Questionable Motives

August 24, 2010

Does a catholic education teach students how to spell ‘collusion’?

Filed under: Catholic Church,Politics,Priests,Scandal — tildeb @ 2:38 pm

Here’s another example of why the word should receive more special treatment in a catholic education than others:

The police, the Catholic Church and the state conspired to cover up a priest’s suspected role in one of the worst atrocities of the Northern Ireland Troubles, an investigation has found.

The NI Police Ombudsman’s probe found that high-level talks led to Fr James Chesney, a suspect in the attack, being moved to the Irish Republic.

Who is Fr James Chesney and why would he be moved?

In a statement in December 2002, Assistant Chief Constable Sam Kinkaid said: “In a search of 1972 papers, information has been found which clearly indicates that a parish priest in the south Derry area was a member of the Provisional IRA and was actively involved in the Claudy bomb.

“Records show he provided an alibi for a person suspected of playing a prominent role in the atrocity. The priest is now deceased.”

ACC Kinkaid also said his investigative team had found papers relating to a discussion held on 5 December 1972 between the then Northern Ireland Secretary William Whitelaw and Cardinal Conway, the then Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.

“This private discussion occurred at one of the regular meetings that they held to address issues relating to the troubles,” he said.

“On 6 December 1972, the day after the meeting, a briefing letter was sent from a senior NIO official to Police Headquarters indicating that the private matter discussed related to the activities of the priest.

“The letter of 6 December 1972 indicates that the secretary of state gave the Cardinal a full account of his disgust at the priest’s behaviour and also indicates that the Cardinal knew that the priest was behaving improperly.”

No-one has ever been convicted of planting the three bombs in Claudy that day.

What a surprise. Not.

June 8, 2010

How does the RC church make a sex abuse scandal go away?

Filed under: abuse,Catholic Church,Morality,Priests,Scandal — tildeb @ 7:40 am

It orders a ‘fixer’ to come in and get to work. Ex-Benedictine monk, Patrick Wall (Sex, Priests, and Secret Codes: The Catholic Church’s 2,000 Year Paper Trail of Sexual Abuse), recently provided a revealing, disturbing, angering, and heartbreaking 12 minute radio interview describing his role in helping to make clerical abuse scandals go away. The broadcast is from CBC Radio:

I was a company man, I thought, “this is something I’m doing to both help the university as an alumnus, help the monastery which I belong to…”  When you’re trained to follow the workings of the Holy Spirit, unfortunately you assume it’s the Holy Spirit in action, rather than human error.

Was there no part of your mind that deep down said, “Hang on, I do know this is wrong?”

It was never on the radar screen.  It was just not there.  It was just never discussed, it was one of those things that was sub rosa and people knew it was going on, however, in defense of the institution, which we believe was instituted by God and as, basically, as a remnant of the Holy Roman Empire, you’re there as a soldier, you’re literally there to assist and defend the institution.

So your part in all of this, Patrick, was to make sure that everything was smoothed over, would that be the right way to put it?

That’s exactly what a fixer does, it doesn’t matter what diocese in the world, what religious order in the world, that’s exactly what you do.  You go in, you assess the situation, you try and find survivors, report it up the chain of command, and you try to make it as positive and life bearing as possible.  In fact, I was fortunate to have lunch a with a priest a couple weeks ago in Washington, D.C., former priest, who was a fixer in a northeast diocese and he recounted to me the same exact things I was assigned to do that he was assigned to do before he left… There’s been a consistent, uninterrupted procedure on what to do when clerics sexually abuse kids for centuries.

When you were still at the abby did you think, I should go tell somebody, I should go tell the police, what is happening here is illegal?

Never even crossed my mind.  We’re not trained to talk to any outside institution.  I remember going to a workshop in the fall of 1992 and we had a civil lawyer there, we had a canon lawyer there, we had a number of experienced people in dealing with priest sex abuse, explaining to us about how the civil legal system worked and never once was the discussion about calling child protective services, calling the police, calling any state authority outside the Church, it’s always keeping it in-house and dealing with it, in house…There’s very little about pastoral outreach to the victim, because the victim is now a liability, the victim is now a huge financial liability, a point of scandal, and a real problem, so that’s why we were trained to work in getting the people under control, so to speak, before they filed a civil complaint and working with them to keep it all in-house.

When these priests were moved on was there any warning given to the communities they were being sent to as to why they were being disrupted in the job that they were in?

Oh absolutely not, they’re not going to say that Father So and So had a problem with sexually abusing kids because if you did that more then more victims were going to come forward and you’re going to have more lawsuits.  Usually there was some kind of a cover story that Father Tom had to go to alcohol treatment. The key was that if you tell the lay people exactly what is going on, you’re going to start a reformation because with proper information people will make different decisions.  But if you keep them in the dark and you give them a pious answer, then they’re going to continue on thinking, “well, things are fine”, when in reality, it was the same old problem: childhood sexual abuse.

(Thanks to Camels With Hammers for the excerpts.)

April 11, 2010

Deputy Dawkins?

From Marc Horne at the TimesOnline:

RICHARD DAWKINS, the atheist campaigner, is planning a legal ambush to have the Pope arrested during his state visit to Britain “for crimes against humanity”.

Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, the atheist author, have asked human rights lawyers to produce a case for charging Pope Benedict XVI over his alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic church.

The pair believe they can exploit the same legal principle used to arrest Augusto Pinochet, the late Chilean dictator, when he visited Britain in 1998.

The Pope was embroiled in new controversy this weekend over a letter he signed arguing that the “good of the universal church” should be considered against the defrocking of an American priest who committed sex offences against two boys. It was dated 1985, when he was in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which deals with sex abuse cases.

Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, said: “This is a man whose first instinct when his priests are caught with their pants down is to cover up the scandal and damn the young victims to silence.”

Hitchens, author of God Is Not Great, said: “This man is not above or outside the law. The institutionalised concealment of child rape is a crime under any law and demands not private ceremonies of repentance or church-funded payoffs, but justice and punishment.”

Dawkins posted a comment about this article on his own blog here from which I have taken the following excerpts:

Needless to say, I did NOT say “I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI” or anything so personally grandiloquent. What I DID say to Marc Horne when he telephoned me out of the blue, and I repeat it here, is that I am whole-heartedly behind the initiative by Geoffrey Robertson and Mark Stephens to mount a legal challenge to the Pope’s proposed visit to Britain. Even if the Pope doesn’t end up in the dock, and even if the Vatican doesn’t cancel the visit, I am optimistic that we shall raise public consciousness to the point where the British government will find it very awkward indeed to go ahead with the Pope’s visit, let alone pay for it.

And that’s what makes the New Atheists different from previous atheists in general: we have decided to push back in various ways and means against the promotion and acceptance of religious belief in the public domain. Surely welcoming such a prominent and accused criminal with pomp and ceremony (and security) paid for by the state because the visitor is a high ranking religious figure falls into this category of unjustified promotion and acceptance.

Any push back – no matter how gentle but firm – will be presented as militancy by religious supporters and apologists , of course, and any public disagreement with the faithful’s unwavering support for the insertion of religious belief into the public domain will be described as strident and arrogant and a host of other negative but equally inaccurate terms. This is business as usual between the two groups. But the push back is necessary. By launching a legal challenge against the pope, the Hitch and Rich are doing what the British government and other secular states should be doing: holding  those accused of complicity in crimes legally accountable for their decisions and actions. Good on ’em, I say.

April 3, 2010

Why is a pedophilia-ridden, pedophilia-hiding, child-abusing Church allowed to write laws controlling women’s rights?

Americans should be ashamed of how much active interference they allow religious concerns in their public policies. Especially American catholics and most especially American catholic women. From The Nation comes this article from which I have taken excerpts and added bold face:

In the response of church hierarchs to the ongoing scandal, which now involves Pope Benedict XVI himself, Archbishop Timothy Dolan urged worshipers at St. Patrick’s Cathedral to show “love and solidarity for our earthly shepherd now suffering some of the same unjust accusations, shouts of the mob and scourging at the pillar, as did Jesus.”

Talk about arrogant: the pope’s suffering of being caught covering up child sexual abuse in the church equates with the pilloring of Jesus? Please.

What gives a church in which celibacy is equated with holiness, in which males have almost all the power, the right to a place at the table where laws are made about women’s bodies? The same institution that has dealt so indulgently with its ordained pedophiles had no problem excommunicating a Brazilian mother who sought an abortion for her 9-year-old daughter, raped and impregnated with twins by her stepfather, or pushing for laws in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Chile banning abortion even to save the woman’s life..

Most Catholics take a flexible view of the church’s teachings on sexuality. They use birth control–how else could Italy, Spain and Poland have among the lowest birthrates in the world? They divorce and remarry, use condoms to prevent STDs, undergo in vitro and other banned fertility treatments and even have abortions. Yet there were the bishops, holding the whole healthcare reform bill hostage to their opposition to abortion rights, advising on the crafting of language right in the halls of Congress. And as Jacobson details, it was the Conference of Catholic Bishops that worked alongside Republican Congressmen Chris Smith, Joe Pitts and Mike Pence to insert last-minute language denying HIV-positive women access to contraceptives and favoring abstinence-only-until-marriage policies in the 2008 President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

There isn’t much that non-Catholics can do to force the church to abandon its 2,000-year-old misogynistic ways. We can’t force it to ordain women and married men, or value a woman’s life over a fertilized egg, or see homosexuality as something other than, in Pope John Paul II’s memorable words, “intrinsic moral evil.” Catholics themselves will have to do that, whether by leaving the church in numbers large enough to get the bishops’ attention or by organizing within it, like Catholics for Choice, Women-Church Convergence or the international group We Are Church. But certainly the rest of us can demand that the Obama administration, Congress and government generally stop catering to the Vatican. The bishops can’t even make their own flock obey their outmoded and cruel rules and regulations, so why should they exercise power over the entire country?

March 31, 2010

The pope does what?

Thanks to Jesus and Mo

March 23, 2010

Creeping religious accommodation: why should we enforce respect?

We shouldn’t.

Excerpts from John Hari’s article in The Independent:

In 2005, 12 men in a small secular European democracy decided to draw a quasi-mythical figure who has been dead for 1400 years. They were trying to make a point. They knew that in many Muslim cultures, it is considered offensive to draw Mohamed. But they have a culture too – a European culture that believes it is important to be allowed to mock and tease and ridicule religion. Some of the cartoons were witty. Some were stupid. One seemed to suggest Muslims are inherently violent – an obnoxious and false idea. If you disagree with the drawings, you should write a letter, or draw a better cartoon, this time mocking the cartoonists. But some people did not react this way. Instead, Islamist plots to hunt the artists down and slaughter them began. Earlier this year, a man with an axe smashed into one of their houses, and very nearly killed the cartoonist in front of his small grand-daughter.

This week, another plot to murder the cartoonists who drew caricatures of Mohammad seems to have been exposed, this time allegedly spanning Ireland and the United States, and many people who consider themselves humanitarians or liberals have rushed forward to offer condemnation – of the cartoonists. One otherwise liberal newspaper ran an article saying that since the cartoonists had engaged in an “aggressive act” and shown “prejudice… against religion per se”, so it stated menacingly that no doubt “someone else is out there waiting for an opportunity to strike again”.

Let’s state some principles that – if religion wasn’t involved – would be so obvious it would seem ludicrous to have to say them out loud. Drawing a cartoon is not an act of aggression. Trying to kill somebody with an axe is. There is no moral equivalence between peacefully expressing your disagreement with an idea – any idea – and trying to kill somebody for it. Yet we have to say this because we have allowed religious people to claim their ideas belong to a different, exalted category, and it is abusive or violent merely to verbally question them. Nobody says I should “respect” conservatism or communism and keep my opposition to them to myself – but that’s exactly what is routinely said about Islam or Christianity or Buddhism. What’s the difference?

This enforced “respect” is a creeping vine. It soon extends beyond religious ideas to religious institutions – even when they commit the worst crimes imaginable. It is now an indisputable fact that the Catholic Church systematically covered up the rape of children across the globe, and knowingly, consciously put paedophiles in charge of more kids. Joseph Ratzinger – who claims to be “infallible” – was at the heart of this policy for decades.

And the ever perceptive Jesus and Mo:

March 19, 2010

Scandal? What scandal? More commentary on Brown’s defense of the Catholic Church.

Filed under: 1,Argument,Catholic Church,child abuse,Scandal — tildeb @ 8:54 am

From Greta Christina’s Blog:

Here we have the story of one Andrew Brown of the Guardian, who has written a defense of the Catholic Church child rape scandal and an excoriation of those who are condemning it… on the grounds that everyone else does it, too.

No, really.

From this it emerges that the frequency of child abuse among Catholic priests is not remarkable…

and:

This is vile, but whether it is more vile than the record of any other profession is not obvious.

and:

There are, however, some fragments of figures from the outside world suggesting that not many professions do better.

Etc.

Shudder.

Where to begin?

What makes the Catholic child rape scandal so morally repugnant, and what is giving it the effect of turning people away from the Catholic Church in horror, is the way the Church handled it.

The Church knew about widespread reports of priests repeatedly molesting children… and instead of acting to protect the children, they acted to protect the priests, and themselves. Thus deliberately and knowingly putting more children in the way of known child rapists, solely for their pure self-interest.

Repeatedly. Time and time again. In every part of the world. As a cold-blooded matter of Church policy.

That is the scandal.

The fact that some adults in positions of trust and authority over children violated that trust by raping them? That is a tragedy. The fact that the Catholic Church knew about it — and instead of reporting the child rapists to the police, they deliberately shielded them from detection and criminal investigation? The fact that the Church moved child rapists from parish to parish, thus exposing even more children to them? The fact that they lied to law enforcement, concealed evidence, even paid off witnesses… purely to protect their organization from looking bad?

That, Mr. Brown, is the scandal.

You fucking moral imbecile.

We don’t know what makes people into child rapists. It is a serious mental illness as well as a profound moral failing. But the Church hierarchy who shuffled around known child rapists from diocese to diocese — not out of uncontrollable impulse, but consciously, thoughtfully, with a cool evaluation of the pros and cons, in a calculated attempt to prevent a PR disaster and protect their own self-interest? We know what makes people do that. What makes people do that is utterly craven moral bankruptcy. They don’t even have the excuse of mental illness.

And for Andrew Brown to defend this moral bankruptcy? For him to use the “Everyone else does it, too” defense — a defense that doesn’t even stand up at third grade recess, and that absolutely has no validity in a serious adult discussion of morality? For him to insist that the Church is being picked on, unfairly singled out among all the teachers and coaches and babysitters and so on who have raped children?

That suggests a moral tone-deafness that makes me physically ill. Brown is essentially doing exactly what the Church has consistently done in the face of this scandal. He is placing a higher value on the well-being of the Catholic Church than he is on the people, the children, who trust in it.

Shame on him.

March 16, 2010

What’s to cover up about sex abuse in the Catholic Church?

The great catholic cover-up by The Hitch in Slate can be read in all its glory here.

Excerpt:

Concerning the most recent revelations about the steady complicity of the Vatican in the ongoing—indeed endless—scandal of child rape, a few days later a spokesman for the Holy See made a concession in the guise of a denial. It was clear, said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, that an attempt was being made “to find elements to involve the Holy Father personally in issues of abuse.” He stupidly went on to say that “those efforts have failed.”

He was wrong twice. In the first place, nobody has had to strive to find such evidence: It has surfaced, as it was bound to do. In the second place, this extension of the awful scandal to the topmost level of the Roman Catholic Church is a process that has only just begun. Yet it became in a sense inevitable when the College of Cardinals elected, as the vicar of Christ on Earth, the man chiefly responsible for the original cover-up.

March 12, 2010

What does Andrew Brown think is a proportionate response to priestly pedophilia? Not so bad… in comparison!

Filed under: abuse,Catholic Church,child abuse,Faith,Priests,Scandal — tildeb @ 3:15 pm

Andrew Brown would have you believe that “that the frequency of child abuse among Catholic priests is not remarkable”. He quotes a study from 2002 that shows about 4% of priests and deacons were sexually abusive between 1950 and 2000 in the United States and about half a percent in Britain. Note that this statistic is about abusers.

In comparison, Brown writes, “the most pessimistic survey finds that 27% of American women and 16% of men had “a history of childhood sexual abuse”; while the the most optimistic had 12.8% of women and 4.3% of men.” This statistic is about those abused.

See? The stats for catholic priests and deacons looks to be much lower so we are to assume that the difference between 4% of morally superior clergy who sadly and unfortunately abuse and perhaps up to 27% of women and 16% of men abused as children must have received that abuse from some other “profession”, leading us to the conclusion:

Certainly the safeguards against paedophilia in the priesthood are now among the tightest in the world. That won’t stop a steady trickle of scandals; but I think that objectively your child is less likely to be abused by a Catholic or Anglican priest in the west today than by the members of almost any other profession.

What absolutely disgusting, dismissive, and apologist tripe. There isn’t a shred of evidence that the church has any meaningful and effective safeguards against pedophilia in the priesthood, nor do I think victims would appreciate their personal and profound betrayal from a trusted and supposedly god-besotted cleric being described as a mere “trickle” of scandal. What Mister Brown thinks  and presents to us, his dear readers, is most definitely not objective whatsoever.

Father Bill Carney may very well be a typical example of one of the 4% Brown is willing to concede is a pedophile from the ranks of the catholic clergy,  “a serial sexual abuser of children, male and female,” known to his bishop and local police and named in complaints and suspicions “in respect of 32 individuals.” Also known was that “there is evidence he abused many more children”. A yes… another “trickle” comes to light.

So what did the Church do about this known pedophile?

We now know that complaints about Carney were diverted away from the Irish criminal justice system to Bishop James Kavanagh, a man described by the Murphy Report as someone with “a soft spot for Carney.” Kavanagh did what he could to protect Carney from the law to avoid scandal for the Church.

One conscientious policeman, praised in the Murphy Report, did investigate complaints and they came to court. But the press were kept away as Carney pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent assault and got probation. Six families were paid compensation and Carney was soon back working, with access to children.

Isn’t that a lovely outcome? Yes there was a bit of slap and tickle one could possibly call assault but nothing too severe… other than the suicide of one “trickled” young man. Nothing to keep this priestly fellow away from passing through the strictest of catholic safeguards and continuing to provide more “trickle of scandal.”

What’s that you say? Not severe enough a punishment? You mean Carney didn’t stop ‘abusing’ children, catholic code for the raping of children? How surprised are we that he continued?

In its 40 pages on Carney, the Murphy report said that his was one of the worst cases the commission investigated and that the Church’s handling of his case was “nothing short of catastrophic”.

“It was inept, self-serving and for the best part of 10 years displayed no obvious concern for the welfare of children,” the report said. In 1992, the Church convicted Carney internally, under Canon law, of child sexual abuse. But this compulsive paedophile refused to leave the parish house. So the Church paid him £30,000 to go away.”

Let’s see: one priest, perhaps hundred of victims: one abuser, many abused, and the church has no problem paying compensation… to the abuser!

Let’s revisit our apologetic Brown’s statistics, shall we? 4% of priests abusers, 27% women and 16% men victims. Might each and every abused victim come directly from the 4% of catholic priests who abuse? Probably not. Most likely not. Almost assuredly not. But what’s glaringly obvious to anyone who has an honest eye for detail and even half a brain is that each abusive priest leaves a trail of numerous victims. Just because the percentage of men and women abused (taken mostly from social service surveys, let us note, which should reflect a clientele in need of social services quite possibly from life altering encounters like sexual abuse from a trusted priest!) is greater than the percentage of abusers from the priestly profession does not mean that some greater percentage must come from “other professions.”  In fact, there is pretty plausible evidence that much abuse of children comes primarily from family members, so to conclude as Brown does that the risk of abuse is lower from the priestly caste than “other professions” is completely unjustified from anything written in his column or from any data I can find. Simply put, Brown’s thinking here is sloppy, wishful, dismissive, and deeply apologetic on the church’s behalf. Also, his ill-formed, unjustified, implausible opinion is grossly misleading and insulting to those in other professions. No other profession stands accused of any kind of long-term, organized, and officially sanctioned cover-ups for its membership to abuse children and avoid criminal prosecution. The catholic church does have exactly that history, with mounting evidence for its active culpability and long-term collusion from those at the highest levels of its leadership for protecting abusers within its ranks.

The Browns of this world may have faith that it is right and proper to protect, excuse, mitigate, and apologize for this child-raping organization. But let’s hope his kind of faith grows weaker as his numbers grow fewer. There is some hope. Each of us can do our part and make sure that we honour the victims of abuse at the hands of priests and turn these “trickles of scandals” into a fully justified reason to condemn this disreputable organization from having anything to do with our children. The catholic church does not deserve our faith.

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