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Religion Last Updated: Apr 9th, 2010 - 00:59:48

When the Holy See pretends not to see
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Apr 9, 2010, 00:34

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The latest round in the Vatican�s ongoing cover-up -- from Pope Paul VI to John Paul II to Pope Benedict XVI -- of predator priests is again front-page news.

1963 letter shows former pope knew of abuse
Associated Press - 4/1/2010

A newly released letter suggests the Vatican was aware of clergy abuse in the U.S. nearly 50 years ago.

In a 1963 letter to then-Pope Paul VI, the head of a Roman Catholic order that oversaw treatment of pedophile priests recommends removing them from active ministry. . . .

Meanwhile, lawyers in a Florida abuse case say the Vatican office then headed by Pope Benedict failed to remove an alleged pedophile from the priesthood, even when the priest asked to be defrocked. . . .

Pope Benedict�s latest feeble excuse was dissected by Maureen Dowd in her March 27, 2010 New York Times OpEd, �A Nope for Pope�:

. . . The Catholic Church can never recover as long as its Holy Shepherd is seen as a black sheep in the ever-darkening sex abuse scandal.

Now we learn the sickening news that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, nicknamed �God�s Rottweiler� when he was the church�s enforcer on matters of faith and sin, ignored repeated warnings and looked away in the case of the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy, a Wisconsin priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys. . . .

The pope is in too deep. He has proved himself anything but infallible. And now he claims he was uninformed on the matter of an infamous German pedophile priest. A spokesman for the Munich archdiocese said on Friday that Ratzinger, running the diocese three decades ago, would not have read the memo sent to him about Father Peter Hullermann�s getting cycled back into work with children because between 700 to 1,000 memos go to the archbishop each year.

Let�s see. That�s two or three memos a day. And Ratzinger was renowned at the Vatican for poring through voluminous, recondite theological treaties. . . .

�His Holiness� is anything but. Some have demanded Pope Benedict XVI resign, an act that would be unprecedented but, given the facts, is warranted. Ms. Dowd�s follow-up March 30, 2010, OpEd -- �Should There Be an Inquisition for the Pope?� -- further exposed the Vatican and its American apologists who do as the Vatican has dictated . . . blame the gays:

Demonize gays, as Karl Rove did in 2004.

In an ad in The Times on Tuesday, Bill Donohue, the Catholic League president, offered this illumination: �The Times continues to editorialize about the �pedophilia crisis,� when all along it�s been a homosexual crisis. Eighty percent of the victims of priestly sexual abuse are male and most of them are post-pubescent. While homosexuality does not cause predatory behavior, and most gay priests are not molesters, most of the molesters have been gay.�

Donohue is still talking about the problem as an indiscretion rather than a crime. If it mostly involves men and boys, that�s partly because priests for many years had unquestioned access to boys.

Mr. Donohue�s ignorance is as offensive as the Vatican�s pathetic excuses.

As Dr. Kathryn Conroy, (then) assistant dean of Columbia University�s School of Social Work, pointed out in her September 24, 2005, New York Times piece in response to the Vatican�s earlier ban on �gay priests� following the exposure of the Church�s decades long cover-up of sexual abuse by priests in the United States, �What is forgotten in all of the hysteria about priest sexual abuse is that pedophilia is about a sexual attraction to children (most often, regardless of their sex) and about access. . . . Reliable studies show that pedophiles (those adults who sexually abuse children) are overwhelmingly heterosexual. In fact, homosexuals are statistically underrepresented as those who sexually abuse children. . . .�

But if blaming the gays doesn�t work, blame the Devil:

Father Gabriele Amorth, the chief exorcist for the Holy See, said in Rome that The [New York] Times�s coverage of Pope Benedict, which cast doubt on his rigor in dealing with pedophile priests, was �prompted by the Devil.�

�There is no doubt about it,� the 85-year-old priest said, according to the Catholic News Agency. �Because he is a marvelous pope and worthy successor to John Paul II, it is clear that the Devil wants to grab hold of him.�

The exorcist also said that the abuse scandal showed that Satan uses priests to try to destroy the church, �and so we should not be surprised if priests too . . . fall into temptation. They also live in the world and can fall like men of the world.�

Yes, the molesting priests did �fall like men of the world� and should have been punished by civil authorities like all other �men of the world.� But Father Amorth, like all other Vatican spokesmen, once again missed the point: the decades old cover-up by high-ranking Church officials.

Then, in a truly perverted twist, another Vatican spokesman attempted to portray the victimizing Church as victim:

Vatican Priest Likens Criticism Over Abuse to Anti-Semitism
By Daniel J. Wakin and Rachel Donadio
April 2, 2010

ROME -- A senior
Vatican priest, speaking before Pope Benedict XVI at a Good Friday service, compared the world�s outrage at sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church to the persecution of the Jews, prompting angry responses from victims� advocates and consternation from Jewish groups. . . .

The pope and his bishops have denounced abuses in the church, but many prelates and Vatican officials have lashed back at news reports that Benedict failed to act strongly enough against pedophile priests,
once as archbishop of Munich and Freising in 1980 and once as a leader of the Vatican�s powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

To liken the Church�s self-inflicted problems to the fate of Jews in the Holocaust is not only bizarre but insulting, especially since the history of the Roman Catholic Church includes centuries of anti-Semitism, not to mention the record of Pope Pius XII, whom Benedict has called a �great Pope.� But the linking of Jews, child molestation, and gays has its own history.

One of the most frequently heard stereotypes claims homosexuals are inveterate child molesters: crazed sexual perverts who prey upon and recruit children. But as University of Chicago historian George Chauncey pointed out in Why Marriage? The History Shaping Today�s Debate Over Gay Equality (Basic Books, 2004), the claim that homosexuals recruit children and the stereotype of them as child molesters are relatively new and grew out of �the anxious years following the Second World War, when communists, criminal syndicates, and other half-invisible specters seemed to threaten the nation and when demonic new stereotypes of homosexuals were created and backed by government sanctions. . . . The old tropes of anti-Semitic rhetoric . . . were especially influential in shaping depictions of homosexuals. . . . And like Jews, they were depicted as a threat to children. In the most dangerous element of this new image, the escalation of antigay policing was accompanied, inspired, and justified by press and police campaigns that fomented stereotypes of homosexuals as child molesters.� (18-19)

And then, on Easter Sunday 2010, yet another Church spokesman did what the Vatican has been doing for decades. He tried to trivialize the international scandal by dubbing it �gossip�:

Cardinal tells pope: Faithful not influenced by �gossip�
By the CNN Wire Staff

April 4, 2010

(CNN) -- In a rare move, a senior cardinal spoke before the pope�s Easter Mass address at the Vatican on Sunday, saying the pontiff maintains the support of Catholics around the world �who do not let themselves be influenced by the gossip.� . . .

His remarks clearly referred to those who have criticized
Catholic leaders, including Pope Benedict XVI himself, for not having done much more during his years as a top official. . . .

Sodano said the pope has the support of those who work in schools, hospitals and care centers, including 400,000 priests.

�Also with you are the faithful who do not let themselves be influenced by gossip,� Sodano said in Italian, using the word �chiacchiericcio,� which means chatter or gossip. . . .

�Gossip�? �Chatter�? Hardly.

There were documented cases dating back to the 1960s, but it was not until early 2002 that the Boston Globe�s coverage of a series of criminal prosecutions of five Roman Catholic priests thrust the issue of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests into the national limelight. And the limelight spread quickly.

The larger than usual headline of the Philadelphia Inquirer on Thursday, September 22, 2005, read �An �Immoral� Cover-up.� A grand jury indicted the Philadelphia archdiocese in a 418-page report detailing rampant pedophilia and sexual abuse as well as decades of well planned cover-ups orchestrated by two Philadelphia cardinals, [the late] John Krol and [then recently retired] Anthony Bevilacqua.� (Both Krol and Bevilacqua were outspoken critics of homosexuality and civil rights for gay and lesbian Americans.)

Here are just a few of the documented examples of what predator priests did under the protection of Cardinals Krol and Bevilacqua:

An 11-year-old girl who was repeatedly raped by a priest who took her for an abortion when she became pregnant.

A fifth grader who was molested by a priest inside a confessional.

A teenage girl who was groped by a priest while she lay immobilized in traction in a hospital room.

A priest who offered money to boys in exchange for sadomasochistic acts of bondage and wrote a letter asking a boy to make him his �slave.� The priest remains in ministry.

A sadistic priest who enjoyed having children play the roles of Jesus and other biblical characters in parish Passion plays. He made them disrobe and whip each other until they had cuts, bruises and welts.

A priest who falsely told a 12-year-old boy his mother knew of the assaults and consented to the rape of her son.

The grand jury found that many victims were abused for years and that many priests abused multiple victims, sometimes preying on members of the same family. Father Albert T. Kostelnick had 18 victims. Father James J. Brzyski, whose conduct the report described as a �criminal rampage,� abused 17 victims, many of them from a single parish. Father Nicholas V. Cudemo abused 16 victims and was allowed to stay in his pastoral role for decades after the first abuse report in 1966.

And how did the Philadelphia archdiocese -- and the Church as a whole -- respond to the grand jury�s painstakingly documented report? In a grotesque display of self-interest and bunker mentality, they claimed to be victims. Even more disgusting is that, given the statute of limitations, no criminal charges could be filed against the priests or against �Princes of the Church� despite the evidence presented in the Philadelphia grand jury�s report.

Not surprisingly, the Catholic Church has time and time and time and time again vehemently opposed legislation that would allow molesting priests -- and their co-conspirators -- to be prosecuted beyond the statute of limitations. Is that opposition based on morality or self-interest? Meanwhile, the Vatican and its minions have continued to pontificate on �moral issues� despite the fact that they seem not to have any idea what �moral� means. That was made clear once again on April 6, 2010 when the Vatican again played victim:

Vatican Blasts Anti-Catholic �Hate� Campaign
By AP / Frances D�Emilio Wednesday, Apr. 07, 2010

(VATICAN CITY) -- The Vatican heatedly defended Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday, claiming accusations that he helped cover up the actions of pedophile priests are part of an anti-Catholic �hate� campaign targeting the pope for his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. . . .

 . . . arguing that Benedict�s promotion of conservative family models had provoked the so-called attacks was the Vatican�s dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano.

�By now, it�s a cultural contrast,� Sodano told the Vatican newspaper L�Osservatore Romano. �The pope embodies moral truths that aren�t accepted, and so, the shortcomings and errors of priests are used as weapons against the church.�

Also rallying to Benedict�s side was Italian Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, who heads the Vatican City State�s governing apparatus.

The pope �has done all that he could have� against sex abuse by clergy of minors, Lajolo said on Vatican radio, decrying what he described as a campaign of �hatred against the Catholic church.�

Aside from once again blaming gays, it�s that last comment -- that the pope �has done all that he could have� against sex abuse by clergy of minors -- that so well exemplifies the Vatican�s and Church leaders� corruption. And �corruption� is exactly the right word. Even when confronted with hard, empirical evidence, the Church and its leaders choose to lie and cast themselves as victim.

It�s long past time for the Vatican to stop blaming others for the crimes of the Church. The predator behavior cover-up continued not because of gays, and not because of the Devil. They continued because Church officials -- who live in luxury -- were more concerned with protecting themselves and their institution than protecting children and teens from abuse by predator priests.

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