JUN 24, 2019 INQ Independent Inquiry Journalism (Australia)

Almost 1900 child sexual abusers have been identified in Australian Catholic churches. The average victim was under 12. What led people to commit such horrible crimes on such a staggering scale?

The hunched old priest walked briskly through the entrance of the Downing Centre court complex, a former grand department store on the fringes of Sydney’s business district. His eyes look down. A sports cap covers his nearly bald head.
Vince Ryan is one of the worst paedophiles in the history of the Australian Catholic Church. He sexually assaulted at least 37 boys. Most of them were primary school students, some as young as nine years old.
Aged 81, and still officially designated as a priest, he has already served 14 years in jail for his crimes. Last month, on a crisp autumn morning, he’s back in court waiting to find out if he will be sent to jail for more offences committed against two former altar boys in the 1970s and ‘90s.
As Ryan walks towards the court’s security cordon, he is followed by a man shouting obscenities. The word “survivor” is tattooed in black on his right arm. He is agitated, gesticulating towards the priest.
This man is Gerard McDonald. In 1974, he was 10 years old when Ryan abused him twice a week for a year, cornering boys in a church vestry and performing oral sex on them. In 1995, McDonald and another survivor were the first of Ryan’s victim to go to police. Although they won their case in 1996, they have never stopped pursuing the priest who defiled their childhood.

* * *
Born an only child in 1938, Ryan was raised in East Maitland on a working-class farming hamlet 40 minutes up the road from Newcastle. His father Joseph, a labourer who drifted between jobs, was a violent alcoholic who beat his submissive wife Ella with his fists. Joseph threatened suicide on a regular basis in order to control Ella. A devout Catholic, she submitted to the blows and never contemplated leaving her husband.
Violence and abuse also stalked the young Vince Ryan outside the home. From the age of eight, he was sexually preyed upon by a boy four years older who lived nearby. The sexual abuse continued until Ryan was 16, and according to his psychology reports, he found some of the interactions pleasurable and didn’t view the relationship as abusive or exploitative. For a boy whose parents never showed him real affection, being sexually abused was a form of social contact. When Ryan showed any affection towards his abuser, the older boy would respond with yet more sexual violence. Ryan has never said a harsh word about his abuser.
Vince Ryan has been receiving counselling, on and off, from a forensic psychologist since 2010. Dr Gerard Webster has treated more than 50 paedophiles, many of them priests and Christian brothers who have spent time in prison. He says the domestic violence Vince Ryan experienced as a boy helped develop his paedophilic tendencies. “I think there is something incredibly damaging and generally disavowed by society when a child, a boy — because most offenders are boys — sees two people that they are emotionally dependent on and love, attacking one another … these young witnesses have been severely affected at the time when they are developing their roadmap for relationships. They’ve got a broken map. They’re taught that any might is right. Anything goes.”

Despite the violence he witnessed at home, Vince Ryan was very close to his alcoholic father. He perceived him as a wounded man. In a subconscious way, he identified with the perpetrator in his house, Webster explained.
“I think there was a culture of acceptance of things that were really unacceptable,” said Webster. “His mother was traumatised, but she accepted it as a good Catholic woman that she had to stay in a relationship with her husband.”
On his formative path towards adulthood, Ryan identified closely with two perpetrators: his father and his abuser. It would become a lethal mix.
* * *
Ryan found himself immersed in a world of young men studying to be priests, isolated from their families for long periods, discouraged from developing any friendships, and where celibacy was the norm. Before he entered the seminary at the age of 19, in 1958, he told a priest in confession that he had desires for young boys. The priest, however, assured him that “if he said his prayers, God would look after him”.

Ryan talked about this period of his life to one of his former altar boys and now journalist David Brearley. “He had a terrible time in the seminary in Springwood,” Brearley recounted, based on a rare interview. “One day a year they would get the mini bus and go to Echo Point in the Blue Mountains and get an ice cream and there would be high spirits and fun. Following one of these trips, Ryan did some night time grappling with a young man in the next bed. The other seminarian confessed the behaviour to a priest the next day and Ryan was asked to meet with the priest, who told him he was now forbidden to have any sort of relationship with the fellow seminarian. They were 19 or 20, and Ryan told Brearley that he wondered whether he could have had a happy relationship with this man, had it been allowed.
For an isolated child growing up in an abusive household, Catholicism provided Ryan with a haven. The church offered him a structure, a world that made sense, a place with a noble purpose.
Students in seminaries in the ‘60s were taught that becoming a priest takes your being through an “ontological change into the divine”. Some offenders interpreted this as giving them more power and entitlement — a “messiah complex,” as canon law expert Kieran Tapsell describes it in Potiphar’s Wife: the Vatican’s secret and child sexual abuse. Others believed it was part of God’s mission to make them better servants of the people.
The big problem with the so-called “ontological difference” between priests and laypersons, argues Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, a senior Catholic bishop who has pushed for reform in the church, is that it enthusiastically embraces “the mystique of a superior priesthood”.
“Whenever I see young priests doing this,” he wrote, “I feel a sense of despair, and I wonder whether we have learned anything at all from the revelations of abuse.”
After four years at the Springwood seminary, then one term at the Manly seminary, Ryan travelled to Rome in 1962 to complete a theology degree. He remained there until 1966, studying alongside other prominent figures including Cardinal George Pell. Because the church considered Ryan to be an intellectual, he was enrolled in a doctorate of canon law.
Ryan was highly intelligent and loved Italian culture, art and music. He arrived in Rome as the Vatican was undergoing a reformation resulting from the adoption of Vatican 2 as a type of “glasnost” for the church. Vince Ryan was excited by this transformation. More importantly, he formed some good, wholesome bonds with friends outside the church. It must have been a relief to be free of his past.

In 1972, Ryan was recalled from Rome. After a short stint at a parish in Singleton in north-western NSW, he was sent back to Maitland to become an assistant parish priest. As soon as he got there his mood soured and he started molesting boys.
“He said he was suicidal as a child and now suicidal as an adult again,” said David Brearley. “The only relief was when he was actually together with a young student and it would disappear as soon as the child was gone.” He told Brearley he would go into a deep funk if the child didn’t turn up for the day. “He said he couldn’t relate to adults like he could to children.”
He had left the liberal excitement of Italy to arrive at what he saw as a moribund church, staffed by old men who just didn’t like him. Once again, he felt extremely lonely and, in his 30s, found himself transported back to the rigid world of his childhood, except now there were plenty of altar boys in his charge.
“I never had to threaten anyone not to talk, I never did that,” Ryan told Brearley. “I thought I was in a loving relationship, I know that’s stupid but that is where I was.”
But how could Ryan possibly characterise his interactions with boys as a “loving relationship”? “The word ‘love’ is not supposed to be used,” he told Brearley, “but … this connection between you and your victim is the thing that is stopping you from committing suicide, who is giving you some life, some humanity, some human touch and not just the sexual stuff …”. In his mind, he formed relationships with these boys; he felt he loved them and he viewed himself as their caregiver.
But he was also their predator. As one victim described in his police statement, Ryan had a Jekyll and Hyde personality. Before abusing the boys, Ryan would remove his glasses. The altar boys came to dread this simple action, a signal that another attack was imminent. For the victims, it marked the moment Ryan went from caregiver to monster.
Like all paedophile priests at that time, Ryan had papal protection. That’s because, in 1974, Pope Paul VI issued a document known as “The Pontifical Secret” or “The Secret of the Holy Office”, which meant any allegation or investigation of sexual abuse against a cleric was kept secret. Any bishop who defied this decree and reported the abuse to civil authorities or police could be ex-communicated.
As revealed in the recent Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, a pervasive culture existed in the church that saw these crimes as moral failings, rather than criminal ones, supported by an assumption that priests could be treated and cured. This culture of secrecy, according to Dr Gerard Webster, created a “potent” setting for this maladjusted behaviour to flourish.
* * *
By 1975, the church knew Ryan had significant problems. He had cried as he informed his immediate superior, Monsignor Patrick Cotter, of his attraction to young boys, according to documents tendered to the royal commission. He was packed off to a retreat facility in Kew, in suburban Melbourne, known as the La Verna Retreat Centre. As Cotter wrote to the treating doctor, Dr Peter Evans, at the time:
“Father Ryan has been my assistant at St Joseph’s Merewether for the past two years. The problem which now brings him under your care became known to me about one year ago. The circumstances that were such that he knew that I was aware of what happened and thinking the embarrassment he suffered from knowing — so knowing would have been more eloquent than any possible advice of mine, I decided to say nothing. Unfortunately, this was a mistake on my part, because apparently such a condition does not come right without the help of treatment. The current incident is more serious, involving altar boys and more than one.”

Parishioners were told he was going to Melbourne for a “pastoral” course of study, and that’s exactly what he did. But according to testimony by the consulting psychiatrist before the royal commission, Dr Peter Evans, a Franciscan priest, Ryan only had an initial assessment and did not receive any treatment. During the assessment, Ryan disclosed to Evans that he had had “sexual contact with adolescent boys and that this was known to Cotter [and] Sister Woodward”.
After this consultation, Evans told Ryan that treatment would be more successful if it were done in Ryan’s own home environment. This doctor soon left the facility and Ryan fell through the cracks. He spent a year enjoying the delights of Melbourne, going to the races, satisfying his urbane tastes and enjoying his classes.

The church’s sense was that he was a sinner who had a weakness,” said Webster, “who had to pray and he would somehow be redeemed and therefore he could come back into the ministry without sexually abusing children … magic!”
At the time he was sent to Melbourne, Ryan was under the supervision of Sister Evelyn Woodward, a nun and a psychologist who assessed priests for their suitability for ministry. Woodward confirmed in testimony to the royal commission that she eventually knew Ryan hadn’t received any treatment, apart from one initial assessment.
Evans told the royal commission: “I told Evelyn Woodward I would do an assessment diagnosis as I would be leaving [the centre], not treatment … I repeat [I told her] La Verna was not a treatment centre.”
Looking nervous and agitated, she was cross-examined as to why she hadn’t reported Ryan to the police. She blamed her lack of authority as a woman in the church.
Senior Counsel: “Just coming back to the question that his Honour was asking you about involving the police, you suggested in your statement that you simply didn’t think of going to the police at all back in 1975; is that right?”
Sister Evelyn Woodward: “Never.”
SC: “Was that just because you saw your role as being to report the matter up the chain and once that had occurred, you were leaving it to others to deal with?”
EW: “Yes and no. I think another factor was the position of women in the church at the time. We were pretty low in the pecking order and there was a hierarchical system which I think led me to say ‘I’ve got to hand it over to whoever’s in charge of the Diocese’ if that makes sense.”
Following and obeying canon law “served to rationalise and deepen the culture of secrecy,” said Kieran Tapsell. “When you have bishops who have taken an oath to follow canon law, being threatened with excommunication if they go to the civil authorities, it is pretty obvious what they are going to do.”
* * *
Vince Ryan returned to the Maitland-Newcastle diocese in 1976. His superior, Cotter, immediately put him in charge of training the altar boys at Hamilton, in the suburbs of Newcastle. Over the next two decades he sexually assaulted another 27 children with impunity.
At Hamilton, in the presbytery where he and Cotter lived, Ryan would take young boys up to his bedroom and abuse them. Cotter would tell the housekeeper to go upstairs and knock on Ryan’s bedroom door and tell the boys it was time to go home.
Ryan himself believed he needed treatment for his paedophilia. He told Webster, years later during counselling, that while he still loves his church, he is angry that he was moved from parish to parish and didn’t get the treatment he needed after disclosing his problem.

than three occasions, Ryan told various church officials, including his immediate superior, that he was a paedophile. He confessed it to his priest in Maitland before entering the seminary. He admitted it to his superior, Cotter, in 1975 before being sent to Melbourne. And he told the psychologist, and priest, Dr Peter Evans at the La Verna Retreat Centre in Melbourne.
Does Ryan ever think about what he did to those boys? The Australian journalist, David Brearly, who is writing a book about Ryan, says he sensed from his interview that the priest doesn’t dwell much on his interactions with the boys. “I think his contrition is real but maybe not as intense as it might be,” said Brearley. “He was talkative, but it wasn’t until I transcribed the interview did I realise how much he could control an agenda. So there is about nine pages of transcript, probably one fifth is complaining about the Newcastle Herald — how can you complain about the Newcastle Herald? — and another fifth is complaining about jail and its failure to rehabilitate people.”
But one of Ryan’s answers stunned David Brearley. Asked about the royal commission, the priest told him: “As far as I am concerned this is a conspiracy between newspapers and politicians, they need each other. The royal commission, I think it should have been about why in our country there was such a disaster of child sex abuse … to go straight to institutions, I don’t get the reason, I don’t get it … the vast number of child sex victims are in the home.”
Ryan also blamed the parents of his victims for not going to the police back in 1975. “It’s a hard concept to swallow,” said Brearley. “He thinks he was one of the boys. I think Ryan has achieved a mighty effort of self-deception, when you think he was a 30 to 35-year-old and he was abusing 10-year-old boys and he can’t see the difference.”
Ryan’s rapacious appetite for young altar boys was only curtailed when Gerard McDonald and Scott Hallett walked into the Newcastle Police station in 1995. They spilled the beans to constable Troy Grant, a junior police officer who was until recently the NSW police minister and for a time NSW deputy premier. He was the first police officer to investigate a priest in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese, and the first with a successful prosecution. Since 1995, he has kept in touch with all of the victims who came to him about Ryan. After Gerard McDonald and Scott Hallett came forward, many more followed.
One case, in particular, has caused Troy Grant great trauma and sadness. In October 1995, a man contacted Grant at the Newcastle police station to report abuse that lasted five years while Ryan was the parish priest in an outlying parish. Ryan had committed more than 200 acts of abuse against the boy while he was between the ages of 12 and 17. The boy had no father, but Ryan saw himself as his caregiver, his de-facto dad.
In 1992, the boy was in a terrible accident and ended up in hospital, fighting for his life. When Ryan heard the news he raced to the hospital. Distraught at what he saw, Ryan climbed into the boy’s hospital bed and hugged him while crying uncontrollably. When the nursing staff called the diocese to have the priest removed, a Catholic chaplain was despatched to remove him. But no one informed child protection authorities; after all, Ryan was a priest.
The boy was hospitalised for four months, but recovered. Ryan was later convicted for the crimes he perpetrated against the boy. This victim died in 2018. The coroner has yet to release the findings on the cause of death.
* * *
It was only after 13 years behind bars that Vince Ryan was given his first intensive treatment for paedophilia inside the jail. Finally, he told his psychologist he understood the suffering he had caused to his victims.
Ryan participated in a program known as Custody Based Intensive Treatment (CUBIT), an evidence-based treatment program for moderate to high-risk sex offenders, which takes 12 months to complete. Inmates are encouraged to identify and reflect on their unique risk factors (the things that make them more likely to reoffend) and to develop skills to reduce those risks where possible. The intensive therapy also helps inmates to initiate behaviour when they enter settings where they might offend, known in psychology jargon as “protective factors”.
The offenders also develop what’s called a “relapse prevention plan” that helps them maintain “a commitment to a non-offending lifestyle”. A recent research study found the programs have halved the rates of re-offending.
Ryan wishes he had been given access to this therapy many years earlier, according to Webster. “These programs are very effective,” said Webster. “The group work with other prisoners has been
t staff called the diocese to have the priest removed, a Catholic chaplain was despatched to remove him. But no one informed child protection authorities; after all, Ryan was a priest.
The boy was hospitalised for four months, but recovered. Ryan was later convicted for the crimes he perpetrated against the boy. This victim died in 2018. The coroner has yet to release the findings on the cause of death.
* * *
It was only after 13 years behind bars that Vince Ryan was given his first intensive treatment for paedophilia inside the jail. Finally, he told his psychologist he understood the suffering he had caused to his victims.
Ryan participated in a program known as Custody Based Intensive Treatment (CUBIT), an evidence-based treatment program for moderate to high-risk sex offenders, which takes 12 months to complete. Inmates are encouraged to identify and reflect on their unique risk factors (the things that make them more likely to reoffend) and to develop skills to reduce those risks where possible. The intensive therapy also helps inmates to initiate behaviour when they enter settings where they might offend, known in psychology jargon as “protective factors”.
The offenders also develop what’s called a “relapse prevention plan” that helps them maintain “a commitment to a non-offending lifestyle”. A recent research study found the programs have halved the rates of re-offending.
Ryan wishes he had been given access to this therapy many years earlier, according to Webster. “These programs are very effective,” said Webster.


I will not say much today.

I published the above to give people an insight into the mins of an abuser.

Any views?




London, England, Jun 21, 2019 / 11:15 am (CNA).- A British judge has authorized doctors to perform an abortion on a pregnant Catholic woman with developmental disabilities and a mood disorder, despite the objections of the woman’s mother and the woman herself. The woman is 22 weeks pregnant.
“I am acutely conscious of the fact that for the State to order a woman to have a termination where it appears that she doesn’t want it is an immense intrusion,” said Justice Nathalie Lieven in her ruling in the Court of Protection, June 21.
The Court of Protection handles cases involving individuals judged to lack the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves.
Lieven claimed the abortion would be beneficial for the woman, saying that “I have to operate in [her] best interests, not on society’s views of termination.”
The woman, who cannot been publicly identified, has been described as “in her twenties,” and is under the care of an NHS trust, part of the UK’s National Health Service. Doctors at the trust wished to abort her pregnancy and argued that, due to her diminished mental capacity, the abortion would be less truamatic for the woman than either giving birth or being separated from the child.
The woman’s mother made clear to doctors and the court that she would assume care of her grandchild.
The woman is believed to have the mental capacity of a grade school-age child. She is reportedly Catholic, and her mother is Nigerian.

It is unknown if the pregnancy was conceived consensually, and police are investigating the circumstances of conception.
The woman’s mother, reported to be a former midwife, registered her absolute opposition to the abortion citing the Catholic faith of herself and her daughter. A social worker who cares for the woman also disagreed that she should be forced to have an abortion.
The judge said she did not believe the woman understood what it meant to have a baby, and said that “I think she would like to have a baby in the same way she would like to have a nice doll.”
Lieven also said that she did not believe the woman’s ongoing mental health care needs would permit her mother to assist in raising the child.
Allowing the child to be born and then removed from the woman’s home and placed into foster care or adoption would be against the woman’s own interests, the judge concluded.
“I think [the woman] would suffer greater trauma from having a baby removed [from her care],” Lieven said, because “it would at that stage be a real baby.”
Lieven clarified that the pregnancy “although real to [the woman], doesn’t have a baby outside her body she can touch.”

As a lawyer, Lieven has appeared in court before in cases concerning abortion. In 2011, while representing the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, an abortion provider, she argued that British women should be permitted to medically abort their pregnancies at their own homes instead of in a hospital.
Five years later, Lieven argued in court that Northern Ireland’s abortion laws were a violation of the United Kingdom’s Human Rights Act.
In 2017, she said that Northern Ireland’s abortion laws were akin to torture and were discriminatory.
Unrestricted abortion is legal in the UK until 24 weeks of pregnancy, after which doctors must certify that the abortion is in the medical interests of the mother.
NHS statistics show babies born at 24 weeks have a 50% chance of survival on average, though the rate depends on the NHS trust providing care. Babies born in a University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust hospital in London at 23 weeks of gestation have a 70% chance of survival.


What an awful dilemma for this young woman, her mother, the doctors and the courts.

I have personal insight into these issues as my youngest sister Sandra RIP was intellectually disabled and the handling of her feminine issues was a bit of a mine field for her carers and family. She was very distressed on a monthly basis when she experienced what all women experience. There was also the fear that somebody, somewhere might take advantage of her and she might become pregnant. She would have not been able to handle a pregnancy in any way at all. The matter was resolved by placing her on a good contraceptive regime that took away her monthly distress and the danger of pregnancy.

In the current case the young woman does not have the capacity to address the whole situation herself.

Her mother is obviously emotionally involved and is being guided by her Roman Catholic religion. The court took the view that the mother could not look after both her daughter and a grandchild.

The judge has acted for “Pro Choice” clients before and that might lead people to think that she might be prejudiced?

On the other hand she has been appointed by the state to do the job she does on behalf of society and I imagine she has not left herself open to be challenged on a point of law.

This is one of those sad cases where everyone is a loser – and the baby will lose its life and be the biggest loser of all.


One last very big and very important question




24 June 2019 BBC A woman has won an appeal against a court ruling that would have seen her mentally ill daughter forced to have an abortion.She appealed a decision made last week granting permission for specialists to end the pregnancy.

Three Court of Appeal judges in London upheld the appeal, overturning the previous decision.
Lord Justice McCombe, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Peter Jackson will give reasons at a later date.
The judges were told the woman’s daughter is in her 20s, is 22 weeks pregnant, and has the mental age of a child aged between the age of six and nine.
She also has a “moderately severe” learning disorder and a mood disorder.

‘Enormous decision’

At a hearing in the Court of Protection last week, bosses at a hospital trust responsible for the pregnant woman’s care asked Mrs Justice Lieven to let doctors end the pregnancy.
Three specialists – an obstetrician and two psychiatrists – said they believed a termination was the best option.
They said there was a risk to the pregnant woman’s psychiatric health if pregnancy continued and they feared her behaviour could pose a risk to a baby.
But her mother – who was against abortion – said she could care for the child.
A social worker who worked with the pregnant woman, who lives in the London area, also said she should give birth, as did lawyers representing her.
But Mrs Justice Lieven ruled that on balance termination was the best option.
She said she had to make an “enormous” decision on the basis of what was in the pregnant woman’s best interests.
At Monday’s appeal hearing, barristers John McKendrick QC and Victoria Butler-Cole QC, successfully argued that ruling was wrong.



by Phyllis Zagano NCR

I think we owe a debt of gratitude to former West Virginia bishop Michael Bransfield, pilloried by The Washington Post for his reportedly lavish and lascivious ways. The Post wrote from an unredacted report written by lay investigators.

Bransfield’s creative accounting let us see exactly who benefited from his largess. His history of unchecked behavior demonstrates who knew what and when. Most importantly, his objectively sad story sheds light on ingrained episcopal practices around the world.

Plus, it saves us the trouble of reading medieval history.

I bear no ill will and wish no harm to Michael Bransfield. I am convinced he is a product of a system that corrupted him. One wonders if that system alone drove him to drink.

That system is the clericalism Pope Francis talks about. It is the system in which only priest clerics judge clerics, only priest clerics wield authority, and only priest clerics promote clerics to higher offices.

It is the system of priestly clericalism, seeded in the early church, nurtured by the Middle Ages, and full-blown by the 11th century.

It is the system that killed the diaconate.
Ever wonder whatever happened to deacons, once the stewards of the church’s money? For the longest time, deacons and archdeacons managed church funds, providing for needs of the people of God. In the third century, St. Lawrence the Deacon presented the poor to the Roman prefect who demanded the church’s treasures. He had it right.

Over the centuries, deacons grew very powerful. The cadre of priests did not like that at all, especially since bishops were often chosen from among the deacons.

Why choose a deacon as bishop? Deacons were the clerics whose jobs today are called diocesan vicar general, judicial vicar, and finance officer, among others. It made ultimate sense to elect the person who had already been running the diocese as its next overseer. Many popes were deacons and never priests.

And then there was Pope Gregory VII. Born the son of a blacksmith in Tuscany in 1015, he rose to become archdeacon and the cardinal deacon of Santa Maria in Domnica in Rome. Elected pope by acclamation in 1073, he insisted on being ordained a priest eight days before his consecration as bishop of Rome.

Gregory VII thereby solidified the “cursus honorum,” the “course of honor” that essentially restricted diaconal ordination only to men destined for priesthood.

The Gregorian Reform, so-called in his honor, changed other things. Gregory outlawed the practice of simony, especially the buying of church offices.

He also began in earnest the centralization of church power in Rome. One wonders if centralization helped cause more, not less, simony.

Detail of “Standing Bishop,” silver with silver gilt, by the German workshop of Hans von Reutlingen, circa 1510 (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Which brings us back to clericalism, the hothouse for abuses of every description that shuts its doors to any outside views, even from other clerics, like deacons

Despite 16th-century decisions of the Council of Trent, it was not until the Second Vatican Council that the diaconate was renewed as a permanent office. Today, more than 50 years later, deacons the world over are still finding their places within the clerical system.
What deacons do not do is buy their way up the ladder, for there is none to climb. Deacons are ministers. Most do not get stole fees for administering sacraments. Unless they hold a diocesan or parochial job, deacons support themselves.

That is the difference. For the most part, diocesan priests are wholly dependent on their bishops, who may in turn be indebted to their metropolitan archbishops, who may in turn be indebted to the nuncio, and so it goes. The concurrent gauzy web of lateral relationships is not so apparent, but it is there, making the vaulted notion of “transparency” impossible.

Which brings us back to Michael Bransfield. I am saddened that he has been exposed and vilified, I really am. But his story pokes a hole in the clerical veil pulled over the eyes of so many other clerics (deacons, priests and bishops) and laypeople who want to see the church as a church for people, not as a corporation that enriches CEOs while giving pennies to its stockholders.
If we can respectfully continue to part that clerical veil, we might enjoy a church that does not corrupt its mosT talented and capable clerics.

[Phyllis Zagano is senior research associate-in-residence at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. She will speak Friday, Sept. 13, 2019, at the Bishop Keane Institute of Immaculate Conception Church in Hampton, Virginia and Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College. Her books include Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future, recently published in France and Canada as Des femmes diacres and in Portugal as Mulheres diáconos: Passado, presente, futuro. Study guides are available for free download at]


This is an excellent and educating article by Ms Zagona.

Knowing our history sheds light on current issues.

There is a ling history of senior and junior clerics putting their hands in the collection plates and donation bags.

A lot of it is still going on from simple parishes to the Vatican billins.

The only way to stop it is to keep the clerics away from all money and keep all money way from them.

Let the laity decide on bishops and priests salaries.

Let the laity choose where and how they live.





I have always lived my life and ministry by the above maxim.

An example:

One pre Christmas day some years ago I was in Dublin for the annual News of the World Christmas party which was always a posh boozy affair.

The next day at lunch time I was driving through Dublin and I noticed a young man dressed in black standing at a traffic lights with a black bag at his feet and holding a sign which read “HOMELESS PLEASE HELP”.


I reached my hand into my pocket and as I drove past put a handful of coins into his outstretched hand. He said, in a strange English dialect “GOD BLESS YE SIR”.

It startled me. It sounded like David Copperfield. I drove back around and asked to speak to him. He said he would not get into my car. I told him I had not asked him to do that. We had a conversation through the window and he told me his story.

He was from the Peak District in England and was in trouble with the police there over drug taking. He had left his family and girlfriend and had absconded to Dublin where he had become dependant on Heroin.

We talked a while. I gave him £40 and arranged to write to him at a convenience address he had. He was sleeping on the street.

A few weeks later I was back in Dublin and went looking for him on Grafton Street. I saw a load of cardboard boxes and a blanket in a doorway and had an intuition he was under it. He was.

I brought him for a Big Mac and during the meal he cried and asked me to help him beat the heroin addiction. Of course, I agreed. I left him with a time to meet him later and drove around the drug rehabilitation centres in Dublin. They all had a six months waiting list.

I decided that if I could get the Methadone I would detox him myself at my home.


I went back around the rehab centres again and asked them for three weeks Methadone.

As it was a strictly controlled drug they refused.

But Pat, as always, was determined not be beaten, So, dressed in my clericals I hailed a taxi and asked the driver to take me to where all the drug dealers hang out. The driver was surprised but did as I asked. Eventually I was introduced to a Methadone supplier and agreed to meet him the next morning for three weeks supply for something like £100.

I did not sleep well that night thinking that the dealer might give me impure Methadone that would make my new friend sick or kill him and land me in prison for supplying controlled drugs, grievous bodily harm or manslaughter.

So, in the morning at 8 am I telephoned RTE and asked to be put through to the Marian Finnucane Programme and asked her if she would allow me to appeal on her show for proper Methadone. She was shocked but agreed. Within ten minutes of my appeal I had a call from a drug counsellor in Galway who agreed to help me by putting three weeks supply of Methadone on the Galway Belfast bus. My fiend and I collected it in Belfast and with the help of a doctor friend of mine I detoxed my friend over three weeks.

He did extremely well, began to eat properly and eventually I got him a job in Larne. I contacted the English police and told them what he had achieved and they promised him a compassionate meeting on his return.

After three months in Larne he returned to England and was reunited with his family and girlfriend. The police kept their word.

Some months later I was in my upstairs sitting room and heard my mother answer the doorbell. She was present during his detox too.

A few minutes later my friend, the former addict walked into my sitting room. He looked well and glowing and was wearing a business suit. He had got a job as a stock taker for BP fuels and he was on business in Belfast.

He was carrying a bottle of my favourite tipple and with tears in his eyes said: “I am here to thank you for saving my life”.

Then it was my turn to have tears.

That whole story is at one level about me and my friend, but in my eyes it is a story of the intervention of God in a life on its way to tragedy.

Of course I understand and respect our atheist readers who will say it an act of human kindness by one human being to another and had nothing to do with God.

I believe that my friend was a child of God and God wanted to help him and He simply used me in spite of all my sins and failings and even used a red top newspaper to get me to the right place at the right time. Imaging that – God using a newspaper in spite of Page 3.

On this Sunday morning I say “Glory be to God”.



Twas battered and scarred,
And the auctioneer thought it
hardly worth his while
To waste his time on the old violin,
but he held it up with a smile.
“What am I bid, good people”, he cried,
“Who starts the bidding for me?”
“One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two?”
“Two dollars, who makes it three?”
“Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three,”
But, No,
From the room far back a gray bearded man
Came forward and picked up the bow,
Then wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening up the strings,
He played a melody, pure and sweet
As sweet as the angel sings.
The music ceased and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said “What now am I bid for this old violin?”
As he held it aloft with its’ bow.
“One thousand, one thousand, Do I hear two?”
“Two thousand, Who makes it three?”
“Three thousand once, three thousand twice,
Going and gone”, said he.
The audience cheered,
But some of them cried,
“We just don’t understand.”
“What changed its’ worth?”
Swift came the reply.
“The Touch of the Masters Hand.”
“And many a man with life out of tune
All battered and bruised with hardship
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd
Much like that old violin
A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on.
He is going once, he is going twice,
He is going and almost gone.
But the Master comes,
And the foolish crowd never can quite understand,
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
By the Touch of the Masters’ Hand.

– Myra Brooks Welch




Christopher Altieri Catholic Herald June, 2019

A new report gives a disturbing insight into the way that money circulates among Church leaders. How long can it continue?
“The Devil always enters by way of the pocket.” It’s a phrase that Pope Francis often repeats. He has it on no lesser authority than that of St Paul the Apostle, who wrote: “For the desire of money is the root of all evils; which some coveting have erred from the faith, and have entangled themselves in many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10).
If the allegations against Michael J Bransfield, the former Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, as well as those regarding the scores of clerics who benefitted from his largesse, are correct, it would suggest that too many in the hierarchical leadership of the Church do not believe St Paul in any meaningful sense of the word, or else have become so used to an unseemly cultural reality that their good sense has been almost totally eclipsed.
First reported by the Washington Post last week, the story of Bishop Bransfield is one in which a man supposed to be a shepherd used the special circumstances of the diocese he led – specifically an enormous endowment grown out of a bequest of oil-rich land holdings in Texas nearly a century ago – to lead a lavish lifestyle.
An investigation concluded that he engaged “in a pattern of excessive and inappropriate spending” on such items “as personal travel, dining, liquor, gifts and luxury items”. Fresh flowers were reportedly delivered daily to his chancery office, at a total cost of $182,000 (£143,000) over 13 years. Investigators also accused him of sexual harassment.
(Bishop Bransfield has denied the allegations. He told the Washington Post last week that “none of it is true” and claimed that “Everybody’s trying to destroy my reputation”.)
The Washington Post reported that Archbishop William E Lori of Baltimore, the man the Vatican asked to lead the preliminary investigation into Bransfield, was one of the dozens of prelates to whom he would occasionally send monetary gifts. Bransfield would write cheques to clerics drawn on his personal account, and then have himself reimbursed out of diocesan coffers.
Archbishop Lori did not disclose these gifts to the Vatican at the time he agreed to lead the investigation. When the news was about to become public, he made restitution to the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston of the $7,500 (£5,900) in gifts he received. He also professed ignorance of Bransfield’s modus operandi and insisted that he had always acted in good faith.
Since the story broke, several other clerics – including Cardinal Kevin Farrell of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, who had benefited to the tune of $29,000 (£23,000), seemingly for renovations to his Rome apartment – have announced they will return money they received from Bishop Bransfield. But why only do so when the gifts became public, rather than refusing them in the first place?
This is all coming out despite the Church’s investigation, not because of it. Indeed, the impression one gets from bishops’ public statements is that very few of them thought anything was strange about the money going around. It’s just what high churchmen do, at least in the US.
This story’s details have been widely reported. There is no reason to rehearse them here, other than to find and articulate a way to understand the current cultural moment in the Church. We need, in short, to get our bearings.
Last summer opened with revelations regarding Theodore Edgar McCarrick, who rose through the ranks to become Archbishop of Washington, DC – the capital see of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful nation – and a cardinal. Rumours of his debaucheries swirled for years. He knew the right sort of people, though, inside and outside the Church hierarchy. He also knew how to get the right sort of people to cut a cheque.
With rare exceptions, the bishops of the United States continue to protest ignorance of McCarrick’s perverse character and proclivities. Those protestations are, in a word, incredible. It may be that few had direct, personal knowledge of his abuse of minors, but it is almost impossible to avoid the conclusion that anyone who had not heard of his predilection for young priests and seminarians was either utterly benighted or living in a hermitage. The impression is that McCarrick’s habits were widely whispered, and of little concern.
They were not the stuff about which to make any sort of fuss.
The Vatican’s promises to review the documents on file relating to McCarrick and report any findings “in due course” are so woefully inadequate as to be insulting to the faithful in the US and abroad. Those promises, too, are incredible.
Had the powers in Rome dealt with McCarrick expeditiously, Pope St John Paul II would never have installed him at St Matthew’s Cathedral in 2001. There are too many reputations at stake. Too many of the men with power to influence the results of any such investigation have too much to lose through genuine transparency.
If further indication were required to show that the circumstances have grown intolerable, then consider that McCarrick and Bishop Bransfield were both major players in the Papal Foundation, which was launched in 1988 as a fundraiser for the Holy See.
The Vatican was cash-strapped after the implosion of the Banco Ambrosiano in 1982. But the Holy See eventually got its books balanced, and the Papal Foundation became a support engine for certain charitable initiatives which both the popes and the foundation deemed worthy.
The Papal Foundation, which at last count controls assets of more than $200 million (£157 million), has been embroiled in scandal for more than a year now, ever since news broke of a donor uprising over a very unusual and – it is alleged – highly irregular approval of a plan to bail out a struggling and scandal-plagued hospital in Rome.
Only a thorough and complete investigation can hope to reveal a detailed picture of all that has gone wrong. Nevertheless, the facts before the public are already sufficient to warrant systematic scrutiny.
What McCarrick did with the prodigious monies he raised, as well as the extent to which his fundraising proficiency affected the judgment of those in a position to do something about him, are both the sort of things an investigation with a broad mandate would want to discover. They also – indeed, primarily – pose a question for the faithful, in whose trust the bishops have held and managed the temporal goods of the Church, for centuries now increasingly without any meaningful check or oversight worth the name.
Let us not mince words about this: if “Pray, pay and obey” has been the maxim by which the bishops have governed the flock, the willingness of the laity to suffer their misrule can no longer be taken as patience; rather it must make us all complicit in their contempt for law, decency and common sense.
In late August last year, I argued in these pages that reform of the warped clerical culture bent to the preservation of corrupt power was urgently necessary. “The motor of the clerical culture we have right now,” I argued, “is the intrinsically perverse libido dominandi (will to power), rather than a perversion of the libido coeundi (sex drive).” The root of the problem is power.
The crucial challenge here and now is to see that money is at once a means to power and a measure of it, as well as a principal tool of its exercise.
“Power tends to corrupt,” Lord Acton famously said, “and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” He was discussing the papacy when he said it, and specifically the temporal power that had accrued to it. He was referring, moreover, at once to the effect of power on the soul that wields it and to the modes by which the one who holds power works it on others.
The creation of pecuniary dependency is a chief instrument of the powerful, sometimes deployed tactically and at other times strategically. Often we have heard how clerics of the lower ranks depend on the Church – in the case of secular priests, on the bishop – for their livelihood. Fearful of losing it, they keep silent and suffer, or else become unwillingly parts of the system in the hope of escape from their difficult circumstances, if not willing seekers after advancement.
Taken singly, or even in pairs or groups of three, the numerous examples of such silence one could list might all be chalked up to coincidence, the unremarkable vicissitudes of a complex global organisation. But under the current circumstances, any overseer worth his salt would want to take a closer look.
The laity, meanwhile, demand real reform, genuine renewal and the exercise of their right to responsible participation in the project.
Veteran Church-watchers John Allen and JD Flynn have written insightfully, noting that much disagreement over what to do hinges on the question whether the great object is management, or resolution; and that reform and renewal are objects in tension with one another. We cannot escape the world. Power will be with us, hence money, hence all the dangers that shall accompany both, so long as we find ourselves this side of celestial Jerusalem. In this sense, the problems facing the Church require reform – management – rather than resolution.
The great task before us is therefore twofold. We must clear the sacristies and chanceries and rectories of filth. Then we must discover a way to police them that involves all members of the body, without violating the hierarchical constitution of the Church, which is of divine origin.
All that work will require renewal – conversion – which is always the work of the Spirit in us.


The church’s money scandal has been going on for 1600 years.

But in those times we did not have a world wide media to highlight it all.

And its not just in the USA.

It happens here at home too.

There was Noel Treanor’s £ 4,000,000 on renovating his Belfast palace.

There was the £ 50,000 for Diarmuid Martin’s kitchen.

There was the £77,000 Casey “borrowed” to try and pay off Annie Murphy.

There was the £1,000,000 new wall in Knock Shrine.

Just yesterday a priest was telling me about a few of his fellow priests who came from poor families, had a priest’s income and now own expensive apartments and villas in Spain and further afield.

£1 for the parish – £1 for Father – a very fair division of funds






There is a rumour going around the clergy in Down and Connor that Noel 4 Million Treanor has just authorized a priest to spend £40,000 of church funds on creating an art studio for himself beside his parochial house.

Could this be true?

Is that Noel’s idea of being creative?



Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse BBC

Image copyrightBPM MEDIAImage captionBirmingham Archdiocese allegedly knew about abuse by Father John Tolkien in the 1950s

Children could have been saved from abuse if the Church had focused less on its reputation, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has said.

More than 130 allegations of abuse were made against 78 individuals associated with Birmingham’s Catholic Church.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols – the city’s archbishop between 2000 and 2009 – was accused of focusing on reputation rather than the impact of abuse.

He denied a cover-up, but allegations were found to have been “ignored”

“I am truly shocked by the scale of sexual abuse within the Archdiocese of Birmingham,” the inquiry’s chair, Professor Alexis Jay, said.

The report concluded that “children could have been saved from abuse if the Church had not been so determined to protect its reputation”.

Father John Tolkien – son of novelist JRR Tolkien – was said to have admitted abusing boys in Sparkhill, Birmingham, in the 1950s.

The archdiocese was apparently aware of the alleged abuse but did not report it until decades later.

Former boy scout Christopher Carrie, from Solihull, was given £15,000 in compensation in 2003 after he sued the archdiocese.

Father Tolkien was deemed too ill to be charged after an investigation into abuse in the Church

At the time, the Crown Prosecution Service said Father Tolkien was too ill to be charged, and he died later that year.

Cardinal Nichols – now the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales – appeared before the inquiry in December.
He was asked if he had suppressed a note which suggested Father Tolkien admitted an allegation of abuse in 1968 and was sent for treatment.

However, the report said the note “was disclosed to the police so it cannot be suggested that the Archdiocese sought to cover up the note”.

The note was made by Archbishop of Birmingham Maurice Couve de Murville as part of a 1993 investigation but no action was taken either in 1968 or in 1993.

This “lack of action by the Church meant that abusers were free to continue committing acts of child sexual abuse,” the inquiry found.
Image copyrightGOOGLEImage captionThe inquiry looked at allegations in Birmingham’s Roman Catholic Archdiocese


By Martin Bashir, BBC religion editor
Once again, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has shone light upon dark areas of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales.

This report describes an institution where the safeguarding of children was relegated to second, even third place, with the Church much more concerned about reputation management.
It also appears that Church leaders preferred secrecy over transparency, assisting some abusive priests to leave the country and others to move from parish to parish.

The criticisms of Cardinal Vincent Nichols are particularly scathing. The clear implication of the report is that his focus on reputation management – rather than the welfare of children – meant that abusers were allowed to continue victimising children.

And while it would be tempting to imagine that these offences are all in the past, the report concludes that “the Archdiocese is still falling short in its child safeguarding arrangements”.

As well as Father Tolkien, the investigation focused on three other priests: James Robinson, Samuel Penney, and one who remains anonymous.

Father Robinson, described as a serial child abuser, was moved from parish to parish after complaints were first made against him in the 1980s. The police were never informed and there was no internal, Church-led investigation.
He fled the UK in 1985 – later to be tracked down by the BBC at a caravan park in California – after being confronted by a victim.

Despite multiple allegations against him, he continued to receive financial support from the Archdiocese for seven years.


Robinson was found guilty in 2010 of 21 child sex abuse offences against four boys – some 40 years after complaints were first made to the Church in the 1970s and 80s.

When the Archdiocese was alerted to allegations against Father Penney, the Vicar General – who was charged with investigating – attempted to help him evade arrest and leave the UK.

Prof Jay said the number of perpetrators and victims is “likely to be far higher than the figures suggest” and the consequences of the Church’s failings “cannot be overstated”.

‘Failed victims’

The report also concluded that the Birmingham Archdiocese continues to fall short in its child safeguarding arrangements.

In a statement, the Archdiocese said it accepts it has “failed victims and survivors” and apologised for “the grievous failings we have made in the past”.

It said it has “fundamentally changed its practices and processes to ensure an open and compassionate approach to victims and survivors”.




Vinnie/Elsie is finally getting his comeuppance after all his years of naked ambition and climbing the sleazy, greasy RC clerical pole.

In the end we discover they are all the same.

Empty, sneaky, power hungry operatives with neither the smell of the Shepherd or sheep about them.

Any decent, self respecting person in a senior position would immediately resign and take full responsibility for everything.

But Elsie is another Brady who will lie low sometimes and then parade all around the place in crimson robes – and wine and dine in places like Rome and Lourdes.

Bad cess to the lot of them!






Yesterday people like MMM referred to an article in a recent edition of The Irish News – a biased RC newspaper that was set up by the Irish Catholic Bishops in the late 18th century to oppose and bring down Charles Stewart Parnell a Church of Ireland MP who was marrying a divorcee.



Over the past 33 years couples seeking marriage have been referred to me by a variety of people – family, friends, solicitors, doctors, wedding co-ordinators, hotel managers etc etc.

Between 2007 and 2009 a Belfast solicitor named Ho Ling Mo reffered 15 couples to me in that 3 year period.

Up until 2007, priests like me were responsible for the marriage preliminaries – interviewing the couples, checking their documents and issuing the marriage licence.

That changed in 2007 in the Republic – when new legislation was introduced taking away all preliminaries from the clergyman and reserving them absolutely to the state registrars. From that at point onwards ALL couples had to be immediately referred to the civil registry office – who then became absolutely responsible for interviewing the couples, checking their documentation and issuing the marriage licence. A priest had no power or permission to marry any couple until the state registrar gave the green light by issuing the MRF Marriage Registration Form in the South and the MS – Marriage Schedule in the North. In fact the North was much later in changing their procedures.

So, the 14 couples I married were all referred to the civil registry office at Dundalk. They were interviewed by the civil registrar, all their documents were checked and a MRF issued.

At that stage, and at that stage only, could I as a priest marry that couple – and I celebrated all 14 marriages with the direct permission of the Irish State.

I got my normal fee of £300 and my travelling expenses to Dundalk and other parts of the South were covered by the couple.

What I did not know at the time was that the solicitor, Ho Ling Mo was charging each couple up to £18,000 for arranging their marriage and handling their visa applications.

When I discovered that I challenged Mo and refused to take any more referrals from her.

Eventually the police became interested in Mo’s activities. They asked me to go and meet them in Belfast and I did and told them all I knew.

Later, at my invitation, they came to home and spent all an afternoon studying my registers and all my extensive paperwork.

The asked if I would be willing to be a witness for the prosecution, and I agreed.

Later they said they wanted to interview me under caution and on 3 occasions I went to talk to them for many hours and never even brought a solicitor with me.

Later again they told me they were going to charge me with “assisting illegal immigration”. At that stage I brought a solicitor to my 4th interview.

After this again they told me that they could not charge me with assisting illegal immigration and changed the charge to “conspiracy to defraud the British Home Secretary!

The crime of “conspiracy” is a very controversial crime because it requires an inferior level of proof and a longer sentence.

An American judge has called the crime of conspiracy the preferred charge of lazy policemen and prosecutors”.

So I was charged and put on trial in Belfast Crown Court. The trial ran for 3 weeks before a jury and ended up with the jury not being able to come to a verdict.

Later the prosecutors decided to have a second trial.

I am a mentally very strong man. And when a strong man is under extreme stress the stress goes for the body. In 1987 I was diagnosed with the inflamatory bowel illness called Crohns Disease – an illness which ban be fatal.

During the stress of 3 week trial, my Crohns flared up very seriously and I was in very bad pain, was bleeding and having “accidents” on the way to and from court.

The prospects of another 3 weeks or longer would leave me open to becoming seriously ill. On my lawyer’s advice I decided to take a deal from the prosecution and plead guilty. For me it was better to live with a criminal record or die without one.

The judge, Mr Mark Horner, who was hearing his first criminal case in court decided to give me a suspended sentence but also decided to punish me further by telling the gathered press that I was HIV+.

What he did was against the European Human Rights Convention. When I discovered this I spoke to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission but unfortunately the 3 months I had to complain had run out. But the human rights people had correspondence with the Lord Chief Justice and judges have been informed that they cannot breach human rights in their judgements.



Since the case I have learned from a very reliable source that a very senior RC cleric met a very senior policeman in a Belfast Indian restaurant quite a while before any proceedings. I have also learned that there was communications between the church and other senior members of the legal profession.


After my court case the police and home office awarded two of the grooms wth British passports for being prepared to give evidence against me.

Why did they reward two men they were accusing of sham marriages with passports?

Finally, why would a man who had never broken the law in 61 years decide to break it at 61. And the same man has not broken the law in the 6 years since 2013.

I continue to be a wedding celebrant in both jurisdictions.

At the time the government, the police and the border force were under big pressure to address sham marriages. It suited them very much and got them more publicity if they could attach someone with a public profile to the case.

To my knowledge the 14 marriages I celebrated have never been declared null and void.

Miss Mo got a short sentence and is now living on her £5,000,000 back in Hong Kong.

My enemies will say I did it for money. I did not need those 4 weddings a year. At the time I had so many weddings I was outsourcing some weddings to others. The judge also made me pay £6,000 to the state which I did.

I will not be addressing this topic again on the blog but will place this statement on my personal website



Archbishop Vigano

Barbie Latza Nadeau Correspondent-At-Large The Daily Beast.

ROME—There are few scandals in the sordid history of the American Catholic church more painful than the saga of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a high-ranking prince of the church who fell from grace amid a slew of lies and cover-ups.

McCarrick was forced to resign and later defrocked after credible allegations that he sexually abused a boy from the age of 11 until the young man was 29, starting long before the Boston Spotlight probe and Pennsylvania Grand Jury report came to define priests behaving badly.

It was well known in certain Catholic circles that the cardinal liked to entertain six or more seminarians in his five-bedroom New Jersey beach house with the assumption that the odd man out would share his bed.

“Francis is a big problem for the church and his liberals will ultimately destroy it.”

Unlike in Boston and Pennsylvania, where the local dioceses were easy to blame for bad management, McCarrick was a man of the popes, which makes him an easy target for those who oppose the direction of the church. Both John Paul II and Francis relied on him as a chief fundraiser and were, it seems, willing to look beyond the rumors. McCarrick’s fall from grace shook the very foundations of the Roman Curia.

While McCarrick’s sins and crimes are by now established, there is still mystery surrounding what his bosses—both Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis– knew and, perhaps more importantly, when they knew it. But there is even more mystery why those who are so ardently against Francis see him as their poster priest of bad behavior.

Enter Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, a traditional conservative Italian cleric supported by American Cardinal Raymond Burke and Francis-foe Steve Bannon—both of whom have been vocal critics of Francis’ policies on everything from immigration to gay Catholics and who have embraced the McCarrick fiasco as a way to pin all the church’s problems on this pope.

Bannon, whose own dreams to open an alt-right Catholic institution run by the Burke-sponsored Dignitatis Humanae Institute in Italy recently were thwarted, told The Daily Beast that Viganò was heroic and that Francis was the enemy.
“Francis is a big problem for the church and his liberals will ultimately destroy it,” Bannon said. “His open border policy on immigration won’t help, either.”

It is little wonder that Matteo Salvini, the hard-line far-right Bannon protégé is also a Pope Francis hater, even bragging last week that he has never asked for an audience with the pontiff.

Viganò was the apostolic nuncio, or ambassador, to the United States from 2011 to 2016. He was a harsh foe of Francis long before he was elected as pope in 2013 and one of the first to speak out when he was coronated. He was the one who set up the ill-conceived handshake with same-sex marriage opponent Kim Davis on Francis’s first visit to America. He was also the one who penned a lengthy testimonial last July in which he claimed that Francis knew all about McCarrick’s illegal behavior but covered it up. And for that, suggested Viganò, the pope ought to do the church a favor and resign. A month later, Viganò had gone into self-imposed exile.

This week, he surfaced again, this time on the pages of The Washington Post whose reporters interviewed him from his still-undisclosed location through a series of emails. The fruit of that labor is an 8,000-word tome that doubles down on the allegations against the leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

“The signs I see are truly ominous,” Viganò wrote. “Not only is Pope Francis doing close to nothing to punish those who have committed abuse, he is doing absolutely nothing to expose and bring to justice those who have, for decades, facilitated and covered up the abusers.”

Viganò calls the pope’s February summit on abuse a farce, blaming the Vatican’s gay mafia for the real crimes of clerical sex abuse. “An especially serious problem is that the summit focused exclusively on the abuse of minors,” he wrote, acknowledging that yes, those crimes are truly horrific. “Indeed, if the problem of homosexuality in the priesthood were honestly acknowledged and properly addressed, the problem of sexual abuse would be far less severe.”

McCarrick, he has long asserted, should have been made an example of years ago as an abuser who indiscriminately abused both young boys and adults. Viganò believes that Francis knew that and chose to elevate the American cardinal, who was a skilled diplomat who helped him broker a deal with China over its underground church. “McCarrick’s degradation from office was, as far as it goes, a just punishment, but there is no legitimate reason why it was not exacted more than five years earlier, and after a proper trial with a judicial procedure,” Viganò wrote in the Post. “Those with authority to act [i.e. Pope Francis] knew everything they needed to know by June of 2013.”

Viganò’s return comes at a time when battle lines have never been so clear between the more liberal faction of the church that supports Francis and the traditional conservatives who support the likes of Burke and Viganò.
Even the timing of the release of a harsh Vatican document against what it calls gender theory—“nothing more than a confused concept of freedom in the realm of feelings and wants”—is curious. A Vatican insider confided to The Daily Beast that the timing, during the height of Pride month, was meant to push the pope into a corner, either in defending the document or defending transgender people. In the end, he did neither.

That Viganò finally gave permission to The Washington Post to publish its scoop after weeks of negotiations (Vigano’s letters are dated May 2), is another example of the systematic criticism meant to embarrass the pontiff. “We are in a truly dark moment for the universal Church: The Supreme Pontiff is now blatantly lying to the whole world to cover up his wicked deeds!” Viganò claims. “But the truth will eventually come out, about McCarrick and all the other coverups, as it already has in the case of Cardinal [Donald] Wuerl, who also “knew nothing” and had “a lapse of memory.”
Wuerl, another American cardinal from Francis’ inner circle who like McCarrick, brought millions in donations from wealthy American Catholics to Rome, is the disgraced head of the powerful Washington, D.C., diocese. Francis was forced under pressure to accept his resignation last October after Viganò claimed he knew and covered up for McCarrick with the help of both Francis and John Paul II of McCarrick’s crimes proved too credible to ignore.

To those against the pope, Wuerl and McCarrick are emblematic in what is fast becoming a troubling legacy for the popular pope many thought could do no wrong after he was elected. For those who support this pope, they are just ammunition used against the most liberal pope in modern history. Either Vigano is the pawn or the errant clerics are in what is fast becoming a schism that may soon be hard to close.

“Pope Francis needs to reconcile himself with God, and the entire Church, since he covered up for McCarrick, refuses to admit it, and is now covering up for several other people,” charges Viganò. “I pray for his conversion every day. Nothing would make me happier than for Pope Francis to acknowledge and end the cover-ups, and to confirm his brothers in the faith.”


I like Vigano because he is a whistle blower.

Im not sure his motives are 100% pure as he is right wing and anti liberal.

But he has served at the top in Vatican affairs and he knows the dirt on the big boys and knows where many of skeletons are buried.

He knows what even a number of popes have done and not done.

The Vatican and the RC church thrive on secrecy and keeping their massive corruptions under wrap.

As more whistle blowers emerge and the international media bloodhounds follow leads more and more chunks fall off the ugly edifice.

The Chinese curse says “May he live in interesting times”.

I started off my life as a thoroughly brainwashed RC.

How glad I am to have lived in ways that opened my eyes.

I am living in interesting times.


The Reverend Matthew Fox (born Timothy James Fox on December 21, 1940) is an American priest and theologian. Formerly a member of the Dominican Order within the Roman Catholic Church, he became a member of the Episcopal Church following his expulsion from the order in 1993. Fox was an early and influential exponent[citation needed] of a movement that came to be known as Creation Spirituality. The movement draws inspiration from the mystical philosophies of such medieval Catholic visionaries as Hildegard of Bingen, Thomas Aquinas, Saint Francis of Assisi, Julian of Norwich, Dante Alighieri, Meister Eckhart and Nicholas of Cusa, as well as the wisdom and prophetic traditions of Jewish scriptures. Creation Spirituality is also strongly aligned with ecological and environmental movements of the late 20th century and embraces numerous spiritual traditions around the world, including Buddhism, Judaism, Sufism, and Native American spirituality, with a focus on “deep ecumenism” or interfaith.
Fox has written 35 books that have been translated into 68 languages and have sold millions of copies and by the mid-1990s had attracted a “huge and diverse following”.


I have been a fan and admirer of Matthew Fox for many years.

I don’t give assent to everything he thinks or says.

His favourite book for me is ON BECOMING A MUSICAL MYSTICAL BEAR.


I enjoyed the above interview and it speaks a lot of truth.

Fox makes various suggestions as to what can help the church;

  1. Ordain women to priesthood and episcopacy and involve them in the exercise of power in the church.
  2. Make celibacy optional.
  3. Sack bishops and priests who abuse or cover up abuse.
  4. Banish homophobia from the church.
  5. See human sexuality as an original blessing and not as a problem. 




Invitation to priest who blames autism on parents ‘should be withdrawn’

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin tells church to withdraw offer to Fr Dominic Valanmahal

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has asked the Irish branch of the Syro-Malabar church to withdraw an invitation to Fr Dominic Valanmanal to visit Ireland. Video: Marian Retreat Centre

Patsy McGarry The Irish Times

An invitation sent to controversial priest Fr Dominic Valanmahal to lead a retreat in Ireland should be withdrawn, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said.

A priest of the Eastern Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, which is based at Kerela in India and has about 4,000 members in Ireland, Fr Valanmahal has been preaching that the increased incidence of autism and hyperactivity in children is due to their parents’ lifestyle.

Members of the church worship at Dublin centres in Tallaght, Lucan, Blanchardstown, Phibsborough, Inchicore, Bray, Blackrock, Swords, and Beaumont.

“Why does this generation have autism and hyperactivity? That is to say, mentally retarded children are in abundance,” Fr Valanmahal asked in a sermon.

“Adultery, masturbation, homosexuality, porn, if you are addicted to these, I say to you in the name of God. . .when you get married and have children, there is a high possibility of bearing these type of children,” he said.

“They lead an animal-like life. They copulate like animals. They bear children like animals. Therefore those children also, will be like animals,” he said.

The priest has also claimed that on previous visits to Ireland, he “cured” one such child in Dublin. He “stood in the middle of the house and said ‘In the name of Jesus, I command, I bind the spirit of autism and hyperactivity that has infested this house. I banish it. Banish it to the foot of Jesus’s cross’,” he said.

‘Touched by the messiah’

On another visit to Ireland, he claimed to have “cured” a child in Limerick. “They bring this child. Praise the Lord. The child was cured 100 per cent. I gave the child Holy Communion. Now the child studies in a normal school. Not only that child, but her younger siblings were also touched by the messiah,” he said.

Fr Valanmahal had been invited to conduct a retreat at the Syro Malabar Catholic Church in Tallaght on October 26th, 27th and 28th next.

On Thursday morning, a spokeswoman for Archbishop Martin, who has jurisdiction over the church in the Dublin archdiocese, said he had been in contact with the Syro-Malabar community “and told them that Fr Dominic Valanmahal should not be invited here.”

Meanwhile, a petition has been launched by members of the Syro-Malabar community in Ireland calling on Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan to have Fr Valanmahal banned from entering the country.

A member of the group told The Irish Timesthey were doing so as “this kind of personality should not be allowed to do anymore harm to the people living in Ireland”.

They added: “I believe our children, families should never hear another preaching from this priest.”

False preaching

The petition is “supported by Indian emigrants in Ireland. I would like to let Irish people know about this as this kind of false preaching will affect the whole nation and it is a social nuisance,” the person said.

The petition claims the priest “verbally abused autistic kids and compared their parents to wild animals having no intelligence but just living for sex, alcohol and reproduction.”

It continues: “We discourage any attempt made by people like this person who could potentially be a threat to the development and integration of our children in the local society and also their future in this country.”

To date, almost 1,500 people have signed the petition, including Richard Thuruthen in New Zealand who commented “ I have personaly heard his speech in Wellington NZ . He is racist person. He said bad things about Indian kids marrying to Chinese and people from Africa. ”

The petition is at


The views of this sub continent priest are nonsense.

He is telling good, loving parents that their children’s autism is down to them masturbating etc.

More RC teaching being used to abuse those already suffering.

Diarmuid Martin is quite right to call for his invitation to becrecinded.

We have enough home grown spiritual nuts to cope with without importing exotic ones.

The last thing 21st century Ireland needs is the arrival of witch doctors and medicine men from tge third world.