Questionable Motives

March 26, 2010

Can anybody still be surprised that the Vatican intentionally covered up child abuse??

Excerpts from the NYTimes article Vatican Declined to Defrock U.S. Priest Who Abused Boys:

The internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal. The documents emerge as Pope Benedict is facing other accusations that he and direct subordinates often did not alert civilian authorities or discipline priests involved in sexual abuse when he served as an archbishop in Germany and as the Vatican’s chief doctrinal enforcer.

The Wisconsin case involved an American priest, the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy, who worked at a renowned school for deaf children from 1950 to 1974. But it is only one of thousands of cases forwarded over decades by bishops to the Vatican office called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, led from 1981 to 2005 by Cardinal Ratzinger. It is still the office that decides whether accused priests should be given full canonical trials and defrocked.

The New York Times obtained the documents, which the church fought to keep secret, from Jeff Anderson and Mike Finnegan, the lawyers for five men who have brought four lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The documents include letters between bishops and the Vatican, victims’ affidavits, the handwritten notes of an expert on sexual disorders who interviewed Father Murphy and minutes of a final meeting on the case at the Vatican.

Father Murphy not only was never tried or disciplined by the church’s own justice system, but also got a pass from the police and prosecutors who ignored reports from his victims, according to the documents and interviews with victims. Three successive archbishops in Wisconsin were told that Father Murphy was sexually abusing children, the documents show, but never reported it to criminal or civil authorities.

Oh my.

So much for all the commentary here and here that insisted that the catholic church had no official policy of secrecy and denial and cover-up and collusion in the face of justified accusations and allegations of sexual abuse and rape and molestation by clergy against children. It seems the evidence that it did and still does just keeps on piling up, and the apologies by so many catholics on behalf of the church is not only growing stale but is really a major impediment against forcing an institutional change from the top down. And as long as apologists stay the course, it seems that the same policies of secrecy and emphasis on the church’s reputation will take precedence over fixing the problem that led to the global abuse in the first place. Just re-read the letter from the pope to to the Irish here

Global problem? It’s not a global problem, remember? It’s a local problem! And good little catholics will continue to believe their apology carries weight against the growing evidence: that this local problem can be corrected at the local level, in Ireland, in England, in Spain, in Germany, in Mexico, in Canada, in the Netherlands, in the Philippines, in the U.S., in Brazil, in Australia…

Remember folks: if you can believe in transubstantiation, is it too much to ask to believe that widespread abuse in the catholic church is a local problem?

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1 Comment »

  1. I can hear the apologists now: “Yes, but that was then and this is now. SO much has changed…” and then send along lovely little links to web pages that write about how much has changed at the local level. But after clapping our collective hands together with polite delight at how enlightened the church has become, and gaze admiringly at these colourful appearances of meaningful change, we find out…

    The Vatican’s inaction is not unusual. Only 20 percent of the 3,000 accused priests whose cases went to the church’s doctrinal office between 2001 and 2010 were given full church trials, and only some of those were defrocked, according to a recent interview in an Italian newspaper with Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna, the chief internal prosecutor at that office. An additional 10 percent were defrocked immediately. Ten percent left voluntarily. But a majority — 60 percent — faced other “administrative and disciplinary provisions,” Monsignor Scicluna said, like being prohibited from celebrating Mass.

    Warms your cockles, doesn’t it?

    Comment by tildeb — March 26, 2010 @ 1:11 pm | Reply


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