FRANCIS ENDS VATICAN SUMMIT WITH PROMISE CHURCH WILL DEVCISIVELY CONFRONT ABUSE

Feb 24, 2019

by Joshua J. McElwee

Pope Francis celebrates a Mass on the last day of the four-day meeting on the protection of minors in the church at the Vatican Feb. 24, in this image taken from Vatican television. (CNS photo/Vatican Television via Reuters)

Editor’s Note: This story was updated with details from the press conference at 8:45 a.m. Central time.

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis ended his summit with 190 Catholic bishops on clergy sexual abuse Feb. 24 with a promise the church will “decisively confront” the abuse of minors, but also warned that the global institution must avoid “ideological disputes and journalistic practices” that he said exploit the scandals.
In a lengthy address ending the first-of-its-kind meeting with the heads of the world’s Catholic bishops’ conferences, the pontiff mixed condemnations of abuse in the church with references to its prevalence in other areas of society and cautionings against the faith community being too extreme in its response.

At one point in the half-hour speech, the pope called clerics who abuse children “tools of Satan” and declared bluntly that such criminal behavior is “utterly incompatible with [the church’s] moral authority and ethical credibility.”
At another point, Francis said that in responding to abuse the church must avoid what he called the “extreme” of “‘justicialism,’ provoked by guilt for past errors and media pressure.”
“The church’s aim will … be to hear, watch over, protect and care for abused, exploited and forgotten children, wherever they are,” the pope promised.
Francis then continued: “To achieve that goal, the church must rise above the ideological disputes and journalistic practices that often exploit, for various interests, the very tragedy experienced by the little ones.”
During the four-day summit, the pope and prelates focused their discussions on three main themes: responsibility, accountability and transparency. They also heard testimonies from abuse survivors and even experienced one survivor play violin for them at an evening penitential liturgy Feb. 23.
Abuse survivors and advocates quickly criticized Francis’ closing address as being short on specifics for how the church would combat sexual abuse.
Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of the abuse tracking website BishopAccountability.org, called the speech a “stunning letdown.” She added: “We needed him to offer a bold and decisive plan. He gave us instead defensive, recycled rhetoric.”
At a briefing later in the day Feb. 24, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi announced four measures that will be put in place following the conclusion of the summit.
Lombardi, who moderated the summit, said one of those measures would be the combination of a new ‘motu proprio’ and a new law to “strengthen prevention and the fight against abuse” within Vatican city-state.
The Jesuit said the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will also be publishing a new Vademecum, or handbook, to “help bishops around the world clearly understand their duties and tasks” with regard to abuse.
Francis spoke Feb. 24 following the summit’s closing Mass in the apostolic palace. The homily at the Mass was given by Australian Archbishop Mark Coleridge, who reflected on how Catholic prelates had misused the power entrusted to them.
“We have shown too little mercy, and therefore we will receive the same, because the measure we give will be the measure we receive in return,” said Coleridge, the president of the Australian bishops’ conference. “We will not go unpunished.”

Read this Next: Exclusive: Archbishop suggests creating new Vatican office to tackle abuse, clerical culture

Before directly addressing abuse of children by church officials in his later address, Francis spent the first several minutes of his speech discussing the wider sociological impact of abuse. Citing a 2017 UNICEF study on abuse in 28 countries, he noted that 9 out of 10 girls victimized were abused by “someone they knew or who was close to their family.”
The pope then spoke of cases of cyber-abuse and what he called the “scourge of pornography,” which he said was “a phenomenon in constant growth,” and sexual tourism, citing 2017 statistics from the World Tourism Organization that three million people travel each year seeking sexual relations with a minor.
“We are thus facing a universal problem, tragically present almost everywhere and affecting everyone,” said Francis. “Yet we need to be clear, that while gravely affecting our societies as a whole, this evil is in no way less monstrous when it takes place within the church.”
Arriving at abuse in the church, the pontiff said that “no explanations suffice” for priests who have harmed children.
“We need to recognize with humility and courage that we stand face to face with the mystery of evil, which strikes most violently against the most vulnerable,” said the pope.
“The church has now become increasingly aware of the need not only to curb the gravest cases of abuse by disciplinary measures and civil and canonical processes, but also to decisively confront the phenomenon both inside and outside the church,” he continued.
The pope said that in peoples’ anger over abuse, “the church sees the reflection of the wrath of God, betrayed and insulted by these deceitful consecrated persons.”
Francis ended his address with a reference to the World Health Organization’s INSPIRE initiative, which proposes seven strategies for ending violence against children and then put forward eight points he said the church would concentrate on in “developing her legislation” on abuse.
The first of those points was a promise that children would be protected and that a “change of mentality” would take place “to combat a defensive and reactive approach to protecting the institution and to pursue, wholeheartedly and decisively, the good of the community by giving priority to the victims of abuse in every sense.”
The second and third points were a commitment to “impeccable seriousness” in abuse cases and to a “genuine purification” in the church.
The fourth and fifth points regarded the formation of priests and the “strengthening and reviewing” of the bishops’ conferences’ various safeguarding guidelines.
“No abuse should ever be covered up, as was often the case in the past, or not taken sufficiently seriously, since the covering up of abuses favors the spread of evil and adds a further level of scandal,” said Francis.
The sixth point concerned accompaniment for those who have suffered abuse, the seventh abuse in the digital world and the eighth sexual tourism.

In the seventh point, Francis proposed that the church’s norms on child pornography should be changed in order to raise the threshold of what is considered an image of a child to above the current age of 14.
At the briefing later Feb. 24, two of the organizers of the summit hinted at a further change Francis may be considering: getting rid of the use of pontifical secret, or confidentiality, in abuse cases.
Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias said that was a reform the church “certainly must look into.” Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna said: “There’s no need for this top-heavy law, especially concerning sex abuse cases.”
Scicluna, who is also an adjunct secretary at the doctrinal congregation, said that with the summit the church has been clear to bishops about how it expects them to handle abuse cases.
“It is now a very clear point in church policy that abuse of minors is an egregious crime, but so is cover-up,” said the archbishop. “There is no going back. For decades we were concentrating on the crime. But we also realize that covering up is equally egregious.”
The final session of the abuse summit Feb. 23 was marked by frank and forthright speeches to the assembled prelates by Nigerian Holy Child Jesus Sr. Veronica Openibo and Mexican journalist Valentina Alazraki, who has covered the Vatican for some 40 years.
Openibo, the head of her order and a member of the executive board of the Rome-based umbrella group International Union of Superiors General, criticized priests who supported accused brethren over victims and expressed serious concerns about current formation practices.
The sister eloquently blasted what she called a culture of “mediocrity, hypocrisy, and complacency” that she said had brought the church to a “disgraceful and scandalous place.”
Alazraki, who has traveled on 150 trips abroad with popes since John Paul II, said those in her profession can help the bishops root out the “rotten apples and to overcome resistance in order to separate them from the healthy ones.”
She also made a promise.
“If you do not decide in a radical way to be on the side of the children, mothers, families, civil society, you are right to be afraid of us, because we journalists — who seek the common good — will be your worst enemies,” she told the prelates.
[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR national correspondent. His email address is jmcelwee@ncronline.org. Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]

63 thoughts on “FRANCIS ENDS VATICAN SUMMIT WITH PROMISE CHURCH WILL DEVCISIVELY CONFRONT ABUSE

  1. Pope Francis – it is not about the Devil, it is not about wicked priests, it is not about any of the excuses that you and others mouth in order to minimise and transfer the blame and enormity of this crisis in the Church. IT IS ABOUT YOU AND YOUR BISHOPS AND YOUR PRIESTS AND YOUR CLERICALISM AND YOUR HIERARCHY AND YOUR SENSE OF PRIVILEGE AND ENTITLEMENT AND ABOUT YOUR ABUSE OF AUTHORITY AND POWER……IT IS ABOUT CLERICALISM. Why can’t you get it ?! If you are not able to get it and to radically restructure our Church so that it is no longer the cause and the means of abuse, then we shall have to get other outside agencies to do it for us, because what you have done, or not done, so far constitutes a crime.
    And here is a starter for one: Try thinking seriously about what priesthood is all about, being at the service of the flock, and train our priests to be that rather than little princes; widen the scope of those who come forward for priesthood by ordaining mature and proven married men who will be grounded in relationships of love and family; ordain women, who will bring their immeasurable God given gifts to the priesthood and the Church; start to see and accept that love and relationships come in all ways and shapes, and get over the fact that men can love men and women can love women in relationships, and can be servant priests as well; sort out the idiotic medieval hierarchical structure of the Vatican and dioceses, and model the Church on communities of love and service. That would do for a start. But I fear that you and your bishops and priests are incapable of doing any of this because you are so woven in to a corrupt clerical world and organisation.

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    1. Get over yourself. Ranting and raving like a lunatic won’t help anyone @ 8.30am. Have you got that out of your system yet? Take two diazepam and go back to bed.

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      1. Dundrum Dennis 25th Feb 2019 — 9:19 am

        8.56: Your knee jerk hostile response does you no credit. Have YOU any positive suggestions?
        What Anon @ 8:30 suggests seems in line with what many of the more thoughtful and perceptive contributors to this blog have advocated.
        What your comment demonstrates is the limited frame of mind of those who have allowed the church to sink into its present morass.

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      2. Sorry I agree with 8.30. It is such a tangled web. The problems are so ingrained I don’t see any immediate improvement. It’s a real dark night for the church.

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    2. 8:30
      JS, ‘hold your horses’! You’ve ventured into Vatican III territory. They’re still trying to sort out a mess and a half, going back to the Council of Trent, Vatican I and the present, Holy War, tipping point,currently raging in Roma.
      Martel’s book is a page turner.

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      1. Martel’s book has been shown for what it is. See the review by Michael Sean Winters posted here yesterday.

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    3. The Anglicans would be right up your street. Have you thought of joining them? It would be good for your soul as you’d be less bitter.

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  2. Fly on Th Wall 25th Feb 2019 — 9:27 am

    8.30am. Hi stop talking common sense but Th fresh air ll give m a head cold. Atishu all fall down but

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    1. 9:27
      Hello Fly, hi 😇, when yur up, yur up, and when yur down, yur down! A breath of fresh air woul fit the bil!
      Did ye find the blu bottl of medicine at all ? I’m on th spirit whacky backy meself. El dopa! 😉 Yer only man!
      😀 Hi Hi Hi

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      1. Fly on Th Wall 25th Feb 2019 — 8:30 pm

        9.27 We are havin an outdoor meeting in the front room so the parish council can decide what colour to whitewash the scenic listed loo at the back o th Church hi

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  3. OO… ?

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    1. @9.38 English twit asking questions in the hope someone will answer. I’m surprised he hasn’t addressed it himself yet. He has answered his own questions over the last few days on the blog.

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  4. Why do you care Buckley? Tell us about you, what do you stand for? What do you do in Larne etc? You left the Church, but just like a relationship ending you are the creepy ex-partner constantly creeping on what the other does via social media. Sell yourself to us, you are constantly creeping on your ex-partner — it is ‘creepy’ – we want to know what you stand for? Or does creeping and commentating on your ex-partner (RCC) bring more viewings?

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    1. I nrver left it. It left me. Cahal Daly divorced me.

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      1. 10 23: More untruths Pat. Accept your own huge, irresponsible part in this drama. You bullied and intimidated many individuals and you seek to do the same through your blog. And if Cardinal Daly divorced you, wasn’t he a wise and sensible man? If Pope Francis hung himself on a cross you’d still condemn and criticise him…wouldn’t you? Give us your master plan…

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      2. You dont know me.

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      3. Cahal Daly did untold damage to many priests. He was a little bully and a wee Hitler with small man syndrome. Horrible individual who should have stayed locked in a college with his books and his intellect. Zero pastoral experience. Why appoint these people as bishops? Ireland has had it share of bishops with no experience, no personality and no clue.

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      4. Wasn’t Daly a lucky man having divorced you!

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  5. Just Saying.... 25th Feb 2019 — 10:37 am

    My 8:30 was not a rant, it is how I see it. And, as many, many others see it. What is happening now in Rome is a like rearrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic. They will leave it too late to make the radical structural changes that are required to save the Church. They are not able to see what should be done. Already many have given up in despair at the Church and have gone elsewhere, or just left and gone nowhere. Have our leaders ever really asked themselves why ? Usually, it’s the usual dismissal of the having lost the faith, and so the moral blame is on them for leaving. I wonder have they ever asked themselves what part they have played in emptying our churches ? God’s judgement will be heavier on the latter than the former, I think.

    As for + Pat, we all know he is not perfect. But, he is honest and transparent, and says what he stands for, and lives his life according to that, with no hypocrisy, lying, covering up, claiming to be something that he is not. So he has my vote.

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    1. 10:37
      JS, you sound like a man sincerely and genuinely concerned for the future of the Church.
      I don’t want to sound trite, but, trust in the Lord, JS! The Lord is behind this cleansing! The barque hasn’t been abandoned. None of us are perfect. Being authentic in all areas of life is crucial. Lack of authenticity, among other issues, is, in my opinion, at the nub of this mess.

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    2. 10.37: Pat doesn’t need a mouthpiece. He can defend himself however wrong I believe him to be. He does get it wrong many times….

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  6. That old gag about deck chairs and titanic is so overused it’s very tiresome just like your post @ 10.37am. So boring.

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    1. So, how about you coming up with an image or analogy for the present state of the Church then ? We might be entertained and not so bored….but I doubt it 1048. Perhaps you have an investment in the status quo, and don’t want to be nudged out of your comfort zone. So many clergy are like that. And I am, of course, assuming that you are a cleric, because you comment is just the kind of thing we get on this blog from your ilk. Enjoy your lunch, your siesta, reading your newspaper, and pottering around a couple of standbys in the parish doing a bit of pussy tickling in the hope of a back hander or a mention in the will. Oh, sorry, you’ve probably said Mass, so you’ve already done a day’s work…! Too close for comfort ?

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      1. 12:42
        That’s bone close! 🦴

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      2. Thanks. Just enjoying a few Cognacs whilst so read your diatribe @ 12.42. Then it’s siesta, watch a bit of twink porn and then it’s soap opera time. A few more drink and microwave my supper that auld Pauline dropped in earlier. Btw made 100 quid today on handouts from the usual parish suspects so that will go on the horses tomorrow. Thanks for asking 12.42

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      3. Revolting and sick. 12.42

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  7. Carryduff Ciaran 25th Feb 2019 — 10:49 am

    When I saw the assembled bishops on TV I couldn’t help thinking: cosseted old men over weight with contentment at a status quo keeping them at ease. In reality what chance is there for dynamic change when power is vested in such?

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  8. Buckley’s not happy. Buckley’s not impressed. Buckley’s not “hopeful”.

    O, quelle suprise!

    So unlike him isn’t it? 🙄😴

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    1. 11.09: You are right. Pat is incapable of respectful argument or objective opinion because he despises the Church which he had abandoned. He will never instigate true renewal, ever, as he is full of the baggage of hatred, anger and vindictiveness. That aside I hope all Church leaders and personnel will reflect deeply on this summit and ensure that we follow only the pathway of truth, justice and compassion for all victims/survivors.

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      1. You dont know me.

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  9. Pat, have you seen Brendan’s documentary on the summit? Quite Frankly I found it revolting however it has set me free to realise that there is no cabal.

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  10. The Rcc needs to address the scandal of where it’s investment services put money and the German Rc involvement in the porn industry.

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  11. Terrible postings today, all shouting invectives, ad hominem attacks on Pat, and the crank who obsessively trawls through the blog to find any remote reference to England and then writes in with the same complaint – reminds me of Archbishop McQuaid going through underwear catalogues with a magnifying glass to sniff out a vagina. If somebody has a point to contribute about Oxford, say, it’s likely to be more interesting than anything you have to say. Personally I’d like more on Elsie’s caravan, but can see that might be a minority interest when we are all leading such busy and important lives. Sorry I spoke.

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    1. 12.34: And you think your comment might elicit intelligent debate? And seeking information about Else’s caravan shows you to be the moron you are? Thick as two planks. Get a life.

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    2. Wish you would feck off and live with Elsie in her Caravan and that old hag nun.

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      1. I can only dream!

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  12. If the Pope does really crack down on child abuse, can we expect thousands of clerics to be kicked out? Maybe the Pope can also crack down on those who carry out psychological and emotional abuse under the umbrella of his church. I won’t be holding my breath

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah now, if priests were not allowed to psychologically and emotionally abuse then nobody would be allowed onto the seminary council in Maynooth. Don’t be so silly as to make sensible suggestions. 😉

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    2. Excellent point.

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  13. Oh great, the church will be renewed with such promises…and in 20 years another pope can apologise again that bishops did’nt live up to the promises (because that’s what bishops do). Eventually the church will have dragged it’s heals so long that the victims will be dead.

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    1. 2:39
      Holy Goat, you float my boat! 🛳That’s also crossed my mind. Kick the can as far down the road as possible, to buy time! Then, it’s someone else’s problem. 👍

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  14. Who is Elsie…a name wd be helpful.

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    1. Ordinarily here that name refers to Cardinal Vin Nichols, but is normally used by a person who would not be a personal fan of his. Personally I cannot make up my mind on him – my experience of him is too limited. But I do note that he seems to know what needs to be done but lack the conviction to follow through completely – which is a shame.

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      1. Thank you

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    2. Elsie is the lady who lives next door but one from me in case you wondered. She likes her scarlet colours and hangs around with some old Nun.

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    3. His Eminence Vincent Cardinal Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster is “Elsie”; or “our Else”; also affectionately called Vin/Vinnie.

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    4. Vincent “Elsie” Nichols as she was affectionately known by some at the late lamented Soho Masses. Needless-to-say, his nun, Carmel Ragg, was “Alf”.

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      1. Nicholls was pretty effective in Birmingham after poor hapless old Maurice but has never cracked it in Westminster, and I think the name reflects that.

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  15. The Evening Standard, 15/02/16:
    “Of caravans and unholy thoughts
    The Londoner clutched rosary beads at the news that the late Pope John Paul II is the subject of a BBC documentary tonight about his four years of correspondence with married philosopher Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka.
    Girlfriend? The Londoner is reminded of how much trouble such accusations cause. When Cardinal Vincent Nichols was Archbishop of Birmingham he had a spiritual friendship with his diary secretary, Sister Carmel Wragg. But after someone questioned whether she had visited him in his holiday home, a caravan near Oxford, the cardinal was furious. “This anonymous allegation is entirely without foundation and, quite simply, malicious,” he said. ‘There is nothing secret about my holiday arrangements.” Good to see a man so proud of his caravan”.

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    1. Scroll down in this for a photo of Carmel trying on Elsie’s new biretta.

      http://marklambert.blogspot.com/2018/11/thou-shalt-not-bear-false-witness.html?m=1

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      1. Ere’ that nuns a bit o alright mate

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  16. So they share a caravan to relax.
    Where?

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  17. Nothing of any substance came out of the synod other than obvious efforts to switch attention to broader non Church matters.Historical child abuse linked to priests and religious was mainly physical with some sexual, the present situation in Latin America, Aftica and Asia is the issue of non-consensual sexual abuse of women with homosexual non-consensual abuse in seminaries rather than in the deeply conservative wider societies, in Europe and the US the present problem is non-consensual homosexual abuse not of children under 12 but of teenagers and seminarians, priests and male religious rarely have unobserved contact with children so the potential for abuse is reduced, how difficult is it to state this first and then look for realistic ways forward?

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    1. @ 7.08
      Well said!

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  18. 2 points here;

    1- Frank is and always will be a Jesuit. As such he is a casuist. Truth is a commodity to be bought, sold, exchanged and manipulated according to need . We will get a good deal of this in the coming weeks and months.

    2- Mark Coleridge, Archbishop of Brisbane and a former Curial official. At the meeting’s closing address he certainly wanted to catch Frank’s eye by stating the need for a new Vatican office to tackle abuse, clerical culture.

    I wonder who Coleridge has in mind for such an office? Undoubtedly a Red Hat will go with such an appointment. The Brisbane prelate must be very bored there if he wants to be in at Imperial HQ

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  19. Where Elsie stays when not in her caravan. She persuaded Catholic doners to give £400,000 for its refurbishment.
    http://www.staugustineofcanterbury.org.uk/about/archbishopshouse/slideshow/

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    1. It still smells. of boiled cabbage.

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  20. Pat, multiple seminarians in Maynooth where sexually abused within the last 10 years, why is a certain key figures in Maynooth continuing to conceal the truth. Senior Priest’s and senior seminarians who targeted young men in St Mary’s hse must be held accountable for their crimes. Sean Hickey needed medical intervention and escaped home, however Mullaney couldn’t bear it and sent Kevin Connolly to bring back to seminary. The abuser list of Maynooth seminarians, a Deacon and Preists I will forward to you Pat. The Deacon and his terribly actions in Stamullen must be exposed.

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    1. Is that why the deacon came back to Clogher?

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    2. When you send your fantasy list to Pat make sure you include the facts but above all else the proof and evidence along with it. There’s a good lad. I won’t be holding my breath.

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    3. lol just ask John Harney or Stephen Wilson. Harney and Wilson fought tooth and nail for Kevin’s affection and love.

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  21. I want to be hopeful. I really do. Then I consider all that I have heard unfolding in Galway the last few months and it’s just the same old story, an attempt at a cover-up and the whistleblower punished and dragged through the mud.

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