April 9, 2010

THE unHOLY SEE-saw

Posted in Vatican tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 4:50 pm by Edna

THE unHOLY SEE-saw cc Edna Spennato 2010.

Photomontage made on 9 April 2010

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Also published at Uprooted Palestinians.

New Allegations of Vatican Sex Coverups

Allegations have surfaced that the late pontiff John Paul ll blocked an investigation of a pedophile cardinal, promoted senior church officials despite allegations they had raped children, and covered up innumerable cases of sexual abuse of children during his 26-year papacy have cast a cloud over his path to sainthood.

The most serious claims concern Hans Groer, the Cardinal of Austria and a close friend of John Paul. Groer sexually abused an estimated 2,000 boys for decades, but was never hindered by Rome. The Groer affair became public in 1995 when former pupils of an elite Catholic school accused him of sexual abuse. Groer was never punished and some of his victims were offered “hush money” by the Church…

John Paul also faced criticism last week from Poland for protecting Archbishop Juliusz Paetz, who was accused of abusing trainee priests. Letters detailing the charges were sent to John Paul’s office and also to Ratzinger, but they were ignored…

Stanislaw Obirek, a Polish theologian and a former Jesuit priest, said: “I believe John Paul is the key person responsible for the cover-up of abuse cases because most of it occurred during his papacy. How can someone who is to blame for this be beatified?”…

Read in full here.

Pope’s immunity to prosecution may be challenged in Britain

Protests are growing against Pope Benedict XVI’s planned trip to Britain, where some lawyers question whether the Vatican’s implicit statehood status should shield the pope from prosecution over sex crimes by pedophile priests.

More than 10,000 people have signed a petition on Downing Street’s web site against the pope’s 4-day visit to England and Scotland in September, which will cost U.K. taxpayers an estimated 15 million pounds ($22.5 million). The campaign has gained momentum as more Catholic sex abuse scandals have swept across Europe.

Although Benedict has not been accused of any crime, senior British lawyers are now examining whether the pope should have immunity as a head of state and whether he could be prosecuted under the principle of universal jurisdiction for an alleged systematic cover-up of sexual abuses by priests.

Universal jurisdiction — a concept in international law — allows judges to issue warrants for nearly any visitor accused of grievous crimes, no matter where they live. British judges have been more open to the concept than those in other countries.

Lawyers are divided over the immunity issue. Some argue that the Vatican isn’t a true state, while others note the Vatican has national relations with about 170 countries, including Britain. The Vatican is also the only non-member to have permanent observer status at the U.N…..

Read in full here.

Catholic church reluctant to release Canadian residential schools records

Study time at an Indian Residential School in Fort Resolution, Northwest Territories, date unknown. Library and Archives Canada

Indian Residential School in Fort Resolution, Northwest Territories, date unknown.

The Roman Catholic Church is balking at the release of Indian residential schools documents that name individual church members, insisting its concern is purely about respecting Canada’s privacy laws and not an attempt to cover up new allegations of abuse.

But the research director for Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission says the denominations involved in residential schools are being unco-operative, and suggests the Catholic church in particular fears more abuse stories will come out against living members.

The Conservative government and the churches that helped run Canada’s Indian residential schools are sitting on mountains of archived material, but not a single page has yet been turned over to the commission…

“The TRC does not have a free fishing expedition. We are bound by the law,” he said. “The law does not allow us to deliver documents which are pertaining to individuals who are named in some documents…

Mr. Baribeau said regardless of how this debate ends, the commission will still receive 99 per cent of the documents it seeks from Catholic archives…

The commission’s research director, Trent University professor and historian John Milloy, described the situation far more bluntly in comments published recently in a Trent campus newspaper.

…With funding from Ottawa, the Roman Catholic Church ran more than 70 per cent of the Indian residential schools, which operated from the late 1800s to the 1970s….He said he has come across concern among Catholics that retirees living in church residences will be embarrassed.“There are former staff who live in community – brothers, sisters, priests and so on – and I know that some of the concern in the Catholic Church has been about the reputations and the kind of history related to people who are still living in community,” Mr. Scott said.

The churches’ promise to publicly disclose their private archives to the commission was considered a key victory by former students at the time of the 2007 multibillion-dollar out-of-court settlement between former students, the federal government and the churches that helped run the schools…

Read in full here.

Ireland Child Abuse Report Reveals Vatican, Police Cover-up Collusion

The Vatican refused to co-operate with an official inquiry investigating sexual abuse by clerics in the Catholic Church in Ireland.

The official Report of the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin was published on Thursday. The investigation began in 2006, and covered the period 1975 – 2004.

The Commission’s brief was “to investigate how Church and state authorities handled allegation of child abuse against 46 priests”.

The inquiry condemned church leaders for covering-up abuse for decades.

The Commission examined complaints concerning over 320 children. Substantially more of the complaints related to boys. Of the 46 priests examined, 11 pleaded guilty to or were convicted in the criminal courts of sexual assaults on children.

The report revealed that all the Archbishops of Dublin in the period covered by the Commission were aware of some complaints.

However, it concluded that pre-occupations in dealing with cases of child sexual abuse, at least until the mid 1990s, were the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the Church’s reputation and the preservation of its assets.

All other considerations, including the welfare of children and justice for victims, were subordinated to these priorities, the report said.

According to the Commission, there was also collusion on the part of the police. A number of very senior members of the Irish police regarded priests as being outside their remit. There were some examples of them actually reporting complaints to the Archdiocese instead of investigating them.

The Vatican had refused to co-operate with the Commission, saying only that the request “had not gone through appropriate diplomatic channels”. A request for information from the Papal Nuncio also was ignored.

Following the publication of the Commission’s report, the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland issued an apology.

Cardinal Sean Brady said he was deeply sorry and ashamed by the abuse the report had revealed…

Read in full here.

Vatican, Canadian church officials tried to keep sex scandal secret

A 1993 letter focuses on protecting the church’s image by preventing public knowledge of Bernard Prince’s abuse of altar boys…

The man Bishop Windle was writing about was then-monsignor Bernard Prince, now 75, a friend of the late Pope John Paul II who had just been posted to the Vatican as a high-ranking official working with missionary societies.

The year before Mr. Prince was sent to Rome, a man had complained to the diocese that the priest had molested him when he was a child…

In his letter to the papal nuncio, Bishop Windle cautioned the Vatican to avoid honouring Mr. Prince because it could anger victims and prompt them to contact police.

“The consequences of such an action would be disastrous, not only for the Canadian church but for the Holy See as well,” the bishop wrote…

It would only be in May, 2005, that a victim contacted the Ontario Provincial Police. Mr. Prince is now defrocked and serving a four-year sentence after being convicted in 2008 of sexually molesting 13 boys between 1964 and 1984…

More info here.

Church swamped by priest abuse claims

Norway’s Roman Catholic Church received so many email tip-offs about possible paedophile priests following revelations of abuse by a bishop that its computer crashed, a senior cleric said…

Bernt disclosed on Wednesday at the request of the Vatican that one of Norway’s former bishops, German Georg Mueller, had abused a choirboy in the early 1990s.

The newspaper said that its own research had in recent days uncovered nine sex abuse cases in the church…

Eidsvig said the church was aware of three cases in addition to Mueller and was ready to open its “secret” archives in which sensitive information on priests is held…

Read in full here.

Italy sees 130 priests investigated over abuse

Italian authorities have arrested, investigated or convicted 130 Catholic priests for sexually abusing children over the last decade, it has been claimed.

A report by prosecutors said that not one of the cases was referred to the police by the local bishop.

Sergio Cavaliere, a lawyer who has compiled evidence on the cases, said: “It’s an alarming figure if you consider that it’s only the tip of the iceberg, if you think about all the cases that haven’t shown up in the media or that haven’t gone to court.”

A prosecutor in Milan, Pietro Forno, who has won 10 convictions for paedophile priests, claimed that police suspected the existence of a “network of clergy who have a passion for minors”.

He said abusive priests had been shuffled between dioceses, where they were free to molest more children.

“It seems that some chose the priesthood with the aim of being close to children,” said Mr Forno, the head of a unit which investigates sex crimes…

Read in full here.

Former Catholic priest in Grand Prairie gets prison in child porn case

A former Catholic priest in Grand Prairie who pleaded guilty to downloading hundreds of pornographic images of children on a church computer in 2005 was sentenced to more than four years in prison on Tuesday…

…After the state case was dropped in 2006, Bagert was indicted in November 2008 and surrendered to federal authorities. He has been on supervised released ever since.

Bagert has left the priesthood and works as a traveling installer for hotel energy management systems.

Read in full here.

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