NEWS:  August 30, 2007

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Bird’s Eye View of the News

Atila Sinke Guimarães

BERTONE’S THEATRICAL INDIGNATION - On August 8, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, came to the U.S. to preside over the 125th Convention of the Knights of Columbus in Nashville, Tennessee. At an August 9 press conference, he addressed, among other topics, the pedophilia crisis in the U.S. and the attitude of the Catholic Church regarding it.

Cardinal Bertone

Cardinal Bertone deviates attention from the guilty American Bishops
Three of his remarks are worthy of analysis:

1. He spoke of the “dignity” that the Church in the U.S. showed during the crisis. He said: “I would like to say the Church in the United States has suffered deeply because of this situation, has responded with great dignity … I accompanied the Church in the U.S. through the period of trial and, I repeat, they faced the trial with dignity and courage.”

2. He attacked an unnamed “business” that profited from the pedophile crisis in the clergy: “The business which has accompanied the sex scandals has nothing to do with the respect of the human person, with helping the victims, nor with recovery of the guilty – whom we cannot abandon to hell. The business created in the United States around this scandal is really unbearable.”

3. The third remark was made in a spirit of indignation, according to reporters present. Bertone emphatically stated: “We must keep in mind that of the 44,000 priests here in the United States, the percentage of those who have been involved in these scandals is very small. According to the information, it would seem as if the Catholic Church is the only organization that has been affected by the problem. This is unacceptable” (News Conference Remarks by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone).

Let me address his arguments one at a time.

The “dignity” of the American Hierarchy

It is commonly accepted that the Church in a country is represented by her Prelates. During the pedophilia crisis in the U.S., two kinds of Prelates came to light: those who were directly involved in sexual scandals and those who covered up for guilty priests to prevent them from facing civil justice.

The list of Prelates who were proved guilty of sexual abuses against minors constitutes a sad episode of the history of the Catholic Church in the U.S. Let me remind my reader of their names. I will indicate the pages of my book Vatican II, Homosexuality and Pedophilia where more details and due documentation can be found:

  • Archbishop Robert Sanchez of Santa Fe, New Mexico, resigned in March 1993 following accusations that he had abused five teenage girls (p. 176).

  • Bishop J. Keith Symons of Palm Beach, Florida, resigned in 1998 after having admitted he had molested five altar boys decades earlier (p. 182).

  • Bishop Patrick Ziemann of Santa Rosa, California, resigned in 1999 after he was sued for abusing an altar boy for over 20 years and a priest for two years (p. 101).

  • Bishop Anthony O’Connell of Palm Beach, Florida, resigned in March 2002, after he confessed to having abused a boy (p. 195).

  • Bishop J. Kendrick Williams of Lexington, Kentucky, resigned in June 2002, facing allegations he had abused minors and an 18-year-old man (p. 215).

  • In August 2002, it came to light that late Bishop James Rausch of Phoenix, Arizona, had abused a minor (p. 218-219).
Archbishop Weakland addresses flock

Archbishop Weakland tries to convinve his flock that the 450,000 he paid his lover were not Church funds
In the climate of exposure that characterized the pedophilia crisis in the High and Low Clergy, homosexual crimes committed by Prelates were also revealed. The following became public knowledge:
  • Bishop Daniel Ryan of Springfield, Illinois, resigned in October 1999 as a consequence of revelations of two male prostitutes, of whom he was a client (pp. 183-184).

  • Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, resigned in May 2002 after indisputable public evidence was released to the media by his homosexual partner (pp. 102, 107-109).

  • In June 2002 it was disclosed that Benedictine Abbot John Eindenschink of St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, had abused a monk for a period of eight years (pp. 102, 213-214).
These are just the cases that were proved, most of them admitted by the Prelates themselves. Incidentally, none of these Prelates took the initiative of accusing himself and resigning his post out of love for the Church, as would be expected from a noble penitent. All were accused by other parties.

How many other Bishops and Archbishops are actually guilty of similar abuses but were not denounced by their victims or accomplices? Even if one can say that only God knows the answer to this question, it does not prevent a general suspicion from spreading throughout the Catholic faithful with regard to their own Prelates.

Neither dignity, nor courage, appears in the picture, as Card. Bertone pretends.

But we still have to mention those Cardinals and Bishops who were indirectly involved in this muck by their constant cover-ups of guilty priests. I will mention only two examples of high-ranking American Prelates.

Cardinal Law shakes hand of pedophile Fr. Shanley

For decades Cardinal Law, left, sheltered pedophile priest Fr. Shanley, right
How can someone pretend that Card. Bernard Law acted with dignity when he covered up for the sexual abuse of monsters like Fr. John Geoghan and Fr. Paul Shanley – the first with more than 100 charges of abuse (pp. 77, 185-187), the second, besides his countless children molestations, a speaker who publicly defended pedophilia, bestiality and incest as normal (pp. 199, 228-229)?

Where is the dignity in the recent attitude of Card. Roger Mahony who paid $660 million to more than 500 victims to settle their complaints out of court in order to prevent his conduct as Archbishop of Los Angeles from becoming public? Isn’t this exorbitant price for silence a tacit confession of guilt?

Again, there is no dignity in the picture. In his statements to the press, Bertone was not concerned about the truth. He was just saying words for a good effect.

Enigmatic “business”

Then, we find the Cardinal Secretary of State attacking an industry that is supposedly making money from the sex-scandal abuses. The Cardinal did not specify who he was targeting with his accusation. Even for close observers of the pedophilia crisis in the American clergy, it is not so easy to identify who or what Bertone was referring to.

Was he speaking about the media that reported the scandals? Given that Catholic religious authorities were shamelessly concealing the crimes of guilty priests, what other recourse did the victims have except for the civil courts and newspapers? I don’t think that the first aim of the media in such cases was profit, but denouncing the clear corruption of those Bishops. Such denunciation had a positive result on the morality of the American Bishops. After the Dallas meetings in 2002, they moved toward a less complacent attitude toward pedophilia in the clergy – not from love for the purity of Catholic Morals, but rather because they were pressured. Without that press campaign and the ensuing public pressure, I doubt that the Bishops and the Vatican would have moved a single straw.

Who else could have constituted this “business” that Bertone spoke of? Was it false victims and their lawyers who unjustly accused good priests? Statistics on the number of cases brought to court show that less than 2% of all charges against priests happened to be false (p. 197).

I don’t see any other possible “business” that made money from the pedophile crisis.

So, this second accusation of Card. Bertone also seems to have been a coup-de-theatre, a strategic move to distract attention from the obvious guilt of the Catholic Hierarchy, the Vatican included.

Distorted statistics

Regarding his last indignant remark on the “very small” percentage of priests involved, it is known that the American Catholic Hierarchy and the Vatican manipulate statistics of pedophile priests in the U.S. to present a much smaller percentage than the reality. They compare the number of court-accused pedophile priests not with the number of living priests, but with the total of priests of the last 50 years. This is how they came up with the habitually quoted figure of 1% of priests being pedophile.

The normal percentage oscillates between 2% and 6%. The lower calculation refers to the priests who were actually accused in court; the higher projects an estimate of the ensemble (pp. 249-251).

John Paul II blesses alleged pedophile Fr. Marcial Maciel

JPII blesses Fr. Marcial Maciel, Legionaries of Christ founder, despite numerous credible pedophile allegations
Recent studies published in Los Angeles raised these estimates even higher, considering that only 6% of abused children report the crimes. If this is true, as I believe it is, the number of victims would far surpass the 100,000 cases reported, and the number of guilty priests that today oscillates from 2,000 to 4,000 would skyrocket.

Even with statistics as low as the Vatican normally presents, we still face the problem of the Church’s complacency toward pedophile priests. The proper religious authorities are the ones who should duly punish the pedophile priests, otherwise they contaminate not only the Church, but also aggress temporal society from which their victims come. This necessary punishment, however, flagrantly did not take place in the Catholic Church in the U.S. That the authority must punish the guilty is an elementary principle regarding the common good of any society that wants to maintain its social health.

This complacency was the real reason for the crisis. It explains the media blast as well as the energetic reaction of public opinion. It was so real that when the Bishops began to take some remedial measures, the crisis stopped.

I wish Bertone would have had the dignity or the courage to face this reality. Unfortunately he didn’t. His indignation was one more buffoonery added to those on the uncountable progressivist Vatican list.


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