“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
(Jesus, Matthew 18;6, KJV.)
This is a newsworthy topic, as there have been generations of victims, the Catholic Church has protected the perpetrators, most of them are still free to offend again, and most of the casualties haven’t been compensated.
There are offenders in all Christian denominations, yet the Catholic Church has the worst reputation of them all for a number of reasons. When one considers the sheer numbers of those abused, their lack of empathy or support for the victims, that they failed to protect children from known offenders, the Catholic hierarchy have distinguished themselves as the most uncaring, unrepentant sinners.
The extent of the abuse perpetrated and then hidden from secular justice and the public has been well-documented in a few countries and is becoming apparent in all others. Over the past few decades, there’s been a tidal wave of evidence that tens of thousands of Catholic clergy have raped or molested children. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_sex_abuse_cases).
The large majority of Catholic clergy, perhaps about 92%, have never molested children or adolescents, yet that doesn’t excuse them for protecting their colleagues, and failing to protect the children. The offenders didn’t live isolated lives; they were, and are, part of an old boys club, so the vast majority of priests always were well aware about much of what was going on. So we’re talking about an almost universal guilt amongst Catholic clergy.
Sexual abuse of children and young adolescents by Catholic priests and monks has been documented since the medieval era, when it was commonplace. Bishops weren’t as preoccupied with secrecy as they are today, so it was openly discussed. At the Synod of Elvira in 306 CE, it was decided
“Those who sexually abuse boys may not commune even when death approaches.” ( http://www.stopthereligiousright.org/elvira.htm). At the third Lateran council of 1138 CE, it was decided that clerics who engaged in pederasty (sexual activity between a man and a boy) were to be dismissed from the clerical state or else confined to monasteries to do penance, but in practice, perpetrators were rarely punished. It was almost regarded as part of the job if the priest was so inclined, and the legislation didn’t deter offenders. In some monasteries, monks’ “lapses” with boys were so commonplace they were endemic. One of the reasons Martin Luther rejected mandatory celibacy was that church clerics commonly had sexual relations with other men, women, and children.
In the 1950’s, Reverend Gerald Fitzgerald, a Catholic priest, founded “the Servants of the Paraclete,” an order that tried to rehabilitate errant priests. They ran treatment facilities in New Mexico, Missouri and California, which were well known to all US bishops. He thought he could help priests with drug and alcohol problems, but soon lost confidence in his ability to change pedophile priests’ behavior. In 1957, he wrote to Archbishop Edwin Byrne that he thought it unwise to
“offer hospitality to men who have seduced or attempted to seduce little boys or girls.” He went on,
“If I were a bishop, I would tremble when I failed to report them to Rome for involuntary laicization. Experience has taught us these men are too dangerous to the children of the parish and the neighborhood for us to be justified in receiving them here…They should ipso facto be reduced to laymen when they act thus.” He had discovered for himself what most of the world knows: pedophiles are usually unstoppably recidivist. He told the Vatican that pedophile activity among Catholic priests was rampant. One of his desperate suggested solutions was that they could acquire a deserted Caribbean island to exile the offenders. They ignored this suggestion. Father Fitzgerald was trying to be pro-active by protecting children, yet he should have recommended prison for pedophile offenders, not some Caribbean island.
In the last ten years, the American media has exposed scandals in nearly every state of the USA. In February 2004, the final reports of two surveys commissioned by the US bishops (one must give them credit for doing this,) were released. These surveys were conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York (http://www.philvaz.com/apologetics/PriestAbuseScandal.htm) and by the National Review Board (http://www.nccbuscc.org/nrb/nrbstudy/nrbreport.pdf). Both reports looked at the issue of youth sexual abuse among Catholic clergy in the USA since the 1950s.
The John Jay survey revealed that almost forty-five hundred clergy perpetrators had been reported by dioceses since 1950, 4.3 percent of those actively working as priests in the period, and that at least ten thousand known victims had made plausible allegations against priests. The authors made the point that these figures were almost certainly an underestimate and that the church would face many more allegations in the years to come. Most victims were aged eleven to fourteen and eighty-one percent were boys. Seventy-six percent of the allegations made against priests had never been reported to law enforcement authorities.
“dioceses and orders should report all allegations of sexual abuse to the civil authorities, regardless of the circumstances, or the age or perceived credibility of the accuser” (pg.144.)
In 2009, in Ireland, a document known as the “Ryan report” (http://www.childabusecommission.com/rpt/) was released following a lengthy investigation of residential “Reformatory and Industrial Schools” operated by the Cathic Church and run mainly by the Christian Brothers. Justice Sean Ryan, a High Court judge, wrote the five-volume report based on nine years’ worth of interviews of victims, teachers, and others. It concluded that sexual abuse was “endemic” in the boys’ institutions and occasional in girls’ institutions, and that the entire system treated children more like prison inmates and slaves than people with legal rights and human potential. The sexual abuse of boys ranged from improper touching and fondling, to rape with violence. Perpetrators were able to operate undetected for long periods at the core of institutions. The Irish Times called the report
“a devastating indictment of Church and State authorities” and
“the map of an Irish hell” and reported that
“The sheer scale and longevity of the torment inflected on defenseless children—over eight hundred known abusers in over two hundred Catholic institutions during a period of thirty-five years—should alone make it clear that it was not accidental or opportunistic but systematic. Abuse was not a failure of the system. It was the system.”
The Murphy Report is the result of a public inquiry commissioned by the Irish government to investigate the way in which the church dealt with allegations of sexual abuse of children by priests over the period 1975 to 2004 in the Catholic archdiocese of Dublin. (http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PB09000504). Yvonne Murphy headed it. The original brief was to report in eighteen months, but such was the volume of evidence and allegations concerning the abusive behavior of a sample batch of forty-six priests, who between them had allegedly abused thousands of children, that time extensions had to be allowed. The commission made no attempt to establish whether sexual abuse actually took place, but examined the manner in which church and state authorities dealt with complaints. The 720-page report was publicly released in 2009. It stated that there was
“no doubt that clerical child sexual abuse was covered up” from January 1975 to May 2004. The report recognized in no uncertain terms that the church itself, as controlled by the Vatican, had protected its priests and its assets:
“the Dublin Archdiocese’s pre-occupations in dealing with cases of child sexual abuse, at least until the mid-1990s, were the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church, and the preservation of its assets. All other considerations, including the welfare of children and justice for victims, were subordinated to these priorities. The Archdiocese did not implement its own canon law rules and did its best to avoid any application of the law of the State.”
The report noted that church leaders were well aware of the risk to children; as early as 1987, they took out insurance policies to cover the legal costs of future compensation claims.
Richard Sipe is a retired American Roman Catholic priest involved in full-time research and consultation about the sexual practices of Roman Catholic clergy (http://www.richardsipe.com/reports/sipe_report_2005.htm). He’s authored six books on the subject, and has served as a respected consultant and expert witness in over two hundred cases involving sexual abuse of minors by Roman Catholic clergy. He claimed, in 2005, that
“Dioceses throughout the United States are now recording an average of 7 to 9 percent priest abusers of minors in their records.” (http://www.richardsipe.com/Dialogue/Dialogue-05–2007–01–23.html).
The existence of any known child abusers still working as catholic priests is unacceptable.
The statistics in countries in the rest of Europe, Canada, Australia, Asia, Africa and South America are not as well documented as yet, but there are similar horrific stories of abuse. The number of sexual crimes against children in the developed world will one day pale in comparison to the number in the developing world, such as in Latin America and Africa, where large-scale official investigations into Catholic priest’s behavior are yet to be conducted. (http://clericalabusewatch.blogspot.com.au/2011/08/pedophile-scandal-engulfs-church-in.html , http://www.themediaproject.org/article/though-out-spotlight-africa-still-affected-catholic-clergy-scandal?page=0,0 ). These countries (not prisons!) have been the dumping grounds for repeat priest offenders. Some of these priests live with women or men, but the sex with children continues.
Whether the percentage of Catholic priests who abuse children and youths is much greater than for other Christian and non-Christian religious leaders (such as gurus, imams, ministers, pastors or rabbis) is unclear, as no reliable data exists about these groups.
It’s also difficult to find consistent reliable statistics as to what percentage of adult males in the general population sexually abuse children. Yet there’s no doubt that up until recent years some Catholic priests have taken advantage of freer access to children than the average adult man, because they used to enjoy a position of authority and trust. Thus the number of abused children per offending priest is probably larger than for molesters who aren’t priests. Some Catholic priests probably chose their “calling,” or remained in the priesthood, because of the access it gave them to defenseless children. if you were a child molester, there was no better safe haven than the priestly garb of the RC church.
The statistics from Ireland and the United States suggest that homosexual activity is grossly over-represented in the Catholic clergy as compared to the general population, because roughly 80% of the victims were boys, whereas victims of secular perpetrators are more likely to be girls. In fact estimates of the rate of homosexuality amongst Catholic American priests range from 23% to over 50% (http://www.latrompette.net/post/A-e005-Root-Cause-of-Catholic-Scandals-and-the-Sovereignty-of-God.htm , http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/26/vatican-gay-sex-scandal-homosexuality-ticking-time-bomb_n_2765550.html).
There’s nothing illegal or immoral about being homosexual, and no-one should jump to the erroneous conclusion that homosexuals are more likely to be pedophiles. Yet these figures may surprise some conservative Christians, and it’s ironic that the church so vehemently publically condemns homosexual behavior.
I’m sure that in the past, the Catholic priesthood, a brotherhood of men who couldn’t marry, yet were still were respected members of society not suspected of being gay, was an attractive option for young homosexual men.
What made so many of them abuse children is unclear, but I’ll hazard a guess. I think many of them lacked mature interpersonal skills, so were unable to be honest to themselves and others about their homosexuality. Children became an easy target because explanations weren’t necessary. The consequence was catastrophic. Thousands of heartless, sadistic, self-centered Catholic priests gratified themselves at the expense of innocent children.
The victims, being physically and mentally traumatized by someone from the institution they trusted, usually first turned to church authorities for help, expecting that the church’s legal system would help them, and justice be done. They assumed the hierarchy would be extremely apologetic and the perpetrators punished. They were to be seriously let down.
Bishops around the world, including those in the Vatican, nearly always supported, protected, and just transferred the offenders. The abuse was nearly always allowed to continue, as the guilty priest was only given the equivalent of a slap on the wrist. If there was too large a scandal the offender was transferred to a distant parish, once, then perhaps a second, third or fourth time. Richard Sipe claims that sixty percent of U.S. priests were “reassigned” after they were first reported as child abusers. Sometimes the worst repeat offenders ended up in a third world country. The victims and their families were told to keep quiet. The Catholic hierarchy clearly considered the abuse of minors a problem only because it tarnished the church’s reputation and compromised its coffers.
Knowing what we do about the declining numbers of Catholic priests in the developed world, it’s obvious there weren’t enough workers on the coalface, so the duds were kept on. Never mind the kids; the church’s reputation was more important than the safety of innocent children. The cover-up thereby compounded the original sin.
The Vatican has always claimed it has its own “Canon Law” to deal with sexual predators in their own ranks. Canon law, when practiced, has ten seriously flawed features. Firstly, it doesn’t have public hearings, or forensic tests, so discovering the truth about what happened is difficult. Secondly, priests act as judge and jury, yet they’re usually hopelessly unqualified and inexperienced in interrogation. Thirdly, the victim has no legal representative. Fourth, there was a direction to keep complete secrecy so as to avoid the secular judicial system, because that compromised the reputation and coffers of the church, as well as the offender’s freedom. Fifth, in practice whistle-blowers, people who could help establish an offender’s guilt, were often threatened with spiritual punishment and excommunication. Sixth, the victims and their families were often labeled as troublemakers who failed to appreciate the importance of the church’s reputation. Church officials intimidated, manipulated, stonewalled, paid off and deceived them to obtain their silence. Seventh, it meant the general public was always deliberately kept in the dark, which meant most parents were unaware of the danger. Eighth, there was usually no provision for sympathetic treatment, counseling, or support for the traumatized children. Ninth, it failed to protect innocent children by removing the offenders from circulation, and was therefore directly responsible for the sexual abuse of thousands more youngsters by repeat offenders. Tenth, the penalties for offenders offered no real deterrent value. Canon Law, when and if it was applied, only imposed a “punishment” that was spiritual, such as prayer or penance, or (rarely) a defrocking.
Cannon law is obviously hopelessly inadequate at dealing out justice and protecting the community. As a result of the Vatican’s paranoia about losing their workers, assets and reputation, they’ve unwittingly been running a worldwide sanctuary for child abusers. There’s been, and still is, a network amongst Catholic priests protecting offenders. It extends from the local community right up to the Vatican.
Secular law is a far superior alternative. In most states of Australia, America, Canada, and most of Europe, doctors, nurses, police, and schoolteachers are legally obliged to report suspected child abuse to the appropriate civil authorities. I’m an Australian doctor, so am under that legal obligation, and rightly so. There are no excuses allowed for failing to report even if you’re uncertain that abuse has actually occurred, and you must make a report without delay. You’re required to make an additional report each time you become aware of any subsequent abuse. It’s your responsibility to report —not the responsibility of your superior (if you have one.) If you fail to file a report of suspected abuse, you’re subject to both civil and criminal liability. In a civil action, you may be held liable for damages that any person suffers due to your inaction. In a criminal action, you may be found guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment. Why, then, should Catholic priests presume they are exempt from a law which other reputable people are required to follow?
In 1981 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was appointed as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), a Vatican organization that’s main function has always been to protect the image of the Catholic Church. He held this position until he climbed another rung to become pope in 2005. So he’s spent a large part of his working life protecting and bolstering Catholicism. That’s necessary as there are billions of dollars worth of assets and a solid tax-free income stream that mustn’t be compromised.
The CDF is supposedly in charge of disciplining clergy. So Benedict, and the cardinals and bishops under him, were by his own decree, ultimately responsible for the investigation and punishment of thousands of child abusers. As such, he had a moral obligation to protect the world’s children from known priest offenders, a task I think they were astonishingly and deliberately incompetent at performing. During his twenty-four years in charge, the CDF covered up or refused to effectively deal with most cases. That, in my opinion, was criminal behavior. There are many well-documented examples. I’ll discuss only one in detail.
Father Stephen Kiesle was ordained as an Oakland, California diocesan priest in 1972. In 1978, he was arrested for tying up six boys, aged eleven to thirteen, and molesting them in his church. He pleaded guilty to two charges, and (surprisingly) was given only three years’ probation by a secular court. Kiesle’s arrest and conviction alerted the local bishop, John Cummins. He removed Kiesle from active ministry and placed him on
“an extended leave of absence for the next three years,” while he attended counseling sessions and reported regularly to his probation officer. Bishop Cummins obviously initially thought Kiesle deserved a second chance. It was not until 1981—three years after the arrest—that Cummins sent Kiesle’s file to Rome. He asked that Kiesle be defrocked and informed them that Kiesle himself no longer wanted to be a priest. Both Bishop Cummins and probably Kiesle himself knew that more innocent children were in danger.
There was no response from Ratzinger until a few months later, when his office wrote back, asking for additional material which officials in the Oakland Diocese supplied in February 1982. Bishop Cummins wrote to Ratzinger three times over the next three years, asking for a decision, with no reply. In one letter he wrote
“It is my conviction that there would be no scandal if this petition were granted—and that, as a matter of fact, given the nature of the case, there might be greater scandal to the community if Father Kiesle were allowed to return to active ministry.” Consider the wording. He knew Rome’s primary concern was to avoid scandal. The fact that more innocent children could be abused wasn’t a priority.
Ratzinger didn’t respond for three years. A Vatican official eventually wrote to say the file “might have been lost” and suggested the materials be resubmitted.
Finally, in 1985, Ratzinger sent a now infamous half-page reply with the decision not to go ahead with the defrocking. He wrote, in Latin, that he was fearful of
“detriment within the community of Christ’s faithful.” He wrote he deemed it “necessary to consider the good of the Universal Church together with that of the petitioner.” He urged that “as much paternal care as possible” be provided for Kiesle, and concluded that they would need more time to consider the case:
“Regarding the matter of the removal from all priestly burdens pertaining to Fr. Stephen Kiesle…(this matter) necessitates a longer period of time.” Not a word was said about compensating the victims, nor about ensuring this convicted pedophile had no further access to children.
Cardinal Ratzinger placed the “good of the Universal Church” above all else. As head of the CDF, he should have defrocked Kiesle as soon as he learned of his conviction in 1981!
Kiesle was stripped of his priestly status in 1987, though it’s not clear what role—if any—Ratzinger had in the decision. He was sentenced to six years in prison in 2004 after admitting to molesting a girl in 1995. In addition, more than a half-dozen victims reached a settlement in 2005 with the Oakland diocese, which included multi-million dollar payouts, after it was proven Kiesle had molested them as young children. The lawyer for one of Kiesle’s victims stated,
“He was the most evil, remorseless sociopath…just a terrible human being,” and “When asked how many children he had molested over the years, he said ‘tons.’ He admitted molesting many children and bragged that he was the Pied Piper and said he tried to molest every child that sat on his lap.”
Spokesmen have made a number of excuses for Joseph Ratzinger. They said that he was just following a rule made by John Paul II, in which priests couldn’t be defrocked before forty years of age, (Kiesle was only thirty-eight at the time,) the implication being that the letter was a bureaucratic formality. The CDF, however, had been provided with specific details of the case and Joseph Ratzinger had specifically referred to the “grave significance” of Kiesle’s behavior, so this pretext isn’t valid. What’s more, the excuse is utterly lame, as the rule should never have been applied to priests who were proven child molesters.
This wasn’t an isolated case. Every few months, details are discovered of another instance of Ratzinger failing to act to protect children from the priests he was supposed to discipline, and these cases are obviously only the tip of the iceberg. The Vatican’s spin-doctors have worked hard making excuses for him. Their resources would be better employed investigating the abuse happening in the here and now.
The Vatican has shown little real evidence they’re taking the problem seriously. In May 2001 they published an update on Canon law,
“de gravioribus delictus,” (Latin for “on the most serious crimes”) (http://anticristiano.altervista.org/popup.php?a=2&q=20070526181510), in Joseph Ratzinger’s name. Despite discussing the very topic of the abuse of minors as one of those serious crimes, it made no mention of a duty of bishops or other priests to report the crime to civil authorities, and insisted only priests act as judges! The letter stated,
“In tribunals established by ordinaries or hierarchs, the functions of judge, promoter of justice, notary and legal representative can validly be performed for these cases only by priests.” This was a seriously culpable statement, and one that will haunt the Vatican in the future.
On July 15, 2010, the CDF published an update on Pope John Paul II’s 2001 Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela, still minus any reference of an obligation to report to civil authorities!
The CDF is terribly out of touch with the real world. Their attitude has been, and still is, that while child molestation is regrettable, unfortunate, and might greatly upset the child, it’s not enough to cause a scandal or ruin the career of an otherwise splendid priest. The hierarchy is made up of aging men who usually have had no experience raising children, and despite their veneer of benevolence, rarely show real regard or empathy for people.
They don’t reside in households with actual families, but in an old boys’ network. They’re dedicated to the Holy Mother Church that feeds, houses, and pays them, a church that makes them feel important.
They like to be known as “Father,” but there’s no way they can or do behave like true fathers. They’re not around to hear the cries of traumatized children. They don’t deal with the damage: the ensuing years of depression, drug addiction, alcoholism, panic attacks, sexual dysfunction, and sometimes suicide that is so often the consequence of being sexually abused as a child. (http://www.hiddenmysteries.org/health/effects/pedophilia.html).
Various Catholic officials are still arrogant enough to try to pass the blame on to others!
- They’ve claimed that psychiatrists and psychologists knew little of pedophilia and therefore they weren’t able to predict future behavior. This isn’t true, and is feeble. Since when has the Vatican listened to health professionals, and particularly psychiatrists, anyway?
- The Reverend Raniero Cantalamessa, speaking at Good Friday prayers 2010 in St Peter’s Basilica, attended by the Pope, likened criticism of his church to the
“most shameful aspects of anti-Semitism” (http://richarddawkins.net/articles/5364–pope-39–s-preacher-compares-abuse-row-to-anti-semitism), as if to say he now knew how the Jews have felt. He was treading on very shaky ground, as his church has treated Jews abysmally over the centuries.
- Papal spokesman have claimed they’re being picked on, for example that news coverage was motivated by sensationalism. They defend the church from outside “enemies” who “assault” it and subject it to “a smear campaign.” They have the church itself as the victim! They don’t care that the publicity helps protect future victims from abuse.
- They’ve stated that the church is being unfairly picked out because pedophiles are at least as common in other walks of life, which is a dubious assertion. What about their claim to be society’s shining example of morality? What then, is their excuse for protecting offenders?
- As recently as April 2010, at Easter Mass in St. Peter’s Square, Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, publically assured Benedict that the faithful were
- Ratzinger himself claimed
“in the 1970s, pedophilia was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children” (http://www.examiner.com/creationism-in-detroit/pope-benedict-xvi-blames-pedophile-priests-on-society – ixzz1FXDtPn3n). I don’t know anyone who would agree with him.
He’s also tried to twist the focus onto others by stating how child sexual tourism in the third world was
“threatening an entire generation.” If he really cared about that, he’d remove all child-abusing priests from their jobs and hand their records over to the police. (http://www.sott.net/article/220257-Vatican-Christmas-Shocker-Pope-says-child-rape-isnt-that-bad-was-normal-back-in-his-day).
These are all pathetic arguments. The Pope and other Vatican officials try to talk about a broader context that the church isn’t responsible for and can’t or couldn’t have done anything about, and thereby deliberately avoid addressing the context that matters: the church’s guilt.
In what appears to be a public relations exercise, Pope Benedict has held brief meetings with survivor groups and issued seemingly sympathetic, but qualified, statements about their plight.
In his letter to the Catholics of Ireland (March 2010) he did acknowledge the harm done to the people of Ireland, but then told them to get right with Jesus by going back to church! He wrote:
“But it is in the Church that you will find Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and for ever (cf. Heb 13:8). He loves you and he has offered himself on the cross for you. Seek a personal relationship with him within the communion of his Church…” He went on
Amazingly, he had the gall to write about
“the firm faith, strong leadership and upright morals of the Church in their native land” when referring to his church that had sexually ravaged three (and no doubt more) generations of Irish children! He went on,
“In recent decades, however, the Church in your country has had to confront new and serious challenges to the faith arising from the rapid transformation and secularization of Irish society. Fast-paced social change has occurred, often adversely affecting people’s traditional adherence to Catholic teaching and values. All too often, the sacramental and devotional practices that sustain faith and enable it to grow, such as frequent confession, daily prayer and annual retreats, were neglected. Significant too was the tendency during this period, also on the part of priests and religious, to adopt ways of thinking and assessing secular realities without sufficient reference to the Gospel. The program of renewal proposed by the Second Vatican Council was sometimes misinterpreted and indeed, in the light of the profound social changes that were taking place, it was far from easy to know how best to implement it. In particular, there was a well-intentioned but misguided tendency to avoid penal approaches to canonically irregular situations. It is in this overall context that we must try to understand the disturbing problem of child sexual abuse, which has contributed in no small measure to the weakening of faith and the loss of respect for the Church and her teachings.” (http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/letters/2010/documents/hf_ben-xvi_let_20100319_church-ireland_en.html).
A “misguided tendency to avoid penal approaches,” in other words the protection of offenders, can never be “well-intentioned” unless viewed from the Vatican’s jaundiced, immoral perspective. What’s more, he was trying to imply that sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy was somehow a consequence of modern secularization, Vatican 2 and people losing their faith! I find these assertions misleading, patronizing and unforgivably arrogant.
There must be millions of Catholics who cringe in disgust on hearing such spiel. His qualified half-apologies have been too weak, too late, and weren’t genuine overtures acknowledging Vatican culpability or a bona fide change in attitude. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DP5vtPwqiSU).
The Vatican’s relations with the people of Ireland reached a new low in July 2011 when the Cloyne inquiry report, Ireland’s fourth investigation into child sexual abuse by clerics, was released. The report claims that over a 13-year period between 1996 – when the Irish bishops introduced guidelines for mandatory reporting – and 2009, most of the 19 alleged cases of child abuse by priests in Cloyne were not reported to the civil authorities, and laid most of the blame for this on the bishop of Cloyne, John Magee. It found that he’d misled an earlier inquiry and failed to implement child-protection procedures.
John Magee had previously been at the heart of the Vatican as personal secretary to three successive popes, Paul V1, John Paul 1 and John Paul 11, between 1969 and 1982. He quit as bishop in March 2009 after an earlier independent report found his Cloyne Diocese had put children at risk of harm. He responded to this report carried out by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSC) saying
“I take full responsibility for the criticism of our management of issues in that report.” The Pope accepted his resignation a year later. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/8585012.stm).
Magee went into retirement. There were calls in the media for his arrest. (http://www.irishcentral.com/news/Cloyne-Bishop-John-Magee-should-be-arrested-125921988.html).
“The Cloyne Report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism, the narcissism that dominates the culture of the Vatican today. The rape and the torture of children were downplayed, or managed to uphold instead the primacy of the institution, its power, its standing and its reputation.” (http://ncronline.org/news/accountability/text-irish-prime-ministers-address-cloyne-report). He called the actions of the Catholic Church
“absolutely disgraceful.” His remarks won a standing ovation in parliament and strong support from the public. The Vatican responded with more half-baked excuses and by recalling their envoy in Dublin. Despite John Magee admitting his guilt, they still portrayed themselves as victims!
There are many more public enquiries happening around the world. That’s positive, because the very fact the issue is talked about increases community awareness, and also encourages victims to come forward and get help.
I find it impossible to understand or excuse the inhumanity and arrogance of an organization that puts its business interests ahead of the safety of thousands of innocent children. They’re desperately out of touch with the real world and the majority of ordinary Catholics. They just don’t get it. They think they’re going through a rough patch and the mud won’t stick, but they’re seriously mistaken. The contrived, weak excuses and obstructions of justice must cease. The heart of the issue should be addressed by removing proven priest abusers from their offices, and details of all allegations handed over to civil authorities. Child molesters must be identified, punished, and excluded from further contact with children. Most bishops don’t have the will (obviously) to do that, and none of them have the expertise, or the power to make it happen. Secular authorities must be involved in every case, past and present. The Catholic Church should stop funding convicted offenders legal costs. All this should happen not just to avoid future lawsuits, but because the church ought to genuinely care about the children. The Vatican should initiate a dialogue with all past victims, and pay for their treatment (they do have the funds for this.) They should beg forgiveness for the damage their cover-ups have caused, without qualification, so that it means something. These things aren’t happening because their pride, their love of power, and the protection of billions of dollars worth of assets are, it seems, their highest priorities. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=jifwWtmmRH8).
There’s another party who should consider their attitude to this disgraceful state of affairs. Some Catholic lay people, such as prominent political, police and legal figures, have been reluctant to investigate priests and brothers. Some haven’t believed the children. They didn’t speak up when priests and bishops claimed they had their own law. Surely the Catholic laity must realize it’s time for a serious change in attitude.
Robertson, Geoffrey QC 2010 “The Case of the Pope”. Penguin, London
The following documentary, What the Pope Knew, in five parts, is rivetting http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilF4oRLbsQs ,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnQOx_l4Idk&feature=related , http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9i9KhADQb8&feature=related ,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7G3KfX8Ka3E&feature=related ,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjIueX6i3Ns&feature=related