Tuesday, November 08, 2011

A Tale of Two Abuse Cases

Rome recently celebrated the 80th birthday of Bernard Cardinal Law. Law was perhaps the most celebrated of the unaccountable US-based bishops in the Roman Catholic sexual scandal.


Bernard Cardinal Law: His record of protecting pedophile priests - in Boston and his previous diocese in Missouri - has made headlines around the world in recent months, fueling numerous lawsuits and demands for his resignation. In the 1990s, Cardinal Law and his aides helped the Rev. Paul Shanley get jobs in other dioceses despite psychiatric advice that he was dangerous and reports that he had publicly advocated sex between men and boys. Church officials in New York and California say the Boston archdiocese withheld this information from them. Cardinal Law also repeatedly reassigned the Rev. John Geoghan through many years of molestation complaints, letting him work until the early 1990s. Mr. Geoghan has since been convicted on molestation charges and sent to prison. Father Shanley is under indictment and has pleaded not guilty. In 1998, after defrocking Mr. Geoghan, Cardinal Law reassigned the Rev. Ronald H. Paquin to a hospital chaplain job. At that point, according to documents obtained by The Boston Globe, the archdiocese already knew of more than a dozen complaints from boys who accused the priest of molestation and rape - and had reached financial settlements with some of them. Father Paquin has been suspended and indicted; he has pleaded not guilty. One priest who assisted in his reassignment was the Rev. C. Melvin Surette - who had been removed from a parish in the mid-1990s after the diocese settled several cases that alleged that he and yet another priest abused boys in a ministry for troubled teens. Earlier, as the bishop leading the Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Mo., diocese, Cardinal Law transferred an accused priest to several parishes in the early 1980s after misconduct complaints arose (see more under that diocese's listing). And before he was in Missouri, the cardinal was a high-ranking priest in the Diocese of Jackson, Miss. - and there he also helped two priests stay in parish jobs after abuse accusations, according to his recent deposition testimony. One was George Broussard, whom a witness has identified as a close friend of Cardinal Law since the two attended seminary together in Ohio. Mr. Broussard has left the priesthood and declined to comment.

On the other hand, consider the outrage in “Linebacker-U”, where two Penn State “administrators” have been forced to resign. Yes, the abuser gets taken away in handcuffs. But the “administrators” were asked by Trustees of the university to resign. Here’s the Penn State story:
STATE COLLEGE, Pa.—Two Pennsylvania State University administrators stepped down late Sunday after they were charged with lying to a grand jury about what they knew regarding sexual-misconduct allegations about a former defensive coordinator for the football team.

The retired coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, 67 years old, was arrested Saturday on charges of sexually abusing eight boys.

The Penn State Board of Trustees met behind closed doors Sunday night about the allegations regarding Mr. Sandusky. Soon after, the university announced that Tim Curley, Penn State's athletic director, and Gary Schultz, vice president for finance and business, had asked to step down to defend themselves against the charges.

On Saturday, Mr. Sandusky was arrested on 21 felony counts, including seven counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse that each carry as much as 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. The counts, which involve alleged abuse of eight boys ranging over a period of 15 years, include several incidents that allegedly took place at university athletic facilities.

Messrs. Curley and Schultz each face up to seven years and a $15,000 fine if convicted of perjury, a third-degree felony. They also each face a count of failing to report suspected child abuse, which carries a sentence of up to 90 days in prison and a $200 fine. They are scheduled to surrender Monday before a judge in Harrisburg.
Did we read of “Roman Catholic Church officials resigning”? No. Did we see Roman Catholic priests -- even those lawfully convicted -- taken away in handcuffs? No. Instead, the official policy of the Roman Catholic Church, not only in the US but around the globe, was “official secrecy” and protecting the reputation of “the Church” was the highest good. Here is some historical background on an official policy of obstruction of justice.

Here is a link to Official Roman Catholic documents that perpetuated that obstruction. Note especially the 1922 Vatican directive, On the manner of proceeding in cases of the crime of solicitation, and the1962 reiteration of the Instruction on the manner of proceeding in cases of solicitation. Both of these documents were directives to bishops, officially approved by popes, citing existing Canon Law, on ways to proceeded in these cases. It should be noted that these documents are as detailed as they are (a) because such cases were occurring in the present, and (b) because the Roman Church had experience in dealing with such cases for centuries. And the over-riding concern is “secrecy”. On the surface this may appear to be designed to protect “the accused” but more broadly, the secrecy is designed to protect “The Church” itself “under the secret of the Holy Office” – see throughout – and not the “accuser” or “victim”.

In official testimony, a Roman Catholic Cardinal outlines the official policy of “mental reservation” as a way of deflecting people away from the truth, and in fact, facilitating them in the process of coming to incorrect conclusions:
One unifying strand in all of the complainants’ evidence heard by the Commission was the sense of dismay and anger felt by them that their Church, in which they had placed the utmost faith and trust, had in their view, duped and manipulated them over the years and that it had done so in order to preserve its reputation and its assets.

Marie Collins was particularly angered by the use by Church authorities of ‘mental reservation’ in dealing with complaints. Mental reservation is a concept developed and much discussed over the centuries, which permits a churchman knowingly to convey a misleading impression to another person without being guilty of lying.

Cardinal Connell explained the concept of mental reservation to the Commission in the following way:
“Well, the general teaching about mental reservation is that you are not permitted to tell a lie. On the other hand, you may be put in a position where you have to answer, and there may be circumstances in which you can use an ambiguous expression realising that the person who you are talking to will accept an untrue version of whatever it may be – permitting that to happen, not willing that it happened, that would be lying. It really is a matter of trying to deal with extraordinarily difficult matters that may arise in social relations where people may ask questions that you simply cannot answer. Everybody knows that this kind of thing is liable to happen. So, mental reservation is, in a sense, a way of answering without lying.”
The Dallas Morning News, in 2002, did an extensive study of all of the many various bishops that assisted in maintaining this “official secrecy” and the efforts of more than 100 US Roman Catholic Bishops to maintain this official policy of secrecy.

Do well, like Bernard Cardinal Law, and you become celebrated.

To all you Roman Catholic apologists who believe that the Roman Catholic Church is somehow “the Church that Christ Founded,” this is your Roman Catholic Church in action.

If you claim to “know Christ”, ask yourselves, is this how Christ behaved?


  1. "If you claim to “know Christ”, ask yourselves, is this how Christ behaved?"

    There are some conservative and some liberal Catholics who are ashamed of the Catholic Church's handling of the pedophile crisis.

  2. Truth, I don’t doubt that there are such folks in the RCC.

    But for the folks who want to make a one-to-one correspondence, “this visible church hierarchy” is “the Church that Christ founded” (see for example the claims made by Bryan Cross at this link), that “[T]he union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it” -- to say that “that church structure" is the church structure that Christ put into place”....

    The folks who say that, then, in order to “prove” that the Roman hierarchy is “the one true Church of Christ” have to then make an allowance that that Church hierarchy, which Christ set in place to guard the purity of doctrine of all time … could at the same time, not only be comprised of “sinners”, but by the worst types of sinners that one can image on earth … not just this “worst type of sinners”, but by an established organization, centuries-old, full of this worst type of sinners, which is both clever enough to dream up entire systematic ways not only of sinning, but of covering up those sins while at the same time being gifted by the Holy Spirit to protect the purity of doctrine for all time.

    It’s not enough to say that “God put fallible men in charge, who would be sinners …” That’s an excuse we hear all the time. They have to allow that, if this is “the Church that Christ Founded™”, then Christ made an allowance to have this “One True Church” run not only by mere ‘sinners’, but by “an organization that structures and maintains itself by lying to the world and covering over these worst types of sins,” and further, the Christ of the Bible who “founded and builds” the church – is this Christ’s way of doing things? Is this what He sustains right now through the Holy Spirit?

    And no, this is not a rigorous proof that such a thing cannot have occurred, but it is a great deal of evidence, and it very much extends the burden of proof for the Bryan Crosses of the world.

  3. See following a reaction to Newman who has recently been declared sainthood by the same "holy church"

    From: http://www.archive.org/stream/a567237300darbuoft#page/n63/mode/2up

    "And here I feel I am on painful, and, for any Christian, dangerous ground. It is, and ought to be, painful to rake up evil, especially in that which bears the name of Christ. I admit, I trust I feel, both the painfulness and the danger. But with the pretensions which are current, and the deceitful statements of morbid imaginations as to the holiness of the Romish body, it becomes necessary that those likely to be deceived should know the truth."

    "I shall state from authentic sources, and Roman Catholic sources, what the state of things really was, and shew how early it began."

    "in the end of the second and in the third century, a common habit for the clergy, under the pretext of purity — unmarried — to live and sleep with unmarried persons, consecrated also to celibacy as above all passion"

    "I add Cyprian's account (A.D. 251). All devoted to increasing their patrimony; no devoted religion in the priests, no upright faithfulness in ministers, no piety in works, no discipline in morals. Men's beards false, women's faces painted, eyes adulterated from what God had made them, their hair falsely coloured — cunning frauds to deceive the hearts of the simple. Artful deceit (subdolae voluntatis) in circumventing brethren, marriages with unbelievers, prostituting to Gentiles the members of Christ; not only rash swearing, but perjury too; despising authority with haughty pretension; to speak evil with poisoned lip oneself; mutual discord with pertinacious hatred. Very many bishops, who should be an exhortation and example to others, despising their divinely-committed service (divina procuratione), make themselves agents (procuratores) of secular affairs, leave their see, desert the people, wandering through others' provinces, hunt after markets for gainful traffic, etc. "

    Drunkenness, Augustine tells us, was universal; the clergy had lent themselves, he tells us, to the evil habits of heathens continuing among Christians, in order to win and keep them.

    in a book entitled "Liber Gomorrhianus," the name of which betrays its import, addressed to the pope, complains of the way in which the clergy were given up to such crimes, it being alleged they could not depose them for it, as people must have the sacraments: they committed them, we read, with their own children — I apprehend, those who came to confession.

    Damianus demanded the deposition of those guilty of these things. The pope answers, they deserved by the canons to be deposed, but out of clemency he would depose only the most immoral. On which Fleury remarks, "which leads us to suppose that the numbers of the guilty were too great to treat them with rigour."

    Later again, W. F. Picus, Lord of Mirandola, says, that priests left the natural use of women, and good boys were given up to them by their parents, and, when grown older, then were made priests of. I give it literally, only in Latin: "Ab illis (sacerdotibus) etiam (proh pudor) foeminae abiguntur ad eorum libidines explendas, et meritorii pueri a parentibus commendantur et condonantur his, qui ab omni corporis etiam concessa voluptate sese immaculatos custodire deberent. Hi postea ad sacerdotiorum gradus promoventur aetatis flore transacto jam exoleti." This was an address to Pope Leo in 1517, the year Luther began the Reformation."

    "Clemangis: "The bishops," he says, "eat most exquisite feasts, in shouting and dances, and pass their nights with girls and effeminate persons; who drag, by a base example, the flock by crooked paths on to the precipice," etc. Were the monks and councils better? They are Pharisees, false doctors, the ravening wolves spoken of in scripture; he calls the nunneries brothels of Venus. To make a girl take the veil is to give her up to prostitution."

  4. Holdon, there is no question the Reformers were justified in overthrowing the whole bloody rat-infested, maggot-infested mess that called itself "The Church".

  5. Steve has summed up the Catholic apologist's tactics in this post

    From my perspective, in both the RCC case and the PSU case, pedophiles insinuated themselves into hierarchical institutions that were predominately male and which valued loyalty above almost all else. A perfect environment in which to conduct their activities as "good guys".

    Of course, the RCC cases are far worse due to the sheer number of individuals affected and the perpetuation of coverups "in the name of Christ". Good luck defending that...