NEWS:  April 29, 2011

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Bird’s Eye View of the News

Atila Sinke Guimarães

MIASMAS FROM THE PEDOPHILE SWAMP  - The plague of pedophilia in the clergy continues to produce ruinous consequences for the Church. I highlight some landmarks that have been reported since I wrote my last monthly column.

The Alaska Jesuit abomination

In the United States we witnessed the third largest settlement made to sexual victims of priests in History. The first was the $660 million agreement made by Card. Roger Mahony in Los Angeles to escape facing charges in court; the second payment of $198 million was made by Bishop Robert Brom of San Diego; the third was the recent agreement to pay $166 million to victims of Jesuit priests in Alaska. The settlement was made last month by the Northwest Province of the Society of Jesus based in Oregon, which agreed to pay the demands of more than 500 victims to avoid entering judicial litigation.

Victim James Niksik

Above, victim James Niksik shows his First Communion picture; below, Jesuit John Morse at the Indian school; today he faces 38 claims of abuse

Jesuit Alaska boys school, abuser

Most of the abuse by the Jesuit priests involved children of Indians living on reservations in Alaska. The lawyer for 90 children, Blaine Tamaki, rightly asserted: “This settlement recognizes that the Jesuits betrayed the trust of hundreds of young in their care.” He justified his critique: “These religious men should be responsible for protecting children, but instead raped and molested them” (The Tablet, April 2, 2011, p. 29).

One factor strongly aggravates the picture: Alaska was the place where Jesuit superiors regularly sent priests who had already molested children in other States. That is, those superiors knew the predatory vices of these priests perfectly well; nonetheless they allowed those corrupt priests to go to Alaska and work among children in an especially vulnerable population.

Attorney Ken Roosa, also involved in the case, expressed his just indignation over the extension of the crimes and the cowardice they reflected: “In some villages it is difficult to find an adult who was not sexually violated by men who used religion and power to rape, shame and then silence hundreds of Alaska native children. Despite all this, no Catholic religious leader has yet admitted that problem [pedophile] priests were dumped in Alaska” (ibid).

When we compare these Jesuits with those first saints and heroes sent by St. Ignatius to evangelize the three Americas, China, India and Japan, we understand how the present day situation calls out to heaven for vengeance.

German Catholics leave the Church en masse

As a consequence of the sexual abuse of children by priests that came to light in February/March of last year, some 180,000 German Catholics left the Church in 2010. This number far exceeds the normal exodus that has taken place in previous years as a consequence of Vatican II’s “pastoral” policies.

Churches grow empty in Germany

The Church in Germany empties...
In Germany, Catholics must officially declare their religion to the State and 9% of their income taxes are automatically deducted from their paychecks and given to the Church. This is why the Catholic Church in Germany (about 27 million Catholics) is one of the wealthiest in the world. Last year 180,000 Catholics cut their contributions by refusing to identify themselves as members of the Catholic Church. These data were recently highlighted by the Catholic weekly Christ und Welt [Christ and World].

Fr. Dominik Schwarderlapp, the vicar general of Cologne, told the magazine: “This is mortifying for us as many Catholics have obviously chosen to leave the Church as a personal form of protest and deep disgust at the sex abuse scandal.”

Michael Ebertz, a professor of religious sociology at the Catholic University of Freiburg told Domradio: “Many of those who left in 2010 were seriously concerned about the Church. They have despaired of her and lost hope. Loss of credibility is not strong enough an expression as the Church’s entire status in society is in crisis” (The Tablet, April 16, 2011, p. 32).

The great percentage of Catholics leaving the Church is in Bavaria, which has the largest concentration of Catholics in Germany. Joseph Ratzinger was Archbishop of Munich, Bavaria’s capital, before he went to Rome…

Abuser Bishop covered up by the Vatican?

On April 2010 Bishop Roger Vanghluwe of Bruges, Belgium, was obliged to resign after strong public indignation over the revelation he had sexually abused one of his nephews. The Prelate cannot face legal charges since his case is protected by the statute of limitations. Nonetheless, he had to endure the just fury of the people. To escape this annoyance, he has no fixed address and moves constantly. On April 9, 2011, the daily Het Laatste Nieuws reported that Bishop Vanghluwe was a guest at the Vatican nunciature in Brussels (The Tablet, April 16, 2011, p. 33).

Bishop Vangheluwe, Bruges

Bishop Vangheluwe abused two nephews; public pressure obliged him to resign
The nunciature quickly issued an ambiguous note of “denial” stating that the Bishop “has already left Belgium,” which did not exclude the possibility that he left shortly after the press became aware of his presence there. Further news reports went on to inform us that around that day he entered incognito a secluded convent of nuns in Orleans, France, less than 250 miles from Brussels. On April 16, one week after his entry, when the media again discovered him and revealed the place, the Mother Superior asked him to leave because of the disturbance he was causing in convent life (The Tablet, April 23, 2011, p. 39).

During a television interview aired April 14, he further shocked Belgians by stating that he had molested a second nephew besides the already known first victim. Trying to make light of that offense, he said that the abuse was only “a little game” and alleged he was not a pedophile. Then he belligerently asked why abuser priests were singled out when lay people also molested children. I believe this is a very feeble defense since the Catholic Church is – or at least should be – a model of morality and sanctity. The members of her Hierarchy, Successors of the Apostles, are expected to live up to her high standards, which is not demanded from laymen.

Belgium’s Bishops declared themselves shocked by the interview, saying it represented “a slap in the face of the faithful.”

Then, on April 15 another interview with Vanghluwe was aired. In it he affirmed that he was receiving hundreds of letters of support. This last statement fueled more criticism that the Vatican is underestimating the gravity of the abuse crisis and not doing enough to stop it (ibid.).

Ireland plummets into bureaucracy & corruption

Another report is ready to be released in Ireland on the sexual abuses by priests, this time in the Diocese of Cloney. In May 2009 the 2,500-page Ryan Report relating the abuse of children in Irish Catholic schools was released; in November 2009 the 750-page Murphy Report setting out abuses by clergy in the Archdiocese of Dublin was published. Now we have the Cloney Report due out any day. It is only waiting for some religious authorities to take out information that compromises them. “The report’s release has been delayed to allow officials time to delete certain references relevant to ongoing criminal investigations,” The Tablet explains (April 16, 2011, p. 37).

This series of reports has not served to substantially change the picture. It induces one to surmise that the laymen responsible for the reports - paid employees of the Bishops - are in collusion with the religious authorities they are supposed to watch.

In fact, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children established in 2006 to make and execute measures to stop pedophilia in the Church is until this moment still collecting signatures for a “Memorandum of Understanding” (Catriona Rooney, “Watching the Watchdog,” The Tablet, April 23, 2011, pp. 8-9). This Memorandum is a written commitment to be signed by each Bishop and Superior of religious institutions to implement healing measures in their dioceses. Notwithstanding, the signers can withdraw from their commitment at any time without giving any reason and without receiving any penalty (ibid.)

Therefore, after all this effort and time, each Bishop is still the only one responsible for punishing guilty priests, precisely as it was before the scandals erupted. In short, the watchdog system is too slow, too bureaucratic and, one may suspect, too corrupt as well.

If we find all these complications in the process to heal the clergy in a country with only 26 dioceses such as Ireland, one can only wonder about the situation in countries with many more dioceses.

One quarter of American Dioceses are not preventing pedophilia

It is not difficult to confirm the above conjecture. In the wake of the Philadelphia scandal, which made it clear that the promised measures to stem pedophilia and punish the criminal priests are not working, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops released its annual report on compliance with the Dallas Charter for the protection of children from clergy sexual predators. It states that about one quarter of the 195 Dioceses in the country are not in compliance with those norms (The Tablet, April 23, 2011, p. 42).

justice for the sexually abused?

Where will victims find justice?
Now then, if when the norms to prevent pedophilia in the clergy and protect children are applied and we still have cases like Philadelphia, a question naturally rises: What can one expect from the Dioceses that are not applying these norms?

What should lay people do when they become aware of a pedophile victim? Should they trust the diocesan authorities to heal the situation? Can they expect the Vatican to intervene with an iron fist and put everything in order? Or should they go to the police and alert the press?

It is my sincere conviction that the latter is the only course of action open if one wants to see some justice done or to compel the Hierarchy to do something.


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