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Science and Faith

"In Christian marriage, one's spouse is one's 'Number Two,'
while the only 'Number One' is God.
Catholic is laying the groundwork so that in loving God, future spouses may find the only way to adequately love each other."

Endorsed by
Reverend Frank Pavone

(he who knows not)
Priests for Life

Professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, and an editor of Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews












































Do the Bishops Have a Case Against Obama?
The New York Times: May 31, 2012

Religion often comes alive in the face of persecution. Recently, Daniel Jenky (right), the bishop of Peoria, Ill., did not hesitate to play the persecution card in the dispute with the Obama administration over required health insurance coverage of birth control. Evoking the history of “terrible persecution” of the Church, he said: “Hitler and Stalin would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services and health care. . . . Barack Obama — with his radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda — now seems intent on following a similar path.” In an effort to clarify the statement, a diocese spokesperson said, “We certainly have not reached the same level of persecution. However, history teaches us to be cautious once we start down the path of limiting religious liberty.” (She did not explain just what the bishop regarded as the Church’s current “level of persecution” by the administration.)

Jenky’s remarks are only a bit more extreme than standard rhetoric from bishops and other conservative Catholics, who now routinely talk of an “attack” or “war” on religious liberty. Are things really this bad? Or are we seeing a perhaps politically motivated “tempest in a holy water fount”?

We cannot, of course, be certain about the bishops’ motives in overdramatizing what should be a routine disagreement. But their often demagogic reaction suggests political rather than religious concerns. There is, first, the internal politics of the Church, where the bishops find themselves, especially on matters of sexuality, increasingly isolated from most Church members; they seem desperate to rally at least a fervid core of supporters around their fading authority. But the timing of their outbursts also suggests a grasp for secular political power. It’s hard to think that the bishops — especially given their concerns for social welfare — would more than mildly prefer a Romney administration to an Obama administration. But, hoping to emulate the success of Protestant evangelicals, they may well want to establish their own credentials as significant players in American politics. We can only pray that American Catholics will see through any such effort.

Published Commentary

Daniel Jenky, the bishop of Peoria, Ill., evoking the history of “terrible persecution” of the Church, he said: “Hitler and Stalin would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services and health care. . . . Barack Obama — with his radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda — now seems intent on following a similar path.”

Adolf Hitler on Education: "Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith ... We need believing people.".

ROBERT COANE, May 31, 2012

@ tenoreNew York NY

The recent action of the bishops shows admirable courage and commitment so often lacking in the past 50 years. As Prof. Gutting notes, their arguments are correct: there is a limit to the government's ability to interfere with the rights of religious people and this limit has been crossed. It is not the bishops duty to figure out how the government can cross these limits and not get caught.

A blatant assault on religious freedom is hardly a "routine disagreement." Prof. Gutting will be well advised to note that the timing of this political assault was chosen by the government, not the bishops.

June 1, 2012 at 11:04 a.m.

I say these accusations of “terrible persecution,” this alleged “blatant assault on religious freedom,” are a distraction from pedophilia, misogyny, homophobia and financial malfeasance in the Catholic Church, smoke and mirrors from the Vatican.

"To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."
~ William Shakespeare
Hamlet Act 1, scene 3

ROBERT COANE, June 1, 2012

@ Manu Radhakrishnan, New York

It was my understanding that this rule applied to entities that receive federal funds.

Catholic hospitals that are entirely privately funded are exempt from this rule.

However, those that accept public funds cannot both accept government monies & then shout foul that these monies come with strings attached. This strikes one as hypocritical.

A proper reply to the bishops: "Want taxes?"

ROBERT COANE, June 1, 2012


























Father Doesn’t Know Best
The NewYork Times: May 22, 2012

My parents were the most devout Catholics I’ve ever known. But my dad came from a family of 16 in County Clare in Ireland, and my mom’s mother came from a family of 13 in County Mayo. So they balanced their faith with a dose of practicality.

After their first three kids, they sagely decided family planning was not soul-staining
. So I wasn’t surprised to see the Gallup poll Tuesday showing that 82 percent of U.S. Catholics say birth control is morally acceptable. (Eighty-nine percent of all Americans and 90 percent of non-Catholics agreed.) Gallup tested the morality of 18 issues, and birth control came out on top as the most acceptable, beating divorce, which garnered 67 percent approval, and “buying and wearing clothing made of animal fur,” which got a 60 percent thumbs-up (more from Republicans, naturally, than Democrats).

Polygamy, cloning humans and having an affair took the most morally offensive spots on the list. “Gay or lesbian relations” tied “having a baby outside of marriage,” with 54 percent approving. That’s in the middle of the list, above a 38 percent score for abortion and below a 59 percent score for “sex between an unmarried man and woman.”

The poll appeared on the same day as headlines about Catholic Church leaders fighting President Obama’s attempt to get insurance coverage for contraception for women who work or go to college at Catholic institutions. The church insists it’s an argument about religious freedom, not birth control. But, really, it’s about birth control, and women’s lower caste in the church. It’s about conservative bishops targeting Democratic candidates who support contraception and abortion rights as a matter of public policy. And it’s about a church that is obsessed with sex in ways it shouldn’t be, and not obsessed with sex in ways it should be.

The bishops and the Vatican care passionately about putting women in chastity belts. Yet they let unchaste priests run wild for decades, unconcerned about the generations of children who were violated and raped and passed around like communion wine.

Some leading Catholic groups endorsed the compromise struck by the Obama administration that put the responsibility for providing the contraceptives on the insurance companies, not religious institutions. But others wanted to salute the Vatican flag and keep fighting. On “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday, the pugnacious Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York rejected the compromise and charged that the White House is “strangling” the church.

The church leaders headed to court hope to undermine the president, but they may help him. Voters who think sex is only for procreation were not going to vote for Obama anyway. And the lawsuit reminds the rest that what the bishops portray as an attack on religion by the president is really an attack on women by the bishops.

Published Commentary

The reply to the Archdiocese of Washington’s “warning of apocalyptic risk” is found, incredibly, in Mother Teresa of Calcutta who stated unequivocally and on record:

“I’m not a social worker. I don’t do it for this reason. I do it for Christ. I do it for the church.”

Good deeds be damned! The Church trumps all..

ROBERT COANE, May 23, 2012

















Here Comes Nobody
The New York Times: May 19, 2012

I ALWAYS liked that the name of my religion was also an adjective meaning all-embracing.

I was a Catholic and I wanted to be catholic, someone engaged in a wide variety of things. As James Joyce wrote in Finnegans Wake: “Catholic means ‘Here comes everybody.’”

So it makes me sad to see the Catholic Church grow so uncatholic, intent on loyalty testing, mind control and heresy hunting. Rather than all-embracing, the church hierarchy has become all-constricting.

Speaking to the graduates [at Georgetown University], [Kathleen Sebelius, the health and human services secretary], evoked J.F.K.’s speech asserting that religious bodies should not seek to impose their will through politics. She said that contentious debate is a strength of this country, adding that in some other places, “a leader delivers an edict and it goes into effect. There’s no debate, no criticism, no second-guessing.”

Just like the Vatican.

Twenty-eight years ago, weighing a run for president, Mario Cuomo gave a speech at Notre Dame in which he deftly tried to explain how officials could remain good Catholics while going against church dictums in shaping public policy.

“The American people need no course in philosophy or political science or church history to know that God should not be made into a celestial party chairman,” he said.

Absolute intolerance is always a sign of uncertainty and panic. Why do you have to hunt down everyone unless you’re weak? The church doesn’t seem to care if its members’ beliefs are based on faith or fear, conviction or coercion. But what is the quality of a belief that exists simply because it’s enforced?

“To be narrowing the discussion and instilling fear in people seems to be exactly the opposite of what’s called for these days,” says the noted religion writer Kenneth Briggs. “All this foot-stomping just diminishes the church’s credibility even more.”


































New Fight on a Speaker at a Catholic University
The New York Times: May 16, 2012

Among politically conservative Roman Catholics, Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, was already at the top of the list of Catholic public officials considered to be traitors to the faith.

As a two-term governor of Kansas, Ms. Sebelius was told by her bishop that she should be denied communion at Mass because of her support for abortion rights. As health secretary, she has been vilified for upholding the mandate in the health care overhaul that requires even religiously affiliated institutions to provide birth control coverage to their employees.

So there was an uproar when it recently became public that Georgetown University, a Jesuit institution, had invited Ms. Sebelius to speak at an awards ceremony this Friday, its commencement day.

The Archdiocese of Washington released a strong letter of rebuke to Georgetown’s president on Tuesday afternoon, calling Ms. Sebelius the architect of the birth control mandate — “the most direct challenge to religious liberty in recent history.”

The conflict is only the latest example of friction between Catholic universities and their local bishops, who are charged with ensuring that the universities uphold Catholic doctrine and exhibit an explicitly Catholic identity.

A conservative Catholic group in Virginia, the Cardinal Newman Society, has played an influential role as a whistle-blower, alerting bishops when they find a university stepping out of line. This spring, the group compiled a list of 12 Catholic universities with commencement speakers they found objectionable because of their support for abortion rights or gay rights.

“These conflicts are happening quite often,” said Stephen S. Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America, in Washington. “We’re very careful. I have to think when I make my invitations what’s going to fall within the guidelines. And to a certain extent, it makes it difficult for me to do my job with my university program.”

The Georgetown controversy has generated the most outrage since the University of Notre Dame gave an honorary degree and a commencement speaking slot to President Obama three years ago. Many bishops issued statements deploring the university’s decision because of the president’s support for abortion rights, but the speech went ahead as planned.

The boundaries were drawn when the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued guidelines in 2004 that said: “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

The bishops have made religious liberty a rallying cry.

In response to the controversy, Georgetown’s president, John J. DeGioia, said it was the decision of the students at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute to invite Ms. Sebelius in recognition of her long service as a public official.

Patrick J. Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, said, “We do now have colleges that will confidentially contact us and actually vet their speakers with us, because they want to make sure that there won’t be concerns.”










Popular Priest Fathered Child and Says He’ll Step Aside
The New York Times:May 15, 2012

The priest, the Rev. Thomas D. Williams, apologized in a statement on Tuesday “for this grave transgression” and “to everyone who is hurt by this revelation.” He said he would take a year off from public ministry to reflect on his transgressions and his “commitments as a priest” — a decision he said he made with his superiors.

Father Williams was the most visible American member of the Legionaries, a powerful and conservative Roman Catholic religious order that has been in turmoil since 2006, when its charismatic founder was banished by the Vatican to a life of prayer and penance.

The order’s founder, a Mexican priest named Marcial Maciel Degollado (right with John Paul II), died in 2008 amid revelations that he had sexually abused young seminarians, misappropriated money and fathered several children, some of whom say they were also victims of his sexual abuse. Only last Friday, the Legion acknowledged that seven of its priests are being investigated by the Vatican in connection with the sexual abuse of minors.

Father Williams said in the statement issued by the Legion that his relationship occurred “a number of years ago.” The Associated Press and The National Catholic Reporter broke the news on Tuesday after learning of allegations made by a Spanish association of Legion victims about multiple sexual improprieties by Father Williams.

Father Williams, who joined the Legion in 1985, was ordained a priest in 1994, and rose to become superior of the Legion’s general directorate in Rome. He is the author of many books on spirituality, including “Knowing Right From Wrong: A Christian Guide to Conscience,” and “The World as It Could Be: Catholic Social Thought for a New Generation.”










Nuns on the Frontier
The New york Times: May 15, 2012

THE recent Vatican edict that reproached American nuns for their liberal views on social and political issues has put a spotlight on the practices of these Roman Catholic sisters. While the current debate has focused on the nuns’ progressive stances on birth control, abortion, homosexuality, the all-male priesthood and economic injustice, tension between American nuns and the church’s male hierarchy reaches much further back.

In 1886, four Texas priests demanded that Bishop John C. Néraz replace a superior, Mother St. Andrew Feltin (right), saying that she had “spread gossip” and warned her sisters “to beware of priests.”

Bishop Néraz threatened the sisterhood with disbandment and removed Mother St. Andrew from office. He hounded her for years, disciplined other nuns she had befriended, suspended her right to the sacraments, warned other bishops not to grant her sanctuary, undercut her efforts to enter a California convent and even urged her deportation to Europe. Finally, Mother St. Andrew laid aside her religious clothing, returned to secular dress and cared for her widowed brother’s children.

Six years after Bishop Néraz died, Mother St. Andrew petitioned her congregation for readmission. Donning her habit, she renewed her vows amid a warm welcome from sisters who understood too well what she had suffered.

Then as now, not all priests and bishops treated sisters badly, though the priests who reached out to nuns in a spirit of appreciation, friendship and equality could not alter the church’s institutional commitment to gender discrimination. And, as now, some bishops, dismissive of the laity, underestimated the loyalty secular Catholics felt for their nuns.

In the case of Mother St. Andrew, tenacity and spirituality triumphed over arrogance and misogyny. The Vatican would do well to bear this history in mind as it thinks through the consequences of its unjust attack on American sisters.






















First Nuns and Girl Scouts, Next Dora the Explorer
The New York Times: :May 11, 2012

The men who run the Catholic Church seem to have a lot of time on their hands.

In April, the Vatican criticized the leadership conference that represents 80 percent of American Catholic nuns for promoting “radical feminist themes.” The Vatican felt the nuns were focusing too much on economic injustice while keeping “silent” on abortion and same-sex marriage. Silly nuns, worrying about poverty instead of trying to break up loving couples.

Meanwhile, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has set its sights on an even bigger offender against piety and moralitythe Girl Scouts of America.

According to NPR, the Bishop’s committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth is conducting an inquiry into whether the Girl Scouts have “problematic relationships with other organizations.” NPR says that’s code for Planned Parenthood.

The alleged Planned Parenthood-Girl Scouts connection, call it the axis of feminism, is actually something of a conservative talking point. In February, an Indiana legislator conducted “a small amount of Web-based research” and concluded that the Girl Scouts are a front for Planned Parenthood. He said the Scouts encourage the girls to have sex and to respect unsavory role models who endorse communist and homosexual agendas. He noted disapprovingly that the First Lady is the organization’s honorary president (the First Lady is always the honorary president), and took exception to the fact that a Colorado troop allowed a transgendered child to join up.

It’s true that the Girl Scouts welcomed a transgendered member last year, in contrast with the Boy Scouts, who have pursued a homophobic agenda with great zeal. But, how do I put this? That’s a good thing. And maybe it would be a good thing if the Girl Scouts associated with Planned Parenthood: The health-care organization knows a thing or two about sex education—i.e. how to avoid unwanted pregnancies that may lead to abortion.

That’s irrelevant, though, since the Girl Scouts are not associated with Planned Parenthood.

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We Are All Nuns
The New York Times: April 28, 2012

CATHOLIC nuns are not the prissy traditionalists of caricature. No, nuns rock!

They were the first feminists, earning Ph.D.’s or working as surgeons long before it was fashionable for women to hold jobs. As managers of hospitals, schools and complex bureaucracies, they were the first female C.E.O.’s.

They are also among the bravest, toughest and most admirable people in the world. In my travels, I’ve seen heroic nuns defy warlords, pimps and bandits. Even as bishops have disgraced the church by covering up the rape of children, nuns have redeemed it with their humble work on behalf of the neediest.

So, Pope Benedict, all I can say is: You are crazy to mess with nuns.

The Vatican issued a stinging reprimand of American nuns this month and ordered a bishop to oversee a makeover of the organization that represents 80 percent of them. In effect, the Vatican accused the nuns of worrying too much about the poor and not enough about abortion and gay marriage.

If you look at who has more closely emulated Jesus’s life, Pope Benedict or your average nun, it’s the nun hands down.

“How dare they go after 57,000 dedicated women whose median age is well over 70 and who work tirelessly for a more just world?” Mary E. Hunt, a Catholic theologian who is developing a proposal for Catholics to redirect some contributions from local parishes to nuns, wrote. “How dare the very men who preside over a church in utter disgrace due to sexual misconduct and cover-ups by bishops try to distract from their own problems by creating new ones for women religious?”

Nuns have triumphed over an errant hierarchy before. In the 19th century, the Catholic Church excommunicated an Australian nun named Mary MacKillop after her order exposed a pedophile priest. Sister Mary was eventually invited back to the church and became renowned for her work with the poor. In 2010, Pope Benedict canonized her as Australia’s first saint.

“Let us be guided” by Sister Mary’s teachings, the pope declared then.

Amen to that.














American Nuns, Conscience and the Vatican
The New York Times: April 19, 2012

THE VATICAN is reining in the leadership conference that represents 80 percent of American Catholic nuns, accusing the group of “serious doctrinal problems” and promoting “radical feminist themes.” That seems a misreading of the very fine work in schools, charities, prisons and impoverished neighborhoods being done by about 60,000 nuns across the nation.

These nuns and their leaders continued to bolster the reputation of the Roman Catholic Church even as it suffered one of its greatest scandals in the sexual abuse of schoolchildren by rogue priests and the cover-ups by diocesan authorities.

The Vatican has now appointed a bishop to oversee the operations of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious — the 1,500 superiors who run the sisters’ communities — citing individual nuns at conference gatherings challenging church teaching on homosexuality and the male-only priesthood. The announcement also accused the group’s leaders of focusing too much on poverty and economic injustice while allegedly keeping “silent” on abortion and same-sex marriage.

A crucial focus in the inquiry appears to be the fact that dozens of American nuns involved in the conference and in antipoverty and hospital work provided prominent support to President Obama’s health care reform. Conference leaders said Vatican investigators had pointedly raised the issue and the fact that the conference had split with American bishops, who opposed reform.

The sisters’ leaders said they reaffirmed their opposition to abortion but also claimed the right to speak out on a “moral imperative” like health care, just as the bishops had.

The nuns clearly are caught in a classic crossfire of church doctrine, politics and hierarchical obedience. It would be a tragedy, far beyond the church, if their fine work and their courageous voices were constrained.

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Church Puts Legal Pressure on Abuse Victims’ Group
The New York Times: March 12, 2012

Turning the tables on an advocacy group that has long supported victims of pedophile priests, lawyers for the Roman Catholic Church and priests accused of sexual abuse in two Missouri cases have gone to court to compel the group to disclose more than two decades of e-mails that could include correspondence with victims, lawyers, whistle-blowers, witnesses, the police, prosecutors and journalists.

The group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, is neither a plaintiff nor a defendant in the litigation. But the group has been subpoenaed five times in recent months in Kansas City and St. Louis, and its national director, David Clohessy (left), was questioned by a battery of lawyers for more than six hours this year. A judge in Kansas City ruled that the network must comply because it “almost certainly” had information relevant to the case.

The network and its allies say the legal action is part of a campaign by the church to cripple an organization that has been the most visible defender of victims, and a relentless adversary, for more than two decades. “If there is one group that the higher-ups, the bishops, would like to see silenced,” said Marci A. Hamilton, a law professor at Yeshiva University and an advocate for victims of clergy sex crimes, “it definitely would be SNAP. And that’s what they’re going after. They’re trying to find a way to silence SNAP.”

Lawyers for the church and priests say they cannot comment because of a judge’s order. But William Donohue (right), president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, a church advocacy group in New York, said targeting the network was justified because “SNAP is a menace to the Catholic Church.”

Mr. Donohue said leading bishops he knew had resolved to fight back more aggressively against the group: “The bishops have come together collectively. I can’t give you the names, but there’s a growing consensus on the part of the bishops that they had better toughen up and go out and buy some good lawyers to get tough. We don’t need altar boys.”

He said bishops were also rethinking their approach of paying large settlements to groups of victims. “The church has been too quick to write a check, and I think they’ve realized it would be a lot less expensive in the long run if we fought them one by one,” Mr. Donohue said.

However, a spokeswoman for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Sister Mary Ann Walsh (left), said Mr. Donohue was incorrect.

“There is no national strategy,” she said, and there was no meeting where legal counsel for the bishops decided to get more aggressive.

Published Commentary

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights? That's a new one! How many one-man "leagues" does Bill Donohue preside over?

"We don’t need altar boys?” Hmmmmmmmmm.... Let's not go there, Mr. Donohue.

ROBERT COANE, March 13, 2012


Hurting Victims’ Advocates
The New York Times: March 13, 2012

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, has played a critical role in making public the horrific crimes of pedophile priests and holding the Roman Catholic Church accountable for the crimes. Now the church is using a tactic that could cripple SNAP by embroiling it in costly litigation in which it is not a party.

As Laurie Goodstein wrote in The Times on Tuesday, lawyers for the church and priests accused of sex abuse in two Missouri cases have gone to court to compel SNAP to hand over two decades’ worth of e-mails and a huge amount of private correspondence with victims, lawyers, witnesses, reporters, prosecutors and the police.

The group has been subpoenaed five times in recent months and its national director, David Clohessy, deposed in the Kansas City, Mo., case. SNAP says it has incurred about $50,000 in legal fees and devoted hundreds of hours of staff time since the subpoenas began. This is a strange level of interest since SNAP is not involved in either case and Mr. Clohessy has sworn that he has had no contact with the accuser in the Kansas City case. The church’s lawyers want information on the network’s members and tactics, going beyond the cases. “The real motive is to harass and discredit and bankrupt SNAP, while discouraging victims, witnesses, whistle-blowers, police, prosecutors and journalists from seeking our help,” Mr. Clohessy said.

Given the aggressive legal tactics, it’s hard not to think that he is right. The judges asked to rule on motions to compel information must reject unfairly burdensome discovery requests. When the sex-abuse scandal erupted a decade ago, church leaders spoke of reconciliation with the victims. Now, in threatening to expose private files compiled by advocates for abuse survivors, they are giving victims new reason to retreat into fear and secrecy.

For the church to target SNAP compounds the horror.

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Clerical Abusers and the First Amendment
The New York Times: March 14, 2012

Religious institutions have constitutional protections, but they are not above the law. Unfortunately, that has not stopped the Roman Catholic Church and other religious groups from arguing that the First Amendment shields them from civil lawsuits for negligent supervision and retention of employees who sexually abuse children.

Most state courts that have considered the issue have rejected this claim by churches, recognizing that holding religious employers liable for failure to monitor employees in sex-abuse cases does not interfere with constitutionally protected religious freedoms.

However, courts in Missouri, Wisconsin and Utah have twisted the First Amendment into a shield for organizational liability for pedophile clergy. In an outrageous case, a Missouri appellate court summarily dismissed a negligence case brought against the Archdiocese of St. Louis by an individual who said he had been abused by a priest. His suit charged the archdiocese with negligent failure to supervise the priest, who had a past record of child sexual abuse. The court threw out the complaint, saying that Missouri law does not allow it because judging the supervision of the priest would require inquiry into religious doctrine, which it contends would violate the First Amendment.

This bizarre conclusion would grant churches a special exemption from neutral, generally applicable laws designed to protect children. The United States Supreme Court now has an opportunity to reverse this erroneous interpretation of the Constitution. The justices should grant the plaintiff’s petition for review, which they are scheduled to consider on Friday.

Since some 20 states have not ruled on this issue, the Supreme Court can provide urgently needed clarity. It should firmly declare that the First Amendment does not exempt religious entities from accountability for exposing children to harm.

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Lesbian woman Barbara Johnson denied communion at her mother’s funeral: Grieving woman says priest also refused to accompany family to the cemetary to say last goodbyes
New York Daily News: Thursday, March 1, 2012

A woman in Washington D.C. is asking for a priest to be removed from the diocese after he refused to give her communion at her mother's funeral — because she is a lesbian.

The incident, which occurred on Saturday, came shortly after the Maryland legislature sent a bill legalizing gay marriage to Gov. Martin O'Malley.

He is expected to sign it on Thursday.

Barbara Johnson (left) told the Washington Post that Father Marcel Guarnizo (right) learned of her relationship with her partner of 19 years, who was at the funeral on Saturday morning, shortly before the service. But when the grieving art-studio owner went to take communion, he covered the symbolic body of Christ.

"He put his hand over the body of Christ and looked at me and said, 'I can't give you Communion because you live with a woman and in the eyes of the church, that is a sin," she told the Post.

The priest then refused to accompany Johnson and her mother's body to the cemetery and instead she was told he was very ill.










Pope Presses U.S. Bishops on Message on Sex
By THE ASSOCIATED PRES: March 10, 2012

Vatican: Pope Benedict XVI waded into the American culture wars on Friday, urging visiting American bishops to beef up their teaching about the evils of premarital sex and cohabitation, and denouncing what he called the “powerful” gay marriage lobby in America. Benedict said there was an urgent need for American Catholics to discover the value of chastity, an essential element of Christian teaching that he said had been subject to unjust “ridicule.” The pope also told the bishops not to back down in the face of “powerful political and cultural currents seeking to alter the legal definition of marriage.”

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Back to First Principles on Religious Freedom
The New York Times: February 25, 2012

Catholic bishops, leading Republicans and other social conservatives persist in portraying the Obama administration’s new rule requiring employer health plans to cover birth control without a co-pay as an assault on religious freedom.

But the real departure from the Constitution is their specious claim to a right to impose their religious views on millions of Americans who do not share them. In essence, the bishops and their allies are arguing that they are above the law and their beliefs should be elevated over pressing societal interests.

The rule does not interfere with church governance, prevent anyone from voicing opposition, or force anyone to use contraceptives in violation of religious beliefs.















































































































































































Penn State’s Culpability
The New York Times: November 8, 2011

The sex-abuse scandal that has threatened the tenure of Pennsylvania State University’s legendary football coach, Joe Paterno, and led to criminal charges against two high-level administrators offers a tragic example of the willful blindness that sets in when colleges worship sports.

It is a mistake to think of this as malfeasance by a few people. The scandal grows out of culture that seems to protect football at all costs.
Personal Foul at Penn State
The New York times: November 8, 2011

Like the Roman Catholic Church, Penn State is an arrogant institution hiding behind its mystique. And sports, as my former fellow sports columnist at The Washington Star, David Israel says, is “an insular world that protects its own, and operates outside of societal norms as long as victories and cash continue to flow bountifully.” Penn State rakes in $70 million a year from its football program.

Paterno Is Finished at Penn State, and President Is Out
The New York Times: November 9, 2011

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Joe Paterno, who has the most victories of any coach in major college football history, was fired by Penn State on Wednesday night in the wake of a sexual abuse scandal involving a prominent former assistant coach and the university’s failure to act to halt further harm.

Graham B. Spanier, one of the longest-serving and highest-paid university presidents in the nation, who has helped raise the academic profile of Penn State during his tenure, was also removed by the Board of Trustees. When the announcement was made at a news conference that the 84-year-old Paterno would not coach another game, a gasp went up from the crowd of several hundred reporters, students and camera people who were present.

“We thought that because of the difficulties that engulfed our university, and they are grave, that it is necessary to make a change in the leadership to set a course for a new direction,” said John Surma Jr., the vice chairman of the board.

The university’s most senior officials were clearly seeking to halt the humiliating damage caused by the arrest last Saturday of the former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky. Sandusky had been a key part of the football program, but prosecutors have said he was a serial pedophile who was allowed to add victims over the years in part because the university he had served was either unable or unwilling to stop him.

Sandusky has been charged with sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year span, and two top university officials — Tim Curley, the athletic director, and Gary Schultz, the senior vice president for finance and business — have been charged with perjury and failing to report to authorities what they knew of the allegations.

Neither Paterno nor Spanier was charged in the case.


Abuse Inquiry Set Tricky Path for a Governor
The New York Times: November 10, 2011

A Roman Catholic, [Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania] was struck early on in the Penn State investigation by the similarities between the university’s failure to report allegations of sexual abuse involving Mr. Sandusky and the church’s failure to report pedophile priests, according to several people who work with him.

Old Main, Penn State
St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican

The Institutional Pass
The New York Times: November 11, 2011

“Joe is a devout Catholic,” a retired football coach named Vince McAneney (below right) told a reporter the other day. He was referring, of course, to Joe Paterno.

McAneney, 82, a high school coaching legend in Pennsauken, N.J., had known the 84-year-old Paterno for some 50 years, he told Randy Miller of The Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, N.J., and was “heartbroken” to see his friend fired as the Penn State football coach for his involvement in the sexual abuse scandal that has so soiled the university. Describing Paterno as a devout Catholic was McAneney’s way of saying that his friend was still a good and decent man.

But to someone like me, who grew up in a Catholic household, the fact that Paterno was a regular churchgoer is part of what makes his actions — or, more accurately, his inaction — so inexplicable. By March 1, 2002 — the date, according to a grand jury report, that Jerry Sandusky, the former Paterno assistant, was spotted in the locker-room shower raping a boy believed to be about 10 years old — every Catholic was sadly familiar with the sex abuse scandal that had engulfed the Roman Catholic Church. They knew that predatory priests had taken advantage of their proximity and positions of trust to sexually abuse young boys, just as Sandusky appears to have done. They knew that church leaders had covered it up. And they knew the devastating consequences of the abuse.

Two months before Sandusky’s alleged rape, The Boston Globe had begun publishing its powerful series on clergy sexual abuse. Dioceses were being sued by lawyers for the victims, who, in turn, were coming forward to describe how the abuse they suffered as children had shattered their lives. Alcoholism, drug abuse, and depression were common themes.

More shocking yet, Catholics in Paterno’s own diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, Pa., understood these consequences long before the rest of the country. In 1987, Richard Serbin, an Altoona lawyer representing abuse victims, had sued the diocese. The suit was widely publicized in the local media — publicity that did not diminish much even after he won in 1994 because the diocese kept appealing. (It finally agreed to pay $3.7 million in 2004.) One of the victims Serbin represented was a former altar boy in State College — Penn State’s hometown.

Given that foreknowledge, how could Paterno, upon learning that one of his graduate assistants allegedly had seen Sandusky having anal sex with a preteen boy, content himself with mentioning it to his superior and then looking the other way?
How could he have allowed Sandusky to maintain access to Penn State’s football facilities? How could the university have let him continue to run his youth camps on Penn State property — camps where he no doubt scouted potential targets? Everyone at Penn State who averted their eyes had to know they were doing something abhorrent. They knew from the experience of their own community.

“College football and men’s basketball has drifted so far away from the educational purpose of the university,” James Duderstadt, a former president of the University of Michigan, told me recently. “They exploit young people and prevent them from getting a legitimate college education. They place the athlete’s health at enormous risk, which becomes apparent later in life. We are supposed to be developing human potential, not making money on their backs. Football strikes at the core values of a university.”

What goes on in the typical big-time college football program constitutes abuse of the athletes who play the game. It’s not sexual abuse, to be sure, but it’s wrong just the same. For 46 years, Joe Paterno averted his eyes to the daily injustices, large and small, that his players suffered — just like Nick Saban does at Alabama and Steve Spurrier at South Carolina, and all the rest of them.

When Paterno averted his eyes from Jerry Sandusky, he was just doing what came naturally as a college football coach.


The Devil and Joe Paterno
The New York Times: November 12, 2011

WHEN I think about the sins of Joe Paterno, and the ignominious ending of his long and famous career, I think about Darío Castrillón Hoyos.

Castrillón is a Colombian, born in Medellín, who became a Catholic priest and then a bishop during the agony of his country’s drug-fueled civil wars. In Colombia, he was a remarkable figure: a “rustic man with the profile of an eagle,” as Gabriel García Márquez described him, who left his episcopal residence at night to feed slum children, mediated between guerrillas and death squads and reputedly made his way to Pablo Escobar’s house disguised as a milkman to demand that the drug kingpin confess his sins.

But that isn’t how the world thinks of him today. In the 1990s, Castrillón was elevated to the College of Cardinals and placed in charge of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy, where he came to embody the culture of denial that characterized Rome’s initial response to the sex abuse crisis. Castrillón dismissed the scandal as just “an American problem,” he defended the church’s approach to priestly pedophilia long after it had been revealed as pitifully inadequate, and in 2001 he even praised a French bishop for refusing to denounce an abusive priest to the civil authorities.

How did the man who displayed so much moral courage in Colombia become the cardinal who was so morally culpable in Rome? In the same way, perhaps, that college football’s most admirable coach — a mentor to generations of young men, a pillar of his Pennsylvania community — could end up effectively washing his hands of the rape of a young boy.

It was precisely because Castrillón had served his church heroically, I suspect, that he was so easily blinded to the reality of priestly sex abuse. It was precisely because Joe Paterno had done so much good for so long that he could do the unthinkable, and let an alleged child rapist continue to walk free in Penn State’s Happy Valley.

The best piece about Darío Castrillón Hoyos was written by the Catholic essayist John Zmirak, and his words apply to Joe Paterno as well. Sins committed in the name of a higher good, Zmirak wrote, can “smell and look like lilies. But they flank a coffin. Lying dead and stiff inside that box is natural Justice ... what each of us owes the other in an unconditional debt.”

No higher cause can trump that obligation not a church, and certainly not a football program. And not even a lifetime of heroism can make up for leaving a single child alone, abandoned to evil, weeping in the dark.


Bob Schieffer on the fall of icons
By Bob Schieffer
CBS News: November 13, 2011

The fall of icons are the stories that always hit us the hardest. When our heroes let us down, it forces us to question our own judgment for elevating them in the first place.

So it was, when we learned that the legendary football coach Joe Paterno and a lot of other people above and below him at Penn State either looked the other way or, at worst, covered it up when they learned that one of Paterno's top assistants was a child molestor.

We said what that kid said to Shoeless Joe Jackson, one of the players accused of fixing the 1919 World Series: "Say it ain't so, Joe."

Shoeless Joe was a barely-literate man who claimed he was duped by gamblers. But it is hard to believe that anyone who had an inkling of what was going on at Penn State didn't understand its significance.

But they had bigger fish to fly - protecting a football program that brought millions of dollars and national attention to their school.

Paterno was a great coach who now says his heart goes out to the young victims, but it's a little too late for that.

As the Catholic Church learned,
when protecting the institution is put ahead of protecting those it is intended to serve, it is eventually the institution that is put at risk.

That is unfortunate, but let us remember those the institution forgot, the victims - children who may have been scarred for life.

They deserve to know those who wronged them and those who knew about it are being brought to justice.

And yes, that includes the icons.

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Sandusky grand jury presentment
November 5, 2011

“Sandusky took the boy to restaurants, swimming at a hotel near Sandusky’s home and to church.

take heed!
This is how you do it right.












































In Kansas City Churches, Tiptoeing Around the Latest Scandal
The New York Times: October 16, 2011

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Rev. Justin Hoye (left) was struggling to figure out what, if anything, to say on Sunday to his parishioners at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church about the new turmoil facing the local Roman Catholic diocese.

Days before, news had broken that Bishop Robert Finn and the diocese had been indicted on criminal charges for failing to report a priest found to have pornographic photos of children, including children of his congregants. The priest is accused of having taken more such photographs in the months before church leaders turned them over to law enforcement.

Father Hoye, after reaching out to priests in neighboring parishes — all of whom expressed the same uncertainty — decided not to address the matter directly from the pulpit but to offer a homily on man and God that emphasized forgiveness.

The announcement on Friday that Bishop Finn, of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, had become the highest ranking member of the clergy to be charged with a crime stemming from the sex abuse scandals that have engulfed the church has caused disappointment and anger in the Catholic community here.

Nowhere is that more true than at St. Patrick’s, where the former pastor, the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, was once well-regarded for his easy manner, fondness for children and the camera that he always brought to events at the church and the parish elementary school.

Not long ago, Bishop Finn stood in this church asking for forgiveness. Much of the anguish, then and now, concerned the decision not to inform law enforcement — or the parents here — about Father Ratigan even after the school principal had written a letter detailing concerns that the priest’s behavior fit the profile of a child predator, even after church officials in December discovered hundreds of photographs on his computer that included nude pictures and “upskirt images” of girls, and even after he attempted suicide.

Instead Father Ratigan was sent to live in a convent and told to avoid contact with minors. But he continued to attend children’s parties, spend weekends in the homes of parish families and, with the bishop’s permission, presided at a girl’s first communion, according to interviews and court documents. Despite a pledge by the diocese to immediately report anyone suspected of being a pedophile to law enforcement, Father Ratigan was not reported until May.

The congregants here, who had been told that Father Ratigan had left after an illness, were shocked when he was arrested and charged with child pornography.

In an evening service at the gold-domed Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Bishop Finn urged worshipers to keep the diocese together and to avoid discouragement. He made oblique reference to “the events unfolding last Friday.”

“There is not so much that I can say, I know you understand that,” he said.

“But it is enough to be here with you, whom I love.”

Above right: "Waiting for the Bath"
Paul Peel (1860 – 1892) Canadian painter


Kansas City Bishop Makes Deal to Avoid More Criminal Charges
The New York Times: November 15, 2011

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In a deal to avoid a second round of criminal charges, a Roman Catholic bishop in Kansas City has agreed to meet monthly with a county prosecutor to detail every suspicious episode involving abuse of a child in his diocese for the next five years.

The agreement announced on Tuesday between Bishop Robert W. Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and the prosecuting attorney of neighboring Clay County, Daniel White, leaves the bishop open to prosecution for misdemeanor charges for five years, if he does not continue to meet with the prosecutor and report all episodes. But victims’ advocates criticized the deal as cozy and ineffectual, compared with previous agreements between bishops and prosecutors.




















Teenage Boy Levels Abuse Claim Against Longtime Brooklyn Monsignor
Thomas Brady, 77, Out On $1,000 Bail
Parishioners: No Way This Happened
CBS News: October 14, 2011

NEW YORK — A Brooklyn monsignor was arrested Friday and accused of having sexual contact with a 13-year-old boy.

Monsignor Thomas Brady’s family tried to shield him from view on the way into court Friday night, but there is no hiding from the reality of the criminal charges he faces stemming from an alleged encounter with a teen boy.

There was disbelief at the news the longtime former pastor of Good Shepherd Catholic Church had been arrested.

“I’m shocked,” one Marine Park resident told CBS 2’s Lou Young. “Somewhere along the way I think it’s erroneous.”

“This is ridiculous. It’s a crazy story. Who started it?” parishioner John Sweeney said, adding when asked if Brady is a good man, “absolutely. There’s no better.

"The kids hug him all the time."

...the Brooklyn diocese confirmed that two minors have leveled abuse claims against him, though he has been formally changed for his alleged involvement with just one.

Brady’s nephew, Dave Konig, told Young the old priest, who was released Friday night on $1,000 bail, has succumbed to dementia brought by his many illnesses.

The arraignment took place in Brooklyn court, but District Attorney Charles Hynes has asked for a special prosecutor because he knows Brady personally and said his office cannot impartially handle the case.

The Brooklyn diocese
has placed Brady on administrative leave during the investigation. Bishop Nicholas DiMarzo (left) offered prayers Friday for the victims of misconduct as well as for Monsignor Brady.























Vatican Rebukes Ireland Over Claims on Sexual Abuse
The New York Times: September 3, 2011

VATICAN CITY — In a strong rebuke to the Irish government, the Vatican said Saturday that it had never discouraged Irish bishops from reporting the sexual abuse of minors to the police and dismissed claims that it had undermined efforts to investigate abuse as “unfounded.”

The statement was the latest salvo in a tense diplomatic standoff since the Irish government released a report in July accusing the Vatican of encouraging bishops to ignore guidelines requiring them to report abuse cases to civil authorities.

Days later, Prime Minister Enda Kenny (right) assailed the Vatican as having tried to block an inquiry into sexual abuse by priests and placing its interests ahead of protecting children. The speech led the Vatican to recall its ambassador.

In its first public statement on the issue since then, the Vatican said Saturday that it “understands and shares the depth of public anger and frustration at the findings” of the July report, “which found expression in the speech” by Mr. Kenny. But it said both the report and the speech hinged on a “misinterpretation” of an important letter.

The Vatican also dismissed as “unfounded” a statement by the Irish Parliament that the Vatican’s intervention “contributed to the undermining of the child protection framework and guidelines of the Irish state and Irish bishops.”

The July report, the fourth in a series of scathing Irish government reports into sexual abuse by priests and evidence of a widespread cover-up, found that clergy members in the rural diocese of Cloyne had not acted on complaints against 19 priests from 1996 to as recently as 2009. The guidelines adopted by Irish bishops in 1996 required that abuse cases be reported to the police.

The report pointed a finger at Rome for encouraging bishops to ignore the reporting guidelines. The report cited a confidential letter to the bishops of Ireland from the Vatican ambassador in 1997, in which he said that he had “serious reservations” about the child-protection guidelines, and that they violated canon law.

The Vatican also dismissed as “unsubstantiated” Mr. Kenny’s assertions that the Vatican had tried to “frustrate an inquiry” into the sexual abuse scandal.

Terrance McKiernan (right), the president of Bishop Accountability, which monitors sexual abuse cases in the Catholic Church, said that the Vatican’s response “shows that the Vatican is still in denial.”

The Irish Parliament is now debating a controversial law that would make failure to report allegations of abuse to civil authorities punishable with jail time.

Diplomatic Tensions With Vatican Grow
The New York Times: September 5, 2011

Ireland - The diplomatic rift between the Irish government and the Vatican deepened Monday after Ireland accused the Holy See of “missing the point” in a weekend statement defending its conduct in the sexual abuse scandals involving priests. The Irish foreign minister, Eamon Gilmore (right), said the government was holding firm to its claims that the Vatican had attempted to frustrate an inquiry into abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne as recently as three years ago. The Vatican, in a strongly worded report on Saturday, said there was “no evidence” to support such an accusation.


Diocese’s Lawyers Say It Broke Rules
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: September 1, 2011

Missouri - A Kansas City law firm hired by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph said the diocese failed to follow its own policies in responding to sexual abuse claims against priests. The firm of Graves Bartle Marcus & Garrett issued its findings Thursday after investigating the diocese’s response to accusations against two priests. The Rev. Michael Tierney (left) was accused of sexually abusing minors in the early 1970s, and the Rev. Shawn Ratigan (right) is facing state and federal charges accusing him of taking pornographic pictures of young girls. The law firm recommends, among other things, that any employee or volunteer who receives a report of abuse must report it immediately to law enforcement or the state.

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The Fallen Angel

El Parque del Buen Retirro,
200 portable confessional booths have been installed in the shadows of what Madrileños boast is the only monument to
in the world

15 East 10th Street
New York NY 10003









Catholic Clergy Protest Pope’s Visit, and Its Price Tag
Published: August 15, 2011

MADRID — The Rev. Eubilio Rodríguez’s church is a prefabricated building in an area of this city hard hit by Spain’s economic crisis. In front of the altar are a few scraggly potted plants. Behind it, some plastic chairs.

How, he asks, can the Roman Catholic Church be getting ready for a lavish $72 million celebration in this city — some of it paid for with tax dollars — when Spain is in the midst of an austerity drive, the unemployment rate for young people is 40 percent and his parishioners are losing their homes to foreclosure every day?

“It is scandalous, the price,” he said. “It is shameful. It discredits the church.”

Father Rodríguez, 67, is among the 120 clergymen working among the poor here who have signed a lengthy petition deploring the pope’s visit this week on many grounds — from its cost to what they see as an inappropriate melding of church and state.

Madrid is girding itself for the arrival of perhaps one and a half million pilgrims. Its lampposts are gaily decorated with banners. Retiro Park has been decked out with 200 portable confessional booths. But bitter debates are raging over the festivities and the role of the church in Spanish politics.

Government and church officials insist the cost to taxpayers will be minimal and the lift to local businesses substantial.

But critics are calling the claims ridiculous. Father Rodríguez and others who signed the 10-page petition say the costs are always fuzzy when the pope comes to town. They suspect that the cost of extra security, of collecting trash and of stress on health systems will add up to millions for taxpayers. For one thing, the pilgrims have been granted an 80 percent discount on public transportation, which some find particularly galling because subway fares just went up by 50 percent.

Recent protest over economic conditions at Madrid's Puerta del Sol Square








































Bishop in Missouri Waited Months to Report Priest, Stirring Parishioners’ Rage
The New York Times: August 15, 2011

In the annals of the sexual abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church, most of the cases that have come to light happened years before to children and teenagers who have long since grown into adults.

But a painfully fresh case is devastating Catholics in Kansas City, Mo., where a priest, who was arrested in May, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of taking indecent photographs of young girls, most recently during an Easter egg hunt just four months ago.

Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has acknowledged that he knew of the existence of photographs last December but did not turn them over to the police until May.

A civil lawsuit filed last week claims that during those five months, the priest, the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, attended children’s birthday parties, spent weekends in the homes of parish families, hosted the Easter egg hunt and presided, with the bishop’s permission, at a girl’s First Communion.

“All these parishioners just feel so betrayed, because we knew nothing,” said Thu Meng, whose daughter attended the preschool in Father Ratigan’s last parish. “And we were welcoming this guy into our homes, asking him to come bless this or that. They saw all these signs, and they didn’t do anything.”

The case has generated fury at a bishop who was already a polarizing figure in his diocese, and there are widespread calls for him to resign or even to be prosecuted. Parishioners started a facebook page called “Bishop Finn Must Go” and are circulating a petition. An editorial in The Kansas City Star in June calling for the bishop to step down concluded that prosecutors must “actively pursue all relevant criminal charges” against everyone involved.

Stoking much of the anger is the fact that only three years ago, Bishop Finn settled lawsuits with 47 plaintiffs in sexual abuse cases for $10 million and agreed to a long list of preventive measures, among them to immediately report anyone suspected of being a pedophile to law enforcement authorities.

Michael Hunter, an abuse victim who was part of that settlement and is now the president of the Kansas City chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said: “There were 90 nonmonetary agreements that the diocese signed on to, and they were things like reporting immediately to the police. And they didn’t do it. That’s really what sickens us as much as the abuse.”

Bishop Finn, who was appointed in 2005, alienated many of his priests and parishioners, and won praise from others, when he remade the diocese to conform with his traditionalist theological views. He is one of few bishops affiliated with the conservative movement Opus Dei.

He canceled a model program to train Catholic laypeople to be leaders and hired more staff members to recruit candidates for the priesthood. He cut the budget of the Office of Peace and Justice, which focused on poverty and human rights, and created a new Respect Life office to expand the church’s opposition to abortion and stem cell research.

Father Ratigan, 45, was also an outspoken conservative, according to a profile in The Kansas City Star.

The diocese was first warned about Father Ratigan’s inappropriate interest in young girls as far back as 2006, according to accusations in the civil lawsuit filed Thursday. But there were also more recent warnings.

In May 2010, the principal of a Catholic elementary school where Father Ratigan (right) worked hand-delivered a letter to the vicar general reporting specific episodes that had raised alarms: the priest put a girl on his lap during a bus ride and allowed children to reach into his pants pockets for candy. When a Brownie troop visited Father Ratigan’s house, a parent reported finding a pair of girl’s panties in a planter, the letter said.



















New York Archdiocese Criticizes Sex-Ed Mandate
The New York Times: August 11, 2011

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York called a new city requirement that sex education be taught at all public middle and high schools “troubling” on Wednesday, and some Catholic officials said they would advise Catholic parents not to let their children participate.

In the first serious challenge to the city’s mandate, which was announced on Tuesday, a spokesman for the archdiocese said the church’s position was that parents, not the schools, should educate children about sex.

“Parents have the right and the responsibility to be the first and primary educators of their children,” Joseph Zwilling, director of communications for the archdiocese, wrote in a statement. “This mandate by the city usurps that role, and allows the public school system to substitute its beliefs and values for those of the parents.”

The sex-education curriculum — packages of lesson plans titled HealthSmart and Reducing the Riskdescribes abstinence as the best method to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. It includes lessons on how to use a condom and discussions about the appropriate age for sexual activity.

Edward Mechmann, a lawyer for the archdiocese, said he objected to the “overall lesson” of the city’s program, “that abstinence is a nice ideal.”

Mr. Mechmann said he would encourage parents to exercise an opt-out clause and exclude their children from lessons about contraception.I’d also insist that parents inspect the materials to make sure there’s nothing really offensive or inaccurate being put in there,” he said. “We don’t say that about cigarettes,” he added. “We don’t say, here’s a filtered cigarette — it’s better than Camel.”

Nicholas A. DiMarzio, the bishop of Brooklyn, said he planned to work with Catholic parents across the city to “assert their parent rights on this issue.” Some public schools that rent space from the church could have to find new locations in which to teach the required courses.

Souleimane Konaté, an imam who is the head of the Masjid Aqsa mosque in Harlem, said he was in favor of the requirement.

“I think it’s a good idea,” he said. “I do talk about it sometimes, but people look at me like I’m crazy because the imams aren’t supposed to talk about it. It’s taboo in my community. But if somebody is doing it for me, I would support them 100 percent.”

“I don’t agree with it, because I think parents should teach their children at their own discretion,” said Lucy Accardo, the mother of four children and a member of the Community Education Council for District 24.

















Order Dismisses a Priest Trying to Ordain Women
The New York Times: August 8, 2011

The Rev. Roy Bourgeois, who refused to renounce his increasingly public campaign to see women ordained as priests in the Roman Catholic Church, has been notified of his dismissal by his religious order, the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.

A letter to Father Bourgeois, signed by the superior general and the general secretary of the Maryknoll order in the United States, said the dismissal was necessary because of his “defiant stance” in opposition to church teaching.

“Your numerous public statements and appearances in support of the women’s priests movement continues to create in the minds of many faithful the view that your position is acceptable to our Church,” the letter said, adding that Father Bourgeois had caused the church “grave scandal.”

“They want two words: I recant,” Father Bourgeois said. “And they can’t get that out of me. For me, the real scandal is the message we are sending to women: you’re not equal, you cannot be priests, you’re not worthy.”

Priest for Women’s Ordination Fights His Dismissal
The New York Times: August 11, 2011

A Roman Catholic priest who is campaigning to open the priesthood to women says he will contest a move by his religious order to dismiss him for his dissent. The priest, the Rev. Roy Bourgeois, said he had retained the Rev. Thomas Doyle (right), a canon lawyer best known as a whistleblower in the priest sexual abuse scandal, to press the case with the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers. Father Doyle said he would argue that Father Bourgeois had a right to follow his conscience, and that the prohibition on women’s ordination was not an infallible church teaching, despite Vatican declarations. A Maryknoll spokesman said its general council would decide the next step.

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Vatican Recalls Ambassador to Ireland Over Abuse Report
The New York Times: July 26, 2011

ROME — The Vatican recalled its ambassador to Ireland on Monday, citing reaction to a recent Irish government report that said the Vatican had discouraged efforts by bishops to report cases of sexual abuse to the police.

A spokesman for the Vatican said the recall of the nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza (left), was a rare move that “denoted the seriousness of the situation,” as well the Holy See’s “will to deal with it with objectivity and determination.”

The spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini (right), told reporters that the archbishop would return to Rome to consult with Vatican officials who are preparing the Holy See’s official response to the Irish government on the report, but added that the decision “does not exclude some degree of surprise and disappointment at certain excessive reactions.”

The government report, conducted by an independent investigative committee and released July 13, found that clergy members in the rural Irish diocese of Cloyne (Cathedral left)did not act on complaints against 19 priests from 1996 to as recently as 2009. More damningly, it said that the Vatican had encouraged bishops to ignore child-protection guidelines adopted by Irish bishops in 1996 that included “mandatory reporting” of abuse to the civil authorities.

The report caused a firestorm in Ireland, a country long dominated by the church. For the first time Irish lawmakers aimed their ire at the Vatican directly, and not at local church leaders.

Last week, the Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny, denounced “the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and the narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day,” in a speech that represented the government’s sharpest-ever direct attack on the Roman Catholic leadership.

The prime minister told Parliament last week, The rape and torture of children were downplayed or ‘managed’ to uphold instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and ‘reputation.’ ” Mr. Kenny added that the Vatican had not listened “to evidence of humiliation and betrayal” with compassion, but had instead chosen “to parse and analyze it with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer.” The Irish Parliament also passed a motion denouncing the Vatican’s role in “undermining child-protection frameworks.”







































The End of Awe
The New York Times: July 24, 2011

EDNESDAY found both the British prime minister and the Irish taoiseach passionately addressing their parliaments about the demystified lords of their universes.

Frantically distancing himself from the pope of Fleet Street, David Cameron conceded that he should not have ignored warnings from the palace and elsewhere against bringing a capo from the sulfurous Murdoch gang into his inner circle.

Across the Irish Sea
in Dublin, Enda Kenny took on the actual pope, making a blazing speech about the Vatican’s unconscionable behavior in the pedophilia scandal.

After 17 years of revolting revelations, Kenny said the latest report on the Cloyne diocese in County Cork exposed “an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic as little as three years ago, not three decades ago.”

The report, he said, “excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism, the narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day. The rape and torture of children were downplayed or ‘managed’ to uphold, instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and ‘reputation.’

“Far from listening to evidence of humiliation and betrayal with St. Benedict’s ‘ear of the heart,’ the Vatican’s reaction was to parse and analyze it with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer. This calculated, withering position being the polar opposite of the radicalism, humility and compassion upon which the Roman church was founded.”

Pulling back the curtain to expose the profane amid the sacred would have been remarkable coming from any leader in one of the many countries scarred by pedophile priests, but from the devoutly Catholic prime minister of a nation whose constitution once enshrined the special position of the church, it was breathtaking.

The Irish were taken aback by the ire of the ordinarily amiable, soft-spoken Kenny, the longest-serving parliamentarian in the land. In his first few months as Taoiseach, the 60-year-old had not given any sign that he could throw such Zeus-style thunderbolts.

But bankrupt and battered Eire, which needed a shot of muscular national pride, was thrilled with his emphatic articulation of their revulsion at the tragedy, and his assertion of Ireland as a sovereign republic not under the thumb of Rome.

“If you look at some of his predecessors, going right back 50 years, they would have been very much of the view that they were Catholics first and politicians second,” said Diarmaid Ferriter, a professor of modern Irish history at University College Dublin.

Ferriter observed: “There has been this very obvious and planned and hugely arrogant policy of obfuscation and deliberate delaying tactics and complete avoidance of responsibility on the part of the Vatican. They were actually treating the sovereign government of Ireland with complete contempt.”

He added:

“We’re fed up with hearing about canon law. This is a Republic, it’s about civil law.”

Garry O’Sullivan, the editor of The Irish Catholic, compared the resonance of the speech to the French revolution, without the violence. “The French Republic didn’t kick out the Catholic Church, but they set up a French Catholic Church and kicked out Rome,” he said. “Kenny has tapped into a vein in the Irish psyche, people saying, ‘Well done for standing up to those bloody bishops and the pope.’ It was lancing a boil.”

Diarmuid Martin, the archbishop of Dublin, who has been frozen out by the Vatican and his fellow Irish bishops for his tender solicitude toward abuse victims, teared up on Irish TV talking about Kenny’s cri de coeur.

What church “cabal” is this in the Vatican or Ireland, he asked, “who try to undermine what is being done, or simply refuse to understand what is being done?”

It is stirring to watch people who have long been cowed finally speaking up, shedding their fear of the authoritarian men at the top who owed their power to the awe of the people.





















Philadelphia’s Cardinal Retires Amid Scandal
The New York Times: July 19, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of Cardinal Justin Rigali, the Roman Catholic leader of Philadelphia, on the grounds that he had reached the retirement age of 75, the Vatican said in a statement on Tuesday, some five months after the city’s 1.5 million-member archdiocese was convulsed by evidence that officials had ignored sexual-abuse charges against dozens of active priests.

The Vatican confirmed that Cardinal Rigali would be succeeded by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, 66, a Native American who is known for his aggressive public opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage, according to people familiar with the plans.

Although perhaps seen as inevitable after the grand jury investigation in Philadelphia, the resignation of Cardinal Rigali, who is now 76, is significant, Vatican experts said, because he had been seen as a consummate church insider and one of the most powerful Americans to serve in the Roman Curia.

Last year, Cardinal Rigali submitted the standard letter of resignation when he turned 75, the customary retirement age for bishops, although some have served beyond the age of 75. His resignation is being accepted only now.

“Because he’s over 75, you can’t make the case that he resigning because of the scandals,”
said the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University and a Jesuit priest. “Certainly, the Vatican never wants to give the appearance of having someone resign under pressure.”

But Cardinal Rigali’s tenure in Philadelphia will inevitably be linked to the mishandling of sexual-abuse cases, which had gone on for decades but erupted this year into what Father Reese called “a disaster for the church.”




for the




















Irish Report Finds Abuse Persisting in Catholic Church
The New York Times: July 13, 2011

DUBLIN — The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland was covering up the sexual abuse of children by priests as recently as 2009, long after it issued guidelines meant to protect children, and the Vatican tacitly encouraged the cover-up by ignoring the guidelines, according to a scathing report issued Wednesday by the Irish government.

Alan Shatter, the Irish justice minister, called the findings “truly scandalous,” adding that the church’s earlier promises to report all abuse cases since 1995 to civil authorities were “built on sand.” Abuse victims called the report more evidence that the church sought to protect priests rather than children.

In Germany on Wednesday, the country’s Roman Catholic bishops took new steps to bring previously unreported abuse to light. The German bishops said they would allow outside investigators to look for abuse cases in diocesan personnel records dating back at least 10 years, and in some cases all the way to 1945, though there were indications that some crucial records may have already been destroyed.

In both Germany and Ireland, the abuse scandal has touched the highest echelons of the church. The Irish report in particular revealed a complex tug of war between the Irish church and the Vatican over how to handle abuse, with a fine line between confusion and obstruction.

The Cloyne Report, as it is known, drafted by an independent investigative committee headed by Judge Yvonne Murphy, found that the clergy in the Diocese of Cloyne, a rural area of County Cork, did not act on complaints against 19 priests from 1996 to 2009. The report also found that two allegations against one priest were reported to the police, but that there was no evidence of any subsequent inquiry.

John Magee, the bishop of Cloyne since 1987, who had previously served as private secretary to three popes, resigned last year. In a statement on Wednesday, Bishop Magee offered a “sincere apology,” but he did not accept direct responsibility for covering up the abuse.

“While I was fully supportive of the procedures, I now realize that I should have taken a much firmer role in ensuring their implementation,” Bishop Magee said. “I accept in its entirety the commission’s view that the primary responsibility for the failure to fully implement the church procedures in the diocese lay with me.”

The Cloyne Report is the Irish government’s fourth in recent years on aspects of the scandal. It shows that abuses were still occurring and being covered up 13 years after the church in Ireland issued child protection guidelines in 1996, and that civil officials were failing to investigate allegations. The report warned that other dioceses might have similar failings.

“That’s the most horrifying aspect of this document,” Frances Fitzgerald, Ireland’s minister for children, told a news conference on Wednesday. “This is not a catalogue of failure from a different era — this is about Ireland now.”

Most damaging, the report said that the Congregation for the Clergy, an arm of the Vatican that oversees the priesthood, had not recognized the 1996 guidelines. That “effectively gave individual Irish bishops the freedom to ignore the procedures” and “gave comfort and support” to priests who “dissented from the stated Irish church policy,” the report said.

The report gave details of a confidential letter sent in 1997 by the Vatican’s nuncio, or ambassador, in Ireland to Irish bishops, warning them that their child-protection policies violated canon law, which states that priests accused of abuse should be able to appeal their cases to the Vatican. The nuncio also dismissed the Irish guidelines as “a study document."













Ireland Confronts the Vatican
The New York Times: July 14, 2011

Throughout the long scandal of sexual abuse by rogue priests, the Vatican has blatantly resisted the idea that civil law must trump church rules in confronting criminal acts. This was evident again in the revelation that the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland continued to cover up abuse cases long after it had issued rules to protect children in 1996.

“The law of the land should not be stopped by crosier or by collar,” Prime Minister Enda Kenny (below right) declared after receiving a detailed report on Wednesday showing that abuses were occurring as recently as 2009.

A principal factor in the cover-up, the government study found, was a Vatican letter in 1997 warning Irish church leaders against full cooperation with law enforcement authorities. The papal representative wrote that the anti-abuse policies conflicted with church law and should be considered “merely a study document.”

This turned criminal law on its head and, as the study noted, gave bishops “freedom to ignore” the tougher rules and protect abusers in the church. In the diocese of Cloyne, investigated in detail by the Dublin government, church officials did not act on complaints against 19 priests in the 13 years after the rules were put in place.

The new findings showed that the abuse was not confined to previous generations. “This is about Ireland now,” said Frances Fitzgerald, Ireland’s minister for children. As usual, apologies were offered, this time by John Magee, the longtime bishop of Cloyne, who resigned last year. Bishop Magee had been accused of improperly embracing a seminarian, but that allegation was dismissed.

With the pedophilia scandal under investigation worldwide, Vatican officials point to new, tougher rules. But the rules, which do not require dioceses to report allegations of crimes to the police, are considered only advisory guidelines to bishops. The Dublin government has enacted a new law making it a crime for anyone, church officials included, to fail to report child abuse to civil authorities. The Vatican has a valuable lesson to learn in Ireland.

(Full text)


















Brooklyn Bishop Issues Ban On All Politicians Who Voted In Favor Of Gay Marriage
Diocese To Come Down Hard On State Lawmakers For The
Foreseeable Future

CBSNewYork: July 6, 2011

NEW YORK— In the wake of the passage of same-sex marriage, state lawmakers shouldn’t expect an invitation to a Catholic church or school in the Diocese of Brooklyn. Lawmakers who voted for gay marriage should also expect any gift or proclamation to be refused.

Last month’s gay marriage vote in New York has opened up a war between Brooklyn’s bishop and state lawmakers.

Diocesan spokesman, Monsignor Kieran Harrington, said lawmakers didn’t even read the bill or debate the issue before quickly voting during the session’s final night
— redefining a centuries’ old institution.

“Our legislators did not do their job,”
Harrington said. Harrington asserted the process leading to the vote “seemed to be very flawed.”

“Because the process was flawed, we believe the legislation passed. If the process had been different, we don’t know if the legislation would have passed,” Harrington said.

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio sent a letter to diocesan schools and churches, ripping Albany’s corrupt political culture while asking they refuse any distinction of honors bestowed upon them by lawmakers who voted for gay marriage.

Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D-Williamsburg, Green Point, Fort Green) said he voted his “conscious” and “for equality.” He then received a letter returning his annual gift to a school’s graduating class.

“I actually feel sorry for the congregation,” Lentol said. “I know the church is not in the greatest financial position.”

Senator Marty Golden voted against gay marriage and said he’s still unwelcome.

“Even though I’m being punished for it, I understand where he’s coming from,” said Golden, a Republican representing Bay Ridge. “It is a little bit aggravating, but I’m going to have to get over it.”

Even if they disagree with the bishop’s position, area lawmakers said they respect the leadership he’s taking on this issue and will obey the ban for as long as it’s in effect.

(Full text)

Archbishop Timothy Dolan continues to express DISDAIN for gay marriage law
DAILY NEWS: Monday, June 27, 2011

The swell of emotions over legalizing same-sex marriage leaked into Gotham's churches Sunday.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan - one of the most outspoken religious leader on the issue - said his spirits were low.

"I sort of needed a good dose of the Lord's grace and mercy because I've been down a little recently, as you might imagine," the Catholic leader said after Mass Sunday.

Steadfast in his opposition, Dolan continued to express disdain for the evolution of same-sex nups.

(Full article)

Passage of gay nuptials in New York State is another 'nail in the coffin' of marriage
DAILY NEWS: Sunday, June 26, 2011

The children of our state deserve the best. We put in place public policies to ensure that children have the proper nutrition, the best education available and are safe from harms way.

There is no question that our society genuinely values the young. Yet, despite these efforts, the number of young people suffering from emotional disorders is disconcerting and our teen suicide rate is alarming.

Sociologists and psychologists agree that stable families where a mother and father live together in a loving union are a key predicator of a child's future health, well-being and success.*

* The available evidence is not exclussive of "loving" same sex couples

Religious leaders bash gay marriage law, vow to ban pols who supported measure
DAILY NEWS:Sunday, June 26, 2011

Religious leaders slammed the state's new gay marriage law on Saturday, vowing to ban politicians who supported the measure from any Catholic church and parochial school events.

The city's top Catholic clergy released strongly worded statements in the hours after the state Senate voted 33-29 to legalize gay unions.

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, of the diocese of Brooklyn, called on all Catholic schools to reject any honor bestowed upon them by Gov. Cuomo, who played a pivotal role in getting the bill passed.

At Mass, Archbishop Is Silent on Same-Sex Marriage
The New York Times:June 26, 2011

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan did not exactly hide his opposition to efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in New York. Yet on Sunday, Archbishop Dolan made no mention of gay marriage during the 10:15 a.m. Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He did not criticize state lawmakers, or offer an impassioned defense of the church’s view of marriage.

It was not until after services when the archbishop tackled the issue, and explained to reporters why he chose not to do so during his homily.

“This is about prayer,” he said inside the cathedral. “I sort of needed a good dose of the Lord’s grace and mercy because I’ve been down a little lately as you can imagine.”

Archbishop Dolan said he was disheartened that the same-sex marriage bill was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

“I would have to say I was sad because it’s not good for the common good,” the archbishop said. “I think society and culture is at its peril.”

Archbishop Dolan acknowledged sensing that his efforts to prevent the bill’s passage were not going to be fruitful: “We knew it was an uphill battle.”

He said his opposition was based on a pro-marriage position, not an anti-gay bias. “I tell the gay community I love you very much, and every single morning when I say my morning prayers, I pray for the health of all New Yorkers and they are part of that,” he said.

“I am very grateful for the presence of so many gay Catholics who are heroically trying to live their faith.”




































The Archbishop vs. the Governor: Gay Sera, Sera
The New York Times: June 18, 2011

With his cigars, blogs, Jameson’s and Irish affability,
New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan prides himself on his gumption.

Certainly his effort to kill the gay marriage bill, just one vote away from passing in Albany, shows a lot of gall.

The archbishop has been ferocious in fighting against marriage between same-sex couples, painting it as a perversity against nature.

If only his church had been as ferocious in fighting against the true perversity against nature: the unending horror of pedophile priests and the children who trusted them.

Archbishop Dolan is pitted against Andrew Cuomo, the Catholic governor who is fiercely pushing for New York to become the sixth and most populous state to approve gay marriage.

Governor Cuomo was already on the wrong side of the church for his support of abortion rights, his divorce and his living in “sin” with the Food Network star Sandra Lee. He was accused by the Vatican adviser Edward Peters (below right) of “public concubinage,” as it’s known in canon law, and Peters recommended that Cuomo be denied communion until he resolved “the scandal” by ceasing this “cohabiting.”

And therein lies the casuistry. On one hand, as Peters told The Times about Cuomo and Lee, “men and women are not supposed to live together without benefit of matrimony.” But then the church denies the benefit of marriage to same-sex couples living together.

Dolan insists that marriage between a man and a woman is “hard-wired” by God and nature. But the church refuses to acknowledge that homosexuality may be hard-wired by God and nature as well, and is not a lifestyle choice.

In yet another attempt at rationalization, the nation’s Catholic bishops — a group Dolan is now in charge of — put out a ridiculous five-year-study last month going with the “blame Woodstock” explanation for the sex-abuse scandal. The report suggested that the problem was caused by permissive secular society rather than cloistered church culture, because priests were trained in the turbulent free-love era. It concluded, absurdly, that neither the all-male celibate priesthood nor homosexuality were causes.

In his blog, “The Gospel in the Digital Age,” the Starchbishop noted with asperity that “Last time I consulted an atlas, it is clear we are living in New York, in the United States of America — not in China or North Korea,” where “communiqués from the government can dictate the size of families, who lives and who dies, and what the very definition of ‘family’ and ‘marriage’ means.”

Yeah. Not like the Vatican.

In the same blog, Dolan snidely dismissed the notion that gay marriage is a civil right. “We acknowledge that not every desire, urge, want, or chic cause is automatically a ‘right,’ ” he wrote. “And, what about other rights, like that of a child to be raised in a family with a mom and a dad?”

And how about the right of a child not to be molested by the parish priest?
































Archbishop Calls Gay Marriage Bill an ‘Ominous Threat’
The New York Times: June 17, 2011

ALBANY — Timothy M. Dolan, the Roman Catholic archbishop of New York, who has been a low-key presence during the debate over same-sex marriage in the state, called in to a capital radio talk show Friday morning to warn that the proposed legislation posed an “ominous threat” to society.

Archbishop Dolan, who was in Seattle to preside over a meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of Brooklyn had been dispatched from Seattle to Albany in a last-ditch effort to influence the Senate Republican majority, which will determine the fate of the proposed same-sex marriage bill.

Archbishop Dolan, speaking on Fredric U. Dicker’s radio program on WGDJ-AM (1300), repeatedly made it clear that he strongly opposed gay marriage, which he called “unjust and immoral,” “detrimental for the common good” and “a violation of what we consider the natural law that’s embedded in every man and woman.”

Acknowledging that supporters of same-sex marriage need just one more vote to prevail in the Senate, Archbishop Dolan said that “we are still working for the defeat of this bill,” but that “we’re realistic to know the forces pushing this are very strong, they’re well oiled, they’re well financed.”

Archbishop Dolan was dismissive of efforts to protect religious organizations from being affected by the legislation, which he called “a couple bones to the dog.” He argued that the rights of churches are already guaranteed by the Constitution, and that as for any additional protections drafted in Albany, “we worry that, what the government gives, the government can take away.”

“We just don’t want this definitive religious freedom to be at the mercy of some government whim,” he said.

Archbishop Dolan argued that the passage of same-sex marriage in other states and countries had at times led to problems for clergy and religious organizations who remained in opposition. “You’ve got couples now in England who are now told they can’t adopt children because they’re not open to same-sex marriage,” he said.

Archbishop Dolan also rued what he called “the presumptive omnipotence of the state” in considering allowing gays to marry, and decried a “new religion of secularism that feels it’s going to come to a theocracy and impose its values on society.”

Asked about polls showing growing public support for same-sex marriage, Archbishop Dolan said he didn’t entirely trust the research methods, because, he said, “our opponents have been very glib in redefining the question.”

As the concerns of religious leaders seemed to play an increasing role in the Senate debate over same-sex marriage, gay rights advocates released a statement from clergy who say the bill would not harm religious organizations.

“We recognize and respect that not all faiths support marriage equality, and agree that it is appropriate that the proposed marriage equality legislation provides broad protection for religious freedom,” said the statement, which was signed by a number of prominent rabbis and mainline Protestant leaders. “Sadly, however, there are some among us who are using religion as a smokescreen to hide their intolerance, choosing to misstate the plain language of the bill and falsely claiming that it fails to protect religious practice. Nothing could be further from the truth: the governor’s bill specifically provides that no clergy, house of worship or denomination would be forced to perform same-sex marriages or make their facilities available to same-sex couples for marriage ceremonies, receptions or other functions.”

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, addressing concerns of religious leaders, said: “I happen to think very strongly that this is not a religious thing. Religious organizations should have every right to decide who they want to marry, whether they want to permit alcohol. Religions do a lot of different things. This is the government, and the government should be separate from religion.”































Catholic Bishops Uphold 2002 Sex Abuse Policy
T^he New York Times: June 16, 2011

The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to retain their policies on sexual abuse by clergy members with only minor revisions, disregarding victims’ advocates who had called for a more substantial overhaul.

The bishops promised to reconsider the policies again two years from now, after they receive recommendations from their national sexual advisory board, which is composed primarily of lay people with expertise in the field.

The bishops first adopted the policies under intense public scrutiny in 2002, as the scandal over abuse by priests reached a fever pitch. The policy’s cornerstone, which stirred great debate among the bishops at the time, was a commitment to remove from ministry every priest credibly accused of abuse even once, a tenet referred to as “zero tolerance.”

That commitment has been called into question in recent months with revelations that accused priests were allowed to continue in ministry in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (left: Archbishop Justin Francis Rigali) and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph (right: Bishop Robert W. Finn). Those bishops did not forward details about all the cases to their sexual abuse advisory boards or the police.

In recent weeks, church critics have called for the bishops to close the loopholes they see in the policy, known as “The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.” One such group,, called for strengthening the review boards and the provisions that require reporting to civil authorities.

But the bishops’ leaders went into their meeting in Bellevue, Wash., near Seattle, on Wednesday saying that they would stand by the current charter because it is effective. The charter was approved on a vote of 187 to 5, with 4 abstentions.

At the meeting this year, only one prelate, Francis Hurley, the retired archbishop of Anchorage (right), rose to speak in favor of removing the “zero tolerance” provision. Saying that it has caused anger among priests and contradicted the church’s teachings on reconciliation and forgiveness, he proposed allowing some priests who had abused to return to limited ministry.

On other matters, the bishops also adopted a strongly worded statement against physician-assisted suicide, and heard updates about their multimedia campaign against same-sex marriage.

During discussion in the open conference session, Archbishop Edwin O’Brien of Baltimore (left) expressed concern about polls showing a shift in public attitudes in the last few years toward approval of same-sex marriage.

“It seems like almost overnight we’ve lost the young adult community on this, including Catholics,” said Archbishop O’Brien, adding that young people had been misled to believe that gay marriage is a civil rights issue.

Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of Oakland (right), chairman of the bishops’ committee on the defense of marriage, responded, “My reflection on this is to ask, whose rights do we really need to respect?”

“Children are the most vulnerable in society,” he concluded, “and children need a mother and a father.



























An Archbishop Burns While Rome Fiddles
The New York Times: June 4, 2011

He could not get through a story about “a really nasty man” — an Irish priest who sexually abused, physically tortured and emotionally threatened vulnerable boys — without pulling out his handkerchief and wiping his nose.

“He built a swimming pool in his own garden, to which only boys of a certain age, of a certain appearance were allowed into it,” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin (left) told me recently. “There were eight other priests in that parish, and not one of them seemed to think there was something strange about it.”

Two years after learning the extent of the depraved and Dickensian treatment of children in the care of the Irish Catholic Church — a fifth circle of hell hidden for decades by church and police officials — the Irish are still angry and appalled.

The only church leader who escapes their disgust is the no-nonsense, multilingual Martin. He was sent home to Dublin in 2003 after 27 years in the Vatican bureaucracy and diplomatic corps and found the Irish church in crisis, reeling from a cover-up that spanned the tenures of four past Dublin archbishops.

I went to see him at his office in Drumcondra in north Dublin because he is that rarest of things in the church’s tragedy: a moral voice.

In February, Martin held an unprecedented “Liturgy of Lament and Repentance” at a Dublin cathedral, where he asked forgiveness from God and victims of abuse and praised the courage of those who had come forward.

Wearing a simple black cassock, he helped wash the feet of eight victims and conceded that the church “will always bear this wound within it.”

The frustrated Martin has criticized the Vatican’s glacial pace on reform and chided the church: “Denial will not generate confidence.”

He has mourned the lack of faith among young people in Ireland, where fewer than one in five Catholics go to Mass in Dublin on Sunday. (A victims’ support group is called One in Four, asserting that’s how many Irish have been affected by the sexual abuse scandal.)

In return for doing the right thing, he has been ostracized by fellow bishops in Ireland and snubbed by the Holy See.

Showing again that it prefers denial to remorse, the Vatican undermined Martin’s call for accountability. In 2009, after the Irish government’s 700-page Murphy report on sexual abuse came out, Pope Benedict XVI refused to accept the resignations of two Irish bishops who presided over dioceses where abuse cases were mishandled.

The following year, when Martin expected to be named cardinal, the pope passed him over.

Yet Martin, famous protector of victims, is an outlier of the club, while Cardinal Bernard Law (left), notorious protector of pedophiles, has a cushy Vatican sanctuary. And Cardinal Angelo Sodano (right, top), who was in league with the notorious abuser of seminarians and inseminator of women, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado (right, bottom), is the dean of the College of Cardinals in Rome.






















The Vatican Comes Up Short
The New York Times: May 19, 2011

The Vatican’s long overdue guidelines for fighting sexual abuse of children are, unfortunately, just that — flimsy guidelines for a global problem that requires an unequivocal mandate for church officials to work with secular authorities in prosecuting rogue priests.

Instead, the Vatican has issued nonbinding guidance that punts the scandal back to the authority of local bishops, who still will not face firm oversight or punishment for cover-ups that recycled hundreds of abusive priests.

The directive came two days before a new study of the abuse problem that cites the sexual and social turmoil of the 1960s as a possible factor in priests’ crimes. This is a rather bizarre stab at sociological rationalization and, in any case, beside the point that church officials went into denial and protected abusers.

The Vatican directive is also seriously defective for playing down the role of civilian boards in investigating abuses.
The lay boards helped force the American bishops to proclaim a zero-tolerance policy that was finally more concerned about raped children than the image of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Vatican guidelines note that abusing children is a matter for secular law and call for dioceses to create “clear and coordinated” policies by next year. But the continuing stress on church priority in what essentially are criminal offenses is disheartening.

Vatican officials say Rome should not interfere with the traditional supremacy of local bishops. That was not the case earlier this month, when Pope Benedict XVI removed Bishop William Morris (right) of Toowoomba, Australia, from office. The bishop, concerned with the shortage of priests, asked five years ago whether the Vatican “may well” have to reconsider the bar to ordaining women or married men.

No dramatic dismissal was ordered for bishops well documented to have overseen hush payments to victims and relocation of abusive priests. Splendid Vatican sanctuary was extended to Cardinal Bernard Law (right) after he had to resign amid reports he covered up the scandal in Boston.

Most recently, ranking churchmen in Philadelphia rejected a grand jury finding that as many as 37 priests suspected of abuse should not still be serving.
The diocese later suspended 26 amid public alarm. This should have been a red flag to the Vatican that diocesan prelates need a no-nonsense fiat in repairing the damage to children and the church from decades of shielding abusive priests.

(Full editorial)


Chile: Evidence on Priest Seized
The New York Times: April 20, 2011

The police in Santiago have raided the home and offices of a lawyer representing a Roman Catholic priest found guilty by the Vatican of sexually molesting boys. The authorities seized documents related to the church case for a criminal investigation, a police spokeswoman, Lorena Quiroz, confirmed Tuesday. A judge ordered the raid after Juan Pablo Bulnes, the lawyer for the priest, the Rev. Fernando Karadima (right), refused to turn over documents. Mr. Bulnes on Tuesday called the action an “abuse” of his right to lawyer-client confidentiality. He said Chile’s bar association has asked the Supreme Court to overturn the seizure.

An appeals court voted last month to reopen a criminal case into charges of sexual abuse after the Vatican found Father Karadima guilty of abusing minors.

The Vatican ordered the priest to retire to a “life of prayer and penitence.”

He has appealed the Vatican’s decision.

(Full article)

former bishop
of Bruges








































Outrage in Belgium Over Interview of Ex-Bishop
The New York Times: April 16, 2011

LONDON — A year after his resignation plunged Belgium’s Roman Catholic Church into a crisis, the former bishop of Bruges provoked almost universal condemnation on Friday, this time by admitting that he had abused a second nephew and insisting that he was not a pedophile.

In a television interview late Thursday that reopened deep wounds, the bishop, Roger Vangheluwe, 74, recounted with apparent lack of contrition events leading up to his resignation as bishop of Bruges last year, when it emerged that nearly 25 years ago he had abused a boy who was later revealed to be one of his nephews.

In a broadcast from a location in France, Bishop Vangheluwe ... suggested that the 13-year relationship revealed last year had not been opposed by his nephew, and, in an unexpected new twist, he admitted having abused a second nephew for a much shorter period.

The interview with Bishop Vangheluwe, which was conducted on the Flemish channel VT4 and, at his insistence, broadcast live, prompted a storm of criticism from an array of public figures. Although he began by expressing his guilt, he conveyed little if any contrition for his actions, and he said he would not abandon the priesthood unless he was forced to do so.

Bishop Vangheluwe is not facing criminal charges because of Belgium’s 10-year statute of limitations, and the Vatican says he is receiving “spiritual and psychological treatment” outside Belgium. But Belgium’s justice minister, Stefaan De Clerck (right), called on the Vatican to impose a tough punishment.

This week, the Vatican said that its Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was evaluating the bishop’s case and that Pope Benedict XVI himself would eventually rule on the bishop’s fate. Among possible punishments, the pope could remove him from the priesthood.

During the interview, to which Bishop Vangheluwe had agreed only on the condition that it would be broadcast live, he denied that he had been driven by sexual motives. “I have often been involved with children and I never felt the slightest attraction,” he said. “It was a certain intimacy that took place.”

“I don’t have the impression at all that I am a pedophile,” he continued. “It was really just a small relationship. I did not have the feeling that my nephew was against it — quite the contrary.”

“How did it begin?” he said. “As with all families. When they came to visit, the nephews slept with me. It began as a game with the boys. It was never a question of rape, there was never physical violence used. He never saw me naked and there was no penetration.”

Bishop Vangheluwe (right) said that the same had applied to the boy abused for a shorter period of time and that the abuse had been restricted to the touching of genitals.

“What he has said I find terrible,” said Yves Leterme, Belgium’s prime minister. “It goes beyond what is acceptable.”

That sentiment was echoed by Karine Lalieux (left), the Belgian deputy who led a parliamentary committee on sexual abuse.

“I say it’s sickening, disgusting,” she said. “Mr. Vangheluwe has not understood that he has committed crimes, he has minimized and relativized his crimes. I think of the victims and of their suffering.”

Lawyers representing victims were equally shocked. “I think it is astonishing how this man does not feel any guilt, does not show any guilt,” said Christine Mussche (right), a lawyer for dozens of people who claim they were abused by a clergy member. “He’s saying that the victims also enjoyed this, and there is no feeling of regret at all.”

Walter Van Steenbrugge (left), another lawyer representing the victims, said that neither nephew wished to comment.


















Vatican warns China bishops over illegal ordination
By Philip Pullella
Reuters: APR 15, 2011

Bishops in China who are ordained without papal authorisation inflict a “grave wound” on the entire Catholic Church and should not let themselves be manipulated by the government, the Vatican has said.

The Vatican issued the warning on Thursday after a meeting of a special commission that studies the situation of Catholics in China, who are not allowed to recognise the pope’s authority but forced to be members of a state-backed Church.

Last November, the Vatican condemned the ordination without papal permission of Reverend Joseph Guo Jincai, a member of the state-backed Church in Chengde. For a period before that, China and the Vatican had reached an agreement that the Vatican would give tacit but not explicit approval to some of the appointments of bishops by the government-backed Church after discreet consultations.

It said at the time various bishops loyal to the pope had come under pressure to attend Guo’s ordination ceremony.

Catholics in China are divided between one Church that recognises the pope and his authority to name bishops and a state-backed “patriotic association” which ordains its own.

Priests anywhere in the world who allow themselves to be made bishops without papal approval are usually subjected to automatic excommunication, or a total cutoff from the Church.

But in its statement, the Vatican said “external pressures and constrictions” in China might exempt the new bishops from such drastic punishment.

Photo credit: David Gray















































After Bishops Attack Book, Gauging Bounds of Debate
The New York Times: April 12, 2011

Is God male? The Old Testament uses the masculine pronoun to describe him. Jesus refers to the divinity as Father. So does that make the creator a masculine force — and mean that men are more godlike than women?

These are questions that theologians like Sister Elizabeth A. Johnson, a Fordham University professor, have been mulling for years. At 69, Sister Johnson is among the pioneers of a generation of feminist scholars who examine how cultural biases among biblical scribes may have led to women’s diminished roles in Western religious traditions, especially the Roman Catholic Church.

Until a few weeks ago, when a committee of American bishops accused her of violating church doctrine in a 2007 book, many theologians considered such questions standard academic fare — a natural line of inquiry into the cultural context and history of ancient texts.

Now, those scholars are sifting through the committee’s 21-page critique to understand what it may mean for them, and for the future of theological study in the United States. Many on the left and the right agree on one point: The bishops, who have already shut off discussion about ordaining women, are signaling that other long-debated questions about gender in the church — the choice of pronouns in prayers, the study of the male and female aspects of God — are substantially off-limits as well.

Several Catholic thinkers say that in confronting Sister Johnson, a highly respected theologian whose books are widely used in theology classes, the bishops have tried to make an example.

“What the bishops have done is to reject 50 years of contemporary theology,” said Terrence W. Tilley, chairman of the theology department at Fordham, where many faculty members have rallied to the sister’s defense. “Sister Johnson has been attempting to push Catholic thinking along new paths. And the bishops have now made it clear — this is something they stand against.”

The Cardinal Newman Society, which monitors Catholic colleges for what it considers “inauthentic” teaching.... “This is a person who has described the male-only priesthood as a sign of ‘patriarchal resistance to women’s equality,’ ” said Patrick J. Reilly, the society’s president. “So I think she has officially challenged church teaching in ways that are beyond the pale.”

The critique was limited to her most recent book, “Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God,” which examined different understandings of the divine through the experiences of women, Latinos, Holocaust victims, the poor and people of other religions. Saying the book should not be used in Catholic schools and colleges, the bishops singled out passages they said contained “misrepresentations, ambiguities and errors.” Those included sections describing other religious traditions as having roots in divine revelation as deep as Christianity’s.

The passages drawing the harshest admonishment, however, concerned Sister Johnson’s proposal that feminine as well as masculine imagery be used in prayers referring to God, a recommendation that has been debated and rejected by the bishops before. Still, the book persisted, “all-male images of God are hierarchical images rooted in the unequal relation between women and men, and they function to maintain this arrangement.”

Wrong, the bishops said: If the Gospels use masculine imagery, it is because divine revelation would have it that way.

“The names of God found in the Scriptures are not mere human creations that can be replaced by others that we may find more suitable,” the bishops wrote. “The standard by which all theological assertions must be judged is that provided by divine revelation, not by unaided human understanding. God does use human, and thus limited, means in revealing himself to the world.”

Dr. Tilley, the Fordham theology chairman, described that argument as “approaching the incoherent.”

“All revelation is received through language, and all language is culturally conditioned,” he said. “All they are saying here is that they have the truth and Sister Johnson doesn’t.”

The Rev. Thomas G. Weinandy, executive director for the bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, said the committee’s concern was less about “feminism or nonfeminism” than about the author’s “understanding of God.”

But Teresa Berger, a theology professor at Yale Divinity School whom the Vatican barred from teaching in Catholic universities in the early 1990s because of her feminist theological writings, said the church’s attitude toward women was diminishing its understanding of God.

“Gender has become such a contentious issue in the church,” Professor Berger said, “that any exploration of it, in terms of language or in the larger question of the nature of God, is viewed as a threat to the basic givens of the faith.”

Top left: Caravaggio, St. Matthew Writing the Gospels
Above left: Judy Chicago, Would God Be Female



State Representative

Lawmaker Calls Bishop ‘Pedophile Pimp’
The New York Times: April 2, 2011

A top Republican in New Hampshire on Friday called Bishop John B. McCormack of Manchester a “pedophile pimp” on his Facebook page.
The Republican, State Representative D. J. Bettencourt, the House majority leader, was responding to criticism from Bishop McCormack that state budget cuts would hurt the most vulnerable members of society.

“Would the bishop like to discuss his history of protecting the ‘vulnerable?’” Mr. Bettencourt, a practicing Roman Catholic, wrote. “This man is a pedophile pimp who should have been led away from the State House in handcuffs with a raincoat over his head in disgrace. He has absolutely no moral credibility to lecture anyone.”

Mr. Bettencourt said in a statement that his criticism stemmed from Bishop McCormack’s time as an administrator for Cardinal Bernard F. Law in Boston, where he was a top aide assigned to investigate complaints that priests had sexually abused minors. He was named bishop of Manchester in 1998.

In 2002, he was part of a settlement with state prosecutors in which the diocese acknowledged it had protected abusive priests and submitted itself to audits. The agreement halted a criminal nvestigation.

The diocese said Mr. Bettencourt’s comments were false and defamatory. James Salt, acting director of Catholics United (right), a group in Washington, called Mr. Bettencourt “an embarrassment” and said his group was urging Mr. Bettencourt to retract his statements. So far, Mr. Bettencourt has stood by them, saying that the bishop had “brought shame and dishonor on my church here in New Hampshire.”

(Full article)





















Bishops Urge Catholic Schools to Ban a Nun’s Book
The New York Times: April 1, 2011

A committee of American Roman Catholic bishops announced Wednesday that a popular book about God by Sister Elizabeth A. Johnson, a theologian at Fordham University in New York, should not be used in Catholic schools and universities because it does not uphold church doctrine.

The book, “Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God,” examines different understandings of God through experiences of the poor and oppressed, Holocaust victims, Hispanics, women and people of religions other than Catholicism.

Among the chapter titles are “God Acting Womanish” and “Accompanying God of Fiesta.”

The bishops’ committee on doctrine said in a statement: “The book does not take the faith of the Church as its starting point. Instead, the author employs standards from outside the faith to criticize and to revise in a radical fashion the conception of God revealed in Scripture and taught by the Magisterium,” the church’s teaching authority according to the popes and bishops.

Sister Johnson declined an interview, but said in a statement that the bishops never invited her to discuss the book and that she was unaware that the bishops were assessing it until they had already decided to issue a condemnatory statement.

“One result of this absence of dialogue is that in several key instances this statement radically misinterprets what I think, and what I in fact wrote,” she said. “The conclusions thus drawn paint an incorrect picture of the fundamental line of thought the book develops. A conversation, which I still hope to have, would have very likely avoided these misrepresentations.”

The Rev. Thomas Weinandy, executive director of the bishops’ Secretariat for Doctrine (left), said several American bishops who did not serve on the doctrine committee had raised concerns about the book.

Theology professors at Catholic universities said they did not see a theological cause for the bishops to condemn Sister Johnson’s work.

Stephen J. Pope, a theologian at Boston College (right), said: “The reason is political. Certain bishops decide that they want to punish some theologians, and this is one way they do that. There’s nothing particularly unusual in her book as far as theology goes. It’s making an example of someone who’s prominent.”

Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, the committee chairman
(left), said in a statement that Sister Johnson might have avoided problems if she had sought a bishop’s approval, known as an “imprimatur,” and made revisions before publishing her book.

Father Weinandy said that while imprimaturs are recommended under canon law, they are not required, and that while they were once common, few theologians now request them.



District Attorney






Philadelphia Archdiocese Suspends 21 Priests
The New York Times: March 8, 2011

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced Tuesday that it had placed 21 priests on administrative leave from active ministry in connection with credible charges that they had sexually abused minors.

The mass suspension was one of the single most sweeping in the history of the sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. It follows a damning grand jury report issued Feb. 10 that accused the archdiocese of a widespread cover-up of predatory priests stretching over decades and that said as many as 37 priests remained active in the ministry despite credible allegations of sexual abuse against them.

The church apparently found no credible charges against eight of the priests. As for the rest, three were already placed on administrative leave, and five others would have been subject to leave but were no longer active. Two of those five no longer serve in the archdiocese but are members of a religious order; the archdiocese said it had notified the superiors of the religious order as well as the bishops of the diocese in which they live.

Church officials, including Cardinal Justin Rigali, the archbishop of Philadelphia, have spent the last few days informing the priests of their status after an initial review of their cases by Gina Smith, an outside lawyer hired by the church to re-examine their cases in light of the grand jury report.

The cardinal said the suspensions were interim measures, pending fuller investigations of their cases.

He also apologized for the behavior of abusive priests.
“As we strive to move forward today,” Cardinal Rigali added, “I wish to express again my sorrow for the sexual abuse of minors committed by any members of the church, especially clergy.”

“I am truly sorry for the harm done to the victims of sexual abuse, as well as to the members of our community who suffer as a result of this great evil and crime,” he said.

The announcement Tuesday was a major embarrassment for Cardinal Rigali, who, in response to the grand jury report, had initially said that there were no priests in active ministry “who have an admitted or established allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against them.”

The district attorney immediately indicted five people — two priests, a former priest, a parochial school teacher and a high-ranking church official. Within 10 days of the grand jury report, Cardinal Rigali placed three other priests whose activities had been detailed by the grand jury on administrative leave.

The archdiocese said that the cases against the priests on administrative leave involved a range of charges, “from allegations of sexual abuse of a minor to boundary issues with minors.” It did not elaborate.

(Full article)


"Boston Reborn"


In Philadelphia, New Cases Loom in Priest Scandal
The New York Times: March 5, 2011

PHILADELPHIA — Three weeks after a scathing grand jury report said the Archdiocese of Philadelphia had provided safe haven to as many as 37 priests who were credibly accused of sexual abuse or inappropriate behavior toward minors, most of those priests remain active in the ministry.

The possibility that even one predatory priest, not to mention three dozen, might still be serving in parishes — “on duty in the archdiocese today, with open access to new young prey,” as the grand jury put it — has unnerved many Roman Catholics here and sent the church reeling in the latest and one of the most damning episodes in the American church since it became engulfed in the sexual abuse scandal nearly a decade ago.

The situation in Philadelphia is “Boston reborn,” said David J. O’Brien, who teaches Catholic history at the University of Dayton. The Boston Archdiocese was engulfed in a scandal starting in 2002 involving widespread sexual abuse by priests and an extensive cover-up that reached as high as the cardinal.

The church has not explained directly why these priests, most of whom were not publicly identified, are still active, though it is under intense pressure to do so. Cardinal Justin Rigali initially said there were no active priests with substantiated allegations against them, but six days later, he placed three of the priests, whose activities had been described in detail by the grand jury, on administrative leave.

He also hired an outside lawyer, Gina Maisto Smith, a former assistant district attorney who prosecuted child sexual assault cases for 15 years, to re-examine all cases involving priests in active ministry and review the procedures employed by the archdiocese.

Priest Is Sentenced to Prison
The New York Times: March 5, 2011

Italy A Rome court has sentenced a Catholic priest to 15 years and four months in prison for sexually abusing minors, in one of the rare cases in Italy in which a bishop was called to testify in civil court. The Rev. Ruggero Conti, from a parish in Rome, was found guilty on Thursday of abusing seven minors between 1998 and 2008, a lawyer for the priest said. The court also ordered Father Conti to pay 50,000 euros ($70,000) in damages to each victim.

Father Conti was suspended from his duties as a parish priest in the outskirts of Rome soon after his arrest in 2008, but not from his clerical duties, said his lawyer, Patrizio Spinelli. He said his client would appeal the ruling.

(Full article)

Canon lawyer to the
Apostolic Signature


















Deny Gov. Cuomo Communion, Says Vatican Advisor In NYC
CBS New York: February 23, 2011

NEW YORK — According to church canon, is New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo eligible to receive communion?

Dr. Edward Peters, American lay canon lawyer and advisor for the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s highest court, says no.

In an email interview with Monday, Dr. Peters argued the Roman Catholic governor should refrain from receiving communion, and he should be denied the sacrament, given that he lives with his girlfriend, Food Network hostess Sandra Lee.

Dr. Peters cites canon 915 from the Church’s Code of Canon Law, which says people “who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to holy communion,” and contends that Cuomo’s living with Lee despite not being married, meets the requirements of this law.

“The governor, with complete freedom, is publicly acting in violation of a fundamental moral expectation of the Church. On these facts alone, his taking holy communion is objectively sacrilegious and produces grave scandal within the faith community,” Dr. Peters wrote.

Aside from cohabitation with his girlfriend, Dr. Peters argued that another of Cuomo’s actions should disqualify him from eligibility: support of abortion.

“Does Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s public policy of supporting abortion and passage of the Reproductive Rights Act constitute — in the objective order – ‘persevering in manifest grave sin’ and should Cuomo therefore not ‘not be admitted to holy communion’?” asked Dr. Peters.

His answer: “I would want experts on New York law and politics to verify a few facts here, but based on what is widely reported about the governor’s consistent support for abortionism in New York, I see no other way to interpret his abortion-related conduct except as sufficient to warrant withholding of holy communion from him under Canon 915.”

There was no response from the governor as of Wednesday morning.

(Full article)


Lawyer In Wisc. Church Abuse Fund Suit Hopes To Question Dolan
CBS NewYork February 12, 2011

NEW YORK — New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan might get dragged back to his days in the Milwaukee diocese, where he was in charge from 2002 to 2009.

A lawyer representing people who claim priest sex abuse said he wants to question Dolan about missing assets in the sex scandal, charging that the diocese could be hiding as much as $130 million in assets to protect against lawsuits.

Joe Zwilling (right) with the New York Archdiocese told WCBS 880 said he believes it’s just something the lawyer said to a reporter.

A spokesman for the archdiocese issued the following statement to CBS 2: “Archbishop Dolan would welcome the opportunity to cooperate with any law enforcement people who are investigating the matter. Any allegation that there was an attempt to shield money is preposterous. It is simply not true.”

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that the lawyer, Jeffrey Anderson, claimed the church in Milwaukee moved $75 million off its books in 2004, and moved $55 million more to a cemetery trust, just after a court gave victims the right to sue.

(Full article)





Los Angeles Archdiocese to Dismiss Priest Over Admission of Molesting Girl
The New York Times: February 12, 2011

LOS ANGELES — A priest accused of having a long-term sexual relationship with a teenage girl, writing her decades later to ask for forgiveness and declare that he was a sex addict, is being removed from ministry in a parish, and the diocese’s vicar of clergy has also resigned, officials of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles said Friday.

The priest, the Rev. Martin P. O’Loghlen, was once a leader in his religious order [the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary] and was appointed to an archdiocesan sexual abuse advisory board, although officials at both the order and the archdiocese knew at the time about his admission of sexual abuse and addiction. He served on the board, which was meant to review accusations of abuse by priests, for at least two years in the late 1990s, according to church and legal documents.

Tod Tamberg, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said church officials planned to announce the removal of Father O’Loghlen from his current parish in San Dimas on Sunday. Church officials decided to act after being contacted by a reporter about the priest’s history of sexual abuse.

Mr. Tamberg said in a statement that officials of the priest’s religious order assured the archdiocese in 2009 that Father O’Loghlen was fit for the ministry. He said that the archdiocese’s vicar for clergy, Msgr. Michael Meyers, resigned on Friday. Monsignor Meyers had been in the position since July 2009 and it was his job to grant clergymen what are known as faculties to serve as priests.

The Los Angeles Archdiocese, led by Cardinal Roger M. Mahony (right), has been rocked by sexual abuse accusations for years. In 2007, it agreed to a $660 million settlement with 508 people who said that priests had sexually abused them as children.

“The failure to fully check records before granting priestly faculties is a violation of archdiocesan policy,” Cardinal Mahony said in a statement. “We owe it to victims and to all our faithful to make absolutely certain that all of our child protection policies and procedures are scrupulously followed.”

Pictured top right: Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

















Philadelphia Priests Accused by Grand Jury of Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up
The New York Times: February 11, 2011

PHILADELPHIA — A grand jury on Thursday accused the Archdiocese of Philadelphia of failing to stop the sexual abuse of children more than five years after a grand jury report documented abuse by more than 50 priests.

The new report said a senior church official charged with investigating allegations of sexual abuse by priests had in fact allowed some of those accused to remain in posts that gave them continued access to children. It charged him with endangering the welfare of minors and accused three priests and a teacher of raping two boys between 1996 and 1999.

“By no means do we believe that these were the only two parishioners who were abused during this period,” the report said.
At least 37 priests who are subject to “substantial evidence of abuse” are still in roles that bring them into contact with children, the new report said, and 10 of those have been in place since before 2005, when the last grand jury made its allegations.

The Rev. Edward Avery, 68, and the Rev. Charles Engelhardt, 64, were charged with the rape and indecent assault of a 10-year-old boy in St. Jerome Parish in Northeast Philadelphia in 1998 and 1999. The teacher, Bernard Shero, 48, was accused of assaulting the same boy in 2000.

The Rev. James Brennan, 47, was accused of assaulting a 14-year-old boy in 1996. All three priests were under arrest on Thursday.
The report also charged Msgr. William Lynn, secretary of clergy in the archdiocese under former Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua (right), with endangering the welfare of children by allowing “dangerous” priests to remain in place. Monsignor Lynn was responsible for investigating abuse allegations from 1992 to 2004.

“The rapist priests we accuse were well known to the Secretary of Clergy, but he cloaked their conduct and put them in place to do it again,” the grand jury said.

Monsignor Lynn faces a maximum of 14 years in prison if convicted on all charges. The 124-page report, which contains graphic descriptions of abuse of the 9- and 10-year-old boys, said the grand jury decided “reluctantly” not to press charges against Cardinal Bevilacqua, who stepped down in 2003 after 15 years as archbishop, even though he worked closely with Monsignor Lynn, because it did not have enough evidence.

In a statement issued late on Thursday, Cardinal Justin Rigali, the archbishop of Philadelphia (right), rejected the report’s assertion that there were active priests who had been credibly accused of abuse.

“I assure all the faithful that there are no archdiocesan priests in ministry today who have an admitted or established allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against them,” he said.

The report accused the archdiocese of lacking urgency in its efforts to eradicate sexual abuse by its priests.

It said a panel looking into the allegations dismissed charges against a priest by two independent victims, saying their evidence lacked credibility.

“These are simply not the actions of an institution that is serious about ending sexual abuse of children,” the report said.











News Reports Say Cardinal Protected an Abuser
The New York Times: February 10, 2011

BRUSSELS — The sexual abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands deepened Thursday when news reports said one of its senior figures had shielded a pedophile priest.

Reports in three news media outlets increased the pressure on the cardinal, Adrianus Simonis, the retired archbishop of Utrecht, who testified last month as a witness in a legal action taken by one of almost 2,000 people who have said they were victims of abuse.

The crisis in the Netherlands is another setback for the Roman Catholic Church, which has been struggling with sexual abuse allegations from Ireland and Belgium to the United States.

Cardinal Simonis caused some distress in the Netherlands last March, when he was asked on television about the hundreds of complaints surfacing against the church and replied in German rather than Dutch, saying “Wir haben es nicht gewusst” — or “We knew nothing about it.”

The phrase, which is associated with Nazi excuses after World War II, drew uncomfortable parallels for the church, which has been accused of covering up the issue of sexual abuse.

The reports on Thursday, by Radio Netherlands Worldwide, the newspaper NRC Handelsblad and the Dutch television program “Nieuwsuur,” said the cardinal was told by the bishop of Rotterdam at the time, Philippe Bar, that during the 1980s a priest had sexually abused boys in a parish in Zoetermeer. Archbishop Simonis later arranged for the man to be moved to a parish in Amersfoort.

The news reports did not name the priest suspected of abuse.

In a statement issued Thursday, Cardinal Simonis said the priest had been allowed to continue working in a parish only after undergoing lengthy therapy and on the basis of a psychological report. If new evidence about the case emerged that cast doubt on his decision, he said, that would be regrettable.

On Thursday, Martin de Witte, a lawyer acting for several of those who said they had been abused, said the news reports proved that pedophiles had been systematically protected.

“He didn’t do anything,” Mr. de Witte said of the cardinal, adding, “He was not protecting the children; he was protecting the people who did the abuse.”

Figures released in December showed that almost 2,000 people had made complaints of sexual or physical abuse against the church.

(Full article)

Is Not an Absolute Right
Pope: Marriage Is Not an Absolute Right
Benedict Tells Priests to Do a Better Job Counseling Would-Be Spouses to Ensure Their Marriages Last
The Associated Press: Jan. 22, 2011

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI told priests Saturday to do a better job counseling would-be spouses to ensure their marriages last and said no one has an absolute right to a wedding.

Benedict made the comments in his annual speech to the Roman Rota, the Vatican tribunal that decides marriage annulments. An annulment is the process by which the church effectively declares that a marriage never took place.







John Paul II's Blood to Be Holy Relic in Poland
Vial of Late Pope's Blood Will Be Installed in Krakow Church; Pope Benedict Announced Predecessor's
CBS/AP: Jan. 17, 2011

WARSAW, Poland - An official says a vial containing the blood of Pope John Paul II will be installed as a relic in a Polish church soon after his beatification.

Piotr Sionko, the spokesman for the John Paul II Center, says the vial will be built into the altar of a church in Krakow that is opening in May.

Sionko said Monday the idea came from Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the archbishop of Krakow and the longtime friend and secretary of the late Polish pontiff.

Sionko said the blood was drawn for medical tests at Rome's Gemelli Polyclinic shortly before John Paul's death on April 2, 2005, and has been in Dziwisz's care.

Benedict, in the fastest process on record, set May 1 as the date for John Paul's beatification - a key step toward Catholicism's highest honor and a major morale boost for a church reeling from the clerical sex abuse scandal.

Italy: Pope Favors Design, Not Accident
January 6, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday that God’s knowledge, love and “inexhaustible creativity” — not chance — lay at the origins of the universe. Scientific concepts suggesting the formation of the universe was accidental, like the Big Bang theory, “only arrive at a certain point,” the pope told worshipers in St. Peter’s Basilica on Thursday. The church no longer says that the process of evolution violates its teachings, but for the church, God remains the ultimate creator.

A Monsignor Is Defrocked for Abusing a Student
The New York Times: December 17, 2010

A once-influential Roman Catholic monsignor who oversaw fund-raising for the Archdiocese of New York, running the annual Alfred E. Smith political dinner during the tenure of Cardinal John J. O’Connor, has been removed from the priesthood after an eight-year church review of sexual abuse accusations against him, the archdiocese announced on Friday.

Msgr. Charles M. Kavanagh, in a 2003 photo, was defrocked by a Roman Catholic church tribunal that reviewed allegations that he sexually abused a seminarian in the 1980s. He was one of the highest-ranking priests in New York to face accusations of sexual misconduct.

The monsignor, Charles M. Kavanagh, 73, has denied the charges, which were brought against him by a former student at the former Cathedral Preparatory Seminary in Manhattan. The monsignor contested an archdiocesan review board’s finding of guilt in 2003, then asked the Vatican to authorize a formal trial by a tribunal of priests from another diocese. When that body also found him guilty, he sought an appeal from a second tribunal.

On Wednesday, the second tribunal concluded its review, ruling that Monsignor Kavanagh should be defrocked, said Joseph Zwilling, the spokesman for the New York archdiocese. The announcement was made after two days, late on a Friday afternoon, because “we have not dealt with this kind of situation before,” Mr. Zwilling said.

Nineteen priests in the archdiocese have been discharged from the priesthood since 2002, when a sexual abuse scandal shook the church nationwide. He is also one of the highest-ranking local priests to have been caught up in the accusations.

Daniel Donohue, 46, the former seminarian who accused Monsignor Kavanagh of making unwanted advances and touching him inappropriately in the 1980s, said, “I’m glad for the validation of my credibility.” But he criticized the slowness and opacity of the church’s judicial process. “For eight years, I never knew where the process was,” he said by phone from Portland, Ore., where he lives with his wife and four children. “I have classmates who are going through similar processes. I just hope it doesn’t take eight years for them, too.”



Vatican Shielded Dublin Priest Until He Raped Boy in Pub, Inquiry Says
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: December 17, 2010

DUBLIN — The Vatican tried to stop church leaders here from defrocking a particularly dangerous pedophile priest and relented only after he raped a boy in a restroom at a pub, according to an investigation released Friday.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin said he fully accepted the findings of the latest chapter in Ireland’s investigation into child abuse by priests in Dublin who were shielded from the law by Catholic leaders.

Archbishop Martin called the priest, Tony Walsh, an “extremely devious man” who should never have been ordained.

A state-ordered investigation into cover-ups by the Dublin Archdiocese reported last year that church officials had shielded scores of priests from criminal investigation over several decades and did not report any crimes to the police until the mid-1990s.


Mexico: Order Shelves Founder’s Photos
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: December 13, 2010

The Legionaries of Christ is ordering images of its disgraced founder removed from its buildings worldwide as part of Vatican-mandated reforms. The conservative order says photographs showing the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado alone or with the pope must be removed from its installations. Father Maciel, who died in 2008, was found to have molested seminarians for decades and fathered three children.

(Full article)








Leaked Cables Show Vatican Tensions and Diplomacy With U.S.
The New York Times: December 10, 2010

ROME — Recently released diplomatic cables show the Vatican fighting to shore up its eroding control over sexual abuse scandals in the United States and Ireland, highlighting complex tensions between the Vatican hierarchy, local bishops and civil authorities.

The cables were obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to The New York Times and other news organizations.

Some cables read in part like thrillers, like when Opus Dei, the powerful religious order, took pains to distance itself from one of its members: Robert P. Hanssen, an F.B.I. agent who in a dramatic case in 2001 pleaded guilty to being a longtime Russian spy.

A cable sent that year by the United States Embassy to the Holy See said that Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Pope John Paul II’s last secretary of state, “took the bulk of his initial meeting” with Ambassador James Nicholson “to register his displeasure with the several lawsuits filed in U.S. courts that have been served at the Vatican.”

It added that Cardinal Sodano “complained about the ‘aggressive attorneys’ who had started in on the Vatican with the sexual abuse scandal and had also filed suits about Nazi-era gold allegedly acquired by the Holy See.”

“It’s one thing for them to sue bishops,” the cable quoted him as saying, “but another thing entirely to sue the Holy See.”

Cardinal Sodano urged Ambassador Nicholson to help defend the Holy See’s sovereignty.

In 2005, the State Department argued that Pope Benedict XVI should be immune from a lawsuit accusing him of conspiracy to hide abuse because he was a head of state. A federal judge later dismissed the case.

The sovereignty issue emerged again more recently in Ireland, where two government-appointed commissions released reports in 2009 revealing a widespread cover-up of abuse, shaking the Irish church to its core.

According to a cable sent in February from the American Embassy to the Holy See, requests by Irish investigators “offended” many in the Vatican “because they saw them as an affront to Vatican sovereignty.”

Other cables show the Catholic Church to be deeply involved in local politics worldwide and a useful source of information for American diplomats, especially in places like Cuba and Venezuela. One cable from 2006 said that a Venezuelan clergyman might be a good source on President Hugo Chávez.

A 2002 cable said that “despite the real progress” under John Paul in the Vatican’s relations with Judaism, some in the hierarchy still “manifested remnants of anti-Semitic sentiments.”

It cited “an older desk officer of French origin” who complained that the United States government’s “strong interest in modern European anti-Semitism stemmed from the ‘excessive influence of Jews in your media and government,’ ” while another curial official said some lawsuits against the Holy See “were the result of ‘Jewish judges having too much influence.’ ”

In one of the most mysterious cables in the lot, in March 2001, the chancellor of the Prelature of Opus Dei, the Rev. Thomas G. Bohlin, “requested an urgent meeting” with the chargé d’affaires at the American Embassy to the Holy See. “Bohlin said that Opus Dei had conducted an accounting of all financial contributions” made by Mr. Hanssen, then accused and later convicted of spying for Russia.

Father Bohlin “claimed that Hanssen contributed $4,000 through 1992 and made no contributions after 1992” and added that when arrested he was still “a member in good standing.”

“Request for urgent meeting struck post as unusual. This is the first time Opus Dei has officially asked for a meeting,” the cable continued. “It appears that Opus Dei is attempting to preempt any charges that it profited financially from alleged activities of Hanssen.”




Dutch Panel Found 2,000 Church Abuse Claims
The New York Times: December 9, 2010

BRUSSELS — The Roman Catholic Church, battered by sexual abuse scandals from the United States to Belgium, is facing a new set of allegations now in the Netherlands. Figures released Thursday by an investigative commission showed that almost 2,000 people have made complaints of sexual or physical abuse against the church, in a country with only 4 million Catholics.

“The Roman Catholic church has not faced a crisis like this since the French Revolution,” said Peter Nissen, professor of the history of religion at Radboud University, of the growing abuse scandal.

With one legal case starting this week, and accusations against two former bishops, the reaction of the church appears to have fueled the crisis. Nearly all of the cases are decades old, with probably no more than 10 from the last 20 years.

Asked in March on TV about the hundreds of complaints already surfacing then, one of its most senior figures, Cardinal Adrianus Simonis, shocked the nation by replying not in Dutch but in German.

“Wir haben es nicht gewusst” — we knew nothing — he said, using a phrase associated with Nazis excuses after the Second World War - a parallel that has reverberated around the Netherlands.

“A lot of people perceived it as an affirmation of the culture of covering up cases,” said Professor Nissen, adding that, because of its association with the Nazis, it meant to many “’we should have known’ or ‘we knew but we didn’t want to know.’”

The Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said he had no comment, saying that the matter was in the hands of Dutch bishops.


Scare the hell out of 'em
Real-life exorcist the 'rite' guy for job of casting out demons
The New York Post: November 28, 2010

The Rev. Gary Thomas knew the young lady was suffering the moment he met her.

"Lisa," a twenty-something married woman, was brought to the Catholic priest's Sacred Heart Church in Saratoga, Calif., by family members unable to explain her sudden spike in violent behavior.

"I felt a huge presence in the room," said Thomas, an ordained priest who is the chief exorcist in Northern California.

The holy man immediately said a prayer of deliverance over the young lady -- and even that small religious act got a frightening response.

"Her face started to distort, she started speaking a language not known to me that she hadn't been competent in before. She was hissing and spitting and exhibiting a serpentine look both in her body language and her face. She kept rolling her eyes," he said.

To his trained eye, it pointed to one thing: DEMONIC POSSESION! >

"I laid my crucifix on her. She let out an incredible scream. I took my stole, which represents my authority as a member of the Catholic Church and as a priest, and I laid it on her. "She literally slid out of the chair and onto the floor to get away from it. I said 'That's enough for today.' "

Thomas, 57, is one of the church's small but growing army of priests trained to perform exorcisms -- a long-standing ritual that fell out of practice in the United States several decades ago, in part because of Hollywood movies like "The Exorcist" that sensationalized the rite.

Thomas, who was sent to Rome by his bishop five years ago for exorcism training, is unabashed about his belief that demonic possession is real, even though there are many doubters even within the church.

"We need to start an exorcism school here. We need a system. We don't have any training in place," Thomas said. There are 185 Catholic dioceses in the country, and only about two dozen have a trained exorcist on staff, he estimates. The New York Archdiocese has someone it can call if necessary but doesn't employ a full-time exorcist.

But demand for the exorcism ritual is at an all-time high -- so much so that priests can't keep pace with requests, the church admits. This month, it held a conference for exorcism in Maryland to help acquaint priests and bishops with the practice, which is far more common in Europe and Africa than in the United States.

In the five years that he's been an exorcist, Thomas has performed just five exorcisms. But his requests for the rite number in the thousands.

"Many demonic victims have been sexually abused because such a trauma causes a wound to the soul, and that allows a demon a way to get through," the priest said. He also discovered that the mother of Lisa's former boyfriend was suspected of asking a Mexican witch doctor to put a curse on her.


Plaintiffs' attorney




Plaintiffs in Chile Won’t Appeal Dismissal
of Sexual Abuse Case

The New York Times: November 25, 2010

SANTIAGO, Chile — The plaintiffs in a sexual abuse case against a prominent Chilean priest will not appeal a court ruling dismissing the case, their lawyer said Thursday.

A criminal judge investigating the accusations against the priest, the Rev. Fernando Karadima, 80, closed the case abruptly this week, ruling that there was not enough evidence to charge him.

The four plaintiffs, who said they were abused by Father Karadima as teenagers, have until Friday to appeal the decision, but plan not to.

“They are disappointed, tired and angry, and feel they have done all they can do,” their lawyer, Juan Pablo Hermosilla, said in a telephone interview. “Their main goal was to turn the light on and show what Karadima has done all these years, and they believe that they have accomplished it, that the abuses have been clearly proved, regardless of the court decision.”

One of the plaintiffs, Dr. James Hamilton, who said he had been abused by the priest for 20 years, starting when he was 17, criticized the proceedings against Father Karadima as “extraordinarily irregular.”

“We would have liked to appeal, but with defense attorneys like his, who have the Appeals and Supreme Court eating out of their hands, and a number of powerful people who continue to protect Karadima, we knew it would be an uphill battle that we were likely to lose,” he said.

Father Karadima still faces the possibility of church sanction. The archbishop of Santiago, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz, sent an investigation report prepared by the Roman Catholic Church in Chile to the Vatican in June, asking it to rule in the case.

Father Karadima, who could not be reached for comment, has insisted that he is innocent.

A criminal complaint filed in April accused him of molesting the four plaintiffs, three when they were minors, over the last two decades in El Bosque Parish in Santiago. Since hearings in the case began, four other men have come forward with similar accusations.

Mr. Hermosilla said the state prosecutor had gathered testimony from dozens of witnesses that “established a pattern of decades of abusive behavior.”

The judge, Leonardo Valdivieso, never gave the parties access to the investigation report until the day he closed the case and withheld testimony and other evidence that could have advanced it.

Judge Valdivieso dismissed the case without having Father Karadima face his accusers, as they had requested. Defense lawyers presented the court with a number of medical certificates asserting that the priest could have a heart attack if forced to do so.


Pope’s Comments on Condoms Sow Confusion
Published: November 22, 2010

ROME — In a papacy troubled by communications missteps, Pope Benedict XVI’s unprecedented new book of interviews with a German journalist sought to clarify matters by going straight to the source.

But ever since the Vatican’s official newspaper published highlights on Saturday, the book has created the opposite effect: widespread confusion, most notably over the pope’s comments that in select cases, such as those involving male prostitutes, condom use might be a step toward acting responsibly to reduce “the risk of infection.”

AIDS activists are calling the pope’s comments a breakthrough, while members of the church hierarchy and some Catholic commentators say the comments have been misconstrued. The Vatican itself has furiously played down Benedict’s words, or rather contextualized them, noting that the pope was not changing church doctrine banning contraception, or justifying condom use — even though the Vatican newspaper clearly used the phrase “justified in some cases.”

As is often the case with the Vatican, the clarification yielded more ambiguity. Was Benedict, in his book of interviews with the German journalist, Peter Seewald, opening up a conversation on condom use — albeit in specific cases to prevent AIDS between male sex partners — or wasn’t he? And how is the world supposed to consider remarks by the pope that are not official church teaching?

In the new book, “Light of the World,” to be published Tuesday, Benedict said condoms were not “a real or moral solution” to the AIDS epidemic, adding that that “can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.”

But he added that “there may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility.”



Federico Lombardi


Catholics in Belgium Start Parishes of Their Own
The New York Times: November 17, 2010

BUIZINGEN, Belgium — Willy Delsaert (below right) is a retired railroad employee with dyslexia who practiced intensively before facing the suburban Don Bosco Catholic parish to perform the Sunday Mass rituals he grew up with.

“Who takes this bread and eats,” he murmured, cracking a communion wafer with his wife at his side, “declares a desire for a new world.”

With those words, Mr. Delsaert, 60, and his fellow parishioners are discreetly pioneering a grass-roots movement that defies centuries of Roman Catholic Church doctrine by worshiping and sharing communion without a priest.

Don Bosco is one of about a dozen alternative Catholic churches that have sprouted and grown in the last two years in Dutch-speaking regions of Belgium and the Netherlands. They are an uneasy reaction to a combination of forces: a shortage of priests, the closing of churches, dissatisfaction with Vatican appointments of conservative bishops and, most recently, dismay over cover-ups of sexual abuse by priests.

The churches are called ecclesias, the word derived from the Greek verb for “calling together.” Five were started last year in the Netherlands by Catholics who broke away from their existing parishes, and more are being planned, said Franck Ploum, who helped start an ecclesia in January in Breda, the Netherlands, and is organizing a network conference for the groups in the two countries.

“We are resisting a little bit like Gandhi,” said Johan Veys, a married former priest who performs baptisms and recruits newcomers for other tasks at Don Bosco. “Our intention is not to criticize, but to live correctly. We press onward quietly without a lot of noise. It’s important to have a community where people feel at home and can find peace and inspiration.”

In the view of Rome, only ordained priests can celebrate Mass or preside over most sacraments like baptisms and marriage. “If there are persons or groups that do not observe these norms, the competent bishops — who know what really happens — have to see how to intervene and explain what is in order and out of order if someone belongs to the Catholic Church,” the Rev. Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said.

The primate of Belgium, Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard of Mechelen-Brussels, has already raised objections to the alternative services, calling them “unacceptable practices.”



New Archbishop Represents a Shift for the Church
The New York Times: November 16, 2010

Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard has taken a self-imposed vow of public silence until December, but his conservative comments are still managing to rile the flock, from Roman Catholics in the pews and bishops to Prime Minister Yves Leterme of Belgium.

The archbishop was appointed primate of the Belgian church by Pope Benedict XVI last January at age 70, part of a strategic pattern of placing fellow conservatives in prominent leadership roles. Born in Namur, Archbishop Léonard was raised by his widowed mother, whose four sons all became priests.

The appointment of Archbishop Léonard marked a shift from the more liberal, open style of Cardinal Godfried Danneels. Archbishop Léonard took the position weeks before a crisis over priestly sex abuse shook the Belgian church. His views on subjects from AIDS to altar boys have since stirred anger; academics at Catholic University of Louvain are circulating a petition demanding his resignation as chancellor there.

As archbishop, his outspoken style provoked a furious backlash when he described AIDS as a form of justice for promiscuous homosexual sex and suggested that prosecution of retired priests was vengeance that was not humane.



Catholic bishops: More exorcists needed
Associated Press, November 12, 2010

NEW YORK — Citing a shortage of priests who can perform the rite, the nation's Roman Catholic bishops are sponsoring a conference on how to conduct exorcisms.

The two-day training, starting Friday in Baltimore, is to outline the scriptural basis of evil, instruct clergy on evaluating whether a person is truly possessed, and review the prayers and rituals that comprise an exorcism. Among the speakers will be Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, Texas, and a priest-assistant to New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan.

"Learning the liturgical rite is not difficult," DiNardo said in a phone interview. "The problem is the discernment that the exorcist needs before he would ever attempt the rite."

More than 50 bishops and 60 priests signed up to attend, according to Catholic News Service, which first reported the event. The conference was scheduled for just ahead of the fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which starts Monday in Baltimore.

Despite strong interest in the training, skepticism about the rite persists within the American church. Organizers of the event are keenly aware of the ridicule that can accompany discussion of the subject.

Of Exorcisms and Certain Supplications

Santiago de Compostela


Spanish Prime Minister

Visiting Spain, Pope Sees Rise of Antichurch Sentiment
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: November 6, 2010

SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday strongly criticized the “aggressive” antichurch sentiment that he said was flourishing in Spain as he sought to rekindle the faith in a once staunchly Roman Catholic nation that is now among Europe’s most liberal.

The Roman Catholic Church is fighting laws supported by Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero’s Socialist government that have allowed same-sex marriage, expedited divorce and eased restrictions on abortions.

The pope’s first stop on a two-day trip that began Saturday was in the pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela, whose cathedral (right) is said to hold the remains of St. James the Apostle.

On his way to Santiago, Benedict told reporters that the anticlericalism seen now in Spain was reminiscent of the 1930s, when the church suffered a wave of violence and persecution as the country lurched from an unstable democracy to civil war. The reference was striking given the scale of violence back then, when the Roman Catholic Church claims that 4,184 clergy members were killed by the government, or Republican, side, which accused it of
backing Franco’s fascist dictatorship.

Adolf Hitler and clergy
Hitler Youth
Joseph Ratzinger
Francisco Franco and clergy


Belgium: Archbishop’s Aide Resigns
The New York Times: November 3, 2010

The spokesman for the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Belgium, Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard (right), quit Tuesday, saying he could no longer speak for a man who had spoken harshly of AIDS and homosexuality and sympathized with some pedophile priests. The resignation of the spokesman, Jürgen Mettepenningen, 35, came just days after the archbishop promised to keep silent on the sexual-abuse scandal in the Belgian church until at least Christmas. Mr. Mettepenningen said the archbishop was out of touch with Belgian Catholics, adding, “At times, he behaved like a loose cannon who thinks everybody else is wrong.”

(Full article)


Undated photograph

Violent Turn in Abuse Case More Than 3 Decades Old
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: October 30, 2010

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — William Lynch’s life has spiraled out of control in the 35 years since he says he and his brother were molested by a Jesuit priest. He struggled with depression, had nightmares and tried to kill himself twice.

The authorities say they believe that the anger and pain erupted last spring when the Rev. Jerold Lindner was lured to the lobby of his Jesuit retirement home and then beat severely in front of shocked witnesses.

Mr. Lynch, 43, was arrested Friday and booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon in the May 10 attack. He posted $25,000 bail and will plead not guilty at an arraignment next month, said his lawyer, Pat Harris.

During a confrontation at the Jesuits’ Sacred Heart retirement home in Los Gatos, Calif., Mr. Lynch repeatedly punched Father Lindner in the face and body after the priest said he did not recognize him, said Sgt. Rick Sung, a spokesman for the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department.

Mr. Lynch and his younger brother settled with the Jesuits of the California Province, a Roman Catholic religious order, for $625,000 in 1998 after accusing Father Lindner of abusing them in 1975 during weekend camping trips in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Mr. Harris said the boys, who were 7 and 5 at the time, were raped and forced to have oral sex with each other while Father Lindner watched.

Father Lindner, 65, has been accused of abuse by nearly a dozen people, including his sister and nieces and nephews.

[Father Jerold Lindner's family severed contact with him after discovering he had molested his nieces and nephews when they were as young as 3.]


Ontario Priest Accused of Molesting 12-year-old Boy
Detectives believe Jose Alejandro Castillo may have also sexually assaulted other victims.
KTLA: October 26, 2010

ONTARIO, Calif. -- A Roman Catholic priest pleaded not guilty Tuesday to repeatedly molesting a 12-year-old boy.

Jose Alejandro Castillo, 57, the pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Ontario -- known as "Father Alex" -- was arrested Monday at his home.

Prosecutors say Castillo molested a 12-year-old boy two years ago, and Ontario police say they suspect he molested at least two other teens.

Castillo entered pleas Tuesday to eight counts of lewd acts against a child, according to the San Bernardino County district attorney's office. His bail was raised to $7 million from $1 million and he remains behind bars.

Castillo was removed from active ministry in June after he was accused of molesting two adolescent boys by relatives of the victims. The Diocese of San Bernardino took it to police, and the allegations were made public three months later in a letter read during Mass at the four churches where he had served.

Police determined there were three other victims -- a 16-year-old boy at Our Lady of Guadalupe and two adults at other parishes -- but declined to file charges because the statute of limitations for the crimes had expired.

Detectives also are investigating another alleged incident between Castillo and a 14-year-old boy while the priest was serving at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.

(Full article)







Archbishop Timothy Dolan gives New York Times hell
Holy thumbs-down to 'anti-Catholic' reviews
POST WIRE SERVICES: October 23, 2010

Archbishop Timothy Dolan has had it with the Catholic-bashing New York Times.
The church leader -- known for his easygoing demeanor -- has taken to his blog to blast the paper for "gushing" reviews it gave to an art exhibit that criticizes the late John Joseph Cardinal O'Connor and a play that makes fun of nuns.

"The common, casual way The New York Times offends Catholic sensitivity," Dolan noted, is "something they would never think of doing -- rightly so -- to the Jewish, Black, Islamic or gay communities."

Both reviews appeared in the paper on Oct. 15.

The Times recommended an art exhibit in the West Village by AIDS activist group ACT UP that features a photo of O'Connor next to a condom.

"One of the posters in this 'must see' exhibit is of Cardinal O'Connor, in the form of a condom, referred to as a 'scumbag,' " Dolan fumed. The art is particularly appalling, Dolan noted, because O'Connor "spent many evenings caring quietly for AIDS patients" and opened two AIDS units at New York City hospitals to care for them "when everyone else ran from them."

Dolan slammed the Times' separate review of the "fresh and funny" play "The Divine Sister," in the East Village.

He accused the paper of promoting "cheap laughs at the expense of a bigoted view of the most noble women around. These are nuns, mocked and held up for snickering," the archbishop wrote.

In a statement, the Times said it covers cultural events "even if some may disagree with the content."

Dolan, however, wasn't buying it. "If they're going to say, 'Oh, no, we do that all the time,' I'm going to say, 'Show me when you do it to the Islamic community, to the Jewish community, to the African-American community, to the gay community,' " he told CBS News yesterday. "They don't do it because they know that's out of bounds."

(Full article)


Homer Simpson: A True Catholic?
Time: October 18,2010

20th Century Fox / Everett CollectionIf the Vatican says so, it must be true.

L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's official newspaper, recently published an article arguing Homer's Catholicism. Entitled "Homer and Bart are Catholics," the article praises the show for including Catholic themes like prayer before meals. (And he is one of our Top 10 TV Dads, after all.)

And yes, before you can counter-argue, the Vatican does acknowledge that Homer fights with super-Christian neighbor Ned Flanders. But one episode, "The Father, the Son and the Holy Guest" concerns Homer's conversion to Catholicism, motivated by a priest voiced by Liam Neeson. So it's official.

The Vatican must believe God to be forgiving. After all, it's not like he looks forward to church on Sundays.

(Full article)

Click on image for more


With Bank Inquiry, Vatican Confronts Modern Life
The New York Times: September 29, 2010

ROME — When Rome magistrates opened an investigation last week into the Vatican bank over transparency issues, it was not only a bold assertion of state over church, it also pointed to one of the Vatican’s greatest continuing challenges: facing modernity.

The Vatican’s famously opaque finances are being tested by tightened European Union anti-money-laundering statutes.

As in the sexual abuse scandal, in which for years the Vatican appeared to declare itself outside — or above — civil law, this time the issue is the Vatican’s famously opaque finances, which for the first time are being held to tightened European Union anti-money-laundering statutes.

While Europe remade itself after the Second World War, balancing its powers through treaties and linking itself together through banking agreements, the Vatican remains an anomaly as the last absolute monarchy in the West. But today, its ancient ways are running up against civil institutions that increasingly view the church as they do any other multinational.

“The Vatican has to understand that the world has changed,” said Donato Masciandaro, the head of the economics department at Bocconi University in Milan and an expert in regulations on money laundering. “If it doesn’t understand that the world has changed, it risks having violations every day against the anti-money-laundering norms.”

The investigation is a test not only for the Vatican but also for Italy, torn between its European Union commitments and the Catholic banking networks that its ruling class has long dominated.

Vatican Defends Bank After Seizure of $30 Million
The New York Times: September 23, 2010

ROME — As an inquiry into its murky finances looked poised to widen, the Vatican swiftly went on the defensive on Thursday, saying that the seizure of $30 million from a Vatican bank account and the judicial investigation of the bank’s two top officials were the result of a “misunderstanding.”

On Tuesday, Italian officials announced an inquiry into the Vatican bank’s top officials for having failed to explain adequately the origins of $30 million transferred from one of its accounts in a Rome bank. Magistrates opened the investigation based on an alert from the Bank of Italy, the nation’s central bank. The authorities here said they had seized the $30 million “preventatively” but have not pressed charges against the Vatican bank’s chairman, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, or its director general, Paolo Cipriani.

Like the clerical sexual abuse crisis that has troubled the Roman Catholic Church in recent months, the financial inquiry appeared to open another front in a quiet war between church and state in Europe — or perhaps signaled the further waning of an era in which the Vatican was seen as untouchable.

The inquiry is the first in which the Bank of Italy has treated the Vatican bank like any other foreign bank operating in Italy, in enforcing 2007 European Union anti-money-laundering laws that require banks to provide detailed information about the origins of the money they transfer.

"God's Banker"
Money-Laundering Inquiry Touches Vatican Bank
The New York Times: September 21, 2010

ROME — Italian monetary authorities said Tuesday that they had impounded $30 million from the Vatican bank [Istituto per le Opere di Religione] and placed its top two officers under investigation in connection with a money-laundering inquiry. The announcement amounted to another potential storm confronting the papacy of Benedict XVI, who is struggling with the effects of a priestly abuse scandal.

Italian financial police officers in front of St. Peter's Square in Rome. The Vatican bank's top two officials face a money-laundering investigation.

In a statement, the Vatican expressed “perplexity and surprise” that the bank’s chairman, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, and its director general, Paolo Cipriani, had been placed under investigation. It added that it had the “greatest trust” in the two men and that it had been working for greater transparency in its finances.

The investigation is the first into the Vatican bank since the early 1980s, when it was implicated in the collapse of an Italian bank whose chairman [Roberto Calvi], nicknamed “God’s banker,” was mysteriously found dead, hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London.

The Vatican: Cardinal Cancels Trip
The New York Times: September 15, 2010

A cardinal long involved in the Vatican’s relations with the Anglican Church will not travel with Pope Benedict XVI on his trip to Britain on Thursday, the Vatican said Wednesday. Cardinal Walter Kasper, who retired last summer as the head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, caused a stir this week when he told the German magazine Focus that landing at Heathrow Airport was like landing “in a third world country.” He also criticized the “aggressive atheism” of Britain. The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said that Cardinal Kasper had withdrawn from the trip for health reasons. “The interview had nothing to do with it,” he said.

Victims Angry as Belgium Responds to Church Abuse
The New York Times: September 13, 2010

BRUSSELS — The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Belgium on Monday acknowledged the scale of the scandal that had engulfed the country over sexual abuse by priests and promised to do more for the victims, but he offered few short-term solutions and said little of substance about further pursuing the abusers.

The church leader, Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard, said at a news conference that suffering had caused a “shiver” to run through the church, but that it was too soon for a detailed response to the crisis. The extent of the abuse was revealed in a report published Friday.

The lack of more comprehensive steps was greeted with anger by representatives of victims, with one lawyer calling the church’s response “scandalous.”

Investigating Psychiatrist

Pervasive Abuse Found in Belgian Church
The New York Times: September 11, 2010

BRUSSELS — Sexual abuse of children reached all parts of Belgium’s Roman Catholic Church, and it drove at least 13 victims to kill themselves, a report released Friday said.

The report, put forth by a commission established by the church itself, sketched the harrowing dimensions of priestly abuse over five decades, listing cases involving 327 male complainants and 161 women, and 19 cases in which the gender of the victim was unclear. In one case the abuse began when a child was just 2 years old.

The report was the latest blow to a church reeling from a sexual scandal that worsened after the bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, resigned in April after admitting that he had abused a boy who was later identified as his nephew. The resignation prompted more than 200 victims to come forward within a few days with complaints about abuses by priests, in some cases dating back many decades. One complainant is more than 90 years old.

Those victims’ stories, compiled in the report, reveal in detail their suffering. Many say they are still fighting illness and depression many years after the abuses.

The testimony illustrates the way victims struggled for years to try to come to terms with the abuse, sometimes with results that devastated families. Many complain of illness or mental health problems.

Friends or relatives reported that the suicides of 13 victims “were related to sexual abuse by clergy,” the report said. Six other victims said they had attempted suicide. And one victim mentioned the suicide of a partner because of the impact of abuse and the way it affected their relationship.


Rome Fiddles, We Burn
The New York Times: July 18, 2010

If the Vatican is trying to restore the impression that its moral sense is intact, issuing a document that equates pedophilia with the ordination of women doesn’t really do that.

The casuistic document did not issue a zero-tolerance policy to defrock priests after they are found guilty of pedophilia; it did not order bishops to report every instance of abuse to the police; it did not set up sanctions on bishops who sweep abuse under the rectory rug; it did not eliminate the statute of limitations for abused children; it did not tell bishops to stop lobbying legislatures to prevent child-abuse laws from being toughened.

There is no moral awakening here. The cruelty and indecency of child abuse once more inspires tactical contrition. All the penitence of the church is grudging and reactive. Church leaders are merely as penitent as they need to be to protect the institution.

Stupefyingly, the new Vatican document also links raping children with ordaining women as priests, deeming both “graviora delicta,” or grave offenses. Clerics who attempt to ordain women can now be defrocked.

After the Vatican launched two inquisitions of American nuns, it didn’t seem possible that the archconservative Il Papa and his paternalistic redoubt could get more unenlightened, but they have somehow managed it.

Letting women be priests — which should be seen as a way to help cleanse the church and move it beyond its infantilized and defensive state — is now on the list of awful sins right next to pedophilia, heresy, apostasy and schism.

Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, the chairman of the Committee on Doctrine of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, asserted, “The Catholic Church, through its long and constant teaching, holds that ordination has been, from the beginning, reserved to men, a fact which cannot be changed despite changing times.”


Tone-Deaf in Rome
The New York Times: July 17, 2010

There was not much to like in the Vatican’s news conference this week about its pedophilia scandal, but among all the defensive posturing and inept statements, there was one real stunner: The citing of the movement for the ordination of women as a “grave crime” that Rome deems as offensive as the scandal of priests who sexually assault children.

Calls for ending the ban on women priests are only a blip on the ecclesiastical radar screen. Yet Vatican officials gratuitously raised them at the news conference, while they offered limited antidotes to the crimes of sexual abuse and the long history of bishops dithering and covering up these crimes.

They doubled the internal statute of limitations to 20 years for defrocking abusers. Yet they failed to emphasize the problem as a state crime as the American bishops did after being forced to dismiss more than 700 priests. “It’s not for canonical legislation to get itself involved with civil law,” one prelate airily declared, insisting Rome’s existing “guidelines” — not mandates — are sufficient for prelates to obey civil laws.

American bishops finally signaled an end to recycling serial predators through parishes by committing to zero tolerance and requiring secular authorities to be alerted from the beginning. These two steps should be embraced by the Vatican worldwide.

A third measure proposed by the Catholic laity panel that investigated the Roman Catholic Church in the United States is no less important — that there must be consequences for culpable bishops who protected pedophile clergy and paid hush money to victims. Neither the American bishops nor the Vatican have dared so far to bring offending prelates to full accountability.

Catholic parents, their trust violated, deserve to hear clear and firm countermeasures for enacting Pope Benedict XVI’s promises for reform. Red herrings about female priests only display the tone-deafness of the Vatican’s dominant male hierarchy.

(Full Editorial)

Vatican spokesman
Vatican Sets New Rules on Responding to Sex Abuse
The New York Times: July 15, 2010

VATICAN CITY — In its most significant revision to church law since a sex abuse crisis hit the United States a decade ago and roared back from remission in Europe this spring, the Vatican on Thursday issued new internal rules making it easier to discipline priests who have sexually abused minors.

But in a move that infuriated victims’ groups and put United States bishops on the defensive, it also codified “the attempted ordination of women” to the priesthood as one of the church’s most grave crimes, along with heresy, schism and pedophilia.

In its revision, the Vatican doubled the statute of limitations in abuse cases from 10 to 20 years from the victim’s 18th birthday and added possession of child pornography and the sexual abuse of mentally disabled adults to the list of crimes handled by the Vatican’s doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In a statement, the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the changes were a sign of the church’s commitment to addressing child sex abuse with “rigor and transparency.”

But the revision fell short of the hopes of many advocates for victims of priestly abuse: It does not contain measures to hold bishops accountable for abuse by priests on their watch, nor does it require mandatory reporting of sex abuse to civil authorities even in countries where it is not required by civil law.

The Pope’s Duty
The New York Times: July 9, 2010

When rolling scandal forced the American Catholic bishops conference to take action against pedophile priests, the prelates issued a tough policy requiring accused child molesters be reported immediately to secular authorities. This mandate finally acknowledged that crimes against children should take priority over bureaucratic church policies that served to cloak rogue priests and bishops in a fog of ecclesiastical evasion.

Eight years after the American church’s overdue order, it is shocking that Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican have not yet applied it to the worldwide Roman Catholic Church. The pedophilia scandal has erupted in other nations, leaving parents concerned about a repetition of the harrowing experience in America, where more than 700 priests had to be dismissed across a three-year period. Yet the Vatican is reportedly working on new “guidelines” — not mandates. They are likely to fall short of zero-tolerance and other requirements in the American church that parishes and communities be alerted to abusers.
Vatican Approaches New Abuse Rules
The New York Times: July 6, 2010

ROME — In an effort to rein in the sexual abuse crisis threatening the church, the Vatican is inching toward introducing changes to canon law to make it easier to discipline pedophile priests, Vatican officials say.

The changes will codify into canon law exceptions that already allow the Vatican’s doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to defrock priests using faster administrative procedures rather than a full ecclesiastical trial.

Few other details have leaked out, but several reports and Vatican officials suggest that there are limited technical changes. If true, critics and victims are likely to find them inadequate for the scope of the crisis, though they will mark the first doctrinal modification since the abuse crisis hit Europe this spring and the United States a decade ago.

The changes are not expected to include adoption of the “zero tolerance” policy used by bishops in the United States and elsewhere, which remove a priest from ministry at the first credible accusation of abuse, as some victims’ groups and critics had hoped.

But in the quiet battle raging deep inside Vatican City, they are likely to appear as a defeat for the many traditionalist members of the hierarchy who believe that anything short of a full canonical trial betrays the church’s trust in a priest and deprives him of due process.

The future
in 1982

Church Office Failed to Act on Abuse Scandal
The New York Times: July 2, 2010

In its long struggle to grapple with sexual abuse, the Vatican often cites as a major turning point the decision in 2001 to give the office led by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger the authority to cut through a morass of bureaucracy and handle abuse cases directly.

The decision, in an apostolic letter from Pope John Paul II, earned Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, a reputation as the Vatican insider who most clearly recognized the threat the spreading sexual abuse scandals posed to the Roman Catholic Church.

But church documents and interviews with canon lawyers and bishops cast that 2001 decision and the future pope’s track record in a new and less flattering light.

The Vatican took action only after bishops from English-speaking nations became so concerned about resistance from top church officials that the Vatican convened a secret meeting to hear their complaints — an extraordinary example of prelates from across the globe collectively pressing their superiors for reform, and one that had not previously been revealed.

And the policy that resulted from that meeting, in contrast to the way it has been described by the Vatican, was not a sharp break with past practices. It was mainly a belated reaffirmation of longstanding church procedures that at least one bishop attending the meeting argued had been ignored for too long, according to church documents and interviews.

The office led by Cardinal Ratzinger, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had actually been given authority over sexual abuse cases nearly 80 years earlier, in 1922, documents show and canon lawyers confirm. But for the two decades he was in charge of that office, the future pope never asserted that authority, failing to act even as the cases undermined the church’s credibility in the United States, Australia, Ireland and elsewhere.

Vatican lawyer
Vatican Says Not Liable in U.S. Sexual Abuse Case
REUTERS: June 29, 2010

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican, struggling to control the damage to its image from a sexual abuse scandal, said Tuesday it would prove it cannot be held legally responsible for a predatory priest in a pivotal U.S. lawsuit.

Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider a case on whether the Vatican has immunity over the sexual abuse of minors by priests, allowing a lawsuit filed in 2002 to go forward.

In a statement, the Vatican's lawyer, Jeffrey Lena, said when the case returns to a U.S. district court it would show it cannot be held responsible for the actions of the priest as he was not a Vatican employee.

"The decision not to hear the case is not a comment on the merits of our case," Lena said, adding that the case would now go back to the district court in Oregon.
The lawsuit, filed against the Vatican by a plaintiff identified only as John Doe, claimed he was sexually abused on several occasions in the mid-1960s when he was 15 or 16 by a Roman Catholic priest named Father Andrew Ronan.

According to court documents, Ronan molested boys in the mid-1950s as a priest in Ireland and then in Chicago before his transfer to a church in Portland, Oregon, where he allegedly abused the victim who filed the lawsuit. Ronan died in 1992.
The Vatican claimed immunity under a U.S. law, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976, that allows foreign states to avoid being sued in court.

But the law contains exceptions. The appeals court cited one of those, ruling the lawsuit has sufficiently alleged that Ronan was an employee of the Vatican acting within the scope of his employment under Oregon law.



In Rare Memo, Vatican Rebukes Cardinal
The New York Times: June 28, 2010

ROME — The Vatican drew aside, for a brief and puzzling moment, the thick veil that covers its internal business. It issued an extraordinary communiqué on Monday chastising a powerful cardinal who had criticized another powerful cardinal — proof of a battle inside the Vatican walls that mirrors the anger over sexual abuse raging outside them.

In just 357 words, chosen precisely to obscure much meaning, the communiqué still managed to lay bare disagreements over the Vatican’s handling of the sexual abuse crisis; the deep generational divide inside the church; the legacy of the last two popes; and to top it off, a tantalizing whiff of who might just become the next pope and why.

On its face, the communiqué is a public rebuke to Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna. In April, he had implicitly criticized Cardinal Angelo Sodano, 82, the current dean of the College of Cardinals and Pope John Paul II’s last secretary of state, for blocking an investigation into an Austrian archbishop accused in the mid-1990s of abusing minors.

The communiqué circuitously took account of this, recounting a meeting on Monday between Cardinal Schönborn and Pope Benedict XVI, joined later by Cardinal Sodano. Cardinal Schönborn, 65, was ruled to have overreached: “It must be reiterated that, in the church, when accusations are made against a cardinal, competency falls exclusively to the pope.”

In April, Cardinal Schönborn said that in the 1990s, Benedict, then the head of the Vatican’s powerful doctrinal office, had wanted to open an investigation into Cardinal Hans Hermann Gröer of Austria, who stepped down as archbishop of Vienna in 1995 after allegations he had sexually abused seminarians, but that the “diplomatic” branch of John Paul’s papacy had blocked it, a clear reference to Cardinal Sodano.

Warning About Church’s Abuse Documents Led Belgian Police to Raid Its Offices
The New York Times: June 28, 2010

MECHELEN, Belgium — Four days after a series of police raids of Catholic institutions in Belgium that drew sharp criticism from the pope, the reason for the unusually aggressive operation has emerged: a formal accusation that the church was hiding information on sexual abuse lodged by the former president of an internal church commission handling such cases.

The declaration to the police set off four raids in which the authorities seized hundreds of case files from the commission’s current leader, detained a group of bishops for more than nine hours and disturbed the tomb of a cardinal where construction work had recently been done. Investigators drilled into the tomb and lowered a camera, but found only the remains.

Investigators are now analyzing more than two truckloads of seized documents, many related to 475 complaints lodged with the sex-abuse commission after the resignation in April of a popular bishop [Roger Vangheluwe of Bruges]who admitted that, early in his career, he had molested a boy.

The former head of the commission, Godelieve Halsberghe, said in an interview with a Flemish newspaper, Het Nieuwsblad, that she had gone to the authorities after receiving a call from a man who did not identify himself and warned her in French to “watch out” for herself and to secure the documents she held on about 30 cases she had handled during her tenure at the commission, from 2000 to 2008. Ms. Halsberghe, now a retired magistrate, has long been critical of the church’s efforts in Belgium to confront its past


Vatican Secretary of State

Pope Lashes Out at Belgium After Raid on Church
The New York Times: June 27, 2010

ROME — In a sign of sharply rising tensions between the Vatican and Belgium, Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday criticized as “surprising and deplorable” a raid on church property last week by Belgian police officers investigating sexual abuse by clerics.

In an exceedingly rare personal message and rebuke of a sovereign country, the pontiff also stressed the church’s “autonomy” to conduct its own investigations and criticized the “deplorable methods” of the Belgian police, who detained bishops, confiscated files and even drilled into the tombs of at least one cardinal in the Cathedral of Mechelen, north of Brussels, in a search for documents.

“On several occasions I have personally reiterated that such serious issues should be attended to by both civil and canon law, with respect for their reciprocal specificity and autonomy,” Benedict said in a statement circulated by the Vatican on Sunday.

He also expressed his “closeness and solidarity” with the Belgian clergy and André-Joseph Léonard, the archbishop of Belgium and the president of the Belgian Bishops’ Conference.

The raid on Thursday came months after the Belgian church, stung by allegations of sexual abuse by clerics, created a committee to investigate claims.

On Saturday, the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, called the detention of bishops “serious and unbelievable” and compared the police tactics to those of Communist regimes. He also said that the bishops had been deprived of food and water while they were detained.

On Sunday, the Belgian justice minister denied that assertion, as did the spokesman for the Belgian Bishops’ Conference, who in a statement circulated by the Vatican on Friday said that the raid had been conducted “correctly.”


Vatican Criticizes Raid on Belgian Church Offices
The New York Times: June 25, 2010

ROME — The Vatican expressed “shock” on Friday at the raid on Thursday by the Belgian police of church offices in their search for hidden evidence of child sex abuse by priests. It also voiced its “indignation” at what it called the “violation” of two cardinals’ tombs in the search.

In a bold and provocative assertion of state over church as anger rises in Europe over abuse by priests, the police not only detained the members of the Belgian Bishops’ Conference for nine hours on Thursday while searching for documents related to sex abuse cases, they also drilled into the tombs of two cardinals in the Mechelen Cathedral (St. Rombout, right).

“It was worthy of ‘The Da Vinci Code,’ ” the archbishop of Belgium, Andre-Joseph Leonard, said at a news conference Friday in Brussels.



Belgian Police Raid Offices of Church in Abuse Case
The New York Times: June 24, 2010

BRUSSELS — Belgian authorities on Thursday heightened pressure on the Roman Catholic Church in a sexual abuse scandal, raiding the Belgian church headquarters, the home of a cardinal and the offices of a commission established by the church to handle abuse complaints.

Police officers arrived at the church headquarters, the palace of the archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, on Thursday morning while the monthly bishops meeting was in progress, a church spokesman said. The police questioned all of those present, from bishops to staff members like cooks and drivers.

“It was half-past 10,” said Eric de Beukelaer, a spokesman for the Belgian archbishop, André-Joseph Léonard. “The police came in and said the house would be searched because there were complaints about sexual abuse on the territory of the archdiocese.” Mr. de Beukelaer said that he was present during the raid and that the police had temporarily confiscated his cellphone.

The authorities are investigating accusations that Belgian clerics sexually abused children, according to officials. Hundreds of such claims have been raised since April, when the bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, admitted to molesting a boy and resigned.

The authorities’ decision to search church property, question bishops and seize documents and other potential evidence was a major departure in such investigations and a sign that in criminal matters the church will not be afforded special
treatment here.
Cardinal denies corruption allegations
The Associated Press: Jun 21, 1010

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- A cardinal under investigation in a sprawling corruption scandal denied wrongdoing and insisted Monday he acted for the good of the church while handling real estate transactions for the Vatican office that funds missionary work abroad.

Naples Cardinal Crecenzio Sepe told a press conference he forgave his accusers and was going ahead serenely while accepting the "cross" that the investigation had brought on him.
Prosecutors are trying to untangle an alleged web of kickbacks involving billions of euros (dollars) worth of contracts for such mega-projects as preparing 2000 Holy Year events in Rome, the 2009 Group of Eight summit and rebuilding the quake-shattered town of L'Aquila.

Sepe's real estate transactions at the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples are under scrutiny since they involved some of the key figures implicated in the probe, including Premier Silvio Berlusconi's disaster chief Guido Bertolaso.

The scandal marks the second major crisis implicating top church officials this year following the clerical abuse crisis.

Sepe said Monday he was sure of the Vatican's staunch support as he confronted the accusations.



Chilean Archbishop Refers Child Abuse Case Against Priest
to Vatican

The New York Times: June 20, 2010

SANTIAGO, Chile — The archbishop of Santiago, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz, has asked the Vatican to decide the fate of a prominent Chilean priest who has been accused by several former parishioners of sexually abusing them when they were teenagers.

On Friday the cardinal sent a report prepared by the Roman Catholic Church in Chile regarding the priest, the Rev. Fernando Karadima, to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome. In a statement on the Web site of the archbishop of Santiago, Cardinal Errázuriz said he asked the Vatican to lift the 10-year statute of limitations for accusations of sexual abuse of a minor by a priest. That would permit the opening of a three-judge canon law trial to determine whether Father Karadima abused at least four boys who were parishioners at El Bosque parish, where he is based.

In a statement released Friday by his lawyer, Father Karadima, 79, said he was innocent of the accusations and was “grateful” that the church investigation was being referred to the Vatican.

Dr. James Hamilton, 44, a gastroenterologist, said that soon after Father Karadima chose him at 17 to be part of his Catholic Action youth movement, the priest began kissing him on the mouth and touching his genitals. On a retreat at a seaside town west of Santiago when he was 18, Dr. Hamilton said, the abuse went much further, and it continued for nearly 20 years.
Dr. Hamilton said that in 2005 he filed an official claim of sexual abuse by Father Karadima to a bishop outside the parish. No one responded, he said. Another accuser, José Murillo, said he wrote to Cardinal Errázuriz in 2003 to complain about the priest.
The cardinal said in April that he began an investigation in 2005 into the accusations against Father Karadima but suspended it after a short time. He did not reopen it until 2009, he said.



California: Deposition on Abuse Is Released
June 15, 2010

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles says in a deposition released Tuesday that he did not call the police in 1986 after a priest admitted to molesting two boys and did not warn parishioners because the priest told him the boys were illegal immigrants who had returned to Mexico.

Cardinal Mahony says that he did not know the victims’ identities and that the Rev. Michael Baker, who has since been defrocked and is in prison, told him the abuse happened outside the parish.

Much of how the cardinal handled the matter has been made public, but the deposition contains his own account under oath. It is part of a lawsuit that recently settled for $2.2 million.



For 5th Year, Child Sex Abuse Bill Dies in Legislature
The New York Times: June 2, 2010

For four years, advocates for sexually abused children had fought a battle in the New York Legislature to open a legal window that would allow victims to file lawsuits against predators long after the statute of limitations had expired.

“We knew we didn’t have the votes, but we felt it was important to keep it on the public agenda,” said Ruth Hassell-Thompson, a Democratic senator from the Bronx and Westchester, and a sponsor of the Child Abuse Act.

Though the bill died each year, it passed in the Assembly three timesand earned the support of two governors. And the renewed attention to sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church augured well for the cause this year. Yet on Wednesday, in its fifth year on the legislative calendar, the bill, known as the Child Victims Act, was defeated in a Senate committee in the first vote on the measure this session.

Dennis Poust, the communications director of the New York State Catholic Conference, said the vote represented an emerging consensus that time limits on legal liability were an important civil rights protection. The conference is the policy arm of the state’s Catholic bishops, the bill’s most formidable opponents.
“You cannot ask institutions to take responsibility for the failures of a few individuals whose actions took place 40 and 50 years ago,” Mr. Poust said.

Since it was first introduced in the 2006-7 session, the Child Victims Act has been fervently opposed by the Catholic Church and several Orthodox Jewish groups, which saw potentially devastating financial implications in opening an opportunity for victims, regardless of age, to bring lawsuits for sexual abuse suffered in childhood.

Some advocates for abuse victims had expressed hope before Wednesday that recent revelations about leniency shown by high Roman Catholic officials — including then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI — to abusive priests might attract new public support for the legislation.


German Archbishop Is Accused of Abetting Priestly Sex Abuse
REUTERS: June 2, 2010

The scandal over sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests threatened Robert Zollitsch, the archbishop of Freiburg, who was charged Wednesday with aiding and abetting a known abuser by allowing him to get a new job in a German parish in 1987. Archbishop Freiburg, 71, head of the German Bishops’ Conference, was accused by prosecutors of permitting a priest accused of child abuse in the 1960s to be reappointed. The church in Freiburg accused the prosecutors of sensationalism and denied that the appointment was Archbishop Freiburg’s responsibility.

(Full article)

Prospective Catholic Priests Face Sexuality Hurdles
The New York Times: May 30, 2010

Every job interview has its awkward moments, but in recent years, the standard interview for men seeking a life in the Roman Catholic priesthood has made the awkward moment a requirement.

“When was the last time you had sex?” all candidates for the seminary are asked. (The preferred answer: not for three years or more.) “What kind of sexual experiences have you had?” is another common question. “Do you like pornography?”

Depending on the replies, and the results of standardized psychological tests, the interview may proceed into deeper waters: “Do you like children?” and “Do you like children more than you like people your own age?”

It is part of a soul-baring obstacle course prospective seminarians are forced to run in the aftermath of a sexual abuse crisis that church leaders have decided to confront, in part, by scrubbing their academies of potential molesters, according to church officials and psychologists who screen candidates in New York and the rest of the country.

But many of the questions are also aimed at another, equally sensitive mission: deciding whether gay applicants should be denied admission under complex recent guidelines from the Vatican that do not explicitly bar all gay candidates but would exclude most of them, even some who are celibate.

Many church officials have been reluctant to discuss the screening process, and its details differ from diocese to diocese. In the densely populated Diocese of Brooklyn, officials are confident of their results in one respect.

“We have no gay men in our seminary at this time,” said Dr. Robert Palumbo, a psychologist who has screened seminary candidates at the diocese’s Cathedral Seminary Residence in Douglaston, Queens, for 10 years. “I’m pretty sure of it.” Whether that reflects rigorous vetting or the reluctance of gay men to apply, he could not say. “I’m just reporting what is,” he said.

The church views gay sex as a sin and homosexual tendencies as a psychological disorder, but it does not bar chaste gay men from participating in the sacraments. That degree of acceptance does not extend to ordination.
“Whether he is celibate or not, the person who views himself as a ‘homosexual person,’ rather than as a person called to be a spiritual father — that person should not be a priest,” said Father Toups, of the bishops’ conference.

“And not the least irony here is that these new regulations are being enforced in many cases by seminary directors who are themselves gay.”said Mark D. Jordan, the R. R. Niebuhr professor at Harvard Divinity School.

Rev. Kevin J. Sweeney, whose incoming classes of three to five seminarians each year make him one of the more successful vocation directors in the country, said the new rules were not the order of battle for a witch hunt. “We do not say that homosexuals are bad people,” he said. “And sure, homosexuals have been good priests. But it has to do with our view of marriage,” he said. “A priest can only give his life to the church in the sense that a man gives his life to a female spouse. A homosexual man cannot have the same relationship. It’s not about condemning anybody. It’s about our world view.”



Vatican Abuse Prosecutor Warns Hell for Culprits
Associated Press: 29 May 2010

VATICAN CITY (AP)  -- The Vatican prosecutor of clerical sex abuse warned perpetrators on Saturday that they would suffer damnation in hell that would be worse than the death penalty.

The Rev. Charles Scicluna, a Maltese priest who is a top official at the Vatican's morality office, led a special ``make amends'' prayer service in St. Peter's Basilica. The service grew out of a desire by some seminarians in Rome for a day of prayers for the victims of clergy abuse and for the healing of the church's wounds from the scandal over its concealment of abuse.

"It would be really better" for priests who sexually abuse minors that their crimes "cause them death" because for them, "damnation will be more terrible" in hell, Il Sole 24 Ore online news reported.



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Priest Arrested in Brazil on Charges of Sexually Abusing Boy
The New Yoprk Times: May 23, 2010

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — The authorities in Rio de Janeiro said Sunday that they had arrested a Polish priest and charged him with sexually abusing a 16-year-old former altar boy.

The judge who issued the arrest warrant said the priest, Father Marcin Michael Strachanowski, 44, had used his parish’s rectory as an “erotic dungeon” to carry out sex acts with boys. The police in Rio de Janeiro State said that Father Strachanowski, who was arrested late Friday, was being held at a police station awaiting court proceedings. He is accused of handcuffing the 16-year-old to a bed “to satisfy his sexual whims,” according to state prosecutors.

It is the third case of sexual abuse involving a priest in Brazil, which has the world’s biggest Roman Catholic population, in the last two months. In April, Msgr. Luiz Marques Barbosa, 83, and two other priests were taken into custody in northeastern Brazil and accused of abuse after a videotape surfaced of Father Barbosa having sex with a former altar boy. Also that month, in Franca, in southeastern Brazil, prosecutors charged the Rev. José Afonso with abusing altar boys ranging from 12 to 16 years old.

Vatican says Pope is not liable for day-to-day
actions of priests

James Bone, New York
The Times of London : May 18, 2010

The Vatican says that it cannot be held responsible for the day-to-day actions of Catholic bishops in America, as it scrambles to prevent the Pope from being called to give evidence in a landmark abuse case.

The argument will be made in a case brought by three Kentucky men who claim that they were abused by priests decades ago. The men — one of whom received compensation from the Archdiocese of Louisville under a previous court settlement — are claiming negligence by the Vatican. Their lawyer is trying to make the case a class-action suit on behalf of all US victims of sex abuse by priests and wants to force Pope Benedict XVI to testify.

The Vatican insists that it is not liable for any negligence by US Catholic bishops. Jeffrey Lena, the Vatican’s US lawyer, said yesterday that US bishops were not employees of the Holy See, did not act on Rome’s behalf and were not controlled day-to-day by the Pope. The Holy See denied that it had barred US bishops from reporting sex abuse by priests.

The Vatican outlined its defence against charges that it covered up abuse by Roman Catholic priests in the US as it attempted to thwart efforts to force the Pope to testify.


Complex Struggle: Prelate’s Record in Abuse Crisis
The New York Times: May 17, 2010

In 2002, at the height of the sexual abuse crisis confronting the Roman Catholic Church in America, Timothy M. Dolan arrived in Milwaukee as the new archbishop, succeeding a prelate who had been caught up in scandal. To abuse victims who had felt rebuffed by the church, Archbishop Dolan — warm, down to earth — seemed a bright beam of hope.

He listened to them, wept with them and vowed to change the way the archdiocese dealt with the molestation of children by priests. But just months later, he handwrote a letter to Peter Isely, a victim and an advocate whose wife worried that the new archbishop would let him down.

“Listen to her,” Archbishop Dolan wrote. “Do not put your trust in me. You often speak eloquently about your own imperfection and sin. I’m in the same boat. I am imperfect, sinful, struggling, clumsy.”
His message was to trust only in God. And his warning proved accurate: He would disappoint many victims.
Days before the letter, they learned that Archbishop Dolan had instructed lawyers to seek the dismissal of five lawsuits against the church. Over the next six years, advocates would lament that he resisted many of their appeals for change, from opening church records on predatory priests to offering victims more comprehensive help.

Justice for Child Abuse Victims
The New York Times: May 15, 2010

The Catholic Church is working against the interests of child abuse victims in state legislatures around the country. In recent weeks, lobbying by the church has blocked measures in Wisconsin, Arizona and Connecticut intended to widen the legal window for victims to file lawsuits against hidden predators.

We urge the New York State Legislature to rise above intense lobbying by the New York State Catholic Conference and Orthodox Jewish officials and pass the overdue Child Victims Act.


Vermont: Settlement in Priest Abuse Cases

Dozens of former altar boys who sued the Roman Catholic Church in Vermont over accusations of sexual abuse by priests will share in a nearly $18 million settlement of their cases. The lawyer for the 26 former altar boys and the bishop of the statewide Diocese of Burlington said Thursday that they were pleased by the settlement. The lawsuits accused the diocese of negligent hiring, and many of the cases centered on the former Rev. Edward Paquette, who was the target of accusations before he transferred to Vermont in the mid-1970s.

Last month, a judge set a Sept. 20 trial date for the cases unless they could be settled out of court. In addition to the 26 pending cases that were settled for $17.65 million, the two sides agreed to settle three cases that had already been decided in court and were on appeal. The diocese said those settlements would remain confidential.

In a statement posted on the Web site of the 118,000-member diocese, Bishop Salvatore Matano said that to make the payment, the church would sell its Burlington headquarters, which includes prime, undeveloped Lake Champlain waterfront property, and a lakeside summer camp on Malletts Bay in Colchester.

(Full article)

Pope Accepts Resignation of a Bishop in Germany
The New York Times: May 8, 2010

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday accepted the resignation of a German bishop under investigation for sexual abuse, the latest high-profile resignation since a sexual abuse crisis erupted in the Roman Catholic Church.

In a terse statement, the Vatican said the pope had accepted the resignation of Bishop Walter Mixa of Augsburg , who is also a military chaplain for Germany , under a clause in canon law that allows for the dismissal of bishops considered “unfit” for service.

Bishop Mixa had admitted to having slapped children as a priest and tendered his resignation to the pope two weeks ago. But Benedict’s decision came a day after prosecutors in his native Germany said they were looking into a complaint of sexual abuse of an under-age boy by Bishop Mixa, the newspaper The Augsburger Allgemeine reported Friday.

Abuse Inquiry Expands in German Bishop’s Case
The New York Times: May 7, 2010

BERLIN — A German bishop who offered his resignation after admitting that he had physically abused children as a priest is now under investigation for sexual abuse, yet another shock to the Roman Catholic Church in Germany , which is reeling from a growing child-molestation scandal.

According to a report Friday in the newspaper Augsburger Allgemeine, prosecutors are looking into a complaint of sexual abuse of an underage boy by Bishop Walter Mixa of Augsburg, an outspoken conservative. Bishop Mixa denied the accusations through a lawyer, the newspaper said.

Brazil bishop says kids spontaneously gay
Associated Press: May 5, 2010

RIO DE JANEIRO — A Brazilian archbishop said adolescents are "spontaneously homosexual" and in need of guidance, while society at large is pedophile, according to a Wednesday report.

Archbishop Dadeus Grings — a conservative priest who has made controversial statements in the past — told the O Globo newspaper at a Brazilian bishops conference that society's woes are being reflected in the sex abuse scandal enveloping the Roman Catholic Church.

"Society today is pedophile, that is the problem. So, people easily fall into it. And the fact it is denounced is a good sign," Grings told O Globo.

The comments come as the church is under fire for a sex abuse scandal touching all corners of the globe — and three weeks after Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the No. 2 official at the Vatican, said at a news conference in Chile that the sex scandals were linked to homosexuality and not celibacy among priests.

Father Geraldo Martins, a spokesman for the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops, said Grings would not be made available to elaborate on his comments made Tuesday to O Globo.

Grings is the archbishop of the Porto Alegre diocese, one of the largest in Brazil, which has more Catholics than any other nation. He also serves as the chancellor of the Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul.

Grings denounced the abuse within the church, but he said internal punishment of priests guilty of abuse was sufficient and that police should not be involved. "For the church to go and accuse its own sons would be a little strange," he said.

The archbishop also said it was important to help children avoid homosexuality. "We know that the adolescent is spontaneously homosexual. Boys play with boys, girls play with girls," he said. "If there is no proper guidance, this sticks. The question is — how are we going to educate our children to use a sexuality that is human and suitable?"
Grings also said the acceptance of homosexuality in society could pave the way for the acceptance of pedophilia.

Cardinal Has a Mixed Record on Sexual Abuse Cases
The New Yoprk Times: May 5, 2010

In January 2006, Cardinal William J. Levada , the highest ranking American official in the Vatican , slipped into a San Francisco office building, sidestepping a gaggle of media lying in wait. On leave from Rome, he was submitting to a day of questioning before a flotilla of plaintiffs’ lawyers.

For eight strenuous hours, the cardinal was pressed to explain why he had decided to return priests who were confirmed sexual abusers back to ministry. He acknowledged that he had failed to notify the authorities of allegations of abuse. He struggled to recall why he had chosen not to share information with parishioners.
The questions related to abuse cases that Cardinal Levada dealt with while he was an American bishop; he oversaw the archdioceses of Portland and San Francisco from 1986 to 2005. But by the time the questions were being asked, the cardinal had assumed an exalted position at the Vatican just vacated by his old friend Pope Benedict XVI , as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

That put him in charge of adjudicating sexual abuse cases involving priests worldwide, as Benedict had been before him. And like Benedict, whose handling of delicate cases before he became pope has come under scrutiny, Cardinal Levada often did not act as assertively as he could have on abuse cases.

the future


Abuse Case Offers a View of the Vatican’s Politics
The New York Times: May 3, 2010

The two former Mexican seminarians had gone to the Vatican in 1998 to personally deliver a case recounting decades of sexual abuse by one of the most powerful priests in the Roman Catholic Church, the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado.

As they left, they ran into the man who would hold Father Maciel’s fate in his hands, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger , and kissed his ring. The encounter was no accident. Cardinal Ratzinger wanted to meet them, witnesses later said, and their case was soon accepted.

But in little more than a year, word emerged that Cardinal Ratzinger — the future Pope Benedict XVI — halted the inquiry. “It isn’t prudent,” he had told a Mexican bishop, according to two people who later talked to the bishop.

For five years, the case remained stalled, possibly a hostage to Father Maciel’s powerful protectors in the Curia, the Vatican’s governing apparatus, and his own deep influence at the Holy See.

In any case, it took Cardinal Ratzinger — by then Pope Benedict — until 2006, eight years after the case went before him, to address Father Maciel’s abuses by removing him from priestly duties and banishing him to a life of prayer and penitence, though without publicly acknowledging his wrongs or the suffering of his victims.

'Foolish’ Memo on Pope’s Visit Spurs Apology by the British
The New York Times:: April 25, 2010

LONDON — Britain ’s Foreign Office has apologized publicly for a “foolish” internal memo circulated to government departments that suggested, with apparent sarcasm, that the “ideal” itinerary for Pope Benedict XVI ’s visit to Britain in September might include the pope’s opening an abortion clinic, blessing a gay marriage and introducing a “Benedict” brand of condoms.

The leaked memo suggested, in effect, that the visit be used to draw critical attention to the Roman Catholic Church ’s teachings on sex and marriage, and to highlight the scandal that has enveloped the Vatican over the sexual abuse of children by priests and child care workers.

New Lawsuit Shows Letters to Vatican on Sexual Abuse Earlier Than Previously Thought
The New York Times: April 23, 2010

Documents released in a lawsuit filed Thursday against Pope Benedict XVI show that the Vatican was informed more than a year earlier than previously thought about the case of a priest who molested deaf boys for two decades at a boarding school in Wisconsin.

One victim of the priest wrote two letters to the Vatican’s secretary of state in 1995 asking Pope John Paul II himself to read his anguished letters and “excommunicate” the priest, the Rev. Lawrence Murphy .
Father Murphy, who died in 1998, admitted to a psychologist hired by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee that he had molested 34 children when he worked at St. John’s School for the Deaf in St. Francis, Wis., from 1952 to 1974. Church officials concluded that there might have been as many as 200 victims.
The Vatican had previously said that the first notice it had about Father Murphy was when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — now Pope Benedict XVI — received a letter about the case in 1996 from Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland of Milwaukee.

The victim said he never received a response.

What makes this lawsuit unusual is that it names as defendants Pope Benedict; the Vatican’s current secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone; a former secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano ; and the Holy See

Belgian Bishop Quits Over Sex Abuse
The New York Times: April 23, 2010

ROME — The longest-serving bishop in Belgium resigned Friday after admitting to sexually abusing “a young man in my close entourage” many years ago, becoming the latest cleric to quit in a spreading abuse scandal.

The development dealt a new blow to the Roman Catholic Church, and marked a new entry in a corrosive catalog of disclosures that has damaged its credibility and shaken the trust of many believers in their spiritual leaders.

In a statement issued by the Vatican on Friday, Roger Vangheluwe, 73, the bishop of Bruges since 1984, said that the abuse had occurred “when I was still a simple priest and for a while when I began as a bishop.”

“This has marked the victim forever,” the statement said.

German Bishop Resigns in Latest Blow to Church
The New York Times: April 22, 2010

BERLIN — A German bishop accused of beating children decades ago when he was a priest has tendered his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI , the diocese in Augsburg said Thursday, the latest jolt to the Roman Catholic Church in Germany as it grapples with a swirling sexual abuse scandal.

The accused man, Bishop Walter Mixa, was one of the church’s most prominent and outspoken conservatives in Germany, and he aggressively defended himself for weeks against charges of physically abusing children in a Bavarian orphanage.

Chilean Abuse Case Tests Loyalty of a Parish
The New York Times: April 23, 2010

SANTIAGO, Chile — The Rev. Fernando Karadima is one of Chile ’s most respected and influential priests. Some go so far as to call him a “living saint,” who for half a century trained dozens of priests and helped mold thousands of young Catholics from Santiago’s elite.

Now four men who were once devoted followers have filed a criminal complaint alleging that Father Karadima, now 79, sexually abused them in secret for years.

One man said he had reported the abuse to Father Karadima’s superiors in the Archdiocese of Santiago as many as seven years ago, but they took no action. All four men have filed formal complaints with the archdiocesan tribunal and, receiving no response, spoke publicly for the first time this week.

But the allegations have been largely met not with anger at Father Karadima but with outrage at the accusers by many of his parishioners, a prominent conservative politician and church officials. They say a man so respected over so much time could not possibly have abused his followers, though as the news broke this week, a cardinal here confirmed that the church has been secretly investigating claims of sexual abuse leveled against the priest.




A Church Mary Can Love
The New York Times: April 18, 2010

I heard a joke the other day about a pious soul who dies, goes to heaven, and gains an audience with the Virgin Mary. The visitor asks Mary why, for all her blessings, she always appears in paintings as a bit sad, a bit
Mary reassures her visitor: “Oh, everything’s great. No problems. It’s just ... it’s just that we had always wanted a daughter.”

That story comes to mind as the Vatican wrestles with the consequences of a patriarchal premodern mind-set: scandal, cover-up and the clumsiest self-defense since Watergate. That’s what happens with old boys’ clubs.
It wasn’t inevitable that the Catholic Church would grow so addicted to male domination, celibacy and rigid hierarchies. Jesus himself focused on the needy rather than dogma, and went out of his way to engage women and treat them with respect.

The first-century church was inclusive and democratic, even including a proto-feminist wing and texts. The Gospel of Philip, a Gnostic text from the third century, declares of Mary Magdalene: “She is the one the Savior loved more than all the disciples.” Likewise, the Gospel of Mary (from the early second century) suggests that Jesus entrusted Mary Magdalene to instruct the disciples on his religious teachings.

St. Paul refers in Romans 16 to a first-century woman named Junia as prominent among the early apostles, and to a woman named Phoebe who served as a deacon. The Apostle Junia became a Christian before St. Paul did (chauvinist translators have sometimes rendered her name masculine, with no scholarly basis).

Yet over the ensuing centuries, the church reverted to strong patriarchal attitudes, while also becoming increasingly uncomfortable with sexuality. The shift may have come with the move from house churches, where women were naturally accepted, to more public gatherings.

The upshot is that proto-feminist texts were not included when the Bible was compiled (and were mostly lost until modern times). Tertullian, an early Christian leader, denounced women as “the gateway to the devil,” while a contemporary account reports that the great Origen of Alexandria took his piety a step further and castrated himself.


Molest 'trial' is diocese's shot at redemption
Andrea Peyser
The New York Post: April 12, 2010

The skinny boy with the shock of black hair thought he'd met the dad he'd craved his entire young life. The caring man bought the boy posters from his favorite movie, "Rocky." He lavished him with attention and took him on trips. He was a priest.

"He was a father to me," the boy, now grown, told me. "He took an interest in me. He lifted up my self-esteem. He molested me."

This story unfolded 25 years ago at Most Precious Blood Parish in Queens. But it has spawned a case that is being watched closely by the Brooklyn Diocese and beyond. Because, on March 26, the diocese staged a proceeding that's never before been used there in a case of alleged molestation. Facing three priests acting as judges, the accused, the Rev. Frank Capellupo*, 62, went before a rare and hush-hush religious tribunal.

And those awaiting the results of the unusual, one-day canonical trial -- Capellupo could be booted from the priesthood -- will decide whether the church is serious about rooting out bad seeds hiding among the cloth.

But the man who came forward nine years ago with a claim of sodomy and betrayal has one question: What took so long? "Am I satisfied?" he asked. "I mean, they're doing a lot of catch-up work. A lot of work to cover their ass."


* Often held late-night parties in rectory for teenage boys. Bishop Daily was informed of this fact by at least two priests but did nothing. In 2000 Capellupo was arrested for allegedly sodomizing a 14 yr old boy staying at rectory because of problems at home.

Source: Database of Publicly Accused Priests in the United States

July 7, 1294 to
December 13, 1294

1406 to 1415

Do Popes Quit?
The New York Times: April 9, 2010

VATICAN CITY - He is elected for life, by a group of elderly men infused with the will of God. People address him as Holy Father, not Mr. President. After bishop of Rome, his second title is vicar of Jesus Christ.

A smattering of voices suggest that Pope Benedict XVI can, and should, as outrage has built in recent weeks over clerical abuses in the Catholic Church. The calls — from some lay Catholics, bloggers, secular publications like the German magazine Der Spiegel and street protesters — have been fueled by reports that laid blame at his doorstep, citing his response both as a bishop long ago in Germany and as a cardinal heading the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles these cases. In the most recent disclosure, on Friday, the news emerged that in 1985, when Benedict was Cardinal Ratzinger, he signed a letter putting off efforts to defrock a convicted child-molesting priest. He cited the priest’s relative youth but also the good of the church.

Vatican officials and experts who follow the papacy closely dismiss the idea of stepping down. “There is no objective motive to think in terms of resignation, absolutely no motive,” said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, in an interview before Friday’s disclosure. “It’s a completely unfounded idea.”

Of course, popes have resigned before — the last a mere 595 years ago, when Gregory XII stepped down to heal a schism. Before that, Celestine V, a fiercely ascetic former hermit who wore his temporal power heavily, resigned in 1294 (Dante consigned him to hell for cowardice, some interpreters of the “Inferno” believe).

Diocese in Germany Files Action Against Priest
The New York Times: April 9, 2010

BERLIN — A German diocese said Friday that it had filed a criminal complaint this week against a Roman Catholic priest on charges of sexually abusing minors in the 1980s and ’90s.

The 61-year-old priest was accused of sexually assaulting four boys from 1980 to 1996. The man, identified only as Father Ernst W., confirmed the accusations against him when questioned by church officials, according to a statement Friday by the Diocese of Erfurt, in central Germany.

Although church officials were aware of one of the sexual abuse accusations against him, the priest was allowed to work in a juvenile detention facility from January 2004 to August 2006 without informing the authorities of his history.


Pope Put Off Punishing Abusive Priest
The New York Times: April 9, 2010

The priest, convicted of tying up and abusing two young boys in a California church rectory, wanted to leave the ministry.

But in 1985, four years after the priest and his bishop first asked that he be defrocked, the future Pope Benedict XVI , then a top Vatican official, signed a letter saying that the case needed more time and that “the good of the Universal Church” had to be considered in the final decision, according to church documents released through lawsuits.

That decision did not come for two more years, the sort of delay that is fueling a renewed sexual abuse scandal in the church that has focused on whether the future pope moved quickly enough to remove known pedophiles from the priesthood, despite pleas from American bishops.

As the scandal has deepened, the pope’s defenders have said that, well before he was elected pope in 2005, he grew ever more concerned about sexual abuse and weeding out pedophile priests. But the case of the California priest, the Rev. Stephen Kiesle, and the trail of documents first reported on Friday by The Associated Press, shows, in this period at least, little urgency.


Priest accused of US abuse still working in India
STAR TRIBUNE/AP: April 5, 2010

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Top officials at the Vatican were warned more than four years ago about a Catholic priest later charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in Minnesota, according to newly released Vatican correspondence, but to this day he continues to work in his home diocese in India.

[Documents show that the American bishop warned the Vatican that the priest was accused of molesting two teenage girls whose trust he gained by promising to discuss their interest in becoming nuns.

A county attorney in Minnesota is seeking to extradite the priest from India in a criminal case that involves one of the girls, who said the priest had forced her to perform oral sex and had threatened her and her family.]*

Jeyapaul denied the abuse allegations and said he has no plans to return to the United States to face the courts.

* Priest Charged in U.S. Is Still Serving in India
LAURIE GOODSTEIN / The New York Times: April 5, 2010

No image available
New Vatican abuse shocker
Associated Press: April 3, 2010

The future Pope Benedict XVI took over the abuse case of an Arizona priest, then let it languish at the Vatican for years despite repeated pleas from a bishop for the man to be removed from the priesthood, according to church correspondence.

Documents reviewed by The Associated Press show that in the 1990s, a church tribunal found that the Rev. Michael Teta of Tucson, Ariz., had molested children as far back as the late 1970s.

The panel deemed his behavior -- including allegations that he abused boys in a confessional -- almost "satanic." The tribunal referred his case to then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would become pope in 2005.

But it took 12 years from the time Ratzinger assumed control of the case in a signed letter until Teta was removed, a step only the Vatican can take.

Archbishop of Canterbury

Anglican Says Irish Church Has Lost Credibility

LONDON -- The Roman Catholic church in Ireland has lost its credibility because of its mishandling of abuse by priests, the leader of the Anglican church said in remarks released Saturday. A leading Catholic archbishop said he was ''stunned'' by the comments.

It was the first time Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams , the spiritual leader of the Church of England, has spoken publicly on the crisis engulfing the Catholic church. The remarks come ahead of a planned visit to England and Scotland by Pope Benedict XVI later this year.

''I was speaking to an Irish friend recently who was saying that it's quite difficult in some parts of Ireland to go down the street wearing a clerical collar now,'' Williams told the BBC . ''And an institution so deeply bound into the life of a society, suddenly becoming, suddenly losing all credibility -- that's not just a problem for the church, it is a problem for everybody in Ireland, I think.''

Preacher of the Papal Household

Vatican Priest Likens Criticism Over Abuse to Anti-Semitism
The New York Times: April 2, 2010

ROME — A senior Vatican priest, speaking before Pope Benedict XVI at a Good Friday service, compared the world’s outrage at sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church to the persecution of the Jews, prompting angry responses from victims’ advocates and consternation from Jewish groups.

The Vatican spokesman quickly distanced the Vatican from the remarks, which came on the day Christians mark the Crucifixion. They underscored how much the Catholic Church has felt under attack from recent news reports and from criticism over how it has handled charges of child molesting against priests in the past.

Speaking in St. Peter’s Basilica, the priest, the Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa, took note that Easter and Passover fell during the same week this year, and said he was led to think of the Jews.

“They know from experience what it means to be victims of collective violence, and also because of this they are quick to recognize the recurring symptoms,” said Father Cantalamessa, who serves under the title of preacher of the papal household. Then he quoted from what he said was a letter from a Jewish friend he did not identify.


Editorial Cartoon
by Mike Luckovich
The New Kork Post: March 28,2010



A Nope for Pope
The New York Times: March 28, 2010

Yup, we need a Nope.

A nun who is pope.

The Catholic Church can never recover as long as its Holy Shepherd is seen as a black sheep in the ever-darkening sex abuse scandal.

Now we learn the sickening news that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, nicknamed “God’s Rottweiler” when he was the church’s enforcer on matters of faith and sin, ignored repeated warnings and looked away in the case of the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy, a Wisconsin priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys.

The church has been tone deaf and dumb on the scandal for so long that it’s shocking, but not surprising, to learn from The Times’s Laurie Goodstein that a group of deaf former students spent 30 years trying to get church leaders to pay attention.

It was only when the sanctity of the confessional was breached that an archbishop in Wisconsin (who later had to resign when it turned out he used church money to pay off a male lover) wrote to Cardinal Ratzinger at the Vatican to request that Father Murphy be defrocked.

The cardinal did not answer. The archbishop wrote to a different Vatican official, but Father Murphy appealed to Cardinal Ratzinger for leniency and got it, partly because of the church’s statute of limitations.

Since when does sin have a statute of limitations?


Catholic Order Admits Its Founder Abused Boys Over Decades
The New York Times: March 27, 2010

ROME — A powerful Roman Catholic religious order acknowledged in a statement on Friday that its founder, a close ally of the late Pope John Paul II , molested seminarians and fathered several children, and it expressed “sorrow and grief” to anyone “damaged by our founder’s actions.”

The statement was the first official admission by the Legionaries of Christ that its charismatic Mexican founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, who died in 2008, was responsible for many “grave acts.” Around two dozen people had claimed that Father Maciel’s molesting of boys continued for decades.

The statement was viewed as an important development because Father Maciel was a beloved friend of Pope John Paul, and the accusations of abuse against him were vetted personally by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger , now Pope Benedict XVI.


For Years, Deaf Boys Tried to Tell of Priest’s Abuse
The New York Times: March 26, 2010

They were deaf, but they were not silent. For decades, a group of men who were sexually abused as children by the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy at a school for the deaf in Wisconsin reported to every type of official they could think of that he was a danger, according to the victims and church documents.

They told other priests. They told three archbishops of Milwaukee. They told two police departments and the district attorney. They used sign language, written affidavits and graphic gestures to show what exactly Father Murphy had done to them. But their reports fell on the deaf ears of hearing people.

This week, they learned that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger , now Pope Benedict XVI, received letters about Father Murphy in 1996 from Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland of Milwaukee, who said that the deaf community needed “a healing response from the Church.” The Vatican sat on the case, then equivocated, and when Father Murphy died in 1998, he died a priest.

Pope Was Told Pedophile Priest Would Get Transfer
Documents suggest that Pope Benedict was kept informed of a pedophile priest's case

The New York Times: March 25, 2010

MUNICH — The future Pope Benedict XVI was kept more closely apprised of a sexual abuse case in Germany than previous church statements have suggested, raising fresh questions about his handling of a scandal unfolding under his direct supervision before he rose to the top of the church’s hierarchy.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope and archbishop in Munich at the time, was copied on a memo that informed him that a priest, whom he had approved sending to therapy in 1980 to overcome pedophilia, would be returned to pastoral work within days of beginning psychiatric treatment. The priest was later convicted of molesting boys in another parish.

An initial statement on the matter issued earlier this month by the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising placed full responsibility for the decision to allow the priest to resume his duties on Cardinal Ratzinger’s deputy, the Rev. Gerhard Gruber. But the memo, whose existence was confirmed by two church officials, shows that the future pope not only led a meeting on Jan. 15, 1980, approving the transfer of the priest, but was also kept informed about the priest’s reassignment.

Vatican Declined to Defrock U.S. Priest Who Abused Boys
The New York Times: March 25, 2010

Top Vatican officials — including the future Pope Benedict XVI — did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys, even though several American bishops repeatedly warned them that failure to act on the matter could embarrass the church, according to church files newly unearthed as part of a lawsuit.

The internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal.

The documents emerge as Pope Benedict is facing other accusations that he and direct subordinates often did not alert civilian authorities or discipline priests involved in sexual abuse when he served as an archbishop in Germany and as the Vatican ’s chief doctrinal enforcer.

The Wisconsin case involved an American priest, the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy, who worked at a renowned school for deaf children from 1950 to 1974. But it is only one of thousands of cases forwarded over decades by bishops to the Vatican office called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, led from 1981 to 2005 by Cardinal Ratzinger.

Bishop of Cloyne

Abuse Scandal’s Ripples Spread Across Europe
The New York Times: March 24, 2010

MUNICH — The fallout from the sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church settled across Europe on Wednesday, as prosecutors said they were weighing criminal charges against a priest suspected of molesting children in Germany , and Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of a bishop accused of mishandling

The possibility of criminal charges emerged from new accusations against a priest at the center of the child-molesting scandal rocking the church in Germany. On Wednesday, church officials in Munich said the priest, the Rev. Peter Hullermann — whose transfer in 1980 to an archdiocese led at the time by Benedict, then Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, has drawn the pope himself into the nation’s child abuse controversy — had been accused of molesting a minor as recently as 1998.

In Ireland, Bishop John Magee, whose resignation was accepted by the pope on Wednesday, issued a statement of apology. In 2008, an investigation by a church panel into allegations in Cloyne found that Bishop Magee had failed to respond to accusations of abuse and that policies to protect children were severely lacking, setting off calls for his resignation.

Bishop Magee’s was the first resignation the pope accepted since issuing a long-awaited letter to Irish Catholics last weekend apologizing to victims of sexual abuse and expressing “shame and remorse.”











German Priest in Church Abuse Case Is Suspended
The New York Times: March 15, 2010

MUNICH — The priest at the center of a German sexual-abuse scandal that has embroiled Pope Benedict XVI continued working with children for more than 30 years, even though a German court convicted him of

The priest, Peter Hullermann, who had previously been identified only by the first letter of his last name, was suspended from his duties only on Monday. That was three days after the church acknowledged that the pope, then Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, had responded to early accusations of molestation by allowing the priest to move to Munich for therapy in 1980.

Hundreds of victims have come forward in recent months in Germany with accounts of sexual abuse from decades past. But no case has captured the attention of the nation like that of Father Hullermann, not only because of the involvement of the future pope, but also because of the impunity that allowed a child molester to continue to work with altar boys and girls for decades after his conviction.

Benedict not only served as the archbishop of the diocese where the priest worked, but also later as the cardinal in charge of reviewing sexual abuse cases for the Vatican . Yet until the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising announced that Father Hullermann had been suspended on Monday, he continued to serve in a series of Bavarian parishes.

Cardinal Who Didn’t Report Abuse Won’t Quit
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: Published: March 15, 2010

Ireland: Cardinal Sean Brady, left, the leader of Ireland ’s Roman Catholics, said Monday that he would not resign, despite admitting that he helped the church get evidence against a child-molesting priest but never told the police about it. He said that as a priest in 1975, he interviewed two children who said they had been abused by the Rev. Brendan Smyth, who was eventually accused of molesting and raping scores of children in Ireland, Britain and the United States. Both children were required to sign oaths promising not to tell anyone outside the church of their accusations, Cardinal Brady said. He said that church officials had not notified the police because of “a culture of silence about this, a culture of secrecy.”


Jonathan Phillips












HOLY WARRIORS: A Modern History of the Crusades
By Jonathan Phillips
The New York Times/Book Review: March 14, 2010

The villains of history seem relatively easy to understand; however awful their deeds, their motives remain recognizable. But the good guys, those their contemporaries saw as heroes or saints, often puzzle and appall.

They did the cruelest things for the loftiest of motives; they sang hymns as they waded through blood.

Nowhere, perhaps, is this contradiction more apparent than in the history of the Crusades. When the victorious knights of the First Crusade finally stood in Jerusalem, on July 15, 1099, they were, in the words of the chronicler William of Tyre, “dripping with blood from head to foot.” They had massacred the populace. But in the same breath, William praised the “pious devotion . . . with which the pilgrims drew near to the holy places, the exultation of heart and happiness of spirit with which they kissed the memorials of the Lord’s sojourn on earth.”

It’s tempting to dismiss the crusaders’ piety as sheer hypocrisy. In fact, their faith was as pure as their savagery. As Jonathan Phillips observes in his excellent new history — in case we needed reminding at this late date — “faith lies at the heart of holy war.”

In the rigid, polarized mentality of the holy warrior, any deviation can signify a dangerous otherness. This is the best recent history of the Crusades; it is also an astute depiction of a frightening cast of mind.


and his brother

Vatican on Defense as Sex Scandals Build
The New York Times: March 9, 2010

ROME — Defending itself against a growing child sexual abuse scandal in Europe, one that has even come close to the brother of Pope Benedict XVI , the Vatican said Tuesday that local European churches had addressed the issue with “timely and decisive action.”

Pope Benedict XVI, right, with his brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, in Regensburg, Germany in 2006.
In a note read on Vatican Radio , the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, cautioned against limiting the concerns over child sexual abuse to Roman Catholic institutions, noting that the problem also affected the broader society.

A wave of church sexual abuse scandals has emerged in recent weeks in Germany , Austria, and the Netherlands , adding to the fallout from a broad abuse investigation in Ireland .

Vatican Enmeshed in Gay Sex Allegations
The New York Times: March 4, 2010

ROME — A singer in an elite Vatican choir and a jailed Italian public works executive who served as a papal usher were let go by the Vatican this week amid allegations that they were involved in what prosecutors believe was an organized network of gay prostitution, Italian news media reported.

Ghinedu Ehiem, a Nigerian who sang in a choir that performs at St. Peter’s Basilica, was dismissed after the center-left daily newspaper La Repubblica reported Wednesday that he had procured men, including seminarians, for Angelo Balducci, a former member of the board of Italy’s public works department who was arrested and jailed last month on corruption charges.

John Paul II Whipped Self
AP: January 27, 2010

VATICAN CITY -- Pope John Paul II whipped himself with a belt, even on vacation, and slept on the floor as acts of penitence and to bring him closer to Christian perfection, according to a new book by the Polish prelate spearheading the late pontiff's sainthood case.


Pope Quiz: Is Every Pontiff a Saint?
The New York Times: January 17, 2010

Should any pope be made a saint?

The church counts less than a third of all 264 dead popes as saints, and most were canonized by popular acclaim in the first centuries of Christianity, often because they were martyrs. Only five were canonized in the entire second millennium, and when Pius X, who died in 1914, was made a saint in 1954 — by Pius XII — he was the first pope so honored in nearly 400 years.

Now nearly every recent pope is on the canonization track. John Paul II beatified Pius IX, the 19th-century pope who is a polarizing figure because of his belief in the power of the papacy and his views on Judaism. But like Benedict, John Paul did a little ticket-balancing. He simultaneously beatified the popular John XXIII, who convened the liberalizing Second Vatican Council in 1962. The canonization process for Paul VI, who followed John XXIII, is underway, and there is a campaign to beatify John Paul I, who reigned a mere 33 days before his death in 1978.


The Nuns’ Story
The New York Times: October 24, 2009

In 2004, the cardinal who would become Pope Benedict XVI wrote a Vatican document urging women to be submissive partners, resisting any adversarial roles with men and cultivating “feminine values” like “listening, welcoming, humility, faithfulness, praise and waiting.”

Nuns need to be even more sepia-toned for the über-conservative pope, who was christened “God’s Rottweiler” for his enforcement of orthodoxy. Once a conscripted member of the Hitler Youth, Benedict pardoned a schismatic bishop who claimed that there was no Nazi gas chamber. He also argued on a trip to Africa that distributing condoms could make the AIDS crisis worse.

The Vatican is now conducting two inquisitions into the “quality of life” of American nuns, a dwindling group with an average age of about 70, hoping to herd them back into their old-fashioned habits and convents and curb any speck of modernity or independence.

Rowan Williams
Anglican archbishop of Canterbury

Catholic archbishop of Westminster

Vatican Bidding to Get Anglicans to Join Its Fold
The New York Times: October 20, 2009

VATICAN CITY — In an extraordinary bid to lure traditionalist Anglicans en masse, the Vatican said Tuesday that it would make it easier for Anglicans uncomfortable with their church’s acceptance of female priests and openly gay bishops to join the Roman Catholic Church while retaining many of their traditions.

Anglicans would be able “to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony,” Cardinal William J. Levada , the prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith , said at a news conference here.

It was unclear why the Vatican made the announcement now. But it seemed a rare opportunity, audaciously executed, to capitalize on deep divisions within the Anglican Church to attract new members at a time when the Catholic Church has been trying to reinvigorate itself in Europe.

Photo: Matt Dunham/Associated Press

Pope Ends Czech Visit With Warning About Power
Max Rossi/Reuters
The New York Times: September 28, 2009

PRAGUE — Ending a three-day trip here aimed at fighting secularism, Pope Benedict XVI told about 40,000 of the faithful on Monday that the collapse of the Communist system had shown the price paid by those who chase power and deny God.

The pope came to this decidedly skeptical nation as part of a Continentwide mission to urge the unbelieving out of their collective apathy.
But while Benedict’s visit has been warmly received by the country’s Roman Catholics, the pope has been faced with the overwhelming indifference of a nation unmoved by religion.

During his visit to the Czech Republic, where civil unions between gay men and lesbians have been legal since 2006 and abortion has been permissible for decades, the pope avoided delicate social issues.

Yet many Czechs said his mission here had been futile. “Catholicism is not going to catch on here where cynicism and ‘What’s the point?’ are the national ideology,” said Dominik Jun, 31, a filmmaker. “More Czechs believe in infomercials on television than they do in religion.”

Max Rossi/Reuters

Ex-Priest Challenges Abuse Conviction on Repressed Memories
The New York Times: September 10, 2009

BOSTON — Paul R. Shanley, 78, a defrocked Roman Catholic priest at the center of the clergy abuse crisis here, was convicted in 2005 of raping and assaulting a 6-year-old boy while serving as a priest in suburban Boston, in a case that hinged on memories of abuse the accuser said he had repressed and recovered decades later.

Mr. Shanley, a controversial street priest who worked with runaways, troubled youth and denounced the Roman Catholic Church’s stance on homosexuality, was accused of abuse by about 24 people. But only the case of the accuser, now a 32-year-old suburban Boston firefighter, made it to trial.


U.S. Nuns Facing Vatican Scrutiny
The New York Times: July 2, 2009

The Vatican is quietly conducting two sweeping investigations of American nuns, a development that has startled and dismayed nuns who fear they are the targets of a doctrinal Inquisition.

“Next time, let’s have our women religious study the quality of life of our male clerics.”
Editor of The National Catholic Reporter

Bishop Avidly Opposes Bill Extending Time to File Child-Abuse Suits
The New York Times: June 4, 2009

Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of Brooklyn repeated a warning this week that he has leveled at lawmakers for months: If the statute of limitations on child sex-abuse lawsuits is temporarily lifted, as pending state legislation proposes, a cascade of very bad things will happen.

His Roman Catholic diocese and others will go bankrupt. Bishops like him will be forced to close churches and schools. And wrathful constituents will punish the politicians who, in his view, will have made this all happen.

Catholic Archbishop Explains Remarks on ‘Courage’ of Abusers
By Robert Mackey
The New York Times: May 21, 2009

The new head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Archbishop Vincent Nichols — who said on Wednesday that it “TAKES COURAGE” for members of the clergy in Ireland who abused children “to face these facts from their past, which instinctively and quite naturally they’d rather not look at.”





Report Details Abuses in Irish Reformatories
The New York Times: May 21, 2009

LONDON — Tens of thousands of Irish children were sexually, physically and emotionally abused by nuns, priests and others over 60 years in a network of church-run residential schools meant to care for the poor, the vulnerable and the unwanted, according to a report released in Dublin on Wednesday.

The Vatican had no response.

A Century of Looking the Other Way
May 22, 2009

DUBLIN -- EVERYONE knew. When the Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse issued its report this week, after nine years of investigation, the Irish collectively threw up their hands in horror, asking that question we have heard so often, from so many parts of the world, throughout the past century: How could it happen?

Ex-Archbishop Speaks About Catholic Church and Homosexuality
The New York Times: May 15, 2009

In spring 2002, as the scandal over sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests was escalating, the long career of Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland of Milwaukee, one of the church’s most venerable voices for change, went up in flames one May morning.



Unequal Time for Theists

Inquisitorial News

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