Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hierarchy’s Pedophilia Cover-Up Scandal

Anonymous said...

The Pope and Bishops see the crisis as one of lapsed vows and sin. They should treat this as an abuse of authority and law. Covering up a scandal just creates two scandals.

I invite everyone to read this re-read the foregoing comment from Anonymous. Let's begin by focusing on a Victim and Her Family

The comment by “Anonymous” portrays the problem as “lapsed vows and sins [of pedophile priests].” This skewed portrayal reflects a subtle attempt to side-step responsibility by the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. Note the comment by Bishop Joseph Duffy Cloghe in the preceding news clip. He states “the church as been seriously wounded.” Incredible! “The church [i.e. hierarchy] has been wounded” what about the victims?!?

In attempting to lay all responsibility with the pedophiles exclusively, the hierarchy is seeking to free themselves of all responsibility for their failure as supervisors. The hierarchy’s failure to act upon their knowledge, report the abuse and thereby prevent future victimization of children. It is plainly evident that pedophiles committed heinous and inexcusable crimes against innocent minors; however, the fact that the hierarchy knew that these crimes were taking place and failed to report the offenders to the police is much more than a grotesque obstruction of justice. This cover-up by the hierarchy actually facilitated new cases of pedophilia and constitutes a separate and even greater crime.

Cardinal Seán Brady, the head of the Catholic church in Ireland, was involved in an alleged cover-up of child sexual abuse complaints against Brendan Smyth, Ireland’s most notorious pedophile priest.

Brady, the archbishop of Armagh and primate of All Ireland, has confirmed to The Sunday Times that he attended a secret canonical tribunal, or internal church hearing, in 1975 at which two of Smyth’s young victims were required to sign an undertaking on oath that they would not discuss what happened with anybody other than an approved priest.

The revelation that the country’s most senior churchman is accused of helping to keep child sex abuse complaints a secret comes as the Catholic church struggles with sex scandals in Germany, the Netherlands and the Vatican. Pope Benedict has been caught in a scandal over moving deviant priests from parish to parish in his native Germany.

Read the full story in the Times.

Asking children who were victims of pedophilia to sign documents that they would not tell anyone outside of the Church about the crimes, is itself a grotesquely immoral and criminal act. It constitutes a second crime against the child victim that reinforces the victim’s feelings of a shared culpability and shame for the pedophilia that was visited upon them. What emerges is a picture of a hierarchy that values the image/power of the Church and its wealth, more than those whom they have been called to serve. A hierarchy, which is more than ready to sacrifice individuals and justice for the sake of their power and status.

What motive(s) would the hierarchy have for denying their responsibility in the Cover-Up Scandal?

The victim in the opening CNN video clip states:

“They have become hardened. They have lost their sense about them, that empathy, that compassion. They’re just hoping that we go away, we die off, and there are many of us who haven’t survived, like my sister. And that they [the hierarchy] can contain the problem and protect the institution of the church.”

A New York Times report gives a supporting insight to Helen’s claim:

“What is at stake, and at great risk, is Benedict’s central project for the ‘re-Christianization’ of Christendom, his desire to have Europe return to its Christian roots,” said David Gibson, the author of a biography of Benedict and a religion commentator for “But if the root itself is seen as rotten, then his influence will be badly compromised.”

When a sex abuse scandal broke in Boston church in 2002, Pope Benedict — then Cardinal Ratzinger — was among the Vatican officials who made statements that minimized the problem and accused the news media of blowing it out of proportion.

But as the abuse case files landed on his desk at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, his colleagues said he was deeply disturbed by what he learned. On his first visit to the United States as pope, Benedict met with abuse victims from Boston and said he was “deeply ashamed” by priests who had harmed children.

But victims’ advocates accuse the pope of doing little to discipline the bishops who permitted abusers to continue serving in ministry. The case in Munich, which was brought to the attention of the diocese by the daily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, was a result of “serious mistakes,” the archdiocese said in its statement.

View Cardinal Sean Brady reading Benedict XVI's letter on the Sex Abuse Cover-Up Scandal.

The Huffington Post reports the following:

He also appealed to priests still harboring sins of child molestation to confess.

"Openly acknowledge your guilt, submit yourselves to the demands of justice, but do not despair of God's mercy," he wrote.

But Benedict offered no endorsement of three official Irish investigations that found the church leadership to blame for the scale and longevity of abuse heaped on Irish children throughout the 20th century.

The Vatican refused to cooperate with those 2001-09 probes into the Dublin Archdiocese, the rural Ferns diocese and Ireland's defunct network of workhouse-style dormitory schools for the Irish poor.

The investigations, directed by senior Irish judges and lawyers, ruled that Catholic leaders protected the church's reputation from scandal at the expense of children – and began passing their first abuse reports to police in 1996 only after victims began to sue the church.

Nor did Benedict's letter mention recent revelations of abuse cover-ups in a growing list of European nations, particularly his German homeland, where more than 300 claimants this year have alleged abuse in Catholic schools and a choir long run by the pope's brother.

What can be done now? Helen (in the first CNN video clip) explains what she wants from the church:

“What she wants most of all from the church is an apology for destroying her family, and an acknowledgement that the church KNOWINGLY placed a pedophile into her parish. So far, she says, she has received neither.”

I fear that Benedict XVI’s failure to accept due responsibility in the Pedophilia Cover-Up Scandal of the Hierarchy will merely further wound both the victims and their families. Ultimately the next conclave (body which will elect the next pope), and perhaps Vatican III (?), will have to effectively reform the hierarchy and offer healing to victims, their families and the church. Some necessary elements of an effective reform would include a voice for the laity in the governance of the church, along with both transparency and accountability of bishops, and eliminating mandatory celibacy as a requirement for the priesthood.

All of these reforms would have to begin with an independent and thorough investigation of the Hierarchy’s Pedophilia Cover-Up Scandal. In the meantime, it will most probably be secular governments and their judicial systems, spurred by an outraged public that will drive the hierarchy to reform.


FDeF said...

I am a divided soul: a part of me still believes that something akin to the Holy Spirit is allowing the church to unfold in a self-actualizing way; a part of me thinks it is all bull. That first part of me looks at the situation like this: The current boil that is the Vatican and church hierarchy is coming to a head and may soon burst to rid us of the pus and infection. Perhaps it is the natural and inevitable course dictated by truth and the spirit. The second part of me is cynical and angry and just wants no part of this so-called church.

Father Geoff said...

Dear FDeF,

Saint Augustine said: "Pray as if all depends on God and work as if all depends on you." Echoing your sentiments, someone recently asked why I didn't simply leave the church?

I said it was like being French after the Nazis took over the country. Escaping to England, or joining the French Resistance were both legitimate options. Which option one took depended on a host of legitimate personal considerations.

Matthew said...

Have you read the Ryan Report (Ireland)? It helped me to understand the cover up. According to the Ryan Report, sexual abuse was "endemic," "pervasive," and rampant and similar words. In other words, not a few bad apples or isolated incidents but abuse was systematic. If they hadn't covered it up, they would have risked reporting virtually everyone. Who would have remained innocent? Very, very few. Therefore, they did not want to face the really hard questions which is why the institution got to this state, why a culture of violence crept into some orders like the Christian Brothers and the Sisters of Mercy, why abuse became the norm not the exception. Those are much harder questions than a few bad apples. And they involve different solutions than just better enforcement or turning people over to civil authorities. Maybe in the USA the abuse was not as systemic as Ireland so the cover up was for different reasons. But the words "cover-up" don't really apply to the inherent culture of the institution. They simply did not think anything was wrong to cover up. A few quotes from the Ryan Report: "Sexual abuse was endemic in boys' institutions."
"Sexual abuse was known to religious authorities to be a persistent problem in male religious organizations throughout the relevant period."

BobinCT said...

Father Geoff:
I've been following the most recent reports in the NY Times, and I agree that something big is going on the Church--I would like to think, as FDeF said,that it is the Holy Spirit at work. I would encourage you and fellow bloggers to read a very recent post on Richard Sipe's website concerning Archbishop Wuerl who, you will recall, is one of the authors of the Manhattan Declaration. It is directly related to this thread and also an earlier one on outing priests and bishops. On Richard's website click on "Archbishop of Washington DC" It was a revelation to me.