Seattle Archdiocese Settles Suit Alleging It Helped A Serial Sex Abuser Get A Public School Job – by Dan Morris-Young – with a question from Brian Mark Hennessy

Seattle Archdiocese Settles Suit Alleging It Helped A Serial Sex Abuser Get A Public School Job

 

by  Dan Morris-Young – National Catholic Reporter – 29 September 2017

 

The Seattle Archdiocese has agreed to pay $1.3 million to settle a sex-abuse lawsuit that charged that church authorities had not only neglected to report a known abuser to authorities, but helped him secure employment in the public school system. In a release on the website of the Seattle-based law firm Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala, attorney Jason P. Amala stated: “Our law firm has represented hundreds of abuse survivors, but I cannot think of another case where the defendant removed a known abuser from their private school system and then actively helped him get a job in the public school system.” Listed as “M.R.” in court documents, the plaintiff was a student at now-closed Parkland Elementary School in the Franklin Pierce School District headquartered in Tacoma. He was abused as a sixth-grader there during the 1981-82 school year by Edward Courtney, a former Christian Brother of Ireland, it was stated in a brief August 29th archdiocesan media release. According to the release, “the bankrupt Christian Brothers” were also named in the suit.

Courtney has a well-documented history of sexually abusing children, and his name was among 77 priests, brothers, deacons and a nun named in January 2016 by the Seattle Archdiocese as having been credibly accused of child sex abuse. While the settlement closes the suit by “M.R.” filed in 2015, a second suit by a former Parkland Elementary student was filed in 2016 alleging abuse by Courtney during the same period as M.R. That proceeding is ongoing, according to the law firm and other news reports. According to a February, 2016 Los Angeles Times story, Courtney, who would now be 82, “sold his Seattle-area home in 2013 and signed a sales document notarized in Honolulu. His phone number and address are listed in the Honolulu phone book.” “According to court records,” the Times reported, “the Catholic schoolteacher was a cross-country serial molester, accused of abusing at least 50 children and teens from New York to Chicago and Seattle over three decades.”

While admitting “no direct knowledge of the allegations in these lawsuits,” a Sept. 28 statement by the Seattle-area leader of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said the organization applauded “the two victims who filed suits for pursuing these claims” and underscored the importance of mandatory reporters. “Mandatory reporters are on the front lines of defending children, and when they fail to do their job, they should be held accountable to civil and criminal law,” stated SNAP’s Mary Dispenza. In the Seattle archdiocesan statement, Archbishop J. Peter Sartain said he hopes the settlement will bring closure and assist the survivor in his healing process. “The safety of children and all vulnerable populations in our care is our highest priority,” Sartain is quoted as saying.

Query by Brian Mark Hennessy of the Comboni Survivors Group:

How can Archbishop Sartain find the gall to say that “The safety of children and all vulnerable populations in our care is our highest priority,” – when his Archdiocese found a new appointment for this known serial sex offender at a school? It beggars belief!

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FOLLOWING THE MONEY IS THE KEY TO AUTHORITY IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH — by Brian Mark Hennessy

FOLLOWING THE MONEY IS THE KEY TO AUTHORITY
IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
By Brian Mark Hennessy.

In an extraordinary “to and fro” at a session on 23rd June 2017 of the Scottish Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse that had taken place at the Benedictine Fort Augustus Abbey, Dom Richard Yeo, on behalf of the Benedictine Confederation, mustered somewhat miserable attempts to fend off any possible hint of accountability by members of the current Benedictine hierarchy for any of the gross failures that had occurred historically at the Abbey. Indeed, the situation is complicated by the fact that every Benedictine Abbey is totally independent and has its own Abbot President. An Abbot Primate of all the independent Benedictine Abbeys is elected every four years but his powers of oversight are very limited as he has no direct jurisdiction over the Abbot Presidents.

Ultimately, Dom Yeo denied that even the Pope himself had any responsibility for the affairs of the Abbey and hence, none other than the Abbot of Fort Augustus at the time of the abuse had accountability whatsoever for Child Protection in that establishment. The revelations from some 50 former pupils of the Abbey were that Fort Augustus was used as a “dumping ground” for clergy previously accused of abuse elsewhere. The four most recent Abbots before closure in 1998 were Dom Oswald Eaves, Dom Celestine Howarth, Dom Nicholas Holman and Dom Mark Dilworth. A dozen Benedictine Monks and lay teachers of the Benedictines in the United Kingdom have been accused or convicted of the abuse of pupils of their United Kingdom monastery school establishments.

The structure of the Catholic Church, admittedly, is difficult to understand for anyone other than a well informed Vatican Watcher or Canonist. The casual spectator of the Catholic Church will be easily confused, for although like any other organisation the Catholic Church has, in essence, a top to bottom structure, it is also important to understand that the structure varies in pattern according to the authority, scope and purpose of each formation within it that is scrutinised.
Nevertheless, there is a “key” to understanding each of those seemingly impenetrable structures within the Church and the unique application of authority within each of the separate branches of the overall Hierarchical Structures. Quite simply, to penetrate the complexities of the many titled ranks and the names of their formations there is one guiding principle – and that is the proverbial, good old adage: “Follow the Money”!

Thus, whilst there may appear to be a confusing and colourful kaleidoscope of the channels of authority, indeed there are not. To see clearly, we just need to strip away the candles, vestments, bells, incense and mitres of the peculiar and unique structure of the Catholic Church. Quite simply, hand in hand with that traditional theatre of the Church celebrations and the moral teachings of the Scriptures are the common administrative offices, procedures and controls that can be found in any other institution for the control of money, property, inventories of valuables, investments and other assets.

To be economical with my explanation, the three main ecclesiastical branches of the Catholic Church that are likely to come under scrutiny at the UK Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual abuse (IICSA), which is also in current process alongside the Scottish Inquiry, are the structures of (1) Dioceses run by the Bishops, (2) the Institutes of Consecrated Life with Abbots and Abbesses at their head and (3) the Religious Institutes of the Missionary, Teaching, Medical and other charitable Foundations. There is a key word within all these structures that defines authority – and that word is “ordinary”. Quite simply, that word denotes a person that has the right to exercise “jurisdiction” to a specific degree and of a specific nature over any institution at any level within the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church is an institution much the same as any other and its structure is that of a pyramid. All authority is invested in the Pope and is derived from him. It has a set of laws that govern both the moral and temporal structure of the Church at every level. Those laws have been derived from the historical pronouncements of the Church Councils that date back to Constantinople in the 4th Century. The Catholic Church has a “product” called “morality” which it claims to be inspired from sacred texts known as the Old and New Testaments. The rights of children have a biblical setting in the Gospels of the New Testament when Christ said, “Suffer not little children to come unto me”. There is an imperative in that statement that implies that children are to be both cherished and protected. Thus, in the context of the safeguarding of children it can be categorically stated that:

The Pope, the “Supreme” Ordinary of the Catholic Church, through his subordinate Ordinaries – who extend to the level of Bishops, Abbots of the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Superior Generals and Provincial Superiors of the Religious Institutes of the Catholic Church – is obligated to teach the morality exemplified in Scriptures, ensure that safeguards are in place for the protection of children, monitor adherence to safeguarding practices and bring non-compliant clerics to account.
At the recent IICSA hearing regarding abuse at Fort Augustus the following questions and answers took place between Counsel and Dom Richard Yeo. When the latter was asked about accountability, he responded:

A. “The English Benedictine Congregation had no authority over or involvement in either school. It is not the relevant organisation in respect of the schools as establishments. It has no remit or authority to acknowledge or accept abuse on behalf of the former Fort Augustus Abbey.”

Q. Just on that, that’s the position you adopt, is it? You don’t see that you, as the Abbot President, has a remit or authority to acknowledge or accept abuse?

A. I have – I can say on my own account personally that I am sorry about any abuse that has happened, but obviously I cannot speak for the school.

Q. Who can?

A. Nobody – and that is why I insisted that I wanted to say sorry myself because Fort Augustus is closed.

Q. Yes, but who can be held accountable for any abuse that occurred at Fort Augustus or (for the offences of) Carle Kemp?

A. Since the monastery has been closed I don’t see how anybody can be.

Q. What about the Holy See? I think we have accepted that the Holy See had ultimate responsibility.

A. Ultimate responsibility but not ultimate control.

Q. Or ultimate accountability. What you are saying is that because the monastery has closed, the Catholic Church cannot be held accountable, and that’s what I’m seeking to test with you.

A. I think I said publicly at a fairly early stage that the great problem with all this is that Fort Augustus is closed down and that must mean that the redress that any survivors of abuse can have is going to be limited. It is for that reason, as I say, that I felt it important to express my own sorrow about abuse but I cannot do that on behalf (of others). I can do that myself but I can’t do it as a representative of the organisation which was responsible.

Q. But what I’m seeking to explore with you, Dom Yeo, is whether there is someone within the Catholic Church who can provide the victims and survivors with that sort of apology in a more, if I can put it in this way, in a more responsible category?

A. I think that because Fort Augustus is closed, I’m the only person who can do that.

Q. Not even the Pope?

A. The Pope has expressed his sorrow that abuse has happened.

Q. Yes.

A. — but you cannot say that the Pope was responsible for it”.

That was the wrong answer. All roads in the Catholic Church do lead to Rome. The Pope is the “Supreme” Ordinary of the Roman Catholic Church and he has both moral and temporal administrative obligations. The buck does stop with the Pope and he must own it when all else fails! Dom Richard Yeo was categorically wrong when he replied that it does not and that a mere expression of sorrow from him will have to do! For the benefit of Dom Richard Yeo, I have constructed the following from Canon Law and other RCC Vatican sources for both his use and that of those representing abused children by clerics of the Catholic Church:

The Pope. The Pope is the “Ordinary” over the entire Catholic Church. The “buck” really does stop there! (Ref: Conc. Vatic., Const. “Pastor Aeturnus”, c.iii).In a period of interregnum following the death of a Pope and the election of a successor, the Cardinal “Carmelengo” in conjunction with the College of Cardinals assumes the role of Papal Supreme Ordinary. The Vatican Secretary of State, Prefects of the Vatican Curia Congregations and other Appointees to Pontifical Commissions and Intercasterial Commissions derive all the temporary authority they exercise as “delegated authority” directly from the Papal Supreme Ordinary.

The Chain of Command at the Vatican: Prefects of the Curia Congregations and Heads of the Pontifical Commissions and the Vatican Secretary of State with “Delegated” authority > The Carmelengo and College of Cardinals with “Delegated” Ordinary authority (“in absentia”) > Pope (the “Supreme” Ordinary of the Catholic Church).

The Diocesan Bishops There is often confusion about the title of “Bishop”, but in essence a Cardinal Archbishop, Archbishop, and Bishop are one and the same thing wherever they are located. They are all simply Bishops, as is the Pope himself, and they are the “ordinary judges” of the dioceses to which they are allocated. Their authority, which is both juridicial and territorial, is considered to be ordained by the Holy Spirit in the Acts (New Testament Acts of the Apostles 20:28). A Vicar Capitular or Vicar General assume the role of a Diocesan Bishop in an “inter regnum” period or other absence of a Bishop. Diocesan Auxiliary Bishops derive all temporary authority they exercise as “delegated authority” directly from the Diocesan Bishop. Parish Priests are not “ordinaries” and have no juridical or territorial authority.
Diocesan Bishops are appointed directly by the Pope following recommendations made by the Papal Legate of the specific country to which the new Bishop will be assigned. A Committee within the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy determines the final recommendations directly to the Pope for his consideration and subsequent appointment.

Diocesan Bishops are within their right (Canon 579) to establish an institute of Consecrated Life within their diocese by a formal decree, provided that they have consulted the Apostolic See – and the Bishop retains direct authority over such an institute, but will appoint a local superior “ordinary” with local “delegated” rights to manage the members of the institute in the “judicial” context. However, only the Pope can suppress an institute of Consecrated Life and the Apostolic See will make all decisions regarding disposal of the temporal goods of the suppressed institute.

Chain of Command of Diocesan Bishops: Local Ordinaries of Diocesan Institutes of Consecrated Life with “Delegated” authority from the Bishop > (Vicar General – “Ordinary in absentia”) > Bishop (“Juridical” and “Territorial” Ordinary) > Pope (“Supreme” Ordinary).

The Institutes of Consecrated Life The Pope in the Apostolic See is able to erect an institute of Consecrated Life, (such as the Benedictines), and individual members (clerics, lay brothers or sisters) are bound to obey the Pope as their highest superior by their sacred bond of obedience. The Superior (Abbot or Abbess) of an institute of Consecrated Life will convene a Chapter to advise and disseminate authority throughout the community. Only the Pope can suppress such an institute of Consecrated Life and he will also dispose of all the temporal goods of a suppressed institute. (Canons 589-591). The Abbot/Abbess is elected by the Chapter who will also advise and counsel the Abbot/Abbess.

Chain of Command of Institutes of Consecrated Life: Chapter (with “delegated authority”) > Abbot/Abbess (“Juridical” and “Territorial” Ordinary) > Pope (“Supreme” Ordinary).
Religious Institutes A Religious Institute (such as the Comboni Missionaries) is a society of clerics, lay brothers or sisters in which members, according to a proper law, pronounce public vows, either perpetual or temporary which are to be renewed when the period of time has elapsed. They lead a life in common. (See Canons 607 – 608). The Rule of a Religious Institute is approved by the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

Religious Institutes require the authority of the diocesan Bishop to establish a house within a diocesan location (Canons 609-611), but the Religious Institutes are, nevertheless, autonomous. The Religious Institute’s Provincial Superior of the country or other defined geographical location is the Provincial Ordinary within that country or location and the Provincial reports to the Superior General who is the Ordinary of the Religious Institute.

The Superior General / Sister General is elected by members of the Institute’s Curia, Provincial Superiors and other nominated members in accordance with its constitution. A Vicar General and Council are also appointed.

Chain of Command of Religious Institutes: Local Ordinary Superior of a community with “Delegated” authority only from the Provincial Superior > Provincial Superior (Provincial “Juridical” Ordinary) > (Vicar General “in absentia”) > General Superior / Sister General (“Juridical” Ordinary) > Pope (“Supreme” Ordinary).

THE COMFORT AND DISCOMFORT OF BEING ON THE SAME PAGE – by Brian Mark Hennessy

THE COMFORT AND DISCOMFORT OF BEING ON THE SAME PAGE – by Brian Mark Hennessy

“While Churches fail to deliver the messages of the Gospels by their example, rather than by their hollow words, the People of God will walk away from them. They will both seek and find their Redemption elsewhere, in direct good works and help for the poor, destitute, old, sick and those in need of comfort in the countless corners of this world which suffer from war, strife and natural disasters. In this day and age, Christians of all creeds are less and less prepared to have their contributions to the needy of the world “creamed off” to allow clerics to live a life of relative luxury, fight legal cases against the victims of clerical sexual abuse – and indulge in corruption – which is the only word that can aptly define both child abuse and the protection of paedophiles by the Heads of Religious Orders and Bishops of Dioceses. So the children of God are already walking away from Church doors and they will continue to walk. They know that men who live in palaces are not pricked by the suffering at their doors and that they live a life that is in denial of the humble life of the Gospels that they preach. The People of God will only start to listen again when Bishops vacate their palaces, when the profane and excessive material wealth of the Church is sold and all the proceeds are given to the poor and needy. They will listen only when clerics of all ranks get out into their communities which they serve – and live within those communities in modest housing, in the shanty towns and in the slums of this world – and endure the same hardships, toil and longsuffering of the world’s under-privileged and impoverished peoples. That is what it will take for the people of God to start to listen again – and re-trace their steps.”

I wrote those words a year ago. However, I did not expect any clerics to take heed of what I wrote. In the last few weeks, I found it comforting that someone else said something similar in criticism of priests and bishops. His words, as reported by the National Catholic Recorder, were, “The world is tired of enchanting liars, fashionable priests and bishops. The People of God have a ‘scent’ and they retreat when they recognize narcissists, manipulators, defenders of personal causes and standard bearers of worthless crusades. It’s a horrible thing for the Church when its pastors act like princes. Yet, we need Pastors, but may they be fathers and brothers, may they be gentle, patient and merciful; may they love poverty, interior poverty, as freedom for the Lord, and exterior poverty, as well as simplicity and a modest lifestyle; may they not have the mindset of princes”.

That “someone else” was Pope Francis – and he is persistent with these themes. Last week it was reported in the UK Catholic Herald that at his weekly audience he said that, “Clergy who use their position for personal gain rather than to help those in need do not follow the spirit of Jesus who took upon himself the sufferings of others. Jesus often would rebuke such leaders and warned his followers to ‘do what they say – but not what they do’. Jesus was not a prince. It is awful for the Church when pastors become princes, far from the people, far from the poorest people. That is not the spirit of Jesus who had tenderness toward the poor, the suffering and the oppressed and whose invitation was, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Jesus is not a master who severely imposes burdens upon others that he does not carry himself. Jesus was a pastor who was among the people and among the poor with whom he worked every day.”

I write these words in the Philippines where, in the midst of a wealthy and upward economy, poverty is still the lot of the masses – and where a multitude of underfed, barefooted children of the poor are on the streets by day and also by night for they have no bed nor shelter. There they beg and hustle and offer their limp bodies for adult abuse for a few pesos in order to survive until the next day. “Do you like me?” they ask imploringly and pitifully as you pass them in the street. The same uneducated, abandoned children watch hopelessly and helplessly as their parents die young from the result of crime or from sickness – simply because they have no funds for the basic medicine to stave off the effects of common illnesses. There, on the street, they sleep on the pavements and sniff glue to obliterate the pangs of hunger and the distress and hopelessness of neglect. The underpasses are where rejected amputees with home-made crutches find shelter, where infants of pre-school-age lead the aged blind to beg. There, countless young boys, not even in their teens, are routinely rounded up and cast into prison without charge for months for the most menial of offences such as begging or stealing a crust to stave off their hunger. Incarcerated communally with adult men, they become the prey of those intent on brutal, sexual abuse that will cast long, dark, sinister shadows over the remainder of their lives.

Yet, cheek by jowl with some of the poorest neighborhoods in Metro Manila, the smiling Cardinal Luis Tagle of the Church in the Philippines heads the richest and most cash-laden Archdiocese in the world. So much so that he was not able to remember, or even provide a close estimate, of quite how much money he did have in the coffers of his Archdiocese when asked by Stephen Sackur of the BBC in a “HardTalk” programme. He suggested, lamely, that Sackur looked on the Internet. I tried to find out myself with a bit of research. The information was not up to date – and nor was it presented by the Catholic Church – but it was garnered from the Philippine Stock Exchange by a group of disenchanted, Catholic financial experts. What was discovered was the mere tip of the ice berg. The data demonstrated that (in 2011) the Archdiocese had – as just one of its many investments, 300 million shares in banking – and together with other dioceses, the Church was within the top 100 investors in some 40 major companies engaged in such pursuits as banking, mining and construction. We do not know, however, how much more is invested in private entities, in companies outside the Philippines, in bonds, in time deposit accounts, or in real estate properties, but it is not just millions – it is billions. If you look carefully, you will also discover that at least one individual princely Bishop had both “Church:” and “private” funds of money stashed away in stock market investments.

Whilst the Cardinal was sitting on all this capital investment prior to the visit of Pope Francis in January 2015, one wonders why the Archdiocese of Manila needed to set up a fund seeking contributions from their parishioners for the repairs (that were said to have cost 200 million Pesos) for the Cardinal’s Cathedral in Intramuros (historic Manila). Yet, that is what they did. The Church will defend itself from the criticism of being “cash rich”, of course, and it will do this, most probably, by saying that in order to dispense welfare to the poor and needy of the world, it needs to produce the funds by investments to achieve it. That is a theoretical financial “truth” that I could not deny. Yet they do not divulge any details of income and expenditure – and so whether or not they do expend any money on the countless poor for housing, food, healthcare and education is not known. I could find no institutions listed, apart from two orphanages in Manila, that might fall into the category of charitable donations. On the other hand, the number of fee-paying Catholic schools in the Philippines is well over 100 – and fee-paying Catholic hospitals and clinics are also plentiful – but, they are for the wealthy – even the middle classes would struggle to afford the fees of the most of them.

The very bottom line is, of course, that being sensible with money and investing it for good causes does not require the prelates of the Philippines themselves to live like princes, it does not require them to live in grand houses like millionaires and deal privately in the financial markets, nor does it necessitate them owning vast diocesan estates – and, most certainly, it does not sanction them to grow portly whilst a multitude around them, who like street dogs, are literally scavenging through the garbage to find a bone to chew upon. I have seen them doing just that outside the popular fried chicken outlets.

So, until the cash-rich Church in the Philippines provides the laity with accurate, up-to-date financial information on how their money is being used, their Bishops can be harshly criticized with justification. After all – it is not the Bishops’ money to spend on themselves and their entourages. It is the “Church’s” money held by them in trust. The vast majority of that “Church” are the laity. Harsh criticism is especially justified when there is no evidence that any of their fabulous wealth is being utilised to alleviate the dire state of poverty outside their very church doors. In my book, that is called neglect on a scale that is equivalent to the gravest abuse of their priestly mission. If that is not the case, then I misjudge them, so let them publish the independently audited facts of their income and expenditure – both on official Church business and their private household expenses. I guess in advance that it will not be difficult to spot the cavernous, immoral disparity between their lifestyle and that of the destitute street ragamuffins who are in a state of serious physical underdevelopment for their age – due to the absence of even the most minimal of regular nourishment and healthcare.

One should note also, that whilst the Philippine Catholic Church does not condone any excesses and failures of the State, neither do they risk preaching against it in the pulpit. The reason for that is simple to understand (if you are an economist) for any Church edifice that is used to highlight matters of the conduct of the State – could be deemed by the State to be a “political entity” used for a “political statement or purpose”. That could lead to the parish or diocese being taxed on its income. It is true that the Bishop’s Conferences have made critical representations to the State in documentation in both past and present – but very few laymen will be aware of such documents. The silence of clerics in the pulpits in important moral guidance for their flock, therefore, ensures the continued liquidity of Church property – at the expense of the moral education of the populace. It is little wonder, indeed disastrous, that the vast proportion of Filippino Catholics do not make informed and cognizant moral decisions in so many pressing issues that face them in their lives today – and which are currently being reported worldwide. Such a lack of moral leadership for the sole purpose of defending “Mammom” is a part of a widespread and sinister culture of clerical self-interest – for the sake of their own preservation as a vibrant, financial institution. The result of this failure, most regrettably, is the moral decline of a whole nation which does not understand the perils that lie upon the road they willingly travel today.

In my three years in the Philippines, said to be the most Catholic country in the world, I have never seen a priest on the streets outside the doors of where I live or in the thriving city hubs. You will see them Sundays, of course, saying Mass in the local shopping malls – and of course gathering in a collection. Apart from that, they hold court only in their churches where they dictate to the desperate how they must lead their moral lives. Pope Francis certainly understood this situation in advance of his visit in January 2015. He castigated Filipino priests for failing to work for the poor in the streets. More recently he said about clerics that “Jesus is not a Master who severely imposes burdens upon others that he does not carry himself. He was a Pastor who was among the poor and He worked every day with them.” Yet, the Philippines remains a hell for countless thousands of children who are born – and then abused, physically and sexually, and then discarded by callous adults. Some parents even discard their own children because they are only able to feed a limited number of mouths. Thus, when another is born into this world, the oldest child in the family, whatever age or sex – and even before they reach their teens, are cast out to fend for themselves. Such infants are products of a ridiculous Dogma decreed by a Church that has not yet been able to grasp that God gave us a brain as well as genitals – and so this brainless Church infamously continues to claim that the use of condoms is forbidden on pain of Divine retribution.  The result is more homeless, neglected, abused, sick and wretched kids. That is Church abuse in the form of sinister dogmatic power piled upon the inexcusable abuse of neglect.

When Pope Francis came to Manila, these homeless and hungry castaway children were rounded up and bussed away out of site. The Shepherd of the Catholic Church was not allowed even to see them, let alone to walk amongst them – the most vulnerable of his flock. Cardinal Tagle did not object to their absence from the scene. He wanted to show a vibrant, cheerful and healthy Church to his guest. Neglect of street kids by the mainstream of the Philippine Church is a grave injustice that leads to both physical and psychological abuse. Yes, neglect is a form of abuse when you have a stated sacred mission to the poor – and you ignore it – and when you have the wealth to do something truly significant about it – but you do not. The Church is not listening to this Pope. Did he not state that, “There is no place in the Church for those that abuse a child.”  Yes, the Pope was talking about sexual abuse – but any abuse of children is equally reprehensible.

Dwelling for a moment on the sexual abuse of children, it has to be said also that the clerics of the Philippine Church, like so many other Bishops and Religious Orders worldwide, continue to sordidly protect and foster criminal, paedophile clerics amongst them, whilst they malevolently neglect the crimes committed against Victims by those very same errant priests. Here in the Philippines even the parents of abused children are told that the sexual abuse of “their” children is a “Church” matter and it is not for the laity to meddle in Church affairs”! I am not over simplifying! I read that exactly as stated by the Manila Diocesan Canonist in a Catholic news Bulletin in 2014. What they are saying, in fact, is that only the Clerics “are” the “Church”. Poppycock! Pope Francis would describe such a response of the Philippine Church as “Clerical arrogance and narcissistic clericalism”– but then this is Manila – it’s a long way from Rome – and, to be even more ironic, we are only talking about child victims of sexual abuse and destitute street kids – those annoying dregs of humanity who keep thrusting themselves by the thousands in our faces – and so who cares?

I fully believe that by “gut instinct” Pope Francis is on the right page – indeed the same page as all victims in this world and especially the page of victimized children. That is comforting to a degree. Yet, the Pope does not have full control of the Vatican curia – and nor the clerics in dioceses and Religious Orders. He cannot achieve all that is required, realistically, but he must at least try to ensure that the Bishops who govern the Church and the Superiors General of the Orders of the Church – are men of the Gospels – and true men in their hearts, who, with his leadership, can shake the dead wood from out the Church’s many branches. Ruthless pruning now will produce a rejuvenated tree in the new Spring. It is an urgent need – for the Church, as a clerical institution, has currently forfeited the good will of the lay Church that Christ founded. Those laymen and women are as integral to the Church as are the clerics who arrogantly and falsely claim it to be their own personal heritage and realm.  The Pope must put these clerics back in their place as servants of the Church, not it’s Masters.

For the moment, Pope Francis must face the fact that the traditional trust between clerics and laypersons has dissolved almost totally. Being on the same page as the Pope is comforting, but it is tainted by nothing other than the grave “discomfort” of knowing that what Pope Frances says – is not what his clerics deliver. The Pope must act and set out boldly and clearly, in the short time that he has, a root and branch radical reform programme. The Catholic Church must start to deliver for the most vulnerable in the Church – who are children. Whether those children are victims of sexual abuse, physical hardships, parental and clerical neglect, poverty, incarceration in prisons where they do not belong – or beatings on the streets of Manila – they must be cherished and not discarded as flotsam and jetsam amongst the turbulent seas of cruel, avaricious, selfish humanity. Make no mistake – and Pope Francis knows this well – that the latter “selfish humanity” includes, to the disgrace of the Catholic Church, so many Catholic prelates, clerics and religious who, whatever habit they wear and whatever their role in the Church, are demonstrably idle, indolent and undeserving of their daily bread.

‘Act justly ..Love tenderly Walk humbly with your God’? — by F. Healy

‘Act justly ..Love tenderly Walk humbly with your God’?  

 

I want to express my feelings on hearing about the latest strategy of the Comboni Fathers to extricate themselves from the shame of protecting a paedophile priest from within their own ranks. I am shocked to hear that they have issued a summons for Mark Murray, (one of the survivors of such abuse), to appear before a court in Italy on 14th Sept 2016.

The charges are patently false: entering a place of worship through sliding doors represents trespass?; wanting to offer forgiveness to the one who abused you, represents interference in another’s life?; asking for permission to speak to someone & acting in accordance with the permission granted, represents stalking? I don’t think so.

How ironic that the charges include words such as ‘trespass’ ‘interference’ & ‘stalking’. While not referring to the possible legal interpretation of these terms, the following thoughts sprang to mind.

Have the Comboni Fathers not reflected on the words of Christ whom they profess to follow, ‘Forgive us our trespasses ..’ Who in this case needs forgiveness – the victim of the crime? – or the perpetrators? I am using the plural noun here because it seems to me, that it is not only Father Nardo that is guilty but also those who have protected him over the years.

For them now to accuse one of his victims of ‘interference’ in his life, is an extraordinary & shocking accusation, especially in view of the circumstances. It so happens, that for an adult to sexually interfere with a young boy as was the case at Mirfield, is a crime

The Comboni Fathers have offered to pray for Mark Murray & for those others who lives have been blighted by the interference they suffered as young people, while in the care of this religious institution. Well, when the Reverend Fathers engage in these prayers, do they ask for enlightenment? Do they plead for an understanding of the horrific nature of sexual abuse? Do they ask for the courage to do what is right & do they ask for forgiveness for their contribution to the suffering endured by all those, who in one way or another, have been affected by the actions of paedophile priests in their Order?

With regard to ‘stalking’: Do these representatives of Christ, in bringing the case against Mark Murray, (albeit under the guise of Fr Nardo’s legal guardian), have any concept of the way in which victims of sexual abuse, continue to be stalked by the experience, for the rest of their lives? But – who cares? Apparently not the Comboni Fathers

I am incensed, scandalized & hugely saddened by what they are doing by taking out this case against Mark Murray. I find it inconceivable that a survivor of sexual of abuse by a priest could then find himself subjected to this form of intimidation by other priests. Why? I can only imagine this is an attempt to protect their own reputation & to silence the erstwhile victim. The situation is compounded by the apparent rank hypocrisy & cowardice of the Order in lacking the integrity to put its own name to the summons.

‘Power corrupts’. What an excellent example of what this means.

Mark Murray is simply asking for an acknowledgement that the abuse took place & for an apology? That after so many years this request is still being ignored is in itself = a scandal.

Eventually we all have to account for our own actions. I doubt that I would be sleeping too soundly had I been party to issuing this summons. The fear of an even greater call, to stand before the throne of God, might keep me awake. However to experience such unease, I would have had to examine my conscience.

I cannot see Christ reflected in the actions of these so called ‘missionaries’. Isn’t there something in the bible that instructs us to: ‘Act justly ….. Love tenderly Walk humbly with your God’?

Pause for thought anyone?

 

 

Bishop Accountability in the News — by Brian Mark Hennessy

Bishop Accountability in the News

  1. Archbishop Anthony Sablan Apuron of Guam accused of sexual abuse.

Very recently, the Vatican announced that the pope had signed off on new measures to remove bishops who fail to respond to abuse allegations. A previous article on these pages reported the event in detail. Pope Francis told the Catholic newspaper La Croix.As a result of committing child sexual abuse, a priest, whose vocation is to lead a child to God, destroys him. He disseminates evil, resentment and distress.” It appears that Pope Francis meant what he said – for following mounting accusations of sexual abuse against Archbishop Apuron of Guam, the Vatican has already announced that Archbishop Anthony Sablan Apuron, who has led the Agana archdiocese for 30 years, must yield his authority – and a Vatican official has been named to oversee the Catholic Church on the Pacific island territory while charges of sexual abuse against children in the 1970s are investigated.

2. Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain is Challenged by his own Review Board

An open letter in the form of an online petition has challenged Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain to address what it charges is the archdiocese’s “incomplete response” to the “clergy abuse crisis.” claims “more is needed if we are to truly protect our youth, heal the wounds caused by this horrific evil, and address the continued alienation of Catholics from their Church.” The letter specifically asks:

  • For the public release of “all files, memoranda, settlements and communications related to credible claims of abuse by all clergy and religious who have ministered in this archdiocese or will do so in the future”;
  • For the empowerment of “a reconstituted Review Board” that would have “broad, independent access to all Church files concerning clergy abuse of minors,” and the “authority to investigate and make recommendations as to policy and discipline for all matters relating to such abuse in the Archdiocese — past, present and future”;
  • That the majority of a new Review Board be “selected by the laity and all of its recommendations made public unless the Archbishop explains in writing to the Catholic community the reasons for not doing so.”
  1. Canon Law Professors Criticises the Vatican for Backing Away from Appointing a Tribunal to Judge Bishops’ Failures

 

Pope Francis’ move to grant several Vatican offices authority to initiate removal of Catholic bishops negligent in their response to clergy sexual abuse has drawn mixed reviews from canon lawyers and survivors’ advocates, who say the pontiff’s action may not go far enough in stemming the abuse crisis. Some experts are expressing confusion over why the pontiff chose not to go forward with a proposal from his Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors for a new tribunal tasked specifically with judging bishops in their handling of sexual abuse and instead directed four existing Vatican congregations to take on the work.

 

In one example, a canon lawyer at the Catholic University of America, Kurt Martens, tweeted that the pope had promised the creation of that new tribunal more than a year ago. With Saturday’s publication of the motu proprio Come una madre amorevole (“Like a loving mother”), that tribunal “seems to get first class funeral,” he said. Mitchell Garabedian, a lawyer in Boston who has been representing clergy sexual abuse victims for decades and was portrayed by Stanley Tucci in the recent film Spotlight, was likewise skeptical. The new law, he said, “is fundamentally flawed because the Catholic Church will once again be investigating itself with regard to clergy sexual abuse. History has shown us that the Catholic Church is incapable of objectively investigating itself in clergy sexual abuse cases,” said Garabedian. “The fox is once again guarding the hen house and children are at risk.”

 

The U.S. based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) has issued two separate statements saying they are “highly skeptical” of the new measure. In a statement Sunday they said that while the original plan was to have one specific agency handle bishops who are negligent in sexual abuse matters, “now, instead, it’s supposedly going to be existing agencies … none of which has ever taken real action, or even showed interest in complicit bishops. It’s just like the U.S. bishops’ ‘Dallas Charter,'” said the group, referring to the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” that the U.S. bishops signed in 2002 following intense reporting on the sexual abuse crisis in the Boston archdiocese. “When bishops talked about it, they used clear and tough language,” said SNAP. “But when they wrote it, they got all legalistic and watered it down considerably. Similarly, when Francis talked about holding complicit bishops responsible, he used clear and tough language,” they continued. “But when he finally wrote something, he backed off his own strong words considerably.”