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THE SEX SUMMIT AND THE VATICAN’S LACK OF TRANSPARENCY

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Robert Mickens, Rome
Vatican City

February 22, 2019

On the eve of the Vatican’s summit aimed at getting the entire Church to face up to the ever-widening clerical sex abuse crisis, some in the media wondered if the meeting risked being overshadowed by other controversies.
One was supposed to be the issue of gay priests — whom traditionalist Catholics have scapegoated as pederasts, and a French author has sensationalized in a just-released book in which he claims the Catholic hierarchy and the Roman Curia are full of gay men who are either leading double lives or are actually homophobic and militantly anti-homosexual.
Another looming controversy that was destined to detract from the abuse summit was the recent revelation that the Vatican has issued secret rules for priests who have fathered children.
And yet another was the issue of religious women (nuns) who have been sexually abused and raped by priests and bishops, something the Vatican has tried to keep quiet for a number of decades.
None of these controversies is directly related to the sexual abuse of minors; with apologies to our traditionalist brothers and sisters who are convinced that gay priests are prone to be child molesters.
However, there is an issue that is related to the abuse summit. And it is one that very few people are talking about. It’s the Vatican’s lack of transparency in dealing with credibly accused predator priests working directly for the Holy See.
Ensuring that all bishops and Church leaders commit themselves unwaveringly to a policy of transparency is one of the main objectives of the summit.
But how can that happen when transparency — and not just concerning sex abuse cases — has rarely been one of the Vatican’s prime virtues?

External pressure leads to removal of Vatican officials accused of abuse

Over the past several months at least three senior officials in the Roman Curia have been removed from their posts after reports revealed they had all been credibly accused of activities related to sexual abuse.
The first was Argentine Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta who resigned from his diocese in August 2017 at age 53, more than 20 years prior to the normal retirement age, and was given a job four months later that Pope Francis specially carved out for him at the Vatican’s “central bank,” the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA).
Vatican officials claim they never knew of the abuse allegations against Zanchetta, and they are substantial.
Rather, they say the bishop resigned because of difficulties in managing his diocese. They have offered no other information to shed light on the case.
Zanchetta was suspended from his Vatican duties this past January following media reports last autumn that detailed accusations he sexually harassed seminarians and priests, sending some of them nude photos of himself. He was also accused of possessing pornographic images on his cell phone.
A few weeks later another accused Vatican official stepped down because of abuse allegations. Father Hermann Geissler, a religious order priest from Austria, worked at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for more than 25 years and had been an office manager (capo ufficio) since 2009.
His resignation on Jan. 28 was again the result of media pressure, not by any willingness of the Vatican to be transparent.
On Nov. 30 we were the first publication outside the German-speaking world to report that a former nun had formally denounced Geissler to Vatican officials in 2014 for making sexual advances towards her six years earlier during confession.
Several weeks after our initial report, the National Catholic Reporter published another article on the accusations and the 53-year-old Geissler resigned from his CDF post.
The Vatican again had been anything but transparent.

The Punderson Case

The third senior Roman Curia official who was discovered in these months to have been credibly accused of sexual abuse — and this time with a minor — was Monsignor Joseph Punderson, a judge at the Vatican’s “supreme court.”
Last week’s “Letter from Rome” reported that the 70-year-old priest had been identified on Feb. 13 by his home Diocese of Trenton (New Jersey) as “credibly accused of abusing a minor” and had been “removed from ministry.”
No other international news media (except La Croix in French) picked up the story until several days later when reporters asked the Holy See Press Office for an explanation about Punderson’s status at the Vatican.
The New Jersey priest had been working at the Apostolic Signatura since 1993, serving as Defender of the Bond since 1995.
During a packed press conference on Jan. 18 to reveal the program of the abuse summit, the press office’s ad interim director, Alessandro Gisotti, tried to quash two questions about Punderson, stating that the briefing was limited to topics related to the summit!
He eventually said that the American priest was “not at the tribunal of the Signatura right now.” He said all questions pertaining to Punderson should be referred to the diocese in New Jersey.
Gisotti was obviously instructed to do so by officials at the Vatican’s Secretariat of State or the prefect of the Apostolic Signatura — Cardinal Dominique Mamberti, a former Vatican “foreign minister.”

Rome covers for Trenton, until it doesn’t

The Punderson case is troubling for a number of reasons.
It seems clear that the Vatican would have never revealed that a priest credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor was working in the Church’s highest court had the media not first reported it.
There is no public record from the Holy See that Msgr. Punderson retired (usual age is 75) or was removed from his Vatican job. The recent updates to the Annuario Pontificio, which are published internally every one-to-three months, do not indicate a change of personnel at the Signatura.
So on Feb. 20 reporters again pressed Mr. Gisotti about Punderson’s status. After initially declining to answer, he said the priest “is no longer in service at the tribunal of the Apostolic Signature and has been in retirement since last fall.”
Later that same day, Catholic News Service (CNS) obtained a statement from Rayanne Bennett, director of communications for the Diocese of Trenton, confirming just that.
Ms. Bennett also disclosed that Punderson “was credibly accused in 2003 of the sexual abuse of a minor 26 years earlier.”
She said it was “the first and only claim” against him and that it “was promptly reported to the appropriate prosecutor, who declined to pursue criminal charges.”
“The allegation was also reported to the Holy See, and Msgr. Punderson submitted his resignation in 2004,” the diocesan spokesperson said.
“The Holy See, however, permitted him to continue in office but under specific restrictions regarding public acts of ministry initially imposed by the Diocese of Trenton in 2003,” she said.
She did not specify what those “specific restrictions” entailed.
Punderson “was instructed to resign his Vatican position by the bishop in late fall 2018 and his resignation was accepted. He has been removed from all public ministry,” Bennett said.

Less than transparent answers, lack of details

The Diocese of Trenton has not published the statement that its communications director sent to CNS. It is nowhere to be found on the diocesan website or anywhere else.
Meanwhile, the list of credibly accused priests that was published on Feb. 13 was updated two days later as Bishop David O’Connell promised it would be “as more information becomes available.”
The new information includes how many allegations have been made against each priest and a list of the places where each had served. But it does not give the dates of those assignments.
The lack of such a timeline is another breach of transparency. Such information would state when a priest first affiliated with the diocese as a seminarian, where he studied, when he was ordained and where, each and every step of the way, he was assigned.
It also would state if any of the listed priests were “on leave,” a possible indication of removal for the purpose of counseling in light of other allegations or suspicion of misconduct.
All this documentation has been proven to be essential for helping other possible victims come forward and break their silence.
In the case of Msgr. Punderson such a timeline would indicate that he completed his basic theological studies in Rome in 1974, but was not ordained until two years after his classmates. The reason for delay would not necessarily be published, but it would certainly raise questions.

The laws are made in Rome, but they are applied elsewhere

During the Feb. 18 press conference to unveil the program and details of the Vatican summit on the abuse of minors, Archbishop Charles Scicluna said the questions raised about Punderson’s status were legitimate. But he refused to go into details.
Instead, the 59-year-old Archbishop of Malta said: “People need to know that what Rome asks of the local Churches it is also ready to apply at home.”
Scicluna is widely recognized as one of the most credible Church officials on dealing with sexual abuse. He is perhaps best known for his time at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith where, from 2002-2012, he was essentially the “chief prosecutor” of abuse cases.
But he first began working in the Vatican in 1995. He was hired by the Apostolic Signatura to be deputy Promoter of Justice, the very post Msgr. Punderson had just vacated after becoming that same tribunal’s Defender of the Bond.
Scicluna told an anecdote from that first year in the Roman Curia.
“When I came to the Holy See in 1995, somebody told me, ‘You know, Charles, looking at St. Peter’s (Basilica) you have two statues — one of St. Peter and one of St. Paul. One of the statues has its hand stretched out and the other has the hand pointed to the ground,” he recalled.
“And the wisdom was that the laws are made here but they are applied there,” he said, drawing laughter from the reporters.
Then the archbishop grew more serious and said: “The statues will remain where they are. But the interpretation needs to be: they (the laws) are made here and they are also applied here.”
Until that happens the Vatican’s credibility will continue to erode. And not only regarding its programs and promises to eradicate sexual abuse among the clergy.

 

106 replies on “THE SEX SUMMIT AND THE VATICAN’S LACK OF TRANSPARENCY”

NEVER trust the Romanists. EVER!
When dealing with these (yes) SCUM, ever think the compouund word, ‘CHRIST-BETRAYER”.

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8 27: Mag the rag, trailer trash is up early! Wonder Why? Probably has a horrible hangover from his booze night….Hope you get help with your vomit.

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According to the Glasgow Herald, the Scottish “Catholic church faces mounting pressure to help ‘traumatised’ Scots children of priests.”
It seems children have also been sent to Scotland from Ireland and England as a way of keeping them hidden from parish communities which may find out about their parentage.

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To be frank I think if a man has made a woman pregnant then he should man up and face that from here on his life will have to revolve around supporting his child. Especially if he belongs to a faith group which is big on the family, god help us.

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Apart from the more recent case of Ciaran Dallat, it will be a rare occurrence nowadays with mostly gay priests, although the support group says they’ve been inundated with calls from Scottish women claiming they were having relationships with priests. It must be historical relationships from way back.

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The Glasgow Herald, now just called the Herald, is a Rangers paper. So take with a pinch of salt anything it says on Catholic matters.

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This summit is ALL about damage limitation. The RC church will never come clean. Says it all that they have deliberately destroyed records. Covering up a crime is a criminal offence and a senior cardinal has now admitted that they are criminals, not christians.

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The majority of bishops and cardinals are liars and cowards.

Millions are walking away from the faith under their watch.

5 men entered Maynooth last year.

Numbers don’t lie much to the chagrin of the liars currently in control of the Catholic Church.

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This explains 2018’s absence of the annual August fanfare in the broadsheets announcing 2 dozen or so men led up the garden path of Catholic lies (as I once was).

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The bishops still won’t get it even when the day comes that NO ONE enters Maynooth. That day is coming…

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Three words from Sister Veronica Openibo’s address to the RC hierarchy meeting yesterday best sums up the trademarks of the RC clerical establishment: “mediocrity, hypocrisy, complacency”.
Says it all really. And when men of this calibre are navigating the barque of Peter, no wonder it’s sinking fast on its way to the rocks.
MMM

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You know, if the OO would just say something about Daniel’s disappearing act they could take all the speculation and sting out of this. Instead, they arrogantly and stupidly just carry on oblivious and in disregard for the legitimate questions that we may have. We do not need the forensic or salacious detail but some legitimate information is warranted. If the OO had even done the most basic media and human relations training they would realise that engagement is always the best way forward. Silence and denial just end up with the whole thing fermenting and exploding on your face. When will they learn ?

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You know, if the OO would just say something about Daniel’s disappearing act they could take all the speculation and sting out of this. Instead, they arrogantly and stupidly just carry on oblivious and in disregard for the legitimate questions that we may have. We do not need the forensic or salacious detail but some legitimate information is warranted. If the OO had even done the most basic media and human relations training they would realise that engagement is always the best way forward. Silence and denial just end up with the whole thing fermenting and exploding on your face. When will they learn ?

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Bizarrely he is still listed on the Oratory newsletter as parish priest though last week we had been told a new Provost had been elected in Daniel’s “absence”. Usual Catholic smoke and mirrors attempt at cover up. Rather sweet though that a few of us care about Daniel- though apparently not everyone is smitten with that little heartbreaker. Wait for the troll to pop up!

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Methinks some are a bit too smitten with this story. Maybe the man just needs to be left to get on with whatever lies ahead? Best of luck to him I say.

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The Vatican doesn’t ‘do’ transparency but secrecy. Talk about ‘hostages to fortune’…! There’s no end to it. We’ll get a drip feed of acknowledgement of criminality, and more than likely, because there’s no other ‘game in town’, they’ll be on their knees. And about time!

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I’m afraid the abuse scandal in the western Church is now old news. We know the extent of it, and the damage it has done. We know that damage will continue because our Church leaders are caught up in a clerical and hierarchical culture that makes it almost impossible for them to understand and to act. They are frozen with fear and indecision. Incalculable damage has been done to the integrity of the Church, its mission, and to the Gospel. It is something we are going to have to live with and through and trust that it is not an existential danger, which is a real fear I have.
BUT WHAT HAS HAPPENED SO FAR IS AS NOTHING, COMPARED WITH WHAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN THE THIRD WORLD AND SOUTHERN CHURCHES REVEAL THE EXTENT OF CLERICALISM, HIERARCHISM AND ABUSE THAT IS HAPPENING IN THOSE CHURCHES. We must brace ourselves for terrible things which are going to be revealed. I know from a number of decades ago from a time spent in Africa just how endemic is clericalism and entitlement in those Churches, and how extensive and endemic is the wholesale abuse of men, women, children, money, power and authority by clergy. What has happened in the west they have perfected and made even more extensive and abusive. It will be a terrible tsunami of bad news. Still, these Churches, many of them, are in denial.
I’m have real fears for the future of the Church. What is happening now and what is to come is a real and present danger that has the capacity to submerge the Church and be a truly existential threat.
And still, our leaders do not seem to have got the message. Or even if they have got the message, they simply do not know what to do, so tied in are they to those systemic failings which are the cause of this abuse. They are clerics. They are not the people to provide a solution and a way forward.

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You’re absolutely right. When there were all the comments yesterday about not being interested in Oxford, I thought these people had better get used to hearing about events in the church elsewhere because shortly they’re going to be hearing a lot about Africa, Asia and South America.

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Yes, both right about Oxford Oratory’s Silence, and indeed misinformation as they still list Daniel as PP even though he’s no longer there! Apparently the duties are not taxing. It’s dysfunction in microcosm what bedevils the whole Church.

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Those men are NOT, and never were, ‘leaders’. You compound the criminality and sin they morally defecate by referring to them in such a clericalist way.
There is but one leader: the Holy Spirit. And he moves whom he wills.
Clearly, he is not moving THESE men, is he?

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KC, that old barque has never been in dry dock for repairs, so it is leaky, and taking in more and more water. (Where the heck am I going with this metaphor?😕)
Oh, yes! And the first mate, il papa, became so conceited, so enamoured of his own inabilities that he took over the captaincy and had the old tubboat steer towards unforgiving rocks. (Where to now?😕)
Oh, yes! And those sirens (ultramontanism, power, corruption) filled il papa’s head instead of the wise counsel of the Captain. And the Captain spoke through ALL who were aboard. But il papa would not listen…until ALL those aboard constrained him to listen.
The lesson here? Never again allow a first mate and his incompetent crew (the entire clergy, but especially the episcopacy) to navigate this barque again.
BECAUSE THEY ALL ARE FRIGGIN’ USELESS.😆

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7:02
MC, not only has that old barque never been in dry dock for repairs, neither has lots of it’s collared crew! Your metaphor suggests, it’s heading for rocks off craggy island!

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11:15
JS, you are so right.
That’s precisely why the Church will have to go on it’s knees! Existential threat due to existential dissonance!
It’s the ‘only game in town!’

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Amy Martin was in the news this week saying the bishops need to do what is right and just. Last month he was employing a solicitor to yet again silence Maynooth victims by any means necessary. He is a fraud

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Bp Pat, am I right in thinking Remnant TV is just as homophobic as Church Militant and run by deeply dysfunction gay men? I wonder.

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Never criticise the gays. They don’t like it one bit even though they are very critical bitches about everyone else.

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Buried deep in the Vatican website is the very alarming statistic that every year the CDF is still receiving five hundred fresh cases of the usual.

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I want to hear more about Elsie’s caravan. Has anybody ever been invited for a campers’ picnic? Say what you like about Maurice, but he had style, and I doubt he’d have been seen dead in a caravan.

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It’s a mobile home, dear, and just outside the unmentionable place. It has a shower and a two-ring cooker. Maurice would have liked it.

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Ooh! It’s sounds lovely! You make me want to go there, and take my friend. Do you know if Elsie does holiday lets, or does the nun handle bookings?

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The absent Provost also said:
“Oratorians are meant to be joyful all the time, because our founder, St Philip Neri, is the patron saint of joy. He used to walk around Rome with half his beard shaved off and to pull the bushes of the Swiss Guards.”
They’re probably still doing it to this day.

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According to Michael Voris the [admittedly hot] Swiss Guards are hit upon ten times a dozen by monsignori and old cardinals who should no better.

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What a load of self-serving, self-aggrandising, fake-humble, pretended-self-effacing, narcissistic old tosh!
This Seward boyo obviously lives very far up his own jaxie.

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Well, that’s the trouble, isn’t it? with old maids of either sex lapping it all up. And then comes the crash, and we all pretend to be shocked and surprised. Let’s hope he’s now found fulfilment up someone else’s jaxie, as you so charmingly put it.

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Pat if there’s a no-deal-Brexit can we please have less about the UK and the one or two who are hogging your blog about Various UK bishops and Oratories or whatever. It’s boring. Get back to Ireland please and perhaps once a month have a UK rant. But it’s becoming wearisome reading about stuff which is in-house to them and nobody else. You had some very good blogs in last few weeks which were completely hi jacked by someone who appears to be posing questions and then answering them vis the goings-on in the UK. Enough! Back to basics please: Maynooth, Armagh, Meath, Galway etc

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It’s good that mainland issues get aired too. Pat also has readers there. Don’t be so parochial. Meath is not the centre of the universe.

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If we have a no-deal Brexit we won’t be able to read anything about Maynooth anyway. We’ll be far too busy queuing for turnips.

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Tis like the United Nations. Talking about taking about talks. Pope needs to give dioceses an ultimatum. Clean their act up in real terms within a given period with actions to prove it or hand the whole thing over to a reputable evaluation company with full access to relevant info Hi

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Pat Mullaney is raging about the CO2 used up in jetting prelates and token nuns to Rome these past days for no positive outcome whatsover.

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Nighty-night baby, Daaneels, James Martin and Bergoglio will keep on telling us that it’s clericalism. I think it was just priests like Rory, McCambley, Zanchetta, Ledwith liking men.

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Actually with all this mooning over Daniel, we’ve rather forgotten about Rory. Where is the Ginger Minger? Still being salaried by the Archdiocese, I’ll be bound and doing what exactly other than stroking his todger?

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Francis is still blaming it on individual clergy and the Devil. They still don’t seem to be able to understand the huge part that the culture of clericalism plays in this , because they are clericalism personified themselves, and they are incapable of seeing what the rest of us see. There will be no change under this lot. The problem is that they inculcate this self protecting and self nurturing clericalism in to the next generation. You know, maybe it is time for the FBI, the Gardai and the Police to take over and treat the whole structure as systemically corrupt.

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No, it’s not clericalism. It’s men liking men and that’s an inconvenient truth. It’s virtue signalling to suggest otherwise. Rory and McCambley sought adult men, not minors, as do the chaplains to the A1, the Giant’s Ring and the public loos of the coastal towns of Co. Londonderry.

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So what if men like men? It is not an issue in any other walk of life, so why is it so toxic and divisive in the clergy? And what is it about clerical culture today that attracts almost exclusively gay men who then perversely deny it? Get your head round that one, Lottie, and tell us what you think. In fact let the Church implement Burke’s prescription to expel the gay plague, so we’d also be rid of clericalism too in one fell stroke, as there would be no one left! All except Mother of course!

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Nighty Night….really, do try and be a bit more nuanced and thoughtful in your posts about this problem of clerical sexual abuse. What you are talking about is one thing, misbehaviour by clergy who should know and do better. But, those people you mention are not abusing children, just doing it with grown up people, and it’s consensual. So, a completely different thing. Even if it has to do with sex.
Sexual abuse is the misuse of power, authority, position, privilege, entitlement etc. etc., which is alive and kicking in the clerical culture of the Church and many of its priests. It leads to abuse. It hurts vulnerable people. That is the issue that we are taking about, not the matter of consensual pleasure tricks that you are talking about. The former is very serious, and cuts at the very root of the Church and its integrity. The latter is just, well, a little foible.
Please do be a bit more judicious and sensible in your comments about these things. You owe it to yourself. And to us.

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5:49
Hello hi Fly 😇; indeed hi Fly,
it’s like the UN waffle shop! You might be onto it when it comes to a reputable evaluation company! Commonly called, ‘the Cops’,
hi Fly. Some of the waffle shoppers might end up as ‘cop shoppers’ pronto! 😲

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8:19
You tell us, why is there such a concentration of gay men in the priesthood and in an institution who teaches and proclaims homosexuality to be intrinsically disordered ?

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To be honest I can only hazard guesses but don’t really have an answer. However it is a fact and it is a disaster.

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It is as if all the participants in Rome had already been briefed to take the “abuse happens all over the world so it’s not just us” line, and then for Francis to sum up with what is effectively a cover up and evasion of the core issue which is the Catholic Church’s own handling of abuse – and most pertinently the clerical culture which enabled it. This evasion on a big scale you see whenever a cleric gives an interview, so thanks to whoever posted that ridiculously anodyne piece on the former Provost in the Ox***d Mail. I think we all just hope he has found a better way of living, and wish him all the best. It’s the freaks still in the game who should trouble us.

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According to the NYT, +Amy said: “If somebody is in such a grave breach of trust as to have failed to protect children and young people from abuse, I simply can’t imagine how they can continue to either minister as a priest or, indeed, to be the chief shepherd.”
What does that say about her predecessor?

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7.44: Referring to Archbishop Martin as “her” is insulting, ignorant and unnecessary. It immediately consigned your comment to the tabloid, trailer trash genre which is where it and you rightly belong.

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I might be one of the two (apparently according to @5:28) having the brass neck to mention anything happening in the UK (Belfast?). I’ll press on though like a man and take the forthcoming abuse on the chin. My point actually concerns the inability of the universal Church to deal with abuse because it cannot and will not engage with reality concerning human sexuality. It really is as if we were still locked into insisting the sun revolves around earth. My illustration comes from the British press reports of the former Director of the intelligence gathering GCHQ having resigned owing to his providing a reference for a paedophile priest, a really bad case who subsequently reoffended. My point is that this highly able man, who had himself once been a seminarian at Allen Hall, could have been hoodwinked by a man who was a long time family friend. I don’t know how the Archdiocese of Southwark dealt with it, but I suspect badly as usual. My point then is that I now believe there is such a lack of transparency and honesty within the Church that our default position should now be that we cannot trust the clergy. I know there are many good men but even they are not worthy of respect while they continue in positions of authority and privilege in an institution which is endemically corrupt and has no will to face truth and reform. Get out or be implicated in the filth. Sorry about your nice clerical lifestyle and the fear of having to get a job, but do you want to do the right thing or not?

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It’s interesting that Elsie’s Seminary, Allen Hall, keeps getting mentioned time and time again. Staff and Sems “at it” together on a regular basis in the past. One old queen past Rector was done for child abuse. Thank God we have no one tainted by that place over here. England’s welcome to them.

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Why need Roman Catholic prelates to come to the aid of paedophile priests and religious? I suggest readers of this blog read the attached article from The Guardian. Here we have Britain”s Director of the signals intelligence and cryptography agency the Government Communications Headquarters

Robert Hannigan worked at the ‘Northern Ireland’ office from 2005 to 2007 he was a key adviser to Tony Blair during negotiations between republicans and unionists, coming up with the idea of a diamond-shaped table so Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley could be close to each other without being side by side.

Wadhan College Oxford, Heythrop College London and Allen Hall Seminary as a student for the priesthood also served as part of his Curriculum Vitae– with The Tablet- A Roman Catholic weekly listing him as the “3 rd most important Catholic in Britain”

The character reference he supplied to a paedophile priest Edmund Higgins secured this individual an opportunity to re-offend

Read the link for the complete picture.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/feb/24/ex-gchq-head-robert-hannigan-quit-paedophile-priest-edmund-higgins-reference

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Pat, are you reading In the Closet of the Vatican? It’s f***ing riveting stuff. “A real page turner hi but yeah but no hi but”, as The Fly might say.

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Oh it is all about and in the air. Catching some would say. North Down so nice at this time of year. Don’t worry about locking up your sons. Watch were your husband goes after mass or confession. Just sayin, like

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I just don’t understand Francis. Last year the US episcopal conference was about to vote through measures which would sanction bishops guilty of covering up abuse. Francis, via the nuncio intervened and told them to stop because there should be a consistent church-wide stance agreed at this week’s summit. But no such penal measures have been agreed and it’s business as usual. Why did he stop the US bishops?

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Clearly it’s more than just your not understanding Francis. You are determinedly hostile to him so that nothing he does would be good enough.

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