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3/18/2010 2:07 AM
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Obviously, I avoid looking up sites that are likely purveyors of nasty reports and commentary about the Pope - I don't want to see them, I don't even want to hear about them. They're all Pavlov dogs, yipping, yapping, baying and spewing venom.

Occasionally, in some 'normal' site, I may come across something so outrageous because it is not merely someone's opinion but a concrete initiative that the report that Der Spiegel is offering one million euro to anyone who can dig up dirt about Joseph Ratzinger before he came to Rome.In which case that is something I want to make note of.

But there are reports or opinion pieces that come out in MSM 'flagships' that still have some cachet even if they are sinking, and those I want to keep on record for easy reference. That is the purpose of this thread. Eventually, when their shelf life is done, I willl eliminate them.

I also will not waste my time commenting on them because if they end up here, it means I find them objectionable in multiple even if not censorable ways.


From The Times of London
March 17, 2010

Pope to give 'moral guidance' during UK visit
Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

Pope Benedict XVI will not stay at Buckingham Palace during his visit
Leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Britain attempted to distance the Pope from the sex abuse scandal engulfing the institution, instead pledging that Benedict XVI will “give guidance on the great moral issues of our day” when he visits Britain in September.

The visit threatens to be overshadowed by the crisis, with protests planned by victims, support groups and equality campaigners.

The Queen announced that the visit — the first official Papal visit to the UK — will take place from September 16-19. The visit by Pope John Paul II in 1982 was a pastoral visit only.

Although it has official status, the usual trappings of a state visit will be absent. There will be neither a procession in a gilded carriage up the Mall nor a banquet at Buckingham Palace, as the Queen will be in Scotland. The Pope will stay in Church accommodation as is normal when he visits other heads of state around the world.

The Archbishop of Canterbury today offered an uncharacteristically terse welcome ahead of the visit.

Dr Rowan Williams, recently surprised by the Catholic announcement of a new Anglican Ordinariate in England to tempt dissatisfied Anglicans over to Rome, said: “The Pope's visit will be an opportunity to cement ties not only between the Holy See and the United Kingdom but also the Roman Catholic Church and other Christian churches in Scotland, England and Wales. I look forward particularly to welcoming Pope Benedict to Lambeth Palace on behalf of the Church of England.”

In Scotland, the Pope will be received at the Palace of Holyroodhouse by the Queen and in London will give a speech to British civil society at Westminster Hall. He will also visit the West Midlands to beatify the nineteenth century theologian and educationalist Cardinal John Henry Newman at a public Mass in Coventry.

Other key elements of the visit will include a public Mass in Glasgow, a prayer vigil in London and an event focusing on education. Further details of the visit will be announced nearer the time.

The subdued press conference at the Foreign Office in London today came as the row over paedophile priests continued to bedevil the Church.

It emerged that the German priest abuser, whose case has dragged Pope Benedict XVI into the scandal, was only suspended from the ministry this week.

The New York Times reported: “The priest at the center of a German sexual-abuse scandal that has embroiled Pope Benedict XVI continued working with children for more than 30 years, even though a German court convicted him of molesting boys.

“The priest, Peter Hullermann, who had previously been identified only by the first letter of his last name, was suspended from his duties only on Monday. That was three days after the church acknowledged that the pope, then Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, had responded to early accusations of molestation by allowing the priest to move to Munich for therapy in 1980.”

There is growing international outrage that despite being a convicted child molester, Father Hullermann was allowed to continue to work with altar boys and girls for decades. Pope Benedict XVI was both Archbishop of the diocese where the priest worked also later served as the cardinal in charge of reviewing sexual abuse cases for the Vatican.

The Pope also caused outrage among equal rights campaigners with recent remarks condemning Britain's equality legislation.

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: “At a time when the Pope is swirling in a very unpleasant scandal of his own making, the Government chooses to announce that it is to spend a huge amount of money on lauding him. To do this now makes it appear that we don't care about the Vatican's crimes against children.

“The Church over which the Pope is presiding is embroiled internationally in a series of revelations that show it to be institutionally corrupt. It has systematically covered up the horrendous abuse of children by its priests, protecting its own interests at the cost of the health and well-being of thousands — maybe tens of thousands — of vulnerable children.”

Mr Sanderson said: “I cannot believe that we are lauding the head of an organisation that not only insults and denigrates homosexuals, tries to restrict the rights of women by banning contraception and abortion, but deliberately lies about the effectiveness of condoms in the fight against Aids. This invitation is a rebuke to all those Britons who are incensed by the horrific revelations that are emerging daily about the Vatican's activities. The Government should be sharply criticising rather than welcoming this man.”

A new campaign group has been formed called Protest the Pope which is to organise demonstrations and other events around the time of the visit.

Last week the society handed over a 28,000 name petition to the Prime Minister objecting to the state funding of the visit.

Earlier today at the United Nations Human Rights Council, the society's executive director Keith Porteous Wood said: “The Vatican is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, but has contravened several of its articles, and is more than 10 years behind in its reporting. It has habitually compounded the abuse and facilitated multiple reoffending by moving offenders around and shielding them from prosecuting authorities.” He said major investigations in the US and Ireland had been “deliberately and cynically obstructed” by the Church at all levels without censure from above.

Referring also to the latest revelations from Ireland, where the head of the Church Cardinal Sean Brady is refusing to resign in spite of revelations that he attended meetings where child victims of a paedophile priest were asked to sign vows of silence, Mr Porteus Wood said: “All this has led to abusers being allowed to continue offending and to escape justice, while their victims despair — some even committing suicide.

“The Church cannot claim it is being victimised. It still places the protection of its reputation, and even more its assets, above the protection of those entrusted to its care.”

However, Jim Murphy MP, Secretary of State for Scotland and a senior lay Catholic 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.”

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh said: “A defining feature of Pope Benedict's teaching has been to remind Europe of its Christian roots and culture and to give us guidance on the great moral issues of our day and it is my hope that we all open our hearts to his words.”
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/14/2010 4:20 PM]
3/19/2010 1:21 PM
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It is not surprising that the National Catholic Reporter appears to have been the first Anglophone outlet to take the trouble to promptly translate Hans Kueng's latest broadside against Benedict XVI - a real stink bomb, in the way Kueng has chosen increasingly to court the headlines. Well, I am glad NCR spares me the time and trouble to translate. This article first appeared Wednesday in Sueddeutsche Zeitung, the Munich-based newspaper, and then appeared in Italy's La Repubblica yesterday. It should be coming out in one of the major UK papers too. This was the 'syndication pattern' of Kueng's article last year attacking Benedict XVI for his opening to the FSSPX, and then to the Anglicans.

Ratzinger's Responsibility
'Scandalous wrongs cannot be glossed over,
we need a change of attitude'

Mar. 18, 2010
By Hans Küng

After Archbishop Robert Zollitsch's recent papal audience, he spoke of Pope Benedict's "great shock" and "profound agitation" over the many cases of abuse which are coming to light. Zollitsch, archbishop of Freiburg, Germany, and the chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, asked pardon of the victims and spoke again about the measures that have already been taken or will soon be taken. But neither he nor the pope have addressed the real question that can no longer be put aside.

According to the latest Emnid-poll, only 10 percent of those interviewed in Germany believe that the church is doing enough in dealing with this scandal; on the contrary, 86 percent charge the church's leadership with insufficient willingness to come to grips with the problem. The bishops' denial that there is any connection between the celibacy rule and the abuse problem can only confirm their criticism.

1st Question: Why does the pope continue to assert that what he calls "holy" celibacy is a "precious gift", thus ignoring the biblical teaching that explicitly permits and even encourages marriage for all office holders in the Church? Celibacy is not "holy"; it is not even "fortunate"; it is "unfortunate", for it excludes many perfectly good candidates from the priesthood and forces numerous priests out of their office, simply because they want to marry. The rule of celibacy is not a truth of faith, but a church law going back to the 11th Century; it should have been abolished already in the 16th Century, when it was trenchantly criticized by the Reformers.

Honesty demands that the pope, at the very least, promise to rethink this rule -- something the vast majority of the clergy and laity have wanted for a long time now. Both Alois Glück, the president of the Central Committee of the German Catholics and Hans-Jochen Jaschke, auxiliary bishop of Hamburg, have called for a less uptight attitude towards sexuality and for the coexistence of celibate and married priests in the church

2nd Question: Is it true, as Archbishop Zollitsch insists, that "all the experts" agree that abuse of minors by clergymen and the celibacy rule have nothing to do with each other? How can he claim to know the opinions of "all the experts"? In fact, there are numerous psychotherapists and psychoanalysts who see a connection here. The celibacy law obliges the priest to abstain from all forms of sexual activity, though their sexual impulses remain virulent, and thus the danger exists that these impulses might be shifted into a taboo zone and compensated for in abnormal ways.

Honesty demands that we take the correlation between abuse and celibacy seriously. The American psychotherapist Richard Sipe has clearly demonstrated, on the basis of a 25 year study published in 2004 under the title Knowledge of sexual activity and abuse within the clerical system of the Roman Catholic church, that the celibate way of life can indeed reinforce pedophile tendencies, especially when the socialization leading to it, i.e. adolescence and young adulthood spent in minor and major seminary cut off from the normal experiences of their peer groups, is taken into account. In his study, Sipe found retarded psycho-sexual development occurring more frequently in celibate clerics than in the average population. And often, such deficits in psychological development and sexual tendencies only become evident after ordination.

3rd Question: Instead of merely asking pardon of the victims of abuse, should not the bishops at last admit their own share of blame? For decades, they have not only tabooed the celibacy issue but also systematically covered up cases of abuse with the mantle of strictest secrecy, doing little more than re-assigning the perpetrators to new ministries. In a statement of March 16, Bishop Ackermann of Trier, special delegate of the German Bischops' Conference for sexual abuse cases, publically acknowledged the existence of such a cover-up, but characteristically he put the blame not on the church as institution, but rather on the individual perpetrators and the false considerations of their superiors. Protection of their priests and the reputation of the church was evidently more important to the bishops than protection of minors. Thus, there is an important difference between the individual cases of abuse surfacing in schools outside the Catholic church and the systematic and correspondingly more frequent cases of abuse within the Catholic church, where, now as before, an uptight, rigoristic sexual morality prevails, that finds its culmination in the law of celibacy.

Honesty demands that the chairman of the German Bishops' Conference should have clearly and definitively announced, that, in the future, the hierarchy will cease to deal with cases of criminal acts committed by those in the service of the church by circumventing the state system of justice. Can it be that the hierarchy here in Germany will only wake up when it is confronted with demands for reparation payments in terms of millions of dollars? In the United States, the Catholic church had to pay some $1.3 billion alone in 2006; in Ireland, the government helped the religious orders set up a compensation fund with a ruinous sum of $2.8 billion. Such sums say much more about the dimensions of the problem than the pooh-poohing statistics about the small percentage of celibate clergy among the general population of abusers.

4th Question: Is it not time for Pope Benedict XVI himself to acknowledge his share of responsibility, instead of whining about a campaign against his person? No other person in the Church has had to deal with so many cases of abuse crossing his desk. Here some reminders:

•In his eight years as a professor of theology in Regensburg, in close contact with his brother Georg, the capellmeister of the Regensburger Domspatzen, Ratzinger can hardly have been ignorant about what went on in the choir and its boarding--school. This was much more than an occasional slap in the face, there are charges of serious physical violence and even sexual abuse.
•In his five years as Archbishop of Munich, repeated cases of sexual abuse at least by one priest transferred to his Archdiocese have come to light. His loyal Vicar General, my classmate Gerhard Gruber, has taken full responsibility for the handling of this case, but that is hardly an excuse for the Archbishop, who is ultimately responsible for the administration of his diocese.
•In his 24 years as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, from around the world, all cases of grave sexual offences by clerics had to be reported, under strictest secrecy ("secretum pontificum"), to his curial office, which was exclusively responsible for dealing with them. Ratzinger himself, in a letter on "grave sexual crimes" addressed to all the bishops under the date of 18 May, 2001, warned the bishops, under threat of ecclesiastical punishment, to observe "papal secrecy" in such cases.
•In his five years as Pope, Benedict XVI has done nothing to change this practice with all its fateful consequences.

Honesty demands that Joseph Ratzinger himself, the man who for decades has been principally responsible for the worldwide cover-up, at last pronounce his own "mea culpa". As Bishop Tebartz van Elst of Limburg, in a radio address on March 14, put it: "Scandalous wrongs cannot be glossed over or tolerated, we need a change of attitude that makes room for the truth. Conversion and repentance begin when guilt is openly admitted, when contrition1 is expressed in deeds and manifested as such, when responsibility is taken, and the chance for a new beginning is seized upon."
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 3/19/2010 3:54 PM]
3/19/2010 4:48 PM
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This story is actually no worse than the average wire-service stories from AP, Reuters or AFP. Its bias comes from the fact that it is reported for Irish readers primarily - where the media have universally stoked public rage against the Church over the sex abuse cases. In that respect, this article is very mild compared to what the rest of the abuse reporting is. The Herald is a Dublin-based online journal that is part of Independent Newspapers in Ireland.

The Pope, his brother and
a Church reeling from scandal

More dark secrets are set to emerge from Germany's past after it's revealed the Pope allowed a pervert priest to move parish and work with children, while his brother's choir was preyed on

By Roger Boyes
Friday March 19 2010

The time is 7am and an old, almost blind priest makes his way to the altar of the small St Johann church tucked in the shadows of the mighty Regensburg Cathedral in Germany.

Later, after Mass, I try to approach the 86-year-old cleric and he waves his white stick at me, fending off the unknown, the nosy press.

Maybe Georg Ratzinger, the former choir director of Germany's Domspatzen -- the celebrated Cathedral Sparrows -- was in a hurry to get to breakfast. But there's no doubt that he and his younger brother Joseph -- now better known as Pope Benedict XVI -- are on the defensive.

The revelations of priestly paedophilia sweeping through the Catholic world are shaking the trust of hundreds of thousands of ordinary believers. About 300 alleged victims have come forward in the past weeks and many more add their voices every day.

Father Ratzinger's cathedral choir is one of a dozen Catholic teaching establishments where children were abused by priests. Benedictines, Capuchins, Jesuits; all the great church orders are having to deal with adults seriously damaged by their school years.

Compared with the disclosures here in Ireland and in American Catholic communities, the scale in Germany is modest, but the Pope is plainly rattled: the Church could soon be exposed to an unprecedented level of state intervention.

The German government is demanding that state prosecutors investigate because, apparently, the church leadership cannot be trusted to put its own institutions in order.

To fight off this intrusion, the Pope has to ensure that national churches are not only sympathetic to the victims but also candid about the past. That threatens the Church's centuries-old tradition of secrecy -- and the serious organisational mismanagement it has been masking.

The Pope faces more than a chorus of angry victims: he is being confronted with an institutional crisis. "It's becoming like a tsunami," said the head of the German Benedictine order, Abbot Notker Wolf. "The Holy Father is suffering very acutely."

Many of the institutions where sexual abuse or harassment took place are in Bavaria and are known to the Pope when he was Archbishop of Munich. His proximity to the crime scene has rattled the German church leadership.

So far, the only direct link between the Pope and the child abuse cases is Father Peter Hullermann. After being caught making sexual advances to teenagers in Essen, Father Hullermann was transferred in 1980 to Munich, where Joseph Ratzinger was Archbishop. The future Pope approved the man's transfer on condition that he received weekly therapy -- but he was also given a job in a Munich parish that allowed him regular contact with children. In 1986, he was given a suspended jail term for sexual abuse.

Joseph Ratzinger almost certainly knew nothing of the later career trajectory of Father Hullermann, but a pattern had been set: he was shifted around Bavaria; to Garching parish, well known to the Ratzinger brothers, and on to the spa town of Bad Tolz. When his background was revealed at the Trinity Church in Bad Tolz last Sunday, a parishioner stood up. "I was due to have my marriage blessed by Father Hullermann," he shouted. "Why weren't we told?"

The priest, Father Rupert Frania, said: "What could I tell him? I, too, wasn't told -- I feel like a sacrificed pawn in a much bigger game."

A spokesman for the Munich bishop's office, however, claims that Father Frania did know. Father Hullermann -- by all accounts a popular figure -- has duly been suspended and at least one administrator has been dismissed, yet the confusion about the case lingers on. The impression is that the Church has ordered the shutters to be brought down on it and quickly.

The reason is clear: church institutions are hierarchical. If you head a diocese, and you are conscientious, you generally know what is going on in the parishes. The big test of the Church will be to convince ordinary believers that knowledge about abuse was confined to a small circle.

Miguel Abrantes Ostrowski (37) a respected stage actor, was one of the first to blow the whistle. He was a pupil at a Jesuit school in Bonn, the Aloisiuskolleg, between 1983 and 1993. Ten years later he wrote a lightly fictionalised account of his years at the school.

"It wasn't just paedophilia, it was power abuse," said Mr Ostrowski. "It was tolerated. The rector (who has recently stepped down to allow investigations against him) was the protege of his predecessor. There was no control over his power.

"One priest would shower naked with us. And we would regularly have our temperatures taken with a thermometer pushed into our bottoms." Photographs were taken then, too.

Worse cases are being reported -- including instances of boys being passed from priest to priest as sexual playthings -- but they all boil down to the teachers feeling that they were somehow beyond the gaze of the law.

Most of the cases emerging so far are from the 1950s and late 1960s, when the schools were run with extraordinary brutality.

Life in Catholic establishments has plainly improved over the past decade. Karl Birkenseer, author of a book about the Regensburger Domspatzen, says: "The Second Vatican Council [1962-1965] helped open up the Church and its organisations." After that, he says, came the changes in society itself: the growing influence of parents, access to TV and sources of information that broke the isolation of boarding schools. "It has gotten better."

Georg Ratzinger was a product of his time. He admits now, and publicly regrets, cuffing the ears of his choristers.

"The thing about Georg Ratzinger is that all his anger would subside after choir practice and he would not hold anything against you afterwards," says Mr Birkenseer, who was a Cathedral Sparrow. This week a dozen former Sparrows have come forward to praise his teaching.

Of course, what matters, ultimately, is how much he knew about paedophile teachers.

The first of the recent claims of clerical sex abuse in Germany were made in January by 20 former students of the Canisius College in Berlin. Since then, about 300 former Catholic students have come forward with similar claims, many dating back to the 1950s and 1960s

At least two priests have been suspended but many cannot be taken to the criminal courts because victims must contact police within 10 years of their 18th birthday.

Bishop Stephan Ackermann has been appointed by the Church to probe the allegations. "There were instances of suppression. We were too focused on protecting the perpetrators."
3/21/2010 3:21 AM
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This is the kind of garbage that the Times of London carries ... It's just a column but it's highlighted on all the searches for Benedict XVI news at this time .... The level of hyperbole is neither clever nor funny, just trying too hard to no avail!... And the columnist's trashiness can be judged by the item that follows his drivel about the Pope - some near-slanderous gossip about Tony Blair....

Sorry, Holy Father, we can’t forgive the sins of your church
Rod Liddle
Sunday Times (London)

Has the time come for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, to open the door to the many millions of British Roman Catholic worshippers who may be worried that their children are likely to be interfered with by priests? I think it’s correct that young children are slightly less at risk from the Anglican clergy, although it would be unwise of Rowan to offer any cast-iron promises, just in case.

Last year Pope Benedict XVI invited disillusioned Anglicans to join the Church of Rome if they were disapproving of, or merely bored by, women priests and homosexuals but fancied instead a few Latin incantations, rosary beads and the whiff of incense; this took the Church of England by surprise.

Now is Beardo’s chance to get his own back. He should strike while the iron is hot. Give the émigré left-footers free passage, one of those Christingle oranges and a DVD collection of The Vicar of Dibley — they can even cling on to transubstantiation, if they keep quiet about it.

The Catholic Church is in crisis across Europe, apparently. Since the turn of the year, 300 Germans have come forward and said that they were abused by priests while they were children, and the chancellor, Angela Merkel, has called for a national investigation. Meanwhile in Ireland, the head of the Catholic Church, Cardinal Sean Brady, has admitted that he was present at meetings in the 1970s when children who were abused by a paedophile priest were forced, there and then, to sign a vow of silence.

Related Links
Pope Benedict ‘knew abuser worked with boys’
Brady now accepts that the church’s response to this scandal has been “hopelessly inadequate” (although he hasn’t yet used the words “criminal” and “totalitarian”) but he will not resign over the business. This weekend Ireland’s “faithful”, as Benny the 16th puts it, have received a letter from him personally, which presumably included an apology somewhere along the way. Meanwhile, there have been similar scandals in Holland, Spain, Switzerland and Austria, although I suppose in the last case it is a moot point as to whether it is an exclusively Catholic problem, or primarily an Austrian problem, particularly if the offences were committed underground.

Quite recently, the Catholic Church has either castigated or banned outright internet social networking sites, the oriental spiritual healing technique of reiki, books and films by Dan Brown and, its old favourite, witches.

Now I know this seems a little presumptuous, but my guess is that Jesus Christ would probably prefer members of his flock to sit around a bubbling cauldron with a black cat, watching The Da Vinci Code while being spiritually attended to by a Japanese person and occasionally breaking off to tweet Stephen Fry, than being interfered with by a priest. As I say, this is only a guess.

But the church still gives the impression that while its legions of kiddie-fiddling priests are probably, on the whole, a bad thing, they are not half as Satanic as stuff like condoms, socialism and gender equality.

You suspect that it is the church’s entrenched position within much of Europe that has enabled it to sidestep public abhorrence for so long, and thus to react with apparent insouciance whenever these scandals arise and remain immune to proper investigation.

However, the public across Europe is becoming more secular and more questioning of those in authority. It is disinclined to believe in the infallibility of anyone, be it a politician, a pop star or a pope. And those new watchwords — transparency and openness — are not qualities that one associates with the Holy See.

The problem, I suppose, is that when Catholics start to unpick the enormous damage occasioned by paedophile priests, they may begin to question the underlying cause — the priestly vow of celibacy. I don’t think anybody in Europe sees the point of sexual abstinence these days and we are probably rightly sceptical of those who claim to practise it. I tried it once and it left me twitchy and forlorn.

+ On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your surprise that Tony Blair has trousered millions of pounds in contracts at least partly as a consequence of the illegal war he prosecuted on our behalf against Iraq — and then tried desperately to keep his deals secret? Were you utterly staggered at the naked greed, opportunism and attempted deception — or did you nod your head and mutter, yeah, that would be about right? This is a rhetorical question, really — and here’s another: have we ever had a more shameless and grasping prime minister?

Blair pocketed huge, if still undisclosed, amounts of dosh from advising the Kuwaiti royal family — the Al-Sabahs (do you know them? Absolutely charming people — you must have them over one evening. Black tie; no alcohol, poofs or women). And then even more money from a South Korean oil firm working in Iraq, where hundreds of British soldiers lost their lives. You have to say he has done rather better out of the war than the dead and maimed British soldiers or indeed the Iraqi civilians, those dead or alive. Shouldn’t Gordon Brown condemn this venality? I’m sure he must be itching to. Doesn’t it seem immoral? And if so, Gordy, why not say so?

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 3/21/2010 3:23 AM]
3/21/2010 3:42 AM
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AP's second wave of reporting on the Pope's letter is much more nakedly skeptical, almost dismissive, of teh Pope's letter and clearly on the side of the victims...

Pope Benedict XVI’s apology
fails to calm the anger of victims

[DUH! What did you expect?]
Associated Press Writer

DUBLIN — Pope Benedict XVI’s unprecedented letter to Ireland apologizing for chronic child abuse within the Catholic Church failed Saturday to calm the anger of many victims, who accused the Vatican of ducking its own responsibility in promoting a worldwide culture of cover-up.

Benedict’s message — the product of weeks of consultation with Irish bishops, who read it aloud at Masses across this predominantly Catholic nation — rebuked Ireland’s church leaders for “grave errors of judgment” in failing to observe the church’s secretive canon laws.

The pope, who himself stands accused of approving the transfer of an accused priest for treatment rather than informing German police during his 1977-82 term as Munich archbishop, suggested that child-abusing priests could have been expelled quickly had Irish bishops applied the church’s own laws correctly. He pledged a church inspection of unspecified dioceses and orders in Ireland to ensure their child-protection policies were effective.

He also appealed to priests still harboring sins of child molestation to confess.

“Openly acknowledge your guilt, submit yourselves to the demands of justice, but do not despair of God’s mercy,” he wrote.

But Benedict offered no endorsement of three official Irish investigations that found the church leadership to blame for the scale and longevity of abuse heaped on Irish children throughout the 20th century.

The Vatican refused to cooperate with those 2001-09 probes into the Dublin Archdiocese, the rural Ferns diocese and Ireland’s defunct network of workhouse-style dormitory schools for the Irish poor.

The investigations, directed by senior Irish judges and lawyers, ruled that Catholic leaders protected the church’s reputation from scandal at the expense of children — and began passing their first abuse reports to police in 1996 only after victims began to sue the church.

Nor did Benedict’s letter mention recent revelations of abuse cover-ups in a growing list of European nations, particularly his German homeland, where more than 300 claimants this year have alleged abuse in Catholic schools and a choir long run by the pope’s brother.

In the latest development, the leader of the German Bishops Conference apologized Saturday for failing to protect children adequately from a pedophile priest in the early 1990s in his diocese of Freiburg.

Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, who was in charge of human resources and staffing at the time, said he should have done more to investigate the priest, who was forced into retirement in 1991 and committed suicide four years later when fresh complaints arose.

Rights campaigners in Ireland and abroad forecast that more victims in more nations will keep coming forward and opening new fronts of criticism, because the pope’s promotion of secretive canon laws remains at the heart of an unsolved problem.

“We know this policy of secrecy was worldwide. The more that victims speak out, the more the scandals will spread,” said Marie Collins, who was repeatedly raped by a Dublin priest while aged 13 and hospitalized in 1960. Her attacker wasn’t removed from the priesthood and imprisoned until 1997.

While a cardinal at the Vatican, Joseph Ratzinger, now the pope, wrote a 2001 letter instructing bishops worldwide to report all cases of abuse to his office and keep church investigations secret under threat of excommunication.

The Vatican insists the secrecy rules serve only to protect the integrity of the church’s investigations, and should not be taken to mean the church should not tell police of their members’ crimes.

But victims’ advocates in Ireland and the United States said the pope again failed to make it clear whether the church considers the secular law a higher priority than canon law when seeking to stop a pedophile priest.

“The letter’s underlying goal seems to have been to appease the outrage while keeping the church in control of its incriminating information,” said Terry McKiernan, president of a Web-based pressure group,, that chronicles Catholic abuse scandals worldwide.

“He should have demanded that the bishops release all pertinent files and other information about all credibly accused priests. He should have demanded that every complicit official be named publicly and forced to resign,” McKiernan said.

Irish victims’ leaders are seeking the resignations of any bishops who transferred pedophile priests to new parishes rather than report them to police — a demand that, if applied, would likely claim the majority of Ireland’s 27 bishops, given their failure to tell police of any crimes until 1996. But the pope has yet to accept even the three-month-old resignations offered by three Irish bishops linked to Dublin Archdiocese cover-ups.

The Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the pope’s letter contained no punitive provisions because it was pastoral, not administrative or disciplinary in nature. He said any decisions concerning resignations would be taken by the competent Vatican offices.

Benedict faulted the Irish bishops for failing “sometimes grievously” to apply the church’s own laws requiring child-abusing priests to be removed from the priesthood. But he didn’t rebuke them for failing to report abuse to police, saying instead they must prevent future abuse and “continue to cooperate with civil authorities.”

He also repeated an excuse for the bishops’ inaction that has been rejected by the Irish investigations — that they didn’t understand the scale or criminality of child abuse until recent years.

“I recognize how difficult it was to grasp the extent and complexity of the problem, to obtain reliable information and to make the right decisions in the light of conflicting expert advice,” Benedict wrote in remarks addressed to the Irish bishops.

However, the Irish investigators forced the church to hand over its copious files on abuse cases dating back to the 1950s. They unearthed a paper trail confirming the Irish bishops’ successful acquisition of group liability insurance in the 1980s, a decade before the deluge of lawsuits. And they found cases where Catholic officials in the 1960s reported school employees to police for abusing children, showing they understood even then it was a crime.

Andrew Madden, a former Dublin altar boy who in 1995 became Ireland’s first pedophile-priest victim to go public with a lawsuit against the church, said the pope had missed the whole point of a meaningful apology.

“I don’t need the pope to apologize for the child abusers. I, and untold thousands of victims like me, needed the pope to apologize for the church hierarchy’s role in choosing to protect the abusers at the expense of children. That’s the real scandal, and the pope has been involved in that. He’s not an innocent bystander,” Madden said.

Massgoers arriving Saturday at central Dublin churches and in Armagh, the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland, were greeted with piles of the pope’s letter. Some lauded its readability and frank tone.

“I thought it was lovely. I thought it was very moving, and I hope it brings some help to all the victims,” said one Armagh worshipper, Annette O’Hara. “They’re the ones we should be praying for.”

But outside a Dublin church, truck driver Tomas O’Reilly said he doubted the pope’s sincerity and was unhappy with putting money in the collection plate. “I don’t want to be paying the church’s legal bills. They’ve only themselves to blame,” he said.

At the Vatican, Lombardi was peppered with questions about why Benedict didn’t directly address the German scandal or take the opportunity in the letter to make a more sweeping commentary on the global dimensions of the scandal.

Lombardi said the Irish scandal was unique in its scope, but said the pope’s letter could be read to apply to other countries and cases.
“You can’t talk about the entire world every time,” he said. “It risks becoming banal.”

3/21/2010 5:03 PM
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This is a textbook example of vicious and malicious journalism in which fact and half-truths are woven together to suggest the narrative that MSM wants to see - that Benedict XVI himself knowingly tolerated a pedophile priest to carry out pastoral duties in Munich. This one goes further - accusing the Archbishop of failing to report the priest to the police. What was he to report? The priest was sent to Munich from Essen. He had no personal knowledge of what the priest may have done. If he was sent for psychotherapy, it meant that was a first step in his 'treatment' - because in those days, pedophilia was thought to be a curable psychiatric disorder. In hindsight, of course, one could say he should not have accepted the priest at all and sent him back to Essen.

The basic facts about this have been reported accurately in the BENEDICT thread, from the initial statement by the Archdiocese of Munich - translated directly from the German - to the additional data later unearthed and as initially reported by the New York Times about the psychiatrist. All of that has been distorted willfully from the very first sentence in this story. But that is the trouble with hand-down news - it mutates into something completely different.

In the name of the Holy Father
John Follain and Bojan Panevski
From: The Australian March 22, 2010

As Benedict XVI apologises for the sins of others, a new scandal implicates him directly.

NOT long after a portly, jovial priest in the German industrial city of Essen was accused of sexually abusing three boys in 1979, he was offered a new home in Munich by Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI.

Ratzinger, who was archbishop of Munich and Freising at the time, wanted Father Peter Hullermann -- known to friends in the church as Hulli -- to undergo psychotherapy.

A psychiatrist quickly concluded that Hullermann was untreatable, however.

"I told the church officials that Hullermann must never be allowed to work with children again," Werner Huth told Britain's The Sunday Times at the weekend.

"He did not seem to want or be able to co-operate fully during the therapy. He had an alcohol problem and the assaults on the children mostly happened when he had been under the influence of alcohol."

Huth's warning was ignored. The priest was allowed to return to pastoral work and then to teach religion in a local state school.

Soon he was in trouble again. He drank, showed pornographic videos to boys and abused them. He was convicted of the sexual abuse of minors and fined.

Even that was not the end of his time in the church. After a period of probation he continued working, with altar boys, among others.

He was still working as a priest until last Monday when, at the age of 62, he was suspended from his duties at a Bavarian tourist resort for breaching a church order in 2008 to avoid any involvement with children.

This unholy saga, reflecting both the severity of clerical abuse and the failure to stop it, goes to the heart of the gravest crisis the Catholic Church has faced since the wartime pope Pius XII was accused of responding inadequately to the Holocaust.

It also raises questions about Benedict's responses to mounting allegations of pedophilia in the church. According to a report in the German magazine Der Spiegel, Benedict knew about the allegations against Hullermann in 1980 but chose not to report them to the police.

Decades of abuse allegations -- first in private, then, increasingly, in public -- culminated this weekend in a letter of apology from the Pope to the Irish faithful that was also taken as a message to the broader church.

The letter, which was read at Sunday mass throughout Ireland yesterday, recognises years of "sinful and criminal" sexual abuse by the clergy.

"You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry . . . It is understandable that you find it hard to forgive or be reconciled with the church. In her name, I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel," Benedict writes in the seven-page letter, the first public apology of its kind.

"I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity violated . . . We are all scandalised by the sins and failures of some of the church's members."

The Pope reprimands Irish bishops for "grave errors of judgment and failures of leadership" in handling cases of abuse. He has not announced any sackings, however.

Cardinal Sean Brady, the head of the church in Ireland -- who, as news reports revealed last week, attended a secret tribunal in 1975 at which two children abused by a priest were made to take a vow of silence -- remains in his job.

Nor has the Pope ordered bishops or priests to report sexual abuse to the police when they learn of it, as Irish victims' groups demanded.

Much of the anger in Ireland appeared unassuaged at the weekend. Andrew Madden, the first victim to go public after reaching a settlement with the church, says he is deeply disappointed. The Pope's letter had failed to acknowledge any active role taken by leading figures in covering up sexual abuse by priests, he says.

"There is no owning up by the Pope to his part in the cover-up," according to Madden. "He says he is deeply sorry about what other people did, not what he did."

Madden is not the only one to claim questions about the Pope's role remain unanswered.

In the case of Hullermann, the priest from Essen, the Pope -- then archbishop Ratzinger -- presided over a meeting of church officials in Munich on January 15, 1980.

The minutes show that far from being reported to the police, Hullermann had his request for a "flat and temporary lodging" in a Munich parish granted. "Chaplain Hullermann will engage in psychotherapy treatment," the minutes read.

[This is something I have not seen before, but it only proves that the Munich archidocesan statement was correct in stating that the Archbishop approved providing the priest from Essen with parish lodgings.]

Huth, the psychiatrist, says there were problems from the start. Hullermann agreed only to group therapy and refused to recognise that he was a threat to boys. He portrayed himself as a victim, forced to undergo treatment by his superiors.

"His personality problems couldn't be overcome," Huth says.

The psychiatrist prescribed drugs to treat Hullermann's alcoholism and recommended not only that he be kept away from children, but that he be monitored by another priest at all times.

A church official asked Huth why he had made such a recommendation, protesting that Hullermann was "well liked among the altar boys and the staff".

Gerhard Gruber, then Ratzinger's deputy, has now accepted blame for "serious mistakes" that followed, including restoring the priest to pastoral duties. Officials have not disclosed whether Ratzinger was kept informed before he moved to the Vatican in 1982.

Giancarlo Zizola, a writer on the Vatican, says Ratzinger "very probably" was updated about Hullermann. "The archbishop is responsible for the diocese, people answer to him, so theoretically he is aware of what's happening," Zizola says.

The suggestion that the Pope may have known more than has been admitted in a case where inaction allowed sexual abuse to continue was echoed by Hans Kung, a dissident Catholic theologian who once taught with Benedict at Tubingen University in Germany.

In an article published by several European newspapers last week, Kung charged that Benedict knew about the sexual abuse of members of the Domspatzen (cathedral sparrows) choir in Regensburg. The choirmaster from 1964 to 1994 was Benedict's brother Georg, and the future Pope had also taught theology there.

Former choirboys at Regensburg have testified about ordeals stretching into the early 1990s.

"Joseph Ratzinger was perfectly well aware of the situation of the Domspatzen," Kung wrote.

"And it is not a case of slaps, which unfortunately were the order of the day at the time, but of sex crimes."

Kung demanded that Benedict issue a mea culpa for his part in "covering up decades of clerical sex abuse" .

Bishops including the Pope should not just seek forgiveness, but "should finally acknowledge their own co-responsibility" in covering up "systematic abuses" , according to Kung.

"Should not Pope Benedict XVI also assume his own responsibility, instead of complaining that there is a campaign against him?"

Kung was stripped of his licence to teach Catholic theology after he rejected the doctrine of papal infallibility. Benedict invited him to dinner shortly after his election as Pope five years ago, prompting speculation they had reconciled.

Benedict has now let it be known that he is "disappointed and saddened" by Kung's attack. His brother Georg, 86, acknowledged earlier this month that he had slapped young members of the choir. He said he had never heard anything about sexual abuse there.

In the eyes of his critics, Benedict's failure to demand more openness with the police is reminiscent of a 2001 directive he issued as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican body in charge of prosecuting sex crimes. They accuse him of fostering a culture of secrecy by insisting on keeping cases confidential while the church investigated them.

Andrea Tornielli, a papal biographer, dismisses this. "Benedict simply applied sub judice rules to the church's investigation. And he insisted on all cases being reported immediately to his congregation to stop bishops covering them up. He has long been pushing for zero tolerance and for cases to be reported to judicial authorities," Tornielli says.

Outrage over secrecy in the church is becoming more acute, however. For many, the scandal lies not only in the scale of the abuse but also in the way the church kept it quiet.

In Austria, a poll last week indicated that almost one million Catholics were considering leaving the church because of its handling of the allegations.

The crisis is also spreading to Italy, where the Vatican's influence has until now stifled any revelations. Cases have come to light in Rome and Florence.

The Vatican has signalled that it will launch reforms including a more rigorous selection of candidates for the priesthood and closer co-operation with civilian authorities.

Such reforms will come too late for Hullermann's victims. His flock in the spa town of Bad Tolz knew nothing about his record until last Sunday, when they were told in church.

The sense of betrayal was palpable. The congregation sat in shocked silence, save for a 30-year-old who stood up and interrupted the service.

"I was due to have my marriage blessed by Father Hullermann," he shouted. "Why weren't we told
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 3/21/2010 5:11 PM]
3/25/2010 6:01 AM
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The Pope and the Pedophilia Scandal
The New York Times
Published: March 24, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI’s latest apology for the emerging global scandal of child abuse by predatory priests — an issue that the Roman Catholic Church should have engaged years ago — is strong on forgiveness but far short of the full accountability that Catholics need for repairing their damaged church.

With the scandal spreading across Europe, Benedict apologized to Irish Catholics last week for the “sinful and criminal” sexual abuse of thousands of children across decades. But he made no mention of the need to discipline diocesan leaders most responsible for shielding hundreds of priests from criminal penalties by moving them from parish to parish to continue their crimes.

The pope’s apology fell short not only for Catholics in Ireland, but for those in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, where hundreds of new allegations are emerging to be investigated by a Vatican office that has but 10 workers to do the job. Benedict’s promise of a special Vatican inquiry into the Irish scandal came across as too little, too late, considering it took two scathing investigations by the Irish government to prod the Vatican into action. One of these found church officials were able to convince Dublin police to join in their cover-up.

German Catholics are questioning Benedict’s role nearly 30 years ago when, as archbishop of Munich, he allowed the transfer of a priest molester. That priest had managed to remain at work until last week when he was suspended as the scandal grew with news media scrutiny. There are also questions about Benedict’s directive as a Vatican cardinal in 2001 that bishops worldwide were to keep pedophilia investigations secret under threat of ex-communication.

The Vatican insists this was to protect the innocent and never intended to encourage what has been established as a widespread failure by church officials to alert police to the criminal abuse of children. As pope, Benedict emphasized the duty to tell civil authorities, but church secrecy has been a hallmark defense by numerous dioceses that have fought in the courts against a full accounting to pedophilia victims.

It was hard to see how Vatican officials did not draw the lessons of the grueling scandal in the United States, where more than 700 priests were dismissed over a three-year period. But then we read Laurie Goodstein’s disturbing report in The Times on Thursday about how the pope, while he was still a cardinal, was personally warned about a priest who had molested as many as 200 deaf boys. But church leaders chose to protect the church instead of the children. The report illuminated the kind of behavior the church was willing to excuse to avoid scandal.

The American church’s investigative board of laity cautioned “there must be consequences” for prelates who orchestrated cover-ups. This has not been fulfilled, even though the board criticized management of rogue priests by Cardinals Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, the nation’s largest diocese, and Edward Egan, the former leader of the New York archdiocese. The pope’s expression of “shame and remorse” for the Irish scandal is not to be doubted. But what is most urgently needed was well described by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel — “truth and clarity about everything that took place.”

4/1/2010 3:14 AM
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With apologies (and thanks) to Father Z - he's not toxic, it's the crap he fisks that is - and on his blog today, March 31, he does the job for us of taking down this Richard McBrien from Notre Dame, one of National Catholic Reporter's star columnists for being among the most unspeakable 'Catholic' dissidents in the country. I avoid reading him altogether, but apparently, Newsweek - who already has a prize boob of its own in their religion writer Lisa Miller, asked McBrien to write on the current media cause-du-jour. McBrien is typical of 98% of those writing about this topic these days whose attitude is "I really don't need to know the facts since all I need to do is cite what I think will hurt the Pope and his Church the most!" I took the trouble because there are times that idiocy has to be exposed and seen for what it is.

4/6/2010 3:48 PM
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DER SPIEGEL has just come out with a lengthy tirade against "The Failed Papacy of Benedict XVI'. I have not bothered to read it because I do not want to risk a stroke, and besides, they can't have anything new, or they would have had a separate independent story with a 72-point headline in devil's red!,1518,687374,00.html

In German, 'Spiegel' means mirror - and what a distorted mirror this one is!

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/6/2010 3:49 PM]
4/8/2010 2:32 PM
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I am so sick and tired of Victor Simpson's over-stretching of tenous facts and his even more tenuous logic to fit his personal views and to place Benedict XVI and the Church in a bad and even ridiculous light. Here is his latest attempt to pass off his own wishes in the guise of a news report. The basic - though unstated - and UTTERLY OFFENSIVE premise for his fallacy is that if a 'tough background check' had been done such as he proposes, then Joseph Ratzinger would never had been elected Pope!

Abuse Scandal Means Tough Checks for Future Pope
Sex abuse scandal means more vigorous background checks for future cardinals and pope
By VICTOR L. SIMPSON Associated Press Writer
The Associated Press
April 7, 2010

The sex abuse crisis engulfing the Catholic Church will mean more vigorous background checks when it comes to appointing cardinals, and future popes. Among the requirements: no taint of scandal and the ability to speak comfortably to the world and the media.

While leading Catholic conservatives have vigorously defended Benedict XVI from accusations that he was complicit in covering up sex abusers, they have also pointed to management failures.

As a model for the future pope, the church will need to consider someone "able to talk to the world and the media, not be destroyed by it," said the Rev. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest and senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University.

Even as the clerical sex abuse crisis has swept across Europe in recent months — touching even Benedict — the Vatican has responded with the disarray and media ineptitude that's been symptomatic of the German-born pope's five-year papacy.

The church was rocked by scandal again Wednesday, when Norwegian officials revealed that a 58-year-old Catholic bishop who resigned last year did so after admitting he molested a child two decades earlier.

As churchmen have closed ranks to defend Benedict, even some of his biggest supporters have pointed to the need for change.

Leading Catholic conservatives such as George Weigel in the United States and Vittorio Messori in Italy have vigorously defended Benedict from accusations he was involved in covering up sex abusers while serving as archbishop of Munich and later as a Vatican official. But they have both underlined management shortcomings in the papacy, with the Italian noting a "certain naivete."

One test will come when the pope names new cardinals, with Vatican insiders suggesting this will happen in November.

The Holy See will need to carry out a vigorous vetting process to try to ensure that none of the new cardinals are tainted by the sex abuse scandal — a potentially monumental task considering the scope of the crisis.

The number of cardinals under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave for a new pope — a cardinal's principal responsibility — now stands at 108 and will dip to 101 by November from a possible total of 120.

Such traditional cardinal seats as New York, Washington, Florence and Prague will be in line for new red hats. It is up to the pope to decide exactly how many new cardinals are named.

One archdiocese to watch is Dublin, where Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has won praise for seeking to root out those responsible for decades of child abuse in Ireland.

In 2007, he was passed over for cardinal in favor of Sean Brady in the northern seat of Armagh. Brady, though, has recently faced calls for his resignation following revelations that he participated in interviews with two victims of a pedophile priest but did not notify police.

After Pope John Paul II's 27-year papacy, Benedict was elected for what was widely considered a "transition" papacy. He was considered a known quantity who on sex abuse had just condemned "filth" in the church, had cracked down on abusive priests — and was therefore considered to have an exemplary record.

Now questions have been raised about his handling of abusive priests while he was archbishop of Munich and head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. His supporters say he did nothing wrong.

Authoritative accounts from the secret conclave indicated there was opposition to Benedict, although in the current crisis no cardinal has stepped forth and expressed regrets over the choice.

When the search begins for a successor to Benedict, Vatican experts say the need for someone with no skeletons in the closet on abuse might give advantage to cardinals who didn't head a diocese.

In choosing top officials, the church may give preference to a younger generation of conservative clergy, looking beyond the current church leadership that has been so sullied by the scandal. Just this week, Benedict tapped a 58-year-old Mexican-born prelate, Jose Gomez, as the next archbishop of Los Angeles, a post that traditionally gets a red hat.

As a priest, Gomez was a member of the conservative Opus Dei movement favored by the Vatican. He takes over in February from current archbishop Cardinal Roger Mahony, who was dogged by the abuse scandal, agreeing in 2007 to a record-setting $660 million settlement with more than 500 alleged victims.

Gomez himself was criticized Tuesday by victim support groups who accuse him of being unresponsive to their concerns about several clergy abuse cases. Church officials have said appropriate actions were taken against the priests.

Lost in the drumbeat of accusations and the Vatican's counterattack have been indications that change is indeed being placed on the agenda for a future pope.

Last month, L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's daily newspaper, gave space to an Italian woman, historian Lucetta Scaraffia, who argued that a greater feminine presence in the church "would have been able to rip the veil off the code of silence" on clerical sex abuse.

An influential European cardinal, Christoph Schoenborn of Vienna, recently said there is need for "dialogue" about priestly celibacy, but stopped short of saying it should be lifted and did not make a direct link to sex abuse, which the Vatican rejects.

The idea that Benedict might step down over the crisis has been roundly dismissed as speculation raised only by those bent on destroying his papacy.

Still, Benedict himself seemed to consider the possibility that popes might not serve unlimited terms. With people living longer "one also would consider new norms," he said in a 2004 interview with an Italian religious affairs magazine, Famiglia Cristiana, a year before his election.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/8/2010 3:50 PM]
4/9/2010 11:02 AM
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The contemptuous and mocking tone of this editorial is intolerable and despicable. As a token of 'objectivity', it throws in a scrap towards the end - not without a scorpion's sting in it - but on teh whole it recycles all the false stereotypes, prefabricated judgments, lies and half-truths that have been the fake currency the MSM has used in this campaign.

When walls are too high
A penchant for conspiracy is no help to the Vatican’s image

Apr 8th 2010 | ROME |
From The Economist print edition

IT WAS a scene that could have come from medieval times: the ruler sat on a gilded throne before the multitude as a courtier extolled his virtues. The sovereign, he said, was an “unfailing rock” who would not be deterred by the “idle chatter” of critics.

The setting was St Peter’s Square at the start of the most solemn Mass in the Roman Catholic liturgy, on Easter Sunday, April 4th. The ruler was Pope Benedict XVI and his courtier Angelo Sodano, the dean of the college of cardinals. His oddly anachronistic eulogy was a reminder that the Vatican is not a democratic state or a multinational firm, but a sort of absolute monarchy. Catholics believe its ruler owes his place to divine right: that he is chosen not by the cardinals who elect him, but ultimately by the Holy Spirit working through them.

That is why it may be misleading to view the scandal over clerical sex abuse that is rocking the Catholic church as a latter-day Watergate, certain to undermine the pope’s legitimacy in the eyes of his own lieutenants. Deeming their mandate to be from God, popes believe it can only be taken away by the Almighty at death. Whatever evidence is produced to embarrass Benedict and his church, it will be irrelevant to the length of his tenure. But it will not be irrelevant to his—or its—moral authority, and that point risks being lost as the Vatican sinks ever deeper into self-pity, laced with conspiracy theory.

Beyond its high walls, the crisis is deepening. On April 7th it was reported that a bishop, Georg Mueller of the Norwegian diocese of Trondheim, had resigned last year after confessing to the sexual abuse of an altar boy. He is the most senior prelate to have been linked to the scandal. [Ignoramuses! A Polish cardinal adn a n Austrian cardinal were forced to esign in the 1990s becausese of sex abuse!

So far, the pope has made no direct comment on the crisis, whose recent effects have been sharpest in continental Europe. Last month, he sent a message to the faithful in Ireland about the scandals there, which go back several years, but he rejected suggestions that he make it a letter to the entire church. Benedict extended his silence through Easter, leaving Vatican officials to fill the void. The tone of their response was set on April 2nd when the pope’s personal preacher, Raniero Cantalamessa, claimed there was a “violent and concentric attack on the church, the pope and all of the Catholic faithful” from all over the world. He also read out a letter he said he had received from a Jewish friend comparing the methods used to criticise Catholics with those deployed in the persecution of Jews. Reactions from Jewish leaders ranged from dismay to fury. It was the latest of many signs that, under Benedict, high-profile speeches—like this one, given at the main Good Friday service—are not checked for the impact they could have on the outside world.

Father Cantalamessa apologised. But in an interview with the Vatican daily, L’Osservatore Romano, four days later, Cardinal Sodano offered fresh fuel to those who claim the Catholic hierarchy is trying to turn the crisis into a confrontation with the world’s Jews. Portentously, he declared that the controversy over sex abuse “is now a cultural clash: the pope embodies moral truths that are not accepted and so the shortcomings and mistakes of priests are being used as weapons against the church.” He went on to compare the “attacks on the pope” with criticism of Pius X (the hero of ultra-traditionalist Catholics), Paul VI (who condemned contraception) and Pius XII, whose silence over the Holocaust remains a painful controversy. Rabbi Giuseppe Laras, honorary president of the Italian Rabbinical Assembly, retorted that “bringing in Pius XII gives an impression that behind the storm over paedophile priests are the Jews [and that] we are mobilising public opinion against the Vatican.”

The Vatican’s search for ulterior motives is in tune with Italian political culture, with its love of dietrologia (or “background-ology”). So is the tendency for those accused in scandals to adopt the role of victim (Italy’s prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has successfully used both tactics). Despite the German origins of the current pope, many features of the Vatican still reflect the country where it is based. That may explain the inability of its senior officials to understand the irritation, or even contempt, which its pronouncements sometimes stir in other places.

It is not as if they have no arguments. Sexual abuse of children is scarcely confined to Catholic priests (though figures from Malta where, according to the diocesan authorities, 45 of the 850-odd priests on the island have been accused, suggest it is alarmingly widespread). Pope Benedict, unlike his predecessor, has not ignored the problem of clerical sex abuse and has improved procedures for tackling it.

But there is also abundant evidence that the Catholic hierarchy remains addicted to secrecy, and that it instinctively sees as its main task the safeguarding of the reputation of the church, rather than co-operation with the civil authorities or protecting potential victims. One recent case involves a priest found to be working in India, four years after criminal charges for sexual assault, which he denies, were laid against him in America. Father Palanivel Jeyapaul had been tried under canon law in India, but not defrocked, even though, according to a statement from the Vatican’s lawyer on April 5th, it had recommended he be dismissed from the clergy.

Something was obviously wrong in the handling of that case, as in the management of many others. It doesn’t help much when all concern about the Vatican’s approach is dismissed as mere “chatter”.
4/9/2010 10:50 PM
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AP EXCLUSIVE: Future pope stalled pedophile case
Associated Press Writer

Watch Related Video
Future Pope Resisted Defrocking Abusive Priest

LOS ANGELES, April 9 (AP) -- The future Pope Benedict XVI resisted pleas to defrock a California priest with a record of sexually molesting children, citing concerns including "the good of the universal church," according to a 1985 letter bearing his signature.

The correspondence, obtained by The Associated Press, is the strongest challenge yet to the Vatican's insistence that Benedict played no role in blocking the removal of pedophile priests during his years as head of the Catholic Church's doctrinal watchdog office.

The letter, signed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was typed in Latin and is part of years of correspondence between the Diocese of Oakland and the Vatican about the proposed defrocking of the Rev. Stephen Kiesle.

The Vatican refused to comment on the contents of the letter Friday, but a spokesman confirmed it bore Ratzinger's signature.

"The press office doesn't believe it is necessary to respond to every single document taken out of context regarding particular legal situations," the Rev. Federico Lombardi said. "It is not strange that there are single documents which have Cardinal Ratzinger's signature."

The diocese recommended removing Kiesle (KEEZ'-lee) from the priesthood in 1981, the year Ratzinger was appointed to head the Vatican office that shared responsibility for disciplining abusive priests.

The case then languished for four years at the Vatican before Ratzinger finally wrote to Oakland Bishop John Cummins. It was two more years before Kiesle was removed; during that time he continued to do volunteer work with children through the church.

In the November 1985 letter, Ratzinger says the arguments for removing Kiesle are of "grave significance" but added that such actions required very careful review and more time. He also urged the bishop to provide Kiesle with "as much paternal care as possible" while awaiting the decision, according to a translation for AP by Professor Thomas Habinek, chairman of the University of Southern California Classics Department.

But the future pope also noted that any decision to defrock Kiesle must take into account the "good of the universal church" and the "detriment that granting the dispensation can provoke within the community of Christ's faithful, particularly considering the young age." Kiesle was 38 at the time.

Kiesle had been sentenced in 1978 to three years' probation after pleading no contest to misdemeanor charges of lewd conduct for tying up and molesting two young boys in a San Francisco Bay area church rectory.

As his probation ended in 1981, Kiesle asked to leave the priesthood and the diocese submitted papers to Rome to defrock him.

In his earliest letter to Ratzinger, Cummins warned that returning Kiesle to ministry would cause more of a scandal than stripping him of his priestly powers.

"It is my conviction that there would be no scandal if this petition were granted and that as a matter of fact, given the nature of the case, there might be greater scandal to the community if Father Kiesle were allowed to return to the active ministry," Cummins wrote in 1982.

While papers obtained by the AP include only one letter with Ratzinger's signature, correspondence and internal memos from the diocese refer to a letter dated Nov. 17, 1981, from the then-cardinal to the bishop. Ratzinger was appointed to head the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith a week later.

California church officials wrote to Ratzinger at least three times to check on the status of Kiesle's case. At one point, a Vatican official wrote to say the file may have been lost and suggested resubmitting materials.

Diocese officials considered writing Ratzinger again after they received his 1985 response to impress upon him that leaving Kiesle in the ministry would harm the church, Rev. George Mockel wrote in a memo to the Oakland bishop.

"My own reading of this letter is that basically they are going to sit on it until Steve gets quite a bit older," the memo said. "Despite his young age, the particular and unique circumstances of this case would seem to make it a greater scandal if he were not laicized."

As Kiesle's fate was being weighed in Rome, the priest returned to suburban Pinole to volunteer as a youth minister at St. Joseph Church, where he had served as associate pastor from 1972 to 1975.

Kiesle was ultimately stripped of his priestly powers in 1987, though the documents do not indicate when, how or why. They also don't indicate what role - if any - Ratzinger had in the decision.

Kiesle continued to volunteer with children, according to Maurine Behrend, who worked in the Oakland diocese's youth ministry office in the 1980s. After learning of his history, Behrend complained to church officials. When nothing was done she wrote a letter, which she showed to the AP.

"Obviously nothing has been done after EIGHT months of repeated notifications," she wrote. "How are we supposed to have confidence in the system when nothing is done? A simple phone call to the pastor from the bishop is all it would take."

She eventually confronted Cummins at a confirmation and Kiesle was gone a short time later, Behrend said.

Kiesle was arrested and charged in 2002 with 13 counts of child molestation from the 1970s. All but two were thrown out after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional a California law extending the statute of limitations.

He pleaded no contest in 2004 to a felony for molesting a young girl in his Truckee home in 1995 and was sentenced to six years in state prison.

Kiesle, now 63 and a registered sex offender, lives in a Walnut Creek gated community, according to his address listed on the Megan's Law sex registry. An AP reporter was turned away when attempting to reach him for comment.

William Gagen, an attorney who represented Kiesle in 2002, did not return a call for comment.

More than a half-dozen victims reached a settlement in 2005 with the Oakland diocese alleging Kiesle had molested them as young children.

"He admitted molesting many children and bragged that he was the Pied Piper and said he tried to molest every child that sat on his lap," said Lewis VanBlois, an attorney for six Kiesle victims who interviewed the former priest in prison. "When asked how many children he had molested over the years, he said 'tons.'"

Cummins, the now-retired bishop, told the AP during an interview at his Oakland home that he "didn't really care for" Kiesle, but he didn't recall writing to Ratzinger concerning the case.

"I wish I did write to Cardinal Ratzinger. I don't think I was that smart," Cummins, now 82, told AP.

Documents obtained by the AP last week revealed similar instances of Vatican stalling in cases involving two Arizona clergy.

In one case, the future pope took over the abuse case of the Rev. Michael Teta of Tucson, Ariz., then let it languish at the Vatican for years despite repeated pleas from the bishop for the man to be removed from the priesthood.

In the second, the bishop called Msgr. Robert Trupia a "major risk factor" in a letter to Ratzinger. There is no indication in those files that Ratzinger responded.

The Vatican has called the accusations "absolutely groundless" and said the facts were being misrepresented.

And here's the second AP story today, this one implicating John Paul II...

Letter shows Canadian church knew
of abuse allegations before priest's
promotion to Vatican

ROB GILLIES Associated Press Writer
4:55 PM CDT, April 9, 2010

This 1984 photo shows Monsignor Bernard Prince, center, during a meeting between Canadian singer Celine Dion, left, and Pope John Paul II.

TORONTO, April 9 (AP) — A letter written by a late Canadian bishop shows Church officials in Canada knew of sexual abuse allegations involving a priest before his promotion to a top Vatican post and then discussed with Vatican officials how to keep the scandal from becoming public.

The four-page letter was written on Feb. 10, 1993 by the late Bishop Joseph Windle of Pembroke, Ontario, and sent to the pope's envoy to Canada, Carlo Curis. Its contents were released this week as an exhibit in a civil lawsuit.

The letter raised concerns about Monsignor Bernard Prince, a friend of the late Pope John Paul II. Prince served as secretary-general of the Vatican's Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith, which works with missionary societies, from 1991 until he retired in 2004.

Windle advised the Vatican to avoid honoring or promoting Prince in any way because it might anger abuse victims and lead them to file criminal charges or civil lawsuits.

"The consequences of such an action would be disastrous, not only for the Canadian church but for the Holy See as well," the bishop wrote.

The Vatican embassy in Ottawa referred all requests for comment to the Pembroke diocese and to the Vatican in Rome. Vatican officials in Rome did not answer their phones.

In a statement released Friday, the Diocese of Pembroke said the recently released documents "demonstrate it has done its best to be proactive and responsible" in following Canadian church policies on handling allegations of sexual abuse by priests.

The current Pembroke Bishop Michael Mulhall expressed "sympathy and concern" for Prince's victims and pledged that the diocese would be "open and transparent" in dealing with the facts of the case.

It wasn't until 2005 that the Ontario Provincial Police received a complaint from a man claiming that he had been molested by Prince in 1969. Prince is currently serving a four-year sentence after being convicted in 2008 of sexually molesting 13 boys between 1964 and 1984. He was defrocked last year by Pope Benedict XVI.

But in 1990, a man complained to Ontario church officials that he had been abused by Prince as a boy. The victim told The Associated Press that he indicated to a Pembroke church official that he wouldn't contact the police, but wanted to make sure that Prince would be supervised and counseled by church officials.

The victim, a 53-year-old who cannot be identified because of a court publication ban, said the Pembroke diocese clearly knew of allegations against the priest a year before Prince became a top Vatican official in 1991.

"That's the sad thing. He was promoted," the victim said.

In its statement, the Pembroke diocese said the victim "was encouraged to refer the allegations to the civil authorities" in accordance with Canadian church protocols, but "his decision at the time was not to do so."

However, the victim in a response to the diocese's statement e-mailed to The Associated Press disputed its account.

"At no point in my meetings with the diocese did they encourage me to call the police," he said. "At no point did they offer to call the police on my behalf." The victim said that Windle never attended any meetings with him and church officials at the time.

In 1992, a year before the letter was written, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a protocol that recommended that bishops should contact police if allegations of sexual abuse involve minors.

In his 1993 letter, Windle said other Canadian bishops were informed of the complaint, and the Toronto archbishop had indicated Prince was no longer welcome in his archdiocese unless he underwent psychiatric treatment.

Windle wrote that when Prince was first proposed for the Vatican position, he had advised at least one Vatican archbishop, Jose Sanchez, now a cardinal, about the complaint against Prince. However, Windle said he advised Sanchez that he believed the Vatican appointment should still proceed.

Windle said he had told Sanchez that "while the charge against Fr. Prince was very serious, I would not object to him being given another chance since it would remove him from the Canadian scene."

Windle wrote that "at that time we were under the impression that the incident was isolated, in the distant past, and there was little or no danger of any scandal ever emerging."

But after Prince took up his Vatican post, Windle wrote the papal nuncio in Ottawa that the "situation has become more precarious" because the Canadian church was now aware that there were four or five men claiming to have been abused by Prince when they were boys.

Windle expressed concern that any papal recognition of Prince might "trigger a reaction among the victim (s)," resulting in criminal charges or civil lawsuits being filed that would "prove extremely embarrassing" both to the Vatican and Pembroke diocese. He wrote that all of the bishops of Ontario agreed with his assessment.

Windle wrote that a public scandal had been avoided only because the victims "are of Polish descent and their respect for the priesthood and the Church has made them refrain from making these allegations public or laying a criminal charge against a priest."

The Pembroke diocese said that at the time Windle wrote his letter there was still uncertainty about the allegations against Prince which were gradually surfacing from different sources. It noted that Windle wrote in his letter that the church has "no way of assessing the total accuracy of these reports."

Windle's letter said that he had previously discussed the Prince case with the papal nuncio by telephone and fax. The letter's contents were first reported by Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper on Friday.

The letter was entered as an exhibit this week in a civil lawsuit filed by abuse victims against the Pembroke diocese that seeks answers to a variety of questions, including whether the Vatican was informed after the diocese received a complaint about Prince and if so why the priest continued to serve in a prestigious post at the side of the late pope.

Prince, who grew up in a Polish settlement in Ontario, became friends with Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Krakow before he became Pope John Paul II. There are pictures of the late pope with Prince, who would often arrange meetings between the pope and fellow Canadians. In her autobiography, singer Celine Dion included a 1984 photo of her with Prince and the pope at the Vatican.

Prince was ordained in 1963 and held various administrative posts in Ottawa and Toronto before being moved to the Vatican in 1991. He returned to Canada in 2006 after criminal charges were brought against him.

"He anally raped 11-year-old boys. This is graphic stuff. The guy is a monster," said Rob Talach, a lawyer for some of the victims.

In a separate case involving the Canadian church, a bishop already facing child pornography charges in Ontario has also been accused in a civil lawsuit of sexually assaulting a young boy who lived at an orphanage in eastern Canada.

The civil lawsuit filed this week in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador alleges that Raymond Lahey simulated anal intercourse and fondled the young boy between 1982 and 1985.

The lawsuit alleges the plaintiff first met Lahey in 1982 when he served as a priest at the Mount Cashel orphanage in St. John's, Newfoundland.

Lahey was charged in September with possessing and importing child pornography after border agents examined his laptop at an Ontario airport. He resigned as head of the Catholic diocese of Antigonish in Nova Scotia just before the pornography charges became public.

And the third in AP's anti-Ratzinger trifecta today - I wonder if it took them all these weeks to finally get this poor misguided man to be complicit in AP's Satanic scheme! The inanity of it all is mind-deadening!

AP Interview: German abuse victim
faults Pope Benedict XVI,
seeks compensation from Church

Associated Press Writer
11:57 a.m. EDT, April 9, 2010

GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) — A German man who says a priest sexually abused him as an altar boy is demanding an apology from Pope Benedict XVI and compensation "even if the church goes bankrupt."

Wilfried Fesselmann said then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is ultimately to blame for allowing the priest to continue in his pastoral duties.

"It is an insolence that the Catholic Church was only busy with covering-up and moving the priest around for years instead of dismissing him," Fesselmann said in an interview this week with The Associated Press.

Fesselmann claims a chaplain, the Rev. Peter Hullermann, forced him to sleep with him and practice oral sex when he was an 11-year-old boy in the western city of Essen.

Three decades later, the case is especially explosive for the Roman Catholic Church as they cast doubt on the current pope's handling of pedophile priests during his tenure as Archbishop of Munich and Freising.

After being abused, Fesselmann was afraid to tell his deeply Catholic parents what had happened. "That was inconceivable; they would have never believed me," he told the AP on Thursday in Gelsenkirchen, near Essen in the industrial Ruhr River basin.

But he told a friend who alerted his parents, who then contacted local clergy. Fesselmann's claims and three other sex abuse cases against Hullermann a few months earlier caused the Essen diocese to transfer the priest to Munich in 1980 where he was to undergo therapy — a decision approved by Ratzinger.

Hullermann was given therapy but was allowed to resume pastoral duties almost immediately. He later worked again with children and youth and in 1986 was handed a suspended sentence for molesting a boy. Following the sentence, he was again assigned to another parish.

"Why didn't Ratzinger remove him? They should have dismissed him. He was dangerous," the 41-year-old father of three said.

Ratzinger's then-top aide, Gerhard Gruber, now aged 81, has taken the lone responsibility for the decision to reassign him to a parish shortly after he started his therapy.

Ever since, however, questions persist whether such a decision would be possible without at least informing the archbishop.

"Gruber has jumped in front of the pope to protect him," Fesselmann said. He insists the archbishop was ultimately responsible.

"When top executives sign a decision, they're accountable for it. If it goes wrong, they have to quit," Fesselmann said.

He is now urging Benedict to apologize with a strongly-worded statement for the past mistakes — his own and those of his clergymen.

"Actually, a general apology by the pope is not enough for me," Fesselmann said. "What about a private audience for all victims abused by Hullermann?"

Hullermann continued to serve as a priest in Bavaria for three decades. He was removed from his duties as pastor in the spa town of Bad Toelz only last month after Fesselmann came forward and disclosed his story, encouraged by other emerging abuse cases in Germany.

The archdiocese of Munich issued a statement on March 12 confirming that Hullerman was allowed to continue working as a priest "despite allegations of sexual abuse and a sentencing. Gruber takes on the full responsibility for this."

Fesselmann now wants unspecified financial compensation of a scale similar to that in the U.S., where churches paid out an estimated $2 billion to abuse victims.

"There needs to be a compensation so that the victims at least get some money — even if the church goes bankrupt over it," he said.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/10/2010 2:05 AM]
4/10/2010 12:44 AM
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I almost forgot - this one is from yesterday. I think I should rename this thread to TOXIC WASTE AND LOONY BIN....but do not under-estimate the capacity of middle-level UN (and EU) bureaucrats to push an agenda

UN Judge Says Pope Should be Prosecuted
at International Criminal Court

By Susan Yoshihara, Ph.D.

(NEW YORK – C-FAM) In London last Friday, a high ranking United Nations (UN) jurist called on the British government to detain Pope Benedict XVI during his upcoming visit to Britain, and send him to trial in the International Criminal Court (ICC) for “crimes against humanity.”

Geoffrey Robertson touted his status as a UN judge in an article he published last week claiming that jurists should invoke the same procedures that have been used to indict war criminals such as Slobodan Milosevic. To try the Pope as head of the Roman Catholic Church who is ultimately responsible for sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests.

Robertson is one of five select jurists in the UN’s internal justice system responsible for holding UN officials accountable for corruption and mismanagement. His article was published in both the United States and Britain and reported on by the Associated Press.

Professor Hurst Hannum of the Fletcher School at Tufts University told the Friday Fax that it would be a “real stretch” to use the ICC since that court’s jurisdiction is mainly reserved for crimes during war. More likely, Hannum said, is that Robertson and likeminded experts would invoke the principle of “universal jurisdiction” so that national courts all over the world could detain the pope whenever he stepped foot on their soil. Critics say the principle, already used in practice, is a violation of sovereignty as it is enshrined in the UN Charter.

Yet Robertson insisted that the ICC could be used as long as the Pope’s sovereign immunity was waived and as long as jurists can show that the sex abuse scandal was carried out on a “widespread or systematic scale,” the way that child soldiers were used in the wars in Sierra Leone and the way that sex slaves are traded internationally.

Robertson, a tort lawyer, argued that prosecution at a higher level of the Church is necessary to get more money for victims of clergy sexual abuse in cases where dioceses have gone into bankruptcy. He specifically pointed out the fact that the diocese of Los Angeles has already paid $660M in damages and Boston has paid $100M.

One prominent law professor told the Friday Fax, “Without in any way minimizing the seriousness of the alleged offenses of Catholic priests, it would be a grave mistake to the laws of human rights to permit a trivializing of the responsibility to protect, and to play into the hands of American contingency-fee lawyers.”

Another human rights lawyer told the Friday Fax that the article could be part of a broader campaign. Robertson has long campaigned to strip the Holy See of its permanent observer status at the UN, and has publicly referred to the Holy See “the world’s largest NGO.”

When a campaign was launched to oust the Holy See from its status in 1999, UN Member States rallied around the Vatican, and in 2004 the General Assembly voted unanimously to expand that status. It is unclear whether UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon knew about Robertson’s leanings before appointing him to his current position.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/10/2010 12:44 AM]
4/10/2010 7:30 PM
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It turns out AP did not have an 'exclusive' about the Kiesle case after all - vulture lawyer Jeffrey Anderson apparently provided the same documents to the New York Times!

Pope put off punishing abusive priest
April 9, 2010

A version of this article appeared in print on April 10, 2010, on page A1 of the New York edition. [NB: Page A1 is 'the' front page.]

A 1985 letter, written in Latin, to the Diocese of Oakland signed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The letter said that a California priest accused of molesting children should not be defrocked without further study.

The priest, convicted of tying up and abusing two young boys in a California church rectory, wanted to leave the ministry.

But in 1985, four years after the priest and his bishop first asked that he be defrocked, the future Pope Benedict XVI, then a top Vatican official, signed a letter saying that the case needed more time and that “the good of the Universal Church” had to be considered in the final decision, according to church documents released through lawsuits.

That decision did not come for two more years, the sort of delay that is fueling a renewed sexual abuse scandal in the church that has focused on whether the future pope moved quickly enough to remove known pedophiles from the priesthood, despite pleas from American bishops.

As the scandal has deepened, the pope’s defenders have said that, well before he was elected pope in 2005, he grew ever more concerned about sexual abuse and weeding out pedophile priests. But the case of the California priest, the Rev. Stephen Kiesle, and the trail of documents first reported on Friday by The Associated Press, shows, in this period at least, little urgency.

The letter that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later pope, wrote in Latin in 1985, mentions Father Kiesle’s young age — 38 at the time — as one consideration in whether he should be forced from the priesthood. The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said it was wrong to draw conclusions based on one letter, without carefully understanding the context in which it was written.

“It’s evident that it’s not an in-depth and serious use of documents,” he said. Earlier Friday, Father Lombardi suggested that the pope would be willing to meet with sexual abuse victims.

But John S. Cummins, the former bishop of Oakland who repeatedly wrote his superiors in Rome urging that the priest be defrocked, said the Vatican in that era, after the Second Vatican Council, was especially reluctant to dismiss priests because so many were abandoning the priesthood.

As a result, he said, Pope John Paul II “really slowed down the process and made it much more deliberate.”

The letters and memos, released to The New York Times by Jeff Anderson, a co-counsel representing some of the priests’ victims, reveal a rising level of exasperation among church officials in Oakland about the delays from the Vatican.

Bishop Cummins wrote to Cardinal Ratzinger in February 1982: “It is my conviction that there would be no scandal if this petition were granted and that as a matter of fact, given the nature of the case, there might be greater scandal to the community if Father Kiesle were allowed to return to the active ministry.”

In late 1981 Cardinal Ratzinger had just been appointed to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the church’s doctrinal office. This office was supposed to handle abuse cases only when they were considered violations of the sacrament of Confession, before the policies were clarified in 2001 and the doctrinal office took on all the abuse cases. (It is unclear why the doctrinal office was handling the case of Mr. Kiesle in the 1980s).

Bishop Cummins had first petitioned the doctrinal office to defrock Mr. Kiesle in 1981. He also wrote directly to Pope John Paul II. Cardinal Ratzinger requested more information, which officials in the Oakland Diocese supplied in February 1982. They did not hear back from Cardinal Ratzinger until 1985, when he sent the letter in Latin suggesting that his office needed more time to evaluate the case.

The Rev. George Mockel, a diocesan official in Oakland, wrote in a memo to Bishop Cummins: “Basically they are going to sit on it until Steve gets quite a bit older. My own feeling is that this is unfortunate.”

Mr. Kiesle was finally defrocked in 1987.

Mr. Kiesle was convicted for the first time of child molesting in 1978, just six years after he was ordained. He pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of lewd conduct while he was a pastor at Our Lady of the Rosary in Union City, Calif.

Mike Brown, a spokesman for the Oakland Diocese, said that after Mr. Kiesle was convicted, the diocese withdrew permission for him to work as a minister. Mr. Kiesle served three years’ probation for his misdemeanor and underwent treatment, enabling him to eventually get his record wiped clean.

In 1985, while the bishop in Oakland was pressing Cardinal Ratzinger to defrock Mr. Kiesle, the priest began volunteering in the youth ministry at one of his former parishes, St. Joseph’s in Pinole, Calif., news reports say.

Maurine Behrend, a former employee in the diocese’s youth ministry office, recalled encountering Mr. Kiesle at a Youth Day in April 1988 and learning from another minister that Mr. Kiesle had been convicted of molestation. Ms. Behrend alerted the head of the youth ministry office and personally warned Bishop Cummins two weeks later.

In May 1988, she wrote an outraged letter to a church official, demanding to know why “a convicted child molester is currently the youth ministry coordinator at St. Joseph’s parish in Pinole.”

Bishop Cummins, who is now 82, contested news reports that Mr. Kiesle was volunteering at his old parish for three years, saying diocesan officials would have heard and acted earlier. Bishop Cummins did not recall ever being alerted, despite Ms. Behrend’s irate letter.

Bishop Cummins said Mr. Kiesle was finally removed from his volunteer position when the bishop happened to bump into him at a child’s confirmation ceremony at the parish. The next day, the bishop said he made sure Mr. Kiesle was banned from working at the parish.

In 2002, Mr. Kiesle was charged in several cases of molestation, including abusing at least a half-dozen young girls while at his former parishes in the 1960s and 1970s. But those charges had to be dropped when the United States Supreme Court struck down a California law that extended the statute of limitations on child molestation cases.

He eventually pleaded no contest in 2004 to a separate felony charge of molesting a child at his vacation home in Truckee, Calif., in 1995 and was sentenced to six years in prison.

Rick Simons, an attorney in Hayward, Calif., who represented two of the victims who later sued the Diocese of Oakland, said he met Father Kiesle when he took his deposition in prison.

“Of all the priests who abused children that I have met, and there’s probably a couple dozen, he was by far the most evil, remorseless sociopath of the lot,” he said.

Mr. Kiesle was released, and is listed in California’s sex offenders registry as living in Walnut Creek, Ca. He lives in a gated community, where guards on Friday prevented a reporter from approaching his home.

Mr. Simons said that about eight victims of Mr. Kiesle reached a settlement with the Diocese of Oakland in 2005, and that on average each received about $1 million to $1.5 million.

Daniel J. Wakin contributed reporting from Rome, Anna Bloom from Oakland, Calif., and Rachel Gross from Walnut Creek, Calif.

4/12/2010 9:15 PM
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This British blog entry by someone who calls himself The Heresiarch contains a mixed bag of venom spat out recently in the current frenzied hissing and slithering in the media snakepit - and I am posting it only because of some legal 'arguments' that have to do with the Vatican...Even if I am not lawyer, I find them risible and not worth spit.

Monday, 12 April 2010
Dawkins and the Pope

I was a bit suspicious when I read yesterday that Richard Dawkins was "planning a legal ambush to have the Pope arrested during his state visit to Britain." For one thing, the next sentence in the Sunday Times article described the idea as a joint venture by the professor and Christopher Hitchens, backed up by two lawyers - and I couldn't help thinking it seemed much more like Hitch's style. (Although, of course, Dawkins is no fan of the Pope.) For another, one of the lawyers mentioned, the human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson QC, had already had an article in the Guardian (on Good Friday, deliberately or otherwise) setting out the case he intended to put before the courts. So I guessed one or other of them must have had the brainwave, with Dawkins lending his name as additional weight.

Almost. It turns out the idea was, indeed, Hitch's - and it was he who, having first enlisted Dawkins' support, approached Robertson. Here's Dawkins' version of events:

Here is what really happened. Christopher Hitchens first proposed the legal challenge idea to me on March 14th. I responded enthusiastically, and suggested the name of a high profile human rights lawyer whom I know. I had lost her address, however, and set about tracking her down. Meanwhile, Christopher made the brilliant suggestion of Geoffrey Robertson. He approached him, and Mr Robertson's subsequent 'Put the Pope in the Dock' article in The Guardian shows him to be ideal. The case is obviously in good hands, with him and Mark Stephens.

Who was the high profile lawyer Dawkins suggested, but couldn't find her address? I'm guessing Helena Kennedy.

The business reminds me of the story of Camp Quest, the humanist summer camp, whose launch in the UK was supported by the Richard Dawkins Foundation with a modest contribution. The Sunday Times inevitably described it as the Dawkins Atheist Camp and presented the initiative as part of the professor's cunning scheme to indoctrinate the next generation in the faith of Atheism and Evolution. He had "come up with a novel idea to wean our children away from God" the report lied, "summer camps for would-be little non-believers." Dawkins was understandably miffed, and did his best to set the record straight. With only limited success, as the Camp Dawkins line had already been recycled on hundreds on news sites. The notion of Richard Dawkins as sort of atheist Pope, personally orchestrating anything ever done by an atheist, is almost as pervasive in the media as the idea that Benedict XVI bears personal responsibility for anything ever done by a priest, and with even less justification.

Similarly, the good professor was angered by yesterday's original headline, which ran "Dawkins: I will arrest Pope", and which he described as "a straight lie". "Needless to say, I did NOT say... anything so personally grandiloquent" he insisted. The title was eventually changed to something less misleading, but which still implied the stunt was his idea. As for Hitchens, he probably would like personally to arrest the Pope; he must be getting fed up with Dawkins always being billed as Number One Atheist.

Of the four horsemen of the Popocalypse, so far it's Robertson who has put forward the most elaborate legal justification for the move. He devotes part of his article to an attempt to prove that the Vatican is not a proper country and that therefore the Pope is not entitled to diplomatic immunity. He points out that the Vatican owes its origin to the 1929 Lateran Treaty with Mussolini's fascist regime and finds it "risible" that statehood "can be created by another country's unilateral declaration." (What about Australia, which was brought into being by a "unilateral" act of the Westminster Parliament?) He also makes much play of the fact that the Holy See is not a full member of the United Nations but only enjoys observer status. But membership of the UN has never been part of the definition of statehood. Switzerland only joined the organisation in 2002. The People's Republic of China was unrecognised by the UN until 1971, largely as a result of the United States vetoing its membership in preference to Taiwan.

An interesting technical point skirted over by Robertson: the Holy See is not quite the same as the Vatican, or even its "metaphysical emanation", as Robertson describes it. It is much older (having a continuous existence since the days of Roman Empire) and does not owe its existence or its diplomatic character to the Lateran Treaty. The Papacy retained its diplomatic missions even after the extinction of the Papal States in 1870. The Vatican, however, is a fully sovereign entity under international law - arguably it possesses greater legal independence than any of the member states of the European Union. It has full diplomatic relations with almost every country in the world (the only significant exceptions being China, Saudi Arabia and Israel) and its officials travel on Vatican passport. Whatever the precise status of the Holy See the Pope's status as a head of state is not really in doubt. Whether or not he should have that status is of course a different question.

The other lawyer involved, Mark Stephens, told the Guardian that he was "convinced we can get over the threshold of immunity." Is he really, or is it just bluster? And even if he managed to persuade a judge that the Vatican did not qualify as a state the problem would remain of finding a crime with which to indict the Pope. One idea would be to send him to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Robertson writes that the ICC "now counts the widespread or systematic sexual abuse of children as a crime against humanity." But even its worst enemies don't seriously suggest that the Catholic Church was systematically - as a matter of policy - organising the abuse of children. At most officials within the church failed to act against the abusers or failed to share information with the civil authorities.

These are grave charges, but by no stretch of the imagination do they come within the purview of the ICC. No-one suggests that Ratzinger himself abused anyone. If there he knowingly suppressed information regarding Father Hullerman while he was Bishop of Munich in the early 1980s there might be a case to answer - but the judicial initiative would have to come from Germany. British lawyers have no authority to launch such actions themselves. "The third option" said Stephens, "is for individuals to lodge civil claims." As he is presumably well aware, however, civil claims for compensation would not lead to anyone's arrest, least of all the Pope's. But then Stephens specialises in media law - and Robertson wrote the textbook. And whatever specious legal reasoning they may employ, this is really just a publicity stunt.

I didn't think I'd say this, but I'm beginning to come round to Damian Thompson's way of thinking, at least in part. It's not that the pope bears no responsibility for his past mistakes - he does - and Thompson minimises the catastrophic damage caused both by Benedict's failure to act more decisively and by his reluctance to offer a full public and personal apology to the victims. But Thompson is surely right to point out that there were bishops and Vatican officials whose actions were more reprehensible, yet who are escaping the intense scrutiny reserved for the man at the top. Ratzinger did too little, too late - but he did so at a time when there were still powerful voices in the Curia who wanted to take no action at all.

That said, the media feeding frenzy is understandable. The Pope is supposed to be the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, and he has conspicuously failed to give a lead. He has behaved throughout like a bureaucrat rather than a moral and spiritual leader. He has managed to convey the impression (which may well be true) that the "good of the universal church" matters more to him than the suffering of abused children. Every day he remains in office the church's reputation declines. As Dawkins himself writes gleefully,

He should remain in charge of the whole rotten edifice - the whole profiteering, woman-fearing, guilt-gorging, truth-hating, child-raping institution - while it tumbles, amid a stench of incense and a rain of tourist-kitsch sacred hearts and preposterously crowned virgins, about his ears.

Some in this country hope that legal fears will keep the pope from our shores this autumn, or that the government will withdraw its invitation to him. I don't. It'll be fun.

4/14/2010 1:17 PM
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The ever-malicious Ruth Gledhill, writing for the ever-vicious Times of London, seized on Cardinal Bertone's unfortunate remark in Chile to lead off her latest contribution to the feeding frenzy.


13 April 2010

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone made the comments in Chile where he is on an official visit.

By Ruth Gledhill
Religion Correspondent
The London Times

The Holy See’s second-highest prelate after the Pope has blamed homosexuals for the paedophile crisis.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, said that the child rape scandal that is threatening the moral authority of the Roman Catholic Church worldwide is linked to homosexuality and not celibacy among priests.

Other Vatican clerics have sought to deflect criticism from the Catholic hierarchy by blaming the media, and one retired bishop was even reported earlier this week to have blamed the Jews.

Cardinal Bertone made the comments during a news conference on Monday in Chile, where one of the church’s highest-profile paedophile cases involves a priest having sex with young girls.

Cardinal Bertone said: “Many psychologists and psychiatrists have demonstrated that there is no relation between celibacy and paedophilia. But many others have demonstrated, I have been told recently, that there is a relation between homosexuality and paedophilia. That is true. That is the problem.” Cardinal Bertone also said that the church had never impeded investigations of paedophilia by priests.

Chile’s gay rights advocates reacted with anger. “Neither Bertone nor the Vatican has the moral authority to give lessons on sexuality,” said Rolando Jiménez, president of the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation in Chile.

Mr Jimenez also said that no reputable study existed to support the cardinal’s claims. “This is a perverse strategy by the Vatican to shirk its own ethical and legal responsibility by making a spurious and disgusting connection,” he said.

At least one of the paedophile priests in the Chilean Church victimised young girls, including a teenager who became pregnant.

At the time the archbishop of the capital, Santiago, received multiple complaints about Father José Andrés Aguirre. However, the priest — known to his parishioners as Father Tato — continued serving at a number of Catholic girls schools in the city.

Later the Church sent Aguirre out of Chile twice amid abuse allegations. He was eventually sentenced to 12 years in prison for abusing 10 teenage girls.

One of the girls, identified as Paula, said that she and the priest started to have sex when she was 16 and that it lasted until she was 20.

She told the Chilean newspaper La Nacion: “I thought it wasn’t that bad to have sex with him because when I told priests about it at confession they just told me to pray and that was it. They knew, and some of them guessed that it was Father Tato. But everyone looked the other way. No one corrected or helped me.” She said that one of the priests to whom she confessed about Aguirre was Bishop Francisco José Cox, who himself was facing allegations of paedophilia.

Cox had been bishop in La Serena, in northern Chile, for seven years when he was removed in 1997 amid rumours that he was a paedophile. He was first transferred to Santiago, then Rome, then Colombia, and finally Germany. The Schoenstatt Movement, a worldwide lay community within the Catholic Church, paid for the moves and his treatment.

In 2002 Santiago Archbishop Francisco Javier Erráruriz said that Cox had agreed to be removed for “inappropriate conduct”.

The archbishop acknowledged that Cox had shown “affection that was a bit exuberant”, especially toward children, but said: “I’m not aware of any formal allegation backed by evidence.” Archbishop Erráruriz said that Cox volunteered to be confined to a Schoenstatt convent in Colombia to continue “praying to God for his pardon for the errors he has made”.

Last week the archbishop admitted that the Chilean Church was investigating cases of priest paedophilia after playing the issue down for years.

“There is something to these paedophilia abuses — just a few, thank God,” Archbishop Errazuriz said in an interview on state television.

Cardinal Bertone’s comments are likely to exacerbate further the worst crisis to engulf the Catholic Church in years.

Last week the Associated Press published correspondence that showed that while heading the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger, now the Pope, resisted pleas from a California diocese to laicise a priest who had pleaded no contest to lewd conduct for tying up and molesting two boys.

In 1986 Cardinal Ratzinger wrote a letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons in which he stated that a homosexual orientation, even if the person was totally celibate, was a “tendency” toward an “intrinsic moral evil”. Moreover, he said, a homosexual inclination is both an “objective disorder” and a “moral disorder”, which is “contrary to the creative wisdom of God”. “Special concern and pastoral attention should be directed towards those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not.”

The future Pope concluded in his letter that pastoral care for homosexual persons should include the “assistance of the psychological, sociological and medical sciences”, and that “all support should be withdrawn from any organisations which seek to undermine the teachings of the Church, which are ambiguous about it, or which ignore it entirely”.

Yesterday there were unconfirmed reports that a retired bishop, Giacomo Babini of Grosseto, had said that a “Zionist attack” was behind the criticism of the Pope, that Jews were the Church’s “natural enemies” and that “deep down, historically speaking, the Jews are deicides [God killers]”.

Mgr Babini was quoted as having told an Italian Catholic website that Hitler had exploited German anger over the “excesses” of German Jews, who in the 1930s had “throttled” the German economy.

Denying making such remarks, Mgr Babini, 81, later said: “Statements I have never made about our Jewish brothers have been attributed to me.”

The Vatican also came under fire at Easter when the Pope’s personal preacher, the Reverend Raniero Cantalamessa, quoted a “Jewish friend”, who likened accusations against the pontiff in the clergy sex abuse cover-up scandals to collective violence against Jews.

He made the remarks in a Good Friday sermon at St Peter’s Basilica, which the Pope attended.

A recent edition of The Tablet, the British weekly, quoted a curial official on facts and figures about the paedophile cases that have been reported in the last ten years.

Mgr Charles Scicluna, Promoter of Justice at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said: “It is possible that in the past – perhaps out of a misunderstood sense of protecting the good name of the institution – some bishops were, in practice, too indulgent towards these very sad cases. I say this was in practice because, in principle, the condemnation of this kind of crime has always been firm and unequivocal.” He said that between 1975 and 1985 he knew of no cases of paedophilia committed by priests. Only from 2001 did the congregation deal with such cases. “Therefore, to accuse the current pontiff of a cover-up is, I repeat, false and calumnious,” he said.

He said that in 2003 and 2004 an “avalanche of cases hit our desks.” Many of them came from the United States and concerned the past.

“In recent years, thank God, the phenomenon has greatly reduced. So now we try to deal with new cases in real time.” In the last nine years the congregation has considered accusations concerning about 3,000 cases, which refer to crimes committed over the last 50 years.

He continued: “We can say that, in general, about 60 per cent of these cases chiefly deal with, more than anything else, acts of efebophilia; that is, sexual attraction towards adolescents of the same sex. In another 30 per cent they are heterosexual acts. And in 10 per cent they are acts of true and proper paedophilia; that is, based on sexual attraction towards prepubescent children.

“The cases of priests accused of true and proper paedophilia have been about 300 in nine years. These are too many — for goodness sake! — but it must be recognised that the phenomenon is not as widespread as some would have us believe.” The age of consent in the Vatican is 12.

Richard Owen in Rome contributed to this report.
4/30/2010 6:01 PM
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In the absence of any new 'revelation' to mine, the New York Times has published its nth commentary on what it calls 'the sexual abuse crisis' in order to re-state [in the hope of keeping them alive] all the flawed and fallacious hypotheses that it has built into a jerry-rigged 'case' against the Church and Benedict XVI.... The new wrinkle in this one is the claim that "when supporters defend Benedict, they implicitly criticize John Paul"...

In Abuse Crisis, a Church Is Pitted
Against Society and Itself

Published: April 29, 2010

VATICAN CITY — As the sexual abuse crisis continues to unfold in the Roman Catholic Church, with more victims coming forward worldwide and three bishops resigning last week alone, it is clear the issue is more than a passing storm or a problem of papal communications.

Instead, the church is undergoing nothing less than an epochal shift: It pits those who hold fast to a more traditional idea of protecting bishops and priests above all against those who call for more openness and accountability. The battle lines are drawn between the church and society at large, which clearly clamors for accountability, and also inside the church itself.

Uncomfortably, the crisis also pits the moral legacies of two popes against each other: the towering and modernizing John Paul II, who nonetheless did little about sexual abuse; and his successor, Benedict XVI, who in recent years, at least, has taken the issue of pedophile priests more seriously.

He has had little choice, given the depth of the scandal and the anger it has unleashed. But when supporters defend Benedict, they are implicitly condemning John Paul and how an entire generation of bishops and the Vatican hierarchy acted in response to criminal behavior.

“The church realizes that it doesn’t have a way out, at least not until it confronts the entirety of its problems,” said Alberto Melloni, the director of the liberal Catholic John XXIII Foundation for Religious Science in Bologna, Italy.

This latest eruption of the scandal, nearly a decade after the costly turmoil in the American church, may just be beginning. Last week, a bishop in Ireland resigned, acknowledging he had covered up abuse, while one in Germany and one in Belgium also stepped down, admitting that they themselves had abused children. Other resignations are expected in Ireland after two government reports documented decades of widespread abuse and a cover-up in church-run schools for the poor.

The question, Mr. Melloni said, is whether the Vatican will hew to old explanations that pedophilia is the byproduct of a sexual revolution it had always fought, or whether it will confront the failures in church leadership that allowed sexual abuses to go unpunished.

Benedict expressed both views in a pastoral letter to Irish Catholics released March 20, his most complete remarks on the sexual abuse crisis. He said that secularism and “misguided” interpretations of the reforms of the liberalizing Second Vatican Council contributed to the context of the abuse.

But he also strongly decried “a tendency in society to favor the clergy and other authority figures; and a misplaced concern for the reputation of the church and the avoidance of scandal.”

Last weekend, the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said, “secrecy and reserve, even in their positive aspects, are not values cultivated in today’s culture. We have to be able to have nothing to hide.”

Yet the culture of the church was for decades skewed against public disclosure and cooperation with the civil authorities.

That secrecy was made bluntly clear in a 2001 letter written by a top cardinal, who contended that this was a policy supported uniformly from John Paul on down. Only this month did the Vatican affirm that bishops should follow civil laws in countries that require reporting pedophilia and other abuse to the authorities.

This month, Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, 80, a former head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy, made headlines when he said that John Paul had approved of the letter he wrote to a French bishop in 2001, praising him for facing prison rather than handing over a pedophile priest to civil courts.

The priest was convicted of molesting boys, and the bishop received a three-month suspended prison sentence for not turning him in. In a radio interview last week, the cardinal upped the ante, saying the letter emerged from a meeting where the future pope, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was also present, The Associated Press reported last week.

Father Lombardi confirmed the letter’s authenticity. But in a rare if typically oblique critique of a sitting cardinal, he said it was evidence of “how timely” it was for the Vatican in 2001 to centralize authority over sexual abuse cases with the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which Cardinal Ratzinger then headed. Indeed, even some of Benedict’s harshest critics concede that abuse cases have been handled better since then, even if they say they still believe there is a long way to go.

But when supporters defend Benedict, they implicitly criticize John Paul.

Even if few will acknowledge it openly, the sexual abuse crisis has cast a shadow over John Paul’s legacy.

John Paul may have brought the church in line with the tides of history, but on sexual abuse he upheld a vision of the priesthood that critics say ultimately favors the hierarchy over the victims.

Some place John Paul’s defense of priests in the context of his background in communist Poland, where the secret police accused clergy members of sexual crimes to undermine the church.

Yet the pope never met with victims and never apologized for sexual abuse, even long after the end of the cold war.

In contrast, Benedict has met with sexual abuse victims four times, including this month in Malta, but only in private and after intense pressure from the media.

Last year, Benedict confirmed the “heroic virtues” of John Paul, moving him closer to sainthood, but Vatican experts say the renewed attention on historical questions may delay the process.

And protecting the memory of John Paul has not completely silenced supporters of the present pope. They cite two of the most prominent and damaging abuse cases — those of the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the powerful religious order The Legionaries of Christ, and Cardinal Hans Hermann Groër of Vienna — and contend that Cardinal Ratzinger advocated stronger measures.

In the case of Father Maciel, a close friend of John Paul’s, his supporters say that Cardinal Ratzinger reopened the case and in 2006, he was sentenced to live out his days in prayer and penance. He died in 2008. By the standards of the Vatican, the punishment was extraordinary — impossible under John Paul. To the victims and many outsiders, it amounted to very little against a man who for decades abused seminarians, fathered several children and misappropriated funds.

“While Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was perhaps the most powerful and influential churchman at the Vatican after Pope John Paul II, he would not buck the system to take action against Maciel, or earlier, in the Groër case,” said David Gibson, a biographer of Benedict who writes on religion for “His concern for the proper order of authority, and the clerical culture took precedence.”

Critics and defenders of Benedict say healing the church will require action and a full accounting of the past. That will not be easy on the legacy of John Paul.

And to protect the church Benedict has spent a lifetime nurturing, many are calling on him to explain his own past to show how he understands that the rules of the church do not conflict with the rule of law.
5/7/2010 1:07 AM
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Not exatly toxic waste - but it's written by a Jewish writer for a Jewish newspaper and reveals all the biases and stereotypes that militant Jews have against the Church and against Benedict XVI...And the last paragraph is just absurd...

A crushing loss of faith

Published 22:24 06.05.10

Little did Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger suspect five years ago, when he became pope, that both he and his church would become embroiled in a global scandals involving child abuse and pedophilia
By Saviona Mane The name of the late archbishop of Munich, Michael von Faulhaber, is not so widely known. But everyone knows the name of the 5-year-old boy who greeted von Faulhaber when he came to visit the boy's Bavarian hometown in 1932: Joseph Ratzinger. The encounter between the two so impressed the young boy, so the story goes, that he decided that he, too, wanted to be a cardinal when he grew up. A little more than seven decades later, during the week he turned 78, the little boy from the town of Tittmoning became the 265th pope, Benedict XVI.

"Brothers and sisters," he said in an emotional address before the tens of thousands of faithful who gathered to cheer him on April 19, 2005, in St. Peter's Square, "after the great Pope John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me - a humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord."

The humble worker from Bavaria certainly expected that his popular and charismatic predecessor, who was pope for 27 years, would be a hard act to follow. What he didn't expect was that five years on, he would be embroiled in one of the most serious crises in the Church's history, revolving around the scandal of pedophile priests - over which some would call for his resignation and even arrest for crimes against humanity - or that obscene graffiti would be smeared on the house where he was born.

"This is the gravest crisis to hit the Catholic Church in 200 years," Marco Politi, expert on the Vatican and columnist for the daily Il Fatto Quotidiano, told Haaretz. "After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the John Paul II era, the Catholic Church positioned itself as a moral superpower and voice for human rights. But now horrible crimes are being revealed that place this authority in question. And the real issue that is shaking the public's trust is the 'institutionalized silence' - the conspiracy of silence of numerous bishops who did not denounce the criminal priests and just transferred them to other communities where they continued their evil ways."

A much harsher assessment comes from Hans Kung, a liberal Swiss Catholic theologian whose very name causes hackles to rise at the Vatican.

"Benedict XVI has failed on practically every front," Kung recently argued in a scathing indictment published in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica. The pope has failed in the attempt to forge better ties with evangelical Christians, Kung wrote. He has failed to strengthen inter-religious ties with Judaism and Islam; he was unable to effect a reconciliation with the Indian populations in Latin America; he squandered an opportunity to reach out to Africans by engaging in the war on AIDS and promoting the use of condoms; and above all, he failed the leadership test in the pedophile priest scandals, which are undercutting the Holy See. "The Catholic faithful are losing faith," Kung concluded.

The incidents involving rape and pedophilia occurred in the United States, Ireland, Britain, Germany and other countries, during the tenures, respectively, of John Paul II as pope and Ratzinger as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (better known by its historic name: the Sacred Congregation of the Universal Inquisition ), which states that its mission is "to promote and safeguard the doctrine on the faith and morals throughout the Catholic world."

According to Kung, while serving in that position, Ratzinger himself imposed an order of secrecy on the bishops regarding the scandals. The New York Times has made similar allegations, and recently published documents submitted in court in the United States, which allegedly illustrate the conservative cardinal's part in whitewashing incidents of abuse of hundreds of deaf-mute children in the 1980s in Wisconsin. In the wake of these reports, a group of atheist intellectuals in Britain called for the pope to be arrested upon his planned visit to the country in September, and tried for crimes against humanity.

It's no surprise then that 80 percent of Americans and 62 percent of Italians do not agree with the stance taken by the Church and the pope concerning the cases of abuse and pedophilia, as data published last month by Politi in Il Fatto Quotidiano indicate.

Damage control

In an attempt to repair the damage and restore confidence, the Vatican recently took a series of steps: This week it declared that it was taking direct control of the Legion of Christ, whose leaders failed to disclose the acts of sexual abuse committed by its late founder, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, against seminarians; a week ago it accepted (and some say initiated ) the resignation of Roger Vangheluwe, the bishop of Bruges, Belgium, who confessed that he had sexually abused children before being appointed to his position.

Two weeks ago the pope publicly decried the Church's sins, issued clear directives to report cases of sexual abuse within the Church to the civil authorities, and held an unprecedented meeting with several victims of pedophile priests - in friendly, Catholic Malta.

The pope's defenders, who are well aware that this crisis could persist for a long time, argue that Ratzinger was the first to call for the victims' stories to be heard; that he sought to act against the criminals at the time, but was prevented from doing so; and that unlike his predecessors, immediately upon becoming pope, he demonstrated a zero-tolerance policy toward sex criminals in the Church and began purging the ranks.

Marco Politi agrees with them. "In the 1990s, when he was still a cardinal and the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ratzinger grasped the seriousness of the problem. He understood that the phenomenon of pedophile priests was a cancer in the body of the Church and sought to take steps against them, but other circles in the Vatican, identified with the Vatican State Department, prevented him from doing this," says Politi. A shift is occurring now, he continues, and the clear and simple directives the pope recently issued attest to his determination to stick to a zero-tolerance policy with regard to any instances of abuse. Politi warns, however, that if Benedict XVI does not manage to put an end to the scandals in a way that involves total transparency, his authority as leader of the Catholic Church could be questioned around the world.

But along with those who advocate transparency and punishment of the criminals, there is another camp composed of deniers, such as Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the papal household, who not long ago insisted that the pedophile scandal was entirely a case of slander and likened the accused priests to victims of anti-Semitism. Or Giacomo Babini, retired bishop of Grosseto, who recently proclaimed that the pedophile scandal was nothing but a conspiracy of Jews - or, as he described it, "deicide" - who brought the Holocaust upon themselves through "exploitation with which they choked Germany."

Such statements from senior Church officials would almost certainly not have been heard during the time of John Paul II, who referred to the Jews as "our elder brothers" and was the first pope to visit Rome's Great Synagogue. But the current pope's tenure is nothing like that of his predecessor.

Upon his election, many in the Jewish world welcomed Ratzinger's election to the papacy; Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League's national director, spoke of his "great sensitivity to Jewish history and the Holocaust" and many noted that despite his forced conscription into the Hitler Youth, his family was known for its opposition to Nazism.

"Benedict XVI propounds a more starkly conservative line," Jerusalem-based Vatican scholar Dr. Sergio Minerbi told Haaretz. "And conservatism in the Church is not good for the Jews. In the five years of his tenure there has been a big step backward: Jewish-Vatican relations have worsened considerably; he restored a Latin version of a prayer that was removed more than 40 years ago, which calls upon the Jews to "see the light" and convert; he restored Bishop [Richard] Williamson to the bosom of the Church, without demanding that he recant his Holocaust denial; and he declared that St. Paul did not need to convert to Christianity because he was a Jew, and thereby blurred the boundaries between Judaism and Christianity, which is also not a good thing for the Jews."

But Jews aren't the only non-Christians upset with the Vatican since the election of Benedict XVI. In September 2006, the pope incurred the wrath of Muslims when, in a lecture at the University of Regensburg, he quoted the words of Byzantine Emperor Manuel II concerning Islam thus: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman."

A year later, on a visit to Brazil, he caused a furor among indigenous groups when he said that the natives were "silently longing" for the Christian faith that had been brought to South America by colonizers. In response, the Venezuelan president demanded an apology and an organization of indigenous groups in Ecuador issued a statement accusing Church representatives of "participation in one of the most terrible genocides in human history."

And yet another uproar was sparked just a few weeks ago, when Ratzinger's deputy, Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, asserted that there is a link between homosexuality and the sexual abuse of children. His remarks even drew sharp criticism from Church representatives in France and Britain.

Most of these verbal entanglements resulted either in apologies from the Vatican or in claims that the comments were misunderstood.

The Holy See's detractors and defenders do agree on one thing: In sharp contrast to the situation during his predecessor's time, Benedict XVI has a serious public relations problem on his hands, on top of all the more profound, significant troubles he faces. This may explain why, in the hope of winning over the faithful again, a decision was recently made to display the Shroud of Turin, which it is believed bears the imprint of the crucified Christ. Two million names already appear on the long visitors list, including that of the pope himself - just a drop in the Catholic ocean. Many in the Church fear it will take more than 10 years to restore trust.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/7/2010 3:03 AM]
5/12/2010 2:14 AM
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It was bad enough that the MSM heard line today about the Pope's remarks during his brief inflight 'news conference' was played up as the Pope admitting it's not media attacks that are hurting the Church but sins by men of the Church themselves. This instant analysis by TIME's Jeff Israely is even more outrageous - interpreting the Pope's words to mean that he is 'siding with Schoenborn against Sodano (and what Sodano supposedly represents in terms of old-guard attitudes).

First of all, Schenborn is not in the Vaticna, and second, why do his friends in the MSM overlook the fact that he has not done anything to improve the state of teh Church in Austria since he became Archbishop of Vienna and as president of the Austrian bishops' conference? That his policy has been to bend over backwards to pander to teh liberals at the expense of Catholic orthodoxy?

No matter how fond an eye Prof. Ratzinger may have had - and it's all conjecture - for Schoenborn, I don't think that has made him blind to Schoenborn's failings in his primary duties as a bishop!

Behind the Pope's Remarks on Sex Abuse,
a Vatican Power Struggle?
By Jeff Israely
Tuesday, May. 11, 2010

Some in the Vatican had hoped Benedict XVI could use his trip to Portugal to begin to move past the constant questions about pedophile priests and see-no-evil bishops. But even before he arrived, Benedict may have offered the most significant comment to date, an acknowledgment that the Catholic Church's global clergy sex-abuse scandal is far too grave to be fixed by words alone. "The greatest persecution of the church doesn't come from enemies on the outside but is born from the sin within the church," the Pontiff said during his flight to Portugal for a four-day visit. "The church needs to profoundly relearn penitence, accept purification, learn forgiveness but also justice."

Earlier this year, when the crisis spread into the heart of Europe and raised questions about the Pope's role in it, accusations of bad leadership and cover-ups were met by virulent countercharges from some of the church's most powerful leaders, who passed blame around and alluded to anti-Catholic conspiracies afoot. The still influential former Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano used Easter Mass to denounce the "petty gossip" surrounding the Pope, while the current Secretary of State (the Holy See's equivalent to a Prime Minister), Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said clergy sex abuse was driven by homosexuality. Another top curia figure, Raniero Cantalamessa, the official preacher of the papal household, equated criticism of the church to anti-Semitism, angering both Jews and sex-abuse victims.

Benedict, who himself has been criticized for flashes of defensiveness and lack of responsiveness, said on Tuesday, May 11, that Rome's first step in turning the crisis around is for the church to stop blaming others and to look within. He said Catholicism had always suffered from internal problems but that with revelations of priests preying on children, "today we see it in a truly terrifying way."

After an initial long silence in the face of accumulating accusations, Benedict has appeared more decisive in recent weeks, speaking of the need for penance and meeting with victims (as he'd done on earlier trips) during his short stay last month on the island of Malta. The Vatican announced last week new restrictions on the Legionaries of Christ order after further revelations that its founder sexually abused seminarians, while several bishops responsible for covering up past cases of abuse have recently offered their resignations.

But the Pope's remarks Tuesday may be particularly significant and worth mining for both what they reveal about current Vatican power struggles and Benedict's broader legacy and the future of the church. Just last week, reports surfaced that Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schönborn had used an off-the-record meeting with reporters to criticize Sodano, a rare showdown between two powerful "princes of the church." Schönborn, who was a theology student in the early 1970s under Benedict (then Joseph Ratzinger) and has remained close to him, reportedly attacked Sodano for his "petty gossip" comment and for allegedly blocking a 1990s investigation of alleged sexual abuse by Schönborn's predecessor in Vienna. The late Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer, who was forced to step down as archbishop of Vienna in 1995, died in 2003 without facing a canonical trial. Schönborn says Sodano blocked an attempt by the then Cardinal Ratzinger to further investigate the allegations against Groer.

Thus Benedict's "enemies within" comment arrives with the Schönborn-Sodano face-off still very much buzzing through the halls of St. Peter's, and it would seem to be a clear nod of approval for Schönborn. The internal stakes are high if Sodano and other powerful Rome players see the sequence of events over the past week as an orchestrated attempt to present the then Cardinal Ratzinger as the lone Cardinal trying to combat sex abuse within an otherwise corrupt and/or distracted Vatican hierarchy. Indeed, Schönborn had referred in the same supposedly off-the-record conversation (which neither he nor his office has contested) for the need to reform the Vatican bureaucracy, known as the Roman Curia. Despite hopes from reformers at the beginning of his papacy, Benedict has largely avoided the battles that would have been necessary to bring about a true overhaul of the curia. And whether the fallout from the sex-abuse crisis will lead to housecleaning or just more infighting is unclear.

Still, even such palace intrigue is ultimately secondary in a crisis that will have lasting consequences no matter which Cardinal gains the upper hand or the Pope's favor. Despite the apparent good intentions, something remains unclear, even from Benedict's strong declaration Tuesday: What are the "sins," and for whom the "penitence" and "justice"? For while the rape and molestation of children by a single priest is terrifying indeed, many Catholics now believe that the bishops and Cardinals who let it happen and covered it up and deny their own responsibility are the Church's other enemy within.

7/26/2010 4:50 PM
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Not your average Pope-bashing:
The latest tasteless attack on the Pope
has a strangely self-defeating undercurrent

By Milo Yiannopoulos

Monday, 26 July 2010

Most Catholic journalists and publications have by now received their free copy of The Pope Is Not Gay!, a charming little book that purports to expose Pope Benedict XVI’s complicated relationship with homosexuality while mocking his dress sense.

The book is deeply offensive, but not for the reason you might imagine. Let us skip over the tired and predictable Church-bashing and focus on the central conceit – and the selling-point of this slim, hot pink paperback – that the Pope’s “extravagant attire and his controversial relationship with his private secretary, Cardinal Georg Gänswein” sits uneasily with his “doctrinal rigidity on issues such as birth control, abortion and homosexuality”. [Did the moron really identify Gaenswein as a cardinal???]

By “doctrinal rigidity” I presume the author, Angelo Quattrocchi, means “being a Catholic”. The fact that a third of the book isn’t even original material, but consists solely of freely available documents from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, hardly speaks in its favour.

But it’s Quattrocchi’s laziness and cheap jokes (his tone is consistently snide and malicious), combined with his own strange ideas about what makes a gay man, that gave me pause for thought.

It isn’t enough to say that the book merely insinuates that the Pope is homophobic. It states it outright: “What they [the Pope and Mgr Gänswein] have in common, apart from their reactionary sentiments [again, I think he means "Catholicism"], many reactionary friends and the thousands of little habits created by their day-to-day contact, is a profound and implacable homophobia”.

Quite a claim. Yet, at the same time, Quattrocchi trowels on the innuendo, calling the Pope’s sexuality into question again and again because of his allegedly flamboyant taste in clothes and because he spends a lot of time with his private secretary (deeply suspicious, I’m sure you’ll agree).

In other words, he reduces homosexuality to an offensive and reductive set of physical characteristics and mannerisms before casting aspersions on the man’s sexuality because he matches the physical expectations deriving from those prejudices. Forgive me, but who, exactly, is being homophobic here?

The Pope Is Not Gay! claims to be “an irreverent history of homophobic and sexist obscurantism in the Holy Roman Church and an endoscopic examination of its greatest contemporary advocate, Pope Benedict XVI”. But I wonder if an endoscope was the right instrument for its author to employ. Perhaps a mirror would have been more appropriate.

First, the whole thing is obviously pure crap that stinks to high heavens and not to be taken seriously at all. But I also disagree with the CH writer's loose use of the term 'endoscopic' to describe the so-called 'examination' by an inveterate Pope-hater.

In surgery, an endoscope is an instrument that one can insert into any of the body cavities to examine it minutely (usually with a digital mini-camera attached) without having to open it up. From the apparent lack of first-hand information in this malicious work, it is is more like a quack doctor proclaiming a completely made-up diagnosis on the basis of hearsay alone!... Even Der Spiegel has not dared go this far, so far, though not for lack of trying.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/26/2010 8:23 PM]
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