TRIBUNAL OF VERONA OFFICE OF THE JUDGE OF THE PRELIMINARY HEARING

No 5237/15 R.G. notizie reato

No 16/111 R.G. G.I.P

TRIBUNAL OF VERONA

OFFICE OF THE JUDGE OF THE PRELIMINARY HEARING

The Justice, Luciano Gorra found:

That the apparent superfluous nature of the themes of investigation presented by the complainant (Comboni Missionaries acting as the Legal Guardian of Padre Romano Nardo) – was nothing more than a re-run of the matters they had already stated during the original hearing of the complaint – and that that (the absence of any new evidence), in itself, makes the case of the complainant inadmissible (in this preliminary hearing that has been convened following an  appeal against dismissal by the Comboni Missionary Order).(It is confirmed, therefore,) that the Prosecutor’s original request (for dismissal following the original submission) appears to be reasonable, but nevertheless must be fully understood for what it is. (See the following):

Of consideration is that, in particular, the first time Mark Murray (the Victim of alleged abuse by Padre Nardo) entered the Missionaries Centre, where the interview took place with Padre Romano Nardo with (Murray’s) objective of video-recording the event, he (Mark Murray) was duly authorized entry by the concierge staff (and thus trespass cannot be alleged). Similarly, in relation to the subsequent visits by Murray to the house of the African Missionaries where Padre Nardo was hospitalized, Murray’s intentions were only to have meetings regarding the complainant (Padre Nardo) that the Victim (Mark Murray) had said had sexually abused him 45 years before at the seminary – thus ruining his life.

Murray was instructed to leave the institute at one point (by the Vice Superior) and an additional member of the Religious Community (believed to be a lay member of the Order) was called to ensure that he (Mark Murray) left. Despite the alleged difficulty they (the Comboni Missionaries) had in ensuring that Murray left the premises, the substantive ingredients necessary to prove an offence under Article. 612 were not substantiated by the complainants (the Comboni Missionaries). Moreover, these issues were related to (three) individual episodes that occurred in a very short period of time and were thus devoid of any known habitual pattern (that would indicate an offence of stalking).

Murray’s actions, moreover, were justified (and thus interfering in the life of Padre Nardo cannot be alleged) by his intention to personally express the degree of his suffering that was caused (in the first instance) by the alleged sexual harassment. His actions were also justified (in the second instance) by his (Mark Murray’s) willingness to forgive (and his actual forgiveness of) the alleged perpetrator (Padre Nardo) of that original alleged abuse .

The Judge of the Preliminary Hearing

LUCIANO GORRA  (Signature)

VERONA 14TH SEPTEMBER 2016

(Translated and paraphrased for understanding by Brian Mark Hennessy. Italic Words in parenthesis have been added to assist those unfamiliar with the case with their understanding of the events).

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JUDGE AT VERONA CRIMINAL COURT DISMISSES ALL ALLEGATIONS AGAINST UK VICTIM OF CHILD ABUSE

JUDGE AT VERONA CRIMINAL COURT DISMISSES ALL ALLEGATIONS AGAINST UK VICTIM OF CHILD ABUSE

Outline

Mark Murray, from St Asaph in North Wales, has had all allegations brought against him by the Italian Priest, Padre Romano Nardo (Comboni Missionary Order),  dismissed by the presiding Judge at the preliminary Court Hearing at the Verona Criminal Tribunal on 14th September 2016. Murray did not attend the proceedings.

The hearing had been convened following an earlier dismissal of the case by the Tribunal Prosecutor and a subsequent Appeal against that decision by the Catholic Comboni Missionary Order of Verona, Italy.

The allegations against Murray were “trespassing, stalking and interference in the private life of Padre Romano”. Both the original Prosecutor of the Italian Criminal Tribunal and the Judge at the Preliminary Hearing following Appeal dismissed all the allegations as unfounded. In doing so they supported the actions of Murray to visit his alleged Abuser, detail to that Abuser the life-long effects he had suffered from the abuse and Murray’s act of forgiveness to his Abuser.

Murray is taking legal advice on issues relating to the presentation of false evidence by the Comboni Missionary Order and their attempts to defame his character.  The Order have GB bases at Sunningdale in Berkshire, Leeds , Glasgow and Dublin. The Order in the UK have not commented upon this specific case albeit they have treated Murray with contempt in the past and refused to talk to both him and other seminarians about the sexual abuse they suffered at Mirfield in UK.

Despite his innocence of all charges, Mark Murray has been tendered Court Fees by his Defence Lawyer,  for acting on his behalf.

NOTES

The Italian News outlet, “La Repubblica” co-operated with Murray’s visit to Verona and produced two short film recordings and press reports – which are available on request, as is also a copy of the summons notification, from Murray listed in ‘Contacts” below. The films were shown on Italian and UK television outlets and there was substantial press coverage following the visit. La Repubblica’s accredited Vatican correspondent, Marco Ansoldo, has also received a separate summons on different charges relating to his coverage of Murray’s visit to the Order’s Verona House.

The Comboni Missionary Order settled – “out of Court” and “without any admission of guilt” – civil cases brought by Murray and seven other ex-seminarians in 2014. The cases were all in relation to allegations of historical child sexual abuse by three Religious members of the Comboni Missionary Order at their Seminary in Mirfield, Yorkshire, England. Other cases are or have been in the process of litigation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“THERE IS NO PLACE IN THE CHURCH FOR CLERICS WHO HAVE ABUSED CHILDREN — By Brian Mark Hennessy

“THERE IS NO PLACE IN THE CHURCH FOR CLERICS

WHO HAVE ABUSED CHILDREN”

(By Brian Mark Hennessy)

With penetrating clarity and absolute authority, Pope Francis gave a speech in Santa Marta in 2014, and said that, “there is no place in the Church for clerics who have abused children”. His words rang loud, chiming bells of hope in my mind that here was a man who understood in his heart how pernicious and evil it was for an adult to abuse a child. When I now think back on his words, I feel somewhat amazed at how momentous they appeared to be about a matter which was so downright obvious to the vast majority of people in the world – and not just to parents – but to most adults who had ever given it a thought – and, of course, to the countless children who had been abused! On reflection, my surprise – and even inner joy at hearing him say it – was down to the simple, sad fact that I had never ever heard a Catholic Cleric, let alone a Pope, say it before in such a blatant and brazenly obvious way.

Pope Francis has said many other things since that time in the early few years of his papacy that have had a similar effect on me – and I presume he has prompted a like reaction in many others. It has given many hope that the Pope, who has the leadership of the Catholic Church in his hands, is truly on the path of change. This matters – not just for the Catholic Church – but for the moral guidance of many others in the world also. It suggests, in addition, that this Argentinian, non-Curial, diocesan prelate is now listening, not so much to the dogmatic, scarlet-hatted prelates that frequent the old palaces of the Vatican Curia, but to the Christian men, women and children in the streets – the people with whom he is much more familiar – and the streets he identifies as the place where he also belongs. He, and not the Curia “Old Guard”, understands that the laity are suffering the burdens of centuries of dogmatic indoctrination that has sought to compel them to live constricted and at times almost un-natural lives. The Church has historically dictated to them consistently and without offering any alleviation for their plight in the face of distressing circumstances that were not of their making. It has burdened them with demands on the decisions they make at times of misfortune – and warned defaulters of unpleasant retribution for failures.

To get his message across, the Pope has had to talk directly to his flock and over the heads of the Curia and their traditional, strictured, theological interpretation of dogma. This has been a most effective operation – for the Pope knows that his Curia dogmatists are a “turn off” in this modern age. The last thing the laity needs is a message, accompanied by the severe penalties of damnation and the eternal Bosch-like fires of Hell, which the dogmatists unstintingly attach to any failure to comply. The Pope recognizes, but the Curia do not, that for countless multitudes in this world, the achievement of the perfection postulated by theoretical dogma is often both incongruous and incompatible with the realities and the daily hardships of basic survival. Those realities are a way of living that the Curia Old Guard, imbibing and sleeping in their princely palaces, do not comprehend because for the most part, quite probably, they have never had to face and nor endure those hardships for any time much longer than a brief, afternoon pastoral visit.

Hence we now have discussions with the laity, un-envisaged before the arrival of Francis, about divorce, abortion, homosexuality and communion – and so on. Francis understands that life is a journey and that true perfection is unattainable for most. His simple message to his flock is to keep walking, even to limp and to crawl, down that road that points to perfection as best they can, within the circumstances of their individual lives, and with the constant aim, rather than any real expectancy being placed upon them, of reaching the destination.

It is regrettable, given the above, but quite unsurprising, that some of the Curial Princes of the Church are fighting a rearguard action against both the Pope and the faithful to whom he appeals. The old heads in the Curia are unaware that the vast number of the informed and educated of those admiring throngs of Francis believe that they have an undisputed and inalienable right to be able to discern what is right and wrong for themselves. Yet, the Vatican “scarlet hats”, for the most part, remain entrenched in the past and there are many of them, it seems, who are most reluctant to end their traditional ability to dictate, to scold, to ex-communicate and to damn. Who would relinquish such power, that has been invested in them for centuries, over the many millions of their followers in the world? Without the dogma-subjugated, vast throngs of believing faithful throughout the history of “Peter’s Pence”, who would, in the future, continue to fund the princely lifestyle that those prelates enjoy? The wearers of fashionable scarlet socks know that it was the big sticks of “dogma” and “everlasting fire” that maintained the Curia princes in a lifestyle of luxury in the past. So in their unwitting minds the faithful must continue to be subdued by their incomprehensible, doctrinal interpretations of “God’s Law” and kept in line by the fear of excruciating punishment. Only thus can the masses be denied the exercise of their own right to discern good and bad for themselves.

Unfortunately, for these intellectually sterile, reptilian relics of history at the Vatican, it may be an unpleasant surprise to know that the informed and educated laity both know and assert that their soul and their conscience belongs to them and to nobody else. The greater number of the faithful – which is the world’s abject poor who wearily struggle through life wondering how they will feed tomorrow the large numbers of children that they bore yesterday, in accordance with Church Rules, are forgotten. They, remain down-trodden and often de-humanised by miserable circumstances in both the foul-flooded slums and the rain-parched deserts of the world today – as did their forebears in the inescapable biblical, sore-bandaged, leper colonies. They act, for the most part, in accordance with necessity and the ungracious rules of survival rather than dogma. There is a disconnect, therefore, that has not yet penetrated the minds and the luxurious style of life of the Vatican cascades of isolated, enclaved male dignitaries that arrogantly tell the rest of the world how to behave. Thus, the Curia is, collectively, the downside to the hopeful words that the Pope utters day by day.

Those quiet, unseen Curia “dogma-worms”, secretly munching away at the paper piles left to rot in Vatican “in-trays”, leave me with an uneasy feeling that for them, the whole of Christianity is just a game of theatrical charades. It is a scene complete with its Cathedral stages, its saints, torture, blood, haloes, rites and rituals, its candles and incense, its colourful, richly embroidered, swirling costumes, its promises and its threats, its pledges and betrayals, its dogmas and its stories of angels and devils – and of purgatory, heaven and hell. It is a stage of unending drama upon which, in their minds, the curtains will never be drawn. Yet, that is a dangerous misconception for, whilst they stand still in glorifying in their eternal, fantasy world, the real world is transient – here today and gone tomorrow – and ever-changing at an alarming and increasingly hectic rate. Thus, their reluctance to deal judiciously, decisively and with alacrity with urgent matters such as the contagion of clerical child abuse within their realm has already seen, and in the future may well see a further and irreversible shift in their former fortunes. The more tardy they are in putting right the wrongs thet they have committed, condoned and hidden – the more rapid is the decline in their relevance. They sit on their fumbling hands in peril of being consigned to a chapter in the annals of history – fittingly entitled, if Edward Gibbon can be resurrected to complete his task, as: “Part Seven – The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church”.

We return, therefore, as we must, to add to this dire picture the Curia’s specific failure to provide any consistent, visible, coherent, practical outcomes to what Pope Francis said so early on in his Papacy: “There is no place in the church for clerics who have abused children”. The Comboni Survivors (known originally as the Mirfield 12) have written endlessly to prelates of the Catholic Church to act on the commitment of Pope Francis to rid the Catholic Church of all clerics who have abused children. The survivors of child sexual abuse in the seminary of the Comboni Missionary Order at Mirfield, Yorkshire, England have compiled witness allegations to some individual 1000 crimes of child sexual abuse in a volume of near 200 pages – and that evidence includes the facts of the protection of a living, allegedly paedophile priest. This volume was distributed to all the Bishops of the British Isles and to Bishops’ Conferences throughout the world. Cardinal Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster took a copy by hand to Rome and gave it to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He confirmed to me, bless his scarlet socks, sash and cap, that he had done so.

The allegations of the crimes of this paedophile priest have been buried by the Catholic Church for nigh on half a century since the Order were first aware of them. Their immediate reaction was to send him to the Missions in Uganda to get him out of the way. He stayed there for decades (hopefully he was not abusing even more innocents) until he was finally brought to account two decades ago at the insistence of one of his Victims. His admissions at that time – downplayed and reduced in correspondence to the victim as “inappropriate actions” should have been reported to the Vatican immediately. Yet, even after admissions of wrongdoing those two decades ago, the Order has continued to give him sanctuary from full investigation and arraignment before a civil or canonical court. The priest remains wanted for questioning about crimes against a child by the West Yorkshire Police in the United Kingdom. The UK Crown Prosecution Service has sought his extradition on a number of occasions. It is believed also, that the Order never reported him to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at any time in the past fifty years and so it is certain that he has never been brought before a Vatican Canonical Court. If he had been, he would have been defrocked long ago and cast out as the criminal he is alleged to be. Even then – that would have been a lenient outcome – for he would probably have received a pension from the Order (provided in their Rules for such miscreants) and also escaped the long prison sentence that any civilian court would have imposed upon him for his alleged heinous crimes.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith have had the information regarding this priest, provided by the Comboni Survivor Group, in their hands for almost a year. Within the text of that document it is detailed with clarity that this living priest of the Comboni Missionary Order, who is alleged to have committed crimes of child sexual abuse in the guise of religious rituals against a young seminarian, then aged 11 years, has had no action taken against him by the Order. Almost the last words heard uttered by the Order about this priest were, “We all make mistakes!”, as if that casual, verbal shrug of the shoulders should both be the end of the matter – and the signal to the Victim that it is time for the wretchedness that has excrutiated and brutalised his psyche since childhood should now, in a flash, be forgotten. Life is not like that.

I do not expect that Pope Francis has ever heard of this case that I have related, but his Curia officials most certainly have. They have neither acknowledged receipt and nor responded. This is not just abject discourtesy to the Writer, the Victim and the Comboni Survivor Group, it is also a grievous sleight both to the Cardinal Archbishop who took the trouble to present it to them – and to the clearly expressed will of Pope Francis. The Curia is sitting on its hands – as it has done for centuries – and, therefore, they are not just a part of the historical problem in cases of child sexual abuse – they are also the current problem. Their inaction, believe me, reflects their declared independence from anything Pope Francis says and does. His Church is in the Curia’s hands. Our only remaining hope is that Pope Francis reads this blog – and then diligently undertakes the much needed firing and hiring process within the Curia. Pope Frances must ‘have done” with words of benevolent encouragement – and reveal his skills as an incisive surgeon.

QUENCHING OF THE SPIRIT – BY THE VATICAN —- Brian Mark Hennessy

QUENCHING OF THE SPIRIT – BY THE VATICAN

Written by Brian Mark Hennessy

In 2014, Pope Francis ordered an investigation into the Italian diocese of Albenga-Imperia, situated on the Italian coast between the port of Genoa and the state of Monaco. The Papal Nuncio, Adriano Bernadini, was given the task of finding out the truth behind the headline scandals in the Italian press. Shortly after he reported back to the Vatican, a new bishop, Guglielmo Borghetti was sent to the diocese to act as the de facto Bishop – and ultimately the former Bishop of 25 years, Mario Oliveri, handed in his resignation – which has been accepted by the Pope. Why?

Part of the reason is that Bishop Oliveri was a “traditionalist” – or at least he tolerated “traditionalist” priests who refused to abandon the Latin Tridentine Mass which was introduced in 1570 and was discontinued after Vatican II. This Mass, referred to now as the “forma antiquior”, is still favoured by some today even at the highest levels and, whilst it may be said by a priest in private, it is unacceptable in a public liturgy. Pope Francis admonished a Cardinal Prefect just a few weeks ago for publicly supporting it – and it is clear that the Tradentine is now a certain “gonner” in the public domain. Nevertheless, however much the old-headed Bishop, Mario Oliveri was under Vatican pressure on that issue, he did not resign over that matter specifically and just shortly before his normal retirement age. The reason is somewhat more topical and truly a scandal of major proportions.

What the Papal Nuncio Bernadini uncovered was a host of lurid claims: priests and seminarians posting naked photographs on gay websites and on Facebook, the sexual harassment of parishioners, accepting clerics from other dioceses with either questionable reputations or who had been dismissed already for misconduct by their previous Bishops, playboy priests moonlighting as barmen, priests who had committed theft from parish revenues, one priest accused of operating an under-age prostitution ring – and others living in non-celibate , openly gay relationships.

Jose phine McKenna, writing in the National Catholic Reporter (NCR online) says that Bishop Olivera distributed a farewell message on the diocesan website stating that he loved his diocese “and especially his priests”. The new bishop, Borghetti, said that he would seek to renew the diocese and his actions would please neither “traditionalists” and nor “progressives” – by whom he means, I suppose, clerical barmen and actively gay seminarians and priests who post nude photographs on Facebook and gay websites – and any priests running prostitution rings.

It might seem to some readers that the culture of the Irish Maynooth seminary, referred to in my recent article on this blog, has influenced the goings on in this Italian diocese – or vice versa – for both are running concurrently in the news. How did we get to this situation whereby it seems to be common practice now for clerics to indulge in unseemly activities “full face” in the glare of the public? Well in short, we have not just got to it now. It has always been there – both openly and in the background. The difference is that modern technology moves the shadowy, indiscreet, sexual and sometimes depraved acts of clerics into the public domain and limelight before the Church Hierarchy, traditionally more centrally placed in the aristocracy of both national and local communities, could stamp their foot on it. Yet – it does make you wonder what is still under wraps today – and what cannot get out into the public forum easily because it is still controlled by and within the impenetrable walls of the Catholic Church itself.

One such matter is the physical and sexual abuse of nuns by priests. The Vatican has known about this dark secret throughout history, but it has not yet surfaced to any extent, because it happens “in house” and is suffocated by vows of silence and obedience – and female oppression by dominant, male figures in cascades of ultimate authority over them. It is further complicated by the physical vulnerability of women who have no rights of appeal to anyone other than the male priests and male bishops in the local hierarchy. The record of the Vatican is not a beacon of light in this regard. An expert, professional, independent, civilian study of the large scale and widespread abuse of nuns, particularly in Africa and in Asia, was presented to the Vatican decades ago. The National Catholic Reporter in the United States took the issue on at the time. There was an initial clamour – then silence. The Vatican took no action that was made public. Nuns were told to report such matters to their Bishops. This the nuns had already done in many, if not all, cases before, but the Bishops had not even reported it to the Vatican as Canon Law dictated. They dealt with it locally by taking no appropriate and meaningful action at all against the priests – other than ultimately relocating them to places where they could re-offend. The blistering expert, professional, independent report was consigned to a “pending” office tray in the Vatican – from where it has never reached the light of day since. In this case, St Paul’s famous and oft’ quoted, “Quench not the Spirit” has been well and truly quenched by the all-male Vatican traditionalists.

That is not the end of the story, however, and there is hope. Some nuns have been emboldened by their female counterparts in civilian life and may no longer be prepared to accept the indignity of being abused without recourse to their full rights of justice – which include the full and rightful list of punitive measures of both Canon Law and the Civil Law being taken against offending clerics. The official Vatican taboo of uttering a single word about the physical, mental and sexual exploitation of nuns by priests may just be about to crack open again – and that opened can of worms may soon be swarming all over the marble floors of St Peter’s Square. For the readers of this blog who anticipate that somewhere in this article I will be making a reference to the Comboni Missionary Order of Verona Italy in this same regard – you need not hold your breath any longer – allegations of abuse of nuns by clerics of that Order are known to have been made.

Brian Mark Hennessy

 

 

The Shifting of the Moral High Ground – by Brian Mark Hennessy

The Shifting of the Moral Ground  –  by Brian Mark Hennessy

The Art of Telling Lies

I begin with a question. Do clerics have a monopoly of the “Truth” simply because they wear a white collar around their necks? For some, we would hear the riposte, “What is “Truth”? The answer to that is complicated – because there are ways, of course, apart from telling direct lies, of avoiding the truth. Language skills can achieve this by adding a simple word of condition such as “if”. Silence is another tactic that is disingenuous to the “truth” by suggesting “innocence” or “unaccountability”.  Semantics – the art of analyzing the subtle shades of the meanings of words – is widely employed to find an alternative that adeptly conceals the “Truth” – or suggests that another man’s sincerely attested “Truth” can be doubted.  Sadly – I should say regrettably – I know priests who use these ploys of ambiguity repeatedly. However, in the moment of their shameful utterances, most observers will see through them, their pious disguise will be undone – and the character of their “priesthood” will dissolve into a murky, meaningless morass. Any outward hint of the china-white charism they once appeared to have possessed is then shattered to the degree that it cannot be reconstructed without all the stained and dirty cracks offending the eyes of their beholders.  Despite the linguistic skills which some clerics engage to disguise their subversive purposes, even the most common of men will recognize their deceit at a glance. The white collar around their necks is no badge of “Truth”!

This blog has related so many incidents of clerical duplicity that it is pointless to reiterate them again. Suffice it to say, that, amongst others, the Comboni Missionary Order of Verona, Italy, has deployed spokespersons with all the refined devices of denial in the repertoire to avoid admitting the truth of allegations of child sexual abuse that took place at their “now notorious” St Peter Claver College Mirfield Seminary in England. Such is the blind, inept folly of their cloak of self-righteousness – that they are unaware that their keen observers espy from afar their moral vacuousness through the fickle façade of their ecclesiastical robes. Nevertheless, the Comboni Missionary Order remains steadfast in committing themselves in perpetuity to their deliberately vague, but unconvincing denial of “Truth”. Those clerics of the Order that engage in this activity at the London Provincial and Roman Curia levels betray Christ Himself who said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Light. No one comes to the Father except through Me” – words which demand that they both acknowledge and represent Christ as the “Way” to the Father and the Defender of “Truth”. Thus a dishonest priest plays a deadly game of charades. Deadly for themselves that is, for if they believe in what they profess, then they risk forfeiting their souls.

Hostile Litigation versus Honest Dialogue

Unfortunately, the Comboni Missionary Order is not alone amongst the clerics of the Catholic Church in their belief in unaccountable silence and the perversion of the “Truth” by any means. Most probably, the cause for their adoption of this tactic has a mixture of elements – which include clerical narcissism and arrogance – both of which conceal an inherent fear of disgrace and humiliation. To obviate the resultant unpleasant degradation that might ensue, therefore, they adopt the process of litigation which has an inherent, endemic posture of hostility – rather than straight forward humility and honesty which are the moral signposts to closure, healing and reconciliation. Litigation requires, ultimately, that they seek to destroy the reputations of the very victims that they themselves know to be telling the “Truth”. How much they expend in the preservation of their self-perception of dignity matters not – for the sole aim is not to admit the guilt of their knowledge of the abuse and their failure to prevent further abuse. It seems that they do not put a price tag on that. The sky is the limit. A simple example of this is that the Comboni Missionary Order were quite happy to ex-spend almost half a million pounds sterling (and much more by the time litigation has been completed) in legal fees without any admission of guilt in order to retain an aura of innocence of the claims of sexual abuse laid against them. Yet, all the claimants wanted was an apology foremost – moderate reparation and a dialogue that led to reconciliation. What the clerical establishment of the Catholic Church does not understand, due to their elitist isolation, is that their observers – the canny parishioners in the pews and the man in the street – can see through the bellicose smokescreen of litigation to the underlying act of damage limitation in which the Church is involved. That man in the street abhors and detests the vilification of victims of clerical abuse by the Church to a degree that equates to repugnance – and they will side, unsurprisingly, not with the Monolithic Conglomerate which is the Catholic Church, but with the hounded and wounded underdog – the victim.

The Man in the Street Gains the High Ground

The result of this clerical predilection for the expensive and hostile legal option is that the moral ground of the Catholic Church appears to have shifted away from its clerics in the former Christian, but very local heartlands, that were once typified by small communities living and working around their parish churches and religious communities. In the new media inter-related world, where news spreads globally faster than any ferocious forest fire ever could from one field to the next, it is now universally manifest that it is not the clerics, but the lay people in every walk of life that have sustained the righteous, moral outcry about the sexual abuse of children. Those lay people are horrified with the extent of the clerical abuse that has been endemic and unseen for so long in Catholic dioceses, institutions and Religious Orders. Moreover, what they have witnessed is that the abuse was and has remained largely unchecked, unreported and covered over by Bishops, Religious Leaders and the Vatican even when they had full knowledge of it. The huge scale of the Vatican’s comprehension of clerical sexual abuse is not a myth. The Vatican’s very own UN Ambassador, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, reported in 2014 that, in the previous decade, 3,400 incidents of clerical abuse (of whom 848 ended in defrocking) were reported to the Vatican. That is almost one case a day – and it is only the tip of the icebergs seething in the turmoil of Diocesan, Religious and the Curial murky seas of denial and cover-up.

Moreover, there is no point in the Curia Cardinal Muller at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith using statistics to point out that the percentage of paedophile clerics is no greater than that in civilian populations. We accept, albeit most reluctantly, that in the secular world there are many people with disturbed natures who, for either psychiatric or immoral reasons of self-gratification, target the innocents of the world. In comparison, Ordained clerics and Religious under vows, by virtue of their vocation, have always been set apart from that secular world and have been considered to be in a unique place of trust. The white collar and cassock were once akin to their badges of honour. They were often treated as members of the family and they were perceived, historically, to be utterly dependable. That trust is no longer there. The current, clear evidence for this lack of trust is that recent research in the United States, meticulously undertaken by eminently qualified economists and statisticians, demonstrates that, because of clerical child abuse, Catholic parishioners have stopped contributing to the Church and have walked away from its doors. Many have joined other religious denominations for worship. Some have withdrawn their children from Catholic schools – which has resulted in many school closures.

It is both undeniable and sadly unconscionable that the Catholic Church is in the distant “rear guard” in leading the fight to protect children from harm – and that the lead forward comes from the civil institutions at local, national and international levels. Despite some very creditable work (such as the Nolan Report, Cumberlege Report in the United Kingdom, and, in many countries, the establishment of Catholic Safeguarding Organisations) the Catholic Church, as a whole, continues to deny the full and hidden scale of abuse. It appears impervious to the “Truth” uttered by the voices of Victims and remains in denial and determinedly belligerent – even when the evidence is overwhelming and fully substantiated. Most grievously, as in the case of the Comboni Missionary Order of Verona Italy, clerics who have admitted historically that they were aware of the “Truth” of the abuse – because it had been reported directly to them by witnesses, now deny any knowledge of it. They do so on the instructions of their unscrupulous lawyers or superiors. By perpetrating their lies, they fail the “truthfulness” test of their priesthood. The laity, thought that priests were different – that they were always caring, straightforward and, ungrudgingly, downright honest. We were wrong.

Against this background, this erring Catholic Church is in disarray. It has already lost the moral high ground – and it is now fighting a confused, uphill, rearguard action of inept denial, pious rhetoric and blame shifting. It insinuates that survivors have false memories, vague recall due to the length of time since the event in the past or are abject liars. The Vatican issues edicts which are not followed. Nobody appears to know who is really in command. Its Cardinal and Bishop ranks do not agree nor act in a concerted way. Few individuals amongst them know who to follow – or they choose the leader that most accommodates their individual objectives or preferences. Some miscreant clerics who step out of line are hung, drawn and quartered. Others are given a pat on the back for the same offence. It is a game of “Lucky Dip” with awful consequences for the losers – who are sometimes those who part ranks with their derelict and depraved superiors and endeavor to choose an honest, humble and moral way out of the quagmire. It is not a pretty picture. You do not need a prophet to foretell the outcome. A brief perusal of the very recent press demonstrates the ongoing confusion.

Bless Me Father – For I am Confused

A few weeks back in June, Pope Francis decreed in an edict that Bishops and Religious Leaders guilty of looking the other way or covering up child abuse by priests within their congregations had committed a “crime” and would be removed from the clerical state.

The National Catholic Reporter stated this week that Archbishop Bernard Hebda, the newly appointed head of the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese in the United States maintains that his diocese, which protected a paedophile priest who is now in prison, was guilty only of “failures” and not a “crime”. His precise words were: “A failure isn’t the same as a crime. That is a legal question, not a moral question. Committing a crime implies a criminal intent and is something altogether different from failing.” The Archbishop neglected the fact that in civil terms a “failure” to report a known paedophile is a crime in some jurisdictions, albeit I accept it may not be in others. More to the point, Pope Francis has stated quite clearly that he regards that such “failures” are “crimes” in both the Vatican State Jurisdiction and in Canon Law – which applies also in Archbishop Hebda’s diocese, presumably. As to the matter of intent – failure to take reporting action, whether to the civil and/or Church authorities, against an individual who sexually abuses a child (which is a criminal offence in all jurisdictions that I know of) cannot be said not to have been done without some degree of “intent”. Such a failure is a most serious moral issue and this year, canonically, has become a criminal issue also within the Catholic Church. Why does Hebda split hairs? A crime is a crime – not a spade.

At the same time as the above, it was reported in the Associated Press and NCR that Msgr. William Lynn, the first U.S. church official convicted for his handling of clergy sexual abuse allegations, has been released from prison on $250,000 bail. Lynn, 65, served as secretary for clergy for the Philadelphia archdiocese from 1992 to 2004. In the case, originally held in June 2012, a jury found Lynn guilty on a charge of child endangerment by not taking appropriate action in the case of the former priest Edward Avery. At the bail hearing, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams confirmed that his office will retry Lynn on the child endangerment charge. The civil courts in this case clearly believe that Lynn had intent – and his action to protect Edward Avery could not be construed as a “failure”, but must be understood as a “crime”. Clerical understatement has lost out in this case it seems?

Archbishop Hebda has also indicated that he considered that the separate issue of his predecessor’s alleged sexual behaviour was not a diocesan matter – but it was a canonical matter of the Roman Curia, (despite that it occurred within the diocese), and, therefore, any action should be taken not by him, but by the appropriate Vatican Congregation. It appears that despite his Civil and Canonical law degrees and whilst it is true that Canon Law does not allow a cleric to criticise his superiors in a hierarchy, he has not heeded the Vatican Guide to Canon Law that places responsibility for the original report on allegations and the initial investigation clearly on the shoulders of the Diocesan Bishop – which is now Hebda himself. If it were otherwise, how would the previous Bishop be held to account? Archbishop Hebda ignores also that his predecessor was not his superior anyway, but his equal. He is scrubbing his hands, somewhat vigorously, of the responsibility he has to ensure that his predecessor accounts for his grave sexual misbehaviour.

To add to the confusion and contradictions in the above passages, NCR recently reported that Bishop James Johnston Jr., head of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese since last November, was forthright in acknowledging charges of abuse by his predecessor, Robert Finn, the resignation of whom, Pope Francis accepted in April. The incident followed reports of sexual abuse in the diocese and Finn’s failure to report the abuse and remove priests from their parishes. No washing of hands there! All done and dusted!

Also reported in NCR was that the Vatican envoy to the United States quashed an investigation into alleged sexual activity on the part of Archbishop John Nienstedt, and ordered a piece of evidence destroyed. Fr. Dan Griffith, then-Delegate for Safe Environment for the archdiocese concerned, stated that in April 2014 Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the U.S., ordered two auxiliary bishops to have a law firm quickly cease its investigation – and later that month instructed the law firm to destroy a letter they had sent to Vigano in an effort to resist his request. At a subsequent press conference, attorney Jeff Anderson said the documents show the presence of a cover-up and urged Pope Francis to take “definitive action” against the officials involved, (presumably, Vigano, Nienstedt and the auxiliary bishops) by putting them in jail and removing them from the clerical state. Anderson said, “So Pope Francis, if your words mean anything, just do it. You have the power and the evidence is before you. Do it!” No action has been taken to date against the offending clerics!

The French press, Associated Press and the National Secular Society have all reported about the civil legal case concerning the most senior cardinal in France, Lyons’ Cardinal Philippe Barbarin. The charges against him were that he had failed to report suspicions of child abuse by a priest under his control, as is required by French law. The Pope, controversially, said publicly before any court decision on the case, that it would be “nonsensical and imprudent” to seek the archbishop’s resignation – despite the fact that Cardinal Barbarin, had already admitted to his errors in the management of certain priests who were alleged to be paedophiles. In other words, Cardinal Barbarin took no action against them and failed – with intent – to report them as he should have done – and the Pope was aware of this situation. Is this a case of double standards or not? Moreover, soon after the Pope’s comments, on the very day of an important court hearing in the charged cleric’s case, the Pope gave Barbarin an audience! Was this a deliberate act of intent by the Pope to put pressure on the French Court to save a friend – or pure coincidence? Subsequent to the events described above, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin was informed by the prosecutor, that the charges that he had failed to report suspicions of child abuse by a priest under his control, had now time expired. This “grand poisson” has got clean away!

In strange contrast yet again, Catholics in the northeastern Brazilian state of Paraiba woke just a few weeks before to find that Archbishop Aldo di Cillo Pagotto was stepping down after having his resignation accepted by Pope Francis. The Vatican said the pope accepted his resignation in accordance with Canon 401.2 of the Code of Canon Law, which covers “ill health or some other grave cause”. In a letter about his resignation, the archbishop said he always tried to give the best of himself and admitted he made mistakes. “I gave shelter to priests and seminarians, in order to offer them new chances in life. Among those were some who were later suspected of committing serious derelictions. I made the mistake of being too trusting,” stated the letter. In fact, some of the priests taken in by Pagotto had been accused of pedophilia! The case was precisely the same as that of Cardinal Barbarin of Lyon, but the result was diametrically the opposite.

As late as 2015, Bishop Accountability wrote to the Philippine Government’s Council of the Welfare of Children regarding 12 specific priests, amongst a much larger number of about three dozen, for whom they had information of worrying, urgent, creditable allegations of child sexual abuse. Several of these dozen priests worked at some point in the United States, but were banned from U.S. dioceses following serious allegations of child rape and molestation. Apparently the priests sought refuge in the Philippines where they or their superiors believed they would escape either notice or the “arm of the law”. The letter further states that Filipino bishops appear to have legal impunity in retaining credibly accused priests in the service of the church and working in pastoral duties (and lists the specific locations of four of these priests). It is a matter of grave significance that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ document, “Pastoral Guidelines on Sexual Abuses and Misconduct by the Clergy”, categorically stated at that time that the Philippine Bishops, quite specifically, are not to adopt the practice of reporting accused priests to the law enforcement agencies. Bishop Accountability requested that the Government agency begins formulating legislation that would hold church officials accountable for preventing child sexual abuse by clergy. However, to date it appears that most, if not all of the specified priests are still active in the Philippines in parishes or institutions where they have uninhibited access to children.

Furthermore, the Monsignor Canonist for the archdiocese of the smiling Cardinal Archbishop of Manilla, Luis Antonio Tagle, pipped by some hopefuls to be the next Pope, stated in the Catholic Press that the parents of children abused by Catholic Clerics and their lawyers should “stop meddling in Church Affairs”. In others words, once you have reported the abuse, “butt out – because what action the Church takes against the cleric after that is nothing to do with you”. Cardinal Tagle skilfully explained this lapse in another way – “I think for us (in the Philippines), legal action, exposing persons, both victims and abusers, to the public, either through media or legal action, (just) adds to the pain.” The latest that I have heard about a solution to the Philippine Church’s diametrical variance with what is now decreed to be the categorical, universal Catholic practice of an “obligation” to report sexual abuse to the civil authorities – is that the Vatican has rejected the new draft proposals put before it by the Philippine Catholic Church – because it still contains the provision allowing priests to father one child in ministry – in what is scathingly called locally as the “one child per priest quota system.! (A check, before going to print, of the current Guidelines prepared by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines details two fundamental principles: “the protection of children and the preservation of the integrity of the priestly ministry. Through these Guidelines, the bishops commit themselves to transparency, accountability, and cooperation with civil authorities when handling cases of sexual abuse of minors committed by the members of the clergy”. I am unsure, however, how these principles are carried out in practice ).

Cardinal Luis Tagle, until a few weeks ago anyway, was still smiling profusely and, despite the grave inaction of his Bishops in the matter of child sexual abuse for decades, he has been rewarded by Pope Francis with the Presidency of Caritas International – the global charity of the Catholic Church – which presumably provides funds for children in need – possibly even for children who have been sexually abused by clerics or those fathered by Filipino bishops and priests. Currently, however, the Filipino Cardinal Tagle is not in the mood for rejoicing and has stopped smiling totally. The reason is that the new President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Roa Duterte, claims he was abused as a child by a Jesuit priest in his Philippine Province of Mindanao – and he appears to be no friend of clerics. Recently, he insulted the Pope as a “Son of a Whore” on the latter’s visit to Manila – and has asked his supporters, “You know the most hypocritical institution? It is the Catholic Church! Even some bishops”, he stated, “were secretly married and forever begging favours from politicians”. “You sons of whores,” he said, “aren’t you ashamed?” Quite what will happen next, I am not sure. Will Cardinal Tagle offer the new President Duterte help to overcome the impacts of the sexual abuse that may have affected his psyche since his childhood – and has, perhaps, provoked the President’s current, unbridled rage – or will President Duterte, when he has solved the Philippine drug problem by extra-judicially eliminating and burying all drug users and sellers, turn his attention to rounding up and jailing abusive priests? Eventually, I suppose, what goes around – then comes around! So, perhaps Cardinal Tagle had better start to get his house in order – rapidly.

Nearer to home, in the Republic of Ireland, reports of rife homosexuality and abuse of junior seminarians by both clerics on the staff and senior seminarians (some of whom can be spotted in Gay Website photographs) has left the Irish Bishops in a flummox – apart from Archbishop Dairmund Martin it seems – who has sent his seminarians to Rome (another known hotspot for top to bottom rampant clerical homosexuality – I am told by an ex-Comboni Missionary Order scholastic who studied at the Vatican’s Gregorian University). The stories of abuse and abandonment of celibacy have been in the Irish press for an age – but there is, as yet, no sign of any action at all. Silence reins in the Conference Hall of the Irish Catholic Bishops regarding Maynooth. They appear to be content for the time being with their inaction! Perhaps those are grounds enough for Pope Francis to fire the lot of them. We do not expect anything so startling very soon, however. Nevertheless, those readers interested in spotting and questioning these twenty-five bishops about their apparent satisfaction with things as they are – and who continue to send vulnerable and immature young men to the institution in Co Kildare, Ireland, now known as the “Maynooth Gulag”, where they are “experimented on and turned into sex addicts” – according to Bishop Buckley (?) – can contact the latter’s “Wise Catholic Blog” and check out their photographs and the last place that the bishops were spotted. Reports can be made direct to the Vatican – who should by now, be on their tails also! Nevertheless, drawing on my personal experience – do not expect an answer soon – if ever.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is, most seriously, that within the Catholic Church, despite all the rhetoric, many known and, no doubt, many undisclosed, paedophile clerics remain protected in its midst and are often working with children and minors in the full knowledge of and acquiescence with the Prelates of the Church. The Pope himself openly appears to fail to act upon his own edicts with any uniformity whatsoever – and the offending Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops and Religious Leaders are not uniformly brought to account as the Vatican decrees that they should be. The Vatican Congregations, with many competing views, that may well be the result in some cases of “turf wars” for greater influence between their Prefects, are routinely at odds with each other and with those Prelates appointed to chair Papal Commissions. As a Consequence, there are unending contradictions in interpretation of edicts between these individual prelates and the hierarchies of diocesan Bishops and the Religious Superiors of the hundreds of Church Orders of men and women. A civil corporation would either be intolerant of such disorder – or go rapidly out of business.

The Vatican Curia has neither opened up and nor published the archives of its carnal history of child abuse despite United Nations claims that it should do so. Vatican Courts continue to determine the guilt and innocence of clerical sexual crimes in secret and without reference to Victims, instead of being openly informative for all to see. Moreover, the Catholic Church traditionally follows a blatant preference for this secrecy and silence in order to “avoid scandal’. I know it is thus depicted – for I have seen the word “scandal” written brazenly on 19 occasions in a Religious Order’s Code of Conduct which is authorized by the Curia Congregation to which it is subordinate. What is at the root of this secrecy? Simply, it is to continue a Medieval system of coercion and control – to hide truth and shame – to maintain arrogant clerical elitism – and to ensure ignorance of the laity by intellectual subjugation. What you do not know, hear or see cannot be questioned. Cloistered secrecy in trials of clerics, in some instances on pain of excommunication, has been a widespread practice in the history of the Church – even in the recent 20th century Church. Clerics from Rome to the ends of the earth have corrosively inherited this archaic mindset. Such practices amount, in their totality, to living the lies that they seek to conceal and refuse to confess. In stark contrast, all but the dictatorial and despotic Civil regimes of justice, are utterly transparent with their evidence, defence statements, deliberations, verdicts and the punishments of their judicial processes. In civil proceedings both claimant and defendant are present – and the outcomes are published unhesitatingly.

Globally, the Catholic Church expends not hundreds, not thousands, but millions in attempts to deny justice, reparation and rehabilitation to those who have been so grievously harmed by clerics when they were children. Through litigation the Catholic Church routinely provokes hostility within its ranks towards those that their clerics have so unjustly treated and victimised. What they have got so totally wrong – grossly wrong in fact – is that their misplaced pride rejects anything other than the meanest and most minimal admission by them of the disgraceful facts of their historical errors. Moreover, they still fail today, shamefully, to address their need to care, with universal, meaningful, Gospel-driven, contrition and humility, those that their wayward clerics have abused and abandoned. Whilst they claim to be the proponents of “Justice and Truth” – which are, according to their teachings, “Divine Attributes”, they fight a rear-guard action to deny those very same tenants of their religion to the victims of clerical sexual abuse. That is manifestly unjust and discreditable.  This combination of denial and indifference is a sign of abject arrogance, which hypocritically appeals for exemption and earthly impunity to an unearthly extraterrestrial authority – even in the most prosaic and universal earthly matter of a right of victims to processes of common justice. These are both gross moral failures and a spectacularly ridiculous and divisive lost opportunity to be seen to be occupying the high grounds of the very Justice and Truth that they preach. Their failure to be decisive, uniform and visible in the matter of the offending clerics is the Vatican’s new millennium “own goal” and a sensational media gift to its detractors. It is no wonder, universally, that congregations are walking out of church doors – never to return!

The title of this “tome” is “The Shifting of the Moral Ground”. There is a strong case to allege, however, that the moral ground may never have shifted. History suggests that this sophisticated, secretive, canonical, dogmatic, fabulously wealthy conglomerate – the Catholic Church has, as the rigidly hierarchical Curia-led “institution” of the Vatican – never occupied the high ground of morality since the days of the early Christian Church. That was before Emperors usurped the Church for its own purposes of Imperial security, legal domination and population control – and instituted a metamorphosis of the humble, enlightened, biblical bishops of local churches into the wealthy, worldly and politically motivated princes of an Empire. Before and since those days, the true moral high ground was “always” occupied by the uncomplicated believers who are the hard-working and unstintingly humble, dedicated preachers, laymen and women in the pews, fields, factories, offices and streets of every continent of this world!

The Pride of Lucifer

The Catholic Catechism proclaims that the sacrament of ordination “configures the recipient to Christ by a special grace of the Holy Spirit, so that he may serve as Christ’s instrument for His Church. By his ordination the priest is enabled to act as a representative of Christ, Head of the Church, in his triple office as Priest, Prophet and King. The Priest is the Defender of “Truth”, who stands with Angels, gives glory with Archangels, causes sacrifices to rise to the altar on high, shares Christ’s Priesthood, refashions Creation, restores it in God’s image, recreates it for the world on high and, even greater, is divinized and divinizes”. For me, as a layman, this tract from the Catechism projects a surrealistic image of priesthood that I neither recognize and nor, in anything like its fullest extent, can rationally equate to any priest that I have met. I am not saying that I have not met priests whom I have admired – for I most certainly have, but they were and remain today men of exceptional charism. Undoubtedly, there are more such men out there. Notwithstanding, if you push me, I am happy to go along with the Catechism definition of the ordained priest to the point that he most certainly “should” be a “Defender of Truth”. Yet, having said that, every person should have “Truth” as one of the fundamental building blocks of their character. Not all do, of course, but certainly, for a priest it must be an intrinsic quality. The priest owes that to himself and his vocation, his God, his Church and his flock. In essence, the priest should always choose the uncomplicated “Truth” when they know it – and with all the humility that it sometimes takes – and leave hostile litigation to the worldly realm of purely civil matters.

The Prophet Ezekiel tells us that there once was an Angel who held himself to be greater than his God – and he was banned from Eden – and his sin was pride. If “Truth” fails a priest in any circumstance for want of humility, his ordination is nothing more than a charade. If “Truth” fails a whole Church due to arrogance, then that Church becomes the corrupted ‘Betrayer’ of the Christ about whom it preaches – and it becomes the cataclysmic embodiment of the ‘Antichrist’. The Catholic Church must fear, lest by neglect, they bring that judgement upon themselves.

 

‘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?

 

 

The “Truths” that are Hidden by Clerical Masters of Understatement

(Written and posted on this Blog by the authorised contributor: Brian Mark Hennessy)

Archbishop Aldo di Cillo Pagotto of Paraiba in Brazil Resigns

Writing in the National Catholic Reporter, (which can be accessed on-line at NCRonline.org.), Lise Alves reports on the resignation, recently accepted by Pope Francis, of Archbishop Aldo di Cillo Pagotto of Paraiba in Brazil. The retirement from Aldo’s bishopric was accepted on the grounds of Canon 401.2 which covers many issues from poor health to “grave”, but unspecified causes.

Curiously, the Vatican has not specified the grave matter that  led to the resignation. Nevertheless, the Archbishop of Paraiba himself vaguely admitted that he had made errors – one of which was, in his own words of explanation: ” I made the mistake of being too trusting.  I gave shelter to priests and seminarians in order to offer them new chances in life. Among those were some who were later suspected of committing serious derelictions.” (“Derelictions”, we should note, is Vatican Canon Law “speak” for sexual abuse).

Lise Alves reports that some of the clerics taken in by Pagotto had been accused of “paedophilia” –  a word which the Archbishop seemed reluctant to use. In all probability his reluctance stems from the un-challenged claim that Archbishop Aldo was well aware, at the time he gave shelter to those  priests and seminarians, that the accusations of child sexual abuse against them were already known to him.

Paedophile Priests Suspended

Another piece in the Catholic National Reporter (by Catherine Lagrange, Dominique Vidalon and Gareth Jones) reports that the Roman Catholic Cardinal-Archbishop of Lyon, Philippe Barbarin, has announced that he has suspended four priests accused of paedophile activities and that their cases “are known” to French judicial authorities.

Curiously, this Cardinal was equally obscure about the details for he said in his statement that the un-named four had been working in the Lyon region in central France – but he would not say where. Apparently, according to Barbarin, other un-named priests are the “object of special measures”, but he would not elaborate what those measures were and nor the reason for those measures.

Prior to those announcements, the French Gendarmerie had questioned Cardinal Barbarin for more than 10 hours over the activities (in the early 1990s) of a pedophile priest, Father Bernard Preynat, and why Barbarin had not reported the facts to the civil authorities in the circumstances that such a failure to report a crime is an offence in France.

Meanwhile, several victims of alleged paedophile abuse have made complaints against Barbarin to the authorities for leaving accused priests in place, but Barbarin has denied any wrongdoing. He has acknowledged, however, mere “errors of management” in respect to the appointment of some priests.

Cardinal Barbarin’s Errors of Management

The “errors of management” of Cardinal Barbarin are a direct parallel to the excuses of Archbishop Aldo di Cillo Pagotto of Paraiba in Brazil who pleaded that he had simply been “too trusting”! These deliberately understated reasons for their failures beg the question as to what planet do the senior clerics of the Catholic Church inhabit in their spare time?

We are talking about criminal paedophiles who sexually molest and abuse children.  These criminals have been molly-coddled, pampered, cosseted and secreted within the walls of Catholic Church establishments – instead of being reported and handed over as alleged criminals to the legal authorities of the Civil States who have jurisdiction.

Bishops Guilty of Looking the Other Way

I cannot help but note that in June, Pope Francis warned that bishops guilty of looking the other way or covering up child abuse by priests within their dioceses could be removed from their duties. He has also said that protecting paedophile clerics is a “crime”.

So, in these cases, if the Archbishop of Paraiba and the Cardinal-Archbishop of Lyon have protected paedophile priests or seminarians from the jurisdiction of the legal authorities within their dioceses, why has the Vatican Curia not stated it specifically?

The Vatican does not constitute the “Church” in its totality. If a crime has been committed – then it is a crime against the whole “Church” – and thus all members of that “Church” have a right to know the details of crimes committed within and against the Church!

Vatican Curia Pussy-Footing

These episodes appear to be yet other Vatican Curia acts of “pussy-footing” confusion in which they wave a big rhetorical stick one day – and then camouflage the damaging details the next.

In today’s world, the Vatican must treat all members of the Church – both lay and clerical – as adults who are capable of a surprising degree of discernment – and not as the children of the Edwardian era who were to be “seen, but not heard” and in front of whom “delicate matters” were discussed only in obscure, coded, hushed whispers.

Those days are long since gone – and are unacceptable in the Catholic Church of today.

Comboni Missionaries Paedophile Priests

Closer to the home of this blog, there are parallels to the above within the Comboni Missionary Order of Verona, Italy, whose paedophile priests, past and present, have never been handed over to the civil authorities – but who instead were moved rapidly out of the jurisdictions of the law enforcement agencies of the states in which their crimes were committed.

In some cases they were sent to distant Mission territories, in another case to the smallest of parishes in an Italian mountain diocese – and in a current case one, Father Romano Nardo, is confined to a “secret location”.

The nature of Fr Nardo’s crimes have been known to the Comboni Order since 1970, but he was then whisked out of the United Kingdom’s legal jurisdiction the day after reports were made to the Order by one of their own clerics, Father Cocchi, (who saw a boy in his pyjamas coming out of Romano Nardo’s room at an uneartthly hour one morning).

Father Romano Nardo’s Child Abuse Accusation

Thirty years later, when that same Victim confronted the Order with Father Romano Nardo’s historical criminal acts of child abuse in detail, the Order recalled Nardo from the Missions.

Eventually, it was admitted by the Comboni Missionary Order, in a letter dated 17 May 1997, that an Inquiry had concluded, in true clerical masterful understatement, that Father Nardo had “acted inappropriately by taking the boy to his bed and teaching him to make the sign of the cross”.

That statement is devoid of the detail of the baptismal rite of mutual purification of genitals in which the child was induced to participate – and it does not mention the naked child lying upon the naked body of the priest who was breathing the Spirit of Jesus into the boys mouth.

That sign of the cross, to which they refer, was engraved on the priest’s torso by a sharp implement, the sight of which caused the boy to attempt to emulate it by self mutilation in order to be closer to the God of that priest.

No Extradition of Father Nardo

The latter, Father Romano Nardo, who is alleged to have committed such masochistic and macabre sexual crimes veiled in religious overtones against a series of young boys at the Mirfield seminary in Yorkshire England,  has been prevented from extradition to the United Kingdom by doubtful claims over two decades that he is not fit to travel.

I use the word “doubtful” in the following context which is that: after almost 27 years working in Africa, Father Nardo (who returned from Africa late 1995 at the age of 54 to attend an internal Comboni Inquiry into the allegations against him), would, according to correspondence forwarded to the Victim by Father David Glenday, the Superior General of the Order in 1997, “be able to return to active ministry in the missions within a month”.

Yet in 1999, after his further four years sojourn in the peaceful, green valleys of the pleasant city of Verona, Italy, the Superior General, Father Enrique Sanchez stated in correspondence that Father Romano Nardo was unable to travel because he had become “worn out by many years working in Africa”!

Was it, perhaps, that this sudden loss of health was something to do with the fact that in 1999 the West Yorkshire Police had wanted to question Father Nardo about criminal charges of child sexual abuse – that he had already admitted he had perpetrated ?

Mother House in Verona

The Comboni Missionary Order of Verona, Italy, has rigorously confined this cleric to the Mother House in Verona Italy since 1997 (almost two decades to date) so that he “does not have access to children”. Father Nardo, currently aged 72, has agreed, apparently, to this confinement – which is to last, it seems, until the end of his days.

I ask myself “why would the Comboni Order confine him for so long and why would Father Nardo accept his confinement for acts committed in 1970 which were merely “inappropriate”? Such “life imprisonment” is in excess of many State law authorities’ penal punishment limits for a single, albeit dispicable, crime of child sexual abuse.

Clearly, as in the cases of Archbishop Aldo and Cardinal-Archbishop Barbarin, the Superior Generals of the Comboni Missionary Order (that is Fathers David Glenday and Enrique Sanchez) who are closely associated to the decision of the long confinement of Father Nardo, are, in true clerical, tradition, “masters of understatement” in matters of criminal child sexual abuse.

Call it Sexual Abuse not Inappropriate Behaviour

They need education – and so I offer it here: the abuse perpetrated agaist seminarian Victims of Father Romano Nardo at Mirfield were not acts of “inappropriate behaviour”, but serious and heinous crimes of sexual abuse against children.

So grave are such crimes that the United Nations Convention against Torture actually described child sexual abuse as a form of torture on account of its cruel and punitive nature – and, unsurprisingly in 2014, even the Vatican agreed to that definition. The truth is that Father Romano Nardo is alleged to have abused many boys – and in the cases of some – he destroyed their lives and, subsequently, the lives of their families.

Father Romano Nardo is, thus, an alleged criminal that Fathers David Glenday and Enrique Sanchez have actively protected and in the case of the latter, prevented from facing questions by the law authorities of the United Kingdom. They are thus allegedly complicit in his alleged crimes – which they have sought to downplay, in true clerical fashion and deceitful understatement, as merely “inappropriate behaviour” .

Father Tesfaye Tadesse Gebresilasie

Moreover, the current Superior General, Father Tesfaye Tadesse Gebresilasie, (to whom the Comboni Survivors pleaded for dialogue when he was elected, but from whom they received no response), is still intent on the further destruction of victims of child sexual abuse – as is witnessed by the scurrilous and malicious accusations he has authorised to be heaped on a victim of that abuse at a hearing in the Verona Criminal Court.

Why has Father Tesfaye, the Superior General of the Comboni Missionary Order and his Curia committed themselves to this action? It is to deflect the “truth” of the scale of child sexual abuse within that Order ever being fully uncovered.

It is to disguise to the Vatican and to the Worldwide Catholic Church their complicity in harbouring a paedophile so as to protect themselves from the implementation of the Ecclesial action of dismissal from the clerical state under 401.2 of Canon Law.

Rightful Justice for Abuse Victims

It is to deter further Victims from telling their stories and seeking rightful justice. I declare, however, that both he – and the Order have already failed in that venture – for the allegations of 1000 crimes of child sexual abuse committed by clerics of the Comboni Missionary Order of Verona, Italy, at the Mirfield Seminary, Yorkshire, England and their every attempt to deny them and hide them are now known globally – from the Vatican to the furthest reaches of each continent.

“No! No! No!”, I hear Father Tesfaye exclaiming, “The case in the Verona Criminal Court against the Victim of alleged crimes of child sexual abuse is nothing to do with me. It has been brought by Father Nardo’s own Court appointed legal Guardian”.

Well, yes, technically it has, but it has the fingerprints of Father Tesfaye and the Comboni Missionary Order Curia all over it. Indeed it has their big footprint right in the middle of it – as I will explain. The claim, which is, I suggest, factually devoid of every grain of truth whatsoever anyway – is that of “tresspass”.

Abuse Victim Walked Through Open Gate

The charge against the Victim who walked through an open gate which had no signs stating “No Entry” in sight, the Victim who walked through an open door and spoke to the Receptionist, the Victim who was shown into the Chapel by the Receptionist and who contacted Father Nardo on the Victim’s behalf to see him – and the Victim who returned on two occasions at agreed times for further meetings – cannot be brought against the Victim by a Legal Guardian appointed by the Court on behalf of Father Nardo. Why?

Well it is quite simple really : Father Nardo is not the registered owner of the Verona Mother House and its grounds. The Comboni Missionary Order, or a legal entity nominated on its behalf, is the registered owner of the Verona Mother House. Only the registered owner, or the legal representative of the registered owner, would be able, technically, to bring a charge – even this false charge – of trespass against the Victim.

Nardo’s Legal Guardian

Of course, it may be that the Legal Guardian appointed by the Court is the Comboni Missionary Order in disguise. In fact such a deception would be par for the course of an Order that has endeavoured to deflect all criticism of its behaviour for decades.

That is beside the point. Father Tesfaye and his Curia have overlooked this small detail. That charge of trespass, implanted within a case said to have been brought on behalf of Father Nardo by his Court appointed Legal Guardian, is the big footprint of the Comboni Missionary Order itself.

Indeed, I suspect that Father Nardo knows little or nothing of this legal case brought technically by his legal guardian on his behalf in the Verona Criminal Court.

Abuse Victim Bashing by Comboni Missionaries

It is brought, duplicitously, I suggest, by the Comboni Missionary Order itself to deflect from itself any criticism that the Comboni Missionary Order is engaging in one of their regular bouts of “victim bashing”!

When a storm suddenly threatens, it is wise to change tak and alter the windward direction of sail. Failure to do so has consequences.

If the Comboni Missionary Order of Verona, Italy, continues to protect paedophile criminals, whilst lashing out against distressed victims seeking succour and understanding, events will surely come to overwhelm them.