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I thank Jerry Slevin for this essay and for bringing it to my attention.
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Following Biblical Mandates Faithfully and Fairly in Constitutional Democracies
A Taboo, a New Pope & a Truer Church (by Jerry Slevin, retired Wall Street lawyer)
WILL A TABOO BRING DOWN THE ROMAN HOLY EMPIRE?
The escalating scandal of priests sexually abusing children, and the resulting increasing legal pressures on the Vatican, appear to be threatening the very survival of the “Roman Holy Empire”. This mythical medieval concept supports the essential foundational claim that seeks unsuccessfully to justify historically Vatican hierarchical power. The Pope, as “Supreme Pontiff” for life and the “semi-divine infallible Vicar of Christ”, along with his “Imperial Staff” of Vatican Cardinals, have evidently pursued an imperial “top-down” policy for centuries, in secrecy and despite the rule of law, that seems directed too often at enhancing the power and wealth of senior Vatican officials and their subservient Cardinals and Bishops worldwide.
The Vatican implements this strategy mainly at the expense of trusting and generous lay Catholics, including their many children who continue to suffer from priest sexual abuse. Various prosecutors and survivors’ lawyers internationally are now increasingly challenging the Roman Holy Empire’s strategy with enhanced prospects for more success, in national courts and governmental investigations, as well as at the independent International Criminal Court.
The Vatican’s strategy centers on claiming monopolistic control over a “unique Eucharist” that purportedly can be offered to Catholics only by “ontologically pure celibate male priests”. These priests receive long theological preparation, but work for low wages, under the rigid control of well rewarded and exceedingly obedient Cardinals and Bishops. These hierarchs also usually serve for life in very comfortable surroundings, provided they zealously follow Vatican orders, including those relating to punishing prophetic voices among priests and nuns that could undercut absolute papal authority. A Jesuit from South America, for example, was just silenced for recently questioning a point in the Pope’s new Jesus book, even though the Jesuit relied for his point on the work of the same Scriptural scholar the Pope refers to favorably in his book. So much for the papal pleas for “religious liberty”! Liberty for anonymous Vatican officials, but not for Jesuit scholars. Really?
“Pure priests” are absolutely essential for promoting hierarchical fundraising and political influence among the docile Catholic faithful; hence, Bishops are pressured by the Vatican to supply and protect a continuous stream of priests at all costs to sustain this desired fundraising and influence. Indeed, the resulting absolute priest protection policies, apparently even some that employ illegal cover-ups at the expense of innocent child sexual abuse victims, are at the heart of the growing threat to the Roman Holy Empire.
Bishops in many countries must staff parishes with a diminishing domestic priest pool. Bishops are forbidden by the Vatican from seeking available married or female Catholic priests, since permitting these “impure priests” risks undercutting papal “mystical power claims” to infallibility, given prior papal statements by the current Pope and his immediate predecessor on the purported “divine mandate” requiring the “pure priesthood of celibate males” only. Apparently, the need for more priests, especially very “obedient” ones, helps explain the Pope’s disproportionate efforts to solicit support from rigid and controversial groups of “traditionalist” priests, like those involved in Opus Dei, the Legion of Christ and the Society of St. Pius X, as well as the Pope’s unecumenical efforts to “poach” dissident Anglican priests.
Hence, notwithstanding the decades’ old worldwide scandal of priest sexual abuse of children, Bishops still are effectively, and even increasingly, under Vatican pressure to accept some questionable seminarians and many unsuitable foreign priests, and shockingly still to retain suspected sexual predators, whenever feasible, it appears. This blatant clericalism was just reinforced by the appointment of a new Vatican chief prosecutor of predatory priests, who had served under Boston’s infamous Cardinal Law. The new prosecutor reportedly has a reputation for being more “pro accused priest” than many other canon lawyers.
Moreover, Philadelphia’s Archbishop Chaput appears still to be carrying accused priests that his predecessor, Cardinal Rigali, suspended over a year and a half ago. And Cardinal Rigali surely was not one that suspended priests lightly, as amply shown at the recent criminal trial convicting his long time subordinate, Monsignor Lynn, of child endangerment.
The billions of dollars expended by U.S. Bishops relating to legal claims of abuse survivors that result, at least in material part, from the Vatican’s “anti-children” policy appear currently to be just another “cost of doing business” for Bishops to be funded either by trusting Catholics’ contributions or by cost-savings from closing more Catholic churches and schools. Paying large settlements that keep Bishops’ incriminating files sealed appears acceptable to survivors’ lawyers, not too surprisingly given their usual percentage fee arrangements, but also apparently to many Bishops, so long as the Bishops can be assured of avoiding criminal prosecution for child endangerment by making the large payments.
Avoiding criminal prosecution appears, however, to be becoming more difficult for Bishops to do. This prospect potentially poses a very serious threat to the Roman Holy Empire. For example, Philadelphia’s Cardinal Bevilacqua apparently avoided prosecution recently only by being terminally ill, not a “first choice defense” for most hierarchs presumably. Boston’s Cardinal Law apparently only avoided local prosecutors earlier by fleeing to Rome and getting immunity protection from the Vatican, not likely to be available any longer to many other hierarchs. Kansas City’s Bishop Finn was, of course, recently convicted, but got a “soft plea deal” and still seems, nevertheless, to remain for now in good standing with the Vatican.
WILL A NEW POPE SAVE THE CHURCH?
Voting Cardinals know that a new Pope is on the horizon, ending an era of Popes who attended the Second Vatican Council but were beholden for their elections to powerful Vatican Cardinals who thwarted key Council structural reforms overwhelmingly approved by over 2,000 Cardinals and Bishops from around the world. The present providential opportunity may now enable these Cardinals and all Catholics, as the People of God revitalized by the Council, to implement Council structural reforms that Vatican Cardinals have effectively blocked for a half-century.
The recent October Roman Synod was fully “Vatican orchestrated” with carefully pre-selected Cardinals’ and Bishops’, who generally and amazingly ducked the monumental abuse scandal. This Synod was the latest example of the Vatican Cardinals’ success in neutralizing the power-sharing arrangements between the Pope and worldwide Bishops that over 2.000 “Vatican II Fathers” naively thought they had overwhelmingly and definitively approved in 1965 before leaving the Council.
Will voting Cardinals soon act to save the Catholic Church from its present shameful and deteriorating condition, even if some Cardinals may do so mainly to assure their own survival? Or will they instead foolishly choose to remain subject to the control of a corrupt and ruthless Vatican administration that increasingly scandalizes Catholics worldwide, while also intimidating and/or picking off isolated Cardinals, Bishops, priests and members of religious orders, especially female ones, who object to the Vatican’s self-serving strategy?
The world’s Catholics will be watching closely the Cardinals’ actions in choosing a new Pope. If the Cardinals fail to act decisively here, many of the world’s Catholics will likely vote with their feet, as many other millions of Catholics who have left the Catholic Church in disgust in recent years already have. Many of these Catholics will likely also demand governmental investigations following the lead of almost 90 % of Australian Catholics who, according to polls, are supporting their Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, in her bold establishment of a national royal commission to investigate organizational child sexual abuse, including in the Australian Catholic Church.
Recently, also, many U.S. Catholics and other U.S. citizens have begun the inevitable push to get President Obama to set up a comparable national investigation commission in the U.S.A. Following the Pope’s disastrous mistep recently in trying to help tax-avoiding Republican plutocrats defeat the President in his recent re-election campaign, why would President Obama, who has spoken out strongly against the organizational sexual abuse of defenseless children, not act here? Moreover, the Pope’s U. S. plutocrat allies just received a major tax increase and may not be returning Vatican calls these days, given the electoral defeat they just received relying too heavily on the Pope’s well funded, but very counter-productive, anti-contraception crusade, it appears.
The Catholic Church likely will soon either reform itself voluntarily or be reformed involuntarily by prosecutors applying international human rights law to protect defenseless children. Either way, it will likely be reformed soon. Worldwide Cardinals sadly and unwisely may again let their Vatican counterparts dictate to them. Notwithstanding, Catholic parents are fed up with priests with impunity raping their children, while insensitive and childless celibates in the Vatican waft mystical smokescreens about the “ontological superiority” of priests. It is time to end this pernicious scholastic nonsense and to protect innocent children honestly and effectively.
Catholics may soon finally eliminate their Church’s coercive and corrupt imperial structure and return to the Church’s original consensual and credible democratic structure with leaders who are once again accountable to the faithful. The consensual Catholic Church structure the Apostles left behind served the original Catholics well. This structure also reflects much better the spirit of God’s loving rule that Jesus revealed to the Apostles than does the hierarchical structure imposed coercively by Roman Emperors in the Fourth Century and that still shamefully continues in Rome. Moreover, modern technology among Bishops themselves, as well as with the Catholic faithful, can make this restored consensual leadership structure function even more efficaciously than it did for Catholics in the post-Apostolic era.
This may be the last chance for any Pope and the Cardinals and Bishops to salvage their rapidly disappearing moral authority that most Catholics once respected. Even in countries with large numbers of Catholic voters, perceptive political leaders have begun to challenge increasingly previously mandated papal positions, for example, on contraception and same sex marriage. These political leaders know well that more Catholic voters are regularly disregarding papal mandates, as respect for the Vatican declines in light of the ceaseless media reports of child abuse scandal cover-ups and financial corruption and incompetence at the Vatican Bank.
The Roman Holy Empire has survived since Emperor Constantine for almost 1,700 years. It has survived despite the violently executed Reformation that failed to reform the Church sufficiently. But the taboo against sexually abusing children is more powerful than opposition to selling indulgences. This Holy Empire has even survived democratically inspired Revolutions that by 1918 helped end all other European absolute monarchies, but still left the papal monarchy intact. The democratic revolution has now reached the Vatican.
It clearly appears that the Roman Holy Empire may now be in its final days as the mandates of the democratic rule of law are being applied increasingly to alleged Vatican misconduct relating to endangering children. The previously unaccountable Vatican administration is facing growing challenges from the application of international human rights laws. These challenges are likely to compel the Vatican and worldwide Cardinals and Bishops against their personal preference, but in their legal self-interest, to reform radically the Catholic Church’s centralized hierarchical structure and to discard the contrived theological and clearly unhistorical positions underpinning it.
The Vatican’s administration’s failure to address the abuse problem effectively to date, and the prevalence of the current code of silence, or “omerta”, on child abuse matters, reported last February by the Vatican’s former chief prosecutor before he was “promoted out” to Malta, suggest that the Vatican administration is incapable of curtailing abuse sufficiently itself, unless legally compelled to do so. If Vatican officials will not even discuss the priest child abuse problem openly among themselves and with their own prosecutor, how can they possibly resolve this continuing problem?
Of course, these Vatican officials likely are aware their abuse related discussions could come back to haunt them in a future criminal proceeding. Presumably, their lawyers have so advised them. For example, Philadelphia’s Monsignor Lynn testified extensively about his boss, Cardinal Bevilacqua’s misdeeds. Perhaps someone, for example, even the Pope’s mistreated butler, may testify against senior Vatican officials, possibly even against the Pope himself. For example, what more does the butler know about the documents the Pope reportedly marked, “Destroy!”.
Will Catholics be able soon to select leaders who they can really respect, and who will listen to them even if they are not major donors? Will Jesus’ clear mandate of the “First” serving the “Last” finally be the Catholic Church’s policy once again soon, by force of international law no less? Will Catholic Church leaders now be able again boldly and widely to speak “truth to power” on behalf of victims of injustice in all forms, without having to soften their message for some questionable organizational or plutocratic advantage pushed by Vatican intimidation?
Until now, an unaccountable papal monarch generally has ruled this Holy Empire. Often during the last millenium, he has been selected to rule the Catholic Church absolutely for life by an opportunistic and self-interested elite “male club” dominated by a clique of Roman Cardinals. Is this hierarchical structure about to end? Will the Catholic Church finally return to its original consensual Gospel structure that the Apostles left behind and that was mainly followed for almost three centuries, until Constantine and his successors began to coercively commandeer the Church for Roman imperial purposes beginning in the Fourth Century?
ARE CARDINALS WATCHING CURRENT EVENTS?
Some current developments strongly suggest that the seemingly unresolvable priest child abuse problem may contribute to toppling this medieval monarchy soon. Significantly and surprisingly, two prominent Cardinals, Martini and Pell, had recently indicated publicly that the child sexual abuse problem continues, in one case even pointing a finger at the Vatican’s administration. These very knowledgable Cardinals apparently were unwilling to accept their own Pope’s public relations efforts that try to suggest that the priest child abuse problem has been sufficiently curtailed.
How many other Cardinals will also soon be publicly rejecting this papal media spin, if only to protect themselves better from increasingly relentless international prosecutors and survivors’ civil lawyers on the horizon? Will Catholics find out more about many Cardinals’ actual views before the next papal election, especially since the next Pope can be expected to try to continue indefinitely the Vatican’s control over the criminal legal defense strategy that is apparently imposed now on all of the hierarchy worldwide? Perhaps, some Cardinals will not want to handcuff themselves to the railings on the Vatican’s Titanic?
Having observed for several years, as an experienced lawyer, the misguided and ineffective legal defense strategy of the current Pope, it seems inadvisable for Cardinals and Bishops worldwide to concede their legal defense to a distant Vatican administration often controlled, it appears at times, by octogenerians worried more about protecting themselves first. Philadelphia’s Monsignor Lynn may have found this out the hard way when he reportedly was recently denied sufficient funds for an effective appeal of his recent child endangerment criminal conviction for his actions while serving as a subordinate of Cardinals Bevilacqua and Rigali. Should Cardinals really rely on a Vatican admininistration that, after months of warnings, let their credit card payment system ‘bounce” in the midst of the busy holiday tourist season, as just occurred?
Will the priestly breaches that, as indicated above, two significant Cardinals had recently implied were still being tolerated, of the deep-seated social taboo against sexually violating children lead soon to ending papal dominance of the Catholic Church? Jesus, of course, reiterated this taboo in his stern prohibitions in the Gospels against harming children. Can celibate and childless Catholic hierarchs, like Cardinal Sodano who reportedly referred to news reports of alleged earlier papal cover-ups of priest sexual abuse, as “petty gossip”, even begin to understand the revulsion felt by countless Catholic parents at these obscene violations of children.
Reportedly, there have been over 100,000 child victims of Catholic priest abuse in the USA alone so far, according to experts at a Vatican conference last February. This is hardly “gossip”, and surely not “petty”. Apparently, celibate and childless Catholic hierarchs do not yet sufficiently appreciate the power of this revulsion! Now they must be compelled by international prosecutors to appreciate this.
Have worldwide Catholics and their democratically chosen political leaders now finally had enough of the endless abuse horror stories and the hierarchy’s inadequate and cynical efforts to curtail them effectively? It appears increasingly clear that Catholics worldwide have had enough. Majorities of Catholics in Australia, Ireland, the Philippines and the USA, for example, have just effectively resisted significant Vatican pressure regarding child protection and/or related contraception policies the Vatican opposed strongly.
In particular, the Pope aimed many “moral arrows” at President Obama in connection with the recent November elections, apparently hoping decisively to topple the leader of the world’s most powerful nation. The Pope missed by a wide margin. Now what? Will President Obama now finally investigate priest abuse of Catholic children in the USA, as many Catholics have recently petitioned him to do? Time will tell, as the pressure builds for President Obama to act, especially as Australia’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, moves forward with an unprecedented royal commission investigation of child sexual abuse in organizational settings, including in the Catholic Church. What is President Obama waiting for to establish a comparable U.S. national investigation commission on child sexual abuse in organizational religious, educational and youth group settings, including in the Catholic Church?
The modern worldwide papal geo-political strategy, that began mainly in the 1930′s with facilitating the fascists Mussolini and Hitler, of influencing Catholic voters in exchange for expected political favors from “papally preferred” successful candidates, appears now to be bankrupt, at least as bankrupt as many U.S. Catholic dioceses now are under the weight of significant priest child abuse financial settlements that seem often to be agreed upon at the last minute by U.S. bishops apparently to keep potentially incriminating hierarchical files secret.
How are these current developments likely to lead to the toppling of this long standing hierarchical structure? What would the potential consequences be for Catholics if this happens?
Pope Benedict XVI at 85 years old still reigns over the Roman Holy Empire to be sure. He has so far continued to rule despite the abuse scandal that he has faced, unsuccessfully mostly, often since his days as Archbishop of Munich three decades ago.
The bizarre episode of key documents leaked recently by the Pope’s bold butler raises substantial doubts, however, about how firm this aging Pope’s grip remains on the levers of papal power. Since the butler still likely knows many more papal secrets and cannot any longer be “burned at the papal stake” for copying and distributing documents, he has been pardoned after a very harsh imprisonment process. Will the butler, whose relationship to the Pope does not appear to have been legally privileged and protected, soon be subpoened to testify in civil and criminal proceedings involving alleged Vatican misdeeds? Have we heard the last from the butler yet? Probably not.
A new Pope, as mentioned above, is expected by many soon to succeed Pope Benedict XVI. But will it matter much by then? Especially, when it seems that the next Pope may already have been, in effect, pre-selected by the current Pope and Vatican Cardinals that hold significant power over papal candidates’ selection and election. This Pope and his predecessor, John Paul II, carefully selected all of the current voting Cardinals, evidently seeking “Yes Men” who would obedientally continue these two Popes’ increasingly hierarchical and retrogressive policies. These two Popes witnessed up close as youths the rigid discipline of the Third Reich and both seem thereafter to have held clerical “obedience” to be a “cardinal virtue”.
But are the Vatican Cardinals going to be the last word here? While no European emperors or monarchs in the last century have had a significant say on selecting popes, the modern rule of law is now being applied by constitutional democracies increasingly to the previously unaccountable Vatican administration. At the same time, the modern papal geo-political strategy continues to produce spectacular failures, thereby weakening in many cases the Vatican’s ability to resist these significant legal incursions. These important legal and political developments will likely and should have considerable impact on the next papal election and its aftermath.
Prosecutors and abuse survivors’ civil lawyers from constitutional democracies worldwide, from Australia in the Pacific to Ireland in the Atlantic and to the USA in between, are relentlessly advancing legally on Rome, armed with the powerful modern weapons of international human rights law. They may soon be joined by the woman prosecutor from the independent International Criminal Court, who is reviewing a criminal complaint filed against the Pope and Cardinals Sodano, Bertone and Levada, alleging crimes against humanity related to the cover-up of the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests worldwide.
The current Pope, and any designated successor, will likely be unable to prevent some of these lawyers from breaching the high Vatican walls and gaining access to secret papal files, initially relating to the child abuse scandal, but who knows what else? What might these lawyers find? Once these files are public, it is impossible to predict all of the potential outcomes, but none of them will likely support continuation of the current Roman Holy Empire.
Meanwhile, papal political power also appears on the wane in many other countries, often as a reaction to the papal failure to curtail effectively the worldwide sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests.
As European monarchs chose not to stop the Italian nationalists from seizing the Papal States in 1870 in part out of dissatisfaction with papal failures to adopt political reforms, it is not likely the Vatican will get much sympathy from current political leaders. The days of Cardinal Sodano complaining, as he did, about aggressive U.S. lawyers for survivors of priest sexual abuse to President George W. Bush’s Secretary of State are over. Now the focus shifts to Australia.
WILL AUSTRALIA’S COMMISSION COMPEL VATICAN CHANGES?
Cardinal George Pell, Australia’s prominent Cardinal, has been considered by some informed sources as a top prospect to be elected pope in the next papal election expected to be held soon. After spending considerable time in late October in Rome with the Pope and numerous other top Cardinals and Bishops at the lengthy Evangelization Synod that was mainly silent on the priest child sex abuse scandal, Cardinal Pell indicated unexpectedly in a public speech last month that the criminal moral cancer of sexual abuse of children by priests is the most important and powerful barrier to Catholic evangelization at present. As Cardinal Pell now faces an unprecedented Australian national governmental commission to investigate thoroughly organizational child sexual abuse in Australia, including in the Catholic Church, he surprisingly admitted in his recent speech that the Catholic Church has failed to deal effectively with some predatory priests and to help enough abuse victims heal. He further acknowledged that much more needs to be done in the child protection area.
Amazingly, as mentioned above, the Evangelization Synod orchestrated by the Pope in late October barely mentioned the child abuse scandal. What may have caused Cardinal Pell so suddenly to “get religion” on abuse matters? Evidentally, Cardinal Pell is very concerned about the unprecedented investigation commission, and he should be from all indications. So should Pope Benedict XVI and so should worldwide Cardinals and Bishops.
Cardinal Pell’s quick “conversion” raises questions of where Pope Benedict VI now stands. The October Synod seemed to indicate that the Pope will continue mainly to avoid the abuse scandal.The continuation of Kansas City’s Bishop Finn after his child endangerment conviction suggests continuing Vatican stonewalling. Moreover, the appointment of Cardinal Law’s former canon lawyer as chief Vatican abuse case prosecutor suggests more of the same.
Pope Benedict XVI is generally publicly elusive, doesn’t give journalists regular access and often clouds his carefully drafted statements, and now “Tweets”, with mystical smokescreens. But he has given some clear indications of his ongoing strategy on predatory priests, especially by some of his consistent actions and failures to act, including the recent Synod, Bishop Finn’s retention and his new chief prosecutor appointment. What might the Pope’s current strategy be?
The Church’s organizational structure is analytically fairly simple. At the top is a pope who is “chief executive officer”, supreme legislator and top judge for life. In practice, papal decisions appear often to be influenced strongly, if not at times controlled by, senior Vatican Cardinals, especially the Secretary of State, currently Cardinal Bertone, who succeeded Cardinal Sodano, who appears still to be influential. Both of these Cardinals have reportedly been linked to several long standing scandals; Bertone to the Vatican Bank and a Milan hospital scandals and Sodano to the Mexican child sex abuser, Fr. Maciel, who eluded Vatican investigators for almost a half century by, among other things, reportedly frequently sprinkling large cash payments to powerful members of the Vatican clique.
The Pope, with his Vatican management team, controls Church canon law and judicial proceedings, and selects and controls worldwide Catholic bishops, who can be removed promptly by the pope. Priests and male and female members of religious orders are controlled directly by local Bishops and/or Vatican managers who direct the orders’ superiors. Any who deviate from currently favored Vatican theological or even political positions are generally disciplined promptly, often harshly and unfairly.
Pope Benedict XVI’s strategy appears targeted at maintaining maximum obedience to current papal theological, ecclesiastical and political positions. Opposing positions are at best given lip service, with the result that millions of Catholics, including priests, have left the Catholic Church in frustation, if not disgust. Some who stay try almost hopelessly and usually unsuccessfully to effect changes by stressing contrary precedents, especially the positions approved at the Second Vatican Council. In theory, clear positions approved by Church Councils could trump a contrary Vatican position. In practice, especially under Popes Benedict XVI and his immediate predecessor, in several crucial areas the Vatican’s interpretations of the Council is what controls Church practice, regardless of the weakness of the arguments supporting them.
The Catholic Church’s key “product identity” appears, as mentioned above, to be to create a “monopoly” on the Eucharist, a central element of Catholic worship at the Mass, and on the all male celibate priesthood currently needed to offer the Eucharist worldwide, subject to the control of Bishops and ultimately the Vatican. A common meal of fellow believers in Jesus’ time, at least occasionally overseen by women, has become the central “unique product” in the Vatican’s “marketing” strategy. The pope and his Vatican management team, through numerous “theological” and liturgical statements, seeks to protect and preserve the Vatican’s monopoly here, but need a sufficient number of obedient priests to offer the “product”.
The Vatican seeks zealously to preserve its worldwide “market position” by protecting its “monopoly” on the Eucharist and on the requisite celibate male priesthood against other Christian religious traditions externally and against alternative viewpoints internally, especially espoused often from women seeking admission to the priesthood.
While millions of Catholics have left the Church in rejection of the Vatican’s positions and approach, the Vatican’s prohibition on contraception has helped generate millions of “replacement Catholics”, born to Catholic couples whether or not the couples wanted or could afford to have additional children. Some of those children who survive, often in miserable circumstances, become future sources of Vatican power and wealth, as well as of new priests to serve to fill numerous priest shortages worldwide.
Against this organizational background, the Vatican has seemed incapable of containing its worldwide crisis of children being sexually assaulted by priests. Priests are needed to offer the main “product”, the Eucharist. It take years under current procedures to train young men to serve as obedient and low wage “producer priests”. The supply of domestic priests is diminishing in many countries and foreign “imports” have not and realistically in most cases cannot satisfactorily resolve the shortages.
Fearful of permitting priests to marry or to have women as priests, both of which means the Vatican might have to risk being viewed as “fallible” and then have to deal on a equal basis openly with women priests or priests’ wives, and even some mothers, on all issues, including child protection matters, and also pay at least married priests higher wages, the Vatican has to date thereby retricted the potential supply of new priests.
Consequently, Bishops are increasingly forced at times to ordain questionable seminarians and still even to retain predatory priests. Given the artifical constriction, by prohibiting married and female priests, of the already diminishing candidate pool, the prospects are increasingly bleak for solving the predatory priest problem, no matter what the Vatican and its apologists may say otherwise!
Moreover, the Vatican’s financial policy seems impervious to the multi-billion dollar continuing cash drain from child abuse claims. A continuing revenue stream from governmental subsidies, docile Catholics’ and protected plutocrats’ contributions, and Vatican investments and tax free properties, and a willingness to close parishes and schools almost indiscriminately, makes paying lawyers to protect Bishops an acceptable cost of business, like some Wall Street financial firms that often treat fraud claims as an acceptable cost of doing business.
Survivors’ lawyers, as alluded to above, seeking usually the most cash for their cients, sooner rather than later, can apparently be depended on to settle claims and keep the bishops’ potentially incriminating files sealed if the settlement amounts are high enough. Apparently, bishops will often pay whatever is takes to protect themselves. While this expensive litigation process has benefited a small percentage of abuse survivors, it has not benefited many other survivors nor stimulated the Bishops yet to adopt real accountability measures like thorough independent audits.
WHAT CAN CARDINALS AND CATHOLICS DO?
Are there steps Cardinals can take to reduce, or at least mitigate, the adverse effects of the likely implosion of the Holy Roman Empire? Yes, simply put, Cardinals should only vote for a papal candidate who will publicly commit, as a pre-condition of his election, to do the following:
(1) Serve as Pope for five years only, and
(2) Call an ecumenical council, to be held within 12 months outside Europe, with voting lay participants holding the same number of total votes as clerical participants, including an equal number of women, that will review and update:
(A) Policies on contraception, divorce, mixed religious marriages and same sex marriages;
(B) Policies on married and female priests;
(C) Procedures for electing bishops and requiring equal lay participation in the elections; and
(D) Procedures for papal elections by worldwide bishops and for papal term limits no greater than ten years.
Are there steps that lay Catholics can take? Yes, simply put, just suspend all funding of Catholic causes if the Cardinals fail to take all the above steps at the next papal election, and do not resume contributions until all of these steps are taken.
In view of the unlikelihood, as indicated above, that the current Vatican administration will effectively curtail any time soon predatory priests on its own initiative, Catholics need to press their political leaders to compel the Vatican to take promptly all feasible corrective action to protect defenseless children from predatory priests.
Several of the themes discussed here are considered in more detail in my statement linked at the top of this statement under the heading, “Vatican: A New Child Protection Policy Now?”. Please click on to the above heading and read it at your convenience.
Please also circulate this full statement or relevant portions thereof widely, as you may consider helpful to reforming the Catholic Church, to protecting defenseless children, to comforting suffering abuse survivors and to giving many discouraged Catholics some new hope.
Matters described above can be readily supplemented by relevant material on the Internet by entering the relevant key words in Google for links to the underlying news and other reports.
Finally, several excellent and readable books available in bookstores or online amplify much of the foregoing. Helpful summaries and/or reviews of most of them are presently freely available at Amazon.com/books.
These selective books are:
(1) The Theology of Fear, by Fr. Emmett Coyne;
(2) Can the Catholic Church Be Saved?, by Fr. Hans Kung (forthcoming soon in an English version);
(3) What Happened at Vatican II, by Fr. John O’Malley, S.J.;
(4) Trent: What Happened at the Council, by Fr. John O’Malley, S.J.;
(5) Electing Our Bishops: How the Catholic Church Should Elect Its Leaders, by Joseph O’Callaghan;
(6) Render Unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church, by Jason Berry;
(7) Perversion of Power: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church, by Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea;
(8) The Case of the Pope: Vatican Accountability For Human Rights Abuse, by Geoffrey Robertson; and
(9) The Politics of Sex and Religion, by Robert Blair Kaiser, available for FREE as an E-Book at robertblairkaiser.com .