Vatican ordered bishops to protect and not report pedophile priests

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58 Responses to “Vatican ordered bishops to protect and not report pedophile priests”

  1. Brainspore says:

    Every time I start feeling a little guilty about abandoning my faith something like this comes up to remind me why I did.

  2. chgoliz says:

    I don’t believe for one minute that the men in charge believe in their god. They’re clearly not afraid of facing judgment after death. Time to sell off the assets, recompense their many victims, and use whatever’s left to help the poor.

    If we can’t get all that, I guess I’ll settle for making them pay taxes, including in arrears, just like any other for-profit company. And then, criminal court.

  3. MrJM says:

    Conspiracy is an offense by which someone conspires or agrees with someone else to do something which, if actually carried out, would amount to another crime. It is not necessary to prove that the criminal plan actually was accomplished or that the conspirator was involved in all stages of the planning or knew all of the details involved. The main elements that need to be proven are a voluntary agreement to participate and some overt act by one of the conspirators in furtherance of the criminal plan. If a person has an understanding of the unlawful nature of a plan and knowingly and willfully joins in that plan on one occasion, that is sufficient to convict him for conspiracy even though he had not participated before and even though he played only a minor part. (No pun intended.)

  4. MrMike says:

    Does this finding really surprise anyone? Not me. Not one bit.

    It’s like sending a space probe to the Sun, looking at the results and saying, “Yep, it really *is* hot!”

  5. Anonymous says:

    This is just one more offense in a long list that shows that the Irish constitution’s special considerations for the Catholic Church must be removed. It may have made sense in 1937, but today it’s simply offensive.

    • Anonymous says:

      So I may have been wrong in posting this as the special considerations were repealed in 1972. I apologise to any Irish constitutional experts I may have offended, and promise to do my research before posting angrily in future. (I’m still angry though)

  6. Marktech says:

    Can’t believe nobody’s mentioned Tim Minchin’s sober and considered take on this yet:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHRDfut2Vx0

    NSFW from word one.

  7. Anonymous says:

    But… but… they’ve just beatified Pope J.Paul II! How could have such a good human being have permitted such heinous actions?

  8. Space Monkey says:

    In other words, if the individual in question lives someplace like Belfast, where he could reasonably worry about violent retribution if he publicly renounced his faith, he gets a pass. Two hundred years ago a significant majority of Catholics in the world were in that situation, but in 2010, it’s a tiny minority.
    And for the huge majority of Catholics who no longer live in that situation, Robulus’ analogy sucks.

    • robulus says:

      In other words, if the individual in question lives someplace like Belfast, where he could reasonably worry about violent retribution if he publicly renounced his faith, he gets a pass.

      Ironically, that does get the Pope off the hook for being a Nazi. So some consolation for Catholics there.

  9. 3d bomb says:

    Can we all please turn off the catholic church now and move on? Really, just put it in a drawer and forget about it. In fact lets just get all religions, put them in one of those cool plastic bags that collapses when you attach a vacuum cleaner, squish it down and put it in the loft next to the old mattress and the 22 rolls of anaglypta wallpaper.

    And if you’re worried the world will descend into anarchy without the guiding light that is religion. I’ll remind you, every other species on the planet has gotten along just fine without religion and existed in equilibrium for much longer than we’ve been here. Except for the praying mantis of course, bloody rebels.

    • Anonymous says:

      Some kinds of equilibrium are good to be in. The kind where you desperately fight to survive and have children in the face of the elements, predators, and parasites, not so much. I don’t think we need religion, but it’s not because we can all go back to being noble savages.

  10. Gloster says:

    One possible answer to “Why did they do that??” (since it is altogether rather stupid and counterproductive even from a completely cynical utilitarian point of view) lies with the personal composition of the church. The people in positions of power are almost exclusively very old. I think that: “I won’t be around for much longer, so I might as well kick the can down the road and deal with this in the most personally convenient manner as possible.” may have played a significant role.

  11. tim says:

    It isn’t the fact that some people abused other people that makes this especially disgusting, since as mentioned many times that is an all too common thing.
    It isn’t the fact that it was abuse of children.
    It isn’t the fact that it was priests, since as mentioned by many apologists there are child abusers in all occupations and probably always have been.
    It isn’t even that the organisation tried to cover up the abuse, since as mentioned many times, most organisations tend to look after their own.
    It’s that this organisation has for well over a thousand years claimed to be the worldly representative of a deity that purportedly provides all reason, all morals, all purpose for humanity. *That* is the especial evil here. While claiming to have the complete and total authority *from a god* to tell us all how to behave and to forgive all those supposed sins (for a fee, of course) and all that stuff, they have calmly, deliberately and repeatedly committed crimes against humanity in order to maintain their power.
    And if you think that no other religious ‘authority’ is doing similar, I have a really good deal on a bridge in Brooklyn you might be interested in learning about.

  12. Mark Frauenfelder says:

    These kinds of incidents tend to make believers defend their institutions even more staunchly. The arguments of the apologists will be very predictable.

  13. Xopher says:

    Gloster, so you’re saying the problem is a predictable consequence of the fundamental structure of the Church? Heavens forfend!

    I think this proves that the high mucky-mucks in the Church don’t actually believe in the theology they require everyone to believe. Surely they don’t think letting children go on being molested is the way to Heaven?

    Yeah, I know, they’re supposedly weighing the good the Church can do against these minor problems…but they’re not that relative about anything else. Look at their attitude toward condoms, for example; how many people have died of AIDS because they wouldn’t relax that teaching, or preach moral relativism about it? (Yeah, I’m aware that they said some crazy thing about “only with prostitutes” recently; too little too late.)

    As far as I’m aware, by Catholic theology the Church should have martyred itself to save those children from a “fate worse than death.” But it’s lots easier to preach that when it’s not YOUR fucking red skullcap on the line. Or white one, for that matter.

    Bastards.

    • Gloster says:

      You are pushing into an open door with me. I’m an anti-theist and I’m quite convinced the church is lead by cynical heartless power mongers who deserve life in prison for their participation in these appalling systematic crimes against the most vulnerable in their care.
      However for once I decided to point to the less obvious institutional aspects of this atrocity.

      • Xopher says:

        And I was (in pretending to be shocked) emphatically agreeing with you. I hope you didn’t think I thought you were defending them! I’d hate to think you thought I thought that.

        *sits down* OK, I’m dizzy now. :-)

  14. Anonymous says:

    If the letter posted by PaulR is THE letter in question then it is neither smoking, or a gun. In fact it makes the whole story seem drummed up and exaggerated not uncommon for reporting on the RC church.

  15. Xenu says:

    Ah, but the church is infallible; therefore the child molestation was part of God’s plan, you see.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m not going to try to even try to excuse this utter pedantry, but anyway: Infallibility only applies to statements made ex cathedra … and has always been kind of controversial.

      And in reply to Xopher, I’m against the RCC’s stance on birth control, but the criticism about aids and condoms has always seemed a bit hollow to me – if the people in question aren’t listening to church teachings on extra-marital sex, etc, why would they be listening to the teachings on birth control?

  16. PaulR says:

    Not necessarily, Anon: the letter orders the Irish Bishops (and thus the priests) to strictly follow the Code of Canon Law.

    So, what does the Code of Canon Law say?

    Well, if you’re so inclined, you can look it up here:
    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/_INDEX.HTM

    or the overview here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canon_law_%28Catholic_Church%29

    My guess is that the relevant concept is, as far as the RC church goes: Canon Law trumps Civil Law. Thus the priest were to NOT report the abuses, but rather report them to the bishops.

    Are there any Canon lay lawyers here?

    • travtastic says:

      I’m going to start making up my own laws too!

    • Anonymous says:

      The letter can clearly be read as an attempt to protect priests who have been accused from being hung out to dry BEFORE being found guilty of anything. I know its hard for people to believe but there actually exist innocent priests who have baseless claims made against them.

      This may or may not be the case, but the letter is CERTAINLY not a ‘smoking gun’ telling Bishops to hide cases from the authorities. Also, while non-catholics might not take the seal of the confessional seriously is it that hard to see why catholics do?

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        Also, while non-catholics might not take the seal of the confessional seriously is it that hard to see why catholics do?

        What you call taking the seal of the confessional seriously, the rest of us call colluding with child rapists. People like you are the reason that the church has been able to get away with systematic child rape for so long. You’re despicable.

  17. Antinous / Moderator says:

    For what it’s worth, the current Pope does seem to have made some efforts to combat abuse but was slapped down by JP2 and other hierarchs.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Benedict_XVI#Response

  18. The Mudshark says:

    Since this results in new record numbers of people leaving the catholic church every year, in the end it´s all for the best. Let them dig their own grave. Not that it´s much consolation for the abused children of course.

  19. Space Monkey says:

    All I can say is fuck all of them. Any member of that organization who sees this and doesn’t do something drastic is fucked. I have nothing but contempt even for lay believers if they don’t either leave the Church or change it when shit like this comes down.

    Before you disemvowel this, please stop and think for a minute. This is not mindless hatred or trolling, but a reasonable and considered statement of a position that I don’t think could be effectively conveyed with more sensitive or PC language.

    On a lighter note, Pope Ratzi broke my irony meter when he called for Pakistan to abolish their blasphemy law a few days ago.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12156825

    But I couldn’t help but note that he still hasn’t spoken up about Ireland’s blasphemy law, which is still on the books.

    • Anonymous says:

      You know, there is a difference between the men running the church and the church itself and the religion. Probably the same difference between the administration, the government, and the country.

      I’m Catholic and I’m disgusted and heartsick and feel betrayed by all of this. But I can’t just drop my beliefs and pick up some new ones like a coat.

      My parish priest is wonderful, as many are. Why should I leave my church for the crimes and sins of those far, far, far up the ladder?

      It’s easy to say for those who have nothing invested in the situation.

      • chgoliz says:

        You know, there is a difference between the men running the church and the church itself and the religion. Probably the same difference between the administration, the government, and the country.

        No, the difference is between the perpetrators of the crimes and the accessories (before and after the fact) to the crimes.

        It is the very structure, power, and international reach of your religion that enables and supports the criminals and their crimes. One could even say: welcomes and promotes them.

        And what about you, an average Catholic sympathizer? You know the crimes are happening, yet you are aiding the criminals in your own small way by trying to convince potential future jury members that it’s really not such a big deal. The stain is on your soul, as well.

      • Xopher says:

        You know, there is a difference between the men running the church and the church itself and the religion…My parish priest is wonderful, as many are. Why should I leave my church for the crimes and sins of those far, far, far up the ladder?

        This is a good point, and it’s why my call is for the Church to break (or be broken) into smaller pieces that obey the law. The corruption in the Church is concentrated at the top. Of course, the child abuse occurs at the parish level, but the coverup starts above that.

        So: stay with your parish, but stop listening to what that asshole in the stupid fucking hat says. Lots of Catholics do exactly that.

    • robulus says:

      Guess you’ve moved out of the US (or similar first world country), to show your disgust at their exploitation of the third world, use of extraordinary rendition, state sanctioned murder, abuse of military power, wanton waste of limited energy resources etc. etc.

      • Space Monkey says:

        Nice try. If the people in question were still under the auspices of the Holy Inquisition, or even in place where the word of the Catholic Church had the force of law, I wouldn’t be nearly so hard on them, and if I was in that situation, I’d probably be keeping my head down so as not to get burned at stake, too. The situations are not remotely comparable, in that certainly any Catholic in Europe or America could quit the church without any legal repercussions, and almost certainly without anyone threatening them with violence for it. (Though that might not be completely true in Northern Ireland) If I, on the other hand, decided to stop supporting repressive governments with my tax dollars, it would only be a matter of time, and probably not that much time, before my continued intransience resulted in men with guns coming to take me away.

        In other words, nice (if extremely overused) straw man, but the situations are not comparable, and if they were, I wouldn’t be nearly so aggro about it.

        • robulus says:

          So your argument is that a member of an organisation is only morally responsible for the actions of that organisation if they can reasonably leave that organisation. The fact that it would be inconvenient for you to pack up and go work with the poor absolves you from your moral connection with the state in which you live.

          Thats kind of weird, isn’t it? I mean I’m not going to fight too hard for this one, but I dunno, haven’t you got a better defence than that? That one’s crap.

  20. Blinde Schildpad says:

    Christ, what assholes.

  21. PaulR says:

    Does anyone have a link to the actual letter?

    /Gawd, I hate news articles that don’t link to or even quote the original sources…

  22. Xopher says:

    Bastards. The RCC needs to go DOWN for this.

    Break it up into pieces that will obey the law. Put all the bishops who participated in this conspiracy in prison.

    Until that’s done, the RCC is the foe of Justice. Until the Church comes clean about everything and does real penance (money is probably the easiest way), they remain the enemy of Truth.

    • 2k says:

      You can’t say that!
      What’re you anyway? Protestant, Muslim or Atheist!?
      There must be SOME sub-textual reason you are attacking the Holy See.
      No, no; nope!

      • Xopher says:

        Bahahah, I’m the evillest creature you can imagine!

        Someone who thinks children are more important than the reputation of the Roman Catholic Church.

        This evoll is beyond your comprehension. Tremble at my name!

        (Yeah, I’m pretty sure 2k is being satirical.)

      • Anonymous says:

        How about attacking the Holy See since they oversaw and tried to cover-up the serious physical, sexual and mental abuse of thousands of children, ruined countless lives and caused the deaths of so many people?

        An evil, ruthless organisation that has had a stranglehold on Irish lives for decades.

  23. PaulR says:

    Never mind, I found it. On the NYT’s website, no less.

    http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/world/Ireland-Catholic-Abuse.pdf

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks for posting the letter. Its no “smoking gun,” but that’s hardly a surprise. I personally look forward to the day when journalists are no longer mythical creatures.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I don’t understand it. I just don’t understand it. Why would they do this?

    • Blinde Schildpad says:

      Simple: the Roman Catholic Church honestly believes it can do no wrong.

      In a way it’s a shame the Christian god seems to not exist. I strongly suspect it would strike down upon them with great vengeance and furious anger.

    • humanresource says:

      Because the catholic church has always treated child abuse as equivalent to masturbation and sex before marriage – a personal failing of the abuser, that must be confessed and dealt with according to canon law. The victim has NEVER meant anything at all, or had any feelings which the canon law shows any concern for. Look how often the victims have been excommunicated or threatened with excommunication – a terrifying threat for any believer.

    • Anonymous says:

      Because having it revealed would bring into question the trust and authority given to their church. So they took the route of attempting to suppress it rather than confront it. They chose the option of a potential crisis over a definite one.
      Of course since the cover-up gamble failed, it does put the RCC in the undeniable position of being shown to favour protecting the public image of their church over the continuing abuse of its congregation by members.

      While isolated cases could be explained away and apologised for, this top-town acknowledgement of it’s existence and active cover-up makes any apology ring hollow.
      But it’s self-sustaining, because (if you believe they believe their own words) the higher-ups genuinely believe that these priests will face God’s wrath for their crimes. Ignoring the laws of man to protect the churches image, because the law of God will take care of them later.
      The Vatican, if honest in their faith, don’t believe they’re doing anything wrong in covering this up. That’s their mindset as I understand it.

      As a personal note, I’ll paraphrase the Hitchhikers Guide; No one who wants to be in charge of others should ever be allowed to be.

  25. Xopher says:

    Anon: because their answer to a potentially embarrassing problem is a coverup. This is typical of massive organizations of humans, regardless of their alleged nature.

  26. humanresource says:

    Geoffrey Robertson was so right: nothing will change until the pope gets treated like a war criminal. Look up the Yamashita principle: if you have command and control, and could have prevented the mass atrocities, and did nothing (or worse, aided the coverup), you are legally responsible for the atrocities.

    • Anonymous says:

      The current pope was elected in 2005, though, right? So this predates him, which would make that a very difficult thing to do.

      • humanresource says:

        I agree; it complicates things. I don’t know the ins and outs of the law on this, but it stands to reason that the letter shifts the onus onto the new pope to demonstrate that policy changed since 1997. If he hasn’t changed the policy (and given his previous role as “God’s Rottweiler, he likely hasn’t, and he probably dominated the committee that determined the earlier policy) it shouldn’t be to hard to ascribe culpability to Ratzinger.

      • humanresource says:

        I agree; it complicates things. I don’t know the ins and outs of the law on this, but it stands to reason that the letter shifts the onus onto the new pope to demonstrate that policy changed since 1997. If he hasn’t changed the policy (and given his previous role as “God’s Rottweiler, he likely hasn’t, and he probably dominated the committee that determined the earlier policy) it shouldn’t be to hard to ascribe culpability to Ratzinger.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Surprise surprise…

  28. Anonymous says:

    anyone have a link to the actual letter? I’d like to read it while drinking something so that I can comically spit it out all over my computer screen. probably more than once judging by the sound of the summary.

  29. OrcOnTheEndOfMyFork says:

    The Catholic Church needs to take its own advice: Confess.

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