Friday, April 16, 2010

Do These Recent Vatican Overtures Really Signal A Change?

This actually has more relevance to some comments from a couple of days ago, but sometimes I wonder how many cookie crumbs have to be found before the Vatican and Pope Benedict will admit they have been eating the same cookies as Hoyos, Sodano, and other Vatican Cardinals.

Cardinal hailed bishop for hiding predator priest: report
Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor - Reuters - VATICAN CITY - Thu Apr 15, 2010

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - A Vatican cardinal in charge of clergy around the world congratulated a French bishop in a 2001 letter for not denouncing a sexually abusive priest to the police, according to a French website on Thursday.

The letter posted by Golias, a critical lay Roman Catholic magazine based in Lyon, is the most explicit of a wave of recently published internal church documents in showing past Vatican encouragement to cover up sexual abuse by priests.

In the letter dated Sept 8, 2001, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos backed French Bishop Pierre Pican's decision not to denounce a priest who was later sentenced to 18 years in jail for repeated rape of a boy and sexual assaults on 10 others.

Under fire in recent weeks for its secretive handling of abuse cases, the Vatican has insisted the fact that other published documents did not explicitly instruct bishops to inform police of abuse did not prove it told them to hide it.

Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi did not dispute the letter's content but said it confirmed "how opportune it was to centralize treatment of cases of sexual abuse of minors by clerics under the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith." (Lombardi is getting better at offering alternative explanations.)

The then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, instructed Catholic bishops around the world on May 18, 2001 to report all case of clerical sexual abuse of minors to the Congregation, the top Vatican doctrinal office that he headed.

Pican, who received a suspended three-month jail sentence for not denouncing sexual abuse of minors, admitted in court he had kept Rev. Rene Bissey in parish work despite the fact the priest had privately admitted committing pedophile acts.

The case shocked France and prompted its bishops to declare that all abuse cases must be reported to civil authorities. (Catholicism would still be shuffling it's predator priests around if it weren't for the evil press.)

"I congratulate you for not denouncing a priest to the civil administration," Castrillon Hoyos said. "You have acted well and I am pleased to have a colleague in the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and of all other bishops in the world, preferred prison to denouncing his son and priest."


In it, the cardinal said relations between bishops and priests were not simply professional but had "very special links of spiritual paternity." Bishops therefore had no obligation to testify against "a direct relative," he stated. (Seems the Institution used whatever legal strategy it could, whether it was family law, corporate law, or constitutional law to avoid dealing with victims or predator priests.)
The letter cited Vatican documents and an epistle of Saint Paul to bolster its argument about special bishop-priest links.

"To encourage brothers in the episcopate in this delicate domain, this Congregation will send copies of this letter to all bishops' conferences," Castrillon Hoyos wrote. (I thought we were told the Vatican never sent any letter which specifically encouraged bishops not to report priests to civil authorities.)

A staunch conservative from Colombia, the cardinal headed the Vatican department for priests from 1996 to 2006. From 2000 to 2009, he also ran a commission dealing with traditionalist rebels who broke from Rome in 1988 and were excommunicated.

He conducted the talks that led to the January 2009 decision to readmit the four banned bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X to the Church, which caused an uproar when it emerged that one of them, Richard Williamson, had denied the Holocaust. (It is conceivable that Cardinal Hoyos never met an anti semite 'clerical brother' he didn't like.)

The controversy was highly embarrassing to Pope Benedict, who said he did not know about Williamson's views, even though they could easily be found on the internet.

Two months after the incident, Benedict folded Castrillon Hoyos's commission into the Congregation and the cardinal retired.

On Thursday the pope said the church had to do penance for its sins, in a rare public reference to the pedophilia scandal.

Yes, the Pope did address the abuse scandal yesterday:

Abuse scandal painful, pope says
By Cindy Woodenn - Catholic News Service - 4/15/2010

VATICAN CITY -- Recognizing the sins of priests who have sexually abused children, performing penance and asking for forgiveness, the Catholic Church trusts that God will purify and transform the church, Pope Benedict XVI said. (But again, there is no mention of the bishops who protected and transferred these priests.)

"I must say that we Christians, even in recent times, have often avoided the word 'penance,' which seemed too harsh to us. Now, under the attacks of the world that speaks to us of our sins, we see that being able to do penance is a grace," the pope said April 15 in a homily during a Mass with members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. ('we Christians' had very little to do with your cover ups.)

"We see how it is necessary to do penance, that is, to recognize what is mistaken in our life," he said during the morning Mass in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace.

Audio clips and a transcript of part the pope's homily, delivered without a prepared text, were posted on the Vatican Radio Web site.

The pope said Christians know that "to open oneself to forgiveness, to prepare oneself for forgiveness, to allow oneself to be transformed, the pain of penance -- that is to say of purification and of transformation -- this pain is grace, because it is renewal, and it is the work of divine mercy." (Interesting that this is being translated as Benedict using the term 'Christians' and not Catholics. Is this purposeful generalization or just a purposeful mistranslation.)

In his homily, the pope also spoke about the liberating effect of obeying God, even in a world that likes to pretend that freedom means doing whatever the individual wants to do, but still insists on everyone conforming to what the majority believes and does. (Or the institution in some cases.)

Without a reference to God and to God's will for his creation, the final arbiter of right and wrong becomes majority rule or the dictates of the most powerful, he said. (When 'we' all know it is supposed to be the Vatican which is the final arbiter of God's will.)

"The Nazi dictatorship, the Marxist dictatorship" in the 1900s were examples of regimes that could not stand the idea of God's primacy, he said. (You might want to add the Vatican dictatorship to this list. Oh, I forgot, it isn't a dictatorship it's God's will.)

Fortunately, he said, such dictatorships do not exist today, but there are subtle forms of pressure on people to conform to a worldly opinion and not to God's will.

"A conformism under which it becomes obligatory to think as everyone thinks, to act as everyone acts, and the subtle or not so subtle aggression against the church demonstrate that this conformism really can become a real dictatorship," he said.

The reason Christians are called to obey God is because they want to enjoy eternal life, the pope said. Unfortunately today, Christians seem embarrassed to talk about the final judgment and eternal life, so instead they focus on the good works and solidarity faith inspires, he said. (This is the statement that negates this entire spin. Ultimately this talk is not about penance for sins, it is an excuse to yank the hell chain and remind everyone what the Church is really selling. Not good works and solidarity, but get out of hell cards.

The promise of eternal life is also the reason why it is a grace to be able to recognize one's sins, perform penance, ask pardon and know that God will bring forgiveness and healing, Pope Benedict said. (Only through the office of the priesthood.)


It does appear to me that the strategy being used by the Vatican is to flip bad news into an opportunity to recast Pope Benedict as the hero and at the same time underscore the specialness of the priesthood for our salvation from hell. We will undoubtedly continue to hear a lot more about hell and how the Church can keep us out of it. We will hear very little about the hell that the Church has created for the victims of abuse on Earth--or women or gays.

I am not impressed that the Vatican has cast Cardinal Hoyos adrift. The facts once again show this act was prompted not from newly found transparency but from newly found letters exposed by the press. Hoyos is retired. Nothing was done about Hoyos or his views until he publicly embarrassed Pope Benedict with the SSPX fiasco. So what's the lesson here: Pay backs are a bitch?

The Holy Spirit seems to have the bit in her teeth. On Monday the Vatican published it's sexual abuse policy on it's brand new blog site. Prominently given it's own paragraph is the sentence which mandates reporting to civil authorities. We are told it's really always been that way. Thursday the Holy Spirit counters by producing a letter from a relevant dicastery which completely contradicts that assertion. Apparently meaningful penance can not be accomplished through lies and disingenuous statements.

The exposing of the abuse crisis and the corruption and self service of the Vatican 'reform of the reformers' will continue until Benedict is left defending a circle of one. Himself. And don't kid yourself, it won't be about defending the Papacy or the Church, it will be about defending himself, his theology, and his exalted vision of his own priesthood. That has been his historic pattern and that will not change without a massive personal conversion.

For another example of defending the exalted role of the priest the new Vatican blog has an article about Benedict's ad limina meeting with Brazilian Archbishops whose dioceses include the Amazon. The bishops concern is the social and ecological disaster the Amazon is facing and it's global consequences. Benedict spoke to them about his central vision of the priest led Eucharistic celebration and the need to focus on it's sacrificial nature and not it's communal aspects. Not one word about the Amazon or the social upheaval it's economic exploitation is causing to the bishops' indigenous people. Maybe because a large part of that exploitation is in human sexual trafficking.


  1. That letter is going to be the smoking gun for lawyers!

    You are doing a simply outstanding job here, Colleen! All of us together are making a difference.

  2. Gee, so they think Paul's words about brotherhood and fatherhood trump those of Jesus - who literally IDENTIFIED Himself with the "least of these"!!!!

    Talk about using proof-texting for nefarious purposes!

    I am so steamed that I think it's like being in a pressure cooker ready to blow!

    My God, do they not know the words of Jesus???

    Ahh.... but the security word knows: satist

    Does that refer to satanic? Or that the clergy were "sated" with their victims? Or both?

  3. That letter was sent on the Feast of the Nativity of Mary! That was 3 days before 9/11! Like another type of terrorism!

    Think of the meaning of sending a such a letter, authorizing bishops to enable pedophiles on the day commemorating the BIRTH of the MOTHER OF GOD!

    That smacks, to me, of SACRILEGE! We are indeed nearing something very devilish!

    And remember, as I wrote in a comment here:

    "What else is buried in the deepest secrecy?"

    My guess is that they give one overt order and a bunch of COVERT ones! This is smacking of such an evil, evil cover-up!

  4. Doing something out of fear or for a reward is the lowest level of moral reasoning!

    The highest levels of moral reasoning involve caring about others because you feel a sense of identification with them. Like Jesus did.

    (And I'm sorry for the string of comments. But this particular post is hitting way too many buttons for me!)

  5. Perhaps your security verification word is a reference to satanic sadism.

    Proof-texting for nefarious purposes is an excellent observation. I think the release of this letter by Hoyos was a direct message to bishops about just how seriously the Vatican took maintaining silence on this issue--as in go to jail before opening your mouth.

    It's the same reason Cardinal Law was shipped to the legally friendly confines of the Vatican City States before he was forced into jail or opening his mouth.

  6. It punches a lot of my buttons too TheraP. I've written before that the Vatican and Benedict would attempt a strategy which both appeared to let him off the hook for the abuse crisis while at that same time letting him pursuit a teaching strategy which left the whole sick governance structure in place.

    We can't let him get away with that because he has been the singular voice for this system since 1981, and it covers and supports way way more than abusive predatory priests. They are just one of it's paricularly egregious rotten fruits.

  7. Apparently Hans Kung agrees with your last statement, Colleen:

    via Bilgrimage today.

    Kung has said all the right things! And coupled with his indictment of the pope (and his 6 actions he suggests), it seems to me we are on the cusp of an ever-greater groundswell. For he clearly states that bishops who remain silent now are complicit!

    Plus... the liability here, both criminal and civil. We are reaching a point, I think, where some international authority needs to take action - for individuals are suffering all over the world due to the egregious, despicable behavior on the part of a man (and his enablers who must to be STOPPED!

  8. I'm not supposed to like this, but I do (response to pic above this blog entry). See

  9. Just to interject some needed levity.....

    "I'll have one of those "Ratzy-head Cookie Jars, and a Ratz 'bobble-head' doll to go"


    Anon Y. Mouse

  10. The reason Christians are called to obey God is because they want to enjoy eternal life, the pope said. Unfortunately today, Christians seem embarrassed to talk about the final judgment and eternal life, so instead they focus on the good works and solidarity faith inspires, he said.

    This sounds like something a priest would tell a group of elementary school students, not a gathering of bible scholars.

    There is no hope for any kind of reform until the people in charge understand just what business they're in. The pope apparently still thinks it's helping people go to heaven while avoiding hell. I'll bet some of the bible scholars were rolling their eyes at that one.

  11. Prickliest Pear:

    Well... unfortunately those in charge do seem to believe they are in a "business" - and that the problem!

    I think more and more we can see these bozos for what they are - people who do not think at very high developmental levels. They are stunted sexually, morally, ethically, and logically. It's pretty horrifying actually! I used to teach third grade and some of my students were more ethically advanced than these bishops, who seem to be into "behavior therapy" - a "token system" whereby indulgences are granted for drinking the Vatican kool-aid.

  12. Prickliest, it wasn't just the Bible scholars, but also the Brazilian bishops who are talking about a very serious cultural and ecological issue and they get lecture 101 on the Eucharist.

    When are these guys going to stop shaking their heads and just walk out?

  13. "Abuse scandal painful, pope says"

    ## Yes, Holy Father, it is. It is agonising - for the molested and betrayed and vilified victims of predator priests, bishops, deacons, and religious of both sexes. They have gone through something like Hell on earth, while their attackers have been protected, promoted, honoured.

    So in the Name of God, what are you going do about it ?

    Are we supposed to believe that the God Who, in Papal teaching as well as in the Bible, is said to have a "preferential option for the poor", has all of a sudden taken the side of the great and mighty and strong and powerful, and delivered them into tyhe hands of evil-doers ?

    Unless justice is done, you make the Church into a mockery,into the enemy of Christ, into a bitter enemy of the Good News. It will not go well with the Church, if it tramples down those whom Christ made especially His own. Some of us do not want to have to face the irresistible fury of his anger against the wicked - but that is what the Church will face, if it does not repent.

  14. ""The Nazi dictatorship, the Marxist dictatorship" in the 1900s were examples of regimes that could not stand the idea of God's primacy, he said. (You might want to add the Vatican dictatorship to this list. Oh, I forgot, it isn't a dictatorship it's God's will.)"

    ## It's a totalitarian state, denouncing other TSs - all are or were Fundamentalist, & Fundamentalism has no room for rivals. So there was a choice of:


    - but no possibility of ultimate loyalty to more than one.

    All three are perversions of the Kingship of God, which is not of this world and cannot be made of this world without being distorted; its King is a Crucified King - whereas they slay others to consolidate their power.

    The only "totalitarianism" that does not kill others, is the totally God-serving, self-sacrificing, healing,life-giving love shown by Jesus.

  15. ""A conformism under which it becomes obligatory to think as everyone thinks, to act as everyone acts, and the subtle or not so subtle aggression against the church demonstrate that this conformism really can become a real dictatorship," he said."

    ## The Church never does that ? I'm sorry but it does exactly that, not always, but very often. I've lost count of the times I, and others have said no more than the Teaching of the Church or its Practice or its Tradition contains, only to be shot down in flames as "heretics","dissenters",
    "fake Catholics", "anti-Catholics", "Protestants", "modernists","liberals", "Pope-bashers".

    The serene confidence of St. Thomas Aquinas, who was able to engage with Muslims, Jews, Averroist Christians, and to consider their ideas on their own merits, seems to have been lost to the Church. This is very very sad.

  16. Rat it's the old "It's OK if we do it, but no anyone else."

  17. The church never does that?

    It's amazing the disconnect in perceptions here. Between the Law-Givers and the proletariat!

    But those on the low end of the totem pole always know the upper echelon better than the reverse! (why would they bother to know US?)

  18. 'cause we know how to dry clean their frous frous and they don't.

    But best of all, we know how to clean up after big messes and now that they have the mess all over themselves trying to clean it up themselves, maybe they will decide they are better off not cleaning it up themselves and should just get the hell out of the room.

  19. A thought occurred to me the other day, probably not a very original thought. What if Jesus came down and offered to eliminate all abortions if only the bishops would all resign from their offices and then be assigned to an inner-city parish serving the poor? I suspect that many (most) of them would do a little verbal dance and refuse the offer, allowing abortions to continue?

  20. Rick, that's actually a very good thought. It's hard for me to see an exhibitionist like Archbishop Burke willingly giving up his frou frou. They would probably tell Jesus that some woman somewhere would sneak one in because in their experience that's just the way women work, especially in this secular relativistic culture polluted with feminist notions.

  21. I admire the journalism of Colleen, but the blog is in danger of degenerating into a conversation between Colleen and TheraP.

    Give it a break TheraP. You are becoming over exposed. We know your thoughts; you don't have to repeat them ad nauseum.

  22. Last night I saw the EWTB show "The World Over Live', hosted by Opus Dei man Raymond Arroyo.....or at least enough of it to turn my stomach.

    While this should surprise nobody, the show began with Arroyo's lead in expressing (virtual expression & gesture of Masonic...) 'horror' that 'two prominent Atheists are organizing to try to arrest the pope".

    Question: what would he be saying if the two men were Catholics?

    As the Vatican it in uber Damage Control mode....or rather 'Keystone Kops' style fire brigade putting out one fire to have 3 more erupt, this is to be expected.

    Naturally an 'Attorney' (whose name escapes me) with no observable credentials in international law. Who then engaged in carefully scripted, pre-planned banter with Arroyo about the 'horror' of this. And positing various legal scenarios. And positing various hypothetical defenses (e.g. pope is immune to all & sundry as head of state).

    For those who saw this, the 'Attorney' looked like someone old sot dredged up in some dive bar. Or some hack law professor with little actual trial experience. By contrast, George Weigel at least presented the overt appearance of credibility!

    Note: since most ppl have no long term memory, Manuel Noriega & Saddam Hussein are but two modern examples of 'sovereign heads of state' tried for crimes against humanity, among other charges.

    Colleen - indeed, when one is 'caught with cookie in hand & all his face' any attempt at a defense will be both immoral & increasingly ridiculous.

    They have no defense; not a lucid one. Only the type of abstract, logic bending one might expect from a criminal defense attorney when all reasonable options fail.

    They want you to forget the whole thing. Pretend it never happened & go back to sleep.....and to putting $$ in their paws. They want you to stop all this 'foolishness' & go back into 'OBEDIENCE'.

    As The Who wrote in their famous song, 'we won't get fooled again'.And we should not. We must worship & serve God, not men. To try our best, despite our personal flaws, failings & sins.

    But they - the Vatican- want us to return to serving them. As if none of this was reality & never happened.

    Bob Dylan penned the correct words back in the 80s in his song: "You Gotta Serve Somebody":

    " it might be the Devil, or it might be the Lord, but you have to serve SOMEBODY".

    It should be obvious at this point that the Vatican serves somebody; and that they want you to do so also.


    Anon Y. Mouse

  23. "There are two types of obedience: obedience in relation to power and obedience in relation to love.

    When understood in the first way, obedience means submission or surrender, the sacrifice of one's own intellect and will.

    According to the second understanding, obedience does not mean submission, but response. Disobedience is not the putting forward of opinions different from those commanded by authority. To do so might well be a duty, not a sin."

    (Charles Davis on why it was not enough to ignore the church, NCR, February 7, 1992.)

    Jim McCrea

  24. Great quote Jim. It pretty much distills the essense of servant leadership.