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ABSOLUTE MUST READ: Sister Maureen asks: Where does the buck stop?




Sister Maureen Paul Turlish, the well-known advocate for survivors of Catholic clergy sex abuse, asks, “Where Does the Buck Stop,” in response to a note issued by Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J.
We present Sister Maureen’s comments first, and they are followed by Lombardi’s note.
* * *
In a press release by the Holy See’s Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., on March 9, 2010, “concerning cases of the sexual abuse of minors in ecclesiastical institutions,” Lombardi parrots the Holy See’s predictable responses to the church’s widening problems of sexual abuse, particularly of minor children.
The institutional Roman Catholic church has reacted to the continuing sexual abuse debacle neither rapidly nor decisively, contrary to what Lombardi states.  The Vatican has attempted to distance itself from what has happened in country after country, first categorizing it as an “American problem,” then as a “homosexual problem.”
What was done by church leadership in the United States, for example, it was forced to do by the pressure of public opinion after records, files and correspondence were forced into the public venue in 2002 by Judge Constance M. Sweeney, a very brave, principled and grounded Catholic woman  in Boston, Massachusetts.
The church’s response continues to be re-active rather than pro-active while minimizing the systemic and endemic abuse of power and authority which has enabled and exacerbated it on the one hand while covering it up whenever and wherever possible on the other.
The “wide-ranging context” is that in countries from the United States, Canada, Australia and Ireland to Austria, the Netherlands and Germany church authorities have repeatedly and consistently disregarded its own moral and Canon laws as well as the existing laws of the countries in which these horrific crimes against humanity occurred.
Lombardi does not mention nor does he admit to the well documented widespread cover-up of the sexual abuse of children by bishops and other church officials in many countries like the United States, that makes the church’s sexual abuse problems particularly egregious.  If church authorities had done the morally right thing initially how many children would have escaped being sexually abused by a particular priest?
When are people of good will going to say, enough!
When are state legislators going to change the laws so that justice can be pursued for the thousands upon thousands of victims of childhood sexual abuse who have been unable to access let alone obtain justice?
In most states and probably in most countries existing criminal as well as civil laws give more protection to sexual predators and their enablers then they do to victims of childhood sexual abuse  –  by anyone.  This is deplorable and should not be.
The removal of all statutes of limitation in regard to the sexual abuse of children is the single, most effective way to hold predators and enabling institutions accountable before the law.
The state of Delaware in the United States is one of a very few states in the U.S. which has removed all criminal and civil statutes of limitation in regard to the sexual abuse of children  –  by anyone.  It also legislated a two-year civil window for previously time-barred cases, again, by anyone.  That window closed in July of 2009.
In a civil suit, unlike a criminal suit, the burden of proof that any sexual abuse took place is on the plaintiff.  The burden is not on the accused individual or institution to prove innocence, at least not in the United States.
Every victim of childhood sexual abuse should have a right to the pursuit of justice at the very least!
If Delaware can do it, other states and other countries should be able to do it and hold sexual predators and any enabling institutions responsible, especially those institutions which chose to ignore their own internal laws.
I was privileged to testify before the Senate and House Judiciary Committees in support of the 2007 Child Victims Law in Delaware.
No rules and no laws of any religious organization or denomination should be allowed to trump the laws of a civilized society where the protection of children is concerned.
The Roman Catholic Church should be held to the highest standard as a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a Convention that by any objective standard it has grossly violated for decades.
Isn’t it time to formalize those violations as the crimes against humanity they truly are?
Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
Victims’ Advocate
New Castle, Delaware, USA
* * *

NOTE BY PRESS OFFICE DIRECTOR ON CASES OF SEXUAL ABUSE

VATICAN CITY, 9 MAR 2010 (VIS) – Given below is the text of note issued today by Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. concerning cases of the sexual abuse of minors in ecclesiastical institutions:

“For some months now the very serious question of the sexual abuse of minors in institutions run by ecclesiastical bodies and by people with positions of responsibility within the Church, priests in particular, has been investing [sic]  the Church and society in Ireland. The Holy Father recently demonstrated his own concern, particularly through two meetings: firstly with high-ranking members of the episcopate, then with all the ordinaries. He is also preparing the publication of a letter on the subject for the Irish Church.

“But over recent weeks the debate on the sexual abuse of minors has also involved the Church in certain central European countries (Germany, Austria and Holland). And it is on this development that we wish to make some simple remarks.

“The main ecclesiastical institutions concerned – the German Jesuit Province (the first to be involved, through the case of the Canisius-Kolleg in Berlin), the German Episcopal Conference, the Austrian Episcopal Conference and the Netherlands Episcopal Conference – have faced the emergence of problem [sic] with timely and decisive action. They have demonstrated their desire for transparency and, in a certain sense, accelerated the emergence of the problem by inviting victims to speak out, even when the cases involved date [sic] from many years ago. By doing so they have approached the matter ‘on the right foot’, because the correct starting point is recognition of what happened and concern for the victims and the consequences of the acts committed against them. Moreover, they have re-examined the extant ‘Directives’ and have planned new operative guidelines which also aim to identify a prevention strategy, so that everything possible may be done to ensure that similar cases are not repeated in the future.

“These events mobilise the Church to find appropriate responses and should be placed in a more wide-ranging context that concerns the protection of children and young people from sexual abuse in society as a whole. Certainly, the errors [sic] committed in ecclesiastical institutions and by Church figures are particularly reprehensible because of the Church’s educational and moral responsibility, but all objective and well-informed people know that the question is much broader, and concentrating accusations against the Church alone gives a false perspective. By way of example, recent data supplied by the competent authorities in Austria shows that, over the same period of time, the number of proven cases in Church institutions was 17, while there were 510 other cases in other areas. It would be as well to concern ourselves also with them.

“In Germany initiatives are now rightly being suggested, promoted by the Ministry for the Family, to call a ’round table’ of the various educational and social organisations in order to consider the question from an appropriate and comprehensive viewpoint. The Church is naturally ready to participate and become involved and, perhaps, her own painful experience may also be a useful contribution for others. Chancellor Angela Merkel had justly recognised the seriousness and constructive approach shown by the German Church.

“In order to complete these remarks, it is as well to recall once again that the Church exists as part of civil society and shoulders her own responsibilities in society, but she also has her own specific code, the ‘canonical code’, which reflects her spiritual and sacramental nature and in which, therefore, judicial and penal procedures are different (for example, they contain no provision for pecuniary sanctions or for the deprivation of freedom, but for impediment in the exercise of the ministry and privation of rights in the ecclesiastical field, etc.). In the ambit of canon law, the crime of the sexual abuse of minors has always been considered as one of the most serious of all, and canonical norms have constantly reaffirmed this, in particular the 2001 Letter ‘De delictis gravioribus’, sometimes improperly cited as the cause of a ‘culture of silence’. Those who know and understand its contents, are aware that it was a decisive signal to remind the episcopate of the seriousness of the problem, as well as a real incentive to draw up operational guidelines to face it.

“In conclusion, although the seriousness of the difficulties the Church is going through cannot be denied, we must not fail to do everything possible in order to ensure that, in the end, they bring positive results, of better protection for infancy and youth in the Church and in society, and the purification of the Church herself”.
OP/SEXUAL ABUSE/LOMBARDIVIS 100309 (780)




    8 Responses to “ABSOLUTE MUST READ: Sister Maureen asks: Where does the buck stop?”

  1. Michael Skiendzielewski Says:

    “In order to complete these remarks, it is as well to recall once again that the Church exists as part of civil society and shoulders her own responsibilities in society, but she also has her own specific code, the ‘canonical code’, which reflects her spiritual and sacramental nature and in which, therefore, judicial and penal procedures are different (for example, they contain no provision for pecuniary sanctions or for the deprivation of freedom, but for impediment in the exercise of the ministry and privation of rights in the ecclesiastical field, etc.).

    In other words, Church officials carry a permanent “GET OUT OF JAIL CARD” because of their ‘canonical code’. The ‘canonical code’ is a euphemism for the ‘code of silence.’ Our Church leadership has written a new encyclical entitled “Euphemisms for the 21st Century.” It is quite a lengthy document for sure and one that may only be properly understood by those trained in “Canon Law”. For example, Chapter 1 is entitled “Inappropriate Touching” which the non-canonical world understands as “involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.”

  2. Lionel Says:

    There aren’t any limits to what the catholic hierarchy will invent to protect their wealth and power. Why be shocked at what they do ? It’s been going on for almost two centuries. Not all priests and nuns are evil, but too many are.
    Read ‘Sex, Priests, and Secret Codes”–The Catholic’s 2000 Year Paper Trail of Sexual Abuse, by Doyle, Sipe and Wall. As I have warned others, if you read this book,–have a bucket ready to collect your vomit. How many victims of sexaul abuse in those almost 2000 years ? Vatican first–always.
    One of my favorite jokes—-If you’re having problems in your marriage, ask a priest for help—————–

  3. Gloria Sullivan Says:

    The saddest thing in regards to the people who claim to be Roman Catholics, is that they have been “generationally brainwashed” from the beginning. All think that this is the “one and only Holy and Apostolic Church and no other Christian church has the right to claim this. Also the clergy have been and are still , as are the parishioners, still listening to the brainwashing they are so used to. THEY CANNOT THINK FOR THEMSELVES beyond what the RCC tells them and they believe all the BS.
    Some people like Sr. Maureen, Fr. Thomas Doyle and others, have STARTED TO THINK for themselves. PTL. And they all agree that the church has allowed and sanctioned evil things. But they still do not consult with Jesus Christ( not their peers) to see what He wants of them.. If they did, on a daily basis, they could no longer tollerate this unequivical evil that has been perpetuated since the middle of the first century. Do your homework, it’s all there in the Bible, if you take the time to do it! It’s a hard way to go, as I have done it and that is why I write, and write, not what I want but what the Holy Spirit guides me to write. I have been given the words, simple as they may be sometimes when mine get mixed with His, maybe repeated but I don’t really know what will come, as I try to fullfill my duty to Him, to be a faithfull listener,a believer in a Relationship with my Lord and savior. I have shook the filth from my feet and moved on. It is a glorious way to live, Free from the RC ,with a new life in Him
    So many that I speak personally with, say , “I’m Catholic but I don’t go to church anymore” That Fear is so imbedded in them they can’t deny still being called a Catholic.. They must learn to Love Christ more than the Institution and what they have been forced (as cildrenn)to believe. There lies the whole evil personified. That’s how they got you and me. No More! “As for me and my household , we will follow the Lord”

  4. Jeannie Cole Says:

    “The Holy Father recently demonstrated his own concern, particularly through two meetings: firstly with high-ranking members of the episcopate, then with all the ordinaries. He is also preparing the publication of a letter on the subject for the Irish Church.”

    Mmmmmm ……….., Now how long did it take for the Holy Father to “demonstrate his concern?” From what it looks like in the German press, it appears that he allegedly failed to “demonstrate his concern” when he was an Archbishop in Bavaria, prior to being called to Rome to be the Prefect of the Congregation for Doctrine and Faith. Cases of Priest Pedophilia and good, old fashioned Nazi-style, sadistic “Discipline” are showing up all over Bavaria. Many cases are more recent, but some are up to 50-60 years old.

    In the decades after Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was called to Rome to head the CDF, he saw enough international cases of Priest/Nun/Monk Pedophilia to paper his office and half of the Vatican, and yet he openly failed to “Challenge the Culture of Silence.” Coincidentally, he recently “reprimanded” and upbraided the bishops of Ireland for failing to “Challenge the Culture of Silence,” on their recent, all-expense-paid Holiday in Rome.

    Now we are being told in condescending, Vatican fashion, that as a members of the Illiterate Laity, unless we are Canon Lawyers, we are not mentally and spiritually equipped to analyze “Papal Secrets,” as outlined in “De delictic gravioribus.” Good try boys! You should really invest in hiring some good spin doctors, if you think the public is that gullible!

    Fortunately we aren’t living in the days of Pope Pius X, who was known for his reactionary “Anti-Americanism,” regarding our Constitutional Rights, which he was afraid would catch on in Europe like wildfire. Out of sheer fear of public backlash, Pius X tried to stifle our God-given Freedoms of the Press and Speech by making it a sin to speak contrary to Papal dictates. Again, as members of the “Illiterate Laity,” we were told, “It was for our own good.” That may have worked in Europe, but not in the States. Thank God for America’s Media, which has broken the international, “verboten” ceiling of silence, concerning the sins of the Church. Now we no longer need to be “schtupped” by the Church and Her priests into believing that we’re not intelligent enough to understand canonical procedures and coverups. Of course, the Church doesn’t call them, “Coverups,” because to do so would be to openly admit that She practiced the art of purposely concealing the most heinous sins of Her priests, against the most vulnerable members of the Church, for centuries.

    In the final analysis, maybe it’ll take prosecutors from the World Court to show the Vatican that mere humans can understand Canon Law and Papal decrees like Crimen Sollicitationis and De Delictis Gravioribus.

  5. Gloria Sullivan Says:

    The cover up has always been there, from the time St. Paul spoke of those trying to change Christ’s Gospel to a new one they liked better. Woe to those who listened to those men. The Latin words don’t impress me. The simple words of our Savior Jesus Christ in scripture, are what impress me. Get to your Bible and not a Catholic Bible. I’m not saying it’s a bad book but a good translation is what we all need. NO CHURCH has all the right answers. As they too have been hood-winked. The non denominational churches seem to speak of Bible teachings and consult the Holy Spirit at all times,as to interpretation. Not perfect either. We are an imperfect people in an imperfect world and as scripture says, “Pray always” That is the Best Way, “His Way”, to find our Lord and what He wants of us. Shake the dust from your feet and move on to those who Will listen to HIS WORDS. God’s timing is what we all want. He knows, we don’t. But when He reveals what is going on and we don’t pay any attention and want our own way, we’ll get it. We will suffer for our inattention to His WORD” .The WORD of the Lord Will Not Come Back Void””He Is THE WORD!”

  6. Jeannie Cole Says:

    An Addendum to the above comment:

    The biggest problem facing the Vatican is being forced to come into the 21st century and understand the painful conclusion that the world no longer believes the lofty Papal Dictates, as outlined in “The Syllabus of Errors,” put out by Pope Pius IX and enforced by Pius X. Here are three quotes, which the Vatican still firmly believes, and in many cases these three items from the Syllabus of Errors are Her Canonical Defense against well-deserved criticism from the “Illiterate Laity” and from the Civil Governments of the world:

    “[It is error to believe that] The Church ought to be separated from the State, and the State from the Church.” Pope Pius IX, The Syllabus (of Errors), Issued in 1864, Section VI, Errors About Civil Society, Considered Both in Itself and in its Relation to the Church, #55.

    “[It is error to believe that] Kings and princes are not only exempt from the jurisdiction of the Church, but are superior to the Church in deciding questions of jurisdiction.” Pope Pius IX, The Syllabus (of Errors), Issued in 1864, Section VI, Errors About Civil Society, Considered Both in Itself and in its Relation to the Church, #54.

    “[It is error to believe that] In the case of conflicting laws enacted by the two powers (Church and civil), the civil law prevails.” Pope Pius IX, The Syllabus (of Errors), Issued in 1864, Section VI, Errors About Civil Society, Considered Both in Itself and in its Relation to the Church, # 42.

    It’s about time that the Vatican learns that Civil Law will prevail over Church Law in the 21st Century. Maybe then, the Vatican will understand that “The Buck STOPS, at the Pope’s Door!” He should be help responsible, even if he needs to submit to the decisions of the World Court!

  7. tomassotucson Says:

    What we have here, is the same information being repeated and repeated and repeated by people, for people, that already know what it’s all about. When are we going to hear from people that can offer solutions. When are we going to get more of this information in the NATIONAL NEWS MEDIA ? WHEN ARE WE GOING TO GET THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT TO TAKE ACTION? ONLY PUBLIC EXPOSURE WILL REACH MILLIONS AND MILLIONS OF PEOPLE. We need prominent, professional Catholics that the media will listen to, to stepup and take action. We need professional, prominent Catholics with knowledge of Criminal law to get the U.S. Justice Department off it’s butt. Listen to me, There is no other way. Too many Church leaders have been involved in criminal behavior and the rest have been silently protecting their own ass. LET ME HEAR FROM YOU. I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ANYMORE ABOUT WHAT HAS HAPPENED OR WHAT IS STILL GOING ON. I already know. My name is nobody. Let me hear from a SOMEBODY.

  8. Elizabeth Sarfaty Says:

    Another issue that seems rarely to be addressed, and is by most counts a counterpart to the abuse
    of Power is the prevalence of the use of alcohol, and perhaps other drugs – before, during, after most
    of the assaultive behaviors ofthose who assume the abuse of Power over those assumed not to have “the power”… any studies that make the link? If we got this crowd of clergy sober through some real
    and honest Twelve Step work (say, ten or twenty years perhaps) we might find some keys that show
    how the delusional effects of alcohol and drugs support the narcissistic/arrogant attitudes of the
    perpetrators, added to the elitism of their clericalism and ‘empire’ mind-set! True, too, I suspect for
    most of The United States of America’s state and federal legislatures, big companies, and powerful
    lobbyists. Love/peace/struggle, Elizabeth p.s. Anyone notice that “Granny D” of NH died this past week – age 100. Good fight, good example, thank you very much, St.D.!!! R.I.P.


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