Archive for the ‘3. The Pope’ Category

It looks like of the $82 million collected in 2009 for Peter’s Pence only $9 million went to papal charities and the rest went to fund the out-of-control Vatican budget

Friday, June 10, 2011


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Why give your hard-earned money to a church collection whose real purpose is camouflaged with pretty words that don’t reflect reality? Why give to bloated, useless Vatican bureaucrats who eat gourmet food and drink vintage wine in the best restaurants in Rome? Why not give to an organization that helps abuse victims or promotes keeping children safe from clerical sexual predators?

Frank Douglas  |  Tucson, AZ  |  June 10, 2011



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Rome, rendered

By Mark Silk on June 9, 2011 10:39 AM | 2 CommentsNo TrackBacks


Yesterday I went up to St. Eulalia’s in Winchester, Mass. to hear Jason Berry talk about his important new book, Render Unto Rome, to 50 or 60 members of Voice of the Faithful. No one has done more to investigate the underside of the contemporary Roman Catholicism than Berry, from his bringing to light the problem of sexual abuse of minors by priests back in the 1980s, to his work on Marcial Maciel and the Legion of Christ a decade ago, to his current exploration of, as the subtitle puts it, the secret life of money in the Catholic Church. Naturally, the ecclesiastical powers-that-be look at him as a turd in their punchbowl.

Render Unto Rome is rich in revelations, from the $2.3 billion in losses resulting from collection plate embezzlement in the U.S. over the past half-century to the financial wheeler-dealing of Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals. But perhaps Berry’s most egregious discovery concerns Peter’s Pence, the annual sum collected in June from parishes around the world for relief of the poor.

According to the USCCB website:

The Peter’s Pence Collection unites us in solidarity to the Holy See and its works of charity to those in need. Your generosity allows the Pope to respond to our suffering brothers and sisters with promptness, love, and compassion, so God’s people will not feel alone in their time of misfortune.


However, of the $82 million received in 2009 (the last year for which figures are available) Berry was able to identify only $8.5 million that were actually spent on works of charity. His conclusion is that the remaining 79 percent went to plug the Vatican’s operating budget. One might recall that it was the abuse of the Peter’s Pence Collection that so annoyed Martin Luther that he started the Reformation.

It would be nice if the news media and Catholics themselves took up the cause and began peppering the Vatican with inquiries about where all that alleged poor relief went–not to mention why someone like Sodano continues to occupy so exalted a position. Meanwhile, the USCCB has never seen fit to issue guidelines for the handling of collection plate receipts–the Church’s principal source of income. When they meet later this month, why not put that on their plate?


High Noon in Philly

Monday, March 14, 2011

Revised March 16, 2011.

High Noon is my favorite movie of all time.

Marshal Will Kane played by Gary Cooper leaves his new wife (Grace Kelly) on their wedding day to meet the train at high noon when some really bad guys come to town.

Marshal Kane wins the shoot out (Surprise!) at high noon.

There is now a High Noon moment in Philly.

In Philly Will Kane is not just one person. Marshall Will Kane is the name on the banner behind which marches people named Doyle and Anderson and Springer  and Blaine and Clohessy and Sipe and Isely and Hamilton and Dorris and Berry and Wall as well as hundreds of thousands of survivors of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of sociopathic RCC priests in Philly and worldwide.

You know who the bad guys are.

I hope Marshal Kane’s six-shooter is fully loaded and that he slept well the night before the noon train pulls into Philly, whether that’s today or tomorrow or next week or whenever.

Frank Douglas  | On vacation  | March 16, 2011, 0801, local time

Vatican Lineup for Clergy Sex Abuse Super Bowl I, 2.7.2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


FEBRUARY 7, 2011

The Voice from the Desert International Sports Information Network (ISPIN) is pleased to announce the starting lineup for the Vatican for the Clergy Sex Abuse Super Bowl I which will be played in Rio de Janeiro at the Maracanã Soccer Stadium tonight at 7:00 PM, EST, February 7.

The starting lineup for the Survivor-Advocate All Stars was published on this blog previously.

Revised on 2.12.2011 at 9:40, Tucson time.

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WIDE RECEIVER Federico Lombardi Vatican press spokesman; Jesuit; frequently left holding the bag with ludicrous arguments crafted by Pope Pinocchio’s incompetent staff as the Vatican kicks the can down the clergy-sex-abuse road; fumbles so often that he’s known affectionately in Vatican press corps as Fumbling Freddie; caught 12 touchdown passes in 2009; fumbled 14 times in 2010 after catching passes
LEFT TACKLE Timothy Dolan Archbishop of New York; known for unmatched beer-drinking and back-slapping skills; world-class Vatican suck up; close friend of Peter Isely, quarterback for the Survivor/Advocate All Stars; known for fierce blocking and dirty play; selected to clerical all star teams every year since ordination
LEFT GUARD Robert Vasa Coadjutor Bishop of Santa Rosa, CA; well known for his strict adherence to Church doctrine; explained in January 2010 that use of excommunication and denial of communion were acts of charity; fierce blocker, showing little mercy and less charity to opponents; named as one of the Ten Most Conservative Bishops in America by the National Catholic Register in December 2010
CENTER Roger Mahony Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles; top-notch prevaricator; his nose is getting so large that it’s beginning to embarrass even his most ardent supporters; known for liberally spending the Faithful’s donations ($600+ million to clergy abuse survivors and a juicy annuity for world-class child rapist Fr. Oliver O’Grady); skills as a center are suspect because of his record as a fumbler
RIGHT GUARD David O’Connell Bishop of Trenton; known for his love of sprawling suburban houses in fine neighborhoods far, far away from the rabble of the inner city; great pass protector; named as a finalist in 2010 Pius IX Clericalism Trophy race
RIGHT TACKLE Sean O’Malley Cardinal Archbishop of Boston; small and light for an offensive tackle; hides clerical sex abusers of children under his brown Franciscan robes; makes up for lack of size with smart Church politics and subtly dirty playing; named to all-time Clerical Humility Team; co-author of How to Get Ahead in the Vatican Sweepstakes, a best-seller in 2008; fierce blocker; pound for pound, one of the finest cardinals to ever play offensive tackle
TIGHT END Thomas Olmsted Bishop of Phoenix; authority freak; excommunicated hospital administrator Sister Margaret McBride for not stopping the abortion of a fetus that was endangering the mother’s life; Roman Catholic Smart Money predicts in its November 2010 issue that he’ll be a cardinal someday for his unswerving loyalty to papal teaching; excellent pass catcher and fierce blocker; caught four touchdown passes in 2010
QUARTERBACK Tarcisio Bertone Vatican Secretary of State and Number 2 behind Pope Benedict XVI; made headlines in April 2010 when he said homosexuality and not celibacy was the cause of clergy sex abuse; threw 12 passes for touchdowns in 2010
RUNNING BACK Gerald Kicanas Bishop of Tucson; former vice president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; was key decision maker in the ordination of convicted Chicago child molester Fr. Daniel McCormack; ran for 906 yards and caught six touchdown passes in 2010
SPLIT END Carlos Slim One of the richest people in the world; best known for founding Latin American mobile phone behemoth American Movil and donating large sums to his good friend Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado; caught 13 touchdown passes in 2010
FULLBACK Raymond Burke Cardinal; head of Apostolica Signatura, the Vatican’s highest court; native of Richland Center, Wisconsin; known for his elaborate clerical vestments and faithful adherence to church doctrine; subject of many sexual jokes; runs with authority; excellent pass protector; gained 1473 yards on the ground in 2010
DEFENSIVE END Robert Lynch Bishop of St. Petersburg, FL; recently made headlines when he rejected a request by parochial school parents for a meeting to discuss questions they say their children were asked during confession; loves to blitz the quarterback; lead the clerical league with 12 sacks in 2010-2011 season
DEFENSIVE TACKLE Joseph Kurtz Archbishop of Louisville, KY; a lawsuit recently filed against the archdiocese contends it fired a 63-year-old woman employee for complaining about a priest who was removed from ministry and who had allegedly been sexually abusive and was moving about in the parish unsupervised and circulating among children; excellent against the run; pass rushing skills suspect
DEFENSIVE TACKLE Allan Vigneron Archbishop of Detroit; like Phoenix Bishop Olmsted, an authority freak; overseeing a major parish downsizing process; an up-and-comer; excellent blitzer; has a nose for the football
DEFENSIVE END Tod Brown Bishop of Orange County (CA); cited in 2007 for criminal contempt-of-court for sending Monsignor John Urell out of the country to receive medical treatment, before he had finished completing his testimony in a sexual abuse lawsuit; Brown himself was accused of abuse, an allegation he rigorously denied; excellent against the run. but a weak pass rusher
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER Charles Chaput Archbishop of Denver; named as one of the Ten Most Conservative Bishops in America by the National Catholic Register in December 2010; hard hitter; known for his toughness
MIDDLE LINEBACKER Francis George Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago; former head of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; one of the most powerful men in the Catholic Church because of the wealth of the Chicago Archdiocese; calls defensive signals; named to all clerical all star team for the past 15 years; led the clericalism league with 26 unassisted tackles in 2010
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER Angelo Sodano Dean, College of Cardinals; made headlines at 2010 Vatican Easter service when he lauded the pope’s handling of the clergy sex abuse crisis; his attempts at blitzing the quarterback often fall short
CORNERBACKB Donald Wuerl Cardinal archbishop of Washington, DC; said on 12.26. 2010, “when we look back and we talk about sexual abuse, we’re talking about something that happened 10, 20, even 30 years ago. We have succeeded in terms of the church and her response. We have succeeded in guaranteeing that if a priest is accused, and there is a credible allegation, he is simply removed from the ministry;” consummate hardball player; one of the fiercest tacklers in the clergy
CORNERBACKB Richard Lennon Archbishop of Cleveland; one of the meanest, toughest players in the game today; loves to talk tough and close down parishes; an elbow to the throat is one of his favorite tackling techniques; named by Real Catholic magazine as their preferred candidate to succeed Benedict XVI as pope
WEAK SAFETY Diarmuid Martin Cardinal Archbishop of Dublin; in January 2011 said that, in the past “most of the Irish bishops felt that dealing with the Congregation for Clergy was disastrous;” known for sorta standing up to the Vatican establishment; excellent against the run but somewhat shaky against the Hail Mary
STRONG SAFETY William Murphy; Bishop of Rockville Centre (NY); known for his large cash cache and taste for fine wine; a protégé of Bernard Law when Law ruled Boston; hard hitter; known as “Billy the Hammer;” two recipients of his hard hits are still in the hospital
PLACE KICKER Angelo Scola Patriarch of Venice; known as “Cardinal Automatic;” shy and retiring prelate, who lets his toe do his talking; made 37 consecutive extra points and 13 of 14 field goals in 2010
HOLDER Carlos Slim Billionaire founder of America Movil, Latin America’s largest mobile phone operator; best known in Church circles for his friendship with Fr. Macial Maciel Degollado; sure handed, thus well-suited to his position
RETURN SPECIALIST Tom Monahan Billionaire founder of Domino’s Pizza; the money and energy behind the Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, Florida; excellent speed for an older man; returned two punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns in 2010
PUNTER Justin Rigali Cardinal Archbishop of Philadelphia; publishes names of perpetrator priests on his archdiocesan website; recently three of his priests were indicted for forcible child rape and a fourth was charged with child endangerment for allowing the abuse; averages 44 yards per punt
HEAD COACH Pope Benedict XVI Servant of the Servants of God; a.k.a. Joseph Ratzinger and Pope Pinocchio; supreme authority in the Roman Catholic Church; very little coaching experience; knowledge of American football minimal
OFFENSIVE Coordinator Bernard Law Archpriest of St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome; former Cardinal Archbishop of Boston; internationally known for covering up sex crimes against children for decades; excellent player of the Church political games; left Boston under a dark cloud; knowledge of offensive strategy suspect
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR Angelo Sodano Dean, College of Cardinals; made headlines at 2010 Vatican Easter service when he lauded the pope’s handling of the clergy sex abuse crisis; his attempts at blitzing the quarterback often fall short
SPECIAL TEAMS COACH William Baum Former archbishop of Washington, DC; now the second longest serving cardinal in American history, behind only Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore; accomplished Vatican insider; recipient of the North American College’s Founder’s Award, citing his “long and tireless priestly service”; eschews the spotlight

STUNNING: Vatican sends back Fr. Murphy lawsuit; Murphy abused 200+ deaf Wisconsin kids

Monday, January 31, 2011

Received by e-mail from SNAP Midwest Director Peter Isely, 1.31.2011.

Peter, thank you for sharing this stunning news.

Peter, I wish you and your associates the very best at today’s SNAP press conference.

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COMMENT: The Vatican’s inability to face reality is indeed stunning.

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Deaf victims of St. John’s appealing to Listecki to intervene with Pope in Federal lawsuit

Vatican refusing to cooperate with Federal court in Milwaukee in Murphy case

Judge’s summons to Pope and two top Vatican officials sent back as “unwanted and undesirable”


In a stunning move, Vatican officials are refusing to be served with a child sex abuse lawsuit, returning it with the words “unwanted and undesired.”

In response, at a news conference clergy child sex abuse victims, including victims of Fr. Lawrence Murphy while at St. John’s School for the Deaf in St. Francis, Wis., will blast the Catholic hierarchy for:

  • rebuffing the US justice system,
  • continuing to ignore the appeal for healing from 200+ deaf victims sexually molested at a Milwaukee school, and
  • delaying the “long overdue disclosure” of secret church records about the cover up of clergy sex crimes by a long-time Wisconsin predator priest

In addition, they will attempt to hand deliver a letter to Milwaukee’s archbishop Jerome Listecki  urging him to “show courage, challenge the Vatican, and advocate for these still-suffering Wisconsin crime victims.”


Monday, January 31, 1:30 p.m.


Outside the Cousins Center, which is the headquarters of the Milwaukee archdiocese, 3501 South Lake Drive


Several victims of clergy child sex crimes, including deaf victims of Fr. Lawrence Murphy, who belong to the international support group called SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, SNAPnetwork.org.


After initially accepting a summons from the US federal court in Milwaukee concerning a civil suit involving top Vatican officials, including Pope Benedict XVI, the Holy See returned it late Friday by FEDEX to the United States, with the marking:  “Undesirable and Unwanted”.  The lawsuit concerns the decades long cover up of serial child molester Fr. Lawrence Murphy from the archdiocese of Milwaukee.

The federal lawsuit, which was filed last March, and was the first of its kind, directly names Cardinal Ratzinger and two Vatican secretaries of state, in covering up the child sex crimes against hundreds of deaf children by Murphy as director of St. John’s School for the Deaf in Franklin, Wisconsin.  Murphy died in 1998.

Previously secret church records from Milwaukee show that every Milwaukee archbishop since at least 1958 knew Murphy was sexually assaulting children at the boarding school.

By 1976, according to the records, Vatican officials became involved in the Murphy case.  At that time, Murphy was transferred from Milwaukee to a parish in northern Wisconsin, where he remained for several decades, unreported and unsupervised, working with children and families, as well as with the deaf community.  At least one lawsuit has been filed by a victim of Murphy in his assignments after Milwaukee.

In the mid 1990’s the Vatican again became involved with Murphy, this time through the office of the powerful Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), at that time headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.  In 1997, Ratzinger’s office ruled that Murphy would not have to face a church trial in Milwaukee and could remain a priest in good standing until his death.  He was never turned over to civil authorities.

Two recently released letters show Vatican officials instructing local bishops against providing records about pedophile priests to judicial authorities in Ireland in the 1990’s and the United States in the 1980’s.  Last year, a letter surfaced from the Vatican secretary of state to a French bishop congratulating him on behalf of Pope John Paul II for not turning a pedophile priest over to police.  John Paul, who died in 2005, is being presented for official sainthood by Pope Benedict in May.

Although Vatican officials say they now cooperate with criminal and civil laws around the globe, Friday’s rejection of the summons by the Federal Court in Milwaukee demonstrates that they still consider themselves “above the law” and is reminiscent of its response to formal inquiries in 2006 from Irish government authorities that were investigating widespread child abuse by clerics in Ireland.

NB:  Attorneys for the victim in the Milwaukee federal suit, along with the nation’s leading constitutional expert on these cases, Professor Marcie Hamilton, will hold an 11:00 a.m. CST press conference in St. Paul, MN and streamed live at www.AndersonAdvocates.com. Questions can be submitted one hour in advance.  Contact Atty. Jeff Anderson at 612.817.866 (mobile) 651.297.6543 (office).

John Doe 16 v. Holy See, Joseph Ratzinger, Tarcisio Bertone and Angelo Sodano is available at:  http://andersonadvocates.com/Files/54/Complaint-against-the-Holy-See-Ratzinger-Bertone-and-Sodano


Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director, 414.429.7259

John Pilmaier, SNAP Wisconsin Director, 414.336.8575

Mike Sneesby, SNAP Milwaukee Co-Director, 414.915.4374

SNAP, The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the oldest and largest global organization of clergy sexual abuse survivors, with over 10,000 members and 82 chapters in the United States (SNAPnetwork.org).

SNAP to New York Archbishop Dolan: Do no more Irish trips, release names of NY predators first; message to be delivered at St. Patrick’s cathedral on Sunday, 1.23.2011

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Received by e-mail from David Clohessy, 1.22.2011.

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Clergy sex victims protest at Cathedral

They’re upset at 2 newly-released Vatican documents

Both tell bishops to hide clergy sex crimes from law enforcement

NYC archbishop “continues this reckless secrecy today,” group says

SNAP to Dolan: “Do no more Irish trips, release names of NY predators first


As Catholics leave mass, clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will hand out fliers to passersby. The leaflets urge church-goers and parishioners to call New York City’s archbishop and tell him to

–strongly denounce top Vatican officials and bishops who tell their underlings to conceal clergy sex crimes,

— post on the NY archdiocese website the names of all proven, admitted and credibly accused predator priests, &

–postpone any more trips to advise Irish bishops on abuse until he takes “tangible steps” to better protect New York area kids by disclosing the identities and whereabouts of potentially dangerous local clerics and ex-clerics.


Sunday, Jan. 23 at 11:00 a.m.


Outside St. Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, 5th Ave. (between 50th and 51st St.) in Manhattan


8-12 members of support group called SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, (SNAPnetwork.org) and some concerned lay Catholics


Twice this week, long-secret Vatican letters have surfaced telling bishops to hide information about priests’ misdeeds from criminal and civil authorities. The documents contradict long-standing Vatican claims that top church officials don’t order bishops to be secretive about child molesting clerics.

A 1997 letter tells Irish bishops that the Vatican has “serious reservations” about making it mandatory for bishops to report known and suspected child sex crimes to law enforcement. And 1984 letter tells a US bishop that “the files of a bishop concerning his priests are altogether private (and) that no priest’s files will be sent to any lawyer or judge whatever.”  Both are signed by high-ranking Vatican officials and were never disclosed publicly until this week. Both are posted at BishopAccountability.org (and copies will be available at today’s event).

The 1997 letter is signed by the pope’s official representative to Ireland, Apostolic Nuncio Luciano Storero. The 1984 letter is signed by Cardinal Silvio Angelo Pio Oddi of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy and one-time head of the Roman Curia.

Even now, despite Pope Benedict’s apologies and promises, “current Vatican policy, updated last year, offers merely a nonbinding advisory — not a firm mandate — that diocesan officials should report crimes to police” (according to the New York Times). SNAP wants Dolan, as head of America’s bishops, to insist that the Vatican do this.

Dolan is on a panel traveling to Ireland to advise bishops there about clergy sex crimes. SNAP wants Dolan to postpone future travel and do what 24 other bishops have done, and post on his website, for the sake of public safety, the names, whereabouts and priestly status of child molesting clerics who are or have been in NYC.

(According to a Boston-based independent research group called BishopAccoutnabilty.org, there are 58 publicly accused NY archdiocesan child molesting clerics. The actual number of NYC area pedophile priests is likely much  higher because researchers list only those clerics against whom allegations have been lodged in the public domain – in news accounts, criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits – which are extremely rare in NY  because of the state’s restrictive, archaic, predator-friendly statute of limitations.)


In 2002, Baltimore became the first US diocese to disclose names. A good current example is the Philadelphia archdiocese: http://archphila.org/protection/Updates/update_main.htm. Here is a list of all the dioceses that have disclosed names:http://www.bishop-accountability.org/AtAGlance/lists.htm

CONTACT – Mary Caplan 917 439 4187, Mcaplan682@aol.com, David Clohessy 315 566 9790 SNAPclohessy@aol.com

MORE EVIDENCE…Vatican letter to Tucson reveals cover-up mentality

Friday, January 21, 2011


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A link to this story was provided on NSAC News on 1.21.2011.

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Comment: The headline to this story uses the word mentality. Anyone who has following this historic Vatican scandal in which little kids are sacrificed on the altar of an outdated celibate clerical culture knows a more accurate word to describe this sordid mess is policy.

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Vatican letter to Tucson reveals cover-up mentality

By Joseph Picard | January 20, 2011

Another Vatican letter instructing non-cooperation with civil authorities has come to light, this one from 1984 and addressed to the Bishop of Tucson, Arizona.

A nun takes a picture of nine clergymen in St. Peter square at the Vatican November 9, 2010.

Earlier this week, an Irish bishop gave a 1997 letter from the Roman Curia to a reporter, which apparently instructed Irish bishops not to cooperate with civil authorities who were probing reported incidents of sexual abuse by priests.

The letter has re-fueled the sexual abuse and cover-up scandal that has plagued the Church for decades and calls into question the Vatican’s many denials of non-cooperation with civil authorities. The Irish letter has also led some Catholics to call for a halt to the canonization process underway for Pope John Paul II, who was pontiff at the time the letter was written

The 1997 letter is somewhat vague in its wording, although most who have read it agree that the message is clear enough. But the 1984 Vatican letter, released today by BishopAccountability.org, leaves no doubt.

John Paul II was also the pope in 1984.

The Tucson letter was written by Silvio Angelo Pio Cardinal Oddi, who was from 1979 to 1986 Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy – that is, the Curia, which is, together with the Pope, the governing body of the Catholic Church—and is addressed to Bishop Manuel D. Moreno of Tucson. It was written in response to Moreno’s request for guidance in how proceed regarding a badly behaving priest.

After telling Moreno that there was not “any need for engaging in the so called ‘due process’ procedures,” Cardinal Oddi answers Moreno’s question: “Should we allow or disallow civil lawyers from obtaining Father’s personnel records from our Chancery files?”

“…under no condition whatever ought the afore-mentioned files be surrendered to any lawyer or judge whatsoever.” Oddi said “The files of a Bishop concerning his priests are altogether private; their forced acquisition by civil authority would be an intolerable attack upon the free exercise of religion in the United States.”

The Curial cardinal goes to say that Moreno should “make known immediately and with clarity that no priest’s files will be sent to any lawyer or judge whatever.”

“We should be clear and resolute, for failure in this regard might initiate a movement toward a most unfavorable precedent in law and – no less importantly – frighten and upset not a few priests whose files are perhaps less than flattering,” Cardinal Oddi concluded.

The priest’s name was expunged from the letter by Terence McKiernan of BishopAccountability.org because the priest was not accused of sexual abuse in the letter.

BishopAccountability.org is an online archive of sexual abuse by clergy and cover-up cases throughout the United States.

“Although this priest is not accused of sexual abuse, and his name does not turn up in our database, Cardinal Oddi’s letter certainly indicates the Vatican’s mentality and its position regarding cooperation with civil authorities,” McKiernan said. “The Vatican sees itself as an entity separate from civil authority. It’s prohibition against cooperation transcends the sexual abuse issue.”

There are two hand-written comments on the letter. McKiernan said they were written by Pio Cardinal Laghi, who was the Vatican’s Apostolic Delegate/Pro-Nuncio to the U.S. from 1980 to 1990.

The note on the first page reads,  “servet in exemplum.” McKiernan explained that the words mean “let it serve as an example” and indicate that the letter was meant to be taken as a policy document.

MUST READ: The Roman Catholic Church reflects at year end on its worldwide sexual abuse scandals

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


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Facing facts

The Roman Catholic Church reflects on its worldwide sexual abuse scandals

Alisa Harris

Sexual abuse scandals continued to fester in the Roman Catholic Church this year, with accounts of abuse and cover-ups in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, and Ireland. Five hundred victims came forward in Belgium, including the nephew of the Bishop of Bruges, who resigned in disgrace. Five bishops in Ireland stepped down after they had covered up scandals. As the year comes to a close, Church leaders have been reflecting on the hardships, but victims want more than reflection—they want action.

During his Christmas speech, Pope Benedict XVI noted that it had been a difficult year for the Church, which faced “humiliation” as hundreds of sex abuse victims named priests as perpetrators. “We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen,” he said, adding that part of the blame lay with a 1970s culture that did not believe in evil or good and saw pedophilia as “fully in conformity with man and even children.”

Commentary by Frank Douglas:

This is a bunch of BS (Bishops’ Speak) that stinks to high heaven. Pope Benedict knows full well that this is not a problem of the 1970s. Priests raping children has been going on for 1600+ years in the Roman Catholic Church and popes and bishops have sat on their hands and have done little to nothing to stop this tragedy. They’ve opted to cover it up.

But the jig is up. Now there are just too many victims speaking up and speaking out, too many civil legal officials who won’t buy the BS, too many Catholics who are saying  “Enough!” and voting with their feet and taking their purses and checkbooks elsewhere, and too many journalists and lawyers who know the real facts.

Speaking before a Belgian parliamentary inquiry a day after the pope’s end-of-year speech, a disgraced Church leader issued a warning for Roman Catholics. Former Cardinal Godfried Danneels, who admitted that he helped protect the Bishop of Bruges after he abused his nephew, told the Church “to look its dark side in the eyes” and to become more transparent and open. Victims responded by telling him to lead the way. Lieve Halsberghe, the Belgium leader for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said in a statement that Danneels may know more about abuse than any other person in the Catholic hierarchy: “So instead of telling others what to do, he needs to take his own advice and ‘come clean’ now.”

The pain experienced by victims became especially apparent this year. In Belgium, a report revealed that sexual abuse led to 19 attempted and 13 successful suicides. In May, 43-year-old American William Lynch allegedly lured a priest from his California retirement home and severely beat him. Lynch pleaded “not guilty” and said during his trial he would introduce evidence that the priest sexually abused him and his brother 35 years ago.

The pope has received his share of criticism for the way he handled sex abuse cases years ago when he was archbishop of Munich and the prefect in Rome for the office that dealt with clerical sexual misconduct. In one instance, Benedict approved the transfer of a priest who resumed parish duties despite being convicted of sexual abuse.

In reaction to the scandal in Ireland, Benedict issued a letter that sternly rebuked Church leaders there and announced an investigation of the country’s churches and seminaries. The Vatican also revised its internal code to deal with offending priests more quickly. But David Clohessy, executive director of SNAP, called on the pope to clear himself by revealing all the records for the period when he was handling sex abuse cases for the Vatican.

Meanwhile, the scandal and settlements continue in the United States, where a judge in San Diego ruled that lawyers could release 10,000 pages of secret documents regarding alleged abusers. The spread of the scandal worldwide has disproved the Church’s earlier assertion that the problem was solely an American one.

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Published December 31, 2010