Simplifying Scandal

In July, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny delivered a stinging indictment of the Vatican’s handling of the sexual-abuse scandal in his country. Referring to a new report on the scandal in the Diocese of Cloyne, Kenny blasted what he called “the dysfunction, the disconnection, [and] the elitism that dominate the culture of the Vatican today.”

The Cloyne Report—the latest of four state inquiries into the crisis that has inflamed Irish Catholics—examines that diocese’s response to abuse allegations between January 1996, the year Irish bishops established procedures for dealing with abuse claims, and February 2009. It finds that two-thirds of allegations during that period were not forwarded to the police, in violation of the bishops’ own guidelines. It also charges that the Vatican gave “comfort and support” to bishops who chose not to inform civil authorities of accusations against priests.

On September 3, the Vatican issued its response to the controversy. Alas, instead of addressing the substance of the Cloyne report, the Holy See chose to focus on a few erroneous statements by Irish officials (which could have been avoided had Rome’s appointed representatives in Ireland seen fit to cooperate with officials putting together these reports) and to vigorously contest a motion, passed by Parliament one week after Kenny’s address, deploring “the Vatican’s intervention which contributed to the undermining of the child-protection framework and guidelines of the Irish state and the Irish bishops.”

To understand this accusation, one must go back to 1996, when the Irish bishops were drawing up their guidelines for handling sexual-abuse claims. They submitted a “framework document” to the Congregation for Clergy in Rome, recommending that allegations against priests be forwarded to civil authorities. In a 1997 letter, the papal nuncio to Ireland responded by conveying the congregation’s view that such a policy “gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and a canonical nature” and could be “contrary to canonical discipline.”

In its September statement, however, the Holy See insisted that the 1997 letter has been “taken out of context,” and it argued that, rather than intervening, the congregation had simply warned that mandatory reporting could make it easier for accused priests to have their canonical cases dismissed on appeal. Perhaps. Yet the 2009 Murphy Report, summarizing testimony of the chancellor of the Dublin Archdiocese, asserted that the 1997 letter “placed the bishops in an invidious position” because it indicated that a priest who was canonically prosecuted “had a right of appeal to Rome and was most likely to succeed.” In a 2011 documentary broadcast on Irish TV, an anonymous bishop is quoted expressing his belief that the 1997 letter instructed him to cover up allegations against priests.

The September 3 statement rejects the charge leveled by Irish Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore that the Vatican “intervened to effectively have priests believe they could in conscience evade their responsibilities under Irish law.” In fact, Ireland has no mandatory reporting law; indeed, as noted by the Holy See, at the height of the scandal the Irish government rejected such a mandate. Rome insists it never blocked bishops from cooperating with civil authorities, citing the 1998 statement to Irish bishops from Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos, then prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, “unequivocally” stating that “the church, especially through its pastors [bishops] should not in any way put an obstacle in the legitimate path of civil justice.” According to the Vatican statement, “at no stage did the Holy See seek to interfere with Irish civil law or impede the civil authority in the exercise of its duties.”

That may well be so. But Irish anger at Rome is not limited to such smoking-gun issues. While most fair observers would agree that Benedict XVI has done more than any other pope to address the scourge of clergy sexual abuse, other curial officials seem to have had other ideas; and it does not serve the church to pretend otherwise. (The Vatican’s statement fails to mention, for instance, that three years after his “unequivocal” instruction to the Irish bishops, Castrillón wrote to a French bishop praising him for covering up for a known abuser-priest.) It is high time the Holy See stopped implying that blame for the scandals falls solely on the shoulders of local bishops.

The Vatican’s September statement acknowledges the gravity of the crimes detailed in the Cloyne Report and “the terrible sufferings which the victims of abuse and their families have had to endure,” but its claim that the Holy See “has sought to respond comprehensively” falls flat. A more honest accounting of the sexual-abuse crisis would start by acknowledging that local bishops’ failures were often the result of a culture of confidentiality that Rome itself helped to create.


Related: Ire-land, by Grant Gallicho

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What a whitewash! And holding up Mr. Ratzinger for praise. He failed in the '70's to deal with the pedophile in Munich and the multiple choir boys abused at his brother's Regensberg school. He refused in the '80's to meet with Maciel's victims sitting in his CDF waiting room. He failed to in the 90's to act responsibly on the Milwaukee deaf childrens' abuse charges,  as well as failing to act on notorious abuse cases from LA and Arizona, and on hundreds of abuse allegations against Groer as well. He failed in the 2000's to take action against bishops Vanglhuwe, Law and Mueller.

 To date, he has failed to instruct his bishops simply to just call the police when allegations arise. His ten minute occasional skits with abuse victims fools nobody, except possibly Commonweal editors. And we haven't yet even gotten to his secret files.

Commonweal is failing to speak prophetically here and is failing to live up to the great tradition of its  great early editors. Why is that?

 Fortunately, some American Catholics will get the International Criminal Court to fix what others, including the independent Catholic media,  should have addressed long ago. I assume if the pope is convicted, Commonweal will finally then alert its readers that the ICC proceeding exists. Even the usual curial supporter, John Allen of NCR, has reported extensively on this case.

 

The Cloyne Report [hereinafter “Report”] regarding findings of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the Diocese of Cloyne, Ireland is unusual, not because of its findings, which are sadly similar to the findings of numerous other reports, such as [1] the McCullough Report, [2] the Murphy Report, [3] the Ferns Report, [4] the Ryan Report, [5] and the McCoy Report. The report is found here:

 

http://www.irishtimes.com/indepth/cloyne/index.pdf

 

The Cloyne Report is unusual because it contains findings of sexual abuse of Catholic priests [1] which had not been reported to civil authorities and [2] which occurred subsequent to the Irish Catholic Church’s public promise in a document titled “Child Sexual Abuse: Framework for a Church Response [hereinafter “document”], first published in 1996 by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Advisory Committee, to adopt mandatory reporting to the civil authorities, including but not limited to the police, of all allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic priests. The document is found here:

 

http://www.cps.dublindiocese.ie/uploads/csaframework.pdf

 

How did such a betrayal of trust by the Irish Catholic Church to the Irish Government and to the Irish public, particularly the children of Ireland, occur? If the Irish Catholic Church is Judas in this Passion Play, who are the other players: the crucified, their crucifiers, the Roman soldiers, and most especially, Pilate?

 

One may have read about the infamous and aptly self-titled “strictly confidential” January 31, 1997 letter [hereinafter “strictly confidential letter”] from the Vatican’s Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, Monsignor Luciano Storero, to the Irish Catholic Church. The “strictly confidential” letter reveals that it was written by the Vatican for the sole purpose of responding to the document. However, before analyzing the “strictly confidential” letter, an analysis of the document is necessary in order to determine why the Vatican needed to write its “strictly confidential” letter.

 

 

“Child Sexual Abuse: Framework For a Church Response”

 

This document makes many important promises to the Irish Government and the Irish public which, given the “strictly confidential” letter’s advice to the Irish Catholic Church regarding those promises, need to be quoted in detail. The document stresses, among things:

 

“The terms of reference of the Advisory Committee were: to consider and advise on an appropriate response by the Catholic Church in Ireland where there is an accusation, suspicion or knowledge of a priest or religious having sexually abused a child; to identify guidelines for Church policy in this area and suggest a set of procedures to be followed in these circumstances. . . . On behalf of the Irish Bishops’ Conference and the Conference of Religious of Ireland we welcome the report of the Bishops’ Advisory Committee and we recommend it to individual dioceses and congregations as a framework for addressing the issue of child sexual abuse by priests and religious. . . . The report recognises the paramount need to safeguard the welfare of children. It emphasises the need for a strong commitment to prevention through a range of measures to reduce the risk of such abuse in the future. . . . It is our hope that through the implementation of the recommendations in this report the process of restoring confidence can begin. . . . In common with others in society the Church must constantly seek ways to improve its response to this grave wrong, the sexual abuse of children. Our hope for the future is that the Church, through its own vigorous efforts and in collaboration with others who are working in the field of child protection, will play its full part in safeguarding the welfare of all children. . . . In all instances where it is known or suspected that a child has been, or is being, sexually abused by a priest or religious the matter should be reported to the civil authorities. Where the suspicion or knowledge results from the complaint of an adult of abuse during his or her childhood, this should also be reported to the civil authorities. The report should be made without delay to the senior ranking police officer for the area in which the abuse is alleged to have occurred. . . . In all instances where it is known or suspected that a priest or religious has sexually abused a child, the matter should be reported to the civil authorities. . . .”

 

What is clear from these statements is that the “implementation of the recommendations in this report” included that “all instances” of allegations of the sexual abuse of children by priests be reported “without delay to the senior ranking police officer for the area in which the abuse is alleged to have occurred.” For the reasons set forth above, this is what the Irish public were told would be done by the Irish Catholic Church: mandatory reporting.

 

For the reasons set forth below, the Vatican also reached the same conclusion about the document and, for this very reason, wrote its “strictly confidential” letter, which was unknown to, and hidden from, the Irish public, and which specifically advised that mandatory non-reporting be adopted by the Irish Church. In a type of “Bait-N-Switch,” what the above document gave the Irish public and the children of the Church - mandatory reporting - the “strictly confidential” Vatican letter secretly and specifically advised the Irish Catholic Church to take away from the Irish public and the children of the Church - mandatory reporting. For this very important reason, a detailed analysis of the “strictly confidential” letter is necessary.

 

The Vatican’s “Strictly Confidential” January 31, 1997 Letter

 

The “strictly confidential” letter is found here:

 

http://www.cps.dublindiocese.ie/uploads/csaframework.pdf

 

Paragraph one indicates that the “strictly confidential” letter is the Vatican’s response to writing # 1. This is why the Vatican wrote the “strictly confidential” letter – no other reason. Paragraph three makes reference to unspecified “procedures” referenced in the document that may be “contrary to canonical discipline” and that could result in “hierarchical recourse lodged at the Holy See” which “could cause “embarrassing and detrimental results.” While the “strictly confidential” letter makes reference to canon law no less than four times, it purposely fails to refer to any particular canon law. While the “strictly confidential” letter makes reference to “procedures” in the plural, the “strictly” confidential” letter makes reference to only one specific procedure, stated in paragraph four: “In particular, the situation of ‘mandatory reporting’ gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and canonical character.”

 

One may well wonder how mandatory reporting of allegations of the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests could possibly cause “moral” “reservations.” Does this statement cause the reader to have “moral” “reservations” about the author[s] of the “strictly confidential” letter and those who approved it? Does this particular statement disclose, or rather ‘uncover,’ both the mind-set of the Vatican regarding pedophile priests and a ‘cover’-up in which the Vatican specifically advises the Irish Catholic Church to adopt mandatory non-reporting?

 

What is also clear from this above sentence is that the Vatican’s concern was whether “mandatory reporting” is contrary to canon law, not whether mandatory reporting is in the best interests of the children of Ireland. In fact, the protection and safety of children is not discussed anywhere in the “strictly confidential” letter.

 

Paragraph five is now cited herein in full. Again, it must be read in light of paragraph four in which the Vatican gave “particular” emphasis to its “serious reservations” about “mandatory reporting”:

 

“Since the policies on sexual abuse in the English speaking world exhibit many o [sic.] the same characteristics and PROCEDURES, the Congregation [not identified in the letter] is involved in a GLOBAL STUDY of them. AT THE APPROPRIATE TIME, with the Collaboration of the interested Episcopal Conferences and in dialogue with them, the Congregation will not be REMISS in in establishing some CONCRETE DIRECTIVES WITH REGARD TO THESE POLICIES.” [emphasis added].

 

The first sentence of paragraph five exposes the fact that [1] the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Advisory Committee’s document was not the first time that the Vatican confronted “procedures” like “mandatory reporting;” [2] that “procedures” such as “mandatory reporting” were not limited to Ireland and were found in other countries of which the Vatican was aware; and [3] that the “procedures” were so prevalent in other countries that the Vatican already had been involved in a “global” study of them. Therefore, it is reasonable for a reader of the “strictly confidential” letter to conclude that the Vatican knew that “procedures” [including laws] of countries regarding the reporting of alleged child abuse by priests may be contrary to canon law.

 

Given this knowledge, exactly what advice does the Vatican give the Irish Catholic Church regarding its document’s “procedures,” including its adoption of “mandatory reporting?” “AT THE APPROPRIATE TIME, with the Collaboration of the interested Episcopal Conferences and in dialogue with them, the Congregation will not be REMISS in establishing some CONCRETE DIRECTIVES WITH REGARD TO THESE POLICIES.” [emphasis added].

 

What does the second sentence of paragraph five mean? It means what it says: We, the Vatican, advise you, the Irish Church, to wait [“at the appropriate time”] and not adopt “policies” like mandatory reporting until We, the Vatican, instruct you with “concrete directives with regard to these policies.” What other meaning is possible from these words?

 

Imagine receiving such a statement from the home office of one’s employer, what would one do? Would one wait until one’s employer gives one those “directives with regard to these policies” or would one act on one’s own and adopt one’s own “policies?” It is clear that the Vatican advised the former to be done: We, the Vatican, advise you not to adopt “mandatory reporting” until we, the Vatican, instruct you with “concrete directives with regard to these policies.”

 

A review of the Cloyne Report will inform the reader that the Diocese of Cloyne Archbishop John Magee did not engage in any reporting, let alone mandatory reporting, of allegations of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests, including after the document was published in 1996 by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Advisory Committee. What would one have expected him to do, given the advice of the “strictly confidential” letter? Archbishop Magee did exactly what the “strictly confidential” letter advised him to do: he complied with the advice of the home office of his employer, the Vatican – he adopted the advised “procedure” of mandatory non-reporting for the Diocese of Cloyne.

 

Like many other infamous employees of infamous employers of the past, Archbishop Magee was simply “following orders” or the advice of his superiors and, therefore, should not be faulted for having what can only be described as a ‘conscience of clay,’ which sadly has been shown to be a terribly common moral defect in those priests who also followed a “procedure” of mandatory non-reporting of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests. Therefore, the “strictly confidential” letter actually is a defense to Archbishop Magee for his reprehensible acts and omissions: he was only “following orders” or the advice of his Vatican superiors.

 

In fact, is it possible that the Vatican was actually pleased that Archbishop Magee so slavishly complied with its advice in its “strictly confidential” letter? His slavish adherence was to be expected, given his decades of years as personal secretary to no less than three popes: Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II. If there is one thing that Archbishop Magee knew, after 20 years at the Vatican, he knew to follow the advice of the Vatican.

 

The “strictly confidential” letter is also a defense of the allegedly inappropriate, inflammatory, and undiplomatic response by the Irish Government’s Justice Minister [found here]

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyMsHlt3KTk

 

and particularly the response by Taoiseach [Prime Minister] Enda Kenny [found here]

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IU2HaVDgbdY

 

to the Cloyne Report because it is the best evidence of what can only be described as the Vatican’s “Bait-N-Switch”: the “Bait” being the Irish Church declaring to the Irish Government and the Irish public in its document that “all instances” of allegations of the sexual abuse of children by priests be reported “without delay to the senior ranking police officer for the area in which the abuse is alleged to have occurred” - and the “Switch” being the Vatican’s “strictly confidential” letter advising the Irish Church against the adoption of mandatory reporting and to wait for future Vatican “directives” that would be given “at the appropriate time.” Taoiseach [Prime Minister] Enda Kenny and the Irish Government may be defended for apparently not remembering that the Irish Church had already been advised by the Vatican no less than 14 ½ years before the Cloyne Report to adopt mandatory non-reporting.

 

One thing is certain: the findings of the Cloyne Report should come as no surprise to anyone because the findings are exactly what the Vatican’s “strictly confidential” letter advised the Irish Church to do: adopt mandatory non-reporting.

 

The “strictly confidential” letter also raises other important issues. What other documents were sent by the Vatican to the Irish Church regarding mandatory reporting? Is the “strictly confidential” letter the tip of an iceberg? Most importantly, what other countries’ Catholic Church hierarchy received Vatican communications similar to the “strictly confidential” letter? If so, did such communications advise those local Catholic Churches specifically not to comply with any laws of those countries? If so, did any Catholic Church hierarchy in any country follow this advice? If so, is the “strictly confidential” letter the tiny tip of a large iceberg of legal subterfuge by the Vatican in many countries?

 

Crimen Sollicitationis

 

Another Vatican document that provided cover to Archbishop Magee and others like him since 1962 was Crimen Sollicitationis. A copy of the original document [hereinafter “Original”] is found on this BBC page with highlights embedded in the PDF:

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/28_09_06_Crimen_english.pdf

 

The Vatican’s web site’s version [hereinafter “Revision”] is found at the following web site. It is interesting that the Vatican put the document online because it begins with the phrase, in capital letters, “TO BE KEPT CAREFULLY IN THE SECRET ARCHIVE OF THE CURIA FOR INTERNAL USE.” It is reasonable to assume that the Vatican posted it online [1] only because it had been made public, [2] for the reasons set forth below, to change the translation of the Original, and [3] to make it appear that the document did not contain a significant “Appendix” which is found at the bottom of the Original but is omitted in the Revision.

 

http://www.vatican.va/resources/resources_crimen-sollicitationis-1962_en...

 

Paragraph 11 of the Original states in part:

 

“these matters be pursued in a most secretive way. . . they are to be restrained by a perpetual silence. . . each and every one pertaining to the tribunal in any way or admitted to the knowledge of the matters because of their office is to observe the strictest ++7++ [sic.] secret which is commonly regarded as a Secret of the Holy Office in all matters and with all persons under the penalty of excommunication. . .”

 

Paragraph 11 of the Revision states in part:

 

“they be treated with the utmost confidentiality. . . they are covered by permanent silence. . . they are covered by permanent silence. . . all those persons in any way associated with the tribunal, or knowledgeable of these matters by reason of their office, are bound to observe inviolably the strictest confidentiality, commonly known as the secret of the Holy Office, in all things and with all persons, under pain of incurring automatic excommunication. . .”

 

Note how the Revision attempts to soften the Original’s stern “most secretive way” to “utmost confidentiality” and the Original’s “strictest secret” to “strictest confidentiality.”

 

The revision also adds a comma before the disjunctive “or” in this phrase: “all those persons in any way associated with the tribunal, OR knowledgeable of these matters by reason of their office, are bound to observe inviolably the strictest confidentiality. . .” [Emphasis added]. If it was ambiguous in the Original, it is clear in the revision: “ALL those persons IN ANY WAY associated with the tribunal. . . are bound to observe inviolably the strictest confidentiality. . .” [Emphasis added]. In other words, lay witnesses, including even the parents of children sexually abused by priests “are bound to observe inviolably the strictest confidentiality,” not just those “knowledgeable of these matters by reason of their office” i.e. priests. The phrase also applies to communications with civil authorities because it states “in all things and WITH ALL PERSONS.” [Emphasis added] The phrase also applies not just to communications with the civil authorities about the “Tribunal,” but about “ALL THINGS,” i.e. the facts of a child’s sexual abuse by a priest. Therefore, the phrase applies to [1] all lay witnesses “associated with the tribunal” [2] who notify civil authorities [3] about “all things” related to a child’s sexual abuse by a priest. Finally, the phrase emphasizes the penalty for those who notify the civil authorities: excommunication.

 

It must be stressed that the phrase does state “all those persons in any way ASSOCIATED WITH THE TRIBUNAL.” [Emphasis added]. In other words, the phrase applies only after the “tribunal” has taken up the “case[] of the crime of solicitation.” What about before? The phrase does not apply and, for instance, a parent, child or adult could notify the civil authorities and not be excommunicated. However, what if a parent, child or adult first notified the Church, whose “tribunal” then took up the “case[] of the crime of solicitation” and then notified the civil authorities? Would that person be excommunicated? Read the language: “all those persons in any way associated with the tribunal. . . are bound to observe inviolably the strictest confidentiality. . . in all things and with all persons, under pain of incurring automatic excommunication. . .”

 

Lest there was any ambiguity as to who must be silenced, Paragraph 13 reinforces it. Paragraph 13 of the Original states in part: “The oath of keeping the secret must be given in these cases also by the accusers or those denouncing [the priest] and the witnesses.” [Parenthesis in original]. Paragraph 13 of the Revision states in part: “The oath to maintain confidentiality must always be taken in these causes, also by the accusers or complainants and the witnesses.” Again, the Original’s “secret” is softened to “confidentiality”

 

As an aside, Paragraph 52, which is italicized in the Revision for emphasis, states in part: “The judge must always remember that it is never permissible for him to compel the Defendant to take an oath to tell the truth.” Note that the sentence does not state that the Defendant be compelled to testify. It states that he should not be compelled to swear to tell the truth. To get to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth – is this what the “Tribunal” is concerned with?

 

Finally, is Crimen Sollicitationis still in force today? According to the following January 24, 2001 letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, it was in force until that date because the letter states in part: “the instruction Crimen Sollicitationis, issued by the supreme sacred Congregation of the Holy Office on March 16, 1962,(3) IN FORCE UNTIL NOW. . . “ [Emphasis added.]

 

http://www.bishop-accountability.org/resources/resource-files/churchdocs...

 

Therefore, Crimen Sollicitationis was in force at the time that the Irish Catholic Church published its 1996 document, and it was in force when the Vatican delivered its 1997 “strictly confidential” letter analyzed below. It was also in effect during the time period of many of the allegations of sexual abuse of children by priests that are set forth in the Cloyne Report.

 

 

 

 

 

The Vatican’s September 3, 2011 Response to the Irish Government’s Response To The Cloyne Report

 

The Vatican’s September 3, 2011 response [hereinafter “response”] to the Irish Government’s response to the Cloyne Report is found here:

 

http://www.vatican.va/resources/resources_risposta-ilmore_20110903_en.html

 

The response states, among other things, the following:

 

“[The Vatican] is very concerned at the findings of the [Cloyne Report] concerning grave failures in the ecclesiastical governance of the Diocese and the mishandling of allegations of abuse. It is particularly disturbing that these failures occurred despite the undertaking given by the Bishops and Religious Superiors to apply the guidelines developed by the Church in Ireland to help ensure child protection and despite the Holy See’s norms and procedures relating to cases of sexual abuse.”

 

When one compare this sentence to the advice actually given by the Vatican in its “strictly confidential” letter, is what is truly “particularly disturbing” that the Vatican’s “strictly confidential” letter was written for the sole purpose of actively trying to interfere with the “guidelines developed by the Church in Ireland” by advising against the adoption of mandatory reporting until future Vatican “directives” would be given “at the appropriate time?” If so, is the above statement by the Vatican dishonest?

 

The response also states:

 

“The Irish Bishops never sought the recognitio of the Holy See for the Framework Document, which, in accordance with canon 455 of the Code of Canon Law, would have been required only if they intended it to be a general decree of the Conference binding on all its members. However, the lack of recognitio itself did not preclude the application of the document’s guidelines, since individual Bishops could adopt them without having to refer to the Holy See.”

 

Comparing this sentence to the advice given by the Vatican in its “strictly confidential” letter, do these two sentences reveal another Vatican “Bait-N-Switch” besides secretly advising the Irish Church not to engage in mandatory reporting, which it promised to do in its public document? Do the above two sentences declare, on the one hand, that the document was not “binding on all its members,” even though the document was written with the specific intent that the Irish public and the Irish Government think that it was? Do the two sentences declare, on the other hand, that there was nothing to “preclude the adoption of the document’s guidelines,” even though the “strictly confidential” letter was written for the sole purpose to advise against the adoption of mandatory reporting? If so, is the above statement by the Vatican deceitful?

 

The response also states:

 

“Meeting canonical requirements to ensure the correct administration of justice within the Church in no way precluded cooperation with the civil authorities. The Congregation for the Clergy did express reservations about mandatory reporting, but it did not forbid the Irish Bishops from reporting accusations of child sexual abuse nor did it encourage them to flout Irish law.”

 

Comparing this sentence to the advice given by the Vatican in its “strictly confidential” letter, since the sole intent of the “strictly confidential” letter was to advise the Irish Catholic Church not to adopt mandatory reporting, did the Vatican seek to “preclude cooperation with the civil authorities?” If so, is the above statement by the Vatican unscrupulous?

 

The Vatican’s response also states:

 

“The Congregation did not reject the Framework Document. Rather, it wanted to ensure that the measures contained in the Framework Document would not undermine the Bishops’ efforts to discipline those guilty of child abuse in the Church.”

 

Since the “strictly confidential” letter advised against the adoption of mandatory reporting until future Vatican “directives” would be given “at the appropriate time,” did the Vatican actually “reject the Framework Document,” which declared that “all instances” of allegations of the sexual abuse of children by priests be reported “without delay to the senior ranking police officer for the area in which the abuse is alleged to have occurred?” If the sole purpose of the “strictly confidential” letter was to advise against this, is there any possible way that the “strictly confidential” letter was written “to ensure that the measures contained in the Framework Document would not undermine the Bishops’ efforts to discipline those guilty of child abuse in the Church,” since mandatory reporting is the very best way “to ensure that the measures contained in the Framework Document would not undermine the Bishops’ efforts to discipline those guilty of child abuse in the Church?” If so, is the above statement by the Vatican unconscionable?

 

The Vatican’s response also states:

 

“The Holy See wishes to make it quite clear that it in no way hampered or sought to interfere in any inquiry into cases of child sexual abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne.”

 

Note the way in which the sentence is limited to an “inquiry into cases of child sexual abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne.” While this may be correct, is the truth that the Vatican, by its “strictly confidential” letter, actually did seek to “interfere in any inquiry into cases of child sexual abuse” throughout Ireland because it advised the Irish Church to adopt mandatory non-reporting? Did the Vatican constructively interfere with the Diocese of Cloyne’s reporting to the civil authorities of cases of child abuse because Archbishop Magee, after reading the “strictly confidential” letter, could reach only one conclusion about mandatory reporting: the “strictly confidential” letter advised against mandatory reporting until future Vatican “directives” would be given “at the appropriate time?” Since Cloyne Archbishop Magee followed the Vatican’s advice and did not adopt mandatory reporting in the Cloyne Diocese, is the above statement by the Vatican contemptible?

 

However, the Vatican’s September 3, 2011 response is accurate when it summarizes one particular finding of the Cloyne Report: that the Vatican’s “strictly confidential” letter “gave comfort to those who dissented from the stated official Church policy and was unsupportive especially in relation to reporting to the civil authorities.” [Emphasis added]. Note that the response does not even attempt to rebut this finding of the Cloyne Report, and the response does not dispute it; it simply makes passing reference to it. Is the response’s deafening silence regarding this particular statement an admission by the Vatican of its utterly shameful conduct in writing its “strictly confidential” letter?

 

Donum Veritatis

 

The response also makes reference to Donum Veritatis [“On the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian,” May 24, 1990; author: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith] when it states the following:

 

“The Holy See would also point out that the text of the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger quoted by Mr. Kenny in his speech is taken from No. 39 of the Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian, published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on 24 May 1990. This text is concerned neither with the manner in which the Church should behave within a democratic society nor with issues of child protection, as Mr. Kenny’s use of the quotation would seem to imply, but with the theologian’s service to the Church community.”

 

Number 39 of Donum Veritatis states, in part, as follows: “. . . standards of conduct, appropriate to civil society or the workings of a democracy, cannot be purely and simply applied to the Church.”

 

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_...

 

Is a reasonable reading of this statement, actually written by or with the express approval of now Pope Benedict XVI, that the laws [“the workings of a democracy”] of nations “cannot be” applied to the Church in the same “pure” and “simple” way they are applied to all other institutions and all other persons? Is a reasonable reading of this statement that “standards of conduct, appropriate to civil society,” such as the Irish Catholic Church’s document’s standard of conduct [that “all instances” of allegations of the sexual abuse of children by priests be reported “without delay to the senior ranking police officer for the area in which the abuse is alleged to have occurred”] “cannot be” applied to the Church in the same “pure” and “simple” way they are applied to all other institutions and all other persons? Is a reasonable reading of this statement that the Vatican considers itself and its employees [i.e. priests] through which it acts around the world to be above the laws of all nations and the standards of conduct of all societies? Is a reasonable reading of this statement that the Vatican considers itself to be a law unto itself, not only in the 110 acres of Vatican City of which it is sovereign, but everywhere its employees may be found?

 

Conclusion

 

In the end, is Number 39 of Donum Veritatis and Paragraph 11 of Crimen Sollicitationis some of the sources of the advice given in the Vatican’s 1997 “strictly confidential” letter? Are they some of the sources of the reprehensible acts and omissions of the Diocese of Cloyne after it adopted the Vatican’s “strictly confidential” letter’s advice of mandatory non-reporting? Are they some of the sources of the original hubric source of the many decades long crisis in the Catholic Church regarding pedophile priests sexually abusing children?

 

Finally, given this terrible tale of four Vatican writings as they apply to the Cloyne Report, if the Irish Catholic Church truly is Judas in this Hibernian Passion Play about the children of Ireland, then query:

 

Who are the crucified?

 

Who are their crucifiers?

 

Who are the Roman Soldiers?

 

And Who – Who is Pilate?

Thank you so much, Brian,  for your extraordinarily thorough, precise and fair analysis. Of course, Commonweal should have asked you to present this as a lead article, instead of having to slip it into a comment.

Why hasn't Commonweal featured,  and why doesn't Commonweal now feature, regularly informed and authentic articles about the many coercive and corrupt ways the Roman clique and their puppet bishops are once again "sacking Rome." A review of a random sample of articles here during the last quarter century that were published by Commonweal, as will as a comparison of selective articles to the major issues relating to the abuse of power in the Church during the same period, fairly support the inference that Commonweal has pulled, and continues to pull, its punches to please the hierarchy.

 Why? Part of the answer may lie in the major influence of the former ruling couple (who also likely were largely responsible for selecting the current editors and certainly still write here regularly). After almost two decades in major editorial positions at a purportedly independent and  prophetic journal of Catholic opinion, they were apparently able to leverage that effort and end up in senior academic positions together at a major NY Catholic university. An unprecedented accomplishment to be sure. 

Since the NY Cardinal cetainly has major influence at this university, he likely could and would have blocked this unusual joint appointment if he had been dissatisfied with their editorial performance at Commonweal. But apparently he didn't exercise his "de facto" veto power and apparently liked what he saw and continues to see at Commonweal. By contrast, Tom Reese at America Magazine spoke truth to Roman power too often and was summarily sacked due to pressure applied by the Roman clique through its American puppets.

Of course, accepting and continuing to enjoy attractive teaching positions is not illegal and the former ruling couple are knowledgable about some Church matters. But many full time and talented career academics will never attain to the high academic positions that the former ruling couple have received and still enjoy, apparently in some  way for their present and continuing efforts that, from many appearances,  must be pleasing to the present NY puppet archbishop and his Roman puppetmasters.

We have seen in Mr. Dolan's persistent promotion of the many efforts of Bill Donohue, an occasional "journalist" amply rewarded for his slanted efforts, that the NY hierarchy is well aware of the power of the written word of purportedly "independent Catholic voices".

 Let us hope and pray at this time of crisis in our Church that Commonweal  will once again find its prophetic voice, the voice that once was listened to by many prophetic Catholics. Let us hope when the top editor next meets with a US president, he will raise the crying need for national legislation to protect children from abuse and not waste such a unique opportunity to discuss his playing a pickup basketball game with the president, as has been reported. We need to press occasional Catholics like Biden, Baehner, Pelosi, Guiliani, P.King, the Catholic majority on the US Supreme Court, et al. to act more like Catholics more often, consistent with their constitutional duties.

This is about talking truth to power, like Tom Reese bravely tried to do at America Magazine. This is certainly not about trying to block politicians' jump shots, however cute a story that might make. Of course, in fairness the editor may have planned to try talking seriously to Obama during the half-time break. 

On a more specific note about Commonweal's current approach, that readers can see and judge for themselves, that is evident in the comments to the October 14, 2011 dotCommonweal article on Kansas City's Finn's recent criminal prosecution. Commonweal, of course, could not credibly avoid reporting on serious allegations against a sitting bishop for allegedly failing as required by Kansas law promptly to report to the police a troubled, but still functioning,  priest caught with child pornographic material.

Throughout the Finn thread, as you can see for yourself, an Irish priest and frequent Commonweal commentator, made extensive efforts to diminish the seriousness of the Finn matter, including by making some bizarre but troubling comments that often seemed favorable to pedophiles. I took issue with him at length.

Two clerical sex abuse victims finally pleaded in their comments that this thread be closed due to the pain that some of the priest's comments apparently were causing them. The editor refused to close the thread and stretched to find something positive in the Irish priest's offensive remarks. This, as should have been expected by the editor, led to the priest's making more hurtful comments.

I then raised my disappointment with Commonweal's current editorial direction and alluded to the former ruling couples' apparently conflicted influence. The editor responded to this by suddenly slamming the thread closed, insulting me twice on his way out the door, knowing, of course, I could not reply and defend myself on a closed thread. The editor also then deleted some of the Irish priest's earlier bizarre comments, chastising the Irish priest and reminding him that he had been warned before. Why did the editor not delete the prior bizarre comments when the abuse victims earlier raised their pained voices? Why did he only act after I challenged Commonweal's editorial performance? You be the judge. 

It seems clear to me and others that "out of bounds" comments by the clergy get more "free passes" on Commonweal than comparable comments from the unwashed laity. You be the judge of this as well, as you hopefully read the aforementioned thread yourself.

 Finally, I expect some Commonweal loyalists will say to me, if I have these issues, why am I here and why do I care. I am here because I care. The curial clique is once more sacking Rome. Enter my last name "SLEVIN" in the Search box at the National Catholic Reporter website and you will find ample evidence to support this. NCR's editors blessedly are not nearly as solicitous of the opinions of the Roman clique and their US puppet bishops as Commonweal's editors appear to be.

Commonweal has some very intelligent, fair and open-minded contributors, commentators,  and occasionally authors, and is still read by many caring Catholics. I welcome the exchange of informed opinions and hope mine may eventually move some Catholics to reflect more and then act prophetically to take back their Church. I hope and pray someone at Commonweal is listening and that Commonweal will once again pursue more vigorously its prophetic mission.     

Mr. Slevin,

You write above regarding my Comment:

"Thank you so much, Brian,  for your extraordinarily thorough, precise and fair analysis. Of course, Commonweal should have asked you to present this as a lead article, instead of having to slip it into a comment."

The Comment was previously submitted to Commonweal for publication as an article, but Commonweal declined to publish it, which is its editorial prerogative, as is continuing to permit or not permit the Comment to remain herein.

Sadly, Commonweal's missive is a flash in the pan on a subject compelling a slow deep burn to its bottom.  As Claudius said: "Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out."  Like all Catholic publications, Commonweal does not want the Church's pedophile poisons to hatch out on its pages, so it gives some slight succor to those subscribers who may have wondered why Commonweal has not addressed the Cloyne report.  However, sometimes nothing is better than a shallow something.

 

 

 

Let me simplify the "scandal" for you. 

 

The Catholic Church deliberately cultivated the optimal conditions for abuse of all kinds to flourish.

The Catholic Church even created some of the abusers, by abusing young boys in juniorates and seminaries, many of whom were there under duress from parents or clergy.

The Catholic Church, when informed serial predators were raping children and other vulnerable populations, called the victims and their families liars, emotionally, socially, financially, sexually and physically punished the brave whistleblowers, endorsed the reputation of these extremely dangerous criminals, and denied everything, at tremendous additional cost to the victims. And did absolutely nothing to stop the predators from adding to the already huge numbers of victims.

The Catholic Church, when finally forced to admit to a tiny fraction of the real problem, refused to face its own culpability, still supported criminals while denying assistance to victims, and did everything possible to obstruct and pervert justice. And every two faced pretend apology or pompous pronouncement on the subject merely, and possibly deliberately, adds to the burden of suffering victims are forced to carry, and increases the likelihood of more suicides. Suicides from which the main beneficiary is the Catholic Church.

They enable child rape, they cover up child rape. They protect rapists, they re-abuse victims. 

It is not a scandal. It is a crime wave.

It should be treated as such.

And as for Benedict being fractionally better than his predecessors, that's not really saying very much, is it? In the face of overwhelming evidence he was finally forced to admit to the bleeding obvious, while still employing every sleazy excuse and distraction in the book, and doing absolutely nothing to stop the crimes, hold the criminals accountable, protect children from danger, or help victims. While demanding credit for having already done what he has absolutely no intention of allowing to happen.

Admirable.

Make him a saint, by all means.

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