Category Archives: canon law

Not-So-Great Expectations for the Canonical Trial of Archbishop Anthony Sablan Apuron OFM Cap.

It’s time for the people of Guam to lower their expectations of the canonical church trial of Archbishop Anthony Apuron.

Make no mistake: there will be extreme secrecy cloaked under the “pontifical secret” and sovereign immunity.  And while the procedure is called a canonical “trial,” it is nothing like any criminal trial you have experienced or seen on television.

1.       There will be no jury impaneled to publicly decide innocence or guilt.

2.       There will be no judge in a black robe responsible to the People conducting a fair and impartial trial.

3.       Secrecy is king.  There will be no public hearing.  The process began in secret, will be conducted in secret, decided in secret and the findings will be kept in secret Vatican archives.

4.       The outcome will only be known when the Holy See serves its decision on Anthony Apuron through the Papal Nuncio of the country and bishop where Apuron is domiciled.

5.       The procedure is based on the Code of Canon law and SST (Sacramentum Santitatis Tutela) promulgated in 2001.

6.       No matter the outcome, this is a test for Pope Francis and his commitment to discipline Bishops in the protection of minors.

7.       Apuron will not be present in Rome for any of it.

 

What to expect

Pope Francis is the only church official who can bring an action against Apuron.

Whenever the Pope becomes aware of a Bishop who has sexually abused children, he appoints investigators—known as auditors—to gather the facts and circumstances around the matter.  A likely candidate is Revered James Conn S.J., J.D., J.C.D.

The Pope then reviews the matter and decides whether to commence a Judicial or Administrative action.

If the Pope takes Administrative Action, then the Pope may instruct the Congregation for Bishops to order Apuron to a life of prayer and penance in a Capuchin monastery far from Guam. This does two things: reduces scandal, and allows Apuron to continue as a bishop, priest and Capuchin.

If Pope takes Judicial Action, then the Pope may instruct the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and Cardinal Mueller as Prefect to proceed following SST.  Mueller will then appoint Chicago Jesuit, Reverend Robert Geisinger S.J., J.C.D. as promoter of justice to instruct the matter.

Archbishop Apuron will be informed in writing of the charges and advised to retain a Canonist—a canon lawyer who will defend him and submit paperwork on his behalf to the Vatican.

The Promoter of Justice or his delegate will build on the Auditors’ investigation and delve deeper into the facts and circumstances, including taking depositions and gathering documents from Guam.

Archbishop Apuron will then review the written Acts (the entire file) of the case.

Then comes the decision: whether the Pope, through the CDF, will allow Apuron to remain a Bishop, Priest and/or Capuchin.

Pope Francis could laicize Apuron, removing him as a Bishop and Priest while allowing him to remain a non-priest Capuchin Friar (a “Brother”), able to live anywhere in the world and work for the order. Or the Pope could remove Apuron completely and demote him to be a lay person.

No matter the decision—it will be rendered in secret, likely signed by Cardinal Muller as Prefect and served on Apuron through the Papal Nuncio and the local Bishop wherever Apuron is living. If Apuron stays in Fairfield, CA, that bishop is Jaime Soto of Sacramento.

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The Habit Does Not Make The Monk

One of the first lessons in the monastery is: “The Habit does not make the monk.”

Why? People are easily distracted by holy garbs, nice shoes, tailored clothes, and expensive cars. White collar criminals who use their position of trust to commit crimes against children depend on this. They need children and the public to be easily distracted.

Do not be distracted by a monk’s habit, a doctor’s white coat, or a judge’s black robe. By putting on a habit, one is not instantly infused with wisdom and understanding. Rather, it comes from years of listening to people, prayer, reflection and learning to recognize the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Why do I bring this up?

Recently, my eyes have been opened to other versions of the white collar crime I know as “solicitation in the confessional.” Crimens Sollicitationis—simply put—is the confessor’s abuse of power over the penitent.

Apparently, this kind of crime is not limited to Catholicism.

Very recently, a Rabbi was discovered to have been using the Mikvah—the ritual bath—to film the unsuspecting faithful. In the age of the internet and file sharing, one has to be concerned for those unknowingly filmed.

Even more recent is a reminder from Hollywood: actors can and do use their star power and the burning desire of unsuspecting minors for stardom to access, groom, sexually abuse and coerce them into silence.

We must remain vigilant and put children first.  The habit does not make the monk.

 

 

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The Chancellor Shows Courage

Before the recent revelations of child porn sitting in the Secret Archives of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul, most people never stopped to think about the role of a Archdiocesan Chancellor. Some may have an image of Thomas Beckett or a librarian type. But most, honestly, just scratch their head.

So, what is a chancellor supposed to do? And how did St. Paul Chancellor Jennifer Haselberger stumble upon child porn in Archbishop Nienstedt’s secret archives?

The office of Chancellor in the Roman Catholic Church is first and foremost to “take care that the acts of the curia are gathered, arranged and safeguarded in the archive of the curia”. (1983 CIC 482)  This sounds a lot like a librarian, but the job also includes maintaining the entire inventory, or catalogue, of both the historical, secret and criminal archives.

What makes this job different than that of a librarian is that the cover up of clerical sexual abuse of minors in Saint Paul goes back to (at least) Archbishop Leo Binz in the 1960s. The cover-up documents have been stored at the Chancery on Summit Avenue as mandated by the Pope in the code of canon law. For instance, Father Jerome C. Kern’s file contains evidence the Archbishop was aware Kern was sexually abusing minor boys in 1969.

But why is there an explosion now when the Archbishop knew of the child porn in 2003?

The answer is simple: Chancellor Jennifer Haselberger.

Haselberger was the first lay female ever appointed Chancellor in St.Paul. She does not belong to the clerical “caste” and apparently she didn’t absorb the “Tradition of clerical immunity.” When she found the porn in the secret vaults, Haselberger followed her conscience and called law enforcement.

When the Archbishop was about to transfer Father Jon Shelley, Haselberger naturally reviewed the files under her care. She found a Saint Luke Institute report, an investigation by the Vicar General Kevin McDonough, and the porn vault. She found evidence that there were three computers, half a dozen morally disturbing searches and thousands of nefarious images sitting in the archives. There was nothing ambiguous about it.

What Now?

First, the Haselberger experience informs us that all church archives need to be reviewed by independent prosecutors in law enforcement. These prosecutors answer to the people, not the Pope.

Second, this 2013 experience teaches us that the Roman Catholic Church has not learned and in fact may not have the capacity to learn how to protect children in their care.

Third, we must press our leaders. Experience tells us that St. Paul is NOT unique. Are there priests who have been accused of sexual abuse of minors in ministry today?  We must press church leaders to make public what they know, urge prosecutors to demand files, and implore Catholics to withhold contributions until they and we can be assured that there are no criminals in active ministry.

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Catholic Clergy Child Abuse Investigations Since 2005 … and a Papal Resignation

The German Pope’s resignation today as the Bishop of Rome (for health reasons) is the final lie in his Papacy. Since 2005, Benedict XVI’s church has been the subject of  more civil and criminal inquiries of the Church since the time of the Protestant Reformation.

Just look at the sheer volume of child abuse and financial abuse inquires during Benedict XVI’s reign. The real story is how these worldwide child abuse inquires brought on the first resignation of a healthy Pope in eight centuries.

Click on the links to read the full reports.

Germany

German Bishops Halt Child Abuse Inquiry

Australia

Australian Prime Minister Julian Gillard announces National Inquiry of child abuse in the Roman Catholic Church

Belgium

Report on wide spread child abuse in Belgian Church

Bishop Roger Vanghuewe resigns after child abuse accusations  

Mexico

Reverend Marcial Maciel, Founder of the Legionaries of Christ, was removed in 19 after first being removed as head of the Order for sexually abusing children in the 1950’s

United States

Los Angeles – Cardinal Roger Mahony’s 1985-2011 coverup of 128 priest perpetrators is revealed and Benedict XVI remains silent

Milwaukee – In the midst of planning for Bankruptcy and moving assets to shield them from child sex abuse survivors, Archbishop Dolan pays for the perpetrators silence.  Pope Benedict XVI rewards Dolan and promotes him to Cardinal

Philadelphia – After two grand Jury Reports Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua knowingly keeps priest perpetrators in ministry, orders the destruction of the evidence and his Vicar for Clergy is criminally convicted

New Hampshire

Ireland

Cloyne Report   

Ferns Report 

Murphy Report

Ryan Report 

Amnesty International Report

Italy

Genoa

Vatican Bank inquiry

Verona

Vatileaks and Monsignor 007

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Peeling back the thin, sacred veneer

The calendar year opens today with simultaneous court appearances by two of the largest Roman Catholic Archdioceses: Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

In Philly, jury selection begins in the criminal trials of priests accused of sodomy and child sexual abuse. These cases will continue to expose the “omissions” of Cardinals Anthony Bevilacqua and Justin Rigali.

In Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times and Associated Press will argue for the release of unredacted secret personnel documents of priests and bishops accused of sodomy, rape and sexual abuse of minors.  These documents expose the “acts of commission” by Cardinals Manning, Mahony and Levada.

This opportunity in L.A. for public accountability does not come twice in a lifetime.  The Cardinals’ fingerprints are on these documents.  If produced unsanitzed, they peel back the thin, sacred veneer covering the Cardinals’ business practices.

Not since Judge Sweeney ordered Boston’s Cardinal Law to turn over the documents in 2001 have we been at such a crossroads for child protection.

It is a tragic hour in some ways—that hour when the hierarchy is driven to reckon with themselves.  When every avenue of procedural distraction has been cut off and when documents are produced that these men penned that prove their acts of omission and commission and how they protected their own reputations over the safety of children.

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Twenty years later, I look upon my ordination

“His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Luke 3:17

Twenty years ago this week I was ordained a Roman Catholic priest at Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota. My ordination was performed by then-Bishop Jerome Hanus, O.S.B.

At the time, I knew I was being sent to a one-year assignment where I would fill in for monk who had been yanked from Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, after a victim came forward and accused the monk of child sex abuse. This was not my first emergency assignment. The previous year—before I was ordained—I was ordered to replace a monk who had been working as a faculty resident at Saint John’s University. He had also been accused of sex abuse.

I was assured by Chancellor of the University, Abbot Jerome Theisen, O.S.B. that these were isolated incidents. Unfortunately, they were not.

In 1992, I could not imagine that hundreds of priests and religious currently in ministry were child molesters—or that the moral decay included Priors, Abbots and Bishops. But I would soon learn. After six years of hearing confessions and being a “company man,” I saw first-hand that the rot of clerical sex abuse of minors is centuries old (read the Didache) and that the knowledge of abuse runs all the way to the Pope.

Hearing confessions and performing the Sacrament of Penance is life changing for every priest. A priest is forever separated from lay people the moment he starts to hear the confessions of men and women in his parish. I will never forget—nor can any human—the first time I heard confessions of child molestation or murder. What affected me even more was that the penitents knew that they held the privilege and that the priest may never do anything about it. That was when I truly understood the lesson behind the myth of Sisyphus.

But is there hope now? I believe there is.

In the face of all this crime, I learned that criminals are eventually exposed, or as the Gospel says, the chaff will be burned.

There have been several major paradigm shifts during the past 20 years:

  • It is no longer unconscionable for people to understand that Roman Catholic deacons, priests, religious and bishops have sexually abused minors. A majority of people understand that this is a real problem that must be stopped.
  • The public understands that church officials at all levels have covered up abuse, promoted abusers, and marginalized victims.
  • Prosecutors and detectives know they can get a conviction against a Roman Catholic official without fear of being fired or voted out of office.
  • Grand Jury, Royal Crown and bankruptcy investigations across the globe have exposed the system of abuse, cover-up, and shuffling molesters from post to post, and
  • The internet and global communications have exposed child-molesting clerics to a global audience, allowed victims to network, and shined a bright light of truth into a 2000-year history of abuse.

But this change in child safety has gone beyond the Church. We have learned that any group with leaders revered as gods are incapable of self-policing. Whether it is the Hasidim, Boy Scouts, Penn State Football or Roman Clerics—once leaders are revered as gods, crime and cover-up are soon to follow.

As Augustine of Hippo (highlighted by Thomas Aquinas in his teaching on fraternal correction) said,

You become worse than the sinner if you fail to correct him

God willing, I look forward to the next twenty years.

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Is it safer for kids to fly or go to church?

Patrick Doyle wrote an intriguing piece in the Boston Daily after interviewing a number of seminarians. After reading it, I now am more afraid than ever for the future safety of children in the Church.

The formators (priests in charge of seminarian formation) in the Roman Catholic Church in Boston are analogizing millennia-old child sexual abuse crimes to the airline industry.  I do not think the folks at Boston Logan, Delta airlines or Boeing would concur.

From the article:

“As Father Chris O’Connor, the Vice-Rector at Saint John Seminary (Boston) is fond of saying, Priests are like airplanes.  Most of them take off and land, take off and land, and everything is fine.  You only hear about the ones who crash.”  

It’s delusion at its highest form.

So let’s look at the numbers. If you compare and contrast what the National Transportatio  Safety Board (NTSB) reports with the Roman Catholic Church National Review Board (NRB) here is what you find:

NTSB                                                                        NRB

http://www.ntsb.gov                                                         http://www.usccb.org/news/2012/

crash rate is eight million to one                       crash rate is 4-10%

62 major crashes since 1950                              6,115 priests since 1950

910,000 licensed US pilots                                 39,718 active US priests.

accident data base available                               accident data base is secret

 

Is it safer for a child to fly on an airplane in the United States or to attend the Roman Catholic Church?  You do the math.

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