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4/6/2010 6:15 PM
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I really have not had time to follow up on the Good Friday story about Cardinal Levada, but since I came across this item just now, let me post it for reference. In the headline, summarized what the story says just to make things clear. I must commend AP this time for providing most of the facts for a balanced view of this episode, even ivf the presentation is typically tendentious of AP's negative bias.

In 2006 deposition, Archbishop Levada defended
a 1994 decision to return a priest offender
to pastoral duties after psychotherapy - priest
did not commit new crimes afterwards


PORTLAND, Ore., April 3 (AP) — In a newly released court deposition, a top Vatican official who is a former Portland archbishop defends not telling Oregon parishioners about the sex abuse allegations against a priest he restored to duty.

The deposition also shows that the official, Cardinal William Levada, insisted he had given complete information to the pastor of the parish about the history of Father Joseph Baccellieri. Documents provided by the archdiocese show his position was parochial vicar, an administrative, not pastoral post.

The archdiocese says there were limits on his ministry that no other abuse allegations against him arose. However, there was nothing in records e-mailed by the archdiocese to The Associated Press on Friday showing there was any explicit prohibition on contact between Baccellieri and parishioners. The documents also show that over the years Baccellieri had also been named pastor and co-pastor, before retiring in 2002.

Levada was archbishop of the Portland Archdiocese from 1986-95. He now is head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome and has become a central figure in defending the Vatican in its handling of abusive priests.

In 2006, Levada gave a deposition as dozens of Oregon sex abuse lawsuits were pending against the church.

In a transcript of his testimony released Friday by one of attorneys in those cases, Levada said Baccellieri had gone through therapy and the recommendation was that "he was not at risk for reabusing and that it would be prudent to reassign him."

Jeffrey Lena, a California-based attorney for Levada, deferred immediate comment and told The Associated Press he would try to send a statement about the release of the deposition on Friday but it did not arrive. Lena was traveling over the holiday weekend and had limited cell phone reception.

There was no answer Saturday at Levada's Vatican office; most Vatican offices were closed for Easter.

Some Baccellieri case details had been released earlier but this is the first word of Levada's testimony on it.

Levada said in the deposition he did not think parishioners needed to be told about the priest's history.

"It might give people the implication that if they are being told this, that I am suspecting that he — he may be at risk — he may be a risk to their children," Levada said during questioning by Kelly Clark, one of the attorneys for dozens of men who alleged they were abused by Oregon priests.
{A for candor, but C for a questionable point!]

The deposition was released by Erin Olson, another attorney who represented abuse victims in the Oregon lawsuit and who was instrumental in getting the testimony from Levada. Olson said parts of the deposition were redacted that made reference to three individuals involved in pending litigation.

Olson said she decided to release it because she was angry over Levada's defense of the way the Vatican handled a Wisconsin priest accused of molesting as many as 200 deaf boys.

Levada posted a statement on the Vatican Web site saying that Pope Benedict XVI should not be held responsible for a church decision in the 1990s not to defrock the Wisconsin priest.

Levada left Portland to become archbishop in San Francisco in 1995. He took over as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger after Ratzinger was elected pope in 2005.

The Wisconsin case had been referred to the Vatican's doctrinal office when Ratzinger was in charge of it.

As archbishop in Portland, Levada removed Baccellieri in 1992 after complaints involving teenage boys but allowed him to return on a limited basis under close supervision in 1994.

Levada also set conditions for Baccellieri, including continuous counseling and therapy, regular reporting by his therapist to the Archdiocese of Portland, close monitoring, limitations on ministry activities and residence outside a parish setting or under the supervision of other priests.

In the deposition, Levada told attorneys, "If I thought Father Baccellieri would be a risk to any child, I would never have reassigned him."

But Clark was critical of Levada during the deposition.

"Wouldn't you have some sort of a pastoral moral requirement to let individual parishioners make that determination for themselves?" Clark asked.

"I think it was prudent to act the way I did," Levada replied. "I stand on that — on that judgment I made."

In a 2004 press release, the archdiocese noted there were no further complaints about Baccellieri before his retirement.

Olson and Clark were among the lead attorneys in a 2007 settlement of Oregon sex abuse lawsuits for more than $50 million. The Portland Archdiocese became the first Roman Catholic diocese in the nation to declare bankruptcy on the eve of trial for the first of those lawsuits in July 2004.

Apparently, there has been little follow-=up so far on this. I would like to think it is because Levada was forthright in his answers, and did not seek to evade responsibility for, much less cover up, his actions. Another possible 'saving grace' is that it seems the priest in question did not offend again.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/6/2010 6:16 PM]
4/17/2010 2:00 PM
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This TIME article is an attempt to slam the Pope by dissing Cardinal Bertone - and as Iraely's articles have been for the better part of vie years, this is eminently fiskable from top to bottom. For now, I will purple it over.

Amid the abuse ccandal,
Benedict's No. 2 draws fire

By Jeff Israely

Wednesday, Apr. 14, 2010

For more than a month, Pope Benedict XVI's silence has been driving the clergy sex-abuse crisis. His reference on Thursday to the need of "penance" for the church, which is "under attack," is unlikely to stem criticism. But this week, the Vatican's No. 2 man, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, also took a stab at changing the narrative — and complicated matters.

Bertone, who serves as Vatican Secretary of State, chose not to politely shoot down a question that has come up numerous times since the crisis erupted: Would the priestly vows of celibacy be reconsidered? "Many psychologists and psychiatrists have demonstrated that there is no relation between celibacy and pedophilia. But many others have demonstrated, I have been told recently, that there is a relation between homosexuality and pedophilia," Bertone said during a press conference on Tuesday in Chile, where he was on a weeklong visit. "That is true. That is the problem."

Maybe Bertone should have taken the silent route too. Gay-rights groups around the world lashed out at the comment, starting with Chilean activist Rolando Jimenez, who called it part of a "perverse strategy by the Vatican to try to escape its own responsibility" for allowing abusive priests to go unchecked. More telling was criticism from within the church. U.S.-based Jesuit writer Father James Martin publicly took on Bertone, disputing the research behind the theory and pointing out that the Pope himself declined to cite a correlation between homosexuality and sex abuse of minors when asked by reporters on the papal plane in 2008. Finally, after the French embassy to the Holy See issued a rare statement on Wednesday condemning the "unacceptable" remark, the Vatican press office was forced to issue an official clarification of Bertone's remarks, saying he was referring to homosexual priests rather than the general public.

Vatican insiders say the brushup is the latest sign that the troubles in Rome run deeper than just the Pope's apparent difficulty in facing accusations about his role in the church's dark past on this issue. Blame often falls first on Bertone, whom Benedict plucked for the prime job in 2006, after the two had worked closely for many years in the Vatican doctrinal office. The Secretary of State job has enormous responsibility, essentially serving as Vatican Prime Minister, charged with making the wheels of the billion-strong church turn smoothly, while the Pope focuses on being shepherd to the flock and teacher in chief. Though well liked, the tall and bespectacled Salesian from Italy's northern Piedmont region has not been getting good reviews. "Bertone is a disaster," a Vatican official told me before the latest public brouhaha. "He doesn't have a sense of how things work outside of Italy."

Indeed, what is often described as simply a problem of communications strategy in the Roman Curia is in fact much more profound: what both secular and religious institutions call governance.

The problems date from John Paul II's papacy, which suffered from a leader largely uninterested in administrative affairs and often away from headquarters, trotting the globe. That left Rome to the 20 or so Cardinals to vie for influence. The hope was that Benedict, who as Joseph Ratzinger was one of the most influential of the cadre of Vatican Cardinals, would whip the Roman Curia into shape. Instead, starting with Bertone, he chose to play defense. Says a longtime Vatican observer: "He knew the place well and saw a lot of long knives. He wanted loyalty above all else and chose people whom he could trust blindly, and hoped they could learn on the job."

Bertone has tried to exert his influence over the unwieldy Vatican bureaucracy by placing his trusted Italians in key positions and serving as the ultimate gatekeeper to the Pope, who has fewer direct meetings than his predecessor had and stays focused on his writings and continuing his work as guardian of church doctrine. "Bertone has a stranglehold over things," says the Vatican official critical of the No. 2 man. "But that may be what Pope wants."

Right now, one can imagine, everyone at the Vatican would like most of all to find a way to quiet the global uproar over the church's handling of clergy sex abuse. In the past week alone, besides the criticism over Bertone's comments, a priest in Massachusetts has suggested the Pope should resign, while two of the Vatican's harshest critics, anti-religious writers Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, have called for Benedict's arrest when he arrives in Britain in September for a visit.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi has offered some signs that the Curia is responding, including his posting updated rules on the Internet about reporting abusive priests to the civil authorities and a hint that the Pope may meet with victims during his trip this weekend to the island nation of Malta. Still, Lombardi and others tend not to have easy access to the Pope, who is ultimately the one who must take the lead.

Instead, there is at least one other top Cardinal who has the Holy Father's ear. His name is Angelo Sodano, and he is Bertone's predecessor as Secretary of State. Working mostly behind the scenes as the influential dean of the College of Cardinals, the 82-year-old Sodano made a public appearance on Easter in St. Peter's Square to speak out explicitly about Benedict's difficulties: "Holy Father, on your side are the people of God, who do not let themselves be influenced by the petty gossip of the moment." Maybe he should have kept quiet too.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/17/2010 2:01 PM]
4/27/2010 10:11 PM
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Cardinal Bertone presided at the beatification rites of Catlan Capuchin Jose Tous y Soler, in the Cathedral of Barcelona on Sunday, April 25.

Priestly celibacy not 'untouchable'
says Vatican number two man

BARCELONA, April 26 - Vatican number two Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone has said that priestly celibacy is not "untouchable" but is a "positive tradition" during an interview with a Spanish television station.

"It is not that it (priestly celibacy) is untouchable," Pope Benedict XVI's secretary of state told Catalan public television TV3 late on Monday, before adding "there are married priests in the Catholic as well as oriental church".

But the celibacy imposed on most Catholic priests is a "positive and fruitful tradition", added Bertone who took part Sunday in the beatification ceremony in Barcelona of a Catalan priest.

"It is the non-respect of celibacy that brings with it serious risks and that then has very painful consequences," he said.

Bertone insisted Sunday that there was no cause-and-effect link between priestly celibacy and the child sexual abuse revelations rocking the Roman Catholic Church.

"There is no direct link between celibacy and the deviant behaviour of certain priests," he said in an interview published in Catalan newspaper Vanguardia.

"On the contrary, it is precisely the failure to remain celibate that gradually degrades the life of a priest, until he ceases to be an example, a gift, a spiritual guide for others," he said.

The church sex abuse scandal first erupted in the United States in 2002, when the then-archbishop of Boston admitted he had protected a priest whom he knew to be abusing young children.

In recent months, the scandal has spread across the globe and struck the church at its very core, with some critics calling on the pope to resign, alleging that Pope Benedict XVI helped protect predator priests while he was archbishop of Munich and later as the Vatican's chief morals enforcer.

Bertone sparked controversy earlier this month by declaring that "many" psychologists and psychiatrists had demonstrated a link between paedophilia and homosexuality, but not the vow of celibacy.

The Vatican subsequently sought to "clarify" his remarks, saying he was referring to cases of paedophilia in the Church.
4/27/2010 10:42 PM
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Sombody send him to diplomat school!!

This is simply NOT needed at this time!!

5/7/2010 7:01 PM
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Pro-life leaders object to rumored apppointment
of Mons. Fisichella to head a new Vatican dicastery

By Hilary White

ROME, May 6, 2010 ( – One prominent international pro-life leader has reacted angrily to the rumor, circulated last month by Italian and U.S. journalists, that the head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV), Archbishop “Rino” Salvatore Fisichella, could be promoted to the head of a new dicastery.

John Smeaton, the head of the Society for the Protection for Unborn Children (SPUC), one of Europe’s most prominent and successful pro-life and pro-family organizations, wrote on his blog today that the position Fisichella outlined in his now infamous article about a Brazilian abortion case – together with the support by the English bishops for the U.K. government’s sex education programs – “are cancers which are threatening to destroy countless human lives.”

“A perception that Cafeteria Catholicism prevails in the Church will end up serving up the right to abortion worldwide,” he said.

Rumors continue to circulate in Rome and in the press that Pope Benedict’s Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization will be headed up by Fisichella, who launched himself to international fame last year [He was not exactly unknown at the time! He was Oriana Fallacci's cahnnel to Benedict XVI, among other things.] with an article in L’Osservatore Romano that many took as indication that the Church was softening its teaching on abortion.

The article, titled, “On the Side of the Brazilian Girl,” purported to support a nine year-old rape victim whose twin children were aborted in March last year, against the actions of her local bishop, who had announced the automatic excommunication of the abortionists, and those who facilitated the abortion.

Fisichella wrote, “Other people deserve excommunication and our forgiveness: not those who have allowed you to live….” [To aggravate Fisishella's presumption, he was not in full possession of the facts and did not even try to rach the Bishop of Recife first to get his side before publishing the article, which, according to Sandro Magister, Cardinal bertone prevailed on him to write. Why Bertone felt he even had to intervene in that case and in such a manner, is even more perplexing - plus the fact that afterwards, teh OR refused to publish a reply from teh Bishop of Recife!]

Smeaton wrote, “How would such a scandalous appointment affect the world's perception of Catholic moral teaching on abortion? And, in Obama's push for a universal right to abortion, how would such an appointment affect the world's perception of conscientious objection to abortion on the part of health professionals?”

The new Vatican department will reportedly focus on the re-evangelization of Europe and other western countries that have largely abandoned their traditional Christian foundations. Fisichella’s appointment is said to be anticipated on the basis of his ability to handle the press and his connections around Europe in the academic world.

Smeaton continued, “In the interests of the lives of unborn babies worldwide Archbishop Fisichella should be removed form the Pontifical Academy for Life without the consolation prize of a promotion especially one which might make him a Cardinal.”

Whoever heads it, the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization will likely be an office that will earn its leader a red hat, an issue of grave concern to pro-life advocates who were horrified at Fisichella’s article and who have called for him to be removed from any responsible Vatican office.

Far from the controversy dying down, in March this year, Professor Joseph Seifert, a senior member of the PAV and the founder and rector of the International Academy of Philosophy in Liechtenstein, wrote that he believed Fisichella had knowingly departed from the Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life, an action that should completely disqualify him for any office.

With his article, Seifert said, Fisichella promoted “a new moral doctrine diametrically opposed to the teachings of the Church and particularly to those of the Encyclical Evangelium Vitae.”

This, Seifert said, “would make it impossible to nominate him as bishop of a diocese, let alone of a diocese linked to a Cardinal’s hat and rank.”

“Only an unshakeable and courageous commitment to the full extent of Catholic teaching can qualify a person for such influential and responsible positions for the flock for which Christ has laid down his life.”

Seifert revealed that at their annual meeting this year, he had proposed to Archbishop Fisichella that the entire PAV, including its head, issue a statement that unequivocally pledged their support for the Catholic teaching. Fisichella, Seifert said, refused the suggestion.

I was wondering when these objections would be raised after Andrea Tornielli broke the news about a reported new dicastery to be created by Benedict XVI.

I count myself among those perplexed, to say the least, by the position Fisichella took on the medical abortion performed on a nine-year-old Brazilian girl last year (he accused the Bishop of Recife of having failed to take the girl's interest into consideration and faulted him for saying that the doctors who performed teh abortion were automatically excommunicated), and even more by the way he expressed the position and subsequently refused to address the objections of leading members in the Pontifical Academy for Life that he now heads...

It is common knowledge that Fisichella worked with Cardinal Ratzinger on drafting the encyclical Fides et ratio for John Paul II, he has come to be considered as a 'close associate' of Benedict XVI.

And although the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith subsequently issued a clarification to say that the Church stood with the Brazilian bishops in the Recife case, Fisichella maintains the CDF note supported his position and used this as a reason to even discuss his Academicians' objections....

I know that Fisichella was one of the few Italian bishops who went on TV in 2007 to refute the BBC documentary blaming Cardinal Ratzinger for the cover-up of sex offenses by priests, but one good act does not make up for subsequent questionable ones, to say the least.

And I am sorry Tornielli failed to address the festering Academy for Life dispute when he wrote his story about the new dicastery and Fisichella's possible 'promotion'.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/7/2010 7:03 PM]
5/7/2010 7:15 PM
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The New York Times, apparently not finding anything new to pin on Cardinal Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, has shifted some of its attention to Cardinal Levada - see similar story three posts above two weeks ago in TIME:

Cardinal has a mixed record
on abuse cases


Thursday, May 06, 2010

In January 2006, Cardinal William J. Levada, the highest ranking American official in the Vatican, slipped into a San Francisco office building, sidestepping a gaggle of media lying in wait. On leave from Rome, he was submitting to a day of questioning before a flotilla of plaintiffs' lawyers.

For eight strenuous hours, the cardinal was pressed to explain why he had decided to return priests who were confirmed sexual abusers back to ministry. He acknowledged that he had failed to notify the authorities of allegations of abuse. He struggled to recall why he had chosen not to share information with parishioners.

The questions related to abuse cases that Cardinal Levada dealt with while he was an American bishop; he oversaw the archdioceses of Portland and San Francisco from 1986 to 2005. But by the time the questions were being asked, the cardinal had assumed an exalted position at the Vatican just vacated by his old friend Pope Benedict XVI, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

That put him in charge of adjudicating sexual abuse cases involving priests worldwide, as Benedict had been before him. And like Benedict, whose handling of delicate cases before he became pope has come under scrutiny, Cardinal Levada often did not act as assertively as he could have on abuse cases.

Cardinal Levada was ahead of other church officials on the issue at times, setting up an independent committee to vet abuse cases and calling for greater accountability from church leaders.

But an examination of his record, pieced together from interviews and a review of thousands of pages of court documents, show that he generally followed the prevailing practice of the church hierarchy, often giving accused priests the benefit of the doubt and being reluctant to remove them from ministry.

Erin Olson, a Portland lawyer who has been involved in numerous sexual abuse lawsuits against the Portland Archdiocese, said, "It's no surprise that the Catholic Church continues to be mired in the abuse scandal when the cardinal put in charge of how the church as a whole responds to child sex abuse allegations did such a poor job himself as a bishop and archbishop." She was largely responsible for forcing Cardinal Levada to testify that day in 2006.

Cardinal Levada did not respond to requests for comment. Jeffrey Lena, a lawyer in Berkeley, Calif., who is representing the Holy See in lawsuits, said the cardinal had not been given enough time to respond to a list of questions submitted to him 10 days ago.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, also declined to comment.

In a recent interview with PBS NewsHour, Cardinal Levada said the church had been through a gradual "learning process."

"It took us a lot of time, I think, to understand how to deal with this part, and it took a lot of time to understand how much damage is done to victims, to children, by this kind of behavior," said Cardinal Levada, who has strongly criticized media coverage of the abuse scandal.

Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, who served under Cardinal Levada in San Francisco as his vicar for clergy, said the cardinal had been unfairly maligned.

"My own judgment is he gets categorized negatively," Bishop Wester said. "I don't think it's deserved. I just think he did right by the victims. He's not somebody who's going to slap you on the back, be super gregarious, the life of the party kind of guy. He's more serious, more reserved. Sometimes people misinterpret that.

"In his own way, I think he's very transparent and forthright," Bishop Wester said.

Suzanne Giraudo, a psychologist and chairwoman of the San Francisco Archdiocese's Independent Review board, which evaluates the credibility of sexual abuse accusations, praised Cardinal Levada, saying he wanted to "do what was right, not only for the priest but for the victim."

An Early Warning

An assessment of Cardinal Levada's performance in his current job at the Vatican is complicated by the fact that his congregation's decisions are shrouded in confidentiality rules.

Canon lawyers said cases had been handled more efficiently by the Vatican since procedures were clarified in 2001. Nevertheless, it is not difficult to find cases that have dragged on for several years. The congregation has added staff members, but it still has only 10 people handling cases, and there have been more than 3,000 in the past decade.

Several recent cases that have become public have raised questions about whether the Vatican is even now acting aggressively enough.

American bishops have long argued that they were ignorant of the gravity of sexual abuse in the church until relatively recently. It was not until 2002 that the American church, with Cardinal Levada as one of its most prominent leaders, adopted a zero-tolerance policy in which priests who were credibly accused of sexual abuse were automatically suspended from ministry.

But Cardinal Levada himself heard the siren much earlier. In the spring of 1985, the alarm was sounded by an unlikely trio of concerned Catholics, the Rev. Thomas Doyle, a Vatican canon lawyer; Raymond Mouton Jr., a Louisiana criminal lawyer who defended the Rev. Gilbert Gauthe, a notorious pedophile priest; and the Rev. Michael Peterson, a psychiatrist.

In the wake of the Gauthe case, the three men produced a strongly worded 92-page report that argued for immediate action to deal with sexual molestation in the church.

In May 1985, Cardinal Levada, then a young auxiliary bishop from Los Angeles, was sent by church leaders to meet with the men. The meeting at a Chicago airport hotel went on all day, Father Doyle and Mr. Mouton said recently, with Bishop Levada going through their report almost line by line. They said he seemed enthusiastic about their proposals.

Two weeks later, however, the bishop called Father Doyle and told him that their report was being shelved and that the bishops would convene their own committee to examine the issue. But no such group materialized.

Two decades later, in various sworn depositions, Cardinal Levada would assert that he recalled little from the meeting. But his detailed briefing would have given him a far deeper awareness of the issue than a vast majority of church officials at the time.

Portland Years

Soon after he ascended to the top position at the Portland Archdiocese in 1986, he was forced to deal with the case of the Rev. Thomas B. Laughlin, a prominent priest who was arrested in 1983 and served six months in prison for sexual abuse.

In July 1988, Archbishop Levada wrote to then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, who headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Their friendship dated from several years earlier when the American had been a staff member at the congregation. Archbishop Levada laid out a four-page argument for the dismissal of Father Laughlin from the priesthood, which was granted.

In contrast, just a few months later, Archbishop Levada did not aggressively pursue a complaint that the Rev. Aldo Orso-Manzonetta had invited a boy to stay overnight at the rectory.

Church records indicate that he spoke to Father Orso-Manzonetta and told him not to repeat the mistake. It is not clear if he checked the priest's personnel file. But there was a long trail of complaints against the priest, made public years later when the archdiocese released reams of priest personnel records as part of bankruptcy proceedings.

Four years later, more rumors about the priest's relationships with boys and under-age young men surfaced. This time, the Rev. Charles Lienert, the archdiocese's vicar for clergy, sent a memo in May 1992 to Archbishop Levada detailing a history of accusations against Father Orso-Manzonetta.

It was not until 1994, however, when another accuser came forward, that Father Orso-Manzonetta was sent for a psychological evaluation. A letter from Father Lienert to the examiner that was in the priest's personnel file expressed concern about the sheer number of allegations, saying, "These records are discoverable should someone choose to sue us."

Father Orso-Manzonetta then retired, and he died in 1996. But in 2000, several men who said he had abused them as altar boys sued the archdiocese. The case was eventually settled for an undisclosed amount.

In at least two instances during his time in Portland, Archbishop Levada chose to return priests with proven allegations of sexual abuse against them to ministry after treatment, with the agreement of therapists, according to church records.

At another point, the archbishop overruled advisers who recommended that the archdiocese make a general announcement encouraging sexual abuse victims to come forward, following new revelations about a priest who had molested children in the 1950s.

Archbishop Levada also apparently rebuffed the archdiocese's lawyer, Bob McMenamin, when he urged him to hold a seminar for clergy members on sexual abuse, according to testimony from the lawyer in an ethics complaint that the archbishop filed against Mr. McMenamin after he went on to represent a man in a sexual abuse lawsuit against the archdiocese.

"He said he had more important things for his priests to do," Mr. McMenamin said.

Cases in San Francisco

In 1995, Cardinal Levada moved to the San Francisco Archdiocese. Early on, he dealt with two priests who he learned had sexually abused children years before and decided not to restrict either.

In the case of the Rev. Milton Walsh, who was the rector of the city's cathedral, Archbishop Levada testified in a 2005 deposition that a therapist had concluded that an episode in which Father Walsh had molested a 13-year-old boy, Jay Seaman, in 1984 was not indicative of a "tendency toward sexual abuse."

Later, the police would record an extraordinary telephone call between Mr. Seaman and Father Walsh, in which Father Walsh said that he had learned not to put himself in situations where he would be tempted. He said he had told Archbishop Levada, "You can trust me, 'cause I don't trust myself."

The archbishop went through a similar calculus with the Rev. Gregory Ingels, a canon lawyer who had become a national expert on clergy sexual abuse. He would be charged by prosecutors in 2003 with "unlawful oral copulation" with a teenage boy over an episode from 1972.

Fathers Walsh and Ingels were suspended from ministry in 2002 under the zero-tolerance policy adopted by American bishops. The criminal charges against both men were dropped because of the statute of limitations.

In late 1997, Archbishop Levada faced a case in which the suspicions of abuse were current, not decades old. The Rev. John P. Conley, a former United States attorney who had become a priest, happened upon a flustered teenage boy in his church's rectory.

Father Conley later said in a sworn deposition, released by his lawyer, Michael P. Guta, that he also spotted a man crawling away. The boy told the priest, an associate pastor in the parish, that he had been "wrestling" with the Rev. James Aylward, the head pastor.

Father Conley said he contacted the district attorney's office even though he was told by an archdiocesan official that these matters were usually handled "in house."

Father Conley also discovered that priests had never been briefed about a new state law that made members of the clergy mandatory reporters of suspected sexual abuse and that had gone into effect 11 months earlier. A bishop told him that church officials were still studying it.

Instead of imposing restrictions on Father Aylward, Archbishop Levada suspended Father Conley after the pair clashed over the handling of the episode. The archbishop cited reports of "anger outbursts" with parishioners.

Father Conley filed a defamation lawsuit against the archbishop, contending that he had been punished for reporting sexual abuse. Father Aylward, who was never criminally charged, admitted under oath in a deposition more than two years after the episode that he had wrestled with young boys for years and gotten sexual gratification out of i. At that point, he was suspended.

Father Conley eventually won a settlement from the archdiocese.

By the end of Cardinal Levada's term in San Francisco, his approach on such cases had evolved. The archdiocese became among the first in the United States to create an independent committee to investigate sexual abuse cases.

Even so, the committee's first chairman, James Jenkins, a psychologist, resigned in 2003 over differences with Archbishop Levada. "It was compromised by, really, disingenuousness and actions of deception and manipulation," he said, citing the secrecy surrounding the board's findings and other issues.

Less than two years later, Pope Benedict XVI brought his old friend to Rome.

In FIRST THINGS, editor Joseph Bottum had this comment:

The 'Times' and the Church
by Joseph Bottum

Thursday, May 6, 2010, 11:55 AM

A sign that the New York Times will not be halting its seemingly daily effort to link the Vatican to the priest scandals: today’s article on Cardinal Levada, written by Michael Luo, who has been covering economics and the recession for the newspaper.

In the middle of a dangerous economic moment, with the European mess threatening another turn of the recession screw, the New York Times takes a reporter off the economics beat and moves him onto the effort to link current Vatican officials to the old abuse cases. Yes, a sign: They will not let this go.

The article itself was not uninformative, but in any other context, the paper would not be pushing out a story that is this old, breaks no new ground, and ends up unable to decide whether he’s the good guy or the bad guy in the story:

Cardinal Levada was ahead of other Church officials on the issue at times, setting up an independent committee to vet abuse cases and calling for greater accountability from Church leaders.

But an examination of his record, pieced together from interviews and a review of thousands of pages of court documents, show that he generally followed the prevailing practice of the Church hierarchy, often giving accused priests the benefit of the doubt and being reluctant to remove them from ministry.

The story clearly wants to link Levada to Benedict, and the very last sentence is the ominous “Less than two years later, Pope Benedict XVI brought his old friend to Rome.” Which means . . . well, what, exactly? That Levada’s good actions reflect on the Pope? That his bad actions reflect on the Pope?

The real point of the story, I suspect, is simply to keep the acid rain falling on the Church, a constant drizzle that wears away the stones—and, in the end, creates the atmosphere in which Rome can be made a defendant in the lawsuits over American abuse.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/7/2010 7:28 PM]
8/22/2010 8:54 AM
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Brother Georg makes an excursion
to the birthplace of Palestrina

Translated from

August 21, 2010

Friday morning, the Pope's brother, Mons. Georg Ratzinger, made one of his 'surprise' excursions and turned up in Palestrina, not far from Castel Gandolfo, where he has been spending the month of August with his brother.

He arrived in a Mercedes with Vatican plates, and accompanied by a discreet security unit of police and carabinieri.

Palestrina is a small city in the Alban hills which was the birthplace of the 16th-century master of polyphony, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. [Like Leonardo da Vinci, he is known by the place of his birth.]

As director of the Regensburg Domspatzen, Mons. Georg was in Palestrina with them in 1990 to give a concert sponsored by the Fondazione Pierluigi da Palestrina.

This time, he visited the 14th-century building where Palestrina was born, now the seat of the foundation and the site of a museum of great value to scholars and lovers of polyphony and sacred music.

Despite his age (85 years and six months), the Pope's brother walked vigorously up the steps of Via Cecconi, accompanied by officials of the Foundation, and the three storeys of the museum, examining some of the 7,000 musical texts found in the library.

From the museum he went to the Cathedral of St. Agapitus, martyr, where he was welcomed by Mons. Domenico Sigalini, bishop of Palestrina. He admired the frescoes of the cathedral.

He congratulated the bishop for having ordained three new priests last Wednesday, and conveyed the greetings of the Pope to the bishop and to the city. He also visited the diocesan museum which, in addition to precious liturgical vestments and objects, also possesses a Caravaggio painting, but its most valuable possession, a Michelangelo marble relief depicting 'Eolus, the sea wind' as the head of a boy blowing, is currently on exhibit in Rome.

At this time last year, Mons. Georg made two similar excursions to Sulmona and Anagni.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 8/22/2010 8:59 AM]
11/16/2010 11:12 PM
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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 15, 2010 ( Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi is celebrating 50 years since his religious professions. He is sharing his experience working in Vatican communications, close to Benedict XVI.

The director of the Vatican press office, the Vatican Television Center and Vatican Radio celebrated his anniversary on Friday.

In an interview given to the Vatican broadcasting station, the Jesuit priest reviewed the path that led him to choose the religious life, recalling above all an episode linked to the Sagrada Familia (Holy Family), the church in Barcelona that was dedicated by Benedict XVI on Nov. 7 during his pastoral visit to Spain.

Father Lombardi, a native of Piedmont, Italy, said he had a "lovely youth," which he recalls with "very great joy."

"My family was a very united and also very religious," he said, and "I lived in an educational environment that I remember with very much gratitude: be it the school of Jesuits, or the Oratory and the activities with youngsters of the Salesians."

The priest recalled, "Then when I reached 18 and finished secondary school, I naturally faced the problem of how to continue my life: I would say that my choice to dedicate my life to the service of the Lord and of others was quite spontaneous at that moment."

"As regards where and how to realize it," he continued, "it was natural for me to ask the Society of Jesus to enter their order, although I have always also had a very great friendship and closeness with the Salesians."

At the end of his religious and priestly formation, his superiors sent him to Rome to work in La Civilta Cattolica, the Jesuit journal of culture.

"From then on I stayed in this field, always doing the things I was asked to do," said the Vatican spokesman.

He recalled, "After 11 years in La Civilta Cattolica, for six years I was provincial superior of the Italian Jesuits; and then, at the end of this assignment, I was 'sent' to the Vatican, as program director of Vatican Radio and subsequently I carried out other tasks."

Among the many significant episodes of his life, Father Lombardi recalled one that came to mind thanks to Benedict XVI's latest international trip: to Santiago de Compostela and Barcelona, Spain.

"When I was 13," he said, "I made my first great trip on bicycle through Europe, with the scouts of the Salesians' Oratory, arriving in Barcelona from Turin."

The priest continued: "Arriving in Barcelona, and not knowing where to go, at a certain point, we saw four very tall spires and we said: ':et's go there.'

"It was the Nativity facade of the Sagrada Familia, which was still very behind in construction. At 13, my first point of arrival, of my first long bicycle trip together with my companions -- later I made four or five tours through Europe -- was at the Nativity facade of the Holy Family church where the Pope recited the Angelus."

"I was able to measure, 55 years later, how this building had grown and I also thought of my life, and how it has developed in the service of the Church, beginning precisely from that day," the Jesuit observed.

In regard to his mission in the communications sector of the Holy See, Father Lombardi said that he held as "absolutely fundamental" that service relating to events of the Pope and of the Church.

He noted that this service should be "the result of a community of work, of persons who want to carry out a service for the Church today in the field of communications."

The priest added, "The Pope describes himself as 'servant of the servants of God;' very well, I and all the persons who collaborate with me are 'servants of the servant of the servants of God!'"

"I am a Jesuit," he affirmed, "I am a priest and I have tried to do the things that were asked of me, because we have a vow of obedience: hence, we receive 'missions' -- we call it thus -- that is, assignments, tasks from our superiors."

As to his relationship with Benedict XVI, Father Lombardi said that "with him at times a look or a word is sufficient."

The priest continued: "He is an immensely attentive person, who listens with very keen attention, kindness and profundity what another says.

"I think that we should also pay the same attention to him, because the phrases he says to us are much more important than ours."

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