Categories
Uncategorized

TSUNAMI OF CLERICAL ABUSE CASES FROM AROUND THE WORLD OVERWHELMS SECRET VATICAN TRIBUNAL.

By NICOLE WINFIELD Associated press

VATICAN CITY (AP) —

The Vatican office responsible for processing clergy sex abuse complaints has seen a record 1,000 cases reported from around the world this year, including from countries it had not heard from before — suggesting that the worst may be yet to come in a crisis that has plagued the Catholic Church.
Nearly two decades after the Vatican assumed responsibility for reviewing all cases of abuse, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is today overwhelmed, struggling with a skeleton staff that hasn’t grown at pace to meet the four-fold increase in the number of cases arriving in 2019 compared to a decade ago.

“I know cloning is against Catholic teaching, but if I could actually clone my officials and have them work three shifts a day or work seven days a week,” they might make the necessary headway, said Monsignor John Kennedy, the head of the congregation’s discipline section, which processes the cases.
“We’re effectively seeing a tsunami of cases at the moment, particularly from countries where we never heard from (before),” Kennedy said, referring to allegations of abuse that occurred for the most part years or decades ago. Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Italy and Poland have joined the U.S. among the countries with the most cases arriving at the congregation, known as the CDF.
Kennedy spoke to The Associated Press and allowed an AP photographer and video journalists into the CDF’s inner chambers — the first time in the tribunal’s history that visual news media have been given access. Even the Vatican’s most secretive institution now feels the need to show some transparency as the church hierarchy seeks to rebuild trust with rank-and-file Catholics who have grown disillusioned with decades of clergy abuse and cover-up.
Pope Francis took a step towards showing greater transparency with his decision this week to abolish the so-called “pontifical secret” that governs the processing of abuse cases to increase cooperation with civil law enforcement.
But the CDF’s struggles remain, and are emblematic of the overall dysfunction of the church’s in-house legal system, which relies on bishops and religious superiors, some with no legal experience or qualified canon lawyers on staff, to investigate allegations of sexual abuse that even the most seasoned criminal prosecutors have difficulty parsing. The system itself is built on an inherent conflict of interest, with a bishop asked to weigh the claim of an unknown alleged victim against the word of a priest who he considers a spiritual son.

Despite promises of “zero tolerance” and accountability, the adoption of new laws and the creation of expert commissions, the Vatican finds itself still struggling to reckon with the problem of predator priests — a scourge that first erupted publicly in Ireland and Australia in the 1990s, the U.S. in 2002, parts of Europe beginning in 2010 and Latin America last year.
“I suppose if I weren’t a priest and if I had a child who were abused, I’d probably stop going to Mass,” said Kennedy, who saw first-hand how the church in his native Ireland lost its credibility over the abuse scandal.
“I’d probably stop having anything to do with the church because I’d say, ’Well, if you can’t look after children, well, why should I believe you?”
But he said the Vatican was committed to fighting abuse and just needed more time to process the cases. “We’re going to look at it forensically and guarantee that the just outcome will be given,” he said in an interview.
“It’s not about winning people back, because faith is something that is very personal,” he added. “But at least we give people the opportunity to say, ‘Well, maybe give the church a second chance to hear the message.’”
___
Located in a mustard-colored palazzo just inside the Vatican gates, the CDF serves as the central processing center for abuse cases as well as an appeals court for accused priests under the church’s canon law, a parallel legal system to civil law enforcement that dispenses ecclesial justice.
In the past, when the CDF was known as the Holy Office or the Sacred Roman and Universal Inquisition, such church punishments involved burnings at the stake for heretics and publishing lists of banned books that the faithful were forbidden to read.
Today, CDF justice tends more toward ordering errant priests to prayer, penance and prohibition from celebrating Mass in public. In fact the worst punishment handed down by the church’s canon law, even for serial child rapists, is essentially being fired, or dismissed from the clerical state.
While priests sometimes consider defrockings to be equivalent to a death sentence, such seemingly minor sanctions for such heinous crimes have long outraged victims, whose lives are forever scarred by their abuse. But recourse to church justice is sometimes all the victims have, given the statutes of limitations for pursuing criminal charges or civil litigation have often long since passed by the time a survivor comes to terms with the trauma and decides to report the abuse to authorities — usually to prevent further harm.
’’I wanted to make sure that this priest does not have access to any children,” said Paul Peloquin, a Catholic clinical psychologist and abuse survivor who reported his abuser to the archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1990.
By then, church authorities had known for decades that the Rev. Earl Bierman groped young boys, and they had sent him off for therapy. But his bishops kept putting him back in ministry, where he is believed to have abused upwards of 70 children. A Kentucky jury convicted him in 1993 and sentenced him to 20 years in prison, where he died in 2005.
Peloquin, however, never received a reply to his initial complaint to his bishop.
“It just made me angry,” said Peloquin, who now counsels victims from a faith-based perspective that emphasizes forgiveness in healing. “It seemed like they would have called me up right away and said, ‘Let’s hear about what you’ve got to say.’”
Because of cases like his, where the bishop ignored the victim, protected the pedophile and placed the church’s reputation above all else, the CDF under then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 2001 persuaded Pope John Paul II to centralize the process.
The aim was to crack down on abusers and provide bishops and religious superiors with needed guidance to punish the priests rather than move them around from parish to parish, where they could abuse again. At no time has the Vatican ever mandated superiors report abusers to police, though it has insisted they cooperate with civil reporting laws.
The 2001 revision calls for bishops and religious superiors who receive an allegation to conduct a preliminary investigation, which in the U.S. is often done with the help of a lay review board.
If the bishop finds the claim has a semblance of truth, he sends the documentation to the CDF which tells the bishop how to proceed: via a full-blown canonical trial, a more expedited “administrative” procedure, or something else, including having the CDF itself take over the investigation.
Over the ensuing months and years, the bishop continues the investigation in consultation with the CDF. Eventually the bishop reaches a verdict and a sanction, up to and including dismissal from the clerical state, or laicization.
If the priest accepts the penalty, the case ends there. If he appeals, the case comes to the CDF for a final decision.
From 2004 to 2014 — roughly the years of Benedict’s papacy with a year on each bookend — some 848 priests were defrocked around the world and another 2,572 were sanctioned to lesser penalties, according to Vatican statistics.
The Vatican hasn’t published updated statistics since then, but Benedict’s get-tough defrocking approach has seemingly gone unmatched by Francis. The Jesuit pope appears more swayed by arguments that the church and society are better served if abusers remain in the priesthood, albeit out of active ministry with young people, so they are at least under surveillance by their superiors and not able to have access to children in other jobs
The appeals are decided in an ivory damask-walled conference room on the first floor of the Palazzo Sant’Uffizio, the CDF headquarters a stones’ throw from St. Peter’s Square.
The room is dominated by a massive wooden crucifix on the wall that faces St. Peter’s Basilica, and, in each corner of the room, a closed-circuit TV camera peering down on CDF staff.
The cameras record the debates on DVDs for the CDF’s own archives and in case the pope ever wants to see what transpired.
It is wretched work, reading through case files filled with text messages of priests grooming their victims, psychological evaluations of pedophiles, and heart-numbing letters from men and women who were violated as children and are finally coming to terms with their traumas.
“There are times when I am pouring over cases that I want to get up and scream, that I want to pack up my things and leave the office and not come back,” Kennedy told Catholic journalists in the U.S. earlier this year.
Nearly 20 years after the CDF assumed responsibility for the cases, it has processed 6,000 abuse cases, and at one point Francis lamented that it had a backlog of 2,000. But the CDF now must cope with the globalization of the scandal that in 2001 seemed to be largely confined to the English-speaking world.
Today, the CDF counts just 17 officials, with occasional help from other CDF staff, plus the superiors. Kennedy said he was planning to bring in a Brazilian, Polish and bilingual American canonist to help offset the expected departures of current CDF staff and to process cases from countries that are only now having a reckoning with abuse.
But there are still countries the CDF has never heard from — a scenario that suggests “either that they’re all saints or we don’t know about them yet,” Kennedy told AP.
The implication is that victims are still cowed, and bishops are still covering up cases. A new Vatican law mandates all abuse and cover-up be reported to church officials, but there is no automatic penalty if anyone fails to do so.
Not even in the U.S., which has the most stringent reporting mechanisms in place, is there any way to ensure that bishops are forwarding allegations to the CDF as required.
“There has never been independent review of diocesan compliance with that law,” said the Rev. James Connell, a canon lawyer who represents abuse survivors.
___
Walk into the Pontifical Gregorian University library, climb up the spiral staircase to the legal stacks and you’ll find volume after volume of “Decisiones Seu Sententiae” — the Latin-language legal decisions from one of the Holy See’s main tribunals, the Roman Rota.
The tomes contain hundreds of decrees of petitions to nullify Catholic marriages from around the world — the Vatican-stamped paperwork Catholics need to remarry in the church after divorcing.
But there is no such jurisprudence published for the Vatican’s other main tribunal, the CDF. None of those rulings are ever published. And that is because until this past week, abuse cases were covered by the highest form of confidentiality in the church, the so-called “pontifical secret.”
St. John Paul II decreed that abuse cases would be kept under such tight secrecy in 2001, and defenders argued it was the best way to protect the privacy of the victim, the reputation of the accused and the integrity of the process.
Critics said the pontifical secret was used to keep the scandal hidden, prevent police from acquiring internal documentation and silence victims. The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child issued a scathing denunciation of the secrecy in 2014, and victims long complained how it retraumatized them:
Many were held to secrecy for decades by their abusers, only to have the church re-traumatize them by imposing secrecy on them when they finally found the courage to report the crime.
In announcing the abolition of the highest confidentiality in abuse cases, the Vatican said the reform would facilitate cooperation with civil law enforcement, since bishops would no longer be able to hide behind the pontifical secret to withhold documents.
The argument was striking, given that it amounted to an explicit admission that bishops had used the pontifical secret as an excuse to refuse cooperation when prosecutors, police or civil authorities demanded internal paperwork.
In more academic terms, the lack of published CDF jurisprudence means no bishop or religious superior has case law to refer to when he receives a new allegation that one of his priests has raped a child: He can’t read up on how the Vatican or his brother bishops have handled a similar set of facts in the past, since none of the cases are published.
No seminarian studying canon law can cite case studies in preparing his thesis about how the Catholic Church has responded to the abuse scandal. No academic, journalist, victim or ordinary Catholic has any real idea how the Catholic Church has adjudicated these cases in any systematic way.
The Rev. D.G. Astigueta, a Jesuit canonist at the Gregorian, has said such institutional secrecy surrounding abuse case harms the development and practice of the church’s own law.
“Canonical science doesn’t only grow and develop from a reflection by experts or the production of new laws, but also by jurisprudence, the way of interpreting the law by judges and lawyers,” he told a 2017 conference.
He called for greater transparency by the CDF so that today’s canon lawyers, especially those studying in Rome, could have easy access to case files and thus have “teaching based not just on theory but practice.”
He is not alone. For the past several years, Vatican-affiliated universities in Rome have hosted conferences on seeking a new equilibrium between the need to protect the integrity of the investigation while looking out in particular for the needs of the victims.
Three of the official speakers at Francis’ big sex abuse summit in February called for a reform of the pontifical secret, and the Vatican’s leading sex crimes investigator, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, was the primary driver behind the reform.
In another change to church law this year, Francis decreed that victims cannot be silenced, and have the right to learn the outcomes of their cases. But they are still largely kept out of the process, after making an initial complaint.
“They are that person who has been harmed. And it would seem to be natural justice that they should know what is being done what is being said in their absence,” said Marie Collins, an Irish survivor who quit Francis’ child protection commission in frustration in part over what she said was the CDF’s intransigence and obsession with secrecy.
And the length of time the cases take benefits no one, she added.
The CDF is due to soon publish a step-by-step guidebook for bishops and religious superiors to refer to so they can process cases, and two researchers are currently hard at work in Kennedy’s office, entering case details into a database so the CDF can generate a statistical analysis of the cases it has processed over the past two decades.
Kennedy said he needs more funding to complete the project, and said more transparency could be possible down the line.
“I think eventually we will get to the point of publishing jurisprudence, like the way the Roman Rota does,” he said. The aim would be to redact names and revealing details, but show “the broad parameters of what it is that we do.”

61 replies on “TSUNAMI OF CLERICAL ABUSE CASES FROM AROUND THE WORLD OVERWHELMS SECRET VATICAN TRIBUNAL.”

Any booklet on guidelines for bishops and priests pastoral response to survivors?
If not, why not. The response I got was lies and silence. A person or an institution is as sick as the secrets it keeps.

Like

This tribunal has hardly been secret, surely. But this article does show the inadequacy of the church’s response to abuse. And if they are only now publishing a manual for bishops, that places their response into the nonexistent category.

Like

Pat, I read this article a few days ago and it filled me with a deep sense of shame and horror. It is inevitable that the victims/survivors would eventually find the moment to tell their truth, and rightly so. It’s justice. I hope – really hope – that the Church will facilitate all who were/are abused and believe them. I hope the Church in countries we have yet to hear of where abuses have occurred will listen intently, respond in compassion and not delay justice. Surely at this stage of this epidemic, the Church leadership knows what GOD expects of them. It is lamentable that the celebration of Christ – born into fragile and vulnerable circumstances should be overshadowed yet again by a narrative of abuse, recklessness and irresponsibility against God’s vulnerable people today – the victims/survivors. It is abhorrent to the memory of Christ.

Liked by 1 person

Thanks for drawing that to our attention, Pat.
It’s a good example of the depths to which the Roman Papacy has sunk.
The writer of the report is an AP staffer, Nicole Winfield. Sh often writes on Catholic matters and can be counted on to take a pro-Pope line.
The cleric she interviewed is Msgr John Kennedy, the head of the CDF’s discipline section’ He’s a canon lawyer from the Dublin Diocese.
What can I say.
They just don’t understand what it’s about, and probably don’t want to understand.

Give a few minutes’ thought to John’s gospel, chapter 3, verses 1 to 21.
Verse 3: : Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Verse 10: Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?
Verse 20: “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.”

Like

This article and video show why current abusive priests should be dealt with by statutory authorities rather than the church. Unfortunately in ‘historic’ cases or where the police deem that it is a civil matter, or there is insufficient evidence or it is not deemed to be in the public interest to pursue a criminal charge, survivors wanting redress will only have recourse to the courts. The area of abuse is a nightmare in which only a tiny proportion of alleged assailants ever get convicted.
The church could go some way to putting this right by adequately resourcing a transparent, speedy procedure to make sure that priests whose conduct is unfit for ministry are dealt with. But they won’t will they.

Liked by 1 person

Anonymous 21st Dec 2019 — 10:38 am — wrote “ … The church could go some way to putting this right by adequately resourcing a transparent, speedy procedure to make sure that priests whose conduct is unfit for ministry are dealt with … “
_______________
Why does the Vatican need to involve itself at all, it’s only exposing itself to compensation claims such as those that are now underway in New York.
And going overseas so as to seek guidance on matters of right and wrong is going against the clear word of God.

“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off.
It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’
Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’
But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.
(Deuteronomy chapter 30, verses 11-1 4)

Like

Well I was thinking of the circumstances of a friend who was a novice in a religious order and was emotionally and sexually taken advantage of by another adult. As is repeatedly commented here, no civil authority is interested in this situation because the target is not deemed to be vulnerable, despite the fact that the situation leaves them in a dependent position where it is impossible to take action.
Seminarians would be another situation like this.

Like

It is not surprising that Elsie is furious with you Pat. He is head of the RCC in England and YOU are showing up his failures and his inadequacies. Nothing is going to change until these dinosaurs are bought against their will in to the real world and their organisation is purified and made spotless as the bride of Christ. YOU are playing an important role hating the abusive, secretive, clerical institution that the RCC has become. Courage!

Like

Vin is not “furious” with Pat. In fact, Pat Buckley is the very furthest thing from his mind. Pat, in his delusional state and encouraged by anonymous mischief makers like Lolling Joe et alia, might like to think that the Abp of Westminster is “furious” over a gossip shop internet blog site but it is far from reality. Vin Nichols is quite oblivious to Pat and his musings.

Like

Actually Elsie is not head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, the archbishop of Westminster is chair of the conference of bishops in perpetuity. I would direct readers to a recent series of posts by Fr Hunwicke about the exact nature of the archbishops authority.

Like

11:31am
If Elsie is not bothered about this blog, why the gagging order which is in place over the ex Liverpool seminarian who nearly died?
Can you answer that?

Like

“Gagging order” 4:20pm? Really?? And what will Else do if the ex Liverpool seminarian refuses to be gagged? Kill him? Lock him forever in the dungeon of Westminster Cathedral? Send him to Botany Bay??? Utter nonsense! You are a fantasist with little to do all day.

Like

11.02: Are you delusional or just a mischief maker? Anyone in their right senses would ignore Bishop Buckley. No one needs someinecwith a messiah complex to pontificate to them. Inly one MESSIAH – Jesus Christ. The Bishops of course should take their moral and ethical responsibilities from the life of Jesus. If this was done in truth, justice and fully, we’d have a much better Church. But it falls to all concerned Catholics to emulate JESUS CHRIST in attitude and behaviour. It’s Jesus we should be concerned about, not Patrick!

Like

11:02am
Yes, +Pat, this work of shining the light to dispel darkness is vital; not only for the victims themselves, but for the RCC herself. It is a moral necessity.
We must not standby and allow those who have put their trust in Christ, or his priests, to be silenced from speaking of their experiences.
Keep up the good work

Like

Oh, it’s common practice in the business world to put clauses into contracts to prevent bad publicity. Anyone with a job (a proper job of work that is, not a priest) will find such a clause gagging them from publicity bringing the firm into disrepute, the exception being when people whistle blow in the public interest.
This of course shows exactly where the hierarchy get their ethics from, and personally I think Pat’s attitude of publish but make sure there’s no point suing him, is far closer to the ideal I would like church leaders to live by.

Like

We who know Vin know how likely it is he is furious about Pat, so obsessed is he with total control. I can just see that little vein in his forehead throbbing.

Like

Gossip shop internet blog!
This blog happens to be highlighting the Tsunami of abuse, corruption and criminality in the Catholic Church.
Of course, many don’t want to know. Pollyannas, remain in denial.

Like

1.10: 🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷..well said Rory! They’re too busy boozing….(or sleeping out for the homeless!).

Like

Have you any concept Righteous Rory of the absolute derision your lightweight comment evokes in many sincere intelligent ex seminarians who realise just how wise, and fortunate, was their decision to abandon the sinking stinking RC Titanical tyrannical institution? No?
I thought not.
Would you be one who hadn’t the guts to get out?

Like

I have never met a sincere ex-seminarian. They are all mentally deficient individuals who could not cut it. Now they spend their days on this blog with their queen reminiscing about what could have been. Pathetic people really.

Like

3.06: There are many professions that discern if people are suitable or not. The few ex seminarians are beginning to feel aggrieved that they were unjustly treated. Could it be that they were just unsuitable and realise now that there may be the possibility of making a claim for “bullying”? I know a seminarian who was asked (in his 30’s) to take a year’s break before continuing his studies. He was very perexed but took the advice and is now happily ordained. He’s glad he took the year to reconsider and rethink priesthood. Even in the uncertainty of this experience he never complained or felt unjustly treated. Just wondering if the modern seminarians are just of the snowflake kind?

Like

What a load of bullshite@ 3:18.
I never played the game to be ordained. I have my dignity, integrity and self respect. I live an authentic life.
I’d doubt if many clerics on this blog can say the same. There’s a tsunami of criminal filth about clerics going to the Vatican. Hypocrisy is rampant.

Like

4.00
An authentic life?
Can you tell my readers what that means?
Is it a 1970’s platitude from an Henri Nouwen classic?

Like

5:51
Are you another one who played the game to be ordained?
Many of them post here pretending to defend the church while keeping an eye out in case they’re rumbled.

Like

Bishop Pat, speaking of books, how about writing an expose titled, ‘In the closet of the Irish Church’?

Like

Integrated, authentic and mature , these are the stock words thrown around during ‘ formation ‘ another meaningless word, in the real world the integrated and mature have all decided a long time ago to be atheists or humanists free from anyone else’s formation but of course the expert clergy know so much more than anyone else about being a human being. None of those words are in the scriptures or in any form of Catholic tradition nuns and priests were not formed they entered religious life, noviciate or minor orders and made progress towards the altar

Like

Controversial cleric Pat Buckley, who was excommunicated from the Catholic Church in 1998 as a result of his ordination as a bishop into an independent church and later came out as gay and entered into a civil partnership with his partner, said on his bishoppatbuckley.blog website that he was switching his support from Sinn Fein to the DUP.
He wrote that on three occasions in the past seven years he was faced with insurmountable challenges to do with establishment issues. He said that on all occasions he went to his DUP MP Sammy Wilson.
Buckley added, “And, on all occasions, he worked hard for me and sorted my issues.”
https://www.irishcentral.com/news/politics/simon-coveney-boris-johnson-untruthful

Like

I have not switched my support from SF to DUP.

I simply voted for Sammy Wilson who has helped me greatly over the past 6 years.

Like

Jaysus Buckley, never knew you voted DUP. do they not conflict with your lifestyle, religious and world views? very odd to say the least. turkeys voting for Christmas comes to mind

Like

I voted for Sammy who has been a friend to me, not for the DUP. I disagree with many DUP policies. I have the right to vote for who I wish. No?

Like

4.53: Pat….but you still voted for a bigot and a most intolerably, unkind man towards gay people and anyone with sexual.identity problems. A bigot is always a bigot….

Like

Yes, I think Sammy has been unkind to gay people. I hope he will change that.

But he has been kind to me.

Like

5.34: I doubt if he will change. Sammy is as stubnorn and awkward as you are…you suit each other. Each to his own!

Like

Have you any concept Righteous Rory of the absolute derision your lightweight comment evokes in many sincere intelligent ex seminarians who realise just how wise, and fortunate, was their decision to abandon the sinking stinking RC Titanical tyrannical institution? No?
I thought not.
Would you be one who hadn’t the guts to get out?

Like

Here’s the thing.
We all have failings.
But how far should we allow others’ failings to go?
Being grouchy sometimes?
Sexually harassing other people?
Covering up crime?
All of which have been encountered by commenters here in seminary or religious life. If it comes to the latter two personally I would rather be a ‘reject’, one of those who had the integrity not to take the nonsense.
Isn’t there something in scripture about the stone rejected by the builder…

Liked by 1 person

5.47..Yes, the stone rejected by the builders…is…Jesus Christ….not your reject seminarians! For God’s sake, get a grip.

Like

It’s a pity the words of Jesus Christ aren’t taken more seriously.
Were the Popes wrong in covering up sexual abuse by clerics?

Like

@6:34 and the bit about things done to little ones being done to him?
I have a firmer grip than you think.

Like

5.47
Just to point out that yours is a Christian interpretation of (the Jewish) Psalm 118 and not a Jewish on. It surely wasn’t in the mind of the author(s) and/or earliest editors of Psalms.

Like

An interesting comment @ 5:47. As an infrequent impartial observer of this site, I’ve seen that many of the comments criticising the RC Establishment are much more intelligently expressed than those “defending” RC orthodoxy, and it’s practices. The critical commentators seem to speak from an intelligent perspective of objective experience and education outwith the cocuuned parameters of self centered/obsessed/protective RC clericalism. In contrast, “defenders” of the RC institution seem extremely limited in perspective, experience, objectivity, and willingness to acknowledge harsh reality .

Like

How can a man who willingly takes on celibacy (nb I don’t mean chastity – few of them are chaste) be mature, integrated and authentic?

Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s