- Lest anyone think members of organized religions are
above reproach, take note.
- In his new book "God and His Demons," Michael
Parenti confronts both Old and New Testaments saying:
- "The god of the Holy Bible - so much adored in the
United States and elsewhere - is ferociously vindictive, neurotically jealous,
intolerant, vainglorious, punitive, wrathful, sexist, racist, xenophobic,
homophobic, sadistic and homicidal. As they say, it's all in the Bible.
Beware of those who act in the name of such a god. Were we to encounter
these vicious traits in an ordinary man, we would judge him to be in need
of lifelong incarceration at a maximum-security facility. At the very least,
we would not prattle on about how he works his wonders in mysterious ways."
- In fact, 'biblical Jesus qualifies quite well as founder
and forerunner of an intolerant Christianity."
- Leaving child molestation implied but unaddressed, the
Bible deals with sexuality in broader terms, including incest, adultery,
homosexuality, and rape - children vulnerable to all except adultery.
- Jesus also preached love your enemies and return good
for evil, a message saying child molesters deserve forgiveness, not punishment,
that's an open invitation for pedophiles, an epidemic now raging in the
Catholic church but one with longstanding roots.
- In his Pastoral Psychology Volume 45, No. 4, 1997 article
titled, "Child Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church: An Historical
and Contemporary Review," Paul Isely said:
- "Although the recent revelations of clergy sexual
abuse (13 years ago) suggest an unusual and recent epidemic among the Catholic
church, the historical record suggests this difficulty has plagued the
church over the centuries." Though times change, human nature doesn't,
and when constrained by celibacy vows, it's expressed in other ways.
- Isely said while criminal and civil cases successfully
challenged church negligence, judicial decisions tend "not (to) hold
churches (or the Vatican) liable for the sexual acts of their clergy."
- Further, despite high-profile press coverage and litigation,
earlier "research on priest offenders is virtually nonexistent, (and)
claims of unprecedented treatment success with clergy offenders has not
been supported by published data. Given the recidivism rates of sex offenders,
the Catholic church should reconsider its policy of placing known sex offenders
back into active ministry" - a longstanding practice by transferring
them to another diocese or country, giving them a fresh crop of kids to
abuse....and get away with it.
- In 2004, John Jay College of Criminal Justice's (JJCCJ)
Professor Karen Terry et al published a report commissioned by the US Conference
of Catholic Bishops, based on Catholic diocese surveys. It learned that
under age 18 child molestation occurs in:
- "more than 95% of dioceses and approximately 60%
of religious communities. Of the 195 dioceses and eparchies that participated
in the study, all but seven have reported" at least one case of an
offending priest. "Of the 140 religious communities" surveyed,
only 30 reported none, but not reporting them doesn't mean they didn't
happen. Given the reluctance of victims to come forward, it's virtually
certain many other incidences took place.
- Covering the period 1950 - 2002, study findings included:
- -- diocese and eparchy allegations made against 4,692
priests and deacons "for incidents that took place while these men
were serving in ecclesiastical ministry;"
- -- religious community allegations made against 647 priests;
dioceses reported another 282 for a grand total of 929;
- -- all regions averaged from 3 - 6% of priests accused;
- -- over 80% of victims were boys, mainly aged 11 - 17;
- -- over 10,000 children were harmed;
- -- these estimates don't "describe the extent of
the problem;" more important is the incidence of sexual abuse and
how many priests were accused annually;
- -- the most prevalent abuse period was 1960 - 1984, lower
subsequent numbers reflecting the declining percent of priests ordained
- -- most important is not knowing the number of abuse
cases never reported and not reflected in survey results.
- A Global Problem
- Priest child abuse accusations occur globally, especially
in Europe, North and Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines,
areas with large Catholic populations. Cover-up is commonplace, Ireland
one of many examples revealed by the 2009 Murphy Report stating:
- "The Commission has no doubt that clerical child
sexual abuse was covered up by the Archdiocese of Dublin and other Church
authorities. The structures and rules of the Catholic Church facilitated
that cover-up. (In addition), State authorities facilitated that cover-up
by not fulfilling their responsibilities to ensure that the law was applied
equally to all and allowing the Church institutions to be beyond the reach
of the normal law enforcement processes."
- The report held four archbishops culpable, but top Vatican
officials share responsibility, including Pope Benedict XVI, his predecessor,
Jean Paul II, and others before him - complicit for decades of cover-up
to put Church interests ahead of child safety and well-being, the unacknowledged
Church policy today.
- Pope Benedict XVI
- When he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 2001, he opposed
reform, John Allen saying in his biography titled, "Cardinal Ratzinger:
The Vatican's Enforcer of the Faith:
- "Ratzinger today believes that the best antidote
to political totalitarianism is ecclesial totalitarian-ism. In other words,
he believes the Catholic Church serves the cause of human freedom by restricting
freedom in its internal life, thereby remaining clear about what it teaches
- As cardinal and pope, he opposes liberal morality, including
ordaining women, homosexuality, contraception, abortion, diluting top-down
authority, and Vatican II's softening of traditional orthodoxy on salvation
outside the Church, ecumenical relations, and liturgical rites, saying
two forms functioning together is impermissible.
- Nationwide Scandals in America
- In America alone, scandals hit many dioceses, several
declaring bankruptcy, including Portland, Oregon, Tucson, Spokane, Washington,
Davenport, Iowa, Fairbanks, Alaska, San Diego, and Wilmington, Delaware.
Boston considered it, but sold assets to avoid it. In July 2007, AP reported
that the Los Angeles Archdiocese announced a $600 million dollar settlement
to about 500 plaintiffs, "by far the largest payout in the church's
sexual abuse scandal." The Catholic News Service at the time cited
- Other large payouts included $100 million in 2004 by
the Orange, CA Diocese for over 90 claims, Boston agreeing to pay $85 -
$100 million or more for 552 cases, Covington, KY a similar amount for
360 claims, and numerous smaller ones throughout the country to settle
claims that keep mounting.
- Earlier Scandals - Hidden Canadian and American Holocausts
in Church-Run Schools
- The grassroots Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada
reveals the 1880s through the 20th century systematic rape, torture and
murder of tens of thousands of Aboriginal children in church-run residential
schools. According to its Secretary, Kevin Annett, a former United Church
of Canada minister until fired and expelled for exposing these ugly truths:
- "The government and the multinational corporations
wanted the Indian land, and so native children from as young as three years
old were forcibly taken from their families and sent to residential schools
(including Catholic ones), where they underwent 'acculturation' programs.
Between fifty and one hundred thousand ended up dead, murdered by the church
and the government."
- In charge were Catholic, Anglican, and United Church
of Canada authorities complicit with the federal government.
- In his book "Kill the Indian, Save the Man: The
Genocidal Impact of American Indian Residential Schools," Ward Churchill
documented America's hidden holocaust, begun under Captain Richard H. Pratt
(a former prison warden), architect of US residential schools as superintendent
of the prototype Carlyle, PA Indian Industrial School in 1879. His objective
- "kill the Indian, save the man" in every child, but he and
others did both for five generations.
- Half the children didn't survive, the result of extreme
cruelty, torture, beatings, systematic rape and other sexual abuse, malnutrition,
disease, forced labor, no contact with family members or cultural traditions,
and despair-driven suicides. Survivors were permanently scarred, one in
2000, Sharon H. Venne, saying:
- "Genocide is genocide, no matter what form it takes
and no matter what you call it."
- Canada adopted America's model. In both countries, genocide
never stopped. It's hidden on reservations plagued by broken promises;
extreme poverty and neglect; low life expectancy; epidemic disease levels;
high levels of alcoholism, suicide, infant mortality, unemployment, and
incarceration; stolen resources; and lost lives in the name of progress
- genocide as jurist Raphael Lemkin defined it:
- "the destruction of a nation or of an ethnic group"
that corresponds to other terms like "tyrannicide, homicide, infanticide,
etc." (It) does not necessarily mean the destruction of a nation,
except when accomplished by mass killings....It is intended....to signify
a coordinated plan (to destroy) the essential foundations of the life of
national groups" with the intent to eradicate or substantially weaken
or harm them. "Genocidal plans involve the disintegration....of political
and social institutions, culture, language, national feelings, religion,
economic existence, personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and"
- In legal terms, the 1948 Genocide Convention used the
same definition, binding principles today, but systematically violated
by America, Canada and numerous other nations with impunity.
- Milwaukee - Epicenter of Today's Crisis
- On March 26, New York Times writers Laurie Goodstein
and David Callender headlined, "For Years, Deaf Boys Tried to Tell
of Priest's Abuse" saying:
- About 200 boys at Milwaukee's St. John School for the
Deaf "were deaf, but they were not silent" about decades of Father
Lawrence C. Murphy's abuse. Then and later "They told other priests.
They told three archbishops of Milwaukee. They told two police departments
and the district attorney. They used sign language, written affidavits
and graphic gestures to show what exactly (he) did to them. But their reports
fell on the deaf ears of hearing people."
- We now know then Cardinal Ratzinger got letters about
him in 1996 from Milwaukee's Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland, saying the
deaf community needed "a healing response from the Church." He
did nothing, "then equivocated, and when Father Murphy died in 1998,
he died a priest" instead of in prison where caught and convicted
lay felons are sent.
- Marquette University Professor of Moral Theology Daniel
C. Maguire's March 28 consortiumnews.com article headlined "Why Pope
Benedict Must Resign," saying:
- Despite a "lifetime of child rape, (Father Murphy
was buried) with full priestly honors. Pope Benedict XVI now faces a major
hypocrisy test. He has been accepting resignations from bishops around
the world who failed to take action against priest rapists. It is now no
longer in dispute that he himself is guilty of the same criminal negligence...."
- A secular official would be forced to resign and face
criminal prosecution. His ecclesiastical obligation is to do it. "He
has no moral right to hide behind Vatican walls." Today's "perfect
storm" includes the pope, "a Vatican cardinal, two members of
the Papal Apostolic Delagature, three Milwaukee archbishops, and (what's
usually overlooked) the collusion of the local police and District Attorney."
- Except for the press, especially the Milwaukee Journal,
perhaps none of this would have come out. Yet the Vatican remains in damage
control, AP reporting on April 1 it's "lash(ing) out against sex abuse
coverage," in particular The New York Times for some rare journalistic
integrity, notably on Laurie Goodstein's March 24 article headlined, "Vatican
Declined to Defrock US Priest Who Abuses Boys," saying:
- "Top Vatican officials - including the future Pope
Benedict XVI - did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf
boys, even though several American bishops repeatedly warned them that
failure to act on the matter could embarrass the church...."
- Instead of acting, Ratzinger and other officials' "highest
priority was protecting the church from scandal," no matter how many
boys were harmed. Better them than the church, the way it's been for centuries.
- On April 2, Goodstein and Susan Saulny headlined, "Exiled
Pedophile Priest May Have Continued Abuse," saying:
- According to interviews with victims and new church documents,
Father Murphy "also used his family's lakefront cottage as a lure
in his sexual advances, bringing youths from the school (and the Northwoods
region) into his home beginning at least in the early 1960s."
- Times spokesperson Diane McNulty added:
- "The allegations of abuse within the Catholic church
are a serious subject, as the Vatican has acknowledged on many occasions.
Any role the current pope may have played in responding to (or covering
up) those allegations over the years is a significant aspect of this story,"
and a serious black mark on his name and position as head of the church.
- Yet as Professor Maguire states:
- "....the Vatican is still engaged in cover-ups of
these crimes by attacking the press, trying to kill the messenger"
and conceal a scandal that's a "public relations disaster." Calling
criminal priests "only a few bad apples - and the failure to report
the crimes to law enforcement - is the (real) scandal," especially
with a culpable pope.
- Protecting the church, not its victims, is a criminal
offense. Enforced celibacy (a "gift of the Holy Spirit") is also
at issue for letting perversions replace natural sex and cause harm to
thousands of young children, not priests who prey on them without accountability
or public penance for their crimes. Nor Ratzinger, as cardinal or pope,
for directing cover-ups from the top and getting bishops to order kids
to keep quiet or be excommunicated.
- When he headed the influential Congregation of the Doctrine
of the Faith, the church's department charged with promoting Catholic teachings
on morals and matters of faith, Ratzinger was nicknamed "God's pit
bull" for his role as enforcer. He cracked down on liberal challenges
to conservative Catholicism, and in 2001, sent an updated version of the
notorious 1962 Crime of Solicitation, asserting strict instructions to
cover up sex scandals. It was so secret that bishops were ordered to keep
it locked in a safe at all times, and say nothing.
- Ratzinger also introduced a new Exclusive Competence
principle, ordering all child abuse allegations handled by Rome. Former
Vatican lawyer Father Tom Doyle explained it saying:
- "What you have here is an explicit written policy
to cover up cases of child sexual abuse by the clergy and to punish those
who would call attention to these crimes by the churchmen. When abusive
priests are discovered, the response has been not to investigate and prosecute
but to move them from one place to another. So there's total disregard
for the victims and for the fact that you are going to have a whole new
crop of (them) in the next place. This is happening all over the world."
- Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, Goes Public
- On April 3, AP reported Williams (speaking out for the
first time on Ireland's Roman Catholic church scandal), telling the BBC
(for airing April 5 on its "Start the Week" program):
- For "an institution (to be) so deeply bound into
the life of a society, suddenly....losing all credibility - that's not
just a problem for the church, it is a problem for everybody in Ireland,
I think." He added that church officials protected child abusers
for decades in many countries, choosing to sacrifice children to preserve
- International Criminal Court (ICC) Authority to Prosecute
- The ICC is empowered to prosecute individuals for crimes
of genocide, war, against humanity, aggression, abortion, homosexuality,
and sexual slavery, very likely including pedophelia. As a result, according
to ICC authority, Brigham Young Professor Richard G. Wilkins, offending
priests and church officials are liable to criminal prosecutions under
the Court's mandate, including the pope.
- The ICC complements national judicial systems, but may
act when they don't. Some experts believe the Vatican is a state, the pope
its head. Others like noted jurist, UN Justice Council member, and president
of the Special Court in Sierre Leone, Geoffrey Robertson, told the AP on
- "The Vatican is not a state. It was a construct
of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini."
- Robertson believes it's time to challenge the pope's
immunity, Britain's the place, and said so in a London Guardian April 2
article headlined, "Put the pope in the dock."
- He wrote:
- "Legal immunity cannot hold. The Vatican should
feel the full weight of international law. (Pedophelia is) a crime against
humanity. The anomalous claim of the Vatican to be a state - and of the
pope to be a head of state and hence immune from legal action - cannot
stand up to scrutiny."
- Robertson's argument is powerful, expert, important,
and convincing, and imagine the possibilities if high church officials
and the pope are prosecuted - long indeed though the odds.
- Their predecessors aside, might George Bush, Dick Cheney,
all culpable Bush administration officials, Barack Obama and all of his,
then find themselves in the dock for high crimes so severe and so many
it would take volumes of indictment material to list and explain, and perhaps
years for full accountability, let alone for a start to make equitable
- A Final Comment
- Because this scandal is longstanding, widespread, and
in the open, the church worries most about losing its moral authority.
Its main concern should be top to bottom reform, new leadership, and a
changed mindset that compromised priests and complicit officials, including
the pope, be fully accountable for crimes demanding punishment.
- No longer are cover-ups, ducking the issue, defending
the indefensible, forgiveness, or immunity permissible, nor should judicial
authorities allow them.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>email@example.com.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge
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