JPII's Record on Sex Abuse: Spokesman, biographer discuss how John Paul handled the crisis

The man who served as Blessed John Paul II's spokesman and media adviser told reporters that the late pope did not initially understand the gravity of the clerical sexual abuse crisis, but once he did he immediately took strong steps to deal with it.

Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who served as papal spokesman into the first months of Pope Benedict XVI's papacy, also said the church's canonical process against Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, began under Pope John Paul, but was not concluded until after his death, so the late pope could not have known for sure the allegations were true.

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Meeting reporters at the Vatican on April 25, both Navarro-Valls and George Weigel, a biographer of Pope John Paul, were asked about the pope's knowledge of and reaction to the clerical sexual abuse crisis.

Navarro-Valls told reporters that when the abuse crisis became public, "I don't think he understood" how serious it was, "but I don't think anyone did."

Calling clerical sexual abuse a "cancer," Navarro-Valls said it became known publicly "in a geographically limited area, the United States, and with isolated cases," many of which were reported around 2000, but "had taken place 20 or 30 years earlier."

"That does not make the problem any less serious," he said, but with the "purity" of Pope John Paul's thinking, particularly his attitudes toward children and about the priesthood, "this was unbelievable."

Once Pope John Paul was convinced that the problem existed, Navarro-Valls said, "he immediately began taking steps," calling the U.S. cardinals to Rome and instituting new juridical procedures to investigate suspected cases and punish abusive priests.

"One of the important decisions," he said, was to give the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith responsibility for handling the cases.

As the April 27 celebration of Blessed John Paul's canonization approached and critics raised questions specifically about the late pope's relationship to the Legionaries of Christ, Navarro-Valls said he has fielded dozens of questions about what Pope John Paul knew about decades of allegations that Father Maciel abused seminarians and was living a double life.

Pope John Paul did not ignore the allegations, he said, but he could not know the results of the Vatican investigation, which began during his papacy and concluded during the first year of the papacy of Pope Benedict. "I was the one who gave the announcement about the result of that inquest," he added.

In 2006, Pope Benedict ordered Father Maciel to withdraw to a life of "prayer and penance" and to abstain from public ministry. The doctrinal congregation said it would not pursue the canonical process of removing him from the priesthood given his advanced age. The Legionaries' founder was 86 at the time.

Weigel, the biographer, also was asked about the scandal.

"I think the only way to think about that comprehensibly is to understand that John Paul II was a great reformer of the Catholic priesthood," he said. "The Catholic priesthood in 1978 was in the worst condition it had been in since the 16th century. Thousands of priests had left the active ministry. We now know that a small minority of priests were involved in horrible crimes and grave sins. Seminary formation was weak. All of that was changed over the next 26 and a half years. So the first thing to be said about John Paul II and the crisis of sexual abuse of the young is that he was a great reformer of the priesthood."

In addition, he said, "I think there was an information gap, particularly between the United States and the Holy See, in the first months of 2002," when the crisis exploded in the Archdiocese of Boston, "so that the pope was not living this crisis in real time as we were in the United States. But once he became fully informed in April of that year, he acted decisively to deal with these problems."

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John Corr
3 years 7 months ago
Navarro-Valls told reporters that when the abuse crisis became public, "I don't think he understood" how serious it was, "but I don't think anyone did." Anyone?
William Atkinson
3 years 7 months ago
Anyone? Way back in the 50's and 60's even during WWII, the church's (diocese and archdiocese) throughout the world were reporting these abuses to Rome it was the rule of thumb to move and cover up all sexual types of abuse in all of society thinking that these were one time actions, not a pattern. As the bishops became aware of patterns, they made to unconscious decisions to move the clergy from area to area rather than deal with these actions as a evil movement within their jurisdictions. The evil was in the covering up and toleration of these patterns rather than the actions themselves. Today the evil exist as those who would initiate cover ups and sanctioning the continuing actions within the church as a whole continue to mandate protection of decision makers rather than condemnation and denunciation of both the evil of cover up and molestation of youth. Jesus condemned both these types to have millstone tied about their necks and cast into fires of Gehenna where both the soul and body would be destroyed..
Tim O'Leary
3 years 7 months ago
William - how can you possibly say that the evil was not in the abusers actions ("rather than the actions themselves")? I do not understand how quickly people want to be so lenient on the abuser but harsh on a supposed (and hard to prove) cover-up, often several steps removed and several years far removed from the crime. Is it because they are forgiving of a sex act but not of an administrator not tempted by the sexual sin? Something else is going on here beyond logic. It is so much harder to prove intention in a cover-up when the abused and abuser both admit that the abuse happened.
Michael Barberi
3 years 7 months ago
This article is not completely convincing because it is the arguments from apologists who are defending the legacy and canonization of JP II. I think it is clear to most worldwide Catholics that when bishops and cardinals cover up the sex abuse of children by clergy, they were following a long established practice among the hierarchy to protect the Church from scandal at almost any cost. Only when the evidence was made clear by the loud outcries of victims, their legal representatives and the world-wide press was anything materially done to bring justice and resolution to this problem. In this light, the Maciel case is most important because of his friendship with JP II, his position within the Church, and the fact that his horrific and immoral actions reached the offices of Cardinal Ratzinger, the perfect of the CDF at that time, and Pope JP II, long before any action was taken against him. When such action was taken, it was too late and justice was lost. To argue that the investigation was not completed until after JP II died (therefore exonerating him from his inaction) is being disingenuous and not completely truthful. Most Catholics do not have a hard time believing, based on reliable reporting and the historical denial by the hierarchy of any wrong-doing or by their spinning of words to deflect from the complete truth about the sex abuse and its coverup, that the Maciel case was indicative of a church-wide systemic problem. It took many years for reforms to finally emerge and it took more time for them to become accepted and implemented in the spirit in which such reforms were developed. Unfortunately, the Maciel case will taint the legacy of JP II, and perhaps Benedict XVI although many believe that Cardinal Ratzinger wanted to bring Maciel to justice much earlier but received push-back either directly or indirectly from JP II. I judge not the canonization of JP II's sainthood; I leave that decision in God's hands.
THOMAS ROMIG
3 years 7 months ago
Pope John Paul II + Bernard Law = no saints.
HARRY BYRNE MSGR
3 years 7 months ago
This blog piece is simply unacceptable. The crisis problem basically is not a matter of sex; it is a matter of governance. Canon 1395 mandates that a priest who abuses a child is to be punished. A multitude of bishops violated that canon "to protect the name of the Church" and, by secretly reassigning abusers to pastoral work, exponentially multiplied the number of children damaged. Canon 1387 provides that an act of ecclesiastical power, or the failure to provide such an act, to the damage of others, is to be punished. No bishop who reassigned abusive priests, who continued to abuse the young, has ever been punished by Rome! Cardinal Law, driven from Boston by his priests and people for reassigning miscreant priests and probably facing an indictment, was extravagantly welcomed to Rome by JPII, made rector of a major basilica, retained on several governing entities, and provided with a six figure income. Priests and people were outraged or bewildered according to their temperaments. No US bishop is on record for making any comment. In April 2002, after the Boston Globe had revealed the cover-ups by countless bishops, JP II addressed the US cardinals summoned to Rome and assured them "as to how the Church will help society to understand and deal with the crisis". Of course, it was society's media, lawyers, and district attorneys that made the Church understand and address its problem. JP II and B16 regularly tried to deflect blame away from bishops and on to priests. In their US visits, both frequently decried "the sins, the crimes of priests" and how "the matter was poorly handled by authorities" as they slipped into the passive voice, thus avoiding mention of bishops as the basic cause of the crisis. All this is not to detract from the very real qualities of the charismatic JPII. But the whole picture should be seen.
Carolyn Disco
3 years 7 months ago
Thank you, Msgr. Byrne! Thank you. You are so right that Bishop accountability is still the open wound in the sexual abuse nightmare. A small group of us in NH filed the only known canon law case by laity in October 2003 seeking the removal of Bishops John McCormack (Law's chief aide for abuse before appointment to NH) and Francis Christian, NH auxiliary who handled abuse cases here for 19 years. We tried. We cited canons 187, 401 (2), 1389 (1, 2), 1740, 1741 with back-up documentation. The petition was hand-delivered to the papal apartment and termed a "professional document." A website unknown to us picked up the text somehow http://liberalslikechrist.org/PetitionvsNHBishops.pdf so it is online long after our own webpage was taken down. Unfortunately, 26 cover letters and correspondence are not included. Credit goes to James Farrell, a UNH communications professor, for writing the case. NH Catholics for Moral Leadership had a website seeking the bishops' resignations where Catholics signed their names, listing their parishes. I think we collected about 1,500 signatures. That was a major achievement because lay Catholics were extremely reluctant to come forward publicly. The passivity and fear were astounding, despite 72% of Catholics in the state favoring their removal. We sent the canon case to multiple congregations in Rome for maximum visibility, and received ever so gracious acknowledgement letters which we knew was all we would ever hear back. Still, it was a meaningful precedent to us that meant silence was not an option. And the case text is witness to the record we compiled. Our Voice of the Faithful affiliate also sought bishop resignations and its response to Bishop McCormack's self-excusing letter still makes very instructive reading after all these years: http://www.bishop-accountability.org/NH-Manchester/Calls_for_Resignation.html#answer Thanks for the memories…
Tim O'Leary
3 years 7 months ago
I never met Pope John Paul II and all I hear about the situation comes from the public media. However, the two witnesses above and the witness of both popes Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis, seems to me to be definitive in this. There is a lot of misinformation out there, and much, unfortunately, has been made up by lawyers in cases where they get to earn a lot of money and truth suffers. I know of no one close to Pope John Paul II who have the negative judgment many bloggers have come to. There are at least two other witnesses that are actually “out-of-this-world.” Miracles from France (Sister Marie Simon Pierre, a 47 year-old of Parkinson’s disease (how fitting) who was completely cured – medical science says this cannot happen) and Costa Rica (Floribeth Mora Diaz, of a brain aneurysm, given a month to live by her doctors!). By the way, there were several other claims of miracles for Saint Pope John Paul II. These are the two official ones. Some will disbelieve until they meet this holy man in heaven, I guess.
Roberto Blum
3 years 7 months ago
Tim, who can really judge a particular event as a miracle? Human knowledge is always provisional and when "experts" -- medical or otherwise -- declare that there is no explanation for a particular event we should always regard that explanation as provisional. Could it be possible that sometime in the future those miraculous cures you mention -- the Parkinson or the brain aneurysm cases -- would be readily explained. Then what? Some events that once were considered miracles now have been completely explained as produced by natural causes. When the Church declares the sainthood of an individual is basically presenting his/her life as a model of christian life to be imitated by the faithful.
Tim O'Leary
3 years 7 months ago
Roberto - you could say the same thing about any of Jesus's healings, or even the Resurrection. The will can always reject a miracle, even the very idea of miracles. The process the Church uses to evaluate miracles in modern times is very rigorous and includes non-believers. I have visited the medical records (physicians can get access to them) of the formally approved miracle healings at Lourdes and the evidence is very solid. Most claims get tossed out for insufficient evidence, or if a conceivable natural cause can be postulated. Of course, I think you and Carolyn and others are completely wrong on Pope John Paul II on even the historical evidence. Even Tom Doyle makes several presumptions about who in the Vatican might have seen or judged a, b and c to try and make his case, again never getting to know the heart of JPII. But, there is an asymmetry to the risk of making such errors. When one dares to judge another person's holiness, one can err in both directions, coming out positively or negatively. However, God does not seem to be nearly as concerned about those who are quick to believe well of another person, as those who are quick to think the worst of another person. There is a new book out on 22 more intimate acquaintances of Pope John Paul II. It is not yet in English but maybe this would be good to read when it becomes readily available. Here is a link to some quotes from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in the book. http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2014/04/24/benedict-xvi-john-pauls-courage-was-a-sign-of-his-holiness/
Carolyn Disco
3 years 7 months ago
An outstanding rebuttal by Tom Doyle - with dates, names, and documents hand delivered to JPII and so acknowledged, from someone personally involved at the Vatican embassy - is a vital corrective to this blatantly distorted article by JP II apologists. I really expected better from America, with recognition of other solid analyses cited below. See http://ncronline.org/news/accountability/records-show-john-paul-ii-could-have-intervened-abuse-crisis-didnt "Records show that John Paul II could have intervened in abuse crisis - but didn't" Snip: George Weigel claimed there was an information gap between the United States and the Holy See in 2002. This is nonsense. There was no gap then, and there was no gap in 1984, when the abuse issue boiled to the surface of public awareness. I was working at the Vatican embassy in 1984 and have firsthand experience of the transmission of information to the Vatican. (Read all the details.) ...Navarro-Valls said after 2002, Pope John Paul immediately began taking action. Other than making nine recorded public statements, all of which were sufficiently nuanced to be innocuous, and calling a meeting of the U.S. cardinals to tell them what everyone already knew, he did nothing positive. He did, however, do a few negative things. He was ultimately responsible for short-circuiting the investigation of Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado. He refused to investigate the accusations against Cardinal Hans Hermann Groër of Vienna...." In addition to Tom Doyle's careful research, Jason Berry wrote about US bishops begging Rome to streamline canonical procedures to allow removal of perpetrators, but JPII would have none of it. Berry: "Why did so many bishops blunder by continuing to recycle sex offenders? Lack of leadership from Rome was a major reason. In fact the Vatican spent years trying to undercut American bishops’ efforts to throw out the worst priests. This began in 1989 when Cardinal Bevilacqua of Philadelphia asked Fr. Thomas Doyle, the former canonist at the Vatican Embassy, for a memo on how to gain Vatican approval for a swift process to defrock pedophiles. Doyle wrote that John Paul “will not laicize a priest against his will. ... "“They were looking for special norms without submitting legislation,” a Vatican canonist told me in 2002. He wore robes. It was a sunny fall day. We sat in an old building. He complained about bishops not preaching against birth control, scorning their “antinomian attitude” -- disrespect for church law. “There was very good reason not to grant special norms on pedophiles,” he continued. “The U.S. [canon law] tribunals violated grandly -- terribly -- the annulments of marriage!” What did marriage annulments have to do with pedophiles?" See, "The power of purifying memory" Oct. 15, 2004 http://natcath.org/NCR_Online/archives2/2004d/101504/101504p.php A much fuller understanding of JP II's record is essential to appreciate why survivors and their advocates object to his canonization.
Michael Barberi
3 years 7 months ago
I think the comments by Msgr. Harry Byrne says it all. The fact that no bishop has been brought to justice under the papacy of JP II because of the sex abuse scandal speaks volumes about the culture in Rome, the credibility of the hierarchy and their apologists. The Maciel case, in particular, taints the legacy of JP II as well.
Tim O'Leary
3 years 7 months ago
Michael - you and Msgr. Harry Byrne should not be looking for a sacrificial lamb to appease the crowd. If you are certain of the guilt of a particular bishop (maybe, you think Cardinal Law is your best case, or Cardinal Bernardin, or Cardinal Mahony), you have a lot more information than I. You have to have proof that a bishop reassigned a priest, knowing that that priest was a true pedophile, was not cured (as was claimed by the doctors) and would likely do the same again. I agree that, in hindsight, several bishops were not sufficiently vigilant and put too much store in the psychologist's advice and their 'treatment" centers. And, their actions may have been negligent. The courts should handle their secular crime. On the other hand, if the courts cannot convict, if the bishop repents, what should be done with them, in your opinion? Who should throw the first stone? I hope Cardinal Law writes his memoirs of the whole events, like the confessions of St. Augustine, where he describes what he actually did and did not do, what he thought at the time and what he thinks now. Note, I still believe a pedophile or an enabler (willing or negligent) can still be a saint. As long as he lives, there is time, if it hasn't happened already. But, it is never my place to judge the soul or convict, at least as I see the Gospel. Protect the children always, but be willing to forgive always as well.
Roberto Blum
3 years 7 months ago
JPII is no saint and canonizing him is a very serious mistake by Pope Francis. It is understandable that Francis, who found upon his accesion the process initiated by Benedict 16 already on fast track, found very difficult to stop it, but if this canonization goes through as it seems almost inevitable now, both Francis and Benedict will have to answer to God for the damage they will be doing to His Church. Francis has still time to stop this event. I hope Francis will have the strength to say NO..
3 years 7 months ago
The historical record is fair game as to whether or not St. John Paul (and others) acted deliberately and effectively in the matter of the sexual abuse of minors (and others). His sanctity like that of all fallible and sinful men and women does not hang on this one failure nor any failure. Holiness, sanctity, is a gift of God and recognizing him, canonizing him, is an acknowledgement of God's work not his. I pray that perhaps his prayerful heavenly intercession now will bring the healing which he did not effect in his earthly ministry.
Michael Perigo
3 years 7 months ago
Accounts of child sexual abuse by Religious and clergy date to the early decades of the 20th century and perhaps even further. Pedophiles have always sought out occupations that place them in close proximity to potential victims. It may be true that St JP2 could/should have done more (at least he started to do "something") to deal with bishops who were lax in their handling of the scandal, but it should be noted that J23 did nothing about it at all and it was happening then. In fact St Peter's Basilica during Vatican II was jam packed with bishops who were letting abusive priests continue to minister in their dioceses. B16 will likely not get the credit he deserves in really addressing the matter in a serious way. Painting JP2 as somehow "particularly" vulnerable to this charge of laxity is false and is a cynical device used by those who opposed his work to steer the Church to a path of orthodox belief and praxis.
Michael Barberi
3 years 7 months ago
I don't think you can equate what John XXIII did nor did not do in the 1950s to what was known or not known about sexual abuse of children by clergy, to the worldwide sexual abuse scandal that was reported under JP II. Nor can you merely excuse or minimize the fact that not one bishops has been brought to justice as a result of overwhelming evidence of scandal and cover-up. The culture in the RCC may be changing, but this was only the result of the efforts of victims, their attorneys and the worldwide press. The Maciel case and the fact that not one bishop has been brought to justice taints the legacy of JP II. This does not mean that both John XXIII and JP II should not be canonized. I leave such decisions in God's hands.
Anne Chapman
3 years 7 months ago
Michael, agreed. So much was known about this widespread pattern of abuse by priests and protection by bishops during John Paul II's time that there is NO excuse at all for his failure to act, nor for his charge that it was "media" sensationalism. Those who haven't read the report by Thomas Doyle (linked to in another post) have a moral obligation to read it. I don't know what John XXIII knew, but if he knew very much, even if less than John Paul II did (and there is no doubt about what he knew) he is also guilty. I do not know how some people define "holiness". I don't think that piety and holiness are the same, nor are the possession of a good sense of theatre and a charismatic personality signs of holiness . There is no doubt that John Paul II was very pious (and charismatic, and was definitely a crowd-pleaser) but some observers did not see real "holiness". Too many popes are being canonized just for being popes. The "miracle' vetting process is so highly problematic for so many reasons, it should simply be dispensed with completely, as it really cannot stand up to rational scrutiny and critique. So unlike you, I do not think that John Paul II should be canonized, nor John XXIII. I admired John XXIII and his attempt to free the church from the past and to overcome its almost pathological fear and loathing of the modern world. I give him credit for that. But I am no more convinced that being intelligent and open-minded enough to be willing to recognize that there was a crying need that was long overdue to initiate reform in the church and to have the leadership to call the Council to address this, is necessarily the result of "holiness" either. He was a very good pope, a good chief executive of a global enterprise, and a good man. I admired both popes for also beginning (VERY late in the church's history) to show responsibility and repentance for the church's treatment of the Jews over two millenia. John XXIII took action at some personal risk to save innocent Jewish lives (and if he had been caught, he too could have been imprisoned) and John Paul II did show some true remorse for what the church had too often done, and too often failed to do. Although I was not a fan of John Paul II and believe that he is responsible for a great deal that went wrong in the church from 1978 on, I admire him for his concern for the Jews and his desire to express remorse and sorrow on behalf of the church, and for his efforts on ecumenism. Those were his best moments in my personal opinion. I don't remember John XXIII as a person really. Communications were far more limited then than now (three networks and a few local stations and no live streaming or internet!) and I was young enough during his time to have been fairly unaware of what he was doing. My friends and my life at school were far more interesting than what went on in Rome. It was only much later, as an adult, that I appreciated what John XXIII did and at least tried to do, before his successors worked to undermine it. But those actions alone are not necessarily signs of "saintly" holiness. Showing remorse and repenting for sins is what the church asks all to do. Should we all be canonized because we do our jobs (in the world, in our families, in our marriages, in our parishes, in our communities) and try to show true remorse and true repentance when we sin? Almost every person canonized is a cleric or religious, yet most of the "holy" people I know are neither. When is the church going to begin to recognize in an official way the holiness in those who are not consecrated virgins, who live in the world, who have the vocation of marriage and family or the non-vowed single life?
Tim O'Leary
3 years 7 months ago
Anne - here is a book that tells the stories of 200 married saints and blesseds: "Married Saints and Blesseds through the Centuries" by Ferdinand Holbock. He lists 119 married couples. http://www.amazon.com/Married-Saints-Blesseds-Through-Centuries/dp/0898708435 Many early martyrs were married. St. Thomas More is a famous example, and a recent example was St. Gianna Beretta Molla, canonized by Pope St. JPII in 2004. She was a medical doctor and is proclaimed by the church as patroness of Mothers and The Family, and is a great witness for the pro-life movement.
Anne Chapman
3 years 7 months ago
The exceptions do not change the reality that most "saints" were religious women or priests. I am aware of some married couple saints - sometimes they are held up as "holy" because they decided to stop having marital sexual relations. It is also a reality that there has been a huge rush on to canonize popes of the 20th century - far more than in earlier centuries. Why? I prefer saints that I can relate to as human beings who live the same kind of life that most people do. Gianna may be one, I don't know much about her except that she refused treatment that might save her life to save her unborn child. I know personally a couple of women who have done the same thing, who will never be canonized for it. I prefer saints who were not known for cruelty - to themselves and others - for having such disrespect for the human body given them by God that they would inflict torture on themselves. Nor do I look at someone who was famous for persecuting and supporting the execution of protestants by burning them at the stake as either holy or saintly or someone to be emulated. Thomas More wore a hair shirt and sometimes flagellated himself, and he oversaw the burning at the stake of a number of protestants for such "sins" as possessing banned books written by Reformation leaders. He is not a saint any more than were "Bloody Mary", Henry VIII or his daughter Elizabeth saints. Some say that he personally tortured "heretics" but he denied it. I suppose we will never know, but given that he tortured himself physically, it would not be surprising if he tortured others.
Tim O'Leary
3 years 7 months ago
Anne - you can be as judgmental all you wish on the lives of saints, but the Church has to follow the Gospel as she sees it, not just on how she would like it to be. My judgment and that of many historians of the Church is that we have been blessed by some of the best popes in the last 150 years. Given your doctrinal positions presented many times on this blog, I am not at all surprised that you come to a much more negative view of the leaders of the modern Church. I doubt one of the last 50 popes would meet your preferences.
Anne Chapman
3 years 7 months ago
You may be right - it is possible I would not find any of the last 50 popes to be "holy" people or saints. I don't know enough about all of them to say. Of the modern popes that I do know at least a little about, John XXIII would come closest. I can't think of any other pope from Pius IX on who might qualify, and know very little about his predecessors. "Holiness" does not equate to "obedience to the magisterium" but to obedience to God in an exceptional way, often at great personal cost. I don't know that any of the popes of the last 150 years paid much of a personal price for what they did as men or as popes. John XXIII did take personal risks to help save the Jews though.. As far as I can tell, the canonization process of the Catholic church has very little to do with the gospels, and a whole lot to do with politics. Maybe the term "saint" should either be clarified as simply someone who mostly gave a good example of a life lived for others (not simply for the Roman Catholic church) without the nonsense of demanding miracles etc, or maybe it should be expanded to include all those who work selflessly for Christ and for "the least of these" (whether Catholic or not). If dying for one's religious beliefs qualifies as "martyrdom" and almost-automatic sainthood, it should include those who didn't happen to be Roman Catholic who died for their faith - including those who were executed for heresy by the representatives of the Catholic church, such as the protestants who were killed under Thomas More's regime and the Jews and Muslims who refused to recant their religious beliefs and were murdered by the Inquisition.
Michael Barberi
3 years 7 months ago
Great points Anne, I would add that merely because the RCC canonizes a pope, such as JP II, does not mean that every Catholic should imitate every one of his actions, or pronounce everything he wrote and taught as the absolute moral truth with certainty. Some may do so, but most will not for good reasons.
Tim O'Leary
3 years 7 months ago
Michael - by your approval of Anne's comments, am I to assume that you too think Thomas More and Francis of Assisi weren't saints, or do not meet your approval, for good reasons?
Michael Barberi
3 years 7 months ago
Tim, No, you may not "assume" that anyone in history were not saints merely because I thought Anne made some great points, such as: "Holiness" does not equate to "obedience to the magisterium" but to obedience to God in an exceptional way, often at great personal cost. I don't know that any of the popes of the last 150 years paid much of a personal price for what they did as men or as popes. John XXIII did take personal risks to help save the Jews though.. As far as I can tell, the canonization process of the Catholic church has very little to do with the gospels, and a whole lot to do with politics. Tim, let us not forget that canonization is a human judgment. We strive to be holy in this life and more like Christ by obedience to his Gospel, not by obedience to the magisterium.
Anne Chapman
3 years 7 months ago
Tim, there are a lot of things that must be judged within the context of the culture and time in history that someone lived. I can excuse Augustine and Aquinas for their patriarchal attitudes that sometimes bordered on misogny, for their judgment of women as second-rate human beings, for their total lack of scientific knowledge of reproduction and basic biology, of their lack of knowledge of human psychology. They can be excused because they were born and lived in (and formed by) specific cultures, in eras of history when everyone was equally ignorant. That does not excuse the men who define church teachings in the 20th and 21st century for perpetuating this ignorance in the form of Catholic teaching. Francis of Assisi is among my personal saints also. He truly loved God and showed it at great personal cost. He did not live in luxury in a mansion, as do many bishops, or in a palace in Rome, as did the popes of both his time and ours. He was a man of the13th century, and like everyone, he was influenced by his time and place in history. His practice of self-abuse is as repugnant as that of those who practice it today, such as John Paul II, but it is excusable. He lived in the 13th century, and there were many practices (and superstitions) that all were subject to at that time in history. Jesus did not whip himself, he did not torture his own body. He accepted the suffering and torture but did not do it to himself. However, some misguided people somehow think it pleases God to inflict physical torture on themselves. Francis can be excused for thinking that somehow this self-abuse enabled him to enter into Jesus' suffering because the entire cultures view of physical torture was radically different than that of today. As we know, the church itself tortured countless people as "heretics". It no longer does so. But those who practice self-abuse now seem to be very misguided. I think John Paul II was sincere in his self-abuse, but he was misguided that self-abuse = holiness. I don't doubt JPII's sincerity. I think he wanted to be "holy". Unfortunately his personal ego led him to attack and silence anyone who disagreed with him, caused him to reign as an absolute dictator, and to appoint mediocre men to be bishops simply because they could be counted on to agree with him and enforce his views of "orthodoxy". I think he was sincere, but flawed enough to be excluded from "saint"hood. He made the mistake of putting the institution ahead of God and this led to a form of blindness that led to the continuation of protecting abusive priests. He had ideas about the priesthood which were distorted, sadly, and this led to bad judgments when it came to dealing with the men who protected sexual predators. I am giving him the benefit of the doubt here, believe it or not. I do not think he truly realized how devastating his inaction and his glorification of the priesthood (his insistence on priests' ontological superiority) would be to thousands and thousands of children. As far as Thomas More goes, no, I do not think he was a saint. He was also a man of his time, and the papacy had long been a major secular power alongside of kings and emperors. His loyalty was to the pope and an institution and he oversaw the execution of some who might be considered to be martyrs actually because they died for their faith. He is considered a martyr to the Catholic church - which is somewhat different than being a martyr for God. Those he had executed were martyrs because of their faith in God rather than to a pope or an institution. You accept all doctrines and all judgments of Rome as being "Truth" without question and in spite of the history of the church which clearly reveals that the institution and its hierarchy were often wrong. One of my favorite saints is St. Christopher - declared a saint by the same church who has just named two more saints. Alas, St. Christopher, along with many others, has been "downgraded". Sigh. http://articles.latimes.com/2004/jul/31/local/me-beliefs31 But, in my mind, anyone who cares for children the way the legend says he did, is a saint in my mind and a model for others. Those who refuse to protect children are not. You claim to care about kids being protected - yet you refuse to hold accountable the men of the church - who claim to speak for God literally, unlike public high school principals who act far more responsibly in most cases than have bishops. You continually try to divert the discussion away from the church's guilt to society's general guilt. Nobody denies that sexual abuse occurs outside the Catholic church. But in this day and age, outside the Catholic church, those who protect child abusers and are known to have done so, are held accountable. I can give you a dozen examples just from my own city. Nobody denies that child abuse is a terrible problem in society and is not exclusively a problem of the Roman Catholic church. But you continue to deny that bishops who have systematically protected child abusers be held accountable. Rome has not held them accountable. We're all waiting, Tim. We WANT Rome to finally do the right thing. Don't you want that too? You do say you care about protecting kids.
Michael Barberi
3 years 7 months ago
Anne, When I said that I would leave the decision about JP II's sainthood in God's hands, this did not mean an unequivocal endorsement of his life as a saint. Canonization in the RCC is a human process and judgment and most Catholics respect it. However, less people follow and worship saints as they used to in previous eras. Frankly, most Catholics are striving to be more like Christ and love and God and neighbor as best they can. If a so-called saint can motivate someone to do this, God bless them. I have a huge problem with JP II, not because he did not believe in his actions, or that he did not do good things, or that some things he did were not admirable. I believe that the culture in the RCC has a lot to do with the pope and the hierarchy's actions: they will not admit to any error but do almost anything to protect "the Church" and its episcopate from scandal (e.g., in the sexual abuse scandal they pitted the so-called reputation of the Church agaInst the health and safety of children. The "scandal" was not merely the sexual abuse of children by clergy but the cover-up by bishops and the moving of pedophile priests around to other parishes to commit more horrific acts, and the deliberate decision not to bring bishops who were clearly guilty to justice. All that Rome did was deflect the problem to some priests who were labeled misguided and mentally unstable. Clearly some priests were brought to justice and procedures and policies were set in place. Progress was made. However, not one bishop was brought to justice. I believe this fact and the Maciel case taints the legacy of JP II. I do not judge JP II as a "person". I disagree with some of his teachings and actions for good reasons, but this is not character assignation or being disrespectful. As for John XXIII, I thought he was a good pope.
Tim O'Leary
3 years 7 months ago
I know the Church is doing something right when there are objections on both sides of the theological spectrum to the canonizations. Apart from people who discount miracles or are against canonization in principle, I have seen objections based on 1) the process (#miracles, timing, etc.), 2) the teaching (too much or too little orthodoxy), 3) or the governance (to rigorous or too lax). 1. The process – I think there are pro and con arguments on this, as the further away we get from the life of the holy person, the harder it is to document witnesses. We have so many more people who witnessed to the sanctity of these two popes that it makes it much easier, not harder, to see their holiness. Another example, there was wide consensus on the great holiness of Pope Pius XII at his death. He was seen as a hero of the Jews for saving so many individuals from Nazi brutality. The NYT called him a "lonely voice crying out of the silence of a continent.” The state of Israel honored him, Einstein saw him as a hero, etc., etc. Since then, his reputation has been scurrilously attacked, based on no credible evidence whatsoever, but on the idea that he should have done more! So, in this case, time has not been a friend of truth. But even Pius XII’s cause awaits confirmation by a miracle (He is venerable). While skeptics will always deny miracles, the Church still believes in them, and they are far less susceptible to political maneuverings if investigated adequately (remember the blind man in Jn 9: “all I know is I was blind and now I see”). 2. The teaching – given the status of the pope in the Church, this is a weak objection (again, from either side). There are some who would consider fidelity to the full teaching of the Church an automatic disqualification to sainthood, even if they pretend their objection is someplace elsewhere. Some might also object that St. Paul or some other saint or candidate didn't come out against slavery, treatment of peoples, equality of women, or for the free market or religious freedom, or some other cause ("they didn't do enough"), While we can have difficulties with certain teachings, I think it is really small-minded and exclusionary to want to keep someone out just because of an emphasis or minor difference of interpretation. As long as they are seen as part of the orthodox tradition of the faith by the current pope (and the miracles), that should be sufficient. 3. The governance – while failing in one's duty is bad (like St. Peter denying the Lord, or Pope Liberius temporarily succumbing to the pressure of the Emperor, or a bishop or pope not getting on top of the abuse scandal fast enough), it does not get to the heart of the person’s sanctity at their death, as long as it is clear they loved God with their whole heart and soul, their neighbor as themselves and they strived to do His will. That is all we should ask of ourselves and our family members. Many will accuse popes of offending justice by being too merciful, or not seeing/believing the evil in others, or of not disciplining wayward theologians, etc. This is very hard to adjudicate so it is best left to the investigative team. Again, the miracles are an independent witness.
Roberto Blum
3 years 7 months ago
Tim, canonization is a public recognition by the Church of an individual's virtuous life that may serve as a model for the faithful. The virtues that an individual attains are intimately linked to the status the individual had. A pontiff has a unique status and so the virtues he has to practice are not identical to those that common folk should strive for. In this sense, any mistakes JPII committed as Pope cannot be dismissed so offhandedly by saying that at the moment of his death he might have repented. JPII's life has to be judged "in toto" meaning that any omission or commission in his role as Pope has to be judged seriously. It does not matter if he did not know of the sexual abuses committed by clerics during his tenure as Pope. He had the terrible responsibility to govern and guard his flock and so had a duty to be vigilant and act accordingly. Until the last he protected not the children who were abused but the abusers, especially Marcial Maciel. He cannot plead ignorance.
Tim O'Leary
3 years 7 months ago
Roberto - If I understand you correctly, you are saying that, no matter how personally holy he is, if a very bad thing happened under his watch, which we was ignorant of, or failed to believe without an investigation (so, commencing an investigation might not be enough), or failed to act with sufficient speed (however defined), then he should not be recognized as a saint. But, this is thinking too legalistically. It might work for a corporation or a ship (such as going down with a sinking ship) but this is not a criterion for a saintly man. Never has been. Many saints would fail this test. And, then there are the miracles.
Anne Chapman
3 years 7 months ago
Tim, relying on "miracles" is a highly suspect foundation for determining "sainthood". The "miracles" of this year might easily be explained next. It is interesting that the number of 'miracles" reported at Lourdes began to drop sharply as medical and scientific knowledge advanced, and continues to do so. They are also modifying the definition of "miracle" cures. As far as "holiness" goes, I'm not sure how you define "holy". Could you do so? Is "holiness" piety? Is 'holiness" self-abuse (as in flagellation)? Is "holiness" found in how one treats other people (for example, would a truly "holy" person silence all those who disagree with him, or would a truly "holy" person invite discussion?) Does a "holy" person attempt to protect children and the young from those who would rape and molest them? Or does a "holy" person simply protect his "brothers" - fellow clerics? How do you define "holy"?
Tim O'Leary
3 years 7 months ago
Anne - I understand holiness as doing the will of the Lord, as one sees it. One's will becomes completely subservient to the will of God. One becomes completely open to God's grace and becomes filled with grace. This holiness is a form of perfection. Jesus said, "be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Mt 5). He says to the rich young man: "if you wish to be perfect..."(Mt 19). However, this perfection has nothing to do with worldly excellence, such as good governance, or high intelligence, accomplishments, administrative success, etc.. And, I do believe one could be holy even if one's theology is defective. Certainly, many Protestants, Arians and Nestorians were very holy people (they just lacked the charism of doctrinal truth that resides only in the RCC). They followed their consciences and put all their trust in God. I have known some people who I would consider very holy, and I have even met Mother Teresa, who I believe was one of the holiest people I ever encountered. Externally, holiness is evident in exceptional piety and charity, devotion to the will of God. Many holy saints seemed to lead extremely unusual lives. They weren't all the types you would like to meet at a cocktail party and they certainly would not be seen as politically correct. And they were frequently, if not always, very hard on themselves, even to self injury (recall that St. Francis is reported to have used a hairshirt and flagellation and he had the stigmata). They often experience a lot of suffering (and accept it with joy). Some show supernatural powers, even miracles (e.g. Padro Pio). Some have led bad lives and turn it all around in the last minute, such as the martyrs. I am in awe of their diversity. I am in fearful awe of their abundant enthusiasm for God. I believe in miracles, from the immaculate conception, the incarnation, the virgin birth, the resurrection and the ascension, etc. I believe in the many miracles of Jesus and the Apostles. I believe in the many miracles of the saints. It is the Holy Spirit acting through the holy people. I am a scientist and I know many claims of miracles are due to natural events. Still, I believe miracles are happening all the time, even today, in Lourdes and Fatima and in many other mundane places. You are very skeptical of miracles and so will discount any report of a miracle. You are equally skeptical of many Catholic doctrines. You might think St. Francis too extreme or Padro Pio's miracles too retro, or Maria Goretti's sacrifice wasted. You need to have faith to see clearly.
Anne Chapman
3 years 7 months ago
Tim, we've gone through all of this many times, so there is no point in continuing. I have faith - but my faith is in God, Jesus and the gospels, not in men or institutions. Sometimes the men and the institution can be a helpful guide, sometimes they lead people off track. Human beings are fallible - ALL human beings. I have personal "saints" - including M. Teresa, but also some who are not Roman Catholic (but are very much part of Christ's church - God doesn't limit his church the way men want to, confining it to a sort of religious country club), and saints who are unknown beyond the small group who have been personally blessed by knowing them. So you are free to choose John Paul II as one of your personal saints. He was into harming his own body also, so he fits right in to your personal definition of "holiness" I suppose. I was taught that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and that we are not to abuse them, but to care for them. I agree with that particular teaching - one I learned in Catholic school. You are free to choose your saints, and I will choose mine and everyone is happy.
Roberto Blum
3 years 7 months ago
Tim, I do understand your argument, however I believe that canonization as the Church has come to believe is a public declaration that an individual is a model for others to follow. If a monk, the canonized monk has to have lived an exemplary life of a monk. If a house servant, he or she should have been examples of a christian servant regarding the virtues and duties of such state. Kings and emperors should be models of public servants, protecting their subjects, providing justice, promoting the welfare of those in his/her charge. Popes are no different in regard of the example they provide for Christians. Of course canonized Popes have to have lived a virtuous and saintly life as individuals but that is not enough. They have to have other virtues that common folk do not need and will not be judged by their lack of. If JPII were just a Christian, I would not judge him as harshly as I do, but his earthly mission was not to be just a virtuous and saintly man. He was put in a position of enormous responsibility, the papacy, where he was the servant of the servants of Christ, his vicar, he had to govern in the fullest sense the Catholic Church, providing justice to those who presented grievances. Sadly, he failed in this most important function. Even more, in his watch there were various scandals that he could not have invincibly ignorant. His close relationship with Marcial Maciel and the legionnaires, the scandals and corruption at the IOR that he did not address and could have done taint his papacy irremediably.
Tim O'Leary
3 years 7 months ago
Roberto - you are using a worldly measure to judge Pope John Paul II, which does not relate to his holiness. However, in case my focus on this might leave the wrong impression, I even disagree completely with your interpretation of his actions relating to Fr. Maciel and the child abuse issue, which I consider so full of poor judgment from his critics, so full of presumption, so far removed from what actually happened, so full of distortion. Some even claim he knowingly wanted children to be hurt and was an active promoter of pedophilia (see some insinuation below)! Those on the sex abuse beat are so consumed with it (and so blind to it outside the Church) that I do not think it worth dealing with every time it is brought up. I would dearly love to lead a life half as good as the magnificent Pope John Paul II the Great. His critics were against him long before the sex abuse calumny surfaced. He remains a hero for me and his canonization is an encouragement to read him more and to listen to him. So, he is a model for me and millions of others. I see more miracles coming from a devotion to him. St. JPII, pray for us, your friends and your critics.
Carlos Orozco
3 years 7 months ago
The first accusations against Marcial Maciel date back to the pontificate of Pius XII (lots of popes to bark against). Many of Maciel's accusers recognize recanting under oath during official investigations. Years later, some of them discharged their lack of courage turning against then pope John Paul II. A humble share: I saw John Paul II a couple of times in Mexico City during January of 1999. The fist time I saw him the popemobile was circulating over one of the city's main avenues, making its way to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It was still early morning, crowds filled both sides of the street and emotions mounted, hundreds of voices gained strength as the Pope neared. When he finally appeared, I was impressed by his red slav face that contrasted with his immaculate white outfit. I remember thinking that his already broken body could hardly contain the awesome power of the Holy Spirit that dwelled within it.
Roberto Blum
3 years 7 months ago
Do you really mean that those individuals sexually abused in childhood by pedophile clerics and later in life accusing them and not receiving any redress from the highest authority in Christendom are "dogs barking?" More charity please.
Carlos Orozco
3 years 7 months ago
No, Roberto. I was referring to the insidious, holier-than-thou crowd that has no problem affirming that "JP II was no saint", without concrete evidence.
Michael Barberi
3 years 7 months ago
Carlos, I think you minimize the overwhelming evidence about Maciel and the sexual abuse scandal that rocked the papacy of JP II by arguing that first accusations against Maciel date back to the Pius XII. In the1950s, few, if any, Catholics or the press had the courage or the investigative fortitude to flesh out such accusations and bring the accused clergy to justice (not to mention bishops). Sexual abuse by clergy may have occurred in the 1950s, but the evidence and outcry by victims, their attorneys and the press were largely absent and were not on the same scale as in post-concilar times. Who knows if such accusations reached Pius XII or John XXIII. I also saw JP II when he visited NYC and watched him as he stood in his popemobile and blessed the crowns. Few knew of the sexual abuse problems in the Church at that time, at least to the same degree as became common knowledge later. There is much to be admired by JP II, but not his inaction that allowed bishops avoid justice and Maciel to spend his last years in penance in some retreat house. These facts taint his legacy.
Tim O'Leary
3 years 7 months ago
Michael - your idea of overwhelming evidence needs some clarification. Overwhelming to whom, overwhelming when? It took a detailed investigation by the CDF to reveal the truth about this man, who was in his 70's when this became clear. What seems obvious now only became clear over time. And, not all allegations against him are equal (such as his secret wife and family). Strange that no civil court was willing to convict him. It is far more complicated looking forward than looking in hindsight. And, the investigation occurred while the Pope was aging and with Parkinson's. But, his critics are always ready to assume the worst. And, what should Pope Benedict XVI have done with the septuagenarian when the investigation was complete and no court would follow through with a trial and conviction? What power did he have to incarcerate him? In a Vatican dungeon? Is this realistic? Would SNAP have been willing to man the dungeon? It is the nature of institutional abuses that they come to light over time, often with defensive denial, often with murky initial accusations, often with fear of scandal, in religious and secular institutions. It doesn't all become clear at once. Once it becomes clear something wrong happened, you get the initial partial attempts at reform, before the institution figures out what needs to be done. There are also the false accusations (remember Cardinal Bernardin), the innocent people caught in a guilty-until-proven-innocent dragnet (several priests in Philadelphia recently exonerated). Then the lawyers, exaggerating the accusations, and making fortunes. One can always look back and say not enough was done. There wasn't enough opposition to slavery (Lincoln has been accused of not doing enough). Look how many people turn their heads away from China's one-child policy, or the sex-selection abortions, or the sexploitation of minors. Or the Dutch euthanasia abuses. What about the child sex abuse epidemic in public schools (recall the defensive reacion of the teachers' unions). The list is endless. Pope Pius XII was accepted as a hero and now as an enabler (with no new information). Same for Pope Benedict XVI. Will the same happen to Pope Francis? I think it best for those trying to follow Christ to stay away from harsh judging of others. Listen to the witness of those who really knew Pope John Paul II, those who were with him day in and day out.
Michael Barberi
3 years 7 months ago
Tim, See my comments to Carlos above. I think the larger issue is the fact that not one bishop has been brought to justice because of the worldwide sexual abuse scandal during the papacy of JP II.
Tim O'Leary
3 years 7 months ago
Will any bishop do, Michael? Do they have to be proven guilty or just convicted in the media? What do you want to happen to them?
Anne Chapman
3 years 7 months ago
Tim, that you even ask shows that you are in a state of deep denial, that you refuse to look at the truth. You don't like the truth about this matter, so you attack those who want the men who facilitated the sexual abuse of children to no longer be given a pass for their role in enabling this evil towards children because they are priests and bishops and cardinals. The world is waiting - they are waiting for a Pope to demand the resignation of at least one bishop who enabled serial sexual abuse of kids to show that Rome is truly serious about protecting kids instead of bishops in the future. Bishops MUST be held accountable and policies must be written that clearly spell out what bishops are expected to do. So far Rome has not done this. Every single policy written so far is directed only at lower clergy and lay employees and volunteers. And so far Francis has not signaled that he will do any more than did his predecessors when it comes to the hierarchy. One hopes that Marie Collins' appointment to the belatedly put together group Francis formed to "study" this issue will be able to finally convince Rome that bishops can no longer be protected by Rome.. Rome at some point must show that bishops will be held accountable when they protect child rapists. So far Rome has refused to do this. So far Rome has permitted bishops to remain undisciplined when they protect priests who have molested kids or who show signs of being a danger, such as those who collect child porn. In the case of the priest in Kansas City, the priest who was convicted (by the civil authorities) created some of his own child porn using parish kids in his photographs. Cardinal Law's is the only resignation. This resignation was only accepted after the collection and the Cardinal's Appeal fell by 50% - millions and millions - and after he was forced to reveal the truth while under oath in a civil court. He was moved to Rome, where, very conveniently, he could not longer be subpoenaed to court to give additional testimony at some point. Instead of being disciplined for moving known pedophile priests from parish to parish where they victimized dozens (and in one infamous case, more than 100 kids. When Cardinal Law was finally forced to retire this guy after his serial rapes in parish after parish could not longer be hidden, he wrote him the kindest letter thanking him for his service to God and the church. It's in the legal files and if you want to read it - and all the rest of the ugly truth - I will be happy to give you the links). So when the fire got too hot (thanks to the media and the civil justice system), Cardinal Law was rewarded by Rome, given a prestigious title and cathedral and jobs on powerful Curial committees. Those actions spoke volumes to any Catholic who is not also an ostrich. Cardinal Levada was chosen by Benedict for his own previous job at the CDF, in spite of that fact that Cardinal Levada also protected priests who preyed on kids instead of protecting the kids. There are literally dozens and dozens of examples of bishops who should have been asked to resign but who were permitted to not only retain their offices, but in some cases, given new, even more prestigious positions in the institutional church. Pope Benedict did not hesitate to demand the resignation of an Australian bishop who had expressed the thought that the church should revisit mandatory celibacy and closing the door to the priesthood to women. He was gone very quickly. Pope Benedict also did not hesitate to demand resignations from several bishops who were misusing church money without his approval. Money seems to count with Rome far more than does the lives of children who are victims of priests. However, Benedict did act against Maciel, unlike his predecessor. However, Maciel was not a member of the hierarchy, making some wonder if perhaps membership in the hierarchical boys' club is required to ensure Rome's protection. Those who continue to deny reality should examine their consciences, because at some point, denial in the face of mountains and mountains of evidence now made public in the US, Canada, Australia, Ireland, and several countries of Europe, may indicate that they are harboring not only an un-real view of the hierarchy and the institution, but perhaps even a view that is dangerous to their own souls. Some who refuse to look at the truth, who try to pretend that all of this is a media invention, may be in serious danger of committing the sin of idolatry, of replacing God with false gods, of replacing God with human men and human institutions. This is a mindset that I simply cannot grasp. I keep promising myself that I will no longer allow myself to be drawn in by those who simply stubbornly refuse to see. But because the crimes committed against the young by priests who were protected by bishops are so horrific to me as a mother, I continue to try to open the eyes of the blind. But some simply refuse to see the truth. And those who do should ask themselves why, in spite of the mountains and mountains of evidence now available from countries all over the world that reveal the pattern, they continue to deny and willfully choose to be blind.
Tim O'Leary
3 years 7 months ago
Anne - I am not at all in denial. My priorities are just different from yours. You and many others are fully into retribution mode (also dangerous for the soul). I am into child protection, now and going forward. I have children and emotionally, I would be for execution for any pedophile or enabler with full knowledge and consent in what they were doing. I am also into justice for all involved. Here are my recommendations for the new committee: 1) protect kids from any future harm (this means expanding the zero policy from the US parishes to across the world, and to the public schools. This means a) speedy suspension from duties and police notification for any substantiated claim of abuse, b) speedy investigation both by the police and the Church, c) indictment if charge is credible, public exoneration and restoration if innocent. See here for a recent example of this process for an allegation a few months ago on a claimed event 20 years ago (http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/iteam&id=9504737&vid=9505089). Note that SNAP are still not satisfied, as expected, and never will be. 2) Immediate investigation of any enabling bishop or priest after these policies were promulgated. The case of Archbishop Wesolowski is a real test case for the Vatican. I will judge how effective and committed they are by how they handle this case, and will look to see what the new committee does. Conviction of actual abuse or willful enabling should result in prison sentences (although what prison I am not sure about - probably Italian for Vatican citizens). 3) Care of those who were abused. This includes counselling and some financial support if needed. Try to keep exorbitant lawyer fees out of this part as the money will only come from future donors, many of who are poor themselves. (They should only receive pay for hours put in, not part or any settlement). 4) Resignation and defrocking of any proven pedophile priest. The same for any willful enabler, depending on guilt after an investigation. This should include any guilty bishop or cardinal, or lay person in the system. These are all actions that focus on child protection, justice for both the abused and the accused. Now to your favorite part - the retribution: 5) The new committee should be assigned to investigate past events of living priests and bishops, like Cardinal Law, or others who were acting under a different standard, before the zero policy was put in place, and only the cases where secular investigators have decided not to prosecute. For Bishops, they should be required to tell their full story under oath, to the committee. Relevant witnesses should be brought forward, interrogated as well. everything should be under oath. Any resistance to the process should be looked upon as evidence against the bishop, at least requiring resignation. I am very resistant to trial-by-media, or trial-by-SNAP, as they are not credible and not really seeking justice. 6) even for convicted pedophiles and enablers, while they are in prison or in retirement (if they do not deserve prison, based on the above process), they should be urged to acknowledge their sins, repent and reform their lives (I am sure some are on this route already). But, the church should never withhold the sacraments from those who repent, even as it offers the sacraments to death row criminals. 7) Expansion of this process to the public schools and all secular institutions. Here is an analogy. BP was probably no worse than other oil companies prior to their huge spill in the Gulf. But, in any case they will have learned a lot from the massive cleanup, as they were forced into spending millions in better procedures and policies. They are now probably better at protecting the environment than any other oil companies. Other oil companies should be open to adopting those policies. Similarly, other churches and secular institutions should learn form the RCC experience and adopt this zero tolerance policy.
Anne Chapman
3 years 7 months ago
Tim, I am glad that you finally agree that bishops must be held accountable. I do not want retribution - there were many, hundreds, of bishops who protected priest pedophiles. They did so because of their false judgment of what their oath to the pope and to the institution required of them. Somehow they forgot all about God in this judgment. I don't want retribution, I want a signal. Benedict sent lots of signals when it came to people supporting opening all seven sacraments to women. He wasted no time at all when it came to that "sin" (believing that women are equal to men rather than second-class citizens of the church) which he actually equated to the sexual molesting of children by priests. I don't care if it's Law or Brady of Ireland or Levada or any number of other candidates available for the "honor" (far too many) - if just one bishop KNOWN to have protected pedophiles would be given the same kind of treatment Bishop Morris of Australia received, it would send a signal to ALL bishops that Rome will no longer protect them. Why has Finn not been removed? This is not an "old" case. I am quite sure you would support the removal of any school superintendent who was shown to have protected pedophiles on their staffs. I am quite sure that you, as I did, supported Penn State's actions against several high level staff members who protected a member of their group in order to protect a football program. I do not argue for a double standard - but you do. You seem to want bishops who are known to have enabled abuse in the past to be above the law, while lay people are held fully accountable. I don't know where you live, but public school principals, superintendants etc have been held accountable by the law for decades. As I said, I can give you links to dozens of stories. Unfortunately, as in Kansas City, as in Minneapolis-St. Paul, as happened in Chicago under Cardinal George after the Dallas accords, Catholic bishops are still protecting priests and not being held accountable by anyone except the civil courts and the media. Calling this "retribution" is simply another diversionary tactic from those who want to distort the argument.
Michael Barberi
3 years 7 months ago
Anne, Thanks for your detailed and compelling arguments. As you can determine Anne, when Tim does not like the facts or cannot win an argument he will deflect from them, and use words the imply some type of distorted reasoning or misrepresentation of those arguments he disagrees with. A good example is Tim's use of the word "retribution" to imply that this was your intention. It is obvious that you were calling for "accountability and appropriate justice" . As you rightly said, calling this "retribution" this was simply another diversionary tactic from those who want to distort the argument. One important point….Anything that happened before the formal zero policy was announced is not to be merely ignored and forgotten, but rather those bishops who transferred known pedophile priests around from parish to parish where more children were sexually abused, then to cover up the scandal, must be brought to justice regardless when such acts were committed.
Tim O'Leary
3 years 7 months ago
Michael - See my direct response on the Bishop Finn case, which hardly fits your claim that I am not dealing with the facts. A lot of facts. You say you want accountability and appropriate justice. But, this is also retribution, which the dictionary defines as "punishment that is considered to be morally right and fully deserved." You want punishment but you will not define it. Do you not agree any of my 6 points? I thought you would. Four were not related to retribution or justice, but protection. Two popes and countless Bishops have apologized for not being more vigilant as an institution but you pretend they are ignoring it all. There is a zero policy that you don't seem to appreciate. I get that you want to focus on the pre-zero period but I have not ignored it. See my point #5, which dealt with them. What do you want to happen to Cardinal Law or the memory of Cardinal Bernardin? You won't say. Don't just repeat "face justice" without describing what that would mean. Don't you know they will all face justice on judgment day? that may not be soon enough for you but please describe some practical solutions as I have done. What pound of flesh do you want?
Michael Barberi
3 years 7 months ago
Tim, Retribution also means vengeance for wrongdoing. Your comment that Anne's priorities (or mine) are different from yours because you think Anne's priorities are merely retribution and your focus is on the protection of the children, et al, is ridiculous and absurd. All you are doing is deliberately deflecting the argument into another side issue because you don't want to admit that JP II or the magisterium was wrong for not bringing bishops to justice in the sexual abuse scandal. No one is ignoring or minimizing the apologies by bishops (or priests). However, apologies are not justice. If an apology is justice, think about how absurd this is. Do you think murders and rapists should escape justice by simply apologizing? Most Catholics appreciate a good policy. However, formulating and announcing a zero tolerance policy is one thing, and having it fully implemented and obeyed is another issue. There are many examples where this zero policy was not fully transparent and not fully adopted in the spirit in which this policy was designed. Nevertheless, this is not the point. The point is the accountability and justice for bishops guilty of moving known pedophile priests from parish to parish where they sexually abused more children, then covered up the scandal. Facing justice on judgment day is also not the point Tim. What about the justice that is warranted in this life after a thorough, open and unbiased investigation? It is obvious that all you can offer in argument are unsubstantiated accusations like what your question to me implied when you asked: what pound of flesh do I want? These are simply negative and unsubstantiated degrading comments that you throw around and use as part of your tactics to deflect from the major argument. I already described what I meant by justice, and I am not going to be judge and jury merely because you want me to be. That would be playing into your deflection tactics. You can stand on your illusion that you are always right and everyone else has an evil intention and is wrong, but once again they are not intellectual persuasive…and that is being kind. If anyone is not dealing appropriately with reality and truth it is you in this situation.
Anne Chapman
3 years 7 months ago
Thank you, Michael. You have said much of what I would have said. Tim, I'm sorry that you refuse to see the truth, that you insist on changing the subject over and over again. I didn't think that anything you said to try to defend the indefensible as far as hierarchical complicity in child abuse is concerned could surprise me after so many discussions of this issue, but you did manage to do it once again, I truly can't believe that you think that apologizing is enough. If that were the case, few people would ever be sent to jail. Few people would be fired from jobs (for cause). Everyone would just have to say "I'm sorry". It would also be nice if you would agree to discuss the issues,and stop digressing, and stop putting words and motives into others' mouths. As I have said before, there is absolutely no point in any discussion between the two of us, and so I will bow out again. I leave the forum to Michael who doesn't get as upset as I do about this issue. I am a mother and, as of this week, also a grandmother. I get very emotional about kids being harmed by anyone, but having kids be harmed by priests who could have been stopped by bishops - but were protected instead - is more than heartbreaking. My heart has bled for these kids ever since I first learned of the widespread abuse that had gone on for decades. But the hurt was compounded a hundred-fold when I discovered that the church that I loved, that the men whom I had trusted to be moral and honorable "leaders" of the church had betrayed the kids, had protected pedophiles instead of kids and that apparently the popes in Rome did not really care. Because so far, not a single pope has held a single bishop accountable.
Tim O'Leary
3 years 7 months ago
I never said apologizing is enough. See my six points above that disprove your charge. I am a father who is very sensitive to any attack on a child. But, I am not willing to let that sensitivity drive me to condemn men just because of media accusations or SNAP agitators. I need to be sure of guilt first, something Michael thinks is important, at least in theory. You are too certain of their guilt (hundreds of them) that there is no point even looking for fairness from you.

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