Sunday, December 13, 2009

Two Views Of Meaningful Vatican Responses For The Abuse Crisis

Fr Tom Doyle wrote the following after the Pope's trip for World Youth Day in Australia. As with his trip to the US, Pope Benedict issued a standard PR statement and met with selected abuse victims. Since those visits nothing has changed. Nothing has been done. Fast forward to 2009 where Ireland has released two State reports documenting systemic abuse and cover up in the Irish Church. Benedict has issues another PR statement, but this one claims action will be taken. I doubt it will be the action Fr. Doyle suggests in this article.

August 20, 2008 Thomas Doyle

This past Monday I testified at a trial. The diocese had ample notice that the abuser-priest was a danger to minors. The former bishop of the diocese being sued had received this priest from another diocese and that diocese in turn had received him from his home diocese. In the first diocese the bishop kicked him out after he had sexually assaulted boys in three out of the four parishes to which he had been assigned. He found a new bishop who took him in. In that diocese he sexually assaulted boys in each of the four parishes to which he had been assigned. That bishop gave him his walking papers and he ended up in the last diocese. There he sexually assaulted boys in the first two parishes to which he was assigned and was sent to a third. That’s where he assaulted the plaintiff in the case. The bishop knew all of this but, to use his own words, he was willing “to take the risk.” Sounds like a slam dunk doesn’t it? It gets better. This is the third trial for this diocese. They have already lost in two. They are about 20 more projected for victims of the same priest.

The trials are a nightmare for the victims and their families. They are expensive as well. The lawyers who represent the diocese get paid one way or the other. The lawyers for the victims are on contingency. The church lawyers’ fees come from the donations of the people. If the jury gives a big award, some people will get bent out of shape and complain about how much the payments to the victims cost the diocese. They really ought to complain about the payments to the lawyers which are totally unnecessary.

I learned during a break that the little guy in the black outfit sitting at the corner of the defense table was the bishop. I also learned that neither he nor any of his predecessors had ever reached out to any of the victims. Throughout the day as I sat on the stand and answered questions I looked at the victim on my left and the bishop on my right. What was wrong with that picture? Simple! The bishop was in the wrong place. He should have been sitting next to the victim offering support, sympathy, kindness and hope. Instead he was on the other side, probably worrying that the testimony was not making his diocese look too good.

At one point the diocesan lawyer made a big deal out of the fees that I am supposed to receive as an expert witness. He left out the part that an expert has to take fees or he isn’t an expert. He didn’t seem too interested when I responded to a question from the plaintiff attorney in which I shared that I have given away most of the fees I have ever received. Do lawyers who represent the Church work for nothing? Hardly!

So...what does all of this have to do with the pope? Plenty! Benedict XVI made a big splash in the U.S. and in Australia with all of his remarks about clergy sex abuse and with the personal encounters he had with a small group of victims in each country. A lot of people announced that the Pope, the Vatican and the hierarchy have finally “gotten it.” After all, Pope John Paul II not only did nothing, but in the few statements he made he tried to shift the blame to anyone and anything from where it ought to be.

Not so with Benedict. First, he fired the notorious Marcel Maciel Degollado, the founder of the cult-like outfit called the Legion of Christ. Then he came to the US and said he was ashamed at the way things had gone. He also said similar things in Australia. He may feel personally ashamed and scandalized but that doesn’t mean a thing unless he does something and thus far he has done nothing. That’s where this trial comes in. In spite of the pope’s appearance of compassion it has not rubbed off on the bishops. The trial I was at should have been stopped before it started. The bishop should have picked up on the pope’s words and shown concern for the victims instead of himself and his bureaucracy and his diocese’s money.

The pope should have taken action but he didn’t. The major fallacy with the hierarchy and the pope is that they think that their words always make things happen. They think that a statement or a gesture or even a liturgy such as a healing Mass, are all they have to do. Even thinking in that way is a gross insult to those hurt by the church. People are sick to death of the highly nuanced statements that keep coming out of the public relations departments of the Church because they are not only empty. They are dishonest and an insult to the intelligence and integrity of decent and honest men and women.

The pope could have:

1. Issued an order to all bishops to stop all legal actions and start treating the victims with care and compassion instead of treating them like the enemy.

2. Ordered the bishops to stop building cathedrals and monuments to themselves and use the funds for programs to help victims and their families.

3. Invited a few hundred victims to the Vatican at his expense to meet with he and the other Vatican big shots so as to find out first hand just how horrendous this whole nightmare has been.

4. Publicly fired some of the more notorious cardinals starting with Cardinals George, Egan, Mahony, Pell and Levada. Once the top guys are gone then start on the next level, namely the bishops. (Actually, he could start with Cardinal Law and follow that up with the current head of the Legion, Fr. Álvaro Corcuera.)

5. Stopped persecuting theologians and scholars who are trying to figure out some of the blatant contradictions on Church teaching and practice, starting with celibacy and the whole bizarre theology of human sexuality.

6. Sent sizeable personal donations to SNAP, NAPSAC and ROAD TO RECOVERY.

I think we all know that all of the above have no chance of happening. Perhaps the most realistic thing we can hope for is an awakening by isolated bishops here and there. We can also continue to hope that lay Catholics, who persist in looking at the hierarchical system through rose-colored glasses, will start to grow up, get past their denial and see reality for what it is. The recent popes and the hierarchy have enabled the most horrendous spiritual and emotional destruction of vulnerable people in a thousand years. Thus far they are doing precious little to make it right.

Those who continue to bow and scrape at the medieval ecclesiastical court are not faithful Catholics but enablers of evil. The heresy here is that the pope and the bishops seem to have no real clue that the plunder of the bodies and souls of the vulnerable…..boys, girls, men and women is evil that is perpetrated by clerics and religious men and women whose lives are supposed to combat evil rather than cause it.


How long Oh Lord before we Catholics admit that the clerical system is the evil which enables and promotes abuse and teaches laity to be perpetual children in relationship to the clergy? How long before our 'leadership' understands they are not managing and spinning problems, they are the problem? How many more exposures of systemic cover ups will we need before we deal with the truth?

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and Cardinal Sean Brady have indicated that the Irish hierarchy will be undergoing a shake up and that changes are coming. The cynic in me guesses this will involve merging dioceses and reducing the number of bishops, and those bishops who find themselves reduced are probably the very same ones who found themselves exposed in the Murphy report.

The truth is this consolidation would have had to happen without the Murphy report. The losses of priests and the exodus of laity mandate a smaller Church with far less overhead. So I'm not impressed. I see this as using the Murphy report as an excuse to do what had to be done and to change the reason for this fact from one of pastoral failure, to one in which the Vatican deals in a meaningful way with the 'failure of local leadership' in the abuse crisis. In other words, another smoke screen designed to hide another failure--the sure and rapidly increasing loss of the Irish faithful and Irish priesthood.

The type of meaningful response listed by Fr. Doyle and meaningful change called for by numerous theologians and concerned Catholic groups will undoubtedly go unheeded. Benedict seems far more concerned in pandering to the sensibilities of his wealthy Western lay enablers and maintaining a politically powerful voice in the developing nations in the South--which, not so coincidentally, benefits his wealthy Western lay enablers.

No, reorganizing the Irish Church under these circumstances, is only a tactical ploy in the bigger war. That war is all about gutting and silencing the voices of social justice in the West in order to further the equally deceitful agenda of the culture warriors. Blaming this potential Irish consolidation on abusing priests and Vatican II bishops is a clever tactic.

The truth is the root causes of the various sexual abuse crisis's lay in the heart of the Vatican, in it's all male clerical priesthood, it's monarchical state structure, and it's insistence on living in a mythical past. Until all this is fair game for scrutiny, nothing changes except for the decline in numbers in the West, and abuses will continue--especially in the South.


  1. Outstanding post, so powerful it's left me a bit speechless. I've borrowed some of Tom Doyle's words for my quotes of the day. Everything that needs to be said has been said right here in Father Doyle's article followed by your commentary.

  2. I believe Pope Benedict's tactic or mission is to create the Church in the image of VI. He will use the Irish abuse scandal to further his campaign for VI and squeeze out all elements of VII, and will install some VI type leadership in Ireland to further seed VI and slash and burn all of VII concepts. That is the gist of what I sense from everything I've read about the Vatican and Benedict's Papacy. The Pope's mind is fused in the 12th century and the case is closed for any change regarding the systemic abusive authority of the Church's role in the Church towards the laity.

    The Vatican is not listening to the voice of reason and faith of Fr Tom Doyle. The medieval mindset of PB vs Fr Tom Doyle's moral viewpoint are like night and day philosophically, ethically and morally, of which grew from VII, but has been rejected and will not even be considered by the Pope & his loyal servants.

    Per the December 2009 issue of "Vatican" on the 26th of October the Vatican met for three hours with the SSPX, a delegation headed by former excommunicated Bishop Alfonso de Galarreta." If only the Vatican would meet with Fr Tom Doyle and the abuse victims. If only he was willing "to take the risk."

    On the 28th of October 2009 "the Pope began a new cycle of talks by dedicating his catechesis to the renewal of theology during the 12th century."

    On November 3rd the European Court of Human Rights rules on the public display of crucifixes in every public classroom in Italy were a "violation of religious freedom." Asked about the court decision on November 4 Cardinal Bertone said "This Europe of the third millennium has left us only the pumpkins of the recent holiday and has taken away our most precious symbols."

    If we go back to the October 26 meeting of Vatican officials with SSPX the 3 hour meeting "dealt primarily with setting an agenda and schedule for the talks." The process will "focus on key doctrinal issues arising from the teachings of the Second Vatican Council."

    "The questions due to be examined concern the concept of tradition, the Missal of Paul VI (post-VII Roman Missal), the interpretation of VII.... Catholic principles of ecumenism, the relationship between Christianity & non-Christian religions, and religious freedom."

    We've received an answer from the Vatican & PB about the questions noted above about the Missal and the changes to the language that bring back the Church to VI, as the Vatican side-stepped and eliminated the pattern VII outlined, the type of ecumenism this Pope engages in.

    We've received an answer too about "religious freedom" in many ways from this Pope. It is nothing short of a dictatorship of relativism.

    On October 20, 2009 we heard from the Pope and the CDF about admission of Anglican groups into full communion with the Catholic Church. Those groups consist of gay bashers, misogynists, and traditions that are in line with this Papacy's medieval mindset and mission. The Pope and the CDF abused VII principles for this admission of the Anglicans and essentially ruined further dialogue with other Christian denominations, except for those discussions to meet the medieval goals of this Papacy which is destroying and/or redefining VII entirely.

  3. Today our church bulletin quotes the Cure of Ars,
    "Without the priest, the death and passion of our Lord would be of no use. It is the priest who continues the work of redemption on earth."
    The clerical caste really does think it is supposed to be worshiped!

  4. Correctiom to the name of the publication I referred to in my former post. The name is Inside the Vatican. My husband found the copy of the glossy magazine at a job site and gave it to me. They have a website

  5. I'd like to share a link I just found on the music playlist for the Vatican's myspace page. I didn't know they had one. Will have to check it out. Interesting selection, to say the least.

    While on the subject of music, I've uploaded Hark! The Herald Angels Sing at stereofame. Hope you'll enjoy!

  6. A possible Second Reformation was mentioned in a recent post, it is already in progress. Thinking cradle Catholics are leaving in the droves and the Vatican moves toward the Infallibility it announced in Vatican I. Take a look at what Hans Kung says in his "Short History of the Catholic Church" about V I. What surprises me is that only very few left at this time and created the Old Catholic Church. This time we don't need another Luther because we already had him and several other beginnings. Take a look at the whole Church -all of Christianity- is the rest of the Church any better off than the Roman version? Where will this Reformation lead us? What happened with the first one? I think it is all pretty depressing when we look at Christianity as a whole. There are some shinning example of Christ all over God's Church (all of Them) but look at it as a whole and it is not very encouraging. Where did all the evangelicals come from? Why is there a certain aspect of religion that leads humans to greed, envy, sloth, betrayal of what is truly Christ Like. Why does humanity and religion use lust to betray a false sense of sexuality? To be sure there are amazing examples of the Christ-like in humanity but they are the exception not the rule.

    We are at a point where the “People of God” simply must persevere and lead themselves away from the demagogy of bad religious and civil leadership. We can expect little from the current structure of governance both Church and at least in the US civil. We can help ourselves by the types of smaller structures that we support.

    Peace, dennis

  7. Finally I think the following from Hans Kueng says it all about the new reformation, one in which we are in the midst.

    In September 2005 Hans Kueng had a surprise meeting with Pope Benedict XVI, his former colleague at university, Professor Ratzinger. Not so surprisingly all topics regarding reforms within the Catholic church had been
    excluded beforehand. And as before so did Hans Kueng after the meeting commit to the reform issues important to him. Because, in the words of Hans Kueng in the second volume of his biography, ‘It is not the Council but the betrayal of the Council that led the church into crisis’.

    The fact that Benedict sees any real acceptance of quilt for the sexual crimes on the part of the episcopacy as non a non starter for him, just pushes us further into another Reformation. The real question is what now?

  8. Thanks for the comments everyone. The failure of the post Vatican II church is that only the reforms which did not touch on the real power of the clerical caste were enacted. VII wound up being different frosting and decoration on the same clerical cake.

    This new reformation better deal with the fixin's in the cake and add a whole lot more ingredients.