Questionable Motives

February 19, 2010

When is a child sexual abuse scandal considered a humiliation for the perps?

Filed under: Catholic Church,child abuse,Criticism,Faith,Law — tildeb @ 2:13 pm

Irish politicians seem surprised that the Vatican response to the investigation into the Irish child abuse scandal is to avoid any involvement as much as possible:

Irish politicians have denounced the refusal of the Pope’s diplomat in Ireland to testify to a parliamentary panel probing the level of Catholic Church co-operation with investigations into the church’s cover-up of child abuse.

News of the refusal came as the Vatican described the child sex abuse scandal in Ireland as ”humiliating” for the church and 24 Irish bishops began unprecedented talks with the Pope.

An Irish MP, Alan Shatter, said it was ”not only deeply regrettable but incomprehensible” that Cardinal Leanza would not explain the Vatican’s lack of co-operation with Irish investigations, given ”it is acknowledged in Rome that members of the clergy in Ireland are guilty of abominable sexual abuse of children”.

Incomprehensible? Hardly. Once we realize that it is ‘official’ Vatican policy with specific directives to its employees that:

Nothing can be allowed to besmirch this authority: not the sexual abuse of children and adolescents, committed by thousands of Catholic priests worldwide; not the secret relationships between pastor and their housekeepers; not the covering-up of priests’ children; and not the love affairs between gay clerics. They are all cases of a double standard that arose because it is difficult for people — even priests — to subordinate their human desires to a papal encyclical. This code of silence has been upheld for decades, in some cases informally and in some cases by virtue of Vatican directives like the 1962 guideline.

See my previous post here.

It is far easier to comprehend the Church’s position if one assumes that the Vatican does not care about children and has no inclination to be held accountable for their policies and directives and actions that have allowed priestly child abusers to avoid prosecution and scandals to re-occur. Under this assumption, the Vatican’s position makes perfect sense and its non-actions and avoidance of responsibility very consistent . For a very brief tip-of-the-iceberg recap:

Austria:  In March 1995, a former student accused the then chairman of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer, of abuse. The cardinal resigned from his position, but refused to comment on the allegations. Rome avoided taking tough measures against the cardinal. The Vatican accepted his offer of resignation, which he had submitted before the scandal emerged. But the cardinal remained in office through the autumn. Groer first gave a half-hearted apology after four bishops, in a joint statement, said they believed the allegations to be true.

Canada: At the end of the 1980s, hundreds of cases of sexual abuse came to light in a Christian Brothers orphanage in Newfoundland, Canada. An investigative commission examined the case and eventually launched prosecutions and forced compensation payments totalling the millions. In 1999, Catholic priest James Jickey of the St. John’s Diocese was prosecuted and sentenced to prison for molesting boys. But the Church fought demands that compensation be paid to the victims for a decade. In 2009, a ruling was finally issued. The judges said the Church was indirectly responsible for the crimes.

United States: In Boston in 2002, a priest was brought to trial in a case involving the sexual abuse of 130 children. The trial led to the disclosure of a number of other cases. Allegations were lodged against thousands of priests. The cover-up, which lasted for years, was symptomatic of the way the American bishops dealt with pedophile priests.  At the end of April 2002, the pope ordered American cardinals to Rome and decreed rules for dealing with sexual crimes. The Catholic Church has paid over $2 billion in damages to the victims.

Australia: During his trip to Australia in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI condemned the numberous cases of abuse in the country’s dioceses and expressed his compassion for the victims. Over the years, new cases continued to come to light, and numerous priests were also convicted.

Philippines: In 2002, the Catholic Church apologized for the crimes of hundreds of priests, who were found guilty of sexual abuse. One year later, news of additional cases surfaced, leading to the suspension of 34 priests.

Ireland: A government-ordered expert commission found that the Catholic Church had covered up allegations of sexual abuse for decades. In hundreds of cases, former archbishops in Dublin protected priests instead of turning the cases over to the police. After the report’s publication, Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin apologized to the victims. “I offer to each and every survivor, my apology, my sorrow and my shame for what happened to them.” A previous report had already shaken the country in May 2009. It found that sexual abuse, rape, chronic beatings and humiliation had been persistent from the 1930s until the 1990s in Catholic industrial schools and orphanages.

So the Catholic Church says one thing but does another. It says what it needs to say to reassure the faithful that abuse is unfortunate and rare when the facts tell us that it is so wide-spread that the Vatican has written position papers on how best to respond to this common occurrence. But one thing we can count on with the Vatican is that it will do whatever it needs to do avoid responsibility for its stated policies and implemented practices under its directives while doing everything in its power to shift blame to any other parties it can – from the victims themselves to secularists, humanists, and especially atheists. Another thing we can count on is that most of the faithful will yet again swallow the Vatican’s justifications wholesale so that the end result is:

Business as usual.



  1. It isn’t just the sexual abuse that is the problem – it is the psychological abuse. The sexual abuse just highlights the abuse that is prevalent in a belief system.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — February 20, 2010 @ 10:47 am | Reply

  2. Have you looked to the Vatican for their comments on this? I do hope you realize it’s not the Vatican’s fault….sick men have made their way into the church and it’s everywhere – not just the Catholic church. The church will not deny these poor children….they just don’t want the information spread because you do get those money hungry people that will come in saying it happened to them when it did not. Just like anything else. It is very unfortunate!

    Comment by 4amzgkids — February 21, 2010 @ 2:27 am | Reply

  3. I wanted to add that no one makes these people become priests. They do it of their own free will and unfortunately many have sick men have made it in…without the Pope or anyone else knowing they were sick. You don’t become a pedophile all of the sudden, it’s an illness from childhood.

    Comment by 4amzgkids — February 21, 2010 @ 2:29 am | Reply

  4. POPE denounces abuse……

    Washington – Breaking with known tradition in the Catholic church, Pope Benedict XVI met with a small group of victims of sexual abuse by priests on Thursday in the nation’s capital, in a meeting that was kept secret until afterwards. “He met with a small group of persons who have been abused by members of the clergy,” the Vatican said. “The pope listened to their accounts.”

    Benedict offered encouragement to five or six adults, who had been abused as children, and some of them cried, Vatican spokesman Fredrico Lombardi told reporters.

    During the 25-minute meeting, Benedict offered the victims encouragement and they prayed together, Vatican officials said.

    The National Catholic Reporter (NCR) and the Boston Globe reported that the victims were from the Boston area, seen as the US epicentre of revelations that have plagued the worldwide church since the 1990s. read the rest here:,pope-meets-with-sexual-abuse-victims–2nd-update.html

    TORONTO (AP) – Speaking publicly on the scandal for the first time, Pope John Paul II told young Catholics on Sunday that sexual abuse of children by priests “fills us all with a deep sense of sadness and shame,” but he urged them to support the vast majority of priests who do good.

    The frail, 82-year-old pope spoke clearly and at times forcefully during the three-hour Mass for World Youth Day, faltering only at the end when he grew visibly tired, slurred some words and lost his place in his text.

    He told the estimated 800,000 pilgrims at a soggy, muddy outdoor Mass that young believers should not let the actions of a few sway their faith.

    “If you love Jesus, love the Church. Do not be discouraged by the sins and failings of some of her members,” John Paul said.

    These are just a few of the articles. Why are you so hateful?

    Comment by 4amzgkids — February 21, 2010 @ 2:58 am | Reply

  5. They may be sick – but they are still religious. It is the Vatican’s fault because there is substantial evidence that the Vatican had information about the abuse, and did nothing about it or covered it up – whic is not exactly moral is it?

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — February 21, 2010 @ 8:42 am | Reply

    • Please show me where.

      Comment by 4amzgkids — February 22, 2010 @ 12:41 am | Reply

  6. Here.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — February 22, 2010 @ 6:44 am | Reply

    • Please note: Lawyers point to a letter the Vatican sent to bishops in May 2001 clearly stating the 1962 instruction was in force until then. The letter is signed by Cardinal Ratzinger, the most powerful man in Rome beside the Pope and who heads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – the office which ran the Inquisition in the Middle Ages.

      The Vatican response to child rape done by its clergy is to enforce a strict code of silence on pain of excommunication and move the accused priest somewhere else. That brilliant act of love and compassion is the brain child of the current pope. In other words, raping children is frowned upon because it embarrasses the church, and that is the sin that this pope thinks is the greater of the two.

      Comment by tildeb — February 22, 2010 @ 1:39 pm | Reply

  7. A spokesman for the Catholic Church denied that the secret Vatican orders were part of any organised cover-up and claims lawyers are taking the document ‘out of context’ and ‘distorting it’.

    He said: ‘This document is about the Church’s internal disciplinary procedures should a priest be accused of using confession to solicit sex. It does not forbid victims to report civil crimes. The confidentiality talked about is aimed to protect the accused as applies in court procedures today. It also takes into consideration the special nature of the secrecy involved in the act of confession.’ He also said that in 1983 the Catholic Church in England and Wales introduced its own code dealing with sexual abuse, which would have superseded the 1962 instructions. Asked whether Murphy-O’Connor was aware of the Vatican edict, he replied: ‘He’s never mentioned it to me.’ THis akes more sense. Did you notice how they said the office ran the inquisition….right there you know it’s not legitimate. The inquisition was NOT done by the church.

    Comment by 4amzgkids — February 23, 2010 @ 6:34 pm | Reply

    • I see why you include ‘amzg’ in your identifier: it is ‘amazing’ to what end you will do mental gymnastics to excuse literally everything about this organization and its executive branch.

      It is amazing to me that you excuse those who enable child rapists to continue raping children because they are in a catholic church hierarchy! Even Ratty’s signature on a document he produced and then enforced through his office that subverts the legal process by 1) enforcing a code of silence on pain of excommunication (including the victim!) in the event of child rape, 2) enabling priests accused of child rape to leave one parish and cross international boundaries only to reappear in another free to continue raping children, is not enough reason – enough research as you like to say – for you to condemn the kind of organization that promotes to its highest office such a man willing to do such a thing! There’s the man, there’s the document, there’s his signature. But even that isn’t enough, is it? You simply refuse to see what is right before your eyes.

      The reputation of the church, hard as it may be for you to imagine, is not sufficient grounds to defend and excuse this utterly deplorable and intentional abuse of the diplomatic status of the Vatican and its agents to avoid and quell legal responsibility and prosecution. By excusing this organization, by excusing the man responsible for doing what he has done, you are tacitly endorsing his notion that the raping of children by clergy is less important than excusing the church from its active participation in allowing these clergy to continue doing what they do. Because you refuse to confront the Vatican’s role in allowing this raping of children to continue for decades with suspected but never prosecuted pedophiles within its ranks, you and every other catholic who refuse to hold your organization accountable for its actions are enablers not of god or his will but of child rapists.

      Shocking as that may sound, it is a notion that should deeply disturb you. If you are part of the problem of hiding and denying and excusing, how can you be part of a solution for meaningful change?

      Comment by tildeb — February 23, 2010 @ 7:36 pm | Reply

  8. Of course he would say that – he’s not going to admit it is he…

    This is more than just out of context – there is no smoke without fire, and there is plenty of stuff on priests abusing children in their care.

    However, what you neglect to realise is that the sexual abuse is just the tip of the iceberg – indoctrination – threats of hell and brimstone is psychologically disturbing.

    There is no such thing as a Catholic child, children are too young to make their minds up what to believe – you would not say my child is a republican or a democrat would you? And this is exactly the same thing – indoctrination is brainwashing, and this is the real damage that the Churches of the world do.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — February 23, 2010 @ 7:41 pm | Reply

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