Sancho E. Jones over at thepeoplesvoice.org published a poorly researched and substantially unwell-thought-out article on the continuing predatory homosexual priest abuse scandal. It is under the “Voices” tab. Article and fisk follows:
Just Because the Vatican Doesn’t Hold the Clergy Responsible, Doesn’t Mean the Membership Won’t
After centuries of torture, genocide and even siding with Nazi Germany [disproven], why would the abuse scandal result in the Catholic Church forcing Pope Benedict XVI to step down? Why weren’t other more heinous acts punished?
This time, there is going to be hell to pay.
It isn’t that the Vatican finds priests raping children to be particularly troublesome , or violating the sanctity of the confessional to be worthy of punishment [not just punishment], even breaking the law isn’t of much concern [Cardinal Ratzinger/BXVI repeatedly insisted that the demands of justice must be satisfied]. It will be something more fundamental that will bring down the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
You will notice that the Pope will be talking more and more about how “the Church” should do penance, or how “we” need to apologize [writer attempting to capitalize on the concept of solidarity]. What Benedict is trying to do is to foist the blame from himself, and/or the Vatican on to the membership at large [writer is assuming that BXVI was complicit in some way. This is unproven]. Most members find the comparison of the Pope to holocaust victims and Jesus on the cross to be particularly offensive [writer fails to cite source. The source, a homily given by Fr.Father Raniero Cantalamessa was widely taken out of context by the media. In an age of easy access to information and weblinks, it is inexcusable for a writer not to cite. That is, of course, unless the facts are not on your side. That is a good reason not to cite.
THE ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL
It is important to draw some distinctions here. There is Catholicism which is a religion; the Catholic Church which is a group of members of that faith which includes the laity, priests, nuns and all the leadership; and then there is the Vatican. Members often despise the Vatican, think the Pope is a buffoon and still love the Church, and consider themselves a good Catholic. Okay, lets draw a parallel distinction. There is family which is the group of relatives related to you by blood, and then there is Dad. Sons often despise Dad, think he is an idiot and a controlling jerk, but still consider themselves good sons.
Catholics in a general geographic location make up a parish with usually one church, and groups of parishes are organized into a diocese, under the leadership of the Bishop or Archbishop. Above that are Cardinals who elect the Pope [writer failed to research. There are Cardinal deacons, Cardinal priests, and Cardinal bishops. They aren’t some agency above the faithful, but are members of the faithful. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but this gives non-Catholics a general feel for the organization.
Located in Rome, the Vatican is considered to be a separate country, a ruling body of about 200 men, headed by the Pope, believed to be God’s representative on Earth. Literally. This sentence is misleading. He is referring to the Curia but confusing it with the current political framework under which the Vatican currently exists.
The US Catholic Church [there is no such animal] often wields it’s own power over the American membership [an individual Catholic in any country is under the spiritual leadership of two individuals; the local bishop, and the Pope. The parish priest is the local representative of the diocesan bishop], a group of Catholics who do not necessarily follow the edicts of the Pope to the letter, but consider themselves to be part of the same Church [the writer is being opaque in referring to the “edicts” of the Pope. Is he speaking of Magisterium? Various pronouncements? It is unclear. At some point, one could certainly separate himself from the Church by ceasing to believe what the Church teaches. If this is the case, he may be speaking of dissident Catholics who believe their own magisterium is greater than the Church’s. It is precisely this which determines whether one is Catholic or not. One can go to Mass every Sunday, put five bucks into the collection plate, eat donuts in the basement and volunteer at St. Vincent de Paul, but still not be a Catholic. What a Catholic does springs from what he believes. Without the underlying belief, the doing would be relatively pointless. The writer fails to see this]. For instance, in the US, divorced [vague. Does he mean divorced and remarried? Civil divorce in and of itself doesn’t separate one from the sacraments; divorcing and entering into another unsacramental marriage does] Catholics may attend mass [certainly] and accept communion as their conscience dictates [first of all, one receives Holy Communion, he doesn’t accept it; second, conscience has nothing to do with it. A divorced person can receive if he or she is properly disposed to do so; a divorced and remarried person cannot lawfully receive and it doesn’t matter what their conscience tells them], even though this is prohibited [in the first case, it isn’t prohibited. In the second case, it is]. The states are usually more liberal the Europe [the writer doesn’t have a firm grip on European affairs]. Americans do not find themselves the subject of Church discipline. Excommunication is rare [Public excommunication is always rare. Latae sententiae excommunication isn’t publicly pronounced because its isn’t by nature public. A Catholic theologian who publically and widely repudiates a defined dogma of the Catholic Church would be publicly excommunicated, even though by the nature of his offense, the proclamation would only be an announcement and not a judgment. If a bishop or the Pope publicly excommunicated every Catholic who is currently a member of the Masons, he could do so. One rarely sees this, because to have the excommunication lifted, one would have to present himself to the Pope or his bishop (or to one assigned by the Pope or bishop to do so) and repent. In such a case, the person may or may not have known that it is unlawful for a Catholic to be a member of the Masons. In ignorance, the person may have committed no actual sin. He would still be barred from the sacraments (this is what excommunication is) until the penalty was lifted or he approached the cleric who excommunicated him and repented] .
The child abuse scandals [predatory homosexual priest abuse scandals] are nothing new [debatable], beginning back in the 1970s with the trial of Rev. Gilbert Gauthe, a chaplain under the direction of Bishop Gerard Louis Frey of the Diocese of Savannah. Gauthe, who had been molesting altar boys, was later jailed and cost the diocese more than $20 million to settle the cases.
Several other scandals erupted during the 1980s and 1990s, and it was discovered that some bishops were shipping priests off to new parishes, after a stint with the Church-operated Servants of the Paraclete [or other treatment centers], a religious order which serves the clergy in treatment of various difficulties such as alcoholism, drug addiction or sexual abuse.
The Rev. Gerald M. C. Fitzgerald, founder of the order, warned American bishops as early as the 1950s [citation?] that sexual offender priests could not be rehabilitated [even if true, it would be largely irrelevant, because the profession as a whole was advertising that, in fact, such persons could be rehabilitated. In this case, Fitzgerald would have been one discordant voice in a chorus of voices chanting that they could be rehabbed]. He also warned Vatican officials in 1962 [citation?] and then later to Pope Paul VI [citation?]. American bishops would later contend that they were unaware that priests would re-offend and that no one counseled them on removing these men from contact with parishioners. Clever wording. The writer set up the strawman and expertly attacked it. Was it wise of the bishops to listen to the psych community when they made such claims? Perhaps not, but hindsight doesn’t need glasses to read the signs of the times. Fact is, the psych community was making claims they could rehab offenders. Fact is, bishops listened to them, and put “cured” offenders back into the occasion of sin. It was not until a court made these documents public that it was discovered that Fitzgerald had indeed warned the leadership. Again, given the fact that Fitzgerald did so (there are no citations), it is largely irrelevant.
Failure to follow this advice allowed some priests to rack up more victims and the subsequent lawsuits in the 1990s resulted in seven diocese seeking bankruptcy protection. Settlements grew to $1.5 billion and many American Catholics [who?] criticized the Vatican for not paying for the abusive priests [this is preposterous], instead leaving the US organization in financial ruin. The response from Rome was one of silence [just because the writer wasn’t party to the discussions and outcomes doesn’t mean they didn’t happen. I think he is being obtuse, but the fact is the Vatican has been dealing with the issues and will continue to. The response wasn’t silence, it was determined action in changing the way in which such cases were handled when they did reach the Vatican. Still, the article is taking it for granted that this is a widespread and gargantuan phenomenon, which it isn’t. The Catholic Church has a fraction of abuse allegations that other denominations and other religions do, and it absolutely pales in comparison to the sexual abuse and harassment going on daily in the U.S. public school system], and then to blame American culture for it’s sexual licentiousness [it is] and hysterical response [what in God’s name was hysterical about it?] to abuse allegations.
It was later discovered that Boston’s Archbishop [sic: Cardinal] Bernard Francis Law had covered up sexual abuse by priests under his control, which further fueled the American abuse scandal. His actions were so notorious, that more than 50 priests demanded his resignation, despite Law’s claims that his policies had been effective. He stepped down from his position as the Archbishop, but remained a Cardinal, and was moved to Rome by John Paul II where he participated in the enclave [sic: conclave. an enclave is a country (or group of people) wholly residing within the bounds of another] of 2005 which saw Ratzinger ascend to the papal throne [That’s right, he stepped down. He remained a Cardinal, and so of course he participated in the conclave] .
Many Catholics have privately – as well as some publicly, called for the Vatican to return Law to the US and force him to stand trial for his involvement in the abuse of thousands of children. Interesting. So if I write to the Vatican to return Law to the U.S., some court somewhere will automatically bring suit? Does the writer have an inkling of how charges are brought and how extradition works? Doubts are emerging. Law continues to enjoy the protection of Rome and the membership [we don’t speak of ourselves as “the membership”] has been ignored, once again.
Since that time, many more scandals have come to light in Ireland, Germany and South America. More recently, it was discovered that priests were raping nuns in Africa and India and some who became pregnant were forced to have abortions. [Sure they have. I think the writer has been reading Maria Monk. I challenge the writer to produce citations.
WHY THE ABUSE SCANDAL WILL BE DIFFERENT
The Vatican has held itself above man’s laws [no, they’ve been cooperative when criminal and civil suits have been brought], and the membership has reluctantly [?] supported the Church in the claim that they are above scrutiny [cite one quote where anyone within the hierarchy has claimed to be above scrutiny], answering only to God.
God, however, is not without His own rules.
When priests take their vows, they consecrate themselves to the Church [no, they consecrate themselves to the service of the Church], they become a servant of the membership and enjoy Divine protection [um…no]. They take a vow of chastity [um…no. Every faithful Catholic is called to chastity, which is the right ordering of the sexual passions. Priests take a vow of celibacy]. To violate this vow is to commit a sacrilege, which is to desecrate or defile a sacred object. Anyone who knowingly assists in this violation, or is party to it, is also guilty of a sacrilege.
Therefore, priests having sex with anyone – whether it be children, other priests or adult females is committing a sacrilege.
In 2001, Pope John Paul II declared that priests having sex with a minor was delictum gravius, also known as a grave or mortal sin [um…no. delictum gravius means “a more grave crime” and is a term in canon law which deals with canonical punishments for acts committed in contradicion to the Church’s laws. A mortal sin [a separate topic from delictum gravius] is one so serious, that it is believed to spiritually separate the sinner from God. Some mortal sins are grounds for automatic excommunication and to die after committing one without repenting would result in the sinner spending eternity in Hell with forgiveness being left up to the mercy of God Almighty [correct, but we are not speaking of mortal sin here, we are speaking of delictum gravius].
In order to repent [of a mortal sin, again a separate issue from the topic the writer brought up], the sinner must confess full details [no], names [no], times, etc [etcetera?]. A sexual abuser would be required to confess to [sic] every victim, deed, and thought in this regard.
What should have been done [and sometimes was], what was within the power of the Vatican [and the diocesan bishop or religious superior] to do, is to send these offenders to a monastery to engage in meditation and spiritual pursuit away from the membership. Additionally, this would have removed the temptation [no. It would have removed the opportunity and an occasion of sin] for these priests to re-offend, and the number of victims would be lessened. Had the Church handled abusers in this manner, likely, the crimes would have been excused [no. Again, the Church says that the demands of justice must be met in such cases. This means that if criminal or civil charges are brought, the offender must face trial], like so many atrocities [you can’t claim benefit of the doubt here, if you want to bring up specific cases, and open yourself up to a debate over the veracity of such claims in the light of primary source documentation, fine. But vaguely proffering alleged atrocities as a given won’t work] in the past.
The smoking gun […lets see what he’s got.] which will bring down the Vatican is that these priests who were separated from God, who were mortal sinners [aren’t most of us?], were allowed to celebrate the Mass, hear confessions, marry couples and give last rites [Catholics who know what they believe, know that the sacraments work “ex opere operato” and that the sanctity of the minister does not diminish the spiritual efficacy of the sacramental actions they perform, so this is a moot point]. The leadership moved these unqualified [moot point] priests to new parishes, knowing full well they had not repented and, as a result, they became party to a sacrilege [moot point].
NO JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS
The Vatican thought these sins were so serious, that in 1962, they issued the Crimen sollicitationis (The Crime of Solicitation) letter to all bishops and high ranking officials which was kept secret until 2001 […how was it “kept secret” if it was issued? Sigh. I guess “high ranking official” was supposed to be spoken with a horror film operatic crescendo behind it. It was written to bishops as bishops dealing with how to proceed with cases where the confessional was used in solicitation. To understand why such a document would not receive wide circulation outside that group requires an understanding of the seal of the confessional. The writer doubtfully possesses such an understanding]. While the letter did discuss the discipline of sexual abusers, it swore anyone involved in the investigation [the members of the tribunal] to absolute secrecy [since it dealt with the sacramental seal], including the victims [no. It deals explicitly with the members of the tribunal. The victims were never members of the tribunal]. The letter forbade the accuser or anyone involved from reporting the crime [no. It forbade anyone on the tribunal from reporting the proceedings of the tribunal to anyone, since it dealt with the sacramental seal] to civil authorities [this is similar to the attorney/client privilege].
The bigger problem was that the penalty for disclosure was automatic excommunication [perfectly understandable when you know that it only applied to the members of a given tribunal]. Priests found guilty of sexual abuse were only defrocked [an Anglican term. Catholic priests are not “defrocked” they are laicized] as an “extreme penalty,” and was only be used as punishment if the defendant had “attained such a degree of temerity and habitude [sic], that there seems to be no hope, humanly speaking, or almost no hope, of his amendment.” Victims who speak out [subject/verb disagreement aside, the writer, again, is assuming that the document referred in any way to victims. This was never the case] would be cut off from the Church, and from God [that is making a claim that the Church doesn’t even make for herself]– there would be no offers of rehabilitation for them, their sins would not be overlooked, there would be no chance to repent .
In other words, priests who rape children [the abuse scandal deals overwhelmingly with predatory homosexual priests abusing teen boys, not “children”] and members who turn them in are being held to two different standards [the writer is making a parallel between bringing criminal or civil suits with the proceedings of a Vatican tribunal operating under crimen sollicitationis. There is no such parallel]. It doesn’t take much effort to reach the conclusion that God’s laws have been ignored by the clergy.
Well, duh. He needed the preceding obfuscation to bring up that point?
The Vatican, and even the Pope, can claim to be above man’s laws but they are not above God’s laws, they are ultimately accountable to the Church as a whole as they too have been consecrated to the membership. [Okay.] The leadership has been very vocal about warning members against engaging in “petty gossip” about the sexual abuse [very vocal? Who and when?], and therefore, most Catholics are unaware of the nature of the crimes or the extent of the cover up. [Oh, really. On the first count I would partially agree since the media refuse to bring to our attention that the vast majority of cases were of predatory homosexuals preying on teen boys. But this is every day in the media. If a person in America is ignorant of the “abuse and cover up” it is because he doesn’t want to.] As they are called to defend the Pope and the Vatican, they will be exposed to more documentation about the leadership’s involvement in perpetuating mortal sins.
Once it becomes widespread and well known [it already has been for years], the bishops will point to the Cardinals [why the cardinals? Some of those bishops are cardinals] and claim they were only following orders. Someone will have to be sacrificed [well, there is a conclusion that doesn’t follow from the argument]. The rallying cry will most likely come from US Catholics who have spent the last decade digging out from over a billion dollars in settlements to victims with no financial assistance from Rome.
No one in a position of authority is going to take the fall for this [really? What about all those Irish bishops who just resigned? What about Cardinal Law? Lots of people are “taking the fall” for it], nor will the membership accept a scapegoat [who is looking for one, besides the New York Times?]. The membership will call for the resignation of someone in authority, and that may very well be the Pope.