Joshua J. McElwee | Mar. 28, 2017
ROME – A member of Pope Francis’ commission on clergy sexual abuse says his group has asked the pontiff to create a new Vatican office to train the city-state’s personnel in how to respond to letters from abuse survivors.
Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, told the Italian Catholic channel TV2000 Monday that Vatican officials need training before they can respond to survivors.
“Many people in the Vatican do not know how to respond because they lack the psychological, theological and juridical background,” said Zollner, who also leads the Pontifical Gregorian University’s Center for Child Protection.
“It takes a complex set of competences and professional abilities,” he said March 27. “We have asked the pope to create an office to train people who can respond, as we must, to people.”
The question of how the Vatican responds to abuse survivors’ letters has been raised this month following Marie Collins March 1 resignation as a member of the pontifical commission.
Collins, an Irish abuse survivor, said her decision to resign was immediately precipitated by one Vatican office’s refusal to comply with a request from the commission, approved by the pope, that all letters sent to the Vatican by abuse survivors receive a response.
Zollner spoke March 27 following the commission’s meeting in Rome March 24-26.
“People who write to the Holy See expect a confirmation that their letters or emails have been read,” said the Jesuit. “It is a reasonable and human desire that clashes with the reality of an office that is very often limited in its human and linguistic resources.”
“Our request to the Holy See is that there might be someone able to respond adequately and that this might give a concrete and serious sign,” he said. “The most important thing is that people have the perception that they have been heard.”
In Blunt Talk At The Vatican, Sister Simone Campbell Blasts ‘Male Power’
By Josephine McKenna – for Religion News Service – March 7, 2017
(Edited by Brian Mark Hennessy}
(Referring to Marie Collins, who recently resigned from the panel appointed by Pope Francis to look into allegations of past Vatican obstruction of child sex abuse investigations, Campbell said: “Blocked by men – Isn’t this the real problem within the church?”)
The U.S. nun, Catholic activist Sister Simone Campbell, leader of the “Nuns on the Bus” campaign that toured America during the recent election cycles, spoke frankly in an interview ahead of a conference being held at the Vatican on Wednesday (March 8) to celebrate women’s contributions to peace.
Sister Simone suggested that senior clergy at the Vatican are more preoccupied with power than confronting issues, like clerical sexual abuse, that affect the faithful. “The institution and the structure is frightened of change,” Campbell told ‘Religion News Service’. “These men worry more about the form and the institution than about real people.”
Referring to Marie Collins, who last week resigned from the panel appointed by Pope Francis to look into allegations of past Vatican obstruction of child sex abuse investigations, Campbell said: “Blocked by men. Isn’t this the real problem within the Church? The effort to keep the church from stopping this sort of thing is shocking,” she added. “It is about male power and male image, not people’s stories. The real trouble is they have defined their power as spiritual leadership and they don’t have a clue about spiritual life.”.
This is the fourth consecutive year that women gather at the heart of the Vatican – timed to coincide with the U.N.-sponsored International Women’s Day. Campbell said she was shocked, and also moved, to have been included on the guest list for the Vatican conference. She was among the American nuns targeted in the controversial investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious that was authorized in 2012 under then-Pope Benedict XVI. The Vatican investigators charged that the American sisters were straying too far from traditional doctrines, but Pope Francis, who was elected in 2013, put an end to the investigation in 2015.
No Vatican officials are scheduled to speak at the conference, which has drawn leaders and activists from around the world. Campbell noted that senior members of the Curia, or Vatican administration, were at a spiritual retreat outside Rome all this week and so unable to attend the women’s conference. “I don’t know if it’s a slap in the face or evidence of how much power they think we have,” she said. “Most of the guys who run this place haven’t dealt with an ordinary human being who’s been abused, an ordinary woman or a boy who has been abused,” she said. “If you don’t deal with the people you don’t have your heart broken open. The bureaucracy is so afraid of having their heart broken that they hide.”
Campbell heads Network, a social justice organization currently lobbying U.S. legislators in both houses of Congress to protect and maintain affordable health care. She acknowledged the church was changing but said it was “outrageous” that it was failing to respond to the sex abuse crisis more effectively. While noting that Francis was seeking to create a more inclusive church, Campbell expressed concern about the church hierarchy and their response to clerical abuse.
The Catholic Church Is ‘Shocked’ At The Hundreds Of Children Buried At Tuam. Really?
By: Emer O’Toole
Reporting in The International Guardian – Tuesday 7 March 2017
It has been confirmed that significant numbers of children’s remains lie in a mass grave adjacent to a former home for unmarried mothers run by the Bon Secours Sisters in Tuam, County Galway. This is exactly where local historian Catherine Corless, who was instrumental in bringing the mass grave to light, said they would be. A state-established commission of inquiry into mother and baby homes recently located the site in a structure that “appears to be related to the treatment/containment of sewage and/or waste water”, but which we are not supposed to call a septic tank.
The archbishop of Tuam, Michael Neary, says he is “deeply shocked and horrified”. Deeply. Because what could the church have known about the abuse of children in its instutions? When Irish taoiseach Enda Kenny was asked if he was similarly shocked, he answered: “Absolutely. To think you pass by the location on so many occasions over the years.” To think. Because what would Kenny, in Irish politics since the 70s, know about state-funded, church-perpetrated abuse of women and children? Even the commission of inquiry – already under critique by the UN – said in its official statement that it was “shocked by this discovery”.
If I am shocked, it is by the pretence of so much shock. When Corless discovered death certificates for 796 children at the home between 1925 and 1961 but burial records for only two, it was clear that hundreds of bodies existed somewhere. They did not, after all, ascend into heaven like the virgin mother. Corless then uncovered oral histories from reliable local witnesses, offering evidence of where those children’s remains could be found. So what did the church and state think had happened? That the nuns had buried the babies in a lovely wee graveyard somewhere, but just couldn’t remember where?
Or maybe the church and state are expressing shock that nuns in mid-20th century Ireland could have so little regard for the lives and deaths of children in their care. The Ryan report in 2009 documented the systematic sexual, physical and emotional abuse of children in church-run, state-funded institutions. It revealed that when confronted with evidence of child abuse, the church would transfer abusers to other institutions, where they could abuse other children. The Christian Brothers legally blocked the report from naming and shaming its members. Meanwhile, Cardinal Seán Brady – now known to have participated in the cover-up of abuse by paedophile priest Brendan Smyth – muttered about how ashamed he was.
It may be time to stop acting as though the moral bankruptcy and hypocrisy of the Catholic church are news to us!
The same year, the Murphy report on the sexual abuse of children in the archdiocese of Dublin revealed that the Catholic church’s priorities in dealing with paedophilia were not child welfare, but rather secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of its reputation and the preservation of church assets. In 2013, the McAleese report documented the imprisonment of more than 10,000 women in church-run, state-funded laundries, where they worked in punitive industrial conditions without pay for the crime of being unmarried mothers.
So, you will forgive me if I am sceptical of the professed shock of Ireland’s clergy, politicians and official inquiring bodies. We know too much about the Catholic church’s abuse of women and children to be shocked by Tuam. A mass grave full of the children of unmarried mothers is an embarrassing landmark when the state is still paying the church to run its schools and hospitals. Hundreds of dead babies are not an asset to those invested in the myth of an abortion-free Ireland; they inconveniently suggest that Catholic Ireland always had abortions, just very late-term ones, administered slowly by nuns after the children were already born.
As Ireland gears up for a probable referendum on abortion rights as well as a strategically planned visit from the pope, it may be time to stop acting as though the moral bankruptcy and hypocrisy of the Catholic church are news to us. You can say you don’t care, but – after the Ryan report, the Murphy report, the McAleese report, the Cloyne report, the Ferns report, the Raphoe report and now Tuam – you don’t get to pretend that you don’t know. I wrestle with the reality that – in our schools and hospitals – we’re still handing power over women and children’s lives to the Catholic church. Perhaps, after Tuam, after everything, that’s what’s really shocking.
THE “CRUX” OF J R ALLEN JNR’S CONTEMPT FOR VICTIMS OF ABUSE
By Brian Mark Hennessy
From the point of view of a “Survivor”, who has long observed all the ultra-right trappings with which John L Allen Jr comments upon the Catholic Church in his weekly “CRUX” writings, I am not surprised at the arrogance of his disingenuous treatment of Marie Collins. His comments were not just thoughtless and in bad taste, but insulting – and not just to Marie Collins either, but to all Survivors – innocent children – who are the Victims of clerical sexual abuse. John L Allen Jnr should now get off his high horse, reflect a little on his miss-judgements before he indulges in his natural tendency to defend himself – and apologise unreservedly.
That term – “clerical sexual abuse” – has, at times, acquired in the writings of some commentators an almost sanitized glow to it – and so let us call it by what it is. None other than the United Nations has described the heinous crime of sexual abuse against innocent children as a form of “torture” due to its cruel, degrading and punitive nature – and the UN went on to comment about the lifelong scars that can be afflicted upon such victims and the many forms of “restitution” that must be made. (“Restitution” in that context does not refer specifically to payments of money – I should add for those priests of the Comboni Missionary Order who said of “their” Victims of clerical sexual abuse “you are all money grabbers”!).
I have commented myself upon John L Allen Jnr’s articles on a number of occasions before because of his lack of both subjective research and distinctive idiomatic knowledge. He has shown himself to be, at times, almost thoughtless and unbalanced in the speed with which he jumps to make judgements regarding the intentions of both Victims of child sexual abuse and those who spend a lifetime in doing their best to represent them. He possesses an intellectual “blind spot” to all the hurdles that the Catholic Church places in the way of Victims. I assume that, quite deliberately, he allows himself this limited latitude of direction to forestall progress in what he would most probably understands as part of a “left-wing” agenda. His ability to find no faults with the Vatican Curia is suggestive of a self-created role as a “Champion” of the beleaguered Catholic Church.
Allen has shown that he is impervious to the cold and often callous treatment of the wrecked and wretched lives of the child Victims of cruel, sexual abuse. No doubt too, he applauds the remarks of Cardinal Muller in an article below, “I believe this can’t be resolved only by threatening with punishment, either civil or canonical.” In truth, the Vatican Hierarchs remain today, in practice and in word, more concerned with the welfare of those within their ranks who have committed life-destroying heinous “crimes” – than the innocent children who were damaged by those same clerics’ callous, depraved, self-gratifying acts of lust.
Whilst Christ said, “Suffer not little children to come unto me”, the Vatican Hierarchs welcome with open arms those cruel clerics who ravaged childrens’ innocent, youthful bodies and destroyed their minds. As regards those same children, Cardinal Muller is not shy in saying he cannot be bothered even to write a letter to thank Victims for bringing evil crimes of abuse by clerics within their ranks to their attention and to say what action they intend take. Without any form of written acknowledgement, how will those children know if anyone has even received their letter. “Oh – some Bishop or Religious Leader will contact you,” Muller is likely to add in his blindness to the needs and suffering of Victims.
I have personal experience of failed expectations of a letter from the Vatican. Two years ago I sent a document to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, but received no reply. A year ago, I badgered the Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, relentlessly over the matter. Ultimately, Cardinal Nichols delivered to the CDF a copy of the report by hand on behalf of those many seminarians abused by clerics of the Comboni Missionary Order at the Mirfield, Yorkshire Seminary – and Cardinal Nichols confirmed that he had done so. Not a peep from CDF or anybody else in the multitudinous dicasteries of the Curia by way of a response! For all I know the 177-page document may have been handed to the CDF’s janitor to light the Sistine Chapel stove at the next conclave! Hopefully, Pope Francis lives long enough to see it retrieved from such destruction.
Not that any Cardinal in the Vatican is going to tell the lay faithful of the Church, but, surprisingly, there is much enshrined in Canon Law in relation to the rights of the Lay Faithful – and they should be cognizant of it and demand that they should be heard. To start with, the Church comprises not just clerics – but all the baptized Christian Faithful – and it is about time the Lay element of that Christian Faithful started to let clerics know that those clerics are not superior to them – but equal in Canon Law. Yes, there were “Elders” in the Early Christian Church who imparted their knowledge and wisdom, but every widow, slave, merchant and farmer had an equal voice at the table where bread was broken – and that should still be the case now. The Pope and the Vatican’s primary and sole role is to be the “Guardians” of the Gospel traditions. The lavish trappings and symbols of status that were bestowed on bishops and other clerics by Byzantine Emperors to assist in the administration of their Empires – more than a thousand years ago – are superfluous historical flotsam and jetsam that have no place in the Catholic Church today. That is why the narcissism, protectionism, lack of introspection and sheer arrogance of so many clerics of all ranks – is so utterly and contemptuously not just un-Godly, but downright un-Christian! The following Canons should be learned by heart by all Lay Catholics!!!!
Can. 208: From their rebirth in Christ, there exists among all the Christian faithful a true equality regarding dignity and action by which they all cooperate in the building up of the Body of Christ.
Can. 220: No one is permitted to harm illegitimately the good reputation which a person possesses.
Can. 221 §1: The Christian faithful can legitimately vindicate and defend the rights which they possess in the Church in the competent ecclesiastical forum according to the norms of law.
Can. 227: The lay Christian faithful have the right to have recognized that freedom which all citizens have in the affairs of the earthly city.
Can. 1417 §: By reason of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff, any member of the faithful is free to bring or introduce his or her own contentious or penal case to the Holy See for adjudication in any grade of a trial and at any stage of the litigation.
Why Survivor’s Exit From Papal Panel May Be A Blessing In Disguise
By: John L. Allen Jr.March 1, 2017
Although the optics of the exit of the lone survivor serving as an active member of Pope Francis’s anti-sex abuse commission aren’t good, the reality is that naming survivors as members puts them in an extremely awkward spot, trapped between their loyalties to the Vatican and to fellow survivors.
In terms of the optics of the situation, there’s just no way in which the departure of Marie Collins, the only abuse survivor who was also an active member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, looks good for Pope Francis.
Citing frustrations with resistance to the commission’s work from within the Roman Curia, Collins announced today that she’s stepping down, though she’ll continue to work with the group in delivering anti-abuse training to clergy. Her exit comes at a time when Francis’s standing with survivors was already taking hits, in part because of revelations that he’s lightened the punishments imposed on several abuser priests in what the pontiff sees as a spirit of mercy, but what critics regard as a breakdown in accountability.
Certainly, the bureaucratic inertia and power games described by Collins raise legitimate questions about how serious the Vatican may be in terms of its commitment to reform. However, if one looks at the situation dispassionately, there’s also a case to be made that Collins’s resignation, along with the inactive status of the only other survivor on the commission, Peter Saunders of the UK, was both inevitable and arguably for the best.
Here’s why. When Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston and his team at the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors recommended that the pope name Collins and Saunders as members, the intentions were obviously noble. O’Malley understands from extensive personal experience that if you want to understand the spiritual and emotional devastation caused by clerical sexual abuse, there simply is no substitute for hearing the voices of survivors.
They also know that any credible clean-up effort has to be informed by the insights and perspectives of survivors, or it won’t fly. That’s not just a once-and-for-all fact of life but an ongoing one, since survivors need to be at the table whenever new problems and challenges arise, and to help monitor the implementation of whatever plans have been hatched.
In retrospect, however, making individuals such as Collins and Saunders full members of the commission turned out to place them in a politically untenable spot that was neither fair to them nor, ultimately, helpful to the commission.
Both Collins and Saunders were well-known as survivors of clerical abuse long before their nomination to the commission, with a reputation for outspokenness and leadership in the fight against abuse. That was a large part of the reason they were selected, on the theory that their credibility in the survivors’ community would translate to the papal commission.
The reality, however, is that being perceived as part of the pope’s official team and the Vatican’s power structure often left them trapped between their loyalty to the commission and their loyalties to their fellow survivors. Anytime a controversy arose, whether about the commission’s work or some other decision the pope or the Vatican had made with regard to sexual abuse, it was dicey for them to figure out how much they could say publicly, how hard they could push back, because they also felt obligated to try not to handicap or embarrass the group.
When Francis named a bishop in Chile in 2015 with a track record of defending that country’s most notorious abuser-priest, for instance, the decision troubled many abuse survivors and their advocates around the world. It left both Collins and Saunders in an especially difficult spot, because their fellow survivors looked to them to speak up, to lead the protests, and yet their institutional role on the commission made doing so politically complicated.
The reality likely is that survivors of clerical abuse will never be fully satisfied with the Church’s response, and that’s as it should be. Survivors, especially those with the courage to go public, need to be free to speak out and to help keep the Church honest, cajoling it to remain eternally vigilant – if necessary, even shaming it into action.
That’s an essential role, but awfully difficult to play when, at the same time, one is also part of the “system.”
Moreover, it’s not as if making survivors full members of the commission is the only way to ensure that their voices are heard. Collins herself is now an illustration of the point, no longer sitting on the group but still accepting an invitation from O’Malley to continue to be part of their training efforts, including for newly appointed bishops from around the world.
Survivors can be brought in routinely as consultants and advisers, they can be asked to take part in the commission’s meetings, they can participate in various projects and initiatives, and so on, all without being forced to carry the political weight for whatever decisions are reached – and remaining free to speak up if they believe those decisions are flawed.
The commission can also organize listening sessions with abuse survivors around the world, on the premise that the experience of a survivor in, say, Western Europe, is likely very different from that of someone in sub-Saharan Africa or the Indian subcontinent.
The bottom line is that the exit of Marie Collins isn’t necessarily the end of the road in terms of abuse survivors being represented on the pope’s commission. It could actually mean a transition to a more honest, freer, and less personally conflicted way of doing it. Problem with anti-abuse panel isn’t survivors, it’s the Roman Curia
[CRUX Editor’s note: In the wake of the resignation of the last clerical abuse survivor to serve as an active member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, Irish lay woman Marie Collins, Crux editor John L. Allen Jr. published an analysis suggesting that the outcome may have been both inevitable and desirable. Collins objected via social media, and Crux offered her the opportunity to reply. The following is that response.]
The Problem With Anti-Abuse Panel Isn’t Survivors, It’s The Roman Curia
By: Marie Collins – March 5, 2017
Crux editor John Allen’s recent argument that my resignation from the pope’s anti-abuse commission will “free me up” and allow me to feel less “conflicted” is not only inaccurate, but patronizing. The problem with the commission isn’t having survivors as members, but opposition from clerical men in the Roman Curia.
Firstly I want to thank Crux for offering me the right of reply. Although in the article I am combined with Peter Saunders, I am here speaking only for myself. I was quite disturbed reading this article as in many cases John Allen purports to know my feelings and how I was thinking in certain situations. I found this not only to be inaccurate, but also patronising.
The statement that my resignation was “inevitable” is certainly not true. There was no “inevitability” of my leaving, unless Allen knew in advance that there were men in the Roman Curia who would be obstructing the commission, and I would refuse to cover it up! I accepted my appointment to the Pontifical Commission with every intention of remaining for my full term.
The article seems to imply that because I was sexually abused by a priest in childhood I am incapable of independent thought or action, that I must always be looking over my shoulder concerned how my words or actions might be seen by survivors outside the commission. It also stated that I was put in a “politically untenable spot.”
If Allen knew me and my record in working for child protection over twenty years, he would know I have always kept completely clear of “politics,” both Church and survivor politics. I have concerned myself solely with bringing better understanding of the effects of abuse on a victim’s life and better protection of the vulnerable. I have always followed my own conscience and not seen myself as a representative of any group. This at times has angered some survivors, but that has never swayed me from my determination to be independent.
Allen states that my selection for appointment to the commission was partly in order that “credibility in the survivor community would translate to the papal commission.” If this is true (I do not know who are the sources for this) it would indicate enormous deceit in those who spoke to me on behalf of the pope before I accepted my appointment.
I was clear then I had no intention of being a “token” survivor there to add “credibility.” I was assured strongly this was not the case. I was being asked in order to bring my personal understanding of abuse as a survivor into the Commission as this perspective was of vital importance to the work.
I had been chosen specifically because of my experience of working on safeguarding policy development, having been involved in the setting up of a diocesan child protection office, my involvement in educational projects on child protection and the response to my participation in the 2012 Symposium on abuse held in the Gregorian University.
Therefore, I was qualified to work on policy development, to impart understanding of the survivor experience and had shown in the past my ability to work with the Church. If all this was a lie, then shame on those men of the clergy who made these statements to me. It would validate every accusation that the Church only cares for optics not the reality.
At no point during my time with the Commission did Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston [president of the commission] or members of the commission treat me with anything other than respect as an equal, working for the better protection of children. I certainly never felt my contribution was seen as only as a name on the member list!
Allen states that it was “dicey” at times for me to “figure out how much to say in public.” I can say without hesitation that at no time did I have any difficulty in discerning what I could or could not say in public. I at all times respected the confidentiality rules as per the statutes of the commission, and would not have accepted my appointment if I had felt I was not capable of so doing.
The statement that survivors “will never be satisfied” in the context of the article implies that I would never be satisfied and that this in some way was the motivation for my resignation. If all dioceses in the Church replicated the policies and their implementation as some dioceses have, e.g. the Archdiocese of Dublin in Ireland, then we would be in a much better place. What I do say is no one in the Church or the secular world should ever be complacent about the safety of children or vulnerable adults.
Finally, Allen says in regard to survivor input to the commission in the future, that now I have resigned, “it could actually mean a transition to a more honest, freer, and less personally conflicted way of doing it.” I would assure anyone who is interested that I at all times was honest, free and did not spend my time “personally conflicted.”
The article clearly uses a familiar device – when in difficulties divert attention away from the actual problem. Survivors on the commission are not the problem – the resistance to change by clerical men in the Curia is the problem!
(CRUX – Editor’s Note: German Cardinal Gerhard Muller, whose Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was cited by abuse survivor Marie Collins as part of the reason for her resignation from Pope Francis’s anti-abuse commission, has fired back, saying it’s time to drop the “cliche” of a reforming pope being hobbled by internal opposition in the Vatican).
Drop The ‘Cliché’ Of A Reforming Pope v. Vatican Foes, Cardinal Says
By Vatican Correspondent Inés San Martín – March 6, 2017
ROME-The head of a powerful Vatican office cited by the last survivor of clerical abuse to serve as an active member of the pope’s anti-sexual abuse commission as part of her reason for resigning has fired back, saying it’s time to drop the “cliché” of Pope Francis wanting reform and his opposition in the Roman Curia seeking to block it.
“Sustaining the pope’s universal mission, trusted to him by Jesus, is part of our Catholic faith and the ethos of the curia,” said German Cardinal Gerhard Muller, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Asked to explain why Marie Collins had decided to resign, he said that the work his department and the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors is very different. The congregation, he said, carries through the canonical process against the clerics accused of the gravest crimes.
“Yet the congregation has cooperated in the constitution of the commission,” Muller said. “One of our collaborators is part of it. I can affirm that in these last years there’s been permanent contact.”
Marie Collins had spoken of “shameful lack of cooperation” within some sections of the Roman curia, the Vatican’s governing body, and eventually spoke specifically about the CDF being part of the problem.
Speaking with Corriere della Sera, Muller said, “I believe that we have to end with this cliché, the idea according to which on the one side there is the pope, who wants reform, and on the other, a resistance wanting to block it.”
Talking to America, Collins had also spoken about the CDF’s refusal to send a letter of acknowledgement to survivors who send letters to the Vatican, something which she claimed had been proposed by the commission and approved by the pope. Every Vatican office was supposed to do it, but a monsignor from Muller’s wrote back saying they wouldn’t.
On this, Muller said that it’s the responsibility of the local bishops, or superior generals when abuse was committed not by a diocesan priest but by a religious, to give pastoral support to survivors.
“The congregation has the task of running canonical trials,” Muller said. “Personal contact with the survivors is better done by local shepherds. And when a letter arrives, we always ask the bishop to provide pastoral care to the victims, clarifying to them that the congregation will do everything possible to do justice.”
It’s a misconception, he said, to believe that the office in Rome could take care of all the dioceses and religious orders in the world, because it would not respect the “legitimate autonomy of dioceses and the principle of subsidiarity.”
Asked about what Collins had said to Crux and other outlets regarding lack of cooperation from members of the curia, Muller said in the interview published on Saturday that beyond the letters, he knew of no such cases.
Another issue many observers saw as one of the reasons behind Collins’s resignation was the idea of a new tribunal, suggested by the commission and approved by the pope, to judge bishops accused of dropping the ball on abuse allegations. That tribunal was announced, then quietly dropped.
According to Muller, it was discussed between Vatican departments after the announcement was made, and they reached the conclusion that the Congregation for Bishops already has what’s needed to prosecute bishops for what they did or didn’t do regarding specific cases of clerical sexual abuse.
Closing the interview, Muller also said that a global change of mentality is needed, not only within the Church, when it comes to sexual abuse of minors, and that with the commission Pope Francis attempted to set an example.
“I believe this can’t be resolved only by threatening with punishment, either civil or canonical,” Muller said. “We need a total change of mentality: From selfishness on sexuality, to the full respect of the person.”
Claims of Sex Orgies, Prostitution and Porn Videos Shake Catholic Church in Italy
Josephine McKenna Religion News Service | Mar. 9, 2017
(Paraphrased y Brian Mark Hennessy)
Lurid accusations of priests involved in sex orgies, porn videos and prostitution have emerged from several parishes in Italy recently, sending shock waves all the way to the Vatican and challenging the high standards that Pope Francis has demanded of clergy. In the southern city of Naples, for example, a priest was recently suspended from the parish of Santa Maria degli Angeli over claims he held gay orgies and used internet sites to recruit potential partners whom he paid for sex.
The allegations concerning Fr. Mario D’Orlando were brought to the attention of the diocese when an anonymous letter was sent to a Naples bishop. D’Orlando denied the charges when he was summoned by the city’s archbishop, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, but is now facing a formal inquiry conducted by local church officials. “He has been removed from his position while the investigation is underway,” a spokesman for the cardinal told Religion News Service. “I have no further comment.”
In the northern city of Padua, a 48-year-old priest, Fr. Andrea Contin, is facing defrocking as well as judicial proceedings amid accusations he had up to 30 lovers, some of whom he took to a swingers’ resort in France. Contin was removed from his parish of San Lazzaro after three women came forward with complaints against him last December. Bishop Claudio Cipolla of Padua cut short a visit to Latin America to deal with the scandal. “I am incredulous and pained by the accusations,” Cipolla told a news conference last month. “This is unacceptable behavior for a priest, a Christian and even for a man.”
One woman, who claims to have been Contin’s lover for more than three years, claimed the priest carried sex toys and bondage equipment, prostituted his lovers on wife-swapping websites and also invited other priests from the area to sex parties. “Even if, at the end of this affair, there are no legal consequences, we have a duty by canon law to take disciplinary action,” said Cipolla.
He also revealed Pope Francis had telephoned him personally at the end of January to offer his support and urge him to stay “strong.” Since his election the pope has taken a tough line on ethical behavior in the church though he has also recognized the reality of human imperfection and personal flaws. In recent weeks he has spoken out many times against “temptation,” and last week he told a gathering of clergy at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome that faith could not progress without the challenge of temptation. “Temptation is always present in our lives. Moreover, without temptation you cannot progress in faith,” he said.
Alberto Melloni, professor of church history at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, said there is nothing unusual about scandals in the priesthood. “There is no sin that a cleric doesn’t commit. Scandals to me seem quite normal,” he told RNS. “And I think the illusion of stopping scandals through better selection of personnel is not very promising and has not yielded great results. ”
Francis has frequently called for a more rigorous screening process for seminarians, and he has taken direct action when scandals erupt in Italy. A case in point: When reports of “playboy priests” surfaced in the Italian diocese of Albenga-Imperia in the northern region of Liguria in late 2014, the pope sent a special envoy to investigate claims that clerics had posted nude photos of themselves on gay websites, sexually harassed the faithful and stolen church funds. Two years later the pope replaced the leader of the diocese, Bishop Mario Oliveri.
Austen Ivereigh, commentator and author of “The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope,” said the pope distinguished between sinfulness and corruption and was intent on “rooting out” corruption inside the church. “The remedy for those who succumb to temptation is forgiveness and a fresh start,” Ivereigh told RNS. “The problem is when priests turn their backs on the people, lead hidden lives and end up justifying their conduct. That’s corruption. “And it’s only possible in the priesthood because of clericalism. That’s why the pope is so intent on rooting it out.”
CLERICAL CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE AND THE ROLE OF
RELIGIOUS ORDERS OF MEN AND WOMEN IN THE MISSION COUNTRIES
By Carol Glatz writing for the Catholic News Service
In a continuing effort to protect children, the Catholic Church’s focus is now turning to religious orders of men and women. Much of the attention has, in the past, been on how dioceses and national bishops’ conferences have been responding to victims and protecting children. But, religious orders and congregations are sometimes left out of that picture, even though they, too, have a duty to make sure every person in their care is safe. Also, the majority of the more than 300,000 Catholic schools and orphanages around the world are run by religious brothers and sisters whose charisms are to promote human dignity and Gospel values.
Pope Francis last year authorized the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to investigate and judge claims of “abuse of office” by bishops who allegedly failed to protect minors and vulnerable adults from sex abuse. But that form of censure “wasn’t extended to the superior generals (of the Missionary Congregations), and it should be,” said Father John Fogarty, superior general of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit. Canon Law and the complementary Vatican norms regarding this field “refer only to clergy” — bishops, priests and deacons — said Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, president of the Center for Child Protection at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University.
While the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation asked the bishops’ conferences to develop guidelines and procedures on how they are adhered to by local bishops, he said religious brothers, religious seminarians before ordination or religious sisters are in a league of their own, and the canonical practice is different. Each religious order or congregation establishes its own policies, he said. And while some may have a set of guidelines for their whole congregation, in others, each province or region is in charge of setting up safeguarding guidelines, Father Zollner told Catholic News Service.
Father Fogarty said his “first priority” after being elected superior of the Spiritans in 2012 was to establish comprehensive guidelines and then ask each of the order’s provinces and regions to draw up procedures that would protect children and respect local laws and customs. “Not everyone is at the same point on the learning curve,” he said. But his experience working for the province in Ireland and as provincial superior in the United States “was very helpful for me for formulating policy,” said the Dublin-born missionary. He was surrounded by “lots of accumulated wisdom, lots of workshops, all the latest insights and reports,” he said. Since each local superior of his order is responsible for his territory, Father Fogarty said he uses his role “to work with the superiors” and get them all “on the same wavelength.” Not everyone in every part of the world is “at the same point” in recognizing the need to protect and care for children and survivors; “our job is to get them there, put pressure on them to produce adequate policies, procedures, hold workshops” and use every “means at our disposal” to spread awareness and resources. When new superiors meet in Rome each year, one session is dedicated to safeguarding norms, Father Fogarty said. When leaders don’t draw up procedures or get informed, he said, “we can urge them” to, “but we can’t do it in their place. We can’t replace (the local superior).”
The need to have adequate protection policies and procedures in place for religious orders is urgent since they are present in so many countries around the globe, said Mark Vincent Healy, an advocate in Ireland for services and care for survivors of child sexual abuse. For example, of the 48 Spiritan priests noted in Ireland’s National Board for Safeguarding Children’s audit in 2012 as accused of abuse in Ireland, half of them had also served in other countries, including the United States, Canada, Sierra Leone and Kenya, Healy has said. In Healy’s situation, the Spiritan priest who abused him at the school the order ran in Ireland was transferred to a Spiritan-run school in Sierra Leone, where he allegedly abused again before being convicted in Ireland and laicized. Healy’s case was handled in Ireland — the country where the abuse occurred — but, he said, victims of Irish missionaries in other countries, particularly Africa, lack clear or any channels at all for reporting and redress.
The church already responds to the psychological, emotional and spiritual fallout of victims of war in many of those countries, Healy said, so why not extend that same care and concern to victims of abuse by its own members. Healy said he was looking at ways the order and the church as a whole could provide services across jurisdictions, especially “in countries where there are no structures” to help survivors and communities. One proposal, which he also discussed with Father Fogarty, was the creation of a global network modeled after Doctors Without Borders. Instead of addressing physical harm, the network could specialize in delivering mental health care services to people suffering from trauma caused by war, civil conflicts and abuse in underdeveloped nations. By offering comprehensive mental health services, perhaps “you can alleviate the suffering and bring some function back to a dysfunctional society. Otherwise, violence will just repeat itself,” Healy said.
Father Zollner said that in some places in Asia and parts of Africa, the Catholic Church “is the organization that is doing more to safeguard minors than other groups.” In some areas, he said, “if you didn’t have the church, you would have nothing there” to look after and care for the most vulnerable. One example, he said, is Bishop Emanuel Barbara of Malindi, Kenya. The bishop, who’s a Capuchin priest from Malta, “set up the first help desk in the whole country” for victims of the sex-tourism industry there. “All the others, including those who legitimately have the power, just look away from the problem, there is much money involved,” Father Zollner said. With one in five children in Europe expected to be victims of some form of abuse, according to the Council of Europe, and global estimates reporting 40 million children are subjected to abuse each year, many child protection advocates want to see more action and cooperation among all sectors of society. “If the Catholic Church can address it, then the larger human family can, too,” Healy said. The church can’t keep being seen as sole perpetrator and healer “because that’s not working.”
Notes by Brian Mark Hennessy:
> The above article raises many issues known already to the Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse at the hands of Clerics of the Comboni Missionary Order at the Mirfield Seminary in Yorkshire, England. Specifically, information contained in that Order’s own historical archive refers to a conversation between a Provincial of the Order and the Superior General who said, “Dear Father. many of our Order think that if they had behaved less well they would have been granted their desire to go to the missions and so they feel betrayed (when prevented from going). Should we be responsible for creating the idea that only the maladjusted are sent to the Missions?”. Moreover, of those clerics whose abuse was reported at the time by seminarians on 29 known occasions, two of those clerics were sent to the missions – one to South Africa and one to Uganda and the third was incardinated into a diocesan parish in Italy. Another priest against whom allegations have been made has been located in Mozambique for many decades. No sign of consideration to other children with whom these clerics came into contact appears to have been considered at all. The re-allocations of those clerics appeared to be related more to removing those clerics from the United Kingdom legal jurisdiction as fast as practically possible.
> Father Zollner may be familiar to some readers. Mark Murry met Father Zollner on the occasion of Mark’s invitation to the Vatican to speak on the effects of abuse that he suffered at the hands of a priest of the Comboni Missionary Order when Mark was a thirteen-year-old seminarian at the Mirfield Seminary. Father Zollner later contributed to an article that appeared in this forum. The priest who has admitted that he abused Mark Murray remains within the Comboni Missionary Order at the Verona Mother House under the protection of the Order. It is believed that no reports have ever been made to the Vatican regarding this priests admissions of abuse under either Canon Law or the Motu Proprio, ‘Sacramentorum Sanctitatus’ which are mandatory reports to be made by Bishops concerning diocesan priests. All attempts to extradite the cleric to the United Kingdom have, so far, failed. It is also of note that just before Mark Murray attended the Vatican Meeting, the Comboni Missionary Order appeared to attempt to scare off Mark Murray from entering Italy and addressing the Vatican meeting. They did this by the issue of a summons through the Verona Criminal Tribunal on what turned out to be totally unfounded charges. Mark, however, was not deterred and made his presentation to the world assembly of Representatives.
> It is of further interest that it is common that clerics whose abuse of children is fully documented, are not reported to civil authorities as a matter of routine practice by either Bishops or General Superiors. This situation pertains despite calls from such notable Vatican figures as Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, Member of the Pope’s personal Advisory Council, Member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Chair of the Pontifical Commission on the Protection of Minors – to the effect that all child sexual abuse should be reported to the Civil Police by Bishops and Religious Superiors in every instance as a basic “moral duty”.
> Recently Reports have appeared in the Vatican press to the effect that Pope Francis’ recent call, just a few weeks ago, for “no tolerance” to be shown to clerics who abuse children was little more than “whispers in the wind”. In the last week, the very same Pope has called for “mercy” to be shown to those same priests – who have demonstrated no such mercy whatsoever to innocents – many of whom were brutally and repeatedly abused and who subsequently have continued in adulthood to suffer the lifelong effects of that abuse. According to one commentator in the last week, Pope Francis’ “no tolerance” has so far applied to only 25% of priests determined to be guilty of child sexual abuse, but the remaining 75% have been granted “mercy” with no loss of clerical dignity nor privileges. If these figures are verifiable, then someone needs to point out to Pope Francis that his “no tolerance” call was outrageously misleading – and neither the 1.2 billion lay Catholics in this world who are “sick to the teeth” of the Vatican’s failure to manage the problem of the clerical sexual abuse of minors appropriately – let alone everybody else in the world watching with wry smiles on their faces and in total disbelief– will ever believe anything this Pope, or his princely Vatican entourage, ever say in the future.
> Finally – in the question of the Rules of Missionary Congregations, it has to be said that in matters of Child abuse, the Rules of the Comboni Missionary Order, despite my many misgivings, are “reasonably” sound “as written”. They were revised in 2005, by none other than a childhood friend of mine, David Glenday, to reflect the changing winds. Those Rules even allow for individual provinces of the Order to reflect local civil laws and the rules of the Conference of Diocesan Bishops that pertain to their geographical location. Great! However, the problem is, upon my very close inspection of those Rules, that, in practice, the Comboni Missionary Order in the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic, have ignored their own Rules totally. Yes – totally in every detail. In addition, they refused attempts by the Former Chair of the United Kingdom’s Catholic Safeguarding Organisation to encourage them back into line. It has to be said also, as a final comment on the lack of commitment by the Comboni Missionary Order to the issues of clerical child sexual abuse and the care of Victims, that even after the acceptance of the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster’s Diocesan Rules and Guidelines by the Religious Conference of England and Wales – to which august organization the Provincial Superior of the Comboni Missionary Order is the Secretary (at the last time I looked) – the Order’s “tolerance” of those Diocesan Rules is 0%. Someone needs to tell them that they have misunderstood Pope Francis’ call for “no tolerance”. In respect to the Rules, the “tolerance” level is expected to be 100%. Pope Francis’ call for “no tolerance” relates to the manner in which the Order is expected to deal with those paedophile priests, still in their midst, whom they have protected for decades.