Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Vatican Continues To Evade It's Culpability And Most Irish Bishops Collude In The Charade

Benedict gets his loyal hierarchs to circle the wagons and protect his back and sides.

Meeting has given us new courage, says Cardinal Brady
PADDY AGNEW in Rome, Irish Times, 2/17/10

PRESS CONFERENCE: CARDINAL SEÁN Brady and four of his fellow bishops yesterday strenuously defended the spiritual value and potentially healing quality of their two-day meeting in Rome with Pope Benedict XVI and senior members of the Curia. (I couldn't help but notice Cardinal Brady is not strenuously defending it's PRACTICAL value.)

Asked if he was worried that Irish public opinion might see the meeting as a disappointment, given that it failed to produce an invitation for the Irish victims of clerical abuse to meet with the pope, Cardinal Brady said: “I hope not, the question of the victims was a main concern right throughout the meeting. The meeting was held to help the Holy Father put the final touches to his letter which will address the victims . . . appropriately.”

He continued: “The discussion was frank, the difficulties were raised but at the centre of it all was concern about how to help the victims heal completely.

“This is one step that will have to be taken. Ultimately the Holy Father will give us a message of encouragement to deal with this matter honestly and courageously and then it will be up to us to continue the work which is not just beginning now, it has been going on for many years. This meeting has given us new courage.” (I guess encouragement is better than a kick in the butt, and yet, this is exactly a kick in the butt to victims.)

Cardinal Brady was speaking at a news conference held at Vatican Radio yesterday afternoon, following the third and final session of the meeting with the pope.

He was flanked by Bishop Joseph Duffy of Clogher, Bishop Michael Smith of Meath, Bishop Dennis Brennan of Ferns and Bishop Brendan Kelly of Achonry. (Where was Archbishop Martin?)
All five church leaders said that their meeting with Pope Benedict had been exceptionally positive and helpful.

Cardinal Brady said they had had two days of “intense discussions”, adding that the Holy Father is “extremely concerned about this issue”. (I'm sure Benedict is extremely concerned, and the question remains as to what exactly he is concerned about.)

Dr Smith admitted that prior to the meeting, he had had reservations about just how useful it might prove to be, adding: “I found it was as productive a meeting as I have ever attended, with very clear, frank and open discussions . . . The bishops were listened to and responded to.”

He continued: “The pope was there for all the meeting, showing tremendous engagement and he thanked everyone for their openness, frankness, honesty and adherence to truth.”

Dr Duffy struck the same note of gratitude, saying: “We came to Rome in a mood to listen, to listen to each other and with the expectation that we would be listened to. I would say that both of those expectations were fulfilled. We listened to each other and, extraordinary as it sounds, we heard stories from each other that we hadn’t heard before, a measure of the intensity of the discussion and the openness of it. We were listened to by the Holy Father himself, who is a marvellous listener.”

Dr Brennan said that he had been impressed by having “the Holy Father listening to us for a day and a half”, adding: “[The pope] was listening to the story of the Irish church and especially the sad story at the moment. I was also struck by how pained he was by this issue . . . People don’t always realise how painful it is for him to listen to these stories. This was a wonderful opportunity and a great privilege.

“The Holy Father encouraged us in our ongoing dialogue with the victims and survivors and this is what we are taking out of this, this is not the end of anything, it is the beginning and the continuation of the dialogue and the meetings and the caring that we’ve tried to have with the victims. I take that with me as an encouragement to continue the work of healing at home.”

Cardinal Brady rejected media suggestions that the Irish bishops were divided on how to handle the sex abuse crisis. While admitting “tensions”, he strenuously claimed that “there is no disunity amongst the Irish bishops concerning the importance of safeguarding of children”.
In relation to the position of Bishop Martin Drennan of Galway, whose resignation has been sought by victims’ groups, Cardinal Brady said that the issue was one for the Holy See and not for this week’s two-day meeting.

Cardinal Brady did, however, acknowledge the need for all the bishops to do a “real act of penance”, saying: “There have been failures in our leadership. As one of the victims told us down in Maynooth, the only way we will regain credibility will be through our humiliation. That is what we are setting out to do. Tomorrow is the beginning of Lent, the time of penance and we must begin with ourselves, do a real penance and have a change of heart.”

Asked if he felt that the Irish bishops had been scapegoats, abandoned by the Vatican, the real source of the policy of systematic cover-up of abusive priests, Cardinal Brady said: “We do not feel like scapegoats, on the contrary we are very encouraged by the offers of help from various Curia cardinals.” (Nice of them to offer 'help', but an admission of culpability would have really been of help.)

In response to questions about the refusal of the papal nuncio in Ireland to appear before a Dáil foreign affairs committee to answer questions linked to the Murphy report, Cardinal Brady said: “I have raised that matter today with the secretary of state. What they tell me is that the commitment of the Holy See and the people in the nunciature is to strengthen relationships between the Holy See and Ireland, but it is not the practice that a nuncio should appear before a parliamentary committee.” (God forbid a nuncio would step outside the 'normal practice' to foster good relationships. Better to stick with 'normal practice' and harm good relationships I guess.)

Finally, all the bishops rejected any suggestion that the absence of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin from yesterday’s news conference was due to tensions among the bishops. This was “most certainly not” the case, said Cardinal Brady. (Well, what was the case? Is this statement another case of 'mental reservation?')


I can't say that I'm disappointed by what came from Rome in this unprecedented meeting between the Irish hierarchy and the Vatican. I expected nothing concrete and that's what happened. The Irish bishops--excluding Archbishop Martin--can wax eloquently about the 'spiritual' concerns of the Pope, but that really doesn't cover up the fact that the Vatican is taking no responsibility for it's part in the abuse crisis nor suggesting any practical changes in the system which encouraged the cover ups and lies. All in all this press conference appears to be nothing more than a case of five bishops engaging in another cover up.

I have no doubt that there was a great deal of truth exchanged in these meetings with Benedict and the other curial officials. I have no doubt it may even have gotten heated. There is now no doubt that they have circled the wagons to protect the Vatican status quo.

Pope Benedict's letter will not contain any self admission that many of the victims in Ireland owe their status as victims to the policies of the CDF under Benedict which left their abusers in place to abuse them. Pope Benedict is himself responsible for enabling the creation of a lot of victims--and not just in Ireland. Does the humiliation which Cardinal Brady spoke about extend to Peter's successor? It certainly should since Peter humiliated himself on more than one occasion, so there is precedent, but I suspect the letter will contain no such personal admission. Benedict may be a man of thousands of words but not very many of them express much self reflection.

I guess it's not surprising that Irish abuse victims and groups are not impressed. The fact is until the Vatican admits the Irish bishops were only following Vatican orders, nothing can really be changed. Irish bishops can talk all they want about their own humiliation and they may even begin to come to the conclusion they are culpable for following Vatican orders, but they would do us all a very big favor if they too demanded the Vatican own up to giving the orders.

This whole charade makes as much sense as it would have for Germany to have left the Nazi regime in place after losing World War II and learning about the Holocaust. Somehow I doubt just because Himmler mouthed some nice platitudes about the victims while ignoring the facts of his own orders regarding that holocaust would have gone very far with the German people. Why does the Vatican think Roman Catholics will accept such a similar thing? Hopefully this is why Archbishop Martin is conspicuous by his absence. He gets the Vatican message and won't comply with the charade.


  1. Colleen,
    Excellent analysis. This matter is so distressing and the two days of meetings has done nothing to make it better. I read the article you linked, and if the victims of abuse are not helped in any way by the Pope or Bishops, then what really was accomplished?

    I had to laugh at one of your comments: "I'm sure Benedict is extremely concerned, and the question remains as to what exactly he is concerned about." I think that really sums up not only this problem but the whole current papacy.


  2. I have the impression they want these victims to HEAL! Fast! And I suspect healing would include denying their victimization!

    What else does all this mean?

  3. What seems concrete from Rome is their resolve to not resolve there own deeper commitment to a change of heart that would resemble the living Christ in the world.

    Do the Vatican & the Pope & the Irish Bishops have Alzheimer's and their memory taken away that Pope Benedict was Cardinal Ratzinger of the CDF who promoted sexual abuse and is responsible for the sexual abuse of so many by his direction and orders?

    A lapsed memory? A convenient forgetfulness?

    The entire meeting of the Irish Bishops boils down to a mental reservation from the Pope and the Vatican, and as before when the Irish Bishops followed the direction of Rome & the CDF, enabled sexual abuse, they enable this mental reservation and convenient posture from Pope Benedict. It's just more of the same old, same old.

    What is most disconcerting about this is that from the same old, same old, nothing new can come from this and it means more abuse could occur with the same old, same old system of negligent and/or criminal behaviors still in place and concretized & defended even further by this meeting.

  4. Can any thinking Catholic doubt that the Institution is imploding? There is no question that the leadership is frankly unethical. The real question for us is what can we do as followers of the Christ in the Sermon on the Mount. Can we love these enemies yet understand that to promote or follow this leadership would be spiritual disaster. What Institutions can we use that will humble and Godly so that our children will have a place to go to get the example and understanding of the Holy Spirit in our world as we live it today?

    May we find a way to support each other and gain God's graces.



  5. TheraP also has a good point. Be healed, but out of the limelight, please.

    The attention and focus is *always* on these guys - victims and survivors are NEVER more than indirect, secondary, casts-offs who are unworthy of attention . I suppose if the laity are not *really" the Church, then this should come as no surprise.

    Some days, I think there should be another "Children's Crusade". Not a crusade headed for the Holy Land, but one made up of all the children and grown-up children world-wide, who have survived this horror (holding pictures of those who did *not* survive). They would meet in Rome and demand, not beg for, meetings with the Pope. Can you imagine the media frenzy? Now THAT would be talking truth to power.

  6. How exactly did Ropme and the CDF enable sexual abuse? What exactly was Cardinal Ratzinger's (Pope Benedict XVI) role in this?

  7. How exactly did Ropme and the CDF enable sexual abuse? What exactly was Cardinal Ratzinger's (Pope Benedict XVI) role in this?

    The CDF was put in charge of investigating sexual abuse claims in 2001, when Ratzinger was Prefect. A letter he wrote in May of that year, which was sent to every bishop in the Church, reminded them that they were forbidden to reveal sexual abuse crimes to civil authorities, thereby obstructing the cause of justice.

  8. Mareczku google Richard Sipe and you will find an extremely informative website. Ratzinger's involvement goes way back to his early days in the CDF in the eighties when the first publically notorious cases of sexual abuse were making international headlines.

    John, I've often thought that such a crusade would make a very visceral statement. It's one thing to read reports, it's quite another to see the actual impact in real lives.

  9. PrickliestPear: That is truly horrible. It is so difficult for me to understand why they cared so little for the victims in all of this. Even now, it seems like Pope Benedict XVI was giving support to the Bishops. Is it all about them? What about more support for the victims?

  10. Mareczku,

    Is it all about them? What about more support for the victims?

    I imagine they see themselves as protecting the image of the hierarchy so as to prevent people from losing their faith in the hierarchy and leaving the Church, which, from the perspective of many within the hierarchy, would be tantamount to forfeiting their salvation.

    I can't imagine any other reason they would behave the way they do that isn't motivated by pure self-interest. So this is what I suspect they tell themselves.