New twist in Belgian Catholic abuse legal row

After the Belgian police controversially raided the bishops’ offices and Cardinal Daneels’ home, confiscating truckloads of material relating to allegations of church sexual abuse, two lower courts ruled that the raid had been inaoppropriate, and ordered that the material would be inadmissable as evidence. However, this is not over yet.  “Expatica” yesterday reported from Belgium that there has been a

New twist in Belgian Catholic abuse legal row

BRUSSELS: Belgium’s highest court ordered magistrates on Tuesday to re-examine evidence seized by police relating to decades of child abuse and alleged Roman Catholic Church cover-ups.

The court overturned two previous decisions by lower courts that rendered inadmissible evidence taken from church headquarters, the home of a former archbishop and a church-backed commission investigating sex crimes perpetrated by priests.

Responding to lawyers acting for alleged victims who lodged appeals, the judges said the lower courts were wrong not to hear civil parties and therefore magistrates should look again at the evidence in a new light.

It means that truckloads of material gathered by police in spectacular raids in June that drew the ire of Pope Benedict XVI himself could potentially be used to relaunch state prosecutions for abuse.

However, it does not automatically mean a prosecution case will be launched, because the lower judges could reach the same decisions as before, saying they have done so this time while considering aggrieved parties’ accusations.The raids on June 24, conducted as a Vatican ambassador was meeting with church leaders, opened the eyes of the world to the scale of the scandal within the Belgian Catholic Church, but the church and retired archbishop, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, asked that the material seized be declared out of bounds.

Read more:

Child psychologist Peter Adriaenssens then unleashed nationwide controversy with the release on September 10 of a report by a commission he led which revealed nearly 500 people reported abuses by priests since the 1950s and 13 victims committed suicide.

Adriaenssens subsequently called on the pope to resign.

A Looming Ecclesiastical Revolution? A Child Abuse Tsunami?

After the flood of revelations over child abuse earlier this year, emerging in country after country to ever greater outrage over abuse, cover-up, and claims of inadequate institutional response, the flow of big, really scandalous news stories has pretty well dried up. There’s a limit to just how long the press can continue discussing the precise degree of personal culpability of then Archbishop Ratzinger in Munich, or of Cardinal Ratzinger at the CDF- and a limit to how long readers or television viewers will continue to pay any attention.

Sure, there continues to be a steady trickle of local news stories concerning one or other clergyman being accused or coming to trial, and we now have fresh complaints that the newly released revised guidelines don’t do enough, and will be ineffective. I don’t believe thought that most Catholics will pay enough attention to these details to be seriously bothered. So does this mean that the whole affair will slowly die a death, with bygones allowed to be bygones, and the present dealt with means that while not perfect, will at least ensure that it is never again quite as bad as it was?

 

Not a bit of it. Read the rest of this entry »

Pedophilia, Women Priests, and Kid Gloves for the Legion

Amid a welter of excellent commentary on the mad coupling of pedophilia and women’s ordination, Nihil Obstat makes a different comparison: she notes that in  the same week as the latest madness, Pope Benedict has appointed Archbishop Velasio De Paolis to take control of the finances and assets of the Legionaries of Christ.  The need for an outsider to take control of the vast fortune was obvious. The extraordinary, horrifying part is the mild words in the news release about the problem’s of the order, and the legacy of its founder, Father Marcial Maciel, who is said to have ” fathered children and was guilty of other crimes.”

That has to place first as the wryest, drollest, understatement of the year.

Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado raped and sexually abused underage seminarians and priests; kept mistresses on two continents; fathered at least three children; raped his sons; lied, cheated and stole his order’s money to support an illicit lifestyle.  He was aided and abetted by senior members of the Legion.  The organization was maintained by secrecy and deceit.

In the Zenit article Archbishop De Paolis said it is understandable that some Legionaries are “going through difficult moments, that some have already thought of a different path.” He cautioned that the “vocation is something too serious to be able to make a decision about it in a moment of disorientation.”

Maciel’s key supporters in the Vatican, who provided him with a protective shield, included Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state from 1991 to 2006; Cardinal Eduardo Martinez, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; and Cardinal Stanislaw Dzwisz, the Polish secretary of late Pope John Paul II.

Fr. Maciel’s biggest enabler was Pope John Paul II himself.  Maciel brought in money and men to the priesthood; and that balanced the account as far as the pope was concerned.

Ponder this for a minute…..senior members of the Vatican hierarchy protected a serial molester and rapist, a priest that had several children with two different women—because this man had created an organizational structure that attracted seminarians and espoused traditional values and practices.

At the same time, they have set into place the most savage penalties for bishops and women who want to become priests, and refuse to consider the issue of priestly celibacy.

-(Read the full post)

No wonder that she says she is herself now “disoriented” by the events of the week.

Related articles

 

Vatican 13 Years Late With UN Child Rights Report

If you want rights, you must accept responsibilities. If the Vatican wants to be taken seriously as a genuine independent state, it must behave like a state. The Vatican claims representation at the UN, a status that brings with it obligations to comply with reporting requirements on a wide range of matters pertinent to global concerns. One one of these, the Vatican has neglected these obligations for thirteen years! Is is a co-incidence that the subject is child rights?

Vatican "observer" at the UN, Msgr Silvano Tomasi

This neglect is not mere oversight. They have had repeated reminders, and officials assured the UN last year that completion of the report was imminent. But still – there is not yet any sign of a report appearing. It may be some small consolation that they are not alone. The only other states that have not yet submitted reports are   St. Kitts and Nevis and five Pacific minnow states – the Cook Islands, Nauru, Niue, Tuvalu and Tonga.

These AP news extracts are via CBS News, where you can read the full report:

The Vatican has failed to send the United Nations a report on child rights that is now almost 13 years overdue, the head of a U.N. panel has told The Associated Press.

……

A Vatican representative told the U.N. last year that the report was being “finalized as we speak.”

Appearing before the U.N.’s Human Rights Council in September, Hubertus Matheus Van Megen said “a paragraph will be dedicated to the problem of child abuse by Catholic clergy.”

The Vatican has faced claims that it has covered up clerical sex abuse around the world, such as by not investigating allegations or transferring accused priests to other duties without punishing them.

Van Megen told the Geneva-based council that the church was “very conscious of the seriousness of the problem” but insisted critics had misrepresented the situation.

“While many speak of child abuse as pedophilia, it would be more correct to speak of ephebophilia, being a homosexual attraction to adolescent males,” he told the rights council. “Of all priests involved in the abuses, 80-90 percent belong to this sexual orientation minority, which is sexually engaged with adolescent boys between the age of 11 and 17 years old.”

“From available research we know now that in the last 50 years somewhere between 1.5 and 5 percent of the Catholic clergy has been involved in sexual abuse cases,” he said.

While the Vatican delivered an initial report in 1995, the second, third and fourth reports are now overdue, according to Lee. This puts it on a par with the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts and Nevis. Only five Pacific minnow states – the Cook Islands, Nauru, Niue, Tuvalu and Tonga – have failed to deliver any kind of report.

Mongolia, Senegal and Togo, which also had a 1997 deadline, have since filed their second reports.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Irish Bishops’ Resignations Over Abuse: 1 Accepted, 4 (5?) to go.

One of the big disappointments of the pope’s “pastoral” letter to Irish Catholics, was that it contained no reference at all to the resignations of four bishops in the wake of the Murphy report on the cover-ups in Dublin. (A fifth bishop refused to resign, insisting that he had done “nothing wrong”.) In an under-reported press-conference at the time the pastoral letter was released, the obvious question was asked, “What about the resignations?” The only response was that they would be dealt with “in time” by the “appropriate Vatican department”. How long does it take, I wondered, to accept a resignation? The answer may have come this morning: a year.

In a matter entirely unrelated to the Murphy report and the Dublin diocese, Bishop John Magee, formerly of the Cloyne diocese, quit the day-to day running of his diocese a year ago, in March 2009. It has taken the Vatican a full year to accept his resignation. If this is a reliable guide to form, we might expect the acceptance of the four resignations arising from the Dublin Murphy report early in 20011. How long it will take to get rid of the one who is in denial, or of Benedict himself who has overseen the whole sorry mess, is anybody’s guess.

Vatican accepts resignation of Irish Catholic bishop John Magee

The Vatican has accepted the resignation of an Irish bishop who was once the personal secretary to three popes, it was announced today.

The papacy said Bishop John Magee was stepping down over his mishandling of allegations of clerical sex abuse in his Irish diocese.

Although Magee quit the day-to-day running of parishes across rural Cork last March, it has taken the Vatican bureaucracy a year to formally confirm his resignation.

The cleric, originally from Northern Ireland, faced scathing criticism after the church’s watchdog found he had taken minimal action over accusations against two of his priests.

He served as personal assistant to Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul I and Pope John Paul II in Rome.

There have been many calls for Magee’s resignation since the report into the Cloyne diocese earlier this year.

The announcement of his official resignation was made in statement released through the Irish Catholic Bishops’ conference.

Read the full report at the Guardian

Read the rest of this entry »

Abuse: Mormons, Boy Scouts.

In all the storm around clerical abuse in the Catholic church, there is one are where I agree with the Vatican.  To avoid any misunderstanding, I want to make this absolutely clear:  the Catholic Church is not alone in its culpability.  (Now, I do not buy the claim by some Catholic apologists that the church is no worse than any others – but I’m not going to explore that today.) It is undeniable that there are other individuals and institutions also at fault. It is undeniable for instance, that the bulk of abuse takes place within the family, by close relatives or family friends.  There are also well-known stereotypes of figures popularly believed to get a little too close to the young people in their care:  choirmasters, for instance, or scoutmasters.

My own experience of childhood sexual abuse was by a scoutmaster. (Earlier  the abuse I received at the hands of the church had been physical, not sexual). Even at that age, about twelve or thirteen, it was obvious to me that this man’s activities were well known to the other adult scouters, who ignored them. There is no reason to assume that he was unique, or that the popular stereotype had no grounding in reality. Yet, in all the public outcry and endless US lawsuits for compensation, the allegations have primarily been against people inside the Catholic Church. Read the rest of this entry »

Michael Walsh on the Vatican’s Problem: Abuse and Renewal

At Open Democracy, there is one of the clearest analyses 0f the problem in the  Vatican that I have yet seen. Here are some extracts:

There are many reasons given for the imposition of celibacy on (the majority of) Catholic clergy, an obligation with a long and problematic history. Some of these reasons are practical, others ascetical, but there are good arguments for claiming that celibacy was originally imposed to mark off clergy as a separate caste within an increasingly Christian society. That was a long time ago, but the “caste” mentality survives to this day.

It is not true, of course, for all Catholic clergy, many of whom are well adjusted human beings, but it is true for some that they socialise almost entirely within clerical circles. ….. There is, in other words, a distinctive clerical culture which celibacy has an obvious role in maintaining. In their daily lives they are not challenged by wives or children. Read the rest of this entry »