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Post Catholic sex abuse scandals: Three key cases facing
Pope Benedict

The latest Catholic sex abuse scandals are confronting Pope Benedict with what one Catholic newspaper calls the "largest institutional crisis in centuries." In Germany, the church announced a hotline for victims of abuse. A summary of key cases that happened on Benedict's watch.

By Jason Walsh, Correspondent
posted March 30, 2010 at 1:32 pm EDT

Dublin, Ireland —
Pope Benedict XVI is confronting the greatest crisis the Roman Catholic Church has faced since at least 2002, when a wave of scandals and lawsuits in the US hit the church. At that time, the Boston Globe uncovered the abuse of children by priests in the Archdiocese of Boston and provided evidence that church superiors had covered up their crimes.

Now, evidence of sexual abuse is once more rocking the church. But this time, it's global in scope, with fresh claims of abuse of boys and girls by priests in the US, Ireland, Holland, Italy, and in Pope Benedict's home country of Germany.

This week, the church in Germany announced it would set up a hotline for victims of sexual abuse under Bishop Stephan Ackermann. At a mass at St. Peter's on Sunday, Pope Benedict referred to faith helping Catholics not being "intimidated" by "petty gossip."

Some commentators see the current crisis as more than a global repeat of 2002, however. In a Friday editorial, the National Catholic Reporter called the new abuse scandals before Pope Benedict the "largest institutional crisis in centuries, possibly in church history." The Catholic Reporter wrote "the Holy Father needs to directly answer questions, in a credible forum, about his role – as archbishop of Munich (1977-82), as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (1982-2005), and as pope (2005-present) – in the mismanagement of the clergy sex abuse crisis." :shock:

This time around, there are allegations that Pope Benedict, who was known as Cardinal Josef Ratzinger until being named pontiff, either covered up for or was indifferent to allegations of abuse by priests under his authority. Church spokesmen have said the current pope never knowingly reassigned priests accused of sexual abuse to work with children again or otherwise covered up allegations of crimes.

The following cases are under scrutiny for their potential direct connection to the pope.

St. John's school for the deaf, USA
At least 19 boys abused at St John’s School for the Deaf in Wisconsin were molested by the Rev. Lawrence Murphy from the 1950s until as late as 1974. Father Murphy, who died in 1998, avoided being defrocked by appealing to Cardinal Ratzinger. Ratzinger's deputy, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, accepted the petition on the basis of Murphy’s age and ill health. The two American bishops handling the case objected to this and had sought a criminal trial against Murphy. The diocese began mediation with victims in 2004, paying unspecified compensation.

This story, which originated in The New York Times last week, has been at the center of some confusion, with many news outlets saying 200 boys complained of abuse. Vincent Twomey, a Catholic theologian and friend of Pope Benedict, claims this figure is incorrect.

“It was a school of 200 students,” said Dr. Twomey in a Monitor interview. “Twenty-nine accusations were made and 19 he admitted. That’s 19 too many boys abused, but the story was misreported.”

The Rev. Peter Hullermann, Germany
Three families in the German city of Essen alleged that the Rev. Peter Hullermann sexually abused their children. In 1980, Father Hullermann was transferred to the Munich Archdiocese for psychotherapy and then returned to work with youths.

Hullermann was convicted of sexual abuse in 1986, but returned to work in congregations until he was suspended on March 16 this year, after allegations against him and questions about what Pope Benedict had known about him were raised in the press.

A spokesman for the diocese said no one was informed by then-Archbishop Ratzinger, in charge of the Munich Archdiocese, that Hullermann was an alleged sex offender.

The church has responded that Ratzinger did not know Hullerman had returned to parish work. “The then-archbishop had no knowledge of the decision to reassign [Hullerman] to pastoral activities in a parish," the Vatican said in a statement on Friday, March 26.

The Rev. Marciel Maciel, Spain and Italy
Mexican priest Marcial Maciel, a prelate (an office roughly equivalent to bishop) who founded the conservative Legionaries of Christ order in 1941, was accused of molesting seminarians on numerous occasions.

The church hierarchy began investigating allegations against Father Maciel in the 1950s, and again in 1998, after nine former seminarians said he abused them when they were youths in Spain and Italy.

Ratzinger began a third investigation in 2004, a year before he was elected pope. In 2006, after becoming pope, the Vatican ordered Maciel to lead a "reserved life of prayer and penance."

Maciel died in 2008 at age 87. His order issued an apology to victims on March 26 this year. The conclusions of the church’s final investigation are expected to be published this year.

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

Tue Mar 30, 2010 11:14 am
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Post Re: Catholic sex abuse scandals: Three key cases facing
I posted this in the GT, but thought it should be here as well, when I saw this thread. This is a MAJOR crisis for the RC church. It possibly could go as far as causing the Pope to resign, and to face criminal charges. It sure fits in with prophesies about the popes. :hmm

Hat tip to guanosphere - More on the pope: (for those who don't know me, I am a practicing Roman Catholic, but that does not mean that I support the institutional church in everything they do or don't do. I have problems with MANY of the statements and actions of the church at the top, but none with the truths on which the Church is based and the Church as the Body of Christ, exemplified in grass roots parishes the world over.)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Amid fresh revelations of obstruction of justice ~ barely one in six Germans have confidence in the Catholic Church. People are leaving the dioceses in record numbers and Papal infallibility has become rightfully laughable. What is the Pope hiding ~ and what is behind the great Catholic cover-up ? : Allen L Roland

Palm Sunday commemorates Christ's triumpant entry into Jerusalem and is the official start of Holy Week ~ which includes the Good Friday re-enactment of Christ's crucifixion and his resurrection on Easter Sunday. But this year, the Vicar of Christ, Pope Benedict XVI, enters Holy Week badly discolored by a clerical abuse scandal that has spread across Europe and even to the Pope's native Germany.

Amid fresh revelations that Pope Benedict XVI mishandled the case of a paedophile priest in his former archdiocese of Munich as well as accusations by Hans Kueng, the dissident Catholic theologian from Switzerland, that Pope Benedict XVI played a key role since 2001 in keeping sex-abuse claims against priests out of the public eye ~ it appears that the Pope is not only fallible but that he is consciously hiding many unpleasant crimes regarding the Catholic church.

As Mike Whitney writes today in ICH ~ " This is obstruction of justice, pure and simple. Benedict better hire a good attorney or he'll wind up in leg-irons. No man is above the law; not even the pope. Religious freedom isn't license to inflict suffering on others."
http://www.informationclearinghouse.inf ... e25101.htm

Slate's Christopher Hitchens calls it The Great Catholic Cover- Up and pulls no punches when he writes that "The pope's entire career has the stench of evil about it."

Excerpt: " Very much more serious is the role of Joseph Ratzinger, before the church decided to make him supreme leader, in obstructing justice on a global scale. After his promotion to cardinal, he was put in charge of the so-called "Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith" (formerly known as the Inquisition). In 2001, Pope John Paul II placed this department in charge of the investigation of child rape and torture by Catholic priests. In May of that year, Ratzinger issued a confidential letter to every bishop. In it, he reminded them of the extreme gravity of a certain crime. But that crime was the reporting of the rape and torture. The accusations, intoned Ratzinger, were only treatable within the church's own exclusive jurisdiction. Any sharing of the evidence with legal authorities or the press was utterly forbidden. Charges were to be investigated "in the most secretive way ... restrained by a perpetual silence ... and everyone ... is to observe the strictest secret which is commonly regarded as a secret of the Holy Office … under the penalty of excommunication." Nobody has yet been excommunicated for the rape and torture of children, but exposing the offense could get you into serious trouble. And this is the church that warns us against moral relativism! (See, for more on this appalling document, two reports in the London Observer of April 24, 2005, by Jamie Doward.)"

The Pope can't hide behind his 'Divine' office much longer and what better time than Easter week for us to face the uncomfortable reality, as Hitchens writes ~ " that the Roman Catholic Church is headed by a mediocre Bavarian bureaucrat once tasked with the concealment of the foulest iniquity, whose ineptitude in that job now shows him to us as a man personally and professionally responsible for enabling a filthy wave of crime."

The truth has a way of eventually bringing down the self righteous, exposing evil and leveling the playing field of humankind and, in that regard, the Catholic Church has long been ripe for plucking. ... iding.html

"A time comes when silence is betrayal." - Martin Luther King

"The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything." ~ Albert Einstein

Tue Mar 30, 2010 7:33 pm
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Post Re: Catholic sex abuse scandals: Three key cases facing
Hat tip to guanosphere

Vatican offers 3 reasons it's not liable for abuse

By NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press Writer Nicole Winfield, Associated Press Writer – 37 mins ago

VATICAN CITY – Dragged deeper than ever into the clerical sex abuse scandal, the Vatican is launching a legal defense that it hopes will shield the pope from a lawsuit in Kentucky seeking to have him answer attorneys' questions under oath.

Court documents obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press show that Vatican lawyers plan to argue that the pope has immunity as head of state, that American bishops who oversaw abusive priests weren't employees of the Vatican, and that a 1962 document is not the "smoking gun" that provides proof of a cover-up.

The Holy See is trying to fend off the first U.S. case to reach the stage of determining whether victims actually have a claim against the Vatican itself for negligence for allegedly failing to alert police or the public about Roman Catholic priests who molested children.

The case was filed in 2004 in Kentucky by three men who claim they were abused by priests and claim negligence by the Vatican. Their attorney, William McMurry, is seeking class-action status for the case, saying there are thousands of victims across the country.

"This case is the only case that has been ever been filed against the Vatican which has as its sole objective to hold the Vatican accountable for all the priest sex abuse ever committed in this country," he said in a phone interview. "There is no other defendant. There's no bishop, no priest."

The Vatican is seeking to dismiss the suit before Benedict XVI can be questioned or documents subpoenaed.

The preview of the legal defense was submitted last month in U.S. District Court in Louisville. The Vatican's strategy is to be formally filed in the coming weeks. Vatican officials declined to comment on Tuesday.

Plaintiffs in the Kentucky suit argue that U.S. diocesan bishops were employees of the Holy See, and that Rome was therefore responsible for their alleged wrongdoing in failing to report abuse.

They say a 1962 Vatican document mandated that bishops not report sex abuse cases to police. The Vatican has argued that there is nothing in the document that precluded bishops from calling police.

With the U.S. scandal reinvigorated by reports of abuse in Europe and scrutiny of Benedict's handling of abuse cases when he was archbishop of Munich, the Kentucky case and another in Oregon have taken on greater significance. Lawyers as far away as Australia have said they plan to use similar strategies.

At the same time though, the hurdles remain enormously high to force a foreign government to turn over confidential documents, let alone to subject a head of state to questioning by U.S. lawyers, experts say.

The United States considers the Vatican a sovereign state — the two have had diplomatic relations since 1984. In 2007, U.S. District Court Judge John Heyburn rejected an initial request by the plaintiffs to depose Benedict.

"They will not be able to depose the pope," said Joseph Dellapenna, a professor at Villanova University Law School an author of "Suing Foreign Governments and their Corporations."

"But lower level officials could very well be deposed and there could be subpoenas for documents as part of discovery," he said.

McMurry last week filed a new court motion seeking to depose the pope; Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, currently Vatican secretary of state but for years the pope's deputy at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Cardinal William Levada, an American who currently heads the Congregation; and Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Vatican's representative in the U.S.

On Tuesday, McMurry filed a memorandum in support of his demand to question Benedict based on court documents unearthed last week detailing the role of the Congregation in shutting down a canonical trial for a Wisconsin priest who allegedly molested up to 200 deaf boys.

"These documents confirm that the CDF, under Pope Benedict XVI's lead, discouraged prosecution of accused clergy and encouraged secrecy to protect the reputation of the church," wrote McMurry, who represented 243 sex abuse victims that settled with the Archdiocese of Louisville in 2003 for $25.3 million.

Jeffrey Lena, the reclusive architect of the Vatican's legal strategy in the U.S., is seeking to have the court rule on the Vatican's other defenses before allowing the pope to be deposed, in hopes that the suit will be dismissed. In his filing, Lena noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has held that when a defendant enjoys immunity, a court shouldn't allow a "discovery fishing expedition on claims that are baseless or speculative."

Lena also has argued that the pope's deposition would violate the Vatican's own laws on confidentiality, and would set a bad precedent for U.S. officials.

"If Pope Benedict XVI is ordered to testify by a U.S. court, foreign courts could feel empowered to order discovery against the president of the United States regarding, for example, such issues as CIA renditions," Lena wrote in a 2008 brief.

McMurry is eager to find out what the Vatican knew and did, in particular, about Rev. Louis Miller, who was removed from the priesthood in 2004 by the late Pope John Paul II. Miller pleaded guilty in 2003 to sexually abusing one of the plaintiffs in the Kentucky lawsuit and other children in the 1970s. He is serving a 13-year prison sentence.

In a deposition transcription obtained by The Associated Press, Miller said he had offered to resign as early as 1962 to his then-Archbishop John Floersh, and that two subsequent archbishops knew of his crimes but continued to keep him as a priest, moving him from parish to parish.

In explaining why he wanted to resign, Miller said: "I just knew that the crime was so horrendous in my own mind that I didn't feel that I was worthy to remain a priest."

But he said Floersh was "compassionate," kept him on, and told him, "You will always be a good priest."

Plaintiffs in the Kentucky suit contend that bishops are employees of the Vatican. That point is crucial to determing whether the Holy See can be held responsible for their behavior.

There's a general consensus among legal scholars that an employee is someone who works for the employer, who controls the details of the work. Attorneys for the Vatican are expected to argue that diocesan bishops do not work for the pope, and that the Holy See does not exercise the day-to-day control over their work necessary to create an employment relationship.

Also crucial to the Kentucky lawsuit is the 1962 document "Crimen Sollicitationis" — Latin for "crimes of solicitation." It describes how church authorities should deal procedurally with cases of abuse of children by priests, cases where sex is solicited in the confessional — a particularly heinous crime under canon law — and cases of homosexuality and bestiality.

McMurry argues that the document imposed the highest level of secrecy on such matters and reflected a Vatican policy barring bishops from reporting abuse to police.

Lena declined to comment Tuesday, but he has tried to shoot down McMurry's theory by arguing that McMurry's own expert witness, canon lawyer Thomas P. Doyle, has rejected theories that Crimen was proof of a cover-up.

The plaintiffs, Lena wrote in a 2008 motion, "fail to offer any facts in support of their theory that Crimen caused their injuries, nor indeed any facts that Crimen was ever in the possession of the Louisville archdiocese or used in Kentucky."

McMurry insisted Tuesday that Crimen is a smoking gun.

"The fact is, this document and its predecessors make it an excommunicable offense to reveal any knowledge of allegations that a priest has sexually abused," he said in an e-mail.

The existence of Crimen did not become publicly known until 2003, when a lawyer noticed a reference to the document while reading a 2001 letter written by Benedict, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. McMurry is seeking to subpoena Ratzinger's letter, which instructed all bishops to send cases of clerical sex abuse to him and to keep the proceedings secret.

In 2008, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals gave the go-ahead for Kentucky lawsuit to continue, ruling that an exception to sovereign immunity, which shields most foreign governments from U.S. lawsuits, should be applied.

The 6th Circuit eliminated most of the plaintiffs claims' in its late 2008 ruling before returning it to district court.

(This version CORRECTS SUBS graf 21, to correct that reference is to one of the plaintiffs, sted defendants in the Kentucky lawsuit.) ... _s_defense

"A time comes when silence is betrayal." - Martin Luther King

"The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything." ~ Albert Einstein

Tue Mar 30, 2010 8:46 pm
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Post Re: Catholic sex abuse scandals: Three key cases facing
It possibly could go as far as causing the Pope to resign, and to face criminal charges. It sure fits in with prophesies about the popes.

Yep - gives one the shivers, doesn't it?

I saw you'd posted in the GT but thought this deserved monitoring so I made the thread.

Some things I don't understand:

1. Why doesn't Pope Benedict simply do a mea culpa at a mass this Easter Sunday? I think if he stood before the faithful and admitted that he had sinned and the Church had sinned - folks would forgive.

Yes, I know the Pope is considered "infallible" but most of this happened before he was Pope, right?

2. Can a Pope resign? I thought he was elected for life?

3. Why doesn't the Vatican call a meeting of the Cardinals, Bishops (whatever they are called) and come to an agreement on how to deal with any future transgressions?

We are all sinners in the eyes of God. I was taught to condemn the sin but love the sinner because it is not for us to judge - it is for God to judge.

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

Wed Mar 31, 2010 6:08 am
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Post Re: Catholic sex abuse scandals: Three key cases facing
Archbishop: Mistakes made in priest sex abuse case
By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) -- The archbishop of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, apologized repeatedly Tuesday night for the way his archdiocese handled an abusive priest and he defended the Vatican which has come under fire for not disciplining or defrocking the man.

"Mistakes were made in the Lawrence Murphy case," said Archbishop Jerome Listecki at the end of a special holy week mass at St. John's Cathedral in Milwaukee.

"The mistakes were not made in Rome in 1996, 1997 and 1998. The mistakes were made here, in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, in the 1970s, the 1980s and the 1990s, by the Church, by civil authorities, by Church officials, and by bishops. And for that, I beg your forgiveness in the name of the Church and in the name of this Archdiocese of Milwaukee."

The now-deceased Murphy is believed to have molested up to 200 boys.

The Vatican says it did not know about the abuse until 20 years after civil authorities investigated and later dropped the case.

However, a recent New York Times story alleged that top Vatican officials, including the future Pope Benedict XVI, failed to act despite warnings from several American bishops.

Jeff Anderson, a lawyer who obtained internal church paperwork, said it "shows a direct line from the victims through the bishops and directly to the man who is now pope."

In his comments Tuesday night, Listecki attempted to shift the blame away from the Pope.

"The Holy Father does not need me to defend him or his decisions," he said. "I believe, and history will confirm, that his actions in responding to this crisis swiftly and decisively and his compassionate response to victims (and) survivors speak for themselves."

Listecki added that measures have now been put in place in his diocese and across the country to protect children from predatory priests.

"Still, we know it is not words, but actions that will demonstrate our resolve," he said. "And, in some ways, regardless of what I say tonight or any other time, our critics will say it is not enough.

"But that cannot and will not prevent me from making every possible effort at moving forward toward healing and resolution with those who have been harmed, and determined to make sure nothing like this can ever happen again."

The apologies are little consolation to many of the victims, three of whom shared their stories on "Larry King Live" Tuesday night.

"These priests have been allowed to abuse children for years. And with the man who is now the pope knowing about what Father Murphy alone was doing, and not doing anything about it? He needs to resign. He has no business being in the position he is in," said Donald Marshall, who said he was abused once during one of Murphy's regular visits to the Lincoln Hills School, a juvenile detention center in Irma in northern Wisconsin.

Most of the alleged abuse took place at the John's School for the Deaf in St. Francis where Murphy began as a teacher in 1950.

He was promoted to run the school in 1963 in spite of the fact that students had warned church officials of molestation, according to documents that CNN has seen.

Gary Smith said his abuse began when he was 12 and continued up until he was 20, about 50 or 60 times.

"He was scared. He didn't know if he should tell anyone," said Gigi Budzinski, who interpreted for Smith during his appearance on King's show.

"He felt like Murphy was so powerful that he couldn't do anything," she said.

Local coverage from CNN affiliate WISN

Still, Smith and two other classmates eventually reported Murphy to the Milwaukee police.

"They did nothing," said Arthur Budzinski, who said he was abused three times.

Three successive archbishops in Wisconsin were told of the abuse, but none reported it to criminal or civil authorities, said Anderson, who is representing five men who are suing the archdiocese.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee, however, said that abuse was reported in fall 1973 to Milwaukee police, who turned the report over to St. Francis police, but no charges were filed.

Murphy was removed in May 1974 as director of the St. John's School for the Deaf, but remained as fundraiser and alumni director until summer 1974, when he was removed from any role at the school, according to a chronology posted on the archdiocese Web site.

In August 1974, a series of newspaper articles in the Milwaukee Sentinel reported on Murphy's removal and the allegations, the chronology said.

A district attorney reviewed the allegations against Murphy in fall 1974. A civil lawsuit was filed in 1975 against the archdiocese relating to Murphy, but was resolved the following year, the chronology said.

The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the office led by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger who would later become pope, "was not informed of the matter until some 20 years later," said Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi.

The office is in charge of deciding whether accused priests should be given canonical trials and defrocked.

But as part of his lawsuit, Anderson obtained correspondence from Milwaukee to Ratzinger and other internal church documents.

The documents, dating back to 1974, include letters between bishops and the Vatican, victims' affidavits, the handwritten notes of an expert on sexual disorders who interviewed Murphy and minutes of a final Vatican meeting on the case.

Ratzinger failed to respond to two letters about the case in 1996 from Milwaukee's then-archbishop, Rembert G. Weakland.

After eight months, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who at the time was second-in-command of the doctrinal office and now is the Vatican's secretary of state, told Wisconsin bishops to begin a secret canonical trial, the documents show.

By that time, Murphy was in poor health, living in seclusion and had not had any allegations of abuse levied against him for more than 20 years, the Milwaukee archbishop said.

The Congregation suggested that the archbishop restrict Murphy's public ministry and require him to accept full responsibility for his acts.

Murphy died four months later.

"Even though some do not want to hear it or accept it as truth, mistakes were made by law enforcement, medical professionals -- even reporters who helped bring initial stories to light and grappled with how to deal with perpetrators," Listecki said Tuesday night. "We have all learned so much."

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

Wed Mar 31, 2010 6:22 am
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Post Re: Catholic sex abuse scandals: Three key cases facing
Serene Jones
Posted: March 30, 2010 05:34 PM

Not Throwing Stones: A Protestant Remembers The Best Of The Catholic Church :heart

As a Protestant, and as the President of a seminary known for its commitment to progressive theology, my reaction is deeply divided about the sexual abuse crisis that is currently shaking the Roman Catholic Church in Europe and the United States. Watching the disturbing details of cover-ups by clergy -- even those at the highest levels -- unfold during Holy Week, of all times, I can't decide whether to cry out in despair or be ever-so-slightly optimistic that real changes may result from this tragedy. Most days, I feel both.

Tears come easily when I think of the abuse and the horrifying realization that some within the church clearly believe that protecting priests is more important than safeguarding children. When I think of Jesus suffering during Holy Week, it is the broken bodies of children, betrayed by their own religious leaders, that come to mind. They bear the crosses of the church's abuses of power.

That said, I also weep because this latest sex scandal adds to our distrust of religious leadership in general and keeps us from remembering all the good work the Roman Catholic church does for the poor, hungry, and homeless, and has done for many decades. I am personally indebted to countless nuns and priests I've encountered over the years, who patiently taught me what it means to "stand with the least of these." In the twentieth century, especially, it was Roman Catholics rather than liberal, so-called "Main Line" Protestants who more often found spiritual grounds for social justice.

I think of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement that began during the depths of the Great Depression, and which continues today to give care and comfort to the forsaken. I think of Thomas Merton and his outspoken protest of the Vietnam War. I think of the Catholic bishops who stood side by side with César Chávez in his fight for justice among the farm workers of California's Central Valley. I think of Archbishop Óscar Romero and the struggles of San Salvador. And I think of blighted neighborhoods across America where all-but-ignored nuns, priests, and committed laypeople offer hope to the nearly hopeless through soup kitchens, schools, and community centers. For them, and for energetic Catholic women I work with and teach -- so unjustly banned from a priesthood that sorely needs them -- the importance of justice-making always exceeds the importance of collars and confessions.

Tragedies come and go; issues like labor and immigration burn bright in the public consciousness for a time and then are forgotten. Long after the rest of the world has moved on, however, often enough the Catholic Church alone continues to affirm economic justice, offer a moral critique of capitalism, and, most importantly, insist that a radical love of the powerless and marginalized is the truest form of faith.

All this makes these latest reports of priests molesting children -- and getting away with it -- that much more upsetting. Will the faithful work done by so many Catholics be overshadowed by a church hierarchy that goes on the defensive when questioned about cover-ups and complicity? I pray this will not be the case. I also pray that the church might change for the better as a result of these terrible discoveries. And I pray, too, for the deep, ongoing grief -- indeed, belly-wrenching lamentation -- suffered by so many everyday Catholics who feel betrayed by their own leadership.

Yes, I am shocked, angered, and saddened by these latest allegations. But I'm also slightly relieved to think that we may finally have come to the end of the line. How much higher up can a scandal go, after all, than implicating those standing at the very top? And, I breathe a bit easier in anticipation that a chastening bright light may be about to shine into previously impenetrable realms of the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

As a Protestant, I refuse to throw self-righteous stones against Catholics. Disregard for public accountability is dangerous, in any form. It is not only in politics that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. No church is immune. No person is.

The Catholicism I cherish -- and the Catholicism that the world so desperately needs -- is one that models an unguarded honesty about human failing, a gentleness of spirit that welcomes criticism, and a determination to hold all people, no matter their station, accountable for their actions.

This is the lesson of Holy Week, and it is one that Christians all -- bishops, popes, and pew-sitters alike -- would do well to consider carefully in the days ahead.

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

Wed Mar 31, 2010 6:51 am
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Post Re: Catholic sex abuse scandals: Three key cases facing
First, BB, the pope is only infallible in "matters of faith and dogma".

Quotes are from Wikipedia:
Papal infallibility is the dogma in Roman Catholic theology that, by action of the Holy Spirit, the Pope is preserved from even the possibility of error[1] when he solemnly declares or promulgates to the universal Church a dogmatic teaching on faith or morals as being contained in divine revelation, or at least being intimately connected to divine revelation. It is also taught that the Holy Spirit works in the body of the Church, as sensus fidelium, to ensure that dogmatic teachings proclaimed to be infallible will be received by all Catholics. This dogma, however, does not state either that the Pope cannot sin in his own personal life or that he is necessarily free of error, even when speaking in his official capacity, outside the specific contexts in which the dogma applies.

and this infallibility has only been declared once since it was instituted.

Since the solemn declaration of Papal Infallibility by Vatican I on July 18, 1870, this power has been used only once ex cathedra: in 1950 when Pope Pius XII defined the Assumption of Mary as being an article of faith for Roman Catholics.

I have done a little research on the exact wording of the two documents mentioned in the case against the pope. I wanted to know if the documents actually said what is being claimed in the media. Here is what I found:

The original document, Crimen sollicitationis (Latin: the crime of soliciting) was a 1962 letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (or Holy Office) codifying procedures to be followed in cases of priests or bishops of the Catholic Church accused of having used the sacrament of Penance to make sexual advances to penitents.

Crimen sollicitationis indicated the procedure to be followed between a denunciation and the possible infliction of a penalty.

The document imposed absolute confidentiality on the trial's proceedings (explicitly excepting "what may happen to be lawfully published when this process is concluded and put into effect", meaning public portions of any verdict), both during its conduct and after any concluding verdict had been put into effect:

An oath of secrecy was to be taken by all members of the tribunal; violation incurred a penalty of automatic excommunication.

"These matters are confidential only to the procedures within the Church, but do not preclude in any way for these matters to be brought to civil authorities for proper legal adjudication. The charter for the Protection of Children and Young People of June, 2002, approved by the Vatican, requires that credible allegations of sexual abuse of children be reported to legal authorities."[7]

There are varying interpretations of the intent behind this document, ranging from the view that the secrecy was only intended to protect all involved in the investigation, including the accusers and all witnesses, to the statement that it was "an explicit written policy to cover up cases of child sexual abuse by the clergy, to punish those who would call attention to these crimes by churchmen".

Then we come to the document written by then Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

De delictis gravioribus (Latin for "on more serious crimes") was a letter written on 18 May 2001 by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to all bishops.

the document lists one offense of a moral character, not directly connected with administration of the sacraments, as reserved in the same way as these to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, namely, the offense of a cleric (a bishop, priest or deacon) who commits a sexual sin with someone under 18 years of age.

This letter states that unless a case is unusual in some way, the investigation and tribunal can be carried out by those in authority in the diocese,region, or order where or by whom the act was carried out. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith must be sent all evidence from an initial investigation by such authorities and it will determine if it needs to conduct the tribunal, or if it can be returned to local authorities.

Then it states:

Cases of this kind are subject to the pontifical secret.
IOW, as described above, total secrecy which if violated would be cause for excommunication.

The letter ends by saying
it is hoped not only that more grave delicts (crimes) will be entirely avoided, but especially that ordinaries and hierarchs have solicitous pastoral care to look after the holiness of the clergy and the faithful even through necessary sanctions.

Another interesting comment refers to a "statute of limitations" if you will.

It must be noted that the criminal action on delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is extinguished by a prescription of 10 years.(11) The prescription runs according to the universal and common law;(12) however, in the delict perpetrated with a minor by a cleric, the prescription begins to run from the day when the minor has completed the 18th year of age.

These are the raw facts; interpretation wasn't the purpose of this post, nor was it meant to be a defense of the hierarchy of the Church or of Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.

"A time comes when silence is betrayal." - Martin Luther King

"The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything." ~ Albert Einstein

Sun Apr 11, 2010 10:54 am
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Post Re: Catholic sex abuse scandals: Three key cases facing
UN judge calls for prosecution of Pope Benedict

By Stephen C. Webster
Saturday, April 10th, 2010

Geoffrey Robertson, a renowned human rights lawyer and United Nations jurist, wants to see Pope Benedict put on trial for allegedly protecting predator priests.

In a Guardian UK piece making its rounds this week in Catholic circles, Robertson demanded the pope be "put in the dock" so that the church might "feel the full weight of international law" over its thousands of pedophilia scandals.

The pope's conduct, he said, "amounted to the criminal offence of aiding and abetting sex with minors," making Benedict a justifiable target for either the International Criminal Court or a British court acting under the legal principal of universal jurisdiction.

Other international figures who've recently been pursued by various courts under universal jurisdiction include several former Bush administration attorneys and former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for the torture of terror war prisoners, along with Israeli officials who helped launch the 2008 Gaza offensive.

"Universal jurisdiction — a concept in international law — allows judges to issue warrants for nearly any visitor accused of grievous crimes, no matter where they live," the Associated Press reported. "British judges have been more open to the concept than those in other countries."

"In legal actions against Catholic archdioceses in the US it has been alleged that the same conduct reflected Vatican policy as approved by Cardinal Ratzinger (as the pope then was) as late as November 2002," Robertson wrote. "Sexual assaults were regarded as sins that were subject to church tribunals, and guilty priests were sent on a 'pious pilgrimage' while oaths of confidentiality were extracted from their victims."

He continued: "The UN at its inception refused membership to the Vatican but has allowed it a unique 'observer status', permitting it to become signatory to treaties such as the Law of the Sea and (ironically) the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to speak and vote at UN conferences where it promotes its controversial dogmas on abortion, contraception and homosexuality. This has involved the UN in blatant discrimination on grounds of religion: other faiths are unofficially represented, if at all, by NGOs. But it has encouraged the Vatican to claim statehood – and immunity from liability."

"Robertson insisted that the ICC could be used as long as the Pope’s sovereign immunity was waived and as long as jurists can show that the sex abuse scandal was carried out on a 'widespread or systematic scale,' the way that child soldiers were used in the wars in Sierra Leone and the way that sex slaves are traded internationally," The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute added.

The Catholic League of Australia was quick to launch a spirited defense of the pope, suggesting that Benedict's accusers have no evidence.

"Robertson is a Human Rights lawyer who should know better than to suggest that charges of crime should be levelled without any evidence," they opined. "Unfortunately for Mr. Robertson his desire to create controversy and his own gossip does not constitute as a source of law. Mr. Robertson also bizarrely suggests that the Vatican is not a country. He conveniently 'forgets' that 179 countries recognise the Vatican as a sovereign state. Mr. Robertson’s effort to create controversy and create publicity for himself has blinded his judgement."

For its part, The New York Times reported Saturday that as a Cardinal, Ratzinger seemed to be resisting efforts to defock a priest who molested children, waiting six long years before any action was taken.

"The matter was one of several recently reported instances in which documents have indicated that Benedict or his subordinates failed to act strongly against abuser priests — a failing that Vatican officials, cardinals and many bishops have heatedly rejected," the paper added. "The reports have surfaced amid a wave of disclosures about past sexual abuses by Roman Catholic priests around Europe." ... -benedict/

"A time comes when silence is betrayal." - Martin Luther King

"The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything." ~ Albert Einstein

Sun Apr 11, 2010 11:01 am
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Post Re: Catholic sex abuse scandals: Three key cases facing
Thanks for the explanation above, Rutsie!

Prosecution of Pope Benedict? :huh

It isn't only the Catholic church dealing with this issue, the Baptist church has published 3 articles in the last month. I'll try to find them and post about sex abuses among the Baptists.

I simply don't understand THIS attitude, either!

Connecticut bishops fight sex abuse bill
From Jamie Guzzardo, CNN

Hartford, Connecticut (CNN) -- A bill in Connecticut's legislature that would remove the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse cases has sparked a fervent response from the state's Roman Catholic bishops, who released a letter to parishioners Saturday imploring them to oppose the measure.

Under current Connecticut law, sexual abuse victims have 30 years past their 18th birthday to file a lawsuit. The proposed change to the law would rescind that statute of limitations. :hmm

The proposed change to the law would put "all Church institutions, including your parish, at risk," says the letter, which was signed by Connecticut's three Roman Catholic bishops.

The letter is posted on the Web site of the Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference, the public policy and advocacy office of Connecticut's Catholic bishops. It asks parishioners to contact their legislators in opposition of the bill.

The "legislation would undermine the mission of the Catholic Church in Connecticut, threatening our parishes, our schools, and our Catholic Charities," the letter says. :roll

The Catholic archdiocese of Hartford also published a pulpit announcement on its Web site, which was to be read during Mass on Sunday, urging parishioners to express opposition to the bill.

The bill has been revised to address some of the church's concerns about frivolous abuse claims against it, according to Connecticut state Rep. Beth Bye, one of the bill's sponsors.

"The church didn't recognize that this bill makes improvements," Bye said. "The victims -- their lives have been changed and some will never recover from years of sexual abuse. For me, it's about giving them access to the courts." :hmm

Under the bill's provisions, anyone older than 48 who makes a sex abuse claim against the church would need to join an existing claim filed by someone 48 or younger. Older claimants would need to show substantial proof that they were abused.

"They were worried about frivolous lawsuits and so we made the bar high," Bye said.

The bill does not target the Catholic Church, she said.

The bishops' letter raised concerns that the bill would allow claims that are 70 years or older, in which "key individuals are deceased, memories have been faded, and documents and other evidence have been lost." The letter said that the majority of cases would be driven by "trial lawyers hoping to profit from these cases." :flame :headbang

The bill passed in Connecticut's House of Representatives, and Bye said the state Senate should vote on it in the next week or two.

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

Mon Apr 12, 2010 7:09 am
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Post Re: Catholic sex abuse scandals: Three key cases facing
Here's one of the stories I heard about.

Former Baptist pastor gets 10 years for molestation
By Bob Allen
Thursday, April 08, 2010

Editor's note: This story was updated April 10 to correct an error in the 12th paragraph.

FRANKLIN, Ind. (ABP) -- A former Southern Baptist pastor in central Indiana has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for molesting a 15-year-old church member in a relationship that began with him counseling the girl because she was not getting along with her mother.

Daniel Moore
Daniel Moore, 50, former pastor of New Whiteland Baptist Church near Franklin, Ind., pleaded guilty March 15 to felony child solicitation and sexual misconduct charges in exchange for a 10-year sentence. A Johnson County circuit court judge approved the plea bargain at a sentencing hearing April 8.

The girl's mother, who is not being identified to protect the privacy of her daughter, said she was satisfied with the sentence because she didn't want to put the now soon-to-be 17-year-old through the trauma of a jury trial.

In a victim's impact statement, the mother said Moore started counseling the girl at her request. When she told the pastor she was monitoring who her daughter talked to and texted through her online account, the mother said Moore gave the girl a SIM card for her phone from another account.

After confronting both Moore and his wife about inappropriate notes, the mother said she received a call from the girl's school in March 2009 reporting she was seen with a suspicious-looking elderly man. Searching her daughter's room, the mother said she found other notes from the defendant to her daughter, including one that said, "I love you with the purest love of God."

After going to the police, the woman, who had been an active member of New Whiteland Baptist Church for nine years, said just two church members called to see how they were doing. After that, she said, there was no more contact.

Entering the courtroom April 8, the mother said she was surprised how many people from the former church were there to support their former pastor. At the end of the hearing, she said, Moore's stepdaughter said to her daughter, "I hope you rot in hell," for her role in assisting in the prosecution of the case.

During her testimony, the mother said before two years ago, she probably would have been speaking in Moore's defense. She worked with him in vacation Bible school, traveled with him on mission trips, accompanied him on visitation and witnessing to flood victims and was a leader in Sunday school. "I trusted him completely," she said, which made his betrayal even worse.

The worst moment, she said, came when a detective came to her house to remove sheets from her daughter's bed, and they came back testing positive with Moore's DNA.

The mother said none of the defendant's family or supporters testified at the hearing. Only she and her husband, the girl's stepfather, took the stand.

In his letter to Judge K. Mark Loyd, the husband said he believed that Moore is a sexual predator who misused the Bible to seduce a child. He said while his faith in God has never wavered, the episode has shaken his faith in organized religion.

Not in attendance was Ernest James, senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in nearby Greenwood, Ind. James and other leaders of the church sent a letter to Judge Loyd filed March 24 in anticipation of Moore's sentencing hearing.

Church leaders informed the judge that, at their invitation, Moore had worshiped among them for several months "quietly, humbly and essentially anonymously, as it is his desire to avoid drawing attention to himself and for his fear of embarrassment to the church." :flame

The letter described Moore as "tearfully repentant, remorseful, regretful and ashamed." It said church staff and deacons pledged to help him in "continued healing and restoration" and to act as a group of support and accountability "both during and after his incarceration."

James did not respond to a request for comment.

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

Mon Apr 12, 2010 8:02 am
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Post Re: Catholic sex abuse scandals: Three key cases facing
And a second one.

Opinion: Catholic sex-abuse cases share window in Baptist house
By Norman Jameson
Monday, April 05, 2010

(ABP) -- It's easy for non-Catholic Christians to observe from a distance the clergy sex-abuse controversies that torment the Catholic Church. We take comfort that the deviant behavior of sick "celibate" priests did not occur within the confines of our own churches.

Perversions by Catholic priests have come to light far beyond Boston and other American dioceses. The news is full of similar debauchery in Germany, Ireland and now Italy. European Catholics are calling for church law similar to the zero-tolerance standard that Catholics in the United States enacted following lawsuits that cost $3 billion to settle.

The backlash reaches as far as the Vatican, where a beleaguered Pope Benedict XVI is fending off charges that he mishandled cases of clerical sex abuse when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

The aftermath of Catholic travails spreads far beyond Catholic walls. They besmirch and defile the reputation of all Christians in leadership roles -- ordained or not -- and betray the trust built over centuries by those who profess to love Jesus above all else and to purely love and serve those whom Jesus loved.

Sex abuse in the church is not a Catholic crisis alone. A skeptical public repulsed at news of a priest abusing 200 deaf boys lumps local church leaders into the same putrid pot.

All Christians are stained in the sweep of the same broad brush, but a Baylor University School of Social Work study released last fall suggests that tainting is not without foundation. The study found just over 3 percent -- or seven women in a typical congregation with 400 adult members -- have been victims of clergy sexual misconduct since they turned 18.

American Catholics have instituted rules that immediately and forever remove a man from the priesthood who is shown to be guilty of abuse. The pope apologized for the sexual abuse of minors and pledged that pedophiles would not be allowed to become priests in the Catholic Church.

The Vatican even instituted reforms to prevent future abuse in the U.S. by requiring background checks for church employees and issued new rules disallowing ordination of men with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies."

Sex-abuse cases also rock Baptist churches. Individually they are just as bad, and collectively we are doing a lot less than the Catholics about resolution.

Southern Baptists as a national entity have nothing in place to prevent abusers from carrying their satchels of pain to another church or to yank credentials from an abusive clergyman.

A motion to institute a national registry of abusers was rejected by the Southern Baptist Executive Committee in 2008 on the basis of church autonomy. The Executive Committee recommended instead that churches run background checks through an already available U.S. Department of Justice system. :gah

That system contains names only of those convicted of a crime and not those times when a church forces a minister to leave and keep the reasons unstated to avoid lawsuits or embarrassment. We want to forgive and redeem, so we too easily accept apologies and promises of the offender never to do it again.

Several websites list Christians charged with sex abuses and crimes, and a shocking number of them are Baptists. The list of stories related to the arrest of Baptist church staff across the country for crimes against members of their flocks stretches on and on.

As hard as it is to say, I come to the awful realization that parents should no longer unreservedly trust unproven church staff or volunteers with their children. Wise churches exercise stringent care to be sure those who work with children and youth are of impeccable character.

Writing recently about churches and sexual abuse, Christian ethicist David Gushee said: "The Baptist situation may be no better than the Catholic, only shielded more deeply from view. This situation demands reform, immediately, for the sake of the vulnerable and abused children among us -- not to mention for the sake of the gospel witness, so desecrated by the abuse behind our stained glass windows."

Journalism professor Paul Moses wrote on the blog of Commonweal, a Catholic magazine, "This story still calls out to be covered because some of those who failed to stop repeat abusers remain in positions of authority."

In Baptist life the "authority" in such matters always has been and remains in the local church.

Your church has a responsibility and spiritual obligation -- even a legal obligation in the case of minors -- to knock the legs out from a person who abuses power, trust or authority so that person once discovered in your body cannot move to the next victim pool. :heart :clap

You may feel you owe compassion to the predator, but what is your obligation to the innocent?

If your antennae say something is not right, don't let it slide. Catholics in America took specific steps. We can do the same. :heart

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

Mon Apr 12, 2010 8:08 am
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Post Re: Catholic sex abuse scandals: Three key cases facing
Vatican: Bishops must report sex abuse
Policy spelled out in guidelines created in response to sex abuse scandal
The Associated Press
updated 11:20 a.m. CT, Mon., April 12, 2010

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican responded Monday to allegations that it had concealed years of clerical sex abuse by making it clear for the first time that bishops and other high-ranking clerics should report such crimes to police if required by law.

Victims have charged that the Catholic Church created what amounted to a conspiracy to cover up abuse by keeping allegations that priests raped and molested children secret and not reporting them to civil authorities.

The Vatican has insisted that it has long been the Catholic Church's policy for bishops, like all Christians, to obey civil laws. In a new guide for lay readers posted on its Web site, the Vatican explicitly spells out such a policy.

"Civil law concerning reporting of crimes to the appropriate authorities should always be followed," the Vatican guidelines said. :clap

That phrase was not included in a draft of the guidelines obtained Friday by The Associated Press. The rest of the guidelines follow previously known and public procedures for handling canonical investigations and trials of suspected abuse.

The Vatican offered no explanation for the addition.

Victims were not impressed.

"Let's keep this in perspective: it's one sentence and it's virtually nothing unless and until we see tangible signs that bishops are responding," said Joelle Casteix, western regional director for SNAP, the Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests, the main victims' group in the U.S. "One sentence can't immediately reverse centuries of self-serving secrecy."

She said if the Vatican truly wanted to change course "it would be far more effective to fire or demote bishops who have clearly endangered kids and enabled abuse and hid crimes, than to add one sentence to a policy that is rarely followed with consistency." :clap

None of the core public Vatican documents to be applied in cases of abuse direct bishops to report cases to police. Nor does canon law make such an explicit requirement. :gah

Jeffrey Lena, the Vatican's U.S. lawyer, said a 1965 document from the Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, contained an implicit understanding of the need to follow civil laws that are just.

The vague citation, however, is not nearly as explicit as what is contained in the lay guide.

"It's beyond dispute that the canon law does not mandate non-reporting," Lena said. "These guidelines may help clarify that point for people who are less familiar with canon law."

"The statement confirms what has been long known, that where the civil state creates an obligation to report, bishops like anyone else are required to examine the law and determine what they have to do to obey it," Lena told the AP.

In an agreement worked out with the Vatican, U.S. bishops made this reporting requirement their policy after the explosion of sex abuse cases in 2002.

The Rev. Davide Cito, a canon lawyer at Rome's Santa Croce University, called the publication of the policy in the lay guidelines "an important development."

"I'm very pleased," he said. "A Christian also has to follow civil laws. It's a Christian duty."

A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, said the reporting requirement had been the internal policy of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 2003. The Vatican in 2001 shifted its policy on dealing with abuse cases, ordering bishops around the world to refer all cases to the Congregation, which then decides how to proceed. Previously, diocese themselves dealt with most of the cases on their own.

Asked how bishops were supposed to know of this internal policy on reporting to police, Benedettini declined to comment.

Pope Benedict XVI had told Irish bishops last month that they should cooperate with civil authorities in investigating abuse. But the guidelines mark the first time that such procedures for the universal church, in which bishops are explicitly told they should follow civil reporting laws, have been laid out publicly.

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

Mon Apr 12, 2010 11:36 am
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