes in 2018. The Vatican intervened, suspending the vote, stating that church leaders were not given sufficient time to vet the new policies. The new law is the  response to the international Convention earlier this year.

What is patently obvious to most people i.e. that allegations of child sexual abuse should be reported to the police and that anyone covering for or protecting a pedophile is guilty of an offence, for some reason remains unfathomable to those who govern the Catholic church. Kurt Martens, a professor of canon law of the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, called the new rules an “immense and revolutionary gift to the entire Church.”  Cardinal Blase Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago who was instrumental in stalling the vote by US bishops, excitedly states: “What’s quite extraordinary about this is that if in fact there is a mishandling by a bishop who’s responsible for an investigation, then he is liable to be investigated for any cover-up”   Most of us would expect this to be the bottom line rather than a revelation to be applauded. This is the sad indictment of a patriarchal institution which,  by design, is firmly committed to protecting itself rather than those it was meant to serve.

#Letters to Priests: The purpose of this series is to raise awareness of the institutional sexual abuse within the church and to remember the survivors and the many dedicated, courageous priests who continue to serve their communities.

See also:

Pope silences the bishops

When is a secret a secret?

VATICAN COLLUSION – Continuing the Cover Up

AN OPPORTUNITY FOR REDEMPTION

In November 2018 Pope Francis ordered the US bishops to stand down as they met to adopt new measures to define accountability for those involved in the sexual abuse of children or any cover up. An anticipated policy of zero tolerance and mandatory reporting which would require all allegations to be reported to the police dissolved as Francis deferred the bishops vote, convening his own Summit for February 21 -24  2019.  As catholics wait impatiently for Francis to deliver on his promise of change, the words sound increasingly hollow: “We join in the pain of the victims and weep for this sin – the sin of what happened, the sin of failing to help, the sin of covering up and denial, the sin of the abuse of power.”  In a newly released letter Francis promises  “I would like us to renew our complete commitment to ensuring that these atrocities will no longer take place in our midst.” 

COLLUSION: SECRET OR ILLEGAL COOPERATION OR CONSPIRACY IN ORDER TO DECEIVE OTHERS

As the Vatican announces in a timely fashion that 88 year old Archbishop McCarrick has become the highest cleric to be removed from the church for sexual abuses, this would seem to be an opportune moment to review the role of  Pope Francis in McCarricks life. The charges against the former cardinal include -soliciting sex during confession, decades of abuse of a minor, sexual abuse of adults, and the aggravating offence of the abuse of power.

WHAT DOES LAICISATION MEAN TO AN 88 YEAR OLD RETIRED CARDINAL? 

Under ecclesiastical rule an ordained priest remains a priest even if dismissed from the priesthood, this is because priesthood  is considered by the Vatican to be ordained by God, an indelible sacrament. The process of ‘laicisation’ infers a return to the laity, it is not in itself a punishment, the pope grants laicisation on request to priests who request to leave the priesthood for example to marry. A priest who leaves the ministry for whatever reason ‘loses all rights and duties associated with being a priest, he cannot present himself as a priest and is forbidden to celebrate the sacraments’. However even though he no longer holds clerical status the church obliges him to act as a priest if he finds someone in danger of death who asks for the sacraments, he ‘must hear (the person’s) confession because the most important thing is the salvation of that person’. Such seeming ambiguity lies at the very core of the crisis affecting the Vatican hierarchy today. The clerical belief that they are ordained by God and are accountable only to a higher power places them beyond the reach of statutory legislation which governs the rest of us.

McCarrick was  created Archbishop in 2000 by Pope John Paul ll and elevated to cardinal in 2001. Allegations of McCarricks rampant sexual abuse of seminarians were repeatedly  reported to the Vatican but ignored. Cardinal Vigano a former papal Nuncio  wrote to Pope Benedict in 2006  sending a second memo in 2008 which included material from Richard Sipe a renowned psychotherapist specialising in the treatment of clerical sexual abusers. As a result, in 2009 or 2010 Pope Benedict XVI allegedly placed severe restrictions on McCarrick’s movements and public ministry, not allowing him to travel beyond the grounds of the seminary where he was living and not permitting him to say Mass in public. Despite this he maintained a “robust public presence” travelled internationally, said public masses, made speeches, and accepted awards while maintaining the steady flow of donations to the Vatican through his fund raising.

On his appointment to the papacy Pope Francis subsequently removed Benedict’s sanctions and made McCarrick “his trusted counselor”.  McCarrick continued to travel extensively involved in high level negotiations on behalf of the Vatican. Recounting a meeting with McCarrick in June 2013  Cardinal Vigano stated that he was told  “The pope received me yesterday, tomorrow I am going to China.”. This was corroborated by The Washington Post which reported in 2014  that McCarrick had traveled to China “in the past year” for “sensitive talks on religious freedom.”  Cardinal Vigano has since stated that he informed Pope Francis of the many concerns  in a meeting on June 23, 2013  saying: Holy Father, I don’t know if you know Cardinal McCarrick but if you ask the Congregation of Bishops, there is a dossier this thick about him.  He corrupted generations of seminarians and priests, and Pope Benedict ordered him to withdraw to a life of prayer and penance.”  There was no response.

In 2017 with the Vatican facing global outrage at the growing sexual clerical abuse scandal, Vigano published an 11 page dossier detailing a 30-year cover-up of McCarrick’s behaviour stating that Pope Francis “knew from at least June 23, 2013 that McCarrick was a serial predator. He knew that he was a corrupt man, he covered for him to the bitter end.” That cover-up seemingly involved three popes, three secretaries of state, along with dozens of other very senior Churchmen. Other senior clergy have since confirmed that  pope Francis was aware of the history of abuse.

Following McCarricks belated and hasty resignation in July 2018 as the final scandal broke, Pope Francis ordered that he withdraw to a Kansas Monastery pending the Vatican investigation. Advocates for survivors of clerical abuse have previously questioned the appropriateness of this accommodation which is  located very close to an elementary school. Following the verdict of ‘laicisation’  the Vatican have announced that he “will remain there until until a decision of permanent residence is finalised.” Financial scandals have dogged the former cardinal who is stated to be in a position to support himself financially through ‘private means’  Significant questions remain unanswered regarding where McCarrick – an inveterate fundraiser  acquired his personal wealth during  more than six decades as a cleric.

SO WHO IS McCARRICK?    See: Covering up the Cover Up

See:#LetterstoPriest

Pope Silences the bishops

 

 

 

 

 

Pope Francis – ‘respecting and listening to one another’ ?

Those ruefully considering expanded waistlines and depleted bank accounts common in the aftermath of Christmas festivities might pause to reflect upon the  ambiguous nature of the Pope’s Christmas message.  Speaking from St Peters Basilica in Rome, Francis urged Christians to forgo the greed, hoarding and materialism of Christmas and to focus instead on its message of simplicity, charity and love. 

SURROUNDED BY THE OPULENT OSTENTATION OF A CHURCH OF UNPARALLELED WEALTH, HE SPOKE FROM A GOLDEN PULPIT, WATCHED BY PRINCES OF THE CHURCH RESPLENDENT IN GOLDEN ROBES, SEEMINGLY OBLIVIOUS TO THE INCONGRUOUS IMAGE OF BABY JESUS IN A GOLDEN MANGER.

 

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Where are the Whistle Blowers?

IN A VOTE CARRIED ALMOST UNANIMOUSLY BISHOPS PROMISED THAT THE CHURCH’S DAYS OF CONCEALMENT AND INACTION WERE OVER. CHURCH LEADERS VOTED TO REMOVE ANY PRIEST WHO HAD EVER ABUSED A MINOR AND SET UP CIVILIAN REVIEW BOARDS TO INVESTIGATE  CLERGY MISCONDUCT CLAIMS.

Sadly this vote was taken not in 2018 but in 2002 at a Dallas gathering of bishops. Little it seems has changed. While they imposed new standards that led to the removal of hundreds of priests, the bishops in Dallas specifically excluded themselves from the landmark child protection measures. They contended that only the pope had authority to discipline them, saying peer pressure and  public or private shaming euphemistically called “fraternal correction” would ensure their good conduct. Clearly they were wrong.

Such attempts to maintain internal control through the hierarchical process lie at the very heart of the scandals now engulfing the church.

When a vote was taken at the recent Baltimore bishops conference to recommend the Vatican make public the entire file of the disgraced Cardinal McCarrick, Cardinal Cupich took the floor stating that the bishops should vote down any such measure. Cupich a close supporter of Pope Francis, presented an alternative plan, in line with Vatican policies which would maintain the status quo ensuring any allegation against a bishop would be investigated through the Vaticans’ internal procedures. The surprise proposal is alleged to have been a collaboration with Cardinal Weurl whose resignation the pope was recently forced to accept, due to his alleged involvement in covering up the prolific sexual abuse of McCarrick. Continue reading

POPE SILENCES THE BISHOPS

POPE FRANCIS INTERVENES TO STOP BISHOPS VOTING ON NEW CHILD ABUSE POLICIES  AT  US CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS

Many bishops see urgent reform as the only way to save the church in light of repeated scandals involving sexual abuse by priests. The agenda at the Bishops bi annual conference held in Baltimore on November 12th 2018, included proposals for a code of conduct for bishops and a lay panel to investigate claims of misconduct or negligence by bishops. These were the proposals.

  • A full investigation into how bishops allowed McCarrick to be promoted
  • Archbishop Carlo Viganò’s claims of a homosexual network acting within the hierarchy
  • Opening of confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops

Under canon law, only the Pope can hold bishops accountable and this proposal was apparently perceived as a threat by Francis who intervened to delay the vote.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the USCCB, appeared bemused as he announced that the Holy See had insisted at the 11th hour that the bishops should not vote on their own proposals. Instead they must wait until after February when Pope Francis meets at the Vatican with the heads of bishops’ conferences from around the world. Skeptics view this as a further means of delaying long needed action. Continue reading

BISHOPS AID PRIESTS INSTEAD OF VICTIMS

AUGUST 2018: PENNSYLVANIA ATTORNEY GENERAL JOSH SHAPIRO RELEASED HIS GRAND JURY REPORT LISTING MORE THAN 1,000 CASES OF CHILD ABUSE BY MORE THAN 300 PRIESTS  IN SIX PENNSYLVANIA DIOCES DESCRIBING  ‘WHOLESALE INSTITUTIONAL FAILURE THAT ENDANGERED THE WELFARE OF CHILDREN’

The report offered “a window into the conduct of bishops”… “and the crimes they permitted to occur on their watch”.  It included the involvement of Cardinal Wuerl  (mentioned more than 160 times) in covering up his role in allegedly concealing sexual abuse and the transfer of various homosexual predator clergy.  Weurl denied the accusations, however the Attorney General insisted  “Cardinal Wuerl is not telling the truth.’

 

Archbishop McCarrick’s sexual misconduct was first made public in 2008 by Richard Sipe, himself a former priest, psychotherapist and Clinical Mental Health Counselor specialising in the mental health problems of catholic priests. Sipe posted an open letter to then Pope Benedict XVI confirming that  he had knowledge of McCarrick’s misdeeds, including first-person testimonies and asked the pontiff to take action. McCarrick denied the accusation but Benedict placed him under sanction of  ‘house arrest’. When the scandal involving Cardinal Theodore McCarrick erupted in 2018, Weurl  again denied any knowledge or involvement in a cover up. However Robert Ciolek, who left the priesthood and later became an attorney, confirmed that an $80,000 settlement had been reached in June 2005 with three New Jersey dioceses over his allegations against Cardinal McCarrick and a teacher at his Catholic high school and a Pittsburgh priest who Weurl supervised at the time. The first page of the settlement agreement lists Wuerl among the numerous parties to the agreement. Following new “credible” allegations  that McCarrick had sexually abused an altar boy 47 years previously,the scandal surrounding the Pennsylvania Report, the resignation was now formally accepted by the pope.

Wuerl was then accused by former papal diplomat Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, of knowing about allegations that McCarrick had sexually abused seminarians, Wuerl made emphatic denials. Vigano responded:  “[He] lies shamelessly,” “I myself brought up the subject with Cardinal Wuerl on several  occasions”.  Archbishop Vigano also stated that Pope Francis had personallyl ifted the earlier sanctions imposing ‘house arrest’ against McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI.   Continue reading

CLERICAL ABUSE IN PLAIN SIGHT

WHEN DOES SACRED RITUAL BECOME A CLOAK FOR ABUSE?

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the following videos is the willingness of parents to subject their children to questionable aggressive behaviour by some priests which would never be accepted in secular life. Parents standing by as their infant is slapped by the priest or obediently queuing in line with their children at the altar to receive the priests ‘blessing in the form of what can only be described as physical assault. Their deference to the priests in question demonstrates the effectiveness of religious indoctrination and goes some way to explaining how the sexual abuse by clergy could have continued unchallenged for so long.

The recent video of the baptism of a baby where an elderly priest slapped the baby has to be seen to be believed and understandably went viral.


The elderly French priest described the assault on French radio as ‘not that severe…somewhere between a caress and a slap’  saying that he was ‘just trying to calm the child down.’  Surprisingly, the parents of the child have accepted his apology for his ‘clumsiness‘. His bishop has  suspended him from all baptisms and marriage celebrations, describing the incident as ‘a loss of coolness that can be explained but not excused’. stating  that ‘a baptism can be long and the baby was crying a lot’...‘it is regrettable but understandable and great age certainly played a part’. Continue reading

ROOF FALLING IN ON THE CATHOLIC CHURCH?

WHEN NEIGHBOURS COMPLAINED TO THE SWISS GENDARMERIE  OF THE NOISE  FROM ADJACENT VATICAN APARTMENTS, THEY ATTENDED AND FOUND A COCAINE FUELLED HOMOSEXUAL ORGY TAKING PLACE HOSTED BY CATHOLIC  CLERGY

 The apartment in question was once occupied by Cardinal Ratzinger prior to his election as Pope Benedict. The current resident is Monsignor Luigi Capozzi, secretary to Cardinal Coccopalmerio, Italian media has reported that Pope Francis had been made aware of Capozzi’s predilections before allocating the apartment. Three priests and a high ranking cleric within the Curia have individually stated that Cardinal Coccopalmerio 80, was present at the orgy when gendarmes entered but was instructed by the gendarmerie to leave immediately before arrests were made. 

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SEX, POWER AND THE VATICAN BANK

“Our laws don’t require us to tell you…we answer to God”

SCANDALS INVOLVING FINANCIAL ABUSES AT THE VATICAN BANK HAVE BEEN WELL AIRED FOR DECADES. POWER ABUSE TAKES MANY FORMS AND THE LINKS BETWEEN MONEY, POWER AND SEXUAL ABUSE ARE NOW BEING REVEALED.   

The Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR) commonly known as the Vatican Bank, is in effect a privately held firm run by a CEO who reports to a committee of cardinals and the Pope. It is housed in a medieval fortress in Vatican City. The bank was founded by Pope Pius XII in June 1942 “to provide for the safekeeping and administration of movable and immovable property transferred or entrusted to it’.   The pope is the ruler of both the Holy See and the Vatican City State. The purpose of the IOR is stated to be:  to serve the global mission of the Catholic Church by way of protecting and growing its customer’s assets through specialised financial services to the Catholic Church worldwide’

THE BANK HAS BEEN ROCKED BY SUCCESSIVE FINANCIAL SCANDALS FOR DECADES.  A culture of secrecy and untraceable cash transfers made the Vatican Bank one of the world’s most notorious financial institutions. Since much of its money comes from collection plates, the IOR handles unusually large amounts of cash;  money is sent covertly to churches and voluntary groups in poor countries and failed states without functioning banking systems. Religious orders who own 85% of the bank’s funds had deposited around $3.1bn for safekeeping in 2013. They received around 1% in interest, however money invested in government bonds at an average of 3.3% generated profits of more than $70m for the bank.  Continue reading

THE VATICAN ARMY – Small and Deadly

The Pontifical Swiss Guard (also known as  the Papal Swiss Guard) serves as the de facto military unit of the Vatican with responsibility for the security of the Pope.  An ecclesiastical state, Vatican City is the seat of the Roman Catholic Church.  With  its 110 acres it is the world’s smallest fully independent nation-state.  Sovereignty is exercised by the Pope as the head of the Roman Catholic Church, he has absolute  executive, legislative and judicial powers within the city.  Vatican City has its own telephone system, post office, fire brigade, a radio station, its own banking system, an astronomical observatory, and a pharmacy.  In addition Vatican City has its own police force known as the Gendarmerie Corps of Vatican City State which augments the Pontifical Swiss Guard during the Pope’s appearances,

While the Swiss Guards may appear to be no more than a quaint spear carrying medieval remnant, they are in fact an elite force of hand picked warriors selected for their courage and loyalty to the PopeThose who pass the rigorous selection process are sworn in by the Pope himself on May 6th each year. Continue reading