Monday, April 19, 2010

On The Pope and the current "Scandal"

Some Common Sense on the Catholic Church in the News.

Recently, there have been some accusations of a coverup by Pope Benedict, back when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Office for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The New York Times has posted a little story. As Maureen Dowd has accused, "Now we learn the sickening news that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, nicknamed 'God's Rottweiler' when he was the church's enforcer on matters of faith and sin, ignored repeated warnings and looked away in the case of the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy, a Wisconsin priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys."

Fr. Murphy, hereby known as "Scumbag Priest A", served from 1950-1974 as a priest at a school for deaf boys in Milwaukee. There had been accusations of abuse, but no evidence--DNA had not existed before the late 80s. Without more than “he said/he said” to go on, he was later forced into "temporary sick leave." Superiors couldn't convict him, but they could isolate him.

Fast forward 22 years. In 1996, The Archbishop of Milwaukee now has victims asking him to take action. A letter is sent to Cardinal Ratzinger. There was no reply, and no one can tell if the letter ever made it to him. Ratzinger's deputy approved charges against Scumbag Priest A, waving its own internal statute of limitations on pressing cases against priests, despite the fact that the limitations in the state of Wisconsin had well since passed

In June, 1998, Scumbag Priest A wrote to Ratzinger, citing the fact that he had suffered strokes and asking to live out his days as a priest. Ratzinger's deputy suggested letting Scumbag Priest A accept banishment, a step short of full defrocking, if he admitted guilt and expressed remorse. The Wisconsin bishop who had taken the case refused.

In August 1998, two weeks before Scumbag Priest A's impending death, the archbishop of Milwaukee reported to Rome that he had suspended the trial and would try to get letters of apology from Scumbag Priest A. The suspension order was never conveyed to the priest that headed the trial panel. He says he would have fought such a command and that Scumbag Priest A died while charges were still pending.

The theory: somewhere, in there, is a coverup, and that Ratzinger is at that heart of it all.

Now, given that I live in the United States in America, the accused is innocent until proven guilty. Unless you're a Catholic priest. You're accused, therefore, you're cooked.

In this case, I don't refer to the pederast. I assume that Scumbag Priest A is guilty, hang him high, skin him alive, in public, and I can devise some creative things with a spoon if I put my mind to it.

I'm referring to Cardinal Ratzinger.

According to most media portrayals, the head of the Church's Office for the Doctrine of the Faith is the leader of a large Internal Affairs Office, and will immediately deal with any problems personally. It is more likely to compare the position to the Office of Professional Responsibility in Washington DC. I send the head guy a letter, it will intercept five different secretaries, and be referred to someone lower down the food chain.

However, a letter was sent, the accusations made, obviously, the church did not act fast enough to defrock him...

If you agreed with that “obviously” portion, I would like you to consider....

One: defrocking a priest in the Catholic Church is not quite as hard as firing a member of the teacher's union in New York City, but darn, is it close.

So, I ask what is the cover up here? Is it supposed to be that the Catholic Church should take old, half dead pederasts and give them the treatment I suggested above? What am I missing? What were they they going to do? Unless it's murder, crimes crimes committed 22 years ago sound like they've surpassed their statute of limitations. Defrocking him faster is practically impossible—the bureaucracy is such that there are appeals, paperwork, more appeals. At the end of the day, he would have been dead before anything got done. So, what am I missing? He was never convicted by the Church, could never be convicted in a court of law, even if he had confessed, so, what the hell?

Now, the Church has enemies, and it has friends, and who knows which ones are worse.

One Fr. Amorth, for example, an 85 year old priest and Vatican exorcist, says that the whole “scandal” is the work of the Devil...and, no, you're not in a Flip Wilson routine, he said that. He also believes there are demons possessing people in the Vatican, and there are tens of thousands of possession cases each year. Does anyone else suspect that it's time for him to retire?

On the other hand.....if you believe in the existence of the Devil as portrayed in general Judeo-Christian mythos, one would suspect that he would be enjoying this.

Some have blamed homosexuality... now, first of all, last time I checked, there is no connection between that and pederast tendencies in general. So, it's stupid.

On the other hand.... since most victims have been 80% male, I'm assuming that this means the abusers were simply homosexual pederasts, as opposed to the straight pederasts who go after girls. Unless someone has a better handle on the pathologies involved. [Anyone with a degree in psychological forensics, this means you.]

Some have blamed the media... Okay, I can see that. Certainly for blowing it up into something as big as it has become. Consider: they released this story JUST BEFORE EASTER. Let's do a Rabbi pederast story before Passover, tell me that's not anti-Semitic.

If you are not one of those people who believe that media can have an agenda, then I ask you to at least understand my skepticism—Joseph Ratzinger barely had his Papal name picked out before the word “Nazi” was used a dozen times by the world press. Within 24 hours of becoming Benedict, he had been labeled “The Panzer Pope,” and suddenly, everyone was aware that he had been a Hitler Youth—if you received the Tablet newsletter, you learned that he had been drafted out of the seminary at 14 years old, and went AWOL, ASAP. But the sound of reporters screaming “Nazi” sounded like an echo chamber.

So, forgive me if I think that the media disliked Pope Benedict for...ever, really.

And if you think I'm paranoid, well, even paranoids have real enemies.

Another part of the story says that Cardinal Ratzinger wrote down instructions in 2001 that orders the clergy to not turn over pederasts to the civil authorities...Uh huh, because the first part of a conspiracy is to write everything down. Call me a cynic, but the man has two PhDs, he's that stupid? Oh, wait, he's German, it must be a Nazi gene kicking in.... gimme a break....

Some have interpreted the document as prompting “secrecy as the norm”.... unless you know how to translate things into English. Standard operating procedure is to keep things quite for the preliminaries of an investigation; you don't want to out the victims, or the accused (back to presumption of innocence). That's the most secrecy as hinted at.

So....The Catholic Church has been accused of hiding secrets for fifty years. Secrets that have been covered up and hidden to protect the one holding the Seat of Peter. A Pius Man delves into how some secrets have been kept for longer, and not by the people you think.

A Pius Man is a story of those who protect the Church of Rome from its enemies, by any means necessary. From political pressure, to forces within the church tearing from the inside out, it examines the political relations between the Vatican, America, Europe, and the world.

A Pius Man also understands the Vatican as a large marble office building, with bureaucrats and bureaucracies, infighting and office politics on a GLOBAL scale. Not only does it require managing Cardinals and clergy from around the world, but also dealing with foreign governments. Even worse, like military organizations, trying to change traditions is like trying to change a tire with ones bare hands.

For example, a Bishop in Arizona has accused Cardinal Ratzinger of not acting in a timely fashion to defrock a priest who had been convicted—in the church's eyes—of being a pederast [in the early 90's]. This Bishop complained about the delays, the appeals, and the bureaucracy involved in the process. Not only has this concept been universalized to label the church secretive and deceptive, but that the entire process is deliberately designed to hide infractions by the clergy. It has no understanding of how the Church acts or thinks—like a great, big, slow bureaucracy. Like Washington DC, or Albany.

Not to mention that, if we continue looking at it from a bureaucratic point of view: in 1990, the superiors took the situation away from the Bishop. In 2010, he gets a little payback and his 15 minutes of fame. How nice for him.

In any event, this lack of understanding is easily seen by the portrayal in the media. They will say how many priests have been accused of abusing children in America, (4,392, 1950-2005, according to John Jay), but not how many of been convicted (just over 100). Even if you took the accusations as perfectly true, and 100% true, those accused don't even add up to 10% of the American priesthood. But, they do seem happy to say that celibacy causes this—which is odd, since most pederasts are married. Hmm...

I will use here Mgr Charles Scicluna, prosecutor of the tribunal of the former Holy Office. Mgr Scicluna, who is Promoter of Justice at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has the task of investigating the most serious crimes. These include "sexual abuse by priests of young people under the age of 18."

You want to say coverup? This disciplinary office, from 2001-10, had around 3,000 cases of diocesan and Religious priests sent to them, which refer to crimes committed over the previous 50 years. A global priesthood of over four hundred thousand, and there were only three thousand cases worldwide—less than a 1% corruption record isn't bad for a group that doesn't have its own police force. If you want to cite theoretical cases that haven't been reported, quadrupedal the problem to twelve thousand... that's still 3% of sixty years of clergy.

Does that matter? Three thousand is a lot of bad apples, and a lot of victims.

It apparently matters to some people. For example, I have seen accusations, mostly sneers, and mostly on Facebook, that “everyone” combats pederasty better than the Catholic church. Really? Lets do some math.

The US Catholic Bishops say that, between 1950 and 2002, 10,662 children have been abused. Let's assume that EVERY case of abuse is accurate, and MULTIPLY IT by four to make up for what isn't reported. Averages out to 821/year. According to a 2004 Dept of Education report, 290,000 students were abused by their own teachers. Average: 32,000 per year....10% of everyone who goes through the public school system will be sexually assaulted. What I would like to know is why that isn't a major story that I see every, single, night at my 6 o'clock news, like the story about the Pope. Where is the headline “The Great Teacher Sex Abuse Scandal”?

Every case is vile, and every abuser should be water boarded—only because waterboarding doesn't kill them. But with disparities like that, saying that the priests of the Catholic Church are the worst child abusers ever isn't incorrect or inaccurate—it's a lie.

With A Pius Man, it examines all of the above, trying to examine it from every point of view. It takes reporter John Allen's view of the Vatican as the most efficient office building in the world—things may take the pace of an average work day in Italy, but the end result is efficient. It has Andrew M. Greeley's view of the Church as a political entity, and Ralph McInerny's view that the Church is at a political war with the modern, secular world. The only difference is, A Pius Man makes the political war more literal, expressed in terms of bullets as well as words.

The case of Pius XII has had a similar problem. Most reports in the general media say that “Pope Pius XII did nothing in World War II.” A Pius Man asks—did nothing, in comparison to whom? Come back with me now to the thrilling days of yesteryear... with President FD Roosevelt refused entry for boatloads of refugee Jews coming from Europe... when the head of Irgun stated that he would have had a million Jews go to Palestine rather than two million go to anywhere else. What constitutes silence in an age where no one speaks out? And what can be expected from a comparatively unarmed state surrounded by armies in the middle of a World War?

Anyway, if you have an opinion or a complaint to lodge, do so below. No comments will be deleted as long as they are not offensive or harsher language than PG-13. I will not even delete stupid comments. “Offensive” comments are when I get 20 emails saying that you have violated the terms of Facebook, the laws of the FCC, or are endlessly spamming insults. I've been called paranoid and homophobic, so think up something new. Enjoy.


Details on Scumbag Priest A:

For the More politically conservative:

For the overall:

And it's not a “Catholic” Problem.

Who was convicted of what, when and how:

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