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Catholic Church Attacks NY Times for “targeting the whole church, targeting the pope,”

April 1, 2010
Image by Lawrence OP via Flickr

Now the Catholic Church has gone on the defensive, in the latest sex abuse scandal that runs to the pope’s doorstep, saying that 1) the pope can’t testify in court because he is the “sovereign head of state” and 2) that the media is attacking the pope unfairly.

The church on Wednesday presented its highest-level official response yet to one of the most explosive recent revelations regarding sex abuse — a story the Times broke on the church’s decision in the 1990s not to defrock a Wisconsin priest accused of molesting deaf boys.

It was the latest in a series of attacks on the press: Last week, L’Osservatore Romano, denounced what it said was a “clear and despicable intention” by the media to strike at Benedict “at any cost.”

In the article posted Wednesday on the Vatican’s Web site, Cardinal William Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote: “I am not proud of America’s newspaper of record, the New York Times, as a paragon of fairness.”

Levada, an American, said the newspaper wrongly used the case of the Rev. Lawrence Murphy to find fault in Benedict’s handling of abuse cases.

A Times spokeswoman defended the articles and said no one has cast doubt on the reported facts.

“The allegations of abuse within the Catholic church are a serious subject, as the Vatican has acknowledged on many occasions,” said Diane McNulty. “Any role the current pope may have played in responding to those allegations over the years is a significant aspect of this story.”

Somehow the Catholic leadership believes that since child abuse exists everywhere, the Catholic Church is being held to a different standard than the rest of society,because, as the argument goes, pedophilia is everywhere:

And Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, speaking of Benedict’s long years as head of a Vatican office that investigates abuse, said the future pope “had a very clear line of not covering up but clearing up.”

He earlier reflected on the issue at a service in Vienna’s cathedral Wednesday evening:

“I admit that I often feel a sense of injustice these days. Why is the church being excoriated? Isn’t there also abuse elsewhere? … And then I’m tempted to say: Yes, the media just don’t like the church! Maybe there’s even a conspiracy against the church? But then I feel in my heart that no, that’s not it.”

Sure there is abuse everywhere, but no one wants to hear that abuse has been tolerated and abetted by his or her church in sexual crimes against children.  It’s an issue of faith:  having faith in spiritual leadership or leasers in general.  Shouldn’t a priest, a man of God, be held to a higher standard in a leadership role, and for that matter, won’t the pope?   With leadership comes greater levels of responsibility for your actions. Ask former President Clinton about how Americans handled infidelity when it came to the president.  Is it a different situation for a man in a power position when an abuse issue arises?  Yes.

For some reason, and I believe this is the Church’s biggest weak point, the Catholic leaders believe that the pope’s sovereignty, as they see it, excuses him from the normal investigations that others go through when child abuse occurs.  And here is where the Catholic Church has become blind–there is no safety net for child abusers, regardless of a person’s position.  The sooner the Catholic Church can come to that understanding, the faster abusive priests will be removed from the institution, or better yet, investigated before sexually abusing hundreds of children.

The problem isn’t always that the leadership didn’t recognize child abusers–it did.  The problem is that the abusers weren’t removed.  Back in the 1960’s a letter was written to the pope discussing child abusers, and recommended removing and defrocking repeat offenders:

The head of a Roman Catholic order that specialized in the treatment of pedophile priests visited with then-Pope Paul VI nearly 50 years ago and followed up with a letter recommending the removal of pedophile priests from ministry, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday.

In the Aug. 27, 1963, letter, the head of the New Mexico-based Servants of the Holy Paraclete tells the pope he recommends removing pedophile priests from active ministry and strongly urges defrocking repeat offenders.

The letter shows that the Vatican knew, or should have known, about clergy abuse in the U.S. decades ago, said Anthony DeMarco, a plaintiff attorney in Los Angeles who provided the letter. The accusation comes as plaintiffs in Kentucky are attempting to sue the Vatican for negligence for allegedly failing to alert police or the public about priests who molested children.

Yet the problem was very well-known to Rome well before the 1960s. The 1917 code of canon law criminalized sexual abuse of minors. Five years later, the Vatican penned a document outlining detailed procedures for handling such cases. In 1962, that document was updated and has been used in many of the lawsuits by victims against U.S. diocese and the Vatican itself.

The letter, written by the Rev. Gerald M.C. Fitzgerald, appears to have been drafted at the request of the pope and summarizes Fitzgerald’s thoughts on problem priests after his Vatican visit.

The letter echoes other Fitzgerald writings about wayward priests.

Several news organizations, including the AP, reported last year that Fitzgerald was intent on buying an island where priests attracted to men and boys could be segregated, and even made a $5,000 down payment on a Caribbean island for that purpose.

“It is for this class of rattlesnake I have always wished an island retreat, but even an island is too good for these vipers,” he wrote an acquaintance in 1957.

The problem is that the pope back then, and none since, have taken action stringent enough to remove pedophiles from the priesthood.  Abuse victims’ attorneys have taken the letters Fitzgerald had written as proof that the Catholic Church knew about the problem and should have done more to protect the children in its parishes:

Fitzgerald opens the five-page letter by thanking the pope for an audience the day before and says he is summarizing his thoughts at the pope’s request on the “problem of the problem priest” after 20 years working to treat them.

He tells Paul VI that treatment for priests who have succumbed to “abnormal, homosexual tendencies” should include psychiatric, as well as spiritual, counseling — but goes on to warn about the dangers of leaving those individuals in ministry.

The letter also touches on priests who have consensual affairs with women.

“Personally, I am not sanguine of the return of priests to active duty who have been addicted to abnormal practices, especially sins with the young,” Fitzgerald wrote.

“Where there is indication of incorrigibility, because of the tremendous scandal given, I would most earnestly recommend total laicization,” he wrote. “I say ‘total’ … because when these men are taken before civil authority, the non-Catholic world definitely blames the discipline of celibacy for the perversion of these men.”

In reality, celibacy does not create sexual predators; however, secrecy and enabling to allow them to continue to abuse.  Catholic Church, here is some Unasked Advice:  stop blaming the media, society, and the newspapers for targeting the Catholic Church and get rid of abusive priests without excuses or secrecy.  Oh, and by the way, expect to pay millions for the past secrets.  It’s always the cover-up that will kill you.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Dawud permalink
    September 16, 2010 9:07 pm

    Here is the latest comments from The Islamic Standard on the Pope and his alleged crimes, feel free to pass on to all

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