Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This Again...

Most of you have heard of this by now, but it's obligatory I post it. Lie upon lie, in other words: not surprising at all.

Is it wrong that this invigorates me for some reason? Not that children got abused or that it got covered up, of course, but now, after the fact, that they're falling so mightily for it? This is a happy day! Justice can be done now, and this will surely be yet another victory for the cause of structural reform. Every time something like this is revealed, they lose a little bit of ground on disciplinary issues, like mandatory celibacy, designed to protect their weird structures of power.

People are talking so much these days about keeping our discourse civil and toning back the violent rhetoric, but maybe the reason those in power are so easily able to abuse it is because our rhetoric isn't violent enough. Why should Benedict do anything? He's in no danger of losing his head (or even his silk underwear) and will die in the lap of luxury. What incentive does he have to change things?

I don't doubt his sincerity, but he's so entrenched in the system as to be functionally delusional. Probably he'll give us some more crocodile tears on the advice of his court eunuchs and hope we'll all be fooled yet again and move on. Well, I hope people aren't so stupid as to fall for it.

The Catholic hierarchy has so little legitimacy these days, it's stacked like a game of Jenga. Why aren't a contingent of cardinals and bishops (or a good old fashioned Roman mob) staging some sort of administrative coup?? It really couldn't be that hard to walk in there and tie up some of these sniveling Curial weaklings (I bet many have the hand-cuffs and gags in their desks already...)

These horrible perverted old men cling so tightly to their corrupt ways, but at last perhaps the good will shatter their bony bejeweled knuckles and take the reigns from their effete and bloodied hands.

And still, they deny, deny, deny:

A newly disclosed document reveals that Vatican officials told the bishops of Ireland in 1997 that they had serious reservations about the bishops’ policy of mandatory reporting of priests suspected of child abuse to the police or civil authorities.

The document appears to contradict Vatican claims that church leaders in Rome never sought to control the actions of local bishops in abuse cases, and that the Roman Catholic Church did not impede criminal investigations of child abuse suspects.

Abuse victims in Ireland and the United States quickly proclaimed the document to be a “smoking gun” that would serve as important evidence in lawsuits against the Vatican.

“The Vatican is at the root of this problem,” said Colm O’Gorman, an outspoken victim of abuse in Ireland who is now director of Amnesty International there. “Any suggestion that they have not deliberately and willfully been instructing bishops not to report priests to appropriate civil authorities is now proven to be ridiculous.”

But a spokesman for the Vatican said that the document, while authentic, was further proof that past missteps on handling sexual abuse allegations were corrected by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a top official in the Vatican before he became the current pope, Benedict XVI.

The document, a two-page letter, was first revealed by the Irish broadcaster RTE and obtained by The Associated Press.

The letter was written just after a first wave of scandal over sexual abuse by priests in Irish Catholic schools and other facilities — a scandal so big it brought down the Irish government [but not the current Vatican regime?!?] in 1994.

By 1996, an advisory committee of Irish bishops had drawn up a new policy that included “mandatory reporting” of suspected abusers to civil authorities. The letter, signed by Archbishop Luciano Storero, then the Vatican’s apostolic nuncio — or chief representative — in Ireland, told the Irish bishops that the Vatican had reservations about mandatory reporting for both “moral and canonical” reasons. Archbishop Storero died in 2000.

The letter said that bishops who failed to follow canon law procedures precisely might find that their decisions to defrock abusive clerics would be overturned on appeal by Vatican courts.

“The results could be highly embarrassing and detrimental to those same diocesan authorities,” the letter said.

Jeffrey S. Lena, a lawyer for the Vatican, said in a statement that the letter “has been deeply misunderstood.” He said that its primary purpose was to ensure that bishops used proper canonical procedures to discipline their priests so that the punishments were not overturned on technical grounds. He said the letter was also intended to question the validity of the Irish bishops’ policies, because they were issued merely as a “study document.”

Mr. Lena added, “In stark contrast to news reports, the letter nowhere instructed Irish bishops to disregard civil law reporting requirements.”

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said that the letter represented an approach to sexual abuse cases shaped by a particular Vatican office, the Congregation for the Clergy, before 2001. That year, Pope John Paul II charged the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then led by the future Pope Benedict, with handling such cases.

“It refers to a situation that we’ve now moved beyond,” Father Lombardi said. “That approach has been surpassed, including its ideas about collaborating with civil authorities.”[Great. That doesn't address the question of justice for past victims, nor the question of how this was even possible in the first place.]

He played down the idea that the letter was a smoking gun. “It’s not new,” he said. “They’ve known about it in Ireland for some time.”

But Mr. O’Gorman said that the letter was not known until its disclosure on Monday by RTE.

Martin Long, a spokesman for the Irish bishops, said that the revelation that the bishops had faced Vatican disapproval for resolving to report abuse cases to the police as far back as 1996 had prompted an outpouring of supportive e-mails and phone calls.

“The church in Ireland did receive a great number of public calls that reflected the public welcome for the fact that the Irish bishops have been so proactive for so long in working to improve child protection guidelines,” he said.

Mr. Long would not comment on the letter, but he reflected a widespread feeling among church officials that the Irish bishops had borne an unfair share of the recriminations that have been heaped on the church.

He noted that the Irish church had adopted a policy of mandatory reporting of all cases of child sexual abuse to the civil authorities in 1996, and said the policy had been progressively strengthened since then, despite the fact that mandatory reporting in such cases was not required by law in the Irish Republic.

An investigation by the Irish government that took nine years and was released in 2009 found that abuse was “endemic” in church-run schools and orphanages for decades, and that thousands of children were victims.

Pope Benedict sent a pastoral letter to the church in Ireland, accepted the resignations of some bishops and ordered an investigation, known as an “apostolic visitation,” of Irish seminaries and several dioceses. Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, who is in charge of the seminary visitation, announced that he would spend about three weeks from now until early February interviewing seminarians in Rome and in Ireland. [There should be an outside, independent, lay investigation, however.]


sortacatholic said...

This was under JP II, so PBXVI can't be directly blamed for this. He was the head of the Holy Office at the time, so he will eventually shoulder some of the blame.

Astute Catholics knew that it would end this way. In fact, was there ever any doubt that nuncios were told from on high to hush up? What really frightens me are the many ultramontanists that will invent excuses to absolve the Vatican from criminal activity. They'll blame the homos, the "sexual revolution", the same old spiel. They'll do whatever it takes to dig the ditch of denial deeper. At this point they're down to spoons and bare hands.

Where's that feisty Augustinian when we need him? Luther the heretic destroyed the apostolic liturgy. Luther the anti-semite was an evil monster. But Luther the politician successfully ended decades, even centuries, of economic exploitation in Germany. Will righteous clerics kick over Tetzel's box of thalers? Nope, it'll be business as usual for the clerical clique and the laity that spin them convenient and useful lies.

A Sinner said...

Benedict can be directly blamed, today, for not totally defrocking these bishops and nuncios in embarrassing public fashion.

Victory of Faith said...

The point is well made that this was JPII's fault. Unfortunately though, on May 1st BXVI is going to tell the world that JPII was so wonderful that his farts didn't smell.

Yes, the Church is moving in the right direction. But she's anchored to her recent past like a drowning man wearing concrete boots.

turmarion said...

I have to agree with A. Sinner, and also with Victory of Faith. The beatification of JP II is totally wrong at the current time (if ever), personal holiness aside, but it proceeds anyway.

LM said...

"What really frightens me are the many ultramontanists that will invent excuses to absolve the Vatican from criminal activity. They'll blame the homos, the "sexual revolution", the same old spiel. They'll do whatever it takes to dig the ditch of denial deeper."

This. Totally. I don't see how anyone can claim that "modernism" or the sexual revolution was the issue in Ireland, given how it was a clerical state until relatively recently. It's nice to think that all perverts look like that guy who kidnapped Elizabeth Smart (i.e., obvious crazy and strange), but that's not true. If a molesting priest is around conservatrads, he'll talk about the TLM, Fatima, and the rosary. If he's around liberals, he'll talk about women priests, GLBT acceptance, and the empowerment of the laity. Basically, whatever he needs to make his victims feel secure. Orthodoxy or lack thereof is no indicator for whether a person is a predator. Given the Ireland situation, I don't see how these culture warriors can say that church-run institutions are any better than their state-run counterparts. Incidently, Sinead O'Connor spent part of her youth in a Magdalene laundry where she was abused, which is why she has such an axe to grind against the Catholic Church. Given what we know now, was she justified to rip up JPII picture on SNL?

sortacatholic said...

LM: Quite true. Maladjusted clergy usually don't go "Wazzup! I'm a child molester!" Many are chameleon-like: they'll do what they have to do to get to potential victims. Paging Legion of Christ. Look how much swag the LC's got from wealthy patrons that possibly knew of the abuse in that order but looked the other way.

I don't get it. Wouldn't an "orthodox" Catholic want the church to heal even if that means exploring optional celibacy and other ways of diversifying the clergy and leadership? Or will they stop at nothing to prevent change and keep their fantasy world intact?

I know this for sure: nominal Catholics want change. Change will come whether the devout care for it or not.