Tag Archives: BEnedict

Follow the policy, break the law

Has anything in Roman Catholic Church changed when it comes to child protection?

At first blush I deeply want to be believe: yes. The faithful have endured 28 years of civil litigation, several grand jury reports, billions of dollars in settlements, and several high profile criminal trials. However, when I reviewed the most recent proceedings of the Canon Law Society at their 2011 convention in Jacksonville, Florida, my heart dropped.

Diane L. Barr JD, JCD (who is also the chancellor of the Archdiocese of Baltimore) presented a seminar, “Obligation of the Tribunal to Report Child Abuse“. Barr reviewed mandatory criminal child abuse reporting laws versus canonical responsibilities—that it, what “church law” says she should do.  She also discussed obligations to privacy, confidentiality and protecting the Diocese. No mention of victims or child protection.

Let’s get something straight: nowhere in the United States does Canon law trump federal, state, or local criminal or civil law. But apparently, Barr does not know that.

Lessons Learned? Eh … not really.

I mistakenly thought that history, common sense and legal knowledge would inform Barr’s recommendations for a model Tribunal policy for reporting child sexual abuse. I was wrong. Here was what she did present as the “proper procedure for abuse reporting”:

  • Step One: Notary brings information to the Judicial Vicar immediately.
  • Step Two: Judicial Vicar reviews information and contacts Youth and Child Protection representative (or diocesan attorney) to discuss further  action.
  • Step Three: Judicial Vicar calls person mentioning allegation and indicates that the person will be contacted by the Youth and Child protection representative (or diocesan attorney) to follow up and determine where to go with the allegation.
  • Step Four: Youth and Child Protection representative (or diocesan attorney) investigates and determines if reporting must be done.
Excuse me, Ms. Barr, but your presentation is flawed. According to the law in every state where there is mandatory reporting, a report must be made TO LAW ENFORCEMENT (not the boss, or the bishop, or the tribunal, or the office of Youth and Child protection) when the reporter, in his or her official capacity, suspects or has reasons to believe that a child has been abused or neglected.
In essence, if you follow Barr’s procedure above, a mandatory reporter is breaking the law.
This is insane and illegal.

After all these years, I offer a simple suggestion. Because the protection of children is a core belief of our society and the history of child protection in the Catholic Church is so pathetic, let’s be straight forward:

Call 911. Right now.

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So much for “it was a thing of the past”: Active Clergy Criminal Cases

With the beginning of the clergy sex abuse and cover-up criminal trial in Philadelphia, as well as the recent guilty plea from Orange County (CA) priest Denis Lyons, I wanted to post a list of all of the currently active clergy criminal cases in the United States. If I have missed any, let me know. All of these are for sexual abuse or conspiracy to commit abuse, except for Fr. McCloskey in Albany. He was charged with fleeing from the police, reckless driving and auto theft.

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The Real Horrendous and Nefarious Crime? Not Calling the Police

It’s papal trivia time!

In light of the recent explosion of media coverage about the clergy sex abuse scandal, revelations about the inaction of bishops to stop offenders, and the full-scale global cover-up of the rape of hundreds of thousands of children, let’s take a little quiz.

Name the Pope who insisted that all clerics who molest children be turned over to civil authorities and forced to live a life of penance at a monastery far away from children?

A)   Pope John Paul II (1978-2005)

B)   Pope Benedict XVI (2005-present)

C)   Pope Pius V (1566-1572)

The winner?  C.  Apparently, someone got it right 438 years ago.  And that was the last time anyone thought about calling the cops.

Church documents show that the crime of bishops, priests, deacons, and religious raping and sodomizing children has been known and understood by the Roman Papacy for at least a millennium.  Pope Saint Pius V (1566 -1572) referred to the crime against children in his Constitutions of August 30, 1568 as horrendum illud scelus: that horrendous crime.

And then he did something revolutionary:  He demanded action to keep kids safe.

Pius V sought to reform the criminal depravity and moral laxity of the clergy by instituting penalties that bishops, abbots, and superiors of religious orders could invoke on the cleric.  Pius V states:

§1. “Clearly it is known to the Lateran Council that clerics who have been caught sinning against nature with children must be cast out from the clergy or forced to lead a life of penance in the Monasteries.

Funny, he doesn’t say anything transferring a priest to a new location where people won’t know about his past …

In light of the recent developments of Gilbert Gauthe and Oliver O’Grady being loose in society, it probably would be prudent to follow Pope Pius V second point and place the 4,392 clerics mentioned in the John Jay Study in Monasteries without schools.

§2. “But lest the contagion of such a disease grow stronger, we have concluded in Council that the Clerical defendants of this nefarious crime must be punished severely, that for those who do not shudder at the damnation of their souls the avenging secular sword of civil laws may surely deter them.”

Pope Pius V concluded in the sixteenth century that punishment must be severe and the offending clerics turned over to civil authorities.

The Church, according to Professor Henry Charles Lea’s History of the Inquisition, did call the police.  Clerics were handed various punishments including a life of rowing in the gallows and even death.

With the punishments available today, if the bishops followed the leadership of Pope Saint Pius V, many clerics would have only scarred one child instead of the dozens each priest perpetrators has.  Somewhere between the 16th and 20th centuries, the bishops stopped turning clerics over to civil authorities.

§3. “Therefore, we intend to pursue more fully now and with more vigor what has already been decreed in this pestilence, and we deprive any Presbyter and any other Clerics, either diocesan or religious, of whatever grade, rank, office or privilege who commit so dire and unspeakable an act.  Those demoted by Ecclesiastical judge or Bishop should be immediately delivered to the secular power to receive punishment.”

Pope Saint Pius V is clear: Call the police and turn the cleric over to civil authorities.  For the United States bishops or William Cardinal Levada of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith to claim they did not understand the gravity of the problem or what to do until 1984 is lavender lunacy.  And a downright lie.

The penalties and procedures to stop bishops, priests, deacons, and religious that permanently sexually scare children have been available for centuries.

So, what is the horrendous crime today? The bishops and priests and not calling the police.

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The Hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church and Misdirection

This past week, the Holy Father and Bishops showed an amazing hubris and lack of humility – more so than almost any other time in the previous years.

To explain and justify his actions, the Holy Father cited the great example of Saint Peter “understanding the sickness of his mother in law” and how now he is reaching out and heal his own family’s sickness. If his actions demonstrate his prioriities and core spirituality, then we all must reflect on what has been said – as well as what has not been accomplished.

In fact, both the Holy Father and the Vatican Secretary of State were busy with the administrative acts of running the Holy See: appointing new bishops, appointing new members of the business office, and responding quickly by telephoning the heads of state in Germany and Italy. More importantly, here is what we did NOT see the Holy Father or Bishops do:

* The Pope chose not to withdraw his appointment of Richard Williams as a Bishop (or successor to the Apostles) after his refusal to recognize the slaughter of millions of Jews by the Nazi regime.

* The Pope chose not to telephone the U.S. Attorney regarding the investigation the Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles on his handling of hundreds of alleged priests sexual abusing thousands of children in his dioceses of Fresno, Stockton, and Los Angeles.

* The Pope chose not to assist the Irish Church in its leadership crisis and the question of whether his Bishops should cooperate with the Irish government’s inquires into the safety of children.

* The Pope chose not to respond to the Bishop of Brooklyn announcing plenary indulgences are now again for sale.

The choices and ommissions by the Pope, the Roman Curia, and the 3,300 Bishops around the world plainly define their priorities. The people and groups they chose NOT to reach out to and heal are a sign that the exegesis of the story of Saint Peter and internalization of his spirit are not occuring in the current succesors to the Apostles.

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