Benedetto XVI Forum


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16/03/2010 20.58
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See preceding page for all the earlier posts today, 3/16/10.


Oha!!?? Cardinal Schick?!! Did I miss anything? He's 'my' Bishop after all... I think NOT!! Not the right material!

I have a better idea!!! My idea is tough and outspoken, conservative and fearless!! And he's from Regensburg!

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[SM=g8113] [SM=g8113] [SM=g8113] [SM=g8113] [SM=g8113] [SM=g8113]

Dear God! My mistake completely! Thanks for spotting it right away. I was using part of an AP report, and I unthinkingly typed in 'Cardinal' instead of "Bishop'. I obviously failed to 'copyread' the post carefully, too. MEA MAXIMA CULPA! Everyone needs an editor!


P.S. I hope you don't mind that I inserted my usual page-starter at the head of your post!

BTW, I wish the best for Mons. Mueller too - and I probably would feel much better if he succeeds Walter Kasper, rather than Bishop Koch from Basel. However, I do reproach both of them for something: Bishop Koch for having been hostile to Summorum Pontificum when it first came out; and Bishop Mueller for having been very harsh against the Lefebvrians for going ahead with their annual ordination in Zaitkofen last year when even the Vatican simply shrugged it off - they've been doing it every year: what was the reason for Mueller to turn on them last year?

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17/03/2010 03.00
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Finally, I found time to translate Peter Seewald's essay for

An appeal to the media for
objectivity, moderation
and a sense of proportion


MUNICH, March 15 (Translated from – Many are dumbfounded. Dumbfounded with shame for hundreds of victims. Dumbfounded with sorrow that offenses against them have not been propitiated. Dumbfounded, too, because of the criminals, while praying for them. It is also Lent, time for penance - not a time for screaming.

However, the damage that the priest offenders have done not just to their victims, but to the Church and all of society is unimaginably great. But once again, it is part of Christian self-understanding that offenders are not to be simply shut out.

The appalling cases of sexual abuse constitute a worst possible scenario of super dimensions. Comparable to the devastation that a stock market crash can mean for the global economy.

Whoever considers the Church as the mystical Body of Christ must be horrified how this Body itself has been so maltreated. How far from the origins and message of the Gospel have part of the Church – priests and bishops – strayed, in which sexual offenses are simply a part of the extensive betrayal of the message of Jesus.

The Church itself - those who represent her - has often committed offenses which the mass media have rightly reported. We need the media. The work of journalists is indispensable. But whoever thinks that media reporting of abuses in the Church is not also part of a campaign against the Church is playing blind.

Saturday (March 6) in Germany: Sueddeutche Zeitung (SZ) had a new headline topic: “Ratzinger’s diocese appoints pedophile pastor” . The crude title formulation demonstrates the attempt to try and ‘reach the heart with the left hand laid across the knee’. [Sorry- I can't get the sense of the expression that I have translated literally.]

Only in the small print does the reader learn that the former Archbishop of Munich [Cardinal Ratzinger) had simply agreed in 1980 to allow a priest from the Diocese of Essen to come to Munich in order to undergo therapy [But it is not clear from the subsequent statement of the Archdiocese if the Cardinal knew when he approved accepting the priest why the priest needed therapy].

Spiegel-Online promptly concluded: "Sexual abuse uncovered in Ratzinger’s archdiocese" – illustrating the story with a sinister-looking image of the Pope cloaked in a mantle [the humerus] ‘hiding’ behind a monstrance. [Obviously, a picture of the Pope elevating the Blessed Sacrament].

In fact, the case had been reported in the media in 1986 when the priest in question was given a suspended sentence with probation. In the evening, the TV news programs turned up the screws. For the program Heute-Journal [Today Journal], the sex abuse scandal had ‘now reached the Vatican’. With no reference to the fact that when the priest was convicted, Ratzinger had by then been in Rome for four years.

Instead, the next image was the inevitable representative from an anti-Church sectarian group that styles itself “We are Church’/ Cameras and microphones had been on standby all afternoon in front of his house. And he played to the media, explaining the ‘basis’ that his group had very little to do with the Church itself, as did Heiner Geissler with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. [I don’t understand the allusion – Wiki says Geissler was federal minister for youth , family and health in 1982-1985.]

There’s more. For weeks now, the Pope had repeatedly expressed his position on sexual misdeeds by priests, But in the case involving his former archdiocese, he let the archdiocese make the statements [as is only proper, because they are in a position to check all the records, and the current archbishop has the jurisdiction and responsibility to for any disclosures made at this time].

But at the Angelus prayers the next day, the Pope made no reference to the Munich case – which was enough for Spiegel-online to use the headline: “Pope silent on the latest abuse charges”. This judgment was immediately picked up by other media: "Pope silent on abuse caess" spread through all the media portals, or a variation thereof, like “Pope cloaks himself in silence”. [Also, an obvious allusion to the 'silence of Pius XII' polemic. as a way of saying indirectly that Benedict XVI's silence in this case is a form of moral cowardice!]

Others who came late to the news, followed with “More silence from the Pope”. And on Monday, SZ proclaimed in giant letters on Page 1, “Benedict XVI is silent”, and its lead sentence was “Pope Benedict XVI has kept silent on the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church”.

It can be argued that crisis management in the Vatican and in the German dioceses can certainly be much better. Perhaps the Church should state its case more frequently and much louder in a noisy world that has become hard of hearing.

But reporting that the Pope is ‘keeping silent’ despite all his statements in the preceding weeks is just outright false. And what remains is the image of a Church that is a ‘black hole’, which the SZ sees as a fundamental ‘Catholic stigma'.

This was exactly like the Pope-bashing by the media last year over the Williamson case. It worked. In the end, no matter how many clarifications the Pontiff had made, most newspaper readers were left with the impression that he is a clandestine anti-Semite and Holocaust denier himself.

Differentiation [I think in the sense of 'discernment'] and accuracy are especially worthy virtues in times like these. But too many in the media think that they no longer need to exercise them. The campaign-style nature of reporting these days is based on the mechanisms and dynamics of the media world itself.

Not all topics lend themselves to be a rallying point, but every newsroom will seek, when something explosive is in play, to overplay any such topic. It could be the swine flu sending the whole nation into panic, or the Kunduz affair [controversy over a German-ordered air attack in Afghanistan that reportedly killed many civilians] .

But when you have sex-and-Church cocktail, that is like hitting the jackpot for some editors. To be fueled, to pound on, to stir up. No one can come too late when the hunting call is sounded. And once they start the hype, then all hell breaks loose. “What did the Pope know?” asks the Frankfuerter Rundschau. “The Pope should take a stand on Odenwald”, said the Aufklaerer, forgetting in its frenzy that Odenwald is not a Catholic school at all but a showcase project for ‘pedagogical reform’ of public schools!

But woe to anyone who would diffidently raise his hand and question whether everything that is reported is correct, because the mighty steamroller of journalistic righteousness will bear down on them. The empire strikes back, and the objector will be flattened – guilty of the crime of media-bashing!

Because just as the ladies and gentlemen of the media are ever ready to throw punches, just so are they shrinking violets when they themselves are criticized.

But this time, what an opportunity this was for them to cry out, replete with crocodile tears: Cover-up! Deviancy! Bunker mentality!

Many journalists do a good job. But it is unpardonable when the religious departments of newspapers hire reporters who do not know the difference between ‘Ministrant’ (altar boy) and ‘Minister’ (the priest himself), and who consider the Pope as a sort of dictator like Idi Amin. Many believe that he is an enemy against whom they must do righteous battle because he is even more dangerous than Osama Bin laden.

So when journalism goes from disclosure of information to character assassination, then it is time to take a stand against it.

Dear colleagues: Stop and think! Stop the instrumentalization. Stop the cheap analysis and kitchen psychology which do nothing to resolve the problem.

Stop being so smug. Stop printing news that presents false conclusions. Be objective, sober, with a sense of proportion. Go back to the kind of journalism that was once an honorable profession.

Sexual abuses by monstrous offenders cry out to heaven. They are not, however, cases for lawyers to get into the picture, but for state prosecutors, who can investigate objectively and seriously to evaluate a complaint, clarify it with courage, and file charges strictly.

As Christians and Catholics, we ought to be ashamed for such abuses. We also get angry over wrong decisions and false stories. But that should not hinder us from looking at things accurately, from differentiating, from using our reason and not accepting any manipulation by the opinion-makers.

The truth must remain the truth. It is a responsibility to the whole. And no one should rejoice when an institution is shamed that a society fundamentally cannot do without.

Over 220 million children annually, according to UNICEF, are forced into sex around the world. That does not take place in the ‘black hole’ of the Church! [And no one has launched campaigns against these, adn they are hardly written about in the media!]

The child molestation ring of Belgium, which for years has caused scandal, is not composed of priests and religious but of politicians and managers.

Daily, hundreds of thousands of pornographic child pictures are downloaded from the Internet by Germans.

These offenders do not lead celibate lives. And the pornographization of the whole society necessarily affects schoolchildren as well as aging adults, not as a consequence of the Church’s sexual morality [to begin with, only 30% of Germans consider themselves Catholic, and many of those who do oppose Church morality!] but because of the easy availability of pornographic material.

Should not society consider what kind of culture we are developing, what it is doing to our children, that it is making them increasingly twisted, incapable of having genuine relationships?

The collapse of confidence in the Church, precipitated by sinful and sick priests and religious, cannot be ignored in the order of the day. It is a time of passion, and what is not built on rock will collapse.

But every catharsis is also an opportunity. The Pope himself, at the start of his Pontificate, spoke of a cleansing that is indispensable for the Church. Such housecleaning must be done from top to bottom. No room must be left out, and it must be as basic as the elimination of leavened bread before Passover.

Perhaps Seewald has chosen only the mildest headlines from the German media. He should see the truly vicious headlines and articles by the Church-and-Pope haters in the Anglophone press! There's even a long article in one of the British newspapers suggesting it is time for the Pope to resign! The Benedict haters are giddy with misplaced Schadenfreude that has made them more woolly-brained than they usually are!

Il Sussidiario today (3/16/10) - which carried the guest editorial by Jose luis Restan translated in the preceding page - also carried a lengthy interview with Sandro Magister, who starts out with a weird take on the driving force behind the current assault.

How and why the new scandals
are being used to attack
the Church and the Pope

An interview with Sandro Magister

Translated from
March 16, 2010

The scandal over pedophile priests is placing the Church in new difficulties. It seemed to peak with the admission of the Bishop of Regensburg that the diocese has information on sexual abuses that took place in the environment of the boarding school for the city's world-famous boys' choir, the Regensburger Domspatzen, once directed by the Pope's brother. [The word 'admission' implies that the disclosure was forced on the bishop when, in fact, the diocese investigated the cases and announced the results of the investigations on its own initiative. And Sussidiario, like most of the media, implies in this lead paragraph that the cases brought by the Bishop all had to do with the Domspatzen, and by not mentioning the total number of cases - six - disclosed by the bishop, it gives the impression that the cases could well number in the dozens!]

Accusations against the Church and blaming sex offenses by priests on the celibacy rule have become widespread.

"This issue," says Sandro Magister, Vaticanista of L'Espresso, "has triggered a worldwide phenomenon that is exploiting it for a specific purpose: a frontal attack against the Catholic Church, and in particular, against the Pope."

The Church is now involved once again in pedophilia scandals. What do you think of recent developments?
I think what is happening is based on uncontestable facts, in numerically important dimensions. [Here, Magister loses a sense of proportion by not placing the figures in context, as other sober pro-Church journalists have done, almost by reflex. Context always brings a sense of proportion. To omit it is prejudicial to the Church, in this case.]] And it is more serious since the crimes are committed by men publicly deputized to be the bearers of high moral values.

But these facts have also triggered a phenomenon on the global level of the explotation of these facts with precise aim: a frontal attack against the Catholic Church, and against the Pope, in particular. [If they are, it is an opportunistic and derivative phenomenon, not the initial one.]

In an interview yesterday, Mons. Fisichella said 'zero tolerance' for sex offenses by priests is not just an option, but a moral obligation...
I think Mons. Fisichella used an expression that has great communicative effect. But I don't believe it corresponds exactly to the original profile of the Church itself, which is centered on the relationship of God to sinners, which is forgiveness 'in return for' penance. Moreover, I am convinced that we are witnessing a general attack in which the media circuit is an essential element of the war.

Who wants to attack the Church? [Is he kidding??? 'Who does not want to attack the Church' is more like it!]
For a few years now we have been witnessing a repetition of practically identical formulas, first used in the United States in the early years of the decade, and now being applied to Europe. With this singular feature: Elements within the Church itself are leading the charge, not a secular opposition that is external to the Church.

Please explain...
This is not a battle in which the Church is attacked by the world that identifies itself with the post-modern culture of the West, but by important components of the Church, utilizing this moment of crisis, playing it up, for purposes that have nothing to do with the real reasons for this crisis, but rather to revive the well-known elements on the agenda of Catholic dissidents.

[I beg to disagree. The dissidents are osimply pportunistic, quick to take advantage of facts that have been blown out of proportion by the media - which is the external world, whose post-modern agenda is to crush the Church, or at least weaken it. Unless one thinks that the media establishment is largely Catholic, there is no way dissident Catholics could have been responsible for starting this fire - not now, and not in 2001 in the United States.]

Is it true that the pedophile scandal - beyond the justice that is owed the victims and the reforms that it should produce - also revives the issue of priestly celibacy and the proper interpretation of Vatican II?
Certainly not. The glaring revelation that this is an intra-Catholic offensive was the article by Alberto Melloni last week in Corriere della Sera. After deploring the horror of the facts, he showed his cards: the true response to the pedophilia crisis is to convoke Vatican III!

[One swallow does not a summer make, even if we limit ourselves to Italy alone! It's true the sexual-abuse broadside against the Church 'establishment' is giving a second wind to the progressives who had experienced considerable setbacks in the five years so far of the Ratzinger Pontificate. However, they can propose Vatican III all they want, but that's all they can do. That's not going to pressure the Pope in any way into calling Vatican III, when he's still busy trying to set the Church straight about Vatican II!]

Melloni recalled the address made by Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini to the Bishops' Synod in 1999, which was some sort of agenda focused on married clergy and promotion of women in the Church as a way of renewing the Church. The classic topics in the panoply of Catholic progressive dissent.

What difference do you see between the 2001-2003 scandals in the USA and this scandal which is centered in Ireland and Bavaria, the Pope's own native land? [And how is it centered in Bavaria, when the three places in Bavaria named so far - Regensburg with 6, Ettal with 8, and Munich with 1 - account for only 15 of the 170 'new' cases referred to these days? It's truly a bleak situation when even supposedly sympathetic journalists have apparently been brainwashed by the media reporting so far as to ignore the facts and wing it on sheer impression!]
Look well at the dates of when most of tehe reported abuses took place. They are not recent, except for a few that are said to have continued up to the present. The greatest incidence seems to have taken place in the 1970s. And that is because the culture of the time - even within the Church, and even among its hierarchy - regarded sexual relations between adults and minors very differently from today.

What do you mean?
Those were years of extremely widespread moral laxity. Just think of Vladimir BNabokov's Lolita. No one even dreamed of incriminating the hero of that novel for his abominable obsession. It is just an example but I find it indicative. The idea was that sex with a minor was, all told, not all that perverse - the idea was given 'full citizenship' in a culture that considered sexual liberation and the battle against any inhibitory controls as a moral impeerative and a sign of culture!

In those countries that were most exposed, this cultural contagion influenced the attitude taken by the Church hierarchy when faced with the problem. [Not to mention the offending priests themselves - although one might imagine that offenders were already predisposed to sexual deviance, and that the new sexual permissiveness simply 'activated' that predisposition.]

You mean, they were too soft on offenders?
Yes. Like some excess committed within a family - something that could and should be essentially hushed, rather than stopped inexorably. That is why there was widespread tolerance for these incidents. [Still, it is appalling to think that evidently, all these tolerant, enabling bishops and other superiors failed to think of the victims at all, nor of the repulsive nature of the offenses! How can someone, for instance, like Cardinal Law - who is certainly no moron - act as he did? In many ways, the enablers are even more reprehensible because there is no way they could possibly justify the offenses to themselves and to God!]

What do you think this scandal means for the Church today?
A trial of purification. Joseph Ratzinger, as a cardinal and now as Pope, has always had a clear view of the essential element about these sins and how they should be confronted. He called this the 'filth' in the Church - which is worse when embodied in those who received holy orders and who should be 'in persona Christi', namely, living images of Christ. And the response to filth is cleansing and purification.

So Benedict XVI has not been caught unprepared?
No! This Pope has shown for some time a decisive attitude against this sort of behavior by priests, urging a penitential approach by men of the Church wherever this scandal has taken place. He has been carrying out energetic work in stirring up the national bishops' conferences to make them fully aware and fully responsible for the gravity of these offenses, that are actions done by individuals but which cast a dark shadow on the entire Church.

What did you think of the Pope's recent address to the participants of the theological convention on the priesthood?
That the Pope used the occasion to underscore the importance of celibacy for priests. In this connection, allow me to point out a curious fact: those who have even the least interest or concern about pedophilia all agree that celibacy has nothing to do with it. And that in fact, the great majority of pedophile offenses are committed by married men, or at any rate, those who can freely have sexual relations with women.

But everytime these cases come up, it becomes the occasion for advocates to urge abolition of the celibacy rule...
It is a mantra that comes with the progressivist agenda for reforming the Church. They keep saying that celibacy is not a dogma, but of course, Pope Benedict knows that. It may not be dogma, but neither was it plucked from thin air. It is something deeply rooted in the Church from apostolic times, and which became articulated in the course of Church history into a form that has absolute continuity. As the Pope recently said, celibacy is an 'authentic prophecy of the Kingdom'. It gains in significance in times when the Church must mobilize great spiritual resources.

You mean like the present phase of profound de-Christianization?
Yes. Benedict XVI, and before him, John Paul II, understood perfectly the dramatic import of the present era, and shared the absolute certainty that the world needs spiritual pastors who have celibacy as a specific and special charism.

Barbara Spinelli, in an editorial for La Stampa entitled "The Vatican: hidden evil" has atrributed the scandal to the "lack of ambition and burnt-out energies of the part that is considered good". She adds that in the Church today, everything is discussed except Christ himself, and that basically, this is what the Church has to do - for which "she needs nothing more than the Scriptures". [What planet does the woman live on? Benedict XVI talks of nothing else but Christ as the face of God and the Scriptures as the Word of God!]
Personally, I share nothing of what she says. It is the representation, almost out of a handbook, of a neo=modernist spirit for whom the only real Church that counts is spiritual. And she cites the 'Gospel' according to Melloni and Ruggieri [leading advocates of the Bologna school of Vatican-II as rupture]. They are the contemporary heirs of Joachim of Fiore, dreaming of a new age of the spirit, in which everything must be dumped into the sea - institutions, traditions, the structure of the Church itself. They see the Church as a vessel imprisoning a spirit that waits to be liberated.

Should the Church wash its own dirty laundry or should it leave it to the judicial system? [What a silly question!]
In any case, the Church should wash its own dirty laundry! But this does not consist merely in purifiying itself of sexual sins: the Church is the place for God's forgiveness, and her mission is to wash away all the sins of the world. But the forgiveness of God comes to those who, in some way, place ashes on their head.

The Church pardons sinners, but at the same time, Caesar must do his part. Victims of sexual abuse can and should denounce the offenders to the Church but also to civil authorities. The Church does not object to this. {More than that, she now encourages it!]

Catholic League president
takes on the New York Times

March 15, 2010

The Catholic League released this statement by its president Bill Donohue;

On March 10, the New York Times ran an article on sex abuse in the Catholic Church stating that in Austria a priest abused a boy 40 years ago. Yesterday, readers learned of a German case where a man says he was abused in 1979. But when Rabbi Baruch Lebovits was found guilty last week on eight counts of sexually abusing a Brooklyn boy, the Times failed to report it. This is not an accident — it is deliberate.

Worse, on Saturday, the Times ran a front-page story saying that in 2002, when the sex abuse scandal in Boston hit, the ope — then Cardinal Ratzinger — "made statements that minimized the problem." No quotes or evidence of any kind were given.

"Minimize the problem." Interesting phrase. In 2005, the Times reported that in 2002, Ratzinger believed that "less than 1 percent of priests are guilty" of sex abuse (it was later found that 4 percent was a more accurate figure).

What the Times could have said over the weekend was that on January 9, 2002, three days after the Boston Globe broke the story on sex abuse, it ran a story reporting that Ratzinger had sent a letter to the bishops worldwide saying that "even a hint" of the sexual abuse of minors merited an investigation. But The Times could not have cited that without compromising the conclusion it sought to reach.

If the Times were truly interested in eradicating sex abuse, it not only would report on cases like Rabbi Lebovits, it would not seek to protect the public school establishment. But it does.

Here's the proof. Last year, there were two bills being debated in Albany on the subject of sex abuse: one targeted only private institutions like the Catholic Church, giving the public schools a pass; the other covered both private and public. The Times endorsed the former.

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Wednesday, March 17
ST. PATRICK (Padraigh) (b Britain 387?, d N. Ireland, 493)
Bishop, Missionary, Apostle of Ireland

Few saints have as many legends about him as Patrick. But the only facts known about his life before he came to Ireland as bishop
and missionary come from one of only two existing letters from him. He called himself a Roman and a Briton. At 16, he and several
others were captured by Irish raiders and sold as slaves in Ireland. He was put to work as a shepherd but escaped back to Britain
after six years. He may have studied in France, but the next known event is that he was consecrated bishop at age 43. A dream
about Irish children convinced him it was his mission to Christianize what was then pagan Ireland. Once sent there, he made friends
with local chieftains and began converting many Irish, to the point that soon he was creating dioceses, calling councils, founding
monasteries, constantly preaching 'greater holiness in Christ' - and eventually able to send Irish missionaries to help Christianize
Europe in a matter of decades. If the dates currently 'established' for his birth and death are approximately right - they have been
changing over the centuries - he would have been about 106 when he died, and would have spent at least 60 years Christianizing
Ireland. The Irish have celebrated him on the anniversary day of his death for over a thousand years, and he has become very
much part of Irish culture and tradition.
Readings for today's Mass:

OR today.

No papal stories in this issue. The main story on Page 1 has a misleading headline, 'Israel will not stop
new settlements', because even the story makes clear that 'settlements' refer to new housing in East
Jerusalem, which the Palestinians protest because they intend to make East Jerusalem the capital of a
sovereign Palestine. The Vatican officially advocates an international status for an undivided Jerusalem,
so the OR editorial decision opposing new Israeli housing in East Jerusalem which has been Israeli
territory since the 1968 war
is puzzling. Other Page 1 stories: the UN secretary-general visits Haiti
where the final tally for the victims of the earthquake is 230,000 dead, 1.3 million homeless, and an
equal number also dependent on international aid for their basic needs; Europe's finance ministers agree
on coming to the aid of debt-ridden Greece but fail to decide the technical details; and remote-guided
bombs disrupt the first day of a peace conference in Nigeria to solve rebellion in its southern oilfields.
In the inside pages, the Vatican observer's March 10 address to the UN Commission Human Rights in
Geneva, about the protection of minors from sexual abuse; a story on the Irish bishops' note yesterday
clarifying Cardinal Sean Brady's involvement as a young priest in investigating a case of sexual abuse;
plus two separate interventions on Caritas in veritate - one by Cardinal Bertone before the council
of Italy's largest industrial confederation, and by a Nobel Prize-winning economist at a symposium on
globalization sponsored by the Vatican Nunciature at the United Nations in New York.


General Audience today - It was held in St. Peter's Square for the first time since early autumn last year.
The Holy Father continued his catecheses on St. Bonaventure, and at the end, he announced that he will
sign his pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland on March 19, Feast of St. Joseph, guardian of the
family and patron of the universal Church

Events after the GA:

- The Holy Father met with Cardinal Jose Sanchez,
Emeritus Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.

- He received honorary citizenship from the commune of Romano Canavese,
hometown of Cardinal Bertone. Address in Italian.

The Vatican officially announced today the formation of an international commission of inquiry on Medjugorje
by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, with Cardinal Camillo Ruini as president. The commission will
include cardinals, bishops and experts who will carry out their investigation and submit their findings to the CDF.
This news was previusly reported unofficially.

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Pope's pastoral letter to
Irish Catholics out Friday

March 17, 2010

ROME — As hundreds of new allegations of sexual abuse surface in the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI said Wednesday that he hoped a forthcoming letter dealing with one part of the scandal in Ireland would help “repentance, healing and renewal.”

The Pope, the former Archbishop ['Cardinal' has precedence over 'Archbishop' as an honorific] Joseph Ratzinger, was addressing his weekly general audience at the Vatican after days of disclosures concerning the German church, where one case happened on his watch before he became Pope in 2005.

The Pope’s comments on the scandal in Ireland came a day after a top Vatican official acknowledged on Tuesday that, with only 10 people handling such cases, his office might not be adequate for the task. [The limited investigative staff of the CDF was never a secret! There was nothing for Scicluna to acknowledge that was not obvious to anyone.]

But the official, Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna, who is effectively the Vatican’s internal prosecutor, said the Church was working to bring more “transparency” to the delicate and emotional process of settling allegations of abuse by priests, which have severely damaged the Church’s moral standing. [I think, only among the holier-than-thou moralizers outside the Church and among Church dissidents themselves - not with the overwhelming majority of the worlds 1.16 billion Catholics! This tendency by MSM to project their own personal opinions to the entire Catholic universe is preposterous.]

“We have to get our act together and start working for more transparency in investigations and more adequate responses for the problem,” Monsignor Scicluna said, adding that this should happen “on every level of the Church.”

Speaking on Wednesday in English, the Pope said he would sign a promised pastoral letter to Irish Catholics on Friday and send it out soon afterwards. He said the Irish church had been “severely shaken” and he was “deeply concerned.”

The Irish Church has been reeling from two reports. One, released in November, accused Church leaders of covering up decades of child sexual abuse by priests. Another, released in May, documents decades of widespread sexual, physical and emotional abuse of children by priests and nuns in Church-run schools.

In a meeting with Irish bishops at the Vatican last month, Benedict announced that he would issue a letter addressing the issue. But as hundreds of victims of abuse have come forward in the Netherlands and in Germany in recent weeks, several high-ranking Vatican officials have said this week that they expect the letter to speak to the broader situation beyond Ireland.

Separately, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany on Wednesday called the sex abuse scandal a major challenge to German society and warned the only way to come to terms with it was “truth and clarity about everything that took place.”

At the Vatican, Monsignor Scicluna’s comments on Tuesday, rare for an official in the famously reticent Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, were part of a broader Vatican defense against the rising abuse scandal in Germany.

Last weekend, Monsignor Scicluna told L’Avvenire [the newspaper is called Avvenire, not L'Avvenire, or has Donadio ever bothered to look at it at all?], the newspaper of the Italian Bishops Conference, that his office had examined 3,000 abuse cases in the past decade, most of them from the United States.

The ratio of 10 people handling 300 cases a year did not go over well in some quarters. “It seems like an extraordinarily paltry effort, given the scope of the crisis,” said David Clohessy, the national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. [Of course, he would say that!]

In a rare interview, by telephone on Tuesday, Monsignor Scicluna acknowledged the concern. Asked if he wanted reinforcements, he said with a laugh: “I would hope we have less work. That’s my hope. Not more people, less work.” [Great answer!]

He added that if the number of cases averaged 300 a year, “We can continue doing our job well with 10 people. The problem is: Are these numbers going to settle?”

A decade after the Roman Catholic Church in the United States was shaken by revelations of widespread sexual abuse of minors by priests, a similar phenomenon is sweeping Germany.

This week, the German church suspended a priest who had been allowed to work with children for decades after a court convicted him of molesting boys. In 1980, Archbishop Ratzinger allowed the priest to move to Munich for therapy after allegations of abuse. [The writer does not mention that the priest was sent to Munich from the Diocese of Essen, which is a relevant fact - i.e., the Archbishop welcomed him as a guest - the approval he gave was specifically to provide him accommodation in a parish residence - not as a pastor. How quickly the media ignore facts that do not fit their narrative, considering that the Munich archdiocesan statement only came out two weeks ago.]

Although last week the auxiliary bishop who approved the priest’s return to pastoral work stepped down, some have raised questions about Benedict’s responsibility in the matter.

“It depends what you mean by responsible,” Monsignor Scicluna said. “If he was involved in the decision [to assign the guest priest to pastoral duties], he would be. If he was not involved, it’s a responsibility that comes from his office, a ‘the buck stops here’ sort of thing.’ But I think that the person concerned has already taken responsibility for what he did; the answer to that question has already been given.”

Despite the small number of people in the Vatican working on such cases, he stressed that his office was the last step in a long process for the cases, after they have been investigated by “hundreds of canon lawyers” in dioceses worldwide.

“It’s not that these people are doing every case from A to Z, otherwise we’d really be bonkers,” he said.

The German Bishops Conference announced Tuesday that it would open a sexual-abuse phone line on March 30. The line would be for victims and professionals, but also for abusers.

Bishop Ludwig Schick of Bamberg told Bavarian Radio on Tuesday that he was surprised by the number of cases that had come to light [That's probably because he was among those who kept their head buried in the sand for so long! - Besides 170 cases so far that span decades has to be placed in context! If the earliest allegations date back to the 1950s, then 170 cases in 60 years, although 170 too many, is probably far less than 'par for the course'], and that the matter had to be dealt with openly and directly.

“It’s bitter and it’s hard, but it absolutely has to be worked through,” he said. “This abscess must be opened and dried out so that it can heal.”

Cardinal Brady says he is 'ashamed'
at his 'failure to uphold values'
in incident from the 1970s

March 17, 2010

The Catholic Primate of Ireland, Cardinal Séan Brady, said today he "will reflect on what he has heard from those who have been hurt by abuse".

In his St Patrick's Day homily at Armagh Cathedral this morning, Dr Brady said he was "ashamed" by the fact that he has not always upheld the values that he professes and believes in.

There has been calls on the cardinal to consider his position after it emerged at the weekend that he had conducted canonical inquiries into allegations of child sex abuse by Fr Brendan Smyth 35 years ago, involving two young people, without reporting the allegations to civil authorities. [He was assigned by his bishop to investigate the allegations, so he reported to the bishop, whose duty it was to report to civilian authorities but did not do so because it was not 'done' at the time. Nor could Brady have been expected to go over his bishop's head to report to the police which, however, he did not think of doing then.]

Speaking today, the cardinal apologised again to victims of clerical child sex abuse.

"This week a painful episode from my own past has come before me. I have listened to reaction from people to my role in events thirty five years ago," he said.

"I want to say to anyone who has been hurt by any failure on my part that I apologise to you with all my heart. I also apologise to all those who feel I have let them down. Looking back I am ashamed that I have not always upheld the values that I profess and believe in," he added.

In his homily the cardinal said there was a need to take responsibilty for any mismangement or cover-up of child abuse.

"We must humbly continue to deal with the enormity of the hurt caused by abuse of children by some clergy and religious and the hopelessly inadequate response to that abuse in the past," said Dr Brady.

"For the sake of survivors, for the sake of all the Catholic faithful as well as the religious and priests of this country, we have to stop the drip, drip, drip of revelations of failure," he added.

"Be certain that I will be reflecting carefully as we enter into Holy Week, Easter and Pentecost. I will use this time to pray, to reflect on the Word of God and to discern the will of the Holy Spirit. I will reflect on what I have heard from those who have been hurt by abuse. I will also talk to people, priests, religious and to those I know and love," he added.

Andrew Madden, who in 1995 became the first in Ireland to go public with an abuse lawsuit against the church, dismissed the latest comments from Cardinal Brady.

“The notion of careful reflection is nonsense — he’s had 35 years to reflect on what he did then,” said Mr Madden.

“If the Catholic Church in Ireland is to be led by a man who accurately reflects it in its current state, then maybe it’s only right and fitting that it should be led by a man who has covered up the sexual abuse of children by a priest.

“He’s either going to go or he’s not going to go and if he doesn’t, the Catholic Church can’t pretend to be serious in any way about the issue of child protection and about reaching out to people who have been abused.”

Speaking in Washington this morning where he is attending St Patrick's Day festivities, Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness became the latest person to say he believed Cardinal Brady should consider his position.

Mr McGuinness described the revelations as "a very grave situation for the Catholic Church".

Making his first comments about the weekend's revelations last night, the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said people want the truth to come out about clerical child sex abuse in Ireland and it may be necessary to extend the remit of the Murphy commission to ensure this is done.

However, he said he would not be calling for the resignation of Dr Brady as this was a personal decision.

“I’ve always said it is not my job to tell people to resign or tell people to stay. I’ve never done that. People should be accountable, render an account of what they have done. Resignations are a personal matter," he said.

In a statement yesterday, the Catholic Communications Office issued further details of the 1975 investigation into Fr Smyth, saying “on 29 March 1975, Fr Brady and two other priests interviewed a boy (14) in Dundalk. Fr Brady’s role was to take notes. On 4 April 1975, Fr Brady interviewed a second boy (15) in the Parochial House in Ballyjamesduff. On this occasion, Fr Brady conducted the inquiry by himself and took notes”.

The Catholic Communications Office said the intention of the oath taken by the two young people at the end of the inquiry “was to avoid potential collusion in the gathering of the inquiry’s evidence and to ensure that the process was robust enough to withstand challenge by the perpetrator, Fr Brendan Smyth”.

On April 12th, 1975, Bishop McKiernan reported the findings to the Abbot of Kilnacrott.

The specific responsibility for the supervision of Fr Smyth’s activities was, at all times, with his religious superiors. Bishop McKiernan withdrew Brendan Smyth’s priestly faculties and advised psychiatric intervention,” the statement said.

Until yesterday, it was understood the 1975 inquiries involved a boy and a girl and that it was the latter who has undertaken the High Court proceedings which led to the weekend revelations.

Attempts to clarify this with the Catholic Communications Office yesterday were unsuccessful. That office did not respond either to a series of questions e-mailed to it by The Irish Times. Included was a query as to whether it was two boys who were involved in the 1975 inquiries.

The office was also asked whether Cardinal Brady had followed Brendan Smyth’s movements after 1975, with possible further abuse of children in mind, and if not, why not.

It's hard not to feel the pain of Cardinal Brady, and not to feel pain for him. The pressure on him in Ireland and the UK to resign as Archbishop is enormous and mounting by the minute.

One can surely reproach him for living according to the culture of the day and therefore not bothering more about the case after he had carried out the questioning he had to do. After all, the matter was now in his bishop's hands, who did the right thing: 'relieving him [Fr. Smyth] of his priestly faculties' and remanding him to his order, the Norbertines. Thereafter, Smyth was strictly the responsibility of his order, not the bishop or the diocese - and apparently went on to abuse many more girls and boys.

Nonetheless, all the critics of the Church will capitalize on this moral ambiguity, that Brady admits today, to claim he is unfit to be Primate of Ireland. Was Augustine unfit to be Bishop of Hippo because of his sinful past? Cardinal Brady, who from all other accounts, appears to be a genuinely holy man, was not more sinful than Augustine for that one lapse, as terrible as it was, and especially, as it may seem today. So, he failed to do the heroic thing - buck the prevailing culture, go over the bishop's head, and denounce the priest to the police. And if he had done so, who knows, he may have advanced the public crusade against sexual abuse by priests three decades! Yet we cannot expect all priests to be heroes in the conventional sense - they are are heroic enough to have chosen the priesthood and for being able to uphold their vow of chastity afterwards.

Even if Brady submits his resignation, I don't think the Pope will accept it, because his lapse does not rise to the level of criminal culpability. Even today, apparently, there is no Irish law that requires priests to report sexual offenses to the police. But it will be a decision that would cost the Church and the Pope more damage in terms of public opinion [that incidentally, is so forgiving of celebrities and politicians who confess in public to their misdeeds, but lose every shred of Christian charity and becomes relentlessly moralizing when it comes to priests who sin or make mistakes].

But will Irish public opinion allow the cardinal to remain in his position without further recrimination? His position can become so untenable he has no choice but to resign - which would place the Pope in a situation that also leaves him with no choice. This is probably a more terrible 'PR' crisis for the Church than what's happened in Germany so far.

In any case, it now behooves every bishop and priest who holds pastoral responsibility to look back into his past and see if there are any incidents like these that can come up to besmirch them, fairly or unfairly, and come clean ASAP.

Perhaps the Congregation for Bishops should adopt for Church appointees to high positions the kind of detailed questionnaire that US presidential appointees who require Senate consent must fill out about their past. Only instead of "Did you ever hire an illegal alien?", the obligatory question would be "Did you ever have anything to do, directly or indirectly, with any case involving sexual abuse of minors?"

NB: I posted the background to this case in the CHURCH&VATICAN thread yesterday.

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Catechesis on St. Bonaventure


With warmer weather, the General Audience was held in St. Peter's Square today. During his English synthesis of today's catechesis on St. Bonaventure - the third in a row - the Holy Father announced he will be signing his pastoral letter to Irish Catholics on Friday, March 19.

In our catechesis on the Christian culture of the Middle Ages, we turn once more to Saint Bonaventure. Bonaventure was a contemporary of Saint Thomas Aquinas, and the two great theologians reveal the rich diversity of the theology of the thirteenth century.

Whereas Thomas saw theology as primarily a theoretical science, concerned with knowing God, Bonaventure saw it as practical, concerned with that "wisdom" which enables us to love God and conform our wills to his. Thomas’s emphasis on truth complements Bonaventure’s emphasis on love within the unity of a great common vision.

As a Franciscan, Bonaventure reflects the primacy of love embodied in the life of Saint Francis. He was also deeply influenced by the theology of Pseudo-Dionysius, with its emphasis on the heavenly hierarchies which serve as steps leading the creature to communion with the Triune God.

Pseudo-Dionysius also inspired his reflections on the darkness of the Cross, where, in the ascent of the mind to God, reason can go no further and love enters the divine mystery. As a great master of prayer, Bonaventure invites us to let our minds and hearts rise from the contemplation of creation to rest in God’s eternal love.

Today is the feast of Saint Patrick, and in a special way I greet all the Irish faithful and pilgrims here present.

As you know, in recent months the Church in Ireland has been severely shaken as a result of the child abuse crisis. As a sign of my deep concern I have written a Pastoral Letter dealing with this painful situation.

I will sign it on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, the Guardian of the Holy Family and Patron of the Universal Church, and send it soon after.

I ask all of you to read it for yourselves, with an open heart and in a spirit of faith. My hope is that it will help in the process of repentance, healing and renewal.


Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis:

Dear brothers and sisters,

This morning, continuing the reflection from last Wednesday, I wish to examine in depth with you other aspects of the doctrine of St. Bonaventure of Begnoregio.

He is an eminent theologian, who deserves a place place alongside another very great thinker, his contermpoarary, St. Thomas of Aquinas. Both had scrutinized the mysteries of Revelation, using the resources of the human reason, in that fruitful dialog between faith and reason that characterized the Christian Middle Ages and made it an era of great intellectual liveliness, as well as faith and ecclesial renewal, that is often not adequately appreciated.

There are other analogies between them: Both Bonaventure, a Franciscan, and Thomas, a Dominican, belonged to the Mendicant Orders which, with their spiritual freshness, as I pointed out in previous catecheses, renewed the entire Church in the 13th century and attracted great following.

Both served the Church with diligence, passion and love, and were both invited to the Ecumenical Council of Lyons in 1274, the same year in which both died - Thomas while he was en route to Lyons, Bonaventure during the Council itself.

Even in St. Peter's Square, their statues are placed in parallel, right where the Colonnade opens up from the facade of St. Peter's Basilica - one on the left arm of the Colonnade, the other on the right.

But despite the analogies, we can also appreciate in these two great saints two different approaches to philosophical and theological study, which demonstrate their individual originality and profundity of thought. I would like to point to some of these differences.

A first difference was in their concept of theology. Both future Doctors of the Church asked whether theology was a practical science or theoretical and speculative. St. Thomas reflected on two possible but opposite responses.

The first was: Theology is a reflection on faith, and the purpose of faith is that man may be good, and live according to God's will. Therefore, the purpose of theology should be to guide man on the right and correct path. Consequently, it is basically, a practical science.

The other position says: Theology seeks to know God. We are creatures of God; God oversees everything we do. God works on us to act right. Therefore, theology is substantially not about what we do, but about knowing God.

St. Thomas concluded that theology implies both aspects: it is theoretical - it seeks to know God ever better; and it is practical - it seeks to orient our life towards the good. But knowledge has primacy: we must first of all know God, then it follows that we act according to God's will (Summa Theologiae Ia, q. 1, art. 4).

This primacy of knowledge over practice is significant in St. Thomas's basic orientation.

St. Bonaventure's answer was very similar, but with different emphases. He knew the arguments for both sides as St. Thomsa did, but to answer the question of whether theology is a practical or a theoretical science, he made a triple distinction.

Thus, he widened the alternatives between theoretical (primacy of knowledge) and practical( primacy of practice) by adding a third attitude that he called 'sapiential', in which wisdom embraces the two other aspects.

He continues: Wisdom seeks contemplation (as the highest form of knowledge) and its purpose is "ut boni fiamus" - that we may become good. This above all: to become good (cfr Breviloquium, Prologus, 5).

He adds: "Faith is in the intellect in such a way that it provokes affection. For example: to know that Christ died 'for us' does not simply remain as knowledge, but it necessarily becomes affection, love (Proemium in I Sent., q. 3). He pursues his defense of theology along the same line, namely, as the rational and methodical reflection on faith.

St. Bonvaneture also lists some arguments against 'doing theology', perhaps widespread among some Franciscan friars then, and present even in our time: when reason would 'empty out' faith and would become a violent with respect to the Word of God, then we must listen to the Word and not analyze it (cfr Letter of Francis of Assisi to Anthony of Padua).

To these arguments against theology that demonstrate the perils existing in theology itself, Bonaventure replies: It is true that there is an arrogant manner of doing theology, an arrogance of reason which places itself above the Word of God. But true theology, the rational work of true and good theology, has an origin other than the arrogance of reason.

He who loves always wants to know the loved one more and better. True theology does not engage reason and the search for it, motivated by arrogance, "sed propter amorem eius cui assentit" – it is motivated by love for him to whom he has given his assent (Proemium in I Sent., q. 2), the beloved whom he wants to know better. This, he said, is the fundamental intention of theology. For St. Bonaventure, then, ultimately it is the primacy of love which is decisive.

As a consequence, St. Thomas and St. Bonaventure defined the ultimate destiny of man differently, {what constituted) his full happiness. For St. Thomas the supreme goal towards which our desire is oriented is to see God. And in the simple act of seeing God, all problems will find a solution. We are happy, and nothing else is needed.

For St. Bonaventure, the ultimate destiny of man was to love God - to meet him and unite oneself to him and to his love. This, for him, was the most adequate definition of human happiness.

Along this line, we can also say that for St. Themas, the highest category was the true, and for St. Bonaventure, the good.

But it would be wrong to see in these two answers a contradiction. In both cases, the true is also the good, and the good is also the true. To see God is to love him, and to love him is to see him.

Thus, it is a question of different emphases in a fundamentally common vision. Both emphases have formed different traditions and spiritualities, thus demonstratibg the fecundity of the faith, which is one in the diversity of its expressions.

Let us return to St. Bonaventure. It is evident that the specific emphassis of this theology, of which I have given only one example, can be explained by the Franciscan charism. The Poverello of Assisi, who was above the intellectual debates of his time, demonstrated with his entire life the primacy of love.

He was a living icon enamored with Christ, and thus in his time, he rendered present the figure of the Lord. He convinced his contemporaries not by words but by his life.

In all the works of St. Bonaventure, even his scientific works, those meant for teaching, one sees and one finds this Franciscan inspiration. It is evident that his thinking took off from his encounter with the Poverello of Assisi.

But in order to understand the concrete elaboration of the theme 'primacy of love', we must keep in mind yet another source: the writings of the so-called Pseudo-Dionigi, A Syrian theologian of the sixth century who hid under the pseudonym of Dionysius the Areopagite, referring with this name to a figure in the Acts of the Apostles (cfr 17,34).

This theologian had created a liturgical theology as well as a mystical theology, and he had written amply on the various angelic orders. His writings were translated to Latin in the ninth century. In the time of St. Bonaventure - that is, the 13th century - a new translation appeared which aroused the interest of the saint and other theologians in his century.

Two things in particular drew the attention of St. Bonaventure:

1. The Pseudo-Dionysius wrote of the nine angelic orders, whose names he found in Scripture and which he then arranged in his way, from the simple angels up to seraphim. St. Bonaventure interpreted these angelic orders as steps in man's approach toward God. Thus, they can represent the human journey, man's ascent towards communion with God.

St. Bonaventure had no doubt that St. Francis belonged to the seraphic order, the supreme order, the choir of seraphim, and therefore, pure flame of love. And that was how Franciscans ought to be.

But St. Bonaventure knew well that this last step in the approach to God cannot be legislated into a juridical order, that it would always be a special gift from God. And that is why the structure of the Franciscan Order is more modest, more realistic, but it must, noetheless, help its members to get ever closer to a seraphic existence of pure love.

Last Wednesday, I spoke about this synthesis of sober realism and evangelical radicalness in the thoughts and actions of St. Bonaventure.

2. However, the saint also found in the writings of the Pseudo-Dionysius another element that, for him, was even more important. Whereas for St. Augustine, intellectus - seeing with reason and the heart - was the last category of knowledge, the Pseudo-Dionysius took it one step further: In the ascent toward God, one can reach a point where reason can no longer see. But in the night of the intellect, love still sees - and it sees how much tehre is that remains inaccessible to reason.

Love goes beyond reason - it sees more, it enters more profoundly into the mystery of God. St. Bonaventure was fascinated by this vision, which corresponded to his Franciscan spirituality. Precisely in the dark night of the Cross, all the grandeur of divine love appears. Where reason no longer sees, love does.

The concluding words of his Journey of the Mind towards God may seem, on superficial reading, to be an exaggerated expression of devotion that is devoid of content. But if it is read in the light of St. Bonaventure's theology of the Cross, it is a limpid and realistic expression of Franciscan spirituality:

"If now you yearn to know how this can happen [the ascent towards God], ask grace, not doctrine; desire, not the intellect; the pleading of prayer and not the study of words: not light, but the fire that inflames everything and transports it to God" (VIII,6).

All this is not anti-intellectual nor anti-rational: It presupposes the way of reason but transcends it in the love of the Crucified Christ. With this transformation of the Pseudo-Dionigi's mysticism, Bonaventure began a great mystical current that has greatly elevated and purified the human mind - it is a peak in the history of the human spirit.

This theology of the Cross, born from the encounter between the theology of the Pseudo-Dionyisus and Franciscan spirituality, should not make us forget that St. Bonaventure also shared with St. Francis of Assisi the love of Creation, joy in the beauty of God's Creation.

I cite in this regard a sentence from the first chapter of the 'Journey..': "He.. who does not see the numberless splendors of creation is blind. He who does not awake from its many voices is deaf. He who does not praise God for all these wonders is mute. And he who, from so many signs, does not exalt the first principle, is foolish" (I,15). All of creation speaks out loud of God, of God the good and the beautiful, of his love.

Thus, for St. Bonaventure, all our life is a 'journey', a pilgrimage - an ascent towards God. But with our own powers alone, we cannot ascend to the level of God. That is why prayer is necessary.

Prayer, said the saint, is the mother and origin of elevation -
sursum actio
, an act that raises us.

So I conclude with the prayer with which he started the 'Journey': "Then let us pray and say to the Lord our God: Lead me, Lord, along your way, and I will walk in your truth. My heart rejoices in awe of your name" (I.1).


WOW again! These catecheses by the Holy Father are a continuing marvel of exposition, an adventure in discovery, in which he presents men and ideas so integrally, at the same time enabling us simple listeners to sample his connoisseur's easy grasp of biography and history, philosophy and theology, literature and art, faith and reason, man and God.

How far removed it all is from the everyday world, a refuge from the big bad world of media and pedophile priests!



I think this little 'sidelight' needs to be addressed better:


Above, Mons. Gaenswein appears to be informing the Pope about a man who began shouting shortly after the Pope had given his greeting in German and before he started his English greeting.

Initial reports claimed the man was shouting abuses at the Pope, Indeed, the first photo-captions by the Anglophone newsphoto agencies alleged that he was shouting, 'BULLS***, BULLS***' at the Pope! [See how they automatically assumed that if someone was screaming in St. Peter's Square, it must have been against the Pope! Fortunately, the pictures of the Pope withthe crowd are always thee for all to see.]

Subsequently, it was clarified he was part of an anti-abortion delegation from the US and he was railing against pro-abortion politicians. He was taken away by Vatican police for questioning but later released.

Here is what Cindy Wooden of CNS wrote about the incident at the end of her story today about the GA:

... Just before the Pope began speaking, a man in the audience began shouting "abortion" and yelled for the Pope to "excommunicate Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden," respectively, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Vice President of the United States.

The man was escorted out of St. Peter's Square by Vatican security. Because he was not arrested, the Vatican refused to release his name.

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I thought I should post this report here, for some positive news other than the specialite-du-jour hogging the MSM attention these days regarding the Vatican.

Australian bishops
lead crossing to Rome

by Tess Livingstone
March 18, 2010
[Australia is 9 hours ahead of Rome time
so it is now March 18 there]

FOUR bishops, 40 priests and thousands of parishioners from the Traditional Anglican Communion will petition the Vatican by Easter to be received into the Catholic Church.

Archbishop John Hepworth of Adelaide, primate of the TAC, said 26 parishes in Western Australia, Tasmania, NSW, Victoria, far north Queensland and South Australia hope to be united with Rome by the end of the year.

The move comes as 100 Anglican parishes in the US and some in Canada have announced their decisions to convert to Catholicism en masse, voting to take up an offer made by Pope Benedict XVI in November in his apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus (On Groups of Anglicans). The initiative allows Anglican bishops, priests and entire congregations, if they wish, to join Rome.

Archbishop Hepworth, 65, who is married with three children, said the Pope had allowed for a continuation of Anglican practices, including a married clergy.

"In an age when the traditional family is under attack, the presence of a priestly family at the centre of parishes is a real gift," he said.

He said the motivation for the move to Rome was a desire for Christian unity and dissatisfaction with the secularisation of the Anglican church. This, he said, included the ordination of women and practising homosexuals.

Traditional Anglicans had also become disillusioned by radical bishops such as John Shelby Spong in the US publicly disbelieving the Gospel accounts of basic tenets such as the bodily Resurrection of Christ, he said.

"Under the process, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith accepts petitions, they are then referred to the local Catholic bishops' conference which gives advice, then an Ordinariate will be established," he said.

"I would like to think the process would be close to being finalised by the end of the year because the Pope wants results."

Australia's Cardinal George Pell said members of the TAC would be "most welcome" when the process unfolded. To ease the way, the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference has appointed Bishop Peter Elliott of Melbourne, the director of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family, to liaise with traditional Anglicans considering joining the Catholic Church.

"The papal offer gives traditional Anglicans the opportunity to be united in communion but not absorbed by the Catholic Church," Bishop Elliott said.

"The Catholic Church will be enriched by the very prayerful and dignified approach to worship and the sense of good taste and culture of traditional Anglicans."

Once the Ordinariate is established, ordinary Catholics will be free to attend its Masses.

Archbishop Hepworth acknowledged that some traditional Anglicans would opt not to join the Ordinariate "and they will need to be catered for".

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, Dr Phillip Aspinall, was in flood-affected areas of western Queensland yesterday and uncontactable.

But in a recent statement he said that the TAC "is a group of people who are not part of the Anglican Church of Australia nor in communion with the global Anglican Communion".

But at least two of the bishops involved in the petition, David Robarts of Launceston and Harry Entwistle of Perth, hold general licences within the mainstream Anglican church's Diocese of the Murray and are therefore in communion with Canterbury.

Dr Aspinall warned lay Anglicans if they wished to become Catholic "they will have to accept all the teaching of that Church including its moral teaching, for example, on contraception".

In Britain, Anglican and Catholic authorities are considering the financial implications of any mass conversions, including the possibility of church sharing or the Catholic Church taking out 100-year leases on former Anglican churches.

The TAC, and particularly Bishop Hepworth, have been at the forefront of the movement to 'come home to Rome' which finally led to Anglicanorum coetibus last autumn. After the Apostolic Letter was released, they have also been among the promptest to start taking concrete measures to avail of it. Total TAC membership is estimated at about 400,000.

Last January, Bishop Hepworth issued a pastoral letter to the TAC constituency which is reproduced in full in the CHURCH&VATICAN thread:

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I've translated today's catechesis and posted the translation above, but meanwhile, the Vatican finally posted the transcript of the Pope's homily at the Lutheran Church, and Marcello Pera has written Corriere della Sera a letter in defense of the Pope, so HK will have to wait.

Meanwhile, here is an interview with Cardinal Ruini from yesterday that I translated last night but was to sleepy to post. He's the first cardinal to come out openly and speak about this dreadful mess. Fittingly, Benedict XVI showed his appreciation of this under-appreciated cardinal earlier by asking him to write the Via Crucis meditations and prayers for this year and naming thim to head the international commission of inquiry on Medjugorje.

Cardinal Ruini denounces
the defamatory attempts
against the Pope and the Church

Translated from
March 16, 2010


ROME - He has agreed to talk about pedophilia among priests. He defends the Pope, accuses the media and all who fan the flames of defamation against the Catholic Church – because when defamation exceeds the limits, it is time to speak up.

In his residence just outside the Vatican’s Leonine Wall, Cardinal Camillo Ruini had just returned from the Benedictine abbey in Subiaco where he received the St. Benedict Prize for 2010 [the same prize Cardinal Ratzinger received in 2005 on the eve of John Paul II’s death].

Recently turned 79, Ruini looks with mistrust on the emphasis that the information media – newspapers, TV and Internet – have given to pedophile crimes involving priests.

“Although the crime of pedophilia is abominable,” says the Pope’s emeritus Vicar for Rome, “it is time to point out some necessary considerations”.

He is not surprised at all by the media campaign which has now targeted the Pope himself.

“Pedophile crimes are always an infamy, especially when committed by a priest. And it is more than right that they should be denounced and repressed while, insofar as it is possible, to help their victims overcome the consequences. Moreover, it is absolutely necessary for the Church to make all the provisions that can prevent recurrences.

“That said, one cannot pretend not to see that the attention of many newspapers and those who express themselves through the press has focused exclusively on the offenses committed by Catholic priests, which at the very least, is certainly not more frequent than in other categories of persons.

“Nor can one ignore the tenacious attempts to target the person of the Pope himself, notwithstanding all the clarifications by the Vatican press office and other reliable sources.”

For years, Ruini has followed the reverberations in the Italian and international press on the issue of the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests, from the first scandals which hogged headlines around the world – that which erupted in 2002 with the disclosure of sexual abuses by a number of priests in the diocese of Boston – up to the headlines today which, like leopard spots, have turned up to blot the images of the Church in Germany, Austria, Holland, Ireland and Switzerland.

Two expressions occur frequently in his conversation: “defamatory campaign’ and ‘strategy’.

“In my opinion,” he says, ”the defamatory campaign against the Catholic Church and the Pope by the media fits into the strategy that has been in place for centuries, and about which Friedrich Nietzsche in the 19th century theorized in detail".

“According to him, the definitive attack on Christianity cannot be waged on the level of truth but, on Christian ethics as the enemy to the joy of living. And so I ask: who is at the receiving end of all these headlines of pedophilia flung mainly against the Catholic Church, while also targeting the rule of priestly celibacy?

"Would it not be more honest and realistic to acknowledge that certainly these and other deviancies linked to sexuality have always been part of human history, but that in our time, these deviancies have also been stimulated by the much-touted ‘sexual revolution’?"

It is not a rhetorical question, he says, and it is a question that probably many bishops and cardinals would put forward, though they may lack the courage to do so or to find the right occasion to say it.

“When the exaltation of sex pervades every space of life today and when the autonomy of the sexual instinct from every moral criterion is advocated [as a right!], it becomes difficult to carry across the fact that certain abuses are absolutely condemnable.

“In fact, human sexuality has not been simply instinctive and is not identical to animal sexuality in that regard. It is, like all of the human being, something upon which reason and morality are ‘imposed’, which can be experienced humanly and bring real happiness only if it is lived according to such ‘rules’.

“On the other hand, the claim that human sexuality is independent of any moral criterion is a narcissistic imposition and therefore, self-referential, which is the opposite of what the Church teaches.”

Some of these libertine radicalisms are represented in the coming regional lections in Lazio [the Italian region to which Rome belongs, where the leading candidate for regional president is a former lady senator, Emma Bonino, who 'distinguished' herself in the previous Prodi government by professing herself to be an adult Catholic in favor of abortion, contraception, euthanasia and same-sex marriage, among other things]. An ‘appetizing’ subject for argument. So what does Cardinal Ruini think about these elections?

“I completely share the contents and the tone of the note [from the Italian bishops’ conference, which he led for 15 years] published Sunday in Romasette [the online journal of the Diocese of Rome]. In view of the candidates who are competing, not just in Lazio but in other regions, it is indispensable to call attention to the truly fundamental issues at stake which the note presents with clarity and precision. Among these, the defense of life in every stage of existence, the support of the family based on matrimony between a man and a woman, and more generally, the rejection of a permissiveness that undermines the very foundations of society”.

Ruini, like all priests and his brother bishops, adheres to the dispositions that prohibit them from giving any instructions on how the faithful should vote. But he also fully supports that part of the note that says, “it is not possible [for Catholics] to consider all political platforms as equivalent to each other because not all of them represent the values we believe in”.

He says:
“Citizens who live by Christian ethics, and even those who wish to safeguard the foundations of our civilization have, in this statement, a precise criterion when exercising their right and duty to vote.

“After the tumultuous events during the presentation of the electoral lists [candidates], it is time to concentrate attention on substance, in this case, the judicious choice of the persons who should lead the region of Lazio”.

German district head of
FSSPX defends the Pope -
and exposes the German
Justice Minister

Translated from

STUTTGART, March 15 - „The Pope is not guilty of anything, so there is no need for him to apologize,‘ said Fr. Franz Schmidberger, the superior of the German district of the FSPPX, to the regional newspaper Leipziger Volkszeitung.

Asked to comment on the fact that Pope Benedict XVI has been dragged into the current controversy over sexual abuses against children by priests, he said that these incidents were a welcome pretext for those who want to undermine the papacy and to discredit the German Pope in Germany itself.

He criticized Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (FDP) who belongs to the church-hating Humanistic Union, saying: „Today, those who scream the loudest against priest pedophiles were only yesterday demanding that child abusers be exempted from punishment. Among them was precisely this Humanistic Union of which the Justice Minister is a member. There is a word for that in German: hypocrisy. The shoe fits.“

Fr. Schmidberger also criticized those who make a general accusation against all priests because of these incidents: „Let us be more careful of all this dragging-out-in-public of sins and guilt, because perhaps further investigation will show that some accusations are false.“

He thinks society is partly to blame for the evolution of sexual crimes: „When people have constant access to pornographic writing, or obscene shows on TV and lewd pictures on the Internet, they are no longer able to grasp that sexual desire must be coupled with responsibllity.“

He said man is born with a hunger instinct which enables the individual to survive, and with a sex drive which enables the human race to reproduce, and therefore, „To uncouple these instincts from their purposes, as contemporary hedonism does, is an abuse and distortion of the divine order".

He is convinced that Catholic dissenters and former priests are using the current controversy to push their respective agendas: „The Catholic left welcomes it like fresh morning air, because what is important for them is to obtain structural changes in the Church, not the conversion of hearts“.

As for priestly celibacy, he points out that in the course of centuries, this particular charism has born much good fruit. He adds: „One advantage of celibacy was evident under the Nazis and the Communists. Protestant ministers were easily theatened because they had families, and in this respect, Catholic priests were more free“.

He says he expects the German bishops‘ conference to look after accused priests also. „Bishops must strenghten these priests in the faith, and make sure they are not subjected to show trials.“

At the same time, the sacrament of penance must regain its place in Christian life and the life of the Church. „Confession is the most effective measure against sin and the impulse to sin.“




And now, some nasty news. Sueddeutsche Zeitung today posted online a 'guest article' by Hans Kueng in which, in effect, he unloads 43 years of resentment against his former colleague... and Joseph Ratzinger's old 'hometown newspaper' was just too happy to accommodate him:


Let me just translate the titles first:

Church debate over abuse cases

A guest article by Hans Kueng
March 17, 2017 08:53

The road to change must pass through penitence.
After the sex abuse cases in the Church,
it is time for a 'mea culpa' from former Archbishop Ratzinger

His rant reads, in part:

"Five years as Pope without ever changing anything about this pernicious situation. Decency requires that the main person responsible for the decades-long dissimulation [of abuse cases], namely, Joseph Ratzinger, should make a 'mea culpa'. No other person in the Church has seen so many cases of abuse pass through his desk..."

I would wait for a news wrap-up instead of having to translate Kueng directly, but every so often, one has to read him as he expresses himself, unfiltered, and this is one of those times. I will translate later.


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I was cracking up today during the replay of the GA. Amongst many other pilgrims the participants of: 'trip of the readers of Süddeutsche Zeitung' were announced!
SZ has been slipping in readership and has even more so been slipping in credibility, being run by a militant anti-Church/Ratzinger person.

I'm sorry, but I can't even get worked up about the Küng piece.
It's simply too ludicrous to make me mad. Besides, the readers of that (in father Z's words) ‘fish wrap’ are not exactly Church supporters!!
The whole thing is just a big waste and the more they milk this topic, the more credibility they lose!


I'm glad to hear that SZ is going the way of other former MSM titans like the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the LA Times here in the USA! They are all becoming extinct like dinosaurs, unable to beat the competition from tne Internet, conservative talk radio and FoxNews.

About the insufferable Kueng: His rants will be used liberally by all the Church critics who do not have his name recognition, and will use him to 'strengthen' their arguments, so it's good to know exactly what he said, no matter how outrageous. I more or less ignored his recent forays in the Tablet and in a couple of French newspapers, but he has escalated his tone and language.

Unfortunately for his ego, with every polemic he writes like this, he is destined to be remembered in history not for any achievements of any kind - no matter how many books he writes - but for being the failed nemesis of Joseph Ratzinger, the man, the theologian and the Pope he could never be.


P.S. Heike, I have just seen the sickest item so far in this whole sordid mess, on KREUZ.NET:
I hate to soil this thread with it, but it will eventually come out elsewwhere in English, whether it's true or not. In short, a website claims that the magazine Der Spiegel is offering one million euros to anyone who can provide information that Joseph Ratzinger was ever involved in any homosexual incident during the years he was a professor; that this offer has been circulated for two weeks now; and that the prize money is being put up by a couple of ex-Nazis or neo-Nazis. There is no indication on that Spiegel has denied it, and I don't have the time nor the inclination just now to play sleuth on something like this. Even if Spiegel denies it, it is the sort of dirty trick someone was bound to come up with - anything to nail the Pope - sooner or later.

We need Fr. Amorth and all his exorcists to go to Germany and do their thing on these hate-driven Satan-possessed maniacs!

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I should have posted this earlier - as it was in this morning's (3/17/10) issue of the OR, which published it one week late.

Vatican denounces sexual abuse
of minors to UN Human Rights body

March 17, 2010

Last March 10, on the occasion of the annual meeting on the Rights of Children, the permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, Mons. Silvano Maria Tomasi, addressed the XIII Ordinary Session of the UN Council on Human Rights. Here is the text of the address, delivered in English.

Mr. President,

"Sexual abuse of minors is always a heinous crime".
To this unambiguous condemnation of sexual violence against children and young people, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has added the religious dimension, pointing out that it is also a "grave sin" that offends God and human dignity.

The child's physical and psychological integrity is violated with destructive consequences. Studies have shown that abused children react in different ways to sexual violence and have a higher likelihood of teen pregnancy, homelessness, risk of drug and alcohol dependence. In a word, the evil committed against these little ones often stigmatizes them for their entire life.

As you are aware, in the last years, Catholic clergy, religious and lay workers in a number of countries have been accused, and several have been convicted, of child abuse. There is no excuse for this behavior, which is a grave betrayal of trust.

In some cases heavy fines had to be paid while in other cases the culprits were given custodial sentences.

Protection from sexual aggression remains high on the agenda of all church institutions as they struggle to come to terms with this serious problem.

Likewise, concrete measures to ensure transparency and assistance to the victims and their families are the way to alleviate the pain, grief, and bewilderment caused by the abuse that has occurred.

The Catholic community continues its efforts to deal decisively with this problem. Thus, those who are found guilty of these crimes are immediately suspended from exercising their office and are dealt with according to the norms of civil and canon laws.

Other legal measures have been taken in order to ensure that children and young people cared for in schools and institutions are safe. Many of the measures taken, legal or administrative, deal with recognition and punishment of abuse.

Prevention is the best medicine, and this begins with education and promoting a culture of respect of the human rights and human dignity of every child, and especially through the implementation of efficient methods for the recruitment of school personnel.

Could the panel share some best practices that can help children to recognize and report the improper behavior of educators and caregivers?

I don't think many news outlets paid attention to the document - but the Vatican, at an opportune time, has put its concerns and policy on the protection of minors from sexual abuse on the record at the United Nations - and it deserves to be acknowledged.

If you are a masochist, you may want to check out what the New York Times calls a 'debate' on the sex abuse issue
in which their 'loaded dice' panelists are John Allen - who in the one statement he makes about the Munich case that involved Cardinal Ratzinger suggests a much wider involvement than there really was; David Gibson, who says the Pope himself should 'come clean' about the Munich case and apologize; two victims' group representatives, and a law professor who holds up the US bishops' response as a model for the Vatican to follow.

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The quest for evidence of the slippery kind against the nearly saint-like Joseph Ratzinger was not a serious matter.
It was part of the 'fictional' part in the Sponline forum.
I never go there, that would be masochistic. I only know, because it was discussed in the forum....

*shakes head*



Well, thank God if that is the case. But why did report it as a news item? Still, I wouldn't put it past any sicko Church hater who has the bucks to actually try the stunt!


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An aggression against the Pope
and against democracy

A letter to the Editor
Translated from
March 17, 2010

Mr. Pera is a former President of the Italian Senate. During his term, he invited Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to address the Senate.
The addresses he and the cardinal gave that day became the basis for a book entitled WITHOUT ROOTS: The West, Relativism, Christianity and Islam published the year the cardinal was elected Pope. In 2008, the Pope wrote Pera a letter after reading the manuscript of his book Why we should call ourselves Christian - the letter was used as the Preface to the book.

Dear Editor,

The issue of pedophile or homosexual priests that has erupted recently in Germany is targeted at the Pope. It would be a grave error to think that they will not hit the mark considering the fearsome enormity of the undertaking.

And it would be an even greater error to think that the question will be concluded soon and closed, as in previous similar cases. It is not so.

A war is on. Not exactly against the person of the Pope, because on this terrain, that is impossible. Benedict XVI has been made impregnable by his image, his serenity, his clarity, firmness and doctrine. His gentle smile suffices to rout an army of adversaries.

No, this war is between secularism and Christianity. Secularists know well that once a since mud splatter reaches that white robe, then the Church would be smeared, and if the Church is smeared, then so would the Christian religion be.

That is why the secularists are accompanying their campaign with questions like “Who will continue bringing their children to church?” or “Who will continue to send their children to Catholic schools?” or “Who would bring their children to a Catholic hospital or clinic?”

A few days ago, a secularist let slip the intention. He wrote: “The fact of widespread sexual abuse of children by priests undermines the very legitimacy of the Catholic Church to guarantee education of children.”

It does not matter that this verdict has no proof, because it carefully contains the words ‘widespread sexual abuse’: How widespread? 1% of all priests are pedophile? 10%? All of them?

It doesn’t even matter that the sentence is devoid of logic: just replace ‘priests’ with ‘teachers’ or ‘politicians’ or ‘journalists’ undermining the legitimacy of the public school, of parliaments, of the press.

What matters is the insinuation in the crude argument: priests are pedophiles, therefore the Church has no moral authority, therefore Catholic education is dangerous, therefore Christianity is a deception and a danger.

This war of secularism against Christianity is pitched. One must look back to Nazism and Communism to find something similar. The means change but the end is the same: today as yesterday, what they want is to destroy religion.

In the past, Europe paid the price for this destructive fury with its freedom. It is incredible that Germany, above all - even as it continually beats its breast at the memory of the price that it inflicted on all Europe - today , when it has become a democracy, it has forgotten that, and does not seem to understand that democracy itself would be lost if Christianity were neutralized or abolished.

The destruction of religion brings with it the destruction of reason. Today, it will not bring the triumph of secular reason but a new barbarism.

On the ethical level, it is the barbarism of those who would kill a fetus because its birth would harm the ‘psychic health’ of the mother. Of those say that the embryo is nothing but a mass of cells that is useful for experimentation. Of those who would kill an old man because he no longer has a family to care for him. Of those who would hasten the end for a child because he is no longer conscious and is incurable. Of those who believe that ‘Parent A’ and ‘Parent B’ are identical to ‘mother‘ and ‘ father’. Of those who think that faith is like the coccyx, a body part that no longer participates in evolution because man no longer needs a tail and can stand on his own. And so on.

Or, to consider the political side of the war of the secularists against Christianity, barbarism will be the destruction of Europe. Because once Christianity is brought down, what’s left is: Multiculturalism, which maintains that each group has a right to its own culture. Relativism, which thinks that every culture is as good as another. Pacifism, which denies that evil exists.

This war against Christianity would not be so dangerous if Christians understood it. Instead, many of them participate in the incomprehension.

Those theologians frustrated by the intellectual supremacy of Benedict XVI. The insecure bishops who believe that to compromise with modernity is the best way to update the Christian message. The cardinals in a crisis of faith who insinuate that priestly celibacy is not a dogma and it would be best to rethink it. The sneaky Catholic intellectuals who think that there is a feminine question within the Church and an unresolved problem between Christianity and sexuality. The bishops' conferences who mistake the order of the day, and even as they hope for n open-door policy to everyone, do not have the courage to denounce the aggressions that Christians have to undergo and the humiliation they are forced to endure because they are all placed indiscriminately, together, in the dock as accused.

Or those chancellors who originated in the East who show off a good-looking homosexual foreign minister even as they attack the Pope on every ethical issue, or those born in the West who think that the West should be secular, namely, anti-Christian. .

The era of the secularists will go on, if only because a Pope like Benedict XVI, who smiles but does not step back a a millimeter, goads them.


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How to pilot the Church in a storm

Benedict XVI tells the faithful at a general audience,
against those who call for a new beginning for Christianity, without hierarchy or dogmas.
With St. Bonaventure, he thinks of good governance not just as doing,
but above all, with thinking and praying


ROME, March 18 – Few have noticed it, but in the thick of the storm that has battered the Catholic Church in the wake of the scandal presented to the "little ones" by some of its priests, Joseph Ratzinger has faced the challenge in a way uniquely his own. With a surprising lesson on the theology of history, not without references to his own experience as theologian and Pope.

He gave the lesson to the pilgrims crowding the hall for the general audience on the morning of Wednesday, March 10.

The Pope repeatedly looked up from the written text and improvised. The complete transcript deserves to be read from beginning to end. But a few of its features should be pointed out immediately.

At the center of the lesson stands Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, doctor of the Church, one of the first successors of Saint Francis as head of the order he founded.

Benedict XVI paid homage to Bonaventure in his visit to Bagnoregio near Viterbo on Sept. 9, 2006.

And this is the first of the autobiographical features. Because it was precisely on Saint Bonaventure's theology of history that the young Joseph Ratzinger published, in 1959, his thesis for certification to teach theology, which has recently been republished in Italy.

The novelty of this early text was that it compared, for the first time, Saint Bonaventure's theology of history with the highly influential version of Joachim of Fiore.

Joachim of Fiore has had a tremendous influence on both Christian and atheist thought, in his own century and in later ones, up until our own time. Thirty years ago, the theologian Henri De Lubac dedicated a two-volume study to this influence, entitled La posterité spirituelle de Joachim de Flore.

When today, in reaction to the scandal of some priests, appeals come again for an epochal, radical purification of the Church, a new Council to be a "new beginning and rupture," a spiritual Christianity made up of the bare Gospel without any more hierarchies or dogmas, what is being invoked if not the age of the Spirit proclaimed by Joachim of Fiore?

In his lesson last March 10, Benedict XVI described and made accessible with rare clarity the contrast between Joachim and Bonaventure.

He showed how Joachim's utopia found fertile ground again in Vatican Council II, successfully opposed, however, by the "wise helmsmen of Peter's barque" - Popes Paul VI and John Paul II, who were able to defend simultaneously the novelty of the Council and the continuity of the Church.

It's a small step from spiritualism to anarchy, Benedict XVI warned. That's the way it was in Saint Bonaventure's century, and that's the way it is today.

In order to be governed, the Church needs hierarchical structures, but these must be given a clear theological foundation. This is what Saint Bonaventure did in governing the Franciscan order.

For him, "to govern was not simply a task but was above all to think and to pray. At the base of his government we always find prayer and thought; all his decisions resulted from reflection, from thought illumined by prayer."

The same thing – the Pope said – must happen today in the universal Church: "governing, that is, not only through commands and structures, but through guiding and enlightening souls, orienting them to Christ."

This is the second, decisive autobiographical trait from the lesson on March 10. In it, Benedict XVI said how he intends to govern the Church. He said it with the meek humility that is characteristic of him, putting himself in the shadow of a saint.

Just as for Saint Bonaventure the theological and mystical writings were "the soul of governance," so it is for the current Pope. The soul of his governance is the liturgical homilies, instruction for the faithful and the world, the book on Jesus, in short, "thought illuminated by prayer."

It is there that the hierarchical structure of the Roman Church and its acts of governance find their foundation and nourishment. It is from there that the Church of Pope Benedict draws healing for its children's sins and an answer to the attacks – far from innocent – that reach it from without and from within.

{Magister then reproduces the text of the March 10 catechesis.}

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Thursday, March 18
Eztreme right: 15th century painting of St. Jerome appearing to St. Cyril.
ST. CYRIL OF JERUSALEM (315-386), Bishop, Confessor, Doctor of the Church
St. Cyril was born in Caesarea and is among the remarkable group of great 4th century Church Fathers and eventual Doctors of the Church
who were his contemporaries (Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, Athanasiua, Basil, Gregory Nazianzus, John Chrysostom, Ephraem of Syria,
Hilary of Poitiers). He was ordained deacon by Macarius, and consecrated as a bishop by Maximus, both of whom would become saints. Cyril
lived during the high tide of the Arian heresy, and his determined stand against this heresy earned him exile three times, so that half his life
as bishop was spent in exile. With St. Gregory of Nyssa, he attended the second Council of Constantinople, which adopted a modified version
of the Nicene Creed. Although his orthodoxy was apparently doubted by Jerome and Athanasius, the Council at Constantinople hailed him as
a champion of the faith against Arianism. [In fact, his specific Church title is 'Doctor of Faith and against Heresy'.] Before he became a
bishop in 350, he was assigned to prepare catechumens for Baptism. The Catecheses that he wrote for them survive to this day, and was for
a long time, a primary reference on the liturgy and doctrine of the 4th century. Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis of June 7, 2007
to St. Cyril.
Readings for today's Mass:

OR today.
At the General Audience, Benedict XVI says he will sign his letter to Irish Catholics on March 19 to call for
'Repentance, healing and renewal'
In the catechesis, he speaks of the primacy of love in St. Bonaventure's theology
Other papal stories in this issue: The Pope is made honorary citizen of Romano Canavese, Cardinal Bertone's hometown (left
photo), and the text of his homily on Sunday Rome's Lutheran Church. Page 1 news: Asia leads global economic growth - India
now follows China in projected GNP growth this year and may surpass it by 2018; traffic in light arms said to be out of control
in Africa; Mekong River drought threatens Southeast Asia. There are two short items on Cardinal Brady's St. Patrick's Day
homily in Armagh; and Chancellor Merkel's statement to the German Bundestag that she is satisfied the Vatican is confronting
the sexual abuse crisis appropriately.


The Holy Father met today with

- Mons. Augustine Kasujja, Apostolic Nuncio in Nigeria

- Bishops of Burkina Faso and Niger (Group 2) on ad limina visit

- Members of the Union of Industrialists and Businessmen of Rome. Address in Italian.

Letter to Irish Catholics
to be published Saturday

Vatican newsmen were informed today that the Pastoral Letter of the Holy Father Benedict XVI to the
Catholics of Ireland
will be published Saturday, March 20. The full text will be available in English and Italian,
and in summary form in the other official Vatican languages. Press director Fr. Federico Lombardi will hold a
briefing on the Letter at 11 a.m. Saturday.

The Pope announced at the General Audience yesterday that he would be signing the letter tomorrow,
Feast of St. Joseph.

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Bavarian bishops pray for abuse victims

BAD STAFFELSTEIN, Germany (AP) - A prominent archbishop called Thursday for justice for sexual abuse victims in Germany's Roman Catholic Church, saying they need to feel they can finally speak openly about their suffering.


Reinhard Marx, the archbishop of Munich and Freising, said Catholic bishops in the southern German state of Bavaria - the homeland of Pope Benedict XVI - felt "deep consternation and shame" over the reports of abuse of children in church-run schools and institutions revealed in past weeks.

"The priority is the search for the truth and achieving an open atmosphere that will give the victims courage to speak about what happened to them," Marx told reporters following a meeting with Bavarian bishops.

Marx said the bishops had agreed to investigate each claim and would contact authorities as appropriate.

The statements come as the German Church continues to grapple with the magnitude of abuse claims; since the first victims came forward in January, at least 300 others have said they suffered sexual or physical abuse at the hands of priests.

Victims in neighboring Austria and the Netherlands have also come forward with claims of abuse, triggering a crisis in the church and charges the pontiff is avoiding comment on the issue.

"If the Pope himself doesn't take a stance, apologize for what Rome has committed over the past decades in terms of cover-up - then our believers will become even more disappointed than they already are," Father Udo Fischer, who heads a parish in the Lower Austrian village of Paudorf told the ORF public broadcaster.

"Jesus would certainly not have kept quiet," Fischer said. [THIS PRIEST IS SIMPLY BEING MALICIOUS by feigning ignorance! You would think the Pope had never denounced sex offenses by priests and apologized!]

Robert Zollitsch, the head of Germany's Bishops Conference, met the Pontiff last week and insisted in a letter Thursday to Die Welt newspaper that the Pope has repeatedly made clear his position on sexual abuse.

"I know from my discussion with the Pope how deeply appalled he is by the sexual abuse of children by priests, especially in Germany," Zollitsch wrote.

Benedict spoke out repeatedly against sexual abuse during his 2008 trip to the United States. He called the crisis then a cause of "deep shame," pledged to keep pedophiles out of the priesthood and decried the "enormous pain" that communities have suffered from priests' "gravely immoral behavior."

Zollitsch pointed out that despite his heritage, Benedict is the pontiff for all Catholics, not just those in Germany, and his previous statements on the issue remain valid.

"His words retain their weight, even if they are not constantly repeated," Zollitsch wrote.

Now the Pope needs to add a second message to the sandwich board that his critics seem to expect he ought to wear for the rest of his life. After 'I APOLOGIZE FOR THE HOLOCAUST AND EVERYTHING ELSE JEWS HAVE ENDURED', the other side will have to read 'SEX CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN ARE ABOMINABLE AND I APOLOGIZE TO EVERYONE FOR ALL THE SINS THAT CATHOLICS COMMIT'. They will never be content until he has these messages stencilled in giant letters on everything he wears, since the messages are too long to be stamped on his forehead.


At some point midway though the past five years of Benedict XVI's Pontificate, John Allen gradually morphed back into the man who wrote the unflattering 2000 biography entitled Defender of the Faith which was a textbook display of American Catholic liberalism and its condescension towards anyone who professes the orthodox Catholic faith. He decided to give the new Pope a honeymoon after the Conclave, while he rewrote his 2000 book to accommodate that fact, while admitting - admirably so - that he was perhaps not as objective as he should have been the first time around.

It took him some time to get around to writing this article - after all, the media frenzy began two weeks ago - but yesterday, he finally posted this lengthy article on the current 'crisis' for the Church, which he abridged into a few paragraphs for the NYT forum, that would have fitted right in with all his ultra-lib colleagues at NCReporter. Some of that skepticism marks this article - beginning with the title.

But Allen does make use of previous material from his biography to present a useful chronology of known statements or events regarding priestly sex offenses by Cardinal Ratzinger/Benedict XVI. It is a convenient reference - despite the objectionably vague and misleading way Allen presents the known facts about Archbishop Ratzinger's involvement in the case of a priest offender sent to Munich from another diocese.

The title however, assumes that 'Ratzinger's past' is suspect - and that is the kind of insidious journalistic editorializing that is most objectionable, because it draws a conclusion for the reader before he even reads the story.

Will Ratzinger's past
trump Benedict's present?
The Pope and the sex abuse crisis

Mar. 17, 2010
By John L Allen Jr

Gino Burresi may sound like the name of a shortstop from the '50s, but among Vatican insiders, it marks a watershed in the sexual abuse crisis. For those with eyes to see, the fall from grace of Burresi, a charismatic Italian priest and founder of the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, shortly after the election of Pope Benedict XVI, was taken as a signal that the days of lethargy and cover-up were over.

Burresi, 73 at the time, was barred from public ministry in May 2005, just one month after the election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to the church's top job. While the decree cited abuses of confession and spiritual direction, Vatican sources were clear that accusations of sexual abuse involving Burresi and seminarians, dating to the 1970s and '80s, were a principal motive for the action against him.

When the same axe fell a few months later on Mexican priest Marcial Maciel Degollado, the high-profile founder of the Legionaries of Christ, against whom accusations of abuse had likewise been hanging around for the better part of a decade, the message seemed unmistakable: There's a new sheriff in town.

In retrospect, the Burresi and Maciel cases crystallized a remarkable metamorphosis in Joseph Ratzinger vis-à-vis the sexual abuse crisis. As late as November 2002, well into the eruption in the United States, he seemed just another Roman cardinal in denial.

Yet as Pope, Benedict XVI became a Catholic Elliot Ness -- disciplining Roman favorites long regarded as untouchable, meeting sex abuse victims in both the United States and Australia, embracing "zero tolerance" policies once viewed with disdain in Rome, and openly apologizing for the carnage caused by the crisis.

In a papacy sometimes marred by scandal and internal confusion, Benedict's handling of the sexual abuse crisis has often been touted as a bright spot -- one case, at least, in which the expectations of the cardinals who elected him for a firmer hand on the rudder seem to have been fulfilled.

That background makes the scandals now engulfing the church in Europe especially explosive, because by putting the Pope's all but forgotten tenure as the Archbishop of Munich from May 1977 to February 1982 under a microscope, they threaten to once again make Benedict seem more like part of the problem than the solution.

As of this writing, there's at least one case on the record of a priest accused of abuse who was reassigned in Munich while Ratzinger was in charge, and who went on to commit other acts of abuse. [This one-sentence statement of the situation is unfair and misleading, and probably deliberately so! - as anyone who reads the Munich archdiocese narrative would know.]

The vicar general at the time has assumed "full responsibility" and insisted that Ratzinger wasn't informed, but it nevertheless happened on his watch. [The priest has been in Bavaria for 30 years now - he was under Archbishop Ratzinger's 'watch' only from January 1980, when according to the archdiocese account, he approved parish lodging, not an appointment, for the priest sent over from another diocese to undergo a cure - to February 15,1982, when the Cardinal left Munich to assume his post in Rome. If Allen were playing fair, he could have made this clear, but he chose not to. It serves his purpose - of playing the detached, skeptical journalist - to state the facts ambiguously.]

For all anyone knows at the moment, there may be other such cases.

The question now is whether Ratzinger's past may trump Benedict's present. What weighs more heavily: Benedict's willingness to weed out abusers and to acknowledge the damage they left behind, or the Church's inability to enforce similar accountability for bishops who failed to act -- a failure possibly reflected in the Pope's own stint as a diocesan leader three decades ago?

That question is certain to put Benedict XVI's entire record on the sexual abuse issue, stretching over more than three decades of leadership in the Catholic church, under new scrutiny.

The Munich years
Prior to his appointment as Archbishop of Munich by Pope Paul VI in March 1977, Joseph Ratzinger had been a professional theologian, not a pastor. His natural habitat, so to speak, was not the rectory or the diocesan chancery, but the faculty lounge of prestigious German universities in Bonn, Münster, Tübingen, and Regensburg.

The Archdiocese of Munich and Freising is a sprawling jurisdiction, one of the largest in the world in terms of budget, personnel, and physical plant. It encompasses almost 800 parishes, divided into 40 deaneries. Serving as archbishop was Ratzinger's first real taste of nuts-and-bolts administrative work, and the record seems to show that it wasn't his top priority.

For one thing, the newly elected John Paul II tried to appoint Ratzinger in early 1979 as prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education in Rome. Ratzinger demurred, saying it was too soon after his arrival in Munich, and John Paul agreed to hold off -- but made it clear he wouldn't wait forever. In a sense, from that point forward, Ratzinger's horizons were much larger than Munich.

Almost from the moment Ratzinger became archbishop, he was drawn into matters outside the archdiocese. Made a cardinal in June 1977, he participated in the two conclaves of 1978, electing John Paul I and John Paul II. In 1980, he served as the relator, or general secretary, of the highly contentious Synod for the Family. Behind the scenes, John Paul enlisted Ratzinger's help in supporting the fledgling Solidarity movement in Poland, taking him along on his first 1979 homecoming.

That background lends a whiff (!) of credibility to claims that Ratzinger was not personally involved in decisions about the assignment of priests, since there's every reason to believe that administrative matters of all sorts weren't on his radar screen.

In 1984, when the controversial book The Ratzinger Report appeared, a group of Munich priests [How many, compared to the total number of priests - that's relevant. There could have been only ten, for all we know! When a journalist does not give figures when he well could, be very suspicious!] issued a letter of protest, among other things claiming that while Ratzinger had been their shepherd, they had virtually no contact or dialogue with him.

Whether that will be enough to insulate Benedict from the fallout of decisions made in his name, however, remains to be seen.

Late last week, the Munich newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung broke the story of a priest, now identified as Peter Hullermann from the Essen diocese, who had been accused of sexual abuse -- including forcing an 11-year-old boy to perform oral sex -- and sent to Munich for therapy in 1980, with Ratzinger's consent.

Hullermann was then given a pastoral assignment in the archdiocese, apparently without Ratzinger's knowledge, where he went on to commit other acts of abuse for which he was criminally convicted in 1986 -- well after Ratzinger had relocated to Rome in 1982. Hullermann paid a court-imposed fine and served a sentence on probation. Despite that, he continued to serve in a variety of posts in the archdiocese until March 15, when he was formally suspended.

The cleric who served as Ratzinger's vicar general in Munich, Gerhard Gruber, assumed "full responsibility" for the original 1980 assignment, insisting that there were more than 1,000 priests in the archdiocese at the time and that Ratzinger entrusted that kind of personnel matter to subordinates.

To be sure, not everyone was ready to accept that version of events.

"We find it extraordinarily hard to believe that Ratzinger didn't reassign the predator, or know about the reassignment," said Barbara Blaine, of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, the leading advocacy group for sex abuse victims in the Catholic church. [What, you expect someone like her to say anything other than that???? You couldn't find at least one other credible objective witness who questions the story???]

The revelation about Ratzinger's Munich years is part of a mounting sex abuse crisis in Germany, with more than 300 allegations of abuse in various Church-run institutions. The president of the German bishops' conference, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, met with Benedict XVI on March 12 to discuss the crisis, and has pledged a full investigation.

The German meltdown, in turn, comes as Benedict XVI is still working on a pastoral letter to Ireland to address a massive sex abuse crisis in that once ultra-Catholic nation, and as similar scandals begin to explode in Holland, Switzerland, and Austria.

Church-watchers in Germany say that reporters and activists are now feverishly combing through Ratzinger's Munich years, searching for other cases of predator priests who slipped through the cracks. The Vatican has reacted angrily to attempts to link Benedict XVI to the crisis on the basis of his Munich years, insisting that those attempts have "failed."

Ratzinger the Prefect
Ratzinger was appointed the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in November 1981, making him the Vatican's top doctrinal official. He had little direct responsibility for matters involving sexual abuse by priests, which typically came to Rome's attention only in the rare instances in which a diocesan bishop wanted to laicize a priest without his consent -- in which case, the matter fell to one of the Vatican's canonical tribunals.

To the extent anyone was tracking the sex abuse issue at the level of policy, it tended to be the Congregation for Clergy, whose main interest usually seemed to be defending the due process rights of accused priests.

To be sure, Ratzinger always had an exalted theology of the priesthood, and little patience for priests who sullied their office. Yet for more than two decades after his arrival in Rome in 1981, there's no evidence that he broke with the standard Vatican attitude at the time -- that while priests may occasionally do reprehensible things, talk of a "crisis" was the product of a media and legal campaign to wound the church. [Well, pedophile offenses by priests did not come into the news at all until 2002 - the Boston Globe broke its first expose in January 2002, so in his first 20 years at the CDF, there was nothing for the CDF Prefect to comment upon!]

Moreover, Ratzinger was personally responsible for one high-profile case which, in the eyes of critics, confirmed the Vatican's unwillingness to confront the problem: Charges of sexual abuse against Maciel, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ.

Accusations that Maciel had abused members of the controversial order had circulated for several decades, but in 1998 a group of former members dumped the case directly in Ratzinger's lap. They filed a canonical complaint with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, since its disciplinary section handles certain serious offenses under canon law, including abuse of the sacrament of penance, and Maciel was accused of absolving his victims in the confessional.

That complaint languished until late 2001, when the mushrooming crisis in the States put new pressure on the Vatican to engage the sexual abuse issue across the board. Still, even though an investigation was launched, no action was taken against Maciel for the next four years -- in part, critics said, because he was protected by influential Vatican patrons, up to and including John Paul II himself.

Ratzinger's attitude toward the crisis at the time can perhaps best be gauged from comments he made on November 30, 2002, during an appearance in Murcia, Spain, at a conference organized by the Catholic University of St. Anthony. During a Q&A session after his talk, Ratzinger was asked: "This past year has been difficult for Catholics, given the space dedicated by the media to scandals attributed to priests. There is talk of a campaign against the church. What do you think?"

This was Ratzinger's reply:

In the Church, priests are also sinners. But I am personally convinced that the constant presence in the press of the sins of Catholic priests, especially in the United States, is a planned campaign, as the percentage of these offenses among priests is not higher than in other categories, and perhaps it is even lower. [TRUE THEN AND TRUE NOW, from all available data.]

In the United States, there is constant news on this topic, but less than one percent of priests are guilty of acts of this type. The constant presence of these news items does not correspond to the objectivity of the information or to the statistical objectivity of the facts. Therefore, one comes to the conclusion that it is intentional, manipulated, that there is a desire to discredit the Church. [TRUE THEN AND TRUE NOW!]

[Cardinal Ratzinger must have ever after rued those comments, not because he said anything untrue, but because it did make him sound defensive, to say the least, and to uncharitable people, 'in denial'. As for the remark on a 'planned campaign', like all newspaper exposes on misdeeds, the initial stories are always a factual presentation, even if already slanted censoriously as in the case of the Boston Globe reports.

The initial outrage is sincere, but then it feeds on itself with every new revelation and becomes an outright campaign as the Globe itself defined its work - in which the guilty party and anyone associated with him/them, in this case, the Church, end up being painted as utterly black. And of course for the MSM, it was a heavensent opportunity to aggressively promote their anti-religion, anti-Church ideology. A situation we are seeing all over today.]

Making Ratzinger's defensive tone all the more striking, his comments came after a summit between Vatican officials and American cardinals, as well as officers of the bishops' conference, in April 2002 to discuss the American crisis, a meeting in which Ratzinger participated.

For the record, in claiming "less than one percent" of priests were guilty, Ratzinger was relying on an analysis by writer Philip Jenkins, published in the mid-1990s, of the Chicago archdiocese. In the end, the U.S. bishops' own study concluded that accusations have been lodged against 4.3 percent of diocesan priests over the last 50 years, and some critics regard even that total as under-reported.

The turning point
Though it didn't look like it at the time, the turning point in Ratzinger's attitude came in May 2001, with a legal document from John Paul II titled Sacramentum sanctitatis tutela. Technically known as a motu proprio, the document assigned juridical responsibility for certain grave crimes under canon law, including sexual abuse of a minor, to Ratzinger's congregation. It also compelled diocesan bishops all over the world to forward their case files to Rome, where the congregation would make a decision about the appropriate course of action.

In the wake of the motu proprio, Ratzinger dispatched a letter to the bishops of the world, subjecting accusations of sexual abuse against priests to the authority of his office and insisting upon "confidentiality," which critics typically regard as a code-word for secrecy.

Whatever the merits of the 2001 letter, it set the stage for a dramatic change in Ratzinger's approach.

Msgr. Charles Scicluna, a Maltese priest who serves as the Promoter of Justice in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith -- in effect, its lead prosecutor -- said in a recent interview with the Italian Catholic paper L'Avvenire [AVVENIRE, AVVENIRE, AVVENIRE - no article before it! It's so annoying when Allen can't even get the name of the newspaper right!] that the motu proprio triggered an "avalanche" of files in Rome, most of which arrived in 2003 and 2004. Eventually, Scicluna said, more than 3,000 cases worked their way through the congregation.

By all accounts, Ratzinger was punctilious about studying the files, making him one of the few churchmen anywhere in the world to have read the documentation on virtually every Catholic priest ever credibly accused of sexual abuse. As a result, he acquired a familiarity with the contours of the problem that virtually no other figure in the Catholic church can claim.

Driven by that encounter with what he would later refer to as "filth" in the church, Ratzinger seems to have undergone something of a "conversion experience" throughout 2003-04. From that point forward, he and his staff seemed driven by a convert's zeal to clean up the mess.

Of the 500-plus cases that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith dealt with prior to Benedict's election to the papacy, the substantial majority were returned to the local bishop authorizing immediate action against the accused priest -- no canonical trial, no lengthy process, just swift removal from ministry and, often, expulsion from the priesthood. In a more limited number of cases, the congregation asked for a canonical trial, and in a few cases the congregation ordered the priest reinstated.

That marked a stark reversal from the initial insistence of Vatican officials, Ratzinger included, that in almost every instance the accused priest deserved the right to canonical trial. Having sifted through the evidence, Ratzinger and Scicluna apparently drew the conclusion that in many instances the proof was so overwhelming that immediate action was required.

Among insiders, the change of climate was dramatic.

In the complex world of court politics at the Vatican, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith became the beachhead for an aggressive response to the sexual abuse crisis.

Ratzinger and his deputies sometimes squared off against other departments which regarded the "zero tolerance" policy as an over-reaction, not to mention a distortion of the Church's centuries-long canonical tradition, in which punishments are supposed to fit the crime, and in which tremendous discretion is usually left in the hands of bishops and other superiors to mete out discipline.

Behind the scenes, some Vatican personnel actually began to grumble that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had "drunk the Kool-aid," in the sense of accepting the case for sweeping changes in the way priests are supervised and disciplined.

Ratzinger's transformation can also be glimpsed from an exchange with Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, which George described in April 2005, just after the conclave which propelled Benedict XVI to the papacy.

Two days before the opening of the conclave, George met Ratzinger in his Vatican office to discuss the American sex abuse norms, including the "one strike and you're out" policy. Those norms had been approved grudgingly in late 2002 by the Vatican, and only for a five-year period. George said he wanted to discuss with Ratzinger the arguments for making the norms permanent. Ratzinger, according to George, showed "a good grasp of the situation."

Forty-eight hours later, Ratzinger was the new Pope. As is the custom, the cardinals gathered in the Sistine Chapel made their way, one-by-one, to the new Pontiff in order to pledge their support and obedience. As George kissed his hand, Benedict XVI made a point of telling him, in English, that he remembered the conversation the two men had about the sexual abuse norms, and would attend to it.

The new Pope's first words to a senior American prelate, in other words, were a vow of action on the crisis.

Ratzinger as Pope
While Benedict XVI's opening salvo with Burresi rang insider bells, his next move, with Maciel, got the attention of the wider world. In May 2006, NCR broke the news that Benedict had barred Maciel from public ministry, instructing him to live a life of prayer and penance. Due to his advanced age, no formal canonical trial would be held, but the verdict nevertheless seemed clear: Guilty.

Though Maciel died in January 2008, revelations of various scandals surrounding him continue to emerge -- including fathering a child out of wedlock, and plagiarizing some of his best-known spiritual writings. Benedict eventually ordered an apostolic investigation of the Legionaries, which is now reportedly complete, though it will be some time before conclusions are forwarded to the Pope for whatever action he might take.

Given Maciel's high international profile, and his reputation for friends in high places, Benedict's move was widely taken as proof positive of a new dispensation in the Catholic church: If you're credibly accused of abuse, no power on heaven or earth will protect you from paying the price.

In his recent interview, Scicluna dismissed charges that Benedict XVI has engaged in any cover-up on sex abuse as "false and slanderous." Without naming names, Scicluna lauded Ratzinger's "courage in taking up some cases which were extremely difficult and delicate, sine acceptione personarum (without exception for anyone)."

The reference to Maciel seemed obvious, especially since Scicluna had been the lead investigator in the case.

Given the new tone Benedict had set, it was little surprise that in 2006, the Congregation for Bishops announced that a lightly modified version of the American norms for sexual abuse, including the "one-strike" policy, had been permanently approved. They were subsequently issued as "particular law" in the United States, making them binding on all American dioceses and eparchies (jurisdictions of the Eastern rite churches.)

Benedict's transformation into an apostle of "zero tolerance" has also been clear in press discussion in both Ireland and Germany. News reports indicate that the Vatican has supported local bishops in adopting tough policies along the lines of the American norms. That amounts to a remarkable reversal of fortune, given the ambivalence displayed in Rome not so long ago to the very same policies the papacy is now extolling as a global model.

Nowhere was Benedict's new tone on the sex abuse crisis clearer than during his April 2008 trip to the United States.

The $64,000 question coming into the trip was whether the Pope would openly engage the crisis, or attempt to pass it off as water under the bridge. Early signals did not seem promising; Benedict declined to visit Boston, the epicenter of the recent crisis, and had no session with victims on his public itinerary. From the opening moments, however, it was clear that Benedict had no intention of ducking the question.

"We are deeply ashamed, and we will do all that is possible [so] that this cannot happen in the future," the Pope said in a session with reporters aboard the papal plane April 15 in response to a question from NCR.

Benedict argued that efforts to address the crisis have to unfold on three levels: the legal and juridical, the pastoral, and programs of prevention to ensure that future priests are "sound." Pointedly, the Pope said, "It's more important to have good priests than to have many."

In his address to American bishops at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Wednesday evening, April 16, he returned to the theme. The Pope devoted five full paragraphs to sexual abuse of children, referring to it as "evil" and a "sin."

On April 17 came the most dramatic papal gesture, and the biggest news flash, of the entire trip -- an unannounced and unprecedented meeting with five victims of sexual abuse. Most were from the Boston area, and they were accompanied by Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston. The meeting took place in the Vatican embassy in Washington and lasted roughly a half-hour.

Three of the five victims spoke to NCR and other media about the experience, describing it as a catharsis.

"I think there are already changes happening. There's definitely so much hope right now," said Faith Johnston, whose priest abuser was convicted of raping her when she was 15 and working Saturdays in a Catholic rectory. She said after the meeting that she had been unable to speak about her abuse in the presence of the Pope, and was able to offer him only her tears.

Benedict repeated that pattern during his July 2008 visit to Australia for World Youth Day, once again meeting privately with victims and speaking publicly about the crisis in remarkably candid terms.

For the first time, the Pope issued a direct apology in his own name: "I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering the victims have endured," Benedict said, assuring them that "as their pastor, I share in their suffering."

By the time the crisis in Ireland erupted last year, a new Vatican script seemed to be in place. Papal statements of concern were quickly issued, and a summit of Irish bishops and senior Vatican officials was swiftly convened for mid-February. Similarly in Germany, Zollitsch was in the Pope's office briefing him on the crisis less than a month after it first blew up.

For anyone who recalled the slow and defensive response to the American situation eight years earlier, the change in Rome seemed almost Copernican.

A tale of two crises
Therein, however, lies the rub: relatively few people know or care how far the Vatican, or the Pope, have come over the past eight years.

Insiders rightly insist that Benedict XVI deserves credit for breaking the wall of silence, and for demonstrating that no abuser will be protected on his watch. Yet for most outsiders, meaning the vast majority of Catholics and virtually everyone else on the planet, all that amounts to a no-brainer that should have been accomplished long ago.

From the beginning, the "sex abuse crisis" has actually been an interlocking set of two problems: the abuse committed by some priests, and the administrative failures of some bishops who should have known better to deal with the problem.

In general, the impact of Benedict's "conversion" has been felt mostly on that first level -- the determination to punish abusers, to adopt stringent policies governing future cases, to reach out to victims and to apologize for the suffering they've endured. So far, Benedict has not adopted any new accountability mechanisms for bishops.

Aside from a few instances such as Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston {whose reassignment from Boston to become Arch-Priest of Santa Maria Maggiore was the disposition of John Paul II, not Benedict XVI], few bishops have been asked, or instructed, to resign. [Allen is forgetting one of the 'biggest' bishops of all, John Magee, Bishop of Cloyne, Ireland, who had been private secretary to Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II, and whom Benedict XVI replaced with an apostolic administrator last year for having covered up for at last a couple of erring priests.].

As long as the perception is that the Catholic church has fixed its priests' problem but not its bishops' problem, many people will see that as a job half done. [And why is there a bishops' problem to begin with? Because of the false interpretation of Vatican II. which recognized more autonomy for bishops, yes, and created those national bishops' conferences, but the progressive bishops completely ignore Vatican II's repeated affirmation that bishops must also be 'in communion with the Successor of Peter.']

In turn, that unfinished business is what makes the revelations in Germany so potentially damaging. To be sure, one could reasonably insist that Benedict's policies as Pope are far more important than whatever happened on his watch in Munich thirty years ago.

Yet if other cases of abusers who were reassigned emerge, even fair-minded people with no axe to grind may be tempted to ask: Can Benedict XVI credibly ride herd on bishops for failing to manage the crisis, if his own record as a diocesan leader isn't any better?

Much about the Church's capacity to craft an "exit strategy" from the crisis -- and, perhaps, much about Benedict's own legacy -- may hinge on his ability to offer a convincing answer. [That's assuming he has anything to explain! It's hardly objective to hinge your conclusion on a hypothesis that is very unlikely, given who Joseph Ratzinger is. He could not have said all he had to say about these offenses all these years if he knew that he himself had been guilty of covering up in any way.]

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Utente Veteran

A book that presents Vatican II without the nefarious ideology of the 'hermeneutic of rupture' is always welcome,
but especially so as a respite from the sex abuse news loop.

Renewed Church:
The Second Vatican Council’s
Enduring Teaching about the Church

Sapientia Press, Ave Maria University
Paperback edition
Hardcover published Sept. 2009


Vatican Council II has quite rightly been called the Church's Council on herself! One of the principal aims of the book, The Renewed Church: The Second Vatican Council's Enduring Teaching about the Church, is to explain how and why Vatican II should be characterized in this way.

Two of the Council's sixteen documents — the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, and the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes — explain the Church's self-understanding of what she is and what she does better than has ever been done in any of the Church's official documents in the course of her long history.

The diversity inherent in the Church as Catholic, or universal, is also covered in the book in a discussion of the Council's Decree on the Catholic Eastern Churches, Orientalium Ecclesiarum. Such currently widely discussed and debated contemporary issues as the primacy of the Pope, the collegiality of bishops, the universal call to holiness, the place of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the economy of salvation, the relations of the Church and Catholics with other Christians and with the modern world, and the dignity of the human person — all of these issues, and how they apply today in the life of the Church, go back to Vatican II and to the Council's great documents on the Church, which are more relevant than ever today with the passage of time.


Kenneth Whitehead confounds the liberal-conservative dichotomy by exploring what the Council teaches about the Church as conciliar. In light of the writings of two great men of the Council, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, Whitehead shows how the Church's teaching of truth depends upon the relationship of papal and conciliar teaching.

His presentation of the documents of Vatican II, especially Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes, richly illumines the Council Fathers' love for Catholic truth.
--Thomas G. Weinandy, O.F.M., Cap.
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

With insight and erudition, Kenneth D. Whitehead provides a penetrating look at what Vatican II actually taught and how many since the council have tried to undermine its true meaning and purpose.

This book provides a much-needed counter-balance to those who, in a false spirit of Vatican II, have tried to resist authentic Catholic teachings on human sexuality, the nature of the Church and ecumenism.
- Robert L. Fastiggi
Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, MI

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Utente Veteran

The following is really a more extended account of the AP report posted two boxes above, but since that post became overly long on account of the John Allen article, I am putting this in a new box... BTW, when the New York Times assigns correspondents to track a developing story the way it has done since a 'direct' link appeared to Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, they should be praised for their journalistic enterprise, but you know the enterprise is motivated by the fact that they sense a Watergate-like opportunity here! Someone somewhere in the leftie world has probably already used the term Munichgate gloatingly!

German archbishop expresses
shame over scandal

March 18, 2010

VIERZEHNHEILIGEN, Germany — The leader of the Catholic Church in Bavaria expressed “deep shame” on Thursday for cases of sexual molestation that have shaken the home region of Pope Benedict XVI, and said he was in favor of changing German law so that Church officials would have a greater duty to report suspected child abuse to prosecutors.

Reinhard Marx, the Archbishop of Munich and Freising, said he felt “deep shame” over the reports of abuse of children in Church-run schools during a news conference on Thursday.

But in an often combative [It's combative to speak up for your side???] exchange with reporters at a hilltop pilgrimage site north of Nuremberg, the church official, Archbishop Reinhard Marx, defended the overall integrity of the Church and said it would never be possible to ensure there is no abuse.

He also refused to discuss individual cases or shift any responsibility to Benedict XVI.

“I reject any blanket suspicion,” Archbishop Marx said, praising the thousands of people who work for the Church [Rightly so. The overwhelming majority of good honest priests must never be overlooked in all these discussions]. “There will never be 100-percent security in this world; we can only make a 100-percent effort.”

The archbishop’s comments came after revelations last week that a priest in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising who was accused of molesting boys was allowed to continue working with children, even after being convicted of abuse. He was suspended from duty only this week as scrutiny of the case grew amid questions over the role Benedict had played in its handling in 1980, when he led the archdiocese.

At that time, the future Pope, Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, approved the priest’s transfer for therapy. A subordinate took full responsibility for allowing the priest to later resume pastoral work, the archdiocese said in a statement. Archbishop Ratzinger went on to supervise the Vatican’s review of abuse cases before succeeding Pope John Paul II.

Archbishop Marx, who now heads the Munich archdiocese, refused to discuss specifics of that case. [That's not good at all! It raises the suspicion level that's already high enough as it is! Archbishop Marx owes the public a full explanation about the case of Priest H. Thus far, we only know what the media have uncovered.]

Speaking Thursday outside a meeting of Bavarian bishops near a famous basilica, he said he was open to financially compensating abuse victims, and to extending the statute of limitations on sexual abuse cases.

Many cases come to light decades after the fact, when the victims are adults, often in middle age. Archbishop Marx said the church had a moral obligation to investigate reports of abuse even if the statute of limitations had expired.

At the same time, Archbishop Marx criticized news reports that have cited anonymous sources for accusations against priests or the church. “The examination of the past must remain just,” he said.

Asked if the Pope himself should speak to Bavarian Catholics on the abuse cases, Father Marx said Benedict had already repeatedly addressed the issue around the world. “I don’t sense any deficit of support from the Pope,” Archbishop Marx said. “It’s clear to everyone where he stands.”

On Saturday, Benedict is expected to release a pastoral letter to Catholics in Ireland, where a separate abuse scandal has embroiled the Church and now threatens to topple the leading Irish cardinal. The Pope has said the letter would assist with “repentance, healing and renewal.”

Addressing the issue of Church secrecy in abuse cases, Archbishop Marx said the Bavarian bishops were in favor of strengthening the duty of Church officials to report cases of abuse, and said the Church would do so independent of any legislative changes.

“We really need a culture of seeing and attentiveness,” said Ludwig Schick, the archbishop of nearby Bamberg, who also attended the press conference. There should not be “taboo zones where sexual as well as physical abuse is possible,” Archbishop Schick said.

The basilica where the archbishop spoke traces its origins to a shepherd who, in the 15th century, had a vision of 14 children who told him to build a chapel on the site. “Vierzehnheiligen” means “14 holy ones.”

The basilica, designed by the Baroque architect Johann Balthasar Neumann, remains a destination for pilgrims as well as people who hope to benefit from its healing powers.

The bishops’ gathering attracted a lone protester, 52-year-old Sigrid Behm, who stood in front of the basilica wearing a traffic sign around her neck of the kind used to warn children of a dangerous crossing. Ms. Behm had placed a lace cloth on the ground before her with the handwritten slogan, “Not to the cloister — to jail.”

Archbishop Marx said he and other bishops had prayed in the basilica for forgiveness.

[Archbishop Marx has posted a statement following the Vierzehnheiligen meeting on the archdiocese site. I will translate the paragraph that refers to Benedict XVI (I broke it up into separate sentences for easier reading):


In all their efforts in the battle against sex abuses, the Bavarian bishops acknowledge that they have been encouraged by the Holy Father and they thank him for this.

Benedict XVI has for years been tireless in admonishing that there should be zero tolerance in dealing with sexual abuses.

The bishops conference of Freising knows that the situation is a spiritual call in the sense of the 'purification of memory' that John Paul II formulated in his Jubilee Year apologies, which was emphasized yesterday and today at Holy Mass in the Vierzehnheiligen basilica.

The bishops thank their priests, religious and other co-workers for serving with loyalty and devotion.


The myth of the 'silent' Pope:
He has said all there is to say
about sex offenses by priests

Guest Commentary
Archbishop of Freiburg
President, Deutsche Bischofskonferenz

Translated from
March 18, 2010

My Pope. Your Pope. The Pope must for the moment show proof of so many things. Often, not enough will listen to him, and now, across a wide front, he is reproached for being 'silent' on the sex abuse scandals affecting the Catholic Church in Germany. What more will they ask of this man tomorrow? That he should sit at a round table discussion? That he should clear up the thicket of expired statutes of limitations and claims for damages? Everyone is asking the Pope to do what it is they want specifically of him.

The wonderment of a German newspaper in its online edition why the Pope has been silent about the terrible events in the Odenwald school shows how much editorial judgment has gone astray. [Because Odenwald is a public school with lay teachers and has nothing to do with the Church.]

The myth of the silent Pope ignores the fact that there isn't a Pope for Germany and another for Spain. There is just one Pope for the universal Church. As a consequence, Benedict XVI must be careful what he says, where he says it, to whom he says it, and how he says it.

Quickly there were demands that the Pope should take a stand on the German problem because he is German. That is as shortsighted as it is superficial.

The head of the Catholic Church must find words to say about these terrible abuses against minors that will be heard by the whole world and that apply to everyone, even when he is speaking of a particular case.

He has found those words and said them. [Not once, but many times! Not just now but in the past.] The significance of a statement does not grow depending on how many times it is repeated. That's how it is in life, especially about existential matters.

I know from my conversation with the Pope how shaken he is by the sexual abuse of children by priests, more so now that the scandal has struck Germany.

He has unequivocally spoken about what he calls 'this monstrous crime': "No words I can say can describe the pain and suffering brought on by such abuses...Nor can I find the right words to express the resulting harm to the Church".

When he visited the United States, he asked of us - and he meant it for all bishops worldwide - to do everything in our power to bring 'healing and reconciliation' and to be there "for all who were harmed".

What can he say that is new? His words have validity - as well as consequences. [The consequences are that the local Church and its pastors have to take responsibility for what happens in their dioceses and parishes, set up mechanisms to set right what went wrong - with the victims as well as the offenders - and minimize the chances of recurrence. Ever again, if possible!]

As terrible as the situation in Germany is, what has already been said cannot be said over and over. What has been said preserves its weight if it is not being said again and again!

Didn't I just say the New York Times is doing a Watergate-style operation on the one case so far that is linked in any way to Joseph Ratzinger? Here is the latest 'witness' they have uncovered - and despite the innuendo and the obvious guilt-by-association statements in the headline and the first six paragraphs, go down to the seventh paragraph where the psychiatris says he had no contact with Archbishop Ratzinger at all nor did he know if the latter got the information he provided since his main contact was with another prelate who has since died.

Psychiatrist says Church
was warned about priest

Published: March 18, 2010

ESSEN, Germany — The German archdiocese led by the future Pope Benedict XVI ignored repeated warnings in the early 1980s by a psychiatrist treating a priest accused of sexually abusing boys that he should not be allowed to work with children, the psychiatrist said.

“I said, ‘For God’s sake, he desperately has to be kept away from working with children,’” the psychiatrist Werner Huth said in an interview Thursday. “I was very unhappy about the entire story.”

Dr. Huth said he was concerned enough that he set three conditions for treating the priest, Peter Hullermann: that he stay away from young people and alcohol and be supervised by another priest at all times.

Dr. Huth said he issued the warnings — explicit, both written and oral — before the future Pope, then Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, left Germany for the Vatican in 1982.

In 1980, following abuse complaints from parents in Essen that the priest did not deny, Archbishop Ratzinger approved a decision to move the priest to Munich for therapy.

[The writer does not make clear if Huth treated the priest in Essen, or in Munich. One assumes it was in Essen, since he is in Essen now - if that was so, we are back at one of the basic logical questions in this case: why did the Diocese of Essen send the priest off to Munich if he already had a psychiatrist in Essen? And why did Munich accept a priest sent to them with a bad record unless it was in keeping with the prevailing culture of the time, when priests were transferred to other assignments in order to get them away from complainants!

This is why it would be so much better - AND WISER ALTOGETHER - if the Archdiocese of Munich itself provided all the relevant information they have ASAP and all at once, instead of watching the details being uncovered by the media! Until they do this, the index of suspicion in the minds of the critics and of the public they influence will just keep rising. And the longer Archbishop Marx does not say anything, the more likely it is that if the suspicion level escalates, as it is bound to do, the pressure will inevitably be be for the Pope himself to explain his personal recollection of what he did or did not do about the case and the classic 'what did he know and when did he know it?'

Although I have imagined from the beginning that once he was provided with a full dossier of the information about Fr. H as it was presented to him at the time he approved giving him parish lodings, then he himself would make the unprecedented gesture of saying - "This is how I was involved here...'

I bet by now the media sleuths - all hoping to be the new Woodward and Bernstein - have been working on Mons. Gruber to get him to reveal something damaging to the Pope. Like for instance, that he was told by Archbishop Marx to take 'full responsibility' for giving Father H a pastoral assignment, even if Archbishop Ratzinger knew all along what he was doing, or worse, told him to do so! Gruber is 81 and he could be very vulnerable to media pressure if there was any weakness or inaccuracy in the way the Archdiocese of Munich presented this story.]

Despite the psychiatrist’s warnings, Father Hullermann was allowed to return to parish work almost immediately after his therapy began, interacting with children as well as adults. He was promptly accused(?) of molesting other boys and was convicted in 1986 of sexual abuse in Bavaria.

Benedict’s then-deputy, Gerhard Gruber, said that he was to blame for that personnel decision, which he called a “serious mistake.”

The psychiatrist said in an interview he did not have any direct communications with Archbishop Ratzinger and did not know if the archbishop knew about his warnings. Though he said he spoke with several senior church officials, Dr. Huth’s main contact at the time was a bishop, Heinrich Graf von Soden-Fraunhofen, who died in 2000.

Even after his conviction in 1986, Father Hullermann, now 62, continued working with altar boys for many years. He was suspended just this past Monday for ignoring a 2008 church order not to work with youths.

[Archbishop Marx has even failed to explain why Fr. H was given new pastoral assignments after his conviction. Any way you look at it, the fact is the diocese did tolerate Fr. H for 30 years (the first 13 months of it when Cardinal Ratzinger was Archbishop.]

Mr. Gruber did not respond to repeated attempts to contact him for comment at home. Attempts to reach the archdiocese for reaction on Thursday night were also unsuccessful.

On Wednesday, speaking generally about the question of Father Hullermann’s therapy, a spokesman at the Munich archdiocese, Bernd Oostenryck, said, “Thirty years ago the subject was treated very differently in society.”

“There was a tendency to say it could be therapeutically treated,” said Mr. Oostenryck.

Father Hullermann began working in 1978 as a chaplain in the St. Andreas church in Essen, an industrial city in the Ruhr region not far from where he was born in Gelsenkirchen. The three sets of parents who complained to the church, said that Father Hullermann had “sexual relations” with their children in February 1979, according to a statement this week by the diocese in Essen.

In the minutes taken by the priest in charge of the parish at the meeting with the parents, he noted that they “would not file charges under the current circumstances” in order to protect their children. For decades it was common practice in the church not to involve law enforcement in cases of sexual abuse. Vowing to change that, Bavarian bishops on Thursday called for a law making it mandatory for church officials to report any suspected sexual or physical abuse to prosecutors.

Spared prosecution after his transgressions in Essen, which according to the statement released by the diocese he “did not dispute,” Father Hullermann instead was ordered to undergo therapy with Dr. Huth. The archdiocese said that order was approved personally by Archbishop Ratzinger.

Dr. Huth said that he had recommended one-on-one sessions, which Father Hullermann refused. Instead he took part in group sessions, usually seated in a circle with eight other patients, who had a mix of different disorders including pedophilia. Dr. Huth, 80, said that Father Hullermann had problems with alcohol for which he prescribed him with medication, but that he was “neither invested nor motivated” in his therapy.

“He did the therapy out of fear that he would lose his post,” he said, adding that he did it out of “fear of punishment.”

Dr. Huth, who was authorized by Father Hullermann to report to church officials about his treatment on request, said he shared his concerns with them frequently. He said that the three constraints he put on Father Hullermann — that he stay away from children, that he not drink alcohol, and that he be accompanied and supervised at all times by another priest — were only intermittently enforced.

Not long after the therapy began, Father Hullermann returned to unrestricted work with parishioners. Archbishop Ratzinger was still in charge in Munich, but church officials have not said if the Pope was kept up to date about the case.

After the future Pope’s departure in 1982, Father Hullermann moved to the nearby town of Grafing in September of that year, where he taught religion at a local public school. Two years later police began investigating him on suspicion of sexual abuse of minors.

The court commissioned another psychiatrist, Johannes Kemper, to examine him and write an expert opinion for the 1986 trial. “Alcohol played a big role,” said Dr. Kemper, 66, who had examined Father Hullermann in his practice for half a day. As a prelude to sexual abuse, Dr. Kemper said, “He drank and then under the influence of alcohol he watched porn videos with the youths.”

Little information is publicly available about the court proceedings. The court file was sealed after Father Hullermann’s probationary period ended. Dr. Kemper said at the trial the victims waited outside the courtroom before and came in one at a time to testify. He did not remember exactly how many victims there were, saying there were “between five and ten.”

The prosecutor’s office in Munich confirmed Thursday that Father Hullermann was convicted of sexual abuse of minors and for distributing pornographic images, according to a spokesperson for the office, Andrea Titz.

Little information is publicly available about the case. The court file was sealed after Father Hullermann’s probationary period ended.

The mayor of Garching an der Alz, where Father Hullermann worked for 21 years after his conviction, was sharply critical of the Church Thursday for failing to inform the community at the time he was sent to work there, saying that they had been used “as guinea pigs.”

“Had we known, we definitely would have done something,” said Wolfgang Reichenwallner, the mayor, and a friend of Father Hullermann. “We just can’t afford the risk that children in our community are put in harm’s way.”

“We got lucky that nothing seems to have happened.” According to Mr. Reichenwallner and church officials, there have been no new accusations of sexual abuse since Father Hullermann’s 1986 conviction.

[Just suppose that one of these aspiring Woodward-Bernstein teams have already found something more 'incriminating' or that could be made to look 'incriminating' for the Pope - and then they unleash the story right after the Vatican publishes the Pope's letter to the Irish Catholics on Saturday, can you imagine how TRULY CATASTROPHIC that would be???? - Even if it was trumped up, they will have planted the idea of a 'smoking gun' in the public mind! Everything would turn to travesty... Sure, i'm thinking worst-case scenario, but I wouldn't put anything past the MSM - they'lll think up even more extreme situations than the projections of someone like me who has always suffered from too little imagination.


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Vierzehnheiligen ist about 20 min from here... so strange...

I hope to come to a settlement about this sometime soon!
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Not really 'news' by now, but anything to get away from the nasties...Also, Beckford does give the news a fresh treatment.


The Pope will address half a million Roman Catholics at a series of open-air services on the first-ever papal state visit to Britain.

Benedict XVI is to hold Mass at a park in Glasgow and a prayer vigil in London, likely to be in Hyde Park, before he takes the unprecedented step of beatifying England’s next saint during a public event at Coventry Airport.

Huge crowds greeted the last Pope, John Paul II, when he visited the country almost 30 years ago, but numbers will be lower this time because of the demands of modern health and safety regulations and the fact that the current Pontiff will be 83 when he arrives.

The Pope will be received by the Queen at Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, meet the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace and visit the Grave of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey, with tens of thousands more expected to line the route as he makes the historic four-day tour.

However he is also likely to repeat his criticism that the Government has restricted religious freedom in the name of equality, in a “major speech” to leading figures in British society at Westminster Hall.

The trip will not have some of the trappings of many state visits to Britain, such as a carriage procession up the Mall or a banquet at Buckingham Palace, but the cost has still been put at more than £15million even before security and policing are included. The Church is likely to pay for part of the expense.

Jim Murphy, the Scottish Secretary who is a Catholic and who is helping organise the visit, said: “This is an historic visit at an important time. The Pope will receive a very warm welcome from Catholics and people of all faiths.”

The Most Rev Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, said: “We are confident that the presence and message of Pope Benedict will encourage everyone to aspire again to a vision of life in our society marked by mutual trust, compassion and truth.”

But at a joint Church and state press conference where details were disclosed, he spoke of his concerns about Labour’s attempts to restrict the employment practices of religions in anti-discrimination laws.

Archbishop Nichols said: “The development of equality legislation is difficult and it does not proceed easily. We recognise in the attempts of this Government to formulate and carry forward good intentions, but we believe misjudgements at certain points.”

Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain between September 16th and 19th will in some respects echo that of his predecessor, who made the first papal visit to the country since the Reformation in 1982.

John Paul II’s six-day tour was not a state visit and was paid for by the Church. He held one open-air Mass at the old Wembley, attended by 80,000, another one at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow in front of 300,000 worshippers, and was greeted by more than 350,000 at Coventry Airport.

Benedict XVI will repeat his predecessor's journeys to Glasgow and Coventry but the third open-air event will be in a central London park rather than Wembley. The highlight of the public gatherings will be his beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman at the airfield in the West Midlands, which closed to passengers and freight last year.

It will be the first time that he has carried out such a ceremony since becoming Pope, and will give the title “blessed” to the Victorian convert in a crucial stage in the path to his canonisation.

The Catholic Church will have to allot tickets to the public Masses so that each parish can send a coachload of worshippers, as numbers are likely to be restricted, and will encourage others to watch television or internet broadcasts.

The Holy Father will also host a private "event focusing on education” at an as-yet undisclosed location, and will meet faith leaders including Dr Rowan Williams, the head of the Anglican Communion, at his London residence of Lambeth Palace.

Among the crowds lining the streets to see the Popemobile during the visit are likely to be protestors including atheists, equality campaigners and victims of clerical child abuse.

Asked if he thought the Pope would talk about the sex scandals surrounding the Vatican while in Britain, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, said: "We do not know whether he will address that subject. We are quite a different country from Ireland, or France or wherever else.”

Pope Benedict XVI's visit:
The itinerary

by Martin Beckford

The main outline of Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to Britain between September 16th and 19th has been disclosed, although full details are not yet available:

Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh. Pope Benedict XVI will be received by the Queen at her official residence in Scotland.

Bellahouston Park, Glasgow. The Pope will celebrate Mass at the open-air venue where Pope John Paul II was greeted by 300,000 Catholics in 1982.

Coventry Airport, West Midlands. He will beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman, who founded the Birmingham Oratory, during a public Mass at the now-disused airfield. This is a stage on the path to sainthood and will mean the Victorian theologian and convert to Rome is given the title “blessed”.

Hyde Park, London. Benedict XVI will hold his third public service, a prayer vigil, in a central London park rather than at Wembley Stadium as his predecessor did.

Westminster Cathedral, London. He will celebrate Mass before an invited audience at England’s primary Catholic church.
- There will also be a private speech about education at an as-yet undisclosed location.

Westminster Hall, London. The Pope will deliver a “major speech to British civil society” at the oldest building in Parliament where Sir Thomas More, the Catholic martyr, was sentenced to death.

Lambeth Palace, London. Benedict XVI, who recently set up a scheme for disaffected Anglicans to convert to Catholicism, will meet Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, at his historic residence on the banks of the Thames.

Westminster Abbey, London. Like most heads of state who come to Britain, the pontiff will visit the Grave of the Unknown Warrior. He will also pray at the Shrine of St Edward, King and Confessor, with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

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'The first Pope to confront
the problem courageously'

Interview with BERNARD LECOMTE
Translated from

Germany, the Netherlands, Austria. The pedophile scandals involving priests have multiplied. Benedict XVI himself has now been placed on the docket by media accusations.

On March 12, the Munich newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung accused the Pope of having mismanaged the case of a priest accused of pedophile tendencies when he was Archbishop of Munich.

An iniquitous situation, according to Bernard Lecomte, journalist, writer, and author of Pourquoi le pape a mauvaise presse.

What do you think of the media campaign aimed at Benedict XVI?
Pedophilia is a terrible subject which demands seriousness and detachment. One has the impression that the media are seeking above all to 'hunt down' Benedict XVI, like a pack of hounds attracted by the smell of big game.

Imagine the scoop if you could catch out the Pope's brother in a spicy scanda;! Better yet, if one could drag Benedict XVI before the courts for having protected pedophiles when he was archbishop - how sensational that would be!

This primary anti-Papism that is rather sordid, alas, makes an sxamination of this serious subject sickening.

Benedict XVI is attacking this problem of pedophilia among priests. Is that something new for the Church?
This Pope will go down in history as the first Pope to have faced the problem of pedophilia with such determination and courage. [Well, it was not recognized as a problem in the Church until the late years of John Paul II's Pontificate.] It was he who, travelling to the United States in April 2008, declared that the Church would thereafter be intractable on these matters, and that she would not deal with it simply as an internal problem.

It is also he who, on the occasion of the recent dramatic developments in the Church of Ireland, decided to reprove the bishops for not having taken the necessary measures when they had knowsledge of pedophile acts in their dioceses. For the Church, this has been a great leap.

Does that mean that little was done about this in John Paul II's Pontificate?
One should remember that at the time, no one reproached him for it. John Paul II dealt with these questions discreetly as it was habitual for the Church then.

But in a certain way, it seems to me he could have been 'negligent' on this matter. As, for instance, in the case of Fr. Marcial Maciel - the founder of the Legionaries of Christ. One could say he did not have the reflexes that one would expect of the Pope today. But I'm not saying that he was indifferent.

Unfortunately, the rest of the interview is accesible only if you are a subscriber, and I have not found the entire interview posted anywhere other than as a link. In December 2009, Lecomte gave this interview to Famille Chretienne after publication of his book Pourquoi le Pape a mauvaise press (Why the Pope has a bad press).


Bernard Lecomte : 'French journalists
cannot distinguish a Lutheran from
an Anglican, or a synod from a conclave'

Interview by Benjamin Coste et Claire Frangi
Translated from

Various 'cases', controversies and misunderstanding marked the reporting on the Catholic Church in 2009. For the writer Bernard Lecomte, a specialist on the papacy, both the media and the Vatican bear responsibility.

The author of Pourquoi le Pape a mauvaise presse speaks about the reciprocal incomprehension between the Church and the media.

In your opinion, since his election in 2005 and before the events at the start of 2009 [Williamson, condoms], did Benedict XVI have a good image?
When he was elected, initially it was largely negative. Cardinal Ratzinger had been the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctirne of the Faith, and was therefore, seen as a disciplinarian - an inmage that was reinforced by his reputation as a conservative, and here in France, by the fact that he is German. Besides when he was elected, he was 78 - an old man.

But his trip to France rectified that image. The public saw a kind, almost shy man, who was able to reach the intellectuals with his lecture at the College des Bernardins. Many were struck by the reverence of the crowds at the Mass celebrated at the Invalides, and by his visit to Lourdes, where he showed great compassion adn generosity towards the sick.

You say that the image of Benedict XVI turned for the worse in France in 2009. What happened?
After his visit, the German Pope left a good impression. but a few months later, three consecutive events (Williamson, the 9-year-old girl with her twin abortion in Brazil, and condoms) completely turned that image to the point of making it completely negative.

Benedict XVI is trying to reintegrate Catholic traditionalists [i.e., the Lefebvrians] into the Church. But the negationist statements of Mons. Williamson led to a complete media catastrophe. The media always have the effect of magnifying everything. Benedict XVI has since been perceived as a reactionary.

It might all have eventually been a minor affair if it had not been followed soon after by the Recife happening. The statement made by Cardinal Giovanni Battista RE, a member of the Roman Curia and therefore close to the Pope [Not necessarily - he inherited him from John Paul II; and being the head of a Curial dicastery does not automatically mean closeness to the Pope, whoever he is], gave the impression that the Vatican was much more concerned with canon law than with compassion and mercy. [For some reason, it was the French media who were most exercised over Recife, which was hardly reported in the Anglophone press. and as I was not following that coverage, I have to check what it was Cardinal Re said. Whatever it was, it is obvious that the side of the Brazilian bishop who had to deal with the matter in his own diocese never got a fair hearing in the French media, just as L'Osservatore Romano itself did not give him a fair hearing after Mons. Fisichella's questionable condemnatory article written without full knowledge of the facts. Coming almost on the heels of the Williamson implosion, one might think the highly secularized French media were on an anti-Benedict, anti-Church roll and gleefully welcomed the opportunity to drive another stake through Benedict's heart!

Finally, the Pope's remarks on condoms and AIDS on his way to Africa made him appear in the French media as a person who is insensible to AIDS and completely reactionary with respect to adapting to the world.

Is this attitude due mainly to the personality of Benedict XVI?
The temptation for observers is to say that he does not have the qualities of John Paul II, who was an actor and writer, whereas Benedict XVI was a longtime professor, used to face to face discussions with students, or lecturing in an amphitheater, with the impression that he does not like crowds nor communicating.

And yet, John Paul II too had his share of sensitive matters [i.e., controversies] like establishing the Carmelite convent in Auschwitz, or naming Cardinal Jean Marie Lustiger Archbishop of Paris, his audiences with Yasser Arafat and Kurt Waldheim... But he is now part of history.

Meanwhile, we live in a different world, the Internet age, of information that is instantaneously globalized.

Have the Pope and the Vatican been miscommunicating? Or is the media all too happy pinning down the Catholic Church and its highest representative?
That is the subject of my book. Of course, the media bear responsibility because they have evolved towards the rejection of everything that is institutional, religious, historical, etc. But this evolution - which is extremely aggravating for the Church hierarchy and for Catholics in general, who do not see their Church in what the media portrays - does not exonerate the errors of communication by the Vatican which, in effect, has not always tried to adapt itself to change.

Some are doing this - the editors of L'Osservatore Romano [not always in a positive way!], or Vatican Radio, but the rest - at least half of the cardinals in the Curia - have not felt it necessary to adapt.

They are not completely wrong to think that the Church does not have to follow the trends and fashions in the media. The Church transmit a revelation and perpetuates a tradition. But it is also made up of flesh-and-blood persons, in a real world where information is globalized and instantaneous, where the media take the shortest cut (yes or no, for or against, conservative or progressive, etc), the culture of the sound bite. With respect to them, the Church is in a different world.

So there is a double incompatibility between the Church and the media: both in essence and in form...
Let us take the example of Caritas in veritate, Benedict XVI's social encyclical. Its treatment in the media showed very well the deep gap between the media and the Catholic Church.

The Pope, spiritual leader of 1.2 billion people of earth, issues a major text on a major issue. Naturally, one thinks, "Now that should interest everyone!" But that summer, the Pope also broke his wrist while on vacation. And all the newspapers, TV, radio reported nothing but this about him.

Looking back, it seems no newspaper, no TV program, no radio show paid attention to the encyclical. The Church should take these media tendencies into account even if they are disagreeable and even malicious.

The fundamental question is more interesting. The media are motivated by a single idea that one can summarize as an excessive valuation of power, the sacralization of wealth and ab obsession with sex. But the message of the Church is that man cannot find happiness that way.

And that is the basic problem. The media are simply the reflection of our hyper-individualist, hedonist and relativist society which completely excludes what, to them, is the provocative and embarrassing message of the Gospel.

Is there something specifically French in the situation?
Yes. In Italy, in Poland, in Spain, in Portugal, there still exists the category of the religion journalism. In France, that's gone. Other than the Catholic press, the last generation of religion journalists in France were those at the time of Vatican II.

Today, informed religion journalism has completely vanished - the general media no longer have special correspondents to the Vatican, for instance. Figaro shut down this post last year. There is only one secular French journalist covering the Vatican - the correspondent for Agence France Presse (AFP) and those who represent thwe religious media - La Croix, APIC, I-media. This situation is specific to France.

Another example. Remember the Regensburg lecture of 2006. Benedict XVI was visiting Baaria, and a thousand journalists were covering the event, out of whom there were only eight from France. That would have been unimaginable even as late as 20 years ago! In the 1980s, whenever the Pope travelled, there were at least 30 French journalists tagging along.

Why do the French media 'maltreat' the two-thirds of the population who still identify themselves as Catholics (according to the recent IFOP survey for La Croix)?
Much more than their other European colleagues, French media are distinguished by their secularism and a profound lack of religious culture. After decades of secular education - even laicizing - French newsmen, with rare excpetions, are no longer abale to distinguish a Lutheran from an Anglican,a Sunni from a Shiite or a synod from a conclave.

Don't forget to check out the new New York Times story two posts above in their relentless search
for a 'smoking gun' - anything - they can impute to Joseph Ratzinger
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Pope says current crisis calls
for world financial reorganization



VATICAN CITY, 18 MAR 2010 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy Father received members of the Union of Industrialists and Businesses of Rome at the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace.

Opening his remarks to them with a reference to the current economic crisis, the Pope noted how it has "sorely tried the economic and productive systems of various countries. Nonetheless, it should be faced with trust because it can be considered as an opportunity for the revision of development models and the reorganisation of global finance, a 'new time' - as it has been described - of profound reflection".

Benedict XVI then went on to recall how in his own social Encyclical Caritas in veritate. he had encouraged the world of "economics and finance to focus on the person, whom Christ revealed in his profoundest dignity.

Moreover, while recommending that politics not be subordinate to financial mechanisms, I encouraged the reform and creation of an international juridical and political order (adapted to global structures of economy and finance) in order more effectively to achieve the common good of the human family.

Following in the footsteps of my predecessors, I underlined that the increase in unemployment, especially among young people, the economic impoverishment of many workers and the emergence of new forms of slavery require that access to dignified work for everyone be a priority objective".

"No one is unaware of the sacrifices that have to be made in order to open a business, or keep it on the market, as a 'community of persons' which produces goods and services and which, hence, does not have the exclusive aim of making a profit, though it is necessary to do so", said the Pope.

In this context he also highlighted the importance of "defeating the individualist and materialist mentality which holds that investments must be detracted from the real economy in order to favour the use of capital on financial markets, with a view to easier and quicker returns.

"I would like to recall", he added, "that the most sure way to contrast the decline of the entrepreneurial system in a particular territory consists in establishing a network of contacts with other social actors, investing in research and innovation, not using unjust competition between firms, not overlooking social obligations, and ensuring a quality productivity that responds to the real needs of people".

"A business can ... produce 'social wealth' if business people and managers are guided by a far-sighted vision, one that prefers long-term investment to speculative profit, and that promotes innovation rather than thinking only to accumulate wealth".

The Holy Father went on: "Business people attentive to the common good are always called to see their activity in the framework of a pluralistic whole. Such an approach generates - through personal dedication and a fraternity expressed in concrete economic and financial decisions - a market that is more competitive and, at the same time, more civil, animated by a spirit of service".

Benedict XVI concluded his remarks by saying that "development, in whatever sector of human existence, also means openness to the transcendent, to the spiritual dimension of life, to trust in God, to love, to fraternity, to acceptance, to justice and to peace".

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 19/03/2010 12.25]
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