NEWS:  March 5, 2010

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Bird’s Eye View of the News

Atila Sinke Guimarães

‘THE HYPOCRITES’ - Under the headline ‘The Hypocrites: The Catholic Church and Sex,’ the leading German weekly Der Spiegel reported in its February 8 issue on the continuing pedophilia scandal involving the Catholic clergy in Germany.

The hierarchy and clergy find themselves in hot water that is getting hotter every day as public indignation rises. Attacks are coming from the press as well as from the present CDU government. In fact, Germany’s Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser told reporters that Catholic Bishops “have not shown an active interest in a truly open and thorough investigation” of the institutions under their responsibility (National Catholic Reporter, March 3, 2010, online).

Klaus Mertes - Canisius School

Above, Fr. Mertes blames the Church's severe Morals for the abuses; Fr. Dartmann is at left.   Below, Fr. Mertes at a homosexual service on April 18, 2009

Fr. Klaus Mertes with homosexuals

Photo from Flicker
The facts follow. Last December five alumni went to the principal of the Jesuit-run Canisius School in Berlin, Fr. Klaus Mertes, and told him that they had been sexually abused by priests of his institution. In January several more told him the same. On January 28 headlines appeared in the press about the continuous pedophile abuse in that school.

On February 1, Jesuit Provincial Fr. Stefan Dartmann received a letter from 22 former pupils of various Jesuit schools stating that they had been sexually abused by their teachers. He realized a publicity storm against his Order was brewing. He rushed from his headquarters in Munich to Berlin and held a press conference. There he apologized for the sexual abuse of children by Jesuit priests in the Order’s secondary schools. Most of the pupils - around age 13 at the time - were abused by teachers of the Canisius School, an elite prep school in Berlin; others were students at St. Blasien School in the Black Forest; yet others in St. Ansgar School in Hamburg.

The three alleged pedophile priests and the periods when the suspected abuses took place are:
  • Fr. Wolfgang Stab taught German, religion and physical education at Canisius School in Berlin, where he sexually abused children from 1975 to1979. In 1979 he was transferred to St. Ansgar Scholl in Hamburg where he continued to abuse children until 1982. In 1983 he was transferred to St. Blasien School in the Black Forest, where the abuse continued until 1985. Then, he was moved to Spain and Chile, where he worked until 1992, when he left the Order. Today Stab is age 65 and has admitted to the abuse. Last week he asked his victims for forgiveness.

  • Fr. Peter Riedel taught religion at Canisius School where he sexually abused children between 1972 and 1981. He was transferred to Göttingen where he worked with youth from 1982 to 1989. He was suspended in 1989 and left the Order in 1995. Today Riedel is age 69.

  • After being accused by three victims, a third abusing Jesuit – recently identified as Bernhard Ehlert, head of a leading Catholic Third World charity – went to the Order’s lawyer Ursula Raue and confessed to abusing boys. He resigned his post and was told to go to the police (The Tablet, February 6, 2010, p. 29; Irish Times, February 6, 2009).
Der Spiegel survey

The suspect cases of pedophilia from Der Spiegel survey
Der Spiegel conducted a survey in the 27 Dioceses of Germany to investigate the occurrence of other abuses. In the 24 Dioceses that presented data, it was found that 94 priests and Church employees had been suspected of sexually abusing minors since 1995. Thirty of them were brought to court and found guilty, but many cases were barred by the statute of limitations, which in Germany is only 10 years (NCR, March 3, 2010).

On February 8, two new victims came forward alleging they had been abused at St. Aloysius School in Bonn. The principal, Fr. Theo Schneider, told the Provincial that he was resigning until a full investigation could be made into the pedophilia reported at his school (The Tablet, February 13, 2010, p. 29).

Fr. Dartmann, the Jesuit Provincial for Germany, admitted that his Order had been informed of those cases since 1981, but that the parents or authorities were never informed.

After this first apology of the Provincial, others were given by priests in sermons throughout Germany. The Conference of German Bishops met and, on February 22, its president, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch issued an official apology and asked for forgiveness. He qualified the sexual abuse of minors as a “heinous crime” and pledged to investigate all cases, cooperate with prosecutors and review present day procedures to prevent them from occurring in the future (NCR, March 3, 2010)

Notwithstanding, critics have been sharp in their appraisals. The Minister of Justice of Lower Saxony, Bernd Busemann, cautioned against a cover-up mentality in the Church. “It is difficult to understand why those in positions of responsibility in the Church remained silent,” he told Neue Presse in Hanover (The Tablet, February 13, 2010).

Der Spiegel accuses the Catholic Church of having “covered up sexual abuse in its own ranks for decades, thereby enabling pedophile priests to leave behind them a wake of emotional devastation throughout Germany.”

The strongest censure, however, came from Germany’s Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser, who criticized the recent resolution of the Bishops’ Conference as insufficient. She stated that the Bishops had “not shown an active interest in an open and thorough investigation” (NCR, ibid.).

Benedict XVI certainly is well aware of what was going on in Germany, since he was Archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1981, when many of those abuses were taking place.

THE JOKER BISHOP- I owe my readers a rectification regarding the information I posted in one of my past columns: The Rainbow Is Becoming a Liturgical Color. The basis for that data was the official website of the Saint Brieuc Diocese, whose ordinary is Bishop Lucien Fruchaud. On it a report was posted with detailed information stating that the Synod of Bishops in Rome and the Pope had adopted the rainbow as a new liturgical color. That dispatch remained posted on the official Diocesan website from April 1st 2009 until late February 2010. That is, the information was publicly posted for close to 11 months. Although it was posted April 1st, I thought that no serious Bishop would ever permit an April Fool’s Day prank to remain posted on his official Diocesan site for so long a time.

Bishop Lucien Fruchaud as a joker

The joker Fruchaud & the editor of his website
My column was written and posted on January 15 and included a link to the Diocesan site page, which had been there for a long time. On February 21, when I wrote the comments for our picture of the week - Rainbow in the Strasbourg liturgy – I checked that website again, and the same information was still there.

Last week, I received messages from my readers telling me that the page changed – and it actually did change. Obliged to post an explanation to many of its readers who were inquiring about the accuracy of that article, the editor responded by dismissing the data as an April Fools’ Day prank. So, the information in that article about the Synod and Pope approving a new liturgical color were inventions created either by the site editor or by the Bishop himself. These last changes made to the site in late February were pre-dated to January. Why this other lie? Perhaps it is just another of the Bishop’s jokes…

I could understand if someone had posted an April Fools’ prank for one day – or even one week. I definitively do not understand how any serious man, especially if he is a Bishop, a Prince of the Church and Successor of the Apostles, could keep such a prank on an official site for so long a time. I wonder what kind of credibility Bishop Fruchaud expects to maintain as a Shepherd when he is willing to “fool” his readers for so long a time.

But since I do not follow the joking practices of Bishop Fruchaud, I want to make my readers aware - at the first opportunity after having official evidence - that the information on that page was not accurate. I am sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused them.

Some of my colleagues at TIA insisted that I should keep my article as it is. They contend that even though there has been no official decision to adopt the rainbow as a permanent color in the liturgy, it nonetheless certainly appears as if it were so. Indeed, they argued, John Paul II and all the French Bishops wore the rainbow color as the official liturgical color of the pontifical Mass at the 1997 WYD; Fides - the press agency of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith has adopted the rainbow in its banner and the Pope posed beneath it in 2008. We are also seeing Prelates and priests everywhere wearing rainbow colors in religious ceremonies today. So, they thought that the article should remain as is.

Following this counsel, I will not change or delete that article. It will stand as another piece of evidence demonstrating the lack of seriousness of the Prelates of the Conciliar Church. I will, however, place a link in the article to this explanation of the error, just as I place here a link to that article.

If you want to check how the website of the Saint Brieuc Diocese was for the approximately 11 months it featured the false information, click here. To see the changes that were recently made, click here.


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