Pope Francis admits of abuse of nuns, sexual slavery

The Catholic Church has struggling with huge problems due to the exposure of sexual abuse by priests over decades if not centuries.

For some time the church, and more recently Pope Francis, have been criticised for doing far too little about the problems.  But the Pope has brought up another dirty secret in the church.

BBC:  Pope admits clerical abuse of nuns including sexual slavery

Pope Francis has admitted that clerics have sexually abused nuns, and in one case they were kept as sex slaves.

He said in that case his predecessor, Pope Benedict, was forced to shut down an entire congregation of nuns who were being abused by priests.

Last November, the Catholic Church’s global organisation for nuns denounced the “culture of silence and secrecy” that prevented them from speaking out.

The female congregation dissolved in 2005 under Pope Benedict was the Community of St Jean, which was based in France, Alessandro Gisotti of the Vatican press office told CBS News.

In 2013, the Community of St Jean admitted that priests had behaved “in ways that went against chastity” with several women in the order, according to the French Roman Catholic newspaper La Croix.

In a separate case in India last year, a bishop was arrested over allegations that he raped a nun 13 times between 2014 and 2016.

Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who headed the diocese in Jalandhar in the northern state of Punjab, has denied the accusations.

In Chile, reports of abuse of nuns carried out by priests led the Vatican to launch an investigation last year. The women were reportedly removed from the order after highlighting the abuse.

Last year, the Associated Press news agency reported cases of abuse in Italy and Africa.

Just days ago the Vatican’s women’s magazine, Women Church World, condemned the abuse, saying in some cases nuns were forced to abort priests’ children – something Catholicism forbids.

Pope Francis has admitted…

…that clerics have sexually abused nuns, and in one case they were kept as sex slaves.

He said in that case his predecessor, Pope Benedict, was forced to shut down an entire congregation of nuns who were being abused by priests.

It is thought to be the first time that Pope Francis has acknowledged the sexual abuse of nuns by the clergy.

He said the Church was attempting to address the problem but said it was “still going on”.

Speaking to reporters while on a historic tour of the Middle East on Tuesday, the pontiff admitted that the Church had an issue, and the roots lay in society “seeing women as second class”.

He said that priests and bishops had abused nuns, but said the Church was aware of the “scandal” and was “working on it”, adding that a number of clerics had been suspended.

“It’s a path that we’ve been on,” he said.

“Pope Benedict had the courage to dissolve a female congregation which was at a certain level, because this slavery of women had entered it – slavery, even to the point of sexual slavery – on the part of clerics or the founder.”

Pope Francis said sexual abuse of nuns was an ongoing problem, but happened largely in “certain congregations, predominantly new ones”.

“I think it’s still taking place because it’s not as though the moment you become aware of something it goes away.”

While shocking it isn’t surprising that nuns have also been victims of abuse.

More shocking is the Pope’s admission that “”I think it’s still taking place”.

CBS News: Pope Francis confirms priests’ abuse of nuns included “sexual slavery”

The pontiff conceded that it was a problem and said more action was needed. He insisted the will to confront the abuse is there, and stressed that the problem is not new, and that the Church has been working to address it for some time.

“It’s a path that we’ve been on. Pope Benedict had the courage to dissolve a female congregation which was at a certain level, because this slavery of women had entered it — slavery, even to the point of sexual slavery — on the part of clerics or the founder,” the pope conceded.

Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Vatican press center, later confirmed to CBS News that the order of nuns dissolved under Benedict was the Community of St. Jean in France. The reason the order was dissolved had not previously been made public.

That was in 2005. Shut down due to sexual slavery. Kept secret.

What the hell is wrong with these people?

And why is the church “working on it”? More importantly, why aren’t the police working on it? Have the Catholic priests, bishops and pope learned nothing from the unravelling scourge of scandals?

The Catholic Church has lost all moral credibility.

Pope moving slowly towards addressing abuse scandals

The Pope has been justifiably criticised for his tardiness in addressing multiple abuse scandals in the Catholic Church around the world.  He seems to be slowly moving towards being seen to be doing something about it.

Pope Francis is insisting that bishops attending his high-stakes sex abuse prevention summit will learn the laws to use against predators, how to care for victims and will make sure that no cleric abuse cases are covered up again.

The Vatican on Wednesday provided details about the Feb. 21-24 meeting, saying its main aim is to guarantee that bishops around the world “clearly understand what they need to do to prevent and combat the worldwide problem of the sexual abuse of minors.”

It’s extremely late to be making sure that bishops understand laws related to sexual predators, but at least it is happening.

Francis announced in September that he was inviting presidents of bishops’ conferences around the world to attend the summit amid a crisis in his papacy over his own botched handling of sex abuse cases and a new explosion of the scandal in the U.S., Chile and beyond.

Francis has a blemished record on handling sex abuse cases.

As a cardinal in Argentina, Francis commissioned an external legal study into the case of a popular priest accused of abuse whose conviction was upheld by the country’s supreme court. Last year, he strongly defended a Chilean bishop accused of covering for a notorious predator.

The Pope himself has had a major learning curve on this.

Francis has also been accused of turning a blind eye to the sexual misconduct with adults by the American ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. And the pope is now under the spotlight because an Argentine bishop whose career he promoted, first in Argentina and now at the Holy See, is under investigation for sexual misconduct with seminarians.

The Vatican spokesman, Alessandro Gisotti, said Francis realized the problem is global and must be addressed globally by the church.

The problems (plural, many, over a long time) have not been dealt with abysmally up until now.

The summit may be a move in the right direction but there looks to be a long way to go for the pope and the Catholic Church to repair extensive damage that has been done, both to many lives of victims over decades, and also to the reputation of the church.

Pope urges simpler lest materialistic life – for others

RNZ:  Pope calls for more compassion towards the poor

In his traditional Christmas Eve Mass, the Pope has urged people in the developed world to seek a simpler, less materialistic life and condemned the increasing gap between rich and poor.

“Let us ask ourselves: ‘Do I really need all these material objects and complicated recipes for living? Can I manage without all these unnecessary extras and live a life of greater simplicity?'” Pope Francis said.

“In our day, for many people, life’s meaning is found in possessing, in having an excess of material objects. An insatiable greed marks all human history, even today, when, paradoxically, a few dine luxuriantly while all too many go without the daily bread needed to survive,” he said.

Somewhat ironic given the excessive opulence of St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican.

Pope Francis celebrates a mass on Christmas eve.

He didn’t say he would sell the huge gold candlesticks behind him and give the proceeds to the poor.

Pope Francis, the first pope from Latin America, has made defending the poor a hallmark of his papacy.

Another person who gets into a position of influence and power and talks the talk, but symbolises a walk in a different direction.

Pope and NZ bishops fail to adequately address abuses

The Pope has again been criticised for not appropriately dealing with the seriousness of cover-ups of  abuse over decades in the Catholic Church, and New Zealand bishops have likewise been criticised again.

New York Times editorial:  The Pope Ignores the Damage as Another Prelate Falls

In his letter on Friday accepting the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Catholic archbishop of Washington, Pope Francis praised the departing prelate for his “nobility” in not trying to defend “mistakes” in his handling of sexual-abuse allegations.

The pope misses the point.

The archbishop may not be as culpable as other bishops who more systematically covered up sexual predation, and in at least one case he took action that was initially thwarted by the Vatican.

But a devastatingly detailed grand jury report on widespread child sex abuse in Pennsylvania churches showed that Cardinal Wuerl, as bishop of Pittsburgh, was immersed in a clerical culture that hid pedophilic crimes behind euphemisms, conducted unprofessional investigations and evaluations of accused priests, kept acknowledged cases of sex abuse secret from parish communities and avoided reporting the abuse to police.

In an anguished letter to his archdiocese, Cardinal Wuerl accepted responsibility for actions described in the grand jury report. “I wish that I could redo some decisions I have made in my three decades as a bishop and each time get it right,” he wrote.

Pope Francis saw Cardinal Wuerl’s resignation as a sacrifice for the good of the church amid the attacks by critics like Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, a former Vatican ambassador to the United States who has vigorously pressed charges of a church cover-up.

Yet by indicating that he regards Cardinal Wuerl’s past actions simply as “mistakes,” and by allowing him to remain a member of the powerful Congregation for Bishops, the pope reinforces the sense that he does not understand the extraordinary damage done by clerics who cruelly and shamelessly abused their power over trusting children and adults.

New York Times: Pope Accepts Wuerl’s Resignation as Washington Archbishop, but Calls Him a Model Bishop

Pope Francis on Friday accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, a moment many victims of clerical abuse had hoped would demonstrate his commitment to holding bishops accountable for mismanaging cases of sexual misconduct.

But instead of making an example of Cardinal Wuerl, who was named in a recent Pennsylvania grand jury report that accused church leaders of covering up abuse, Francis held him up as a model for the future unity of the Roman Catholic Church. The pope cited Cardinal Wuerl’s “nobility” in volunteering to resign and announced that the 77-year-old prelate would stay on as the archdiocese’s caretaker until the appointment of a successor.

For some Catholics, Friday’s decision was a deep disappointment on an issue that has shadowed Francis’s papacy and threatened his legacy.

By making it clear he thought Cardinal Wuerl had served the church well, they said, Francis sent yet another mixed message on a topic that has shaken faith in the church’s leadership around the world.

This shaken faith includes in New Zealand, where bishops have failed to properly address abuses here.

ODT: Church attacked for silence

The head of the University of Otago’s theological centre has launched a blistering attack on the Catholic Church and the Bishop of Dunedin, saying their response to historic sexual abuse is “a failure of the church’s moral leadership”.

The comments by Prof David Tombs – Howard Paterson Professor of Theology and Public Issues – come as the church maintains its silence over the extent of historic abuse by clergy within the Dunedin diocese.

Since August, ODT Insight has highlighted the church’s handling of one paedophile priest, Fr Magnus Murray, and identified other offenders — including priests, Christian Brothers and Catholic teachers — who targeted children over decades.

But Bishop Michael Dooley — who publicly apologised to the city in August — has since repeatedly refused to say how many historic offenders, victims or payouts the church is aware of within the Dunedin diocese.

And, in recent weeks, he has issued ODT Insight with new “guidelines” for responding to questions, including that he would “reserve my right to exercise discretion in answering any request”.

Since then, Bishop Dooley has ignored requests for comment, including on recent allegations levelled against one of the most senior members of the clergy in Dunedin in recent times, who has since died.

At the same time, the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference has backed away from an earlier commitment, given to a national survivors’ group, to make a public statement on the need for the church to be included in an expanded royal commission.

Prof Tombs said Bishop Dooley’s approach to media scrutiny appeared to be “raising [the] barrier to journalistic inquiries … as a way to evade difficult questions”.

He also wanted to see “much greater urgency” from Bishop Dooley, and New Zealand’s other Catholic bishops, in pressing for the terms of the royal commission to be expanded.

“If the terms do not change … then Bishop Dooley is in effect saying that the church will not take positive steps for truth or justice.

Evidence overseas was that when an inquiry began asking probing questions, the extent of the abuse and the cover-up were both shown to be “much more serious” than previously acknowledged.

It looks like new Zedaland bishops are trying to cover up the extent of abuse by priests here.

“So it seems the church [in New Zealand] is trying to avoid this by saying as little as possible — beyond its regret, sorrow and sense of failure.

Bishop Dooley, contacted yesterday, would only say he would “welcome the opportunity to meet with and discuss the concerns David Tombs has about my response”.

“At this present moment I am meeting with local victims and survivors and my primary concern is to listen to them.”

Good on the bishop for meeting local victims and survivors, but if he and the Catholic Church are to restore any faith that they are capable of properly addressing the abuse problems they need to stop trying to keep everything secret.

The church’s response was also criticised by members of the Network of Survivors of Faith-based Institutional Abuse and their Supporters.

The group had met Hamilton Bishop Steve Lowe — as the bishop responsible for professional standards — in September to discuss the need for a fresh statement from the NZ Catholic Bishops Council, calling for the church’s inclusion in an expanded Royal Commission.

Bishop Lowe had said one would be forthcoming, but it took until this week for the council’s new executive officer, James van Schie, to email the group, only to reiterate the church’s earlier submissions.

Network spokeswoman Liz Tonks believed the church needed to go further, or the majority of victims of faith-based abuse would be excluded from the inquiry.

“At this point, the bishops … would appear complicit in avoiding any investigation of the church in the Royal Commission and have not demonstrated the ethical and moral leadership expected.”

It is bad enough that victims are having to fight for disclosure and acceptance of the degree of the problem in the church, but in failing to be up front and open about the problems and appearing to be trying to avoid any proper investigation, the bishops leave themselves open to accusations of being complicit in cover ups in the past as well as now.

Bishops may have difficulty answering to being held to account by ordinary people and the laws of the country, as they are used to answering only to ‘god’ (which means answering to their own imaginations and self-importance), but if they are to live up to the moral standards they purport to support they need to realise that they on sexual abuses of priests they are not judge, jury and forgiver.

Pope faces ongoing pressure over widespread priest abuse

It seems that neither the Pope nore the Catholic Church has the will nor knows the way to properly deal with decades of widespread abuse by priests around the world.

The forgiveness card won’t wash until the Pope and the church fully accept responsibility and make clear changes to address the problem – including properly holding abusive priests to account. This means stopping trying to sweep the scandal under their pompous robes.

Like:

It has happened here in New Zealand (both the abuse and the lack of appropriate action).  ODT: Communities respond to abuse: Dunedin opted for ‘prayer and penance’

There are no immediate plans for the Catholic Diocese of Dunedin to follow in Wellington’s footsteps by asking priests to fast to atone for historic sexual abuse by clergy.

It was reported yesterday priests in the Wellington region were spending the day praying and fasting to atone for clerical sexual abuse.

The gesture followed a letter from Pope Francis in August, in which he asked all Catholics to fast and pray in order that their ears might be opened to the “hushed pain felt by children and young people” as a result of clerical abuse,  RNZ  reported.

Monsignor Gerry Burns, the vicar-general of the Wellington Archdiocese, said priests decided to fast as a way of committing to a change of heart and church structures which allowed child abuse to flourish. Dunedin Bishop the Most Rev Michael Dooley said yesterday he “definitely” saw merit in the event, but there were no immediate plans for priests to fast in Dunedin.

Instead, a day of “prayer and penance” was held last week  at St Joseph’s Church in Brockville, he said.

They remain alarmingly out of touch.

A “moderate” number of people attended throughout the day, he said.

Bishop Dooley was also “looking at ways that we can gather in prayer and reflection to address the trauma of sexual abuse”.

The Bishops and the Pope can’t continue to try to hide behind prayer on this.

Catholic Church abuses under increasing scrutiny internationally and locally

Pope Francis and the Catholic Church are under increasing pressure for their woefully inadequate handling of sexual abuse by priests, and their many failures in trying to keep the abuses secret within the church.

This is happening in many countries around the world, and has been highlighted as an insidious problem locally as well. It seems to be a systemic problem within the Catholic Church.

A recent damning report in the US has prompted action there – Stirred by Sexual Abuse Report, States Take On Catholic Church

Attorneys general across the United States are taking a newly aggressive stance in investigating sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy, opening investigations into malfeasance and issuing subpoenas for documents.

On Thursday alone, the New York State attorney general issued subpoenas to all eight Catholic dioceses in the state as part of a sweeping civil investigation into whether institutions covered up allegations of sexual abuse of children, officials said. The attorney general in New Jersey announced a criminal investigation.

The new inquiries come several weeks after an explosive Pennsylvania grand jury report detailed the abuse of more than 1,000 children by hundreds of priests over decades. With Catholics clamoring for more transparency from their church, demanding that bishops release the names of accused priests, civil authorities are beginning to step up to force disclosure.

In the three weeks since the release of the Pennsylvania report, the attorneys general of Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska and New Mexico have also said they will investigate sex abuse by Catholic priests in their states and have asked local dioceses for records. Most bishops have been saying they will cooperate.

Cooperation by bishops has been badly lacking in the past.

And criticism goes right to the top of the church – What has Pope Francis covered up?

The Catholic Church is confronting a series of interconnected scandals so shameful that its very survival is threatened. Pope Francis himself is accused of covering up the activities of one of the nastiest sexual predators ever to wear a cardinal’s hat: his close ally Theodore McCarrick, the retired Archbishop of Washington, DC.

Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI are also implicated; they did nothing, or almost nothing, while McCarrick was seducing every seminarian he could get his hands on. (‘Hide the pretty ones!’ they used to say when he visited seminaries.) Yet powerful cardinals kept quiet and are now suspected of lying their heads off after McCarrick’s crimes were recently made public.

McCarrick is the world’s only ex-cardinal. He was forced to resign in July when sexual abuse allegations against him were found to be ‘creditable and substantiated’ by American church authorities. But now the Pope is also being urged to step down — by his own former apostolic nuncio to the United States. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò says he told Francis in 2013 that McCarrick had ‘corrupted generations of priests and seminarians’. The Pope ignored him and lifted sanctions that Benedict, who’d been told the same thing, had imposed.

Last month – Pope in Ireland: Francis speaks of Church’s failure to tackle clerical abuse ‘scandal’

The pope has spoken of his pain and shame at the failure of Church authorities to tackle the grave scandal of clerical abuse in Ireland.

On the first day of his historic Irish visit, the pontiff said people had a right to be outraged at the response of senior figures in the Catholic Church to the “repugnant crimes” inflicted on young people.

But:

Responding to the pope’s speech at Dublin Castle, victims advocacy group BishopAccountability.org said the pontiff’s remarks “gave little comfort to heartsick victims and Catholics hoping that he has a plan for ending the abuse and cover-up crisis.

“The pope again chose to commit to no specific solutions. Nor did he acknowledge his own responsibility for the crisis.”

And a day later – ‘I won’t say a word about it’: Pope silent on abuse claim letter

Pope Francis has declined to confirm or deny claims by the Vatican’s retired ambassador to the United States that he knew in 2013 about sexual misconduct allegations against the former archbishop of Washington.

The pope was dismissive of the 11-page text by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, saying that it “speaks for itself” and that he would not comment on it.

Francis accepted McCarrick’s resignation as cardinal last month, after a US church investigation determined that an accusation he had sexually abused a minor was credible.

Since then, another man has come forward to say McCarrick began molesting him starting when he was 11, and several former seminarians have said McCarrick abused and harassed them when they were in seminary.

The accusations have created a crisis of confidence in the US and Vatican hierarchy.

Here in New Zealand over the last month the Otago Daily Times has published a series of articles revealing that abuse has also been perpetrated and hidden within the Catholic Church in Dunedin, around New Zealand and Australia. It appears to have been a deliberate plan to cover up abuses over decades.

Yesterday: Scale of abuse, suffering revealed

It started with one bad apple – a paedophile priest from Dunedin who abused four boys and was jailed for his crimes. But the story of Fr Magnus Murray’s crimes has opened the floodgates, releasing a torrent of torment and abuse held back for decades.

Mr Klemick can still recall every detail of four years of abuse at the hands of Ian Thompson, a teacher at St Paul’s High School, beginning in 1979 when he was just 12 years old.

The memories are of sodomy and sex acts, including the ones he was forced to perform on another young boy, also a victim of Mr Thompson.

The experience has left him battling post-traumatic stress disorder and, despite counselling, the urge to try to take his own life again.

Michael Haggie has a similar story of torment to share.

There is much more.

Now, after a months-long investigation by ODT Insight, a clearer picture of the scale of sexual offending within the Catholic Diocese of Dunedin is emerging.

It began with revelations Fr Magnus Murray, a paedophile priest from Dunedin, had many more victims than previously thought.

Fr Murray was jailed in 2003 for offences against four Dunedin boys, but ODT Insight found he could have up to 15 victims on the Taieri alone, as well as others in Australia and the North Island.

But, when ODT Insight also revealed offending by Br Desmond Fay and a second Christian Brother – who cannot be named for legal reasons – in Dunedin, more victims soon came forward.

Br Fay was accused by the mother of one victim of driving her son to suicide, but the story prompted three more men to reveal they, too, had been targeted by Br Fay.

But Br Fay, who has since died, was not alone, the man said.

He also recalled being punished by former St Edmund’s principal Br Vincent Sullivan, who “put me over his knee and gave me a light spanking and then fondled my buttocks while Br Fay watched”.

The man fondled in the swimming pool by Br Fay had also learned, years later, three of his friends had been abused by Christian Brothers in Dunedin.

Two had, separately, confided in him that they had been molested by Br Francis Henery, a teacher and rugby coach at St Paul’s High School in the 1970s, he said.

THIS week, ODT Insight has confirmed another paedophile priest from Dunedin, Fr Kevin Morton, was quietly stripped of his priestly faculties in 2002 after allegations of historic abuse emerged.

A complaint in 2002 prompted the then-Dunedin Bishop Len Boyle to strip Fr Morton of his priestly faculties, but he did not defrock him.

It was the same sanction handed down to Fr Magnus Murray, who also remained a priest in retirement despite his conviction.

Dunedin Bishop the Most Rev Michael Dooley, asked about Fr Morton this week, confirmed the diocese had “full records” of the complaint and Fr Morton’s punishment.

He would not elaborate, citing privacy, but Fr Morton was “dealt with through the approved complaints procedure”.

The procedure seems to have been to keep it covered up within the church, and allowing perpetrators to continue to offend elsewhere.

In 1993, Fr Robin Paulson, a fourth-form teacher at St Peter’s College in Gore, admitted six charges relating to historic offences against three boys in Southland.

He was sentenced to periodic detention, then returned home to England, where he remains a member of the Rosminians, the Catholic order beset by their own abuse scandals in Britain.

Teaching alongside Fr Paulson in Gore at the time was another man also later convicted of offences against boys.

In 1977, Patrick Thwaites was a deacon at Holy Cross College in Mosgiel, studying to be a priest, when he was dispatched to St Peter’s in Gore to teach third and fourth-formers.

In 1999, Fr Thwaites was a priest in Christchurch when he was found guilty of offences against schoolboy parishioners in Christchurch and on the West Coast, dating back to the 1980s.

Fr Thwaites has been removed from public ministry, but also remains a priest in retirement.

But ODT Insight has also been told of other allegations, including one by three men who shared the same story of abuses committed by a former top-level, long-serving member of the Dunedin diocese, who has since died.

There seems to have been many bad apples in the Catholic barrel.

And many victims are still suffering as the church fails to take anything like full responsibility.

BISHOP Dooley, speaking to ODT Insight last month, responded to the revelations of historic abuse within the Dunedin diocese by apologising to the city.

But, asked how big the list of offenders could be, he doubted it would mirror the revelations seen in other countries.

“I don’t believe that’s our case here, certainly not in the Dunedin diocese. I see no evidence for it and I’d be very surprised if their are further offenders.”

He confirmed the diocese kept records of every complaint received, but would not say how many there were or how much money the diocese had paid to victims.

The dirty secrets are being uncovered, but the Church still seems reluctant to deal with it openly or adequately.

Victims said the sexual offending in Dunedin was only part of a wider picture of violence at St Paul’s and other schools at the time.

Men like Br Fay, Br Wellsmore and Mr Thompson were notoriously bad-tempered and violent towards boys at the schools where they taught, they said. Several men have described how Mr Thompson would erupt over the smallest infractions and beat those responsible.

Chris Gamble, a St Paul’s pupil, remembered Mr Thompson as “the most heinous, violent man”.

And Suicide to avoid exposure

A Catholic school in Dunedin has been accused of a historic cover-up, after a teacher who sexually abused pupils for more than a decade took his own life when finally confronted, victims say.

Three men – all former pupils at St Paul’s High School in Rattray St – have told ODT Insight the teacher, Ian Thompson, targeted pupils at the school throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s.

The Christian Brothers had employed Mr Thompson after he was forced out of a Marist Fathers seminary in the North Island, allegedly after affairs with other seminarians, a third pupil said.

That seems to be a common pattern – moving a problem priest to fresh pastures where abuses continued.

Another article today – What victims want most: justice

Dunedin’s new Catholic Bishop, the Most Rev Michael Dooley, seems like a good and honourable man.

He has fronted media and his parishioners, expressed shock and pain at recent revelations, apologised to victims and the city for past events and urged those still suffering in silence to come forward.

But he remains reluctant to answer some tough questions.

Bishop Dooley won’t say how many complaints have been received, or how many past offenders he is aware of, within the Catholic Diocese of Dunedin.

That information will only be revealed to police or the Royal Commission, not to media, the bishop  says.

He is also not yet prepared to discuss some allegations levelled against clergy, including those aimed at one of the most senior figures within the diocese in recent times.

Instead, he has insisted Dunedin’s problem remains small compared with  the shocking revelations seen in other countries, from the United States and Ireland to Australia.

But, as he does so, the list of alleged offenders from the Deep South keeps growing.

The pattern is repeated elsewhere, including in the North Island, where Hamilton Bishop the Most Rev Steve Lowe also remains tight-lipped.

The Catholic Church still seems reluctant to address a massive issue that is severely damaging the church.

For men like Paul Klemick, abused as a young pupil by a Catholic teacher at St Paul’s High School, what happened is not historic.

It remains an everyday reality  and as painful as it was when they were innocent children.

But as they speak, one word keeps coming up.

Justice.

Men like Paul Klemick want their experiences acknowledged and they want compensation.

But, most of all, they want the Catholic Church to answer for what happened.

Which is exactly why the Catholic Church, and churches of all stripes, need to be part of the Government’s pending Royal Commission into historic abuse.

But the Government is moving slowly on the Royal Commission: Cabinet yet to hear abuse inquiry proposal

Three months after receiving a report on its proposed terms of reference, Minister of Internal Affairs Tracey Martin is yet to complete the next step in the Royal Commission of Inquiry into abuse in state care.

Martin, alongside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, announced the inquiry as the “final commitment” of the coalition Government’s 100 day plan at the beginning of February. At the time, the stated time-frame for it to begin to consider evidence was mid-to-late 2018.

However, in a letter addressed to law firm Cooper Legal – which represents more than 900 people with claims of abuse under state care – Martin reveals she is yet to finalise her proposal to Cabinet on the inquiry. The proposal is supposed to take into account Commission chair Sir Anand Satyanand’s report on public submissions about the draft terms of reference. While Satyanand submitted his report on May 30, Martin is yet to follow this up with a proposal to Cabinet.

Before the inquiry can proceed to evidential stage, Cabinet must decide on its final terms of reference, additional commission members, and budget. That decision-making process is due to begin once Martin makes her formal proposal on the inquiry to Cabinet.

In the meantime, the many victims continue to suffer.

 

 

 

Irish Times: the church must act on abuse

The Pope has been to Ireland and made noises about awful amounts of abuse by perpetrator priests, but there is little sign yet that anything substantial is being done by the Vatican, which has been abysmally negligent in the past.

The Irish Times view on the papal visit fallout: now the church must act on abuse

Pope Francis has returned to Rome after his brief visit to Ireland where he charmed with his humility and his plea for forgiveness over the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests and its cover-up by bishops. Yet, nothing has changed.

As the afterglow of that visit recedes, a Vatican emerges once more where things are as was. There, inadequate mechanisms for holding to account those prelates who cover up the abuse of children remain. This is unacceptable.

Catholics, and others whose children may be in Catholic care, cannot be expected to accept the Vatican’s ongoing resistance to setting up a tribunal with powers of dismissal to deal with bishops and religious superiors who cover up the abuse of children.

Pope Francis has returned to Rome after his brief visit to Ireland where he charmed with his humility and his plea for forgiveness over the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests and its cover-up by bishops. Yet, nothing has changed.

As the afterglow of that visit recedes, a Vatican emerges once more where things are as was. There, inadequate mechanisms for holding to account those prelates who cover up the abuse of children remain. This is unacceptable.

Catholics, and others whose children may be in Catholic care, cannot be expected to accept the Vatican’s ongoing resistance to setting up a tribunal with powers of dismissal to deal with bishops and religious superiors who cover up the abuse of children.

These documents detail what both Pope Benedict and Pope Francis have described as crimes and should be available to legitimate State inquiries, internationally. That such co-operation in investigating crime centred on the protection of children has been resisted by the Vatican is, frankly, intolerable.

Now we see allegations of cover-up move centre stage in the current Catholic Church civil war between liberals and traditionalists, used as mud by both sides to sling at one another.

If the Catholic Church does not address accountability in a manner which ensures children are safe, then the international community should intervene to help it do so.

This is far from being just an Irish problem, it is a world wide disgrace.

Here in New Zealand the Otago Daily Times and NZ Herald have detailed similar patterns of abuse by priest and negligent responses from the church that has enabled even more abuses.

ODT: The stain of sexual abuse

The Otago Daily Times Insight series ”Marked by the Cross” has uncovered disturbing details about the Roman Catholic Church’s handling of Dunedin priest Fr Magnus Murray.

He quickly returned to public ministry while in Australia and was welcomed back into the fold as a parish priest in North Island centres from 1977 until retiring in 1990.

A common story of moving a problem priest to other locations where abuses continued.

Fr Murray is just one of many priests worldwide accused or convicted of offences against mainly teenage boys. Pope Francis in June accepted the resignations of the bishop at the centre of Chile’s clerical sex abuse scandal and two other priests, launching a purge of the Catholic Church in a country where it had been damaged by an avalanche of abuse and cover-up accusations.

More from the ODT in just the last nine days:

And this shows how badly the church is still handling this: Trio ‘sincerely regret’ hurt caused by comments

The Bishops of Auckland and Dunedin, together with a senior member of the Catholic Diocese of Dunedin, have added their names to an apology for earlier comments implying parents bore some responsibility for stopping clerical sexual abuse.

Dunedin Bishop the Most Rev Michael Dooley and Monsignor the Rt Rev John Harrison, both of Dunedin, and Auckland Bishop the Most Rev Patrick Dunn have together signed a joint apology sent to the Otago Daily Times as a letter to the editor.

In it, the trio said they wanted to “unreservedly apologise” for earlier comments published by ODT Insight as part of its ongoing Marked by the Cross investigation.

“We unreservedly apologise if we gave the impression that parents were somehow to blame for the sexual abuse of their children.

“This was never our intention and we are, each of us, saddened that it was interpreted in this way.”

The comments, which provoked an outcry, came in the ODT Insight article Sins of a Father, published earlier this month.

It seems apparent that neither the Pope nor senior New Zealand Catholics get the severity of the crisis, nor how to properly deal with it.

Pope Francis needs to lead on this or both his tenure and his church face major problems of credibility.

Pope on World Day of Migrants and Refugees

The Pope has spoken about immigration in a special mass for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

Reuters:  Fear and doubt should not determine response to immigrants, Pope says

Mutual fears between immigrants and their new communities are understandable, but must not prevent new arrivals from being welcomed and integrated, Pope Francis said on Sunday in a special Mass to mark the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

“Local communities are sometimes afraid that the newly arrived will disturb the established order, will ”steal“ something they have long laboured to build up,” he said, while “the newly arrived … are afraid of confrontation, judgement, discrimination, failure.”

“Having doubts and fears is not a sin. The sin is to allow these fears to determine our responses, to limit our choices, to compromise respect and generosity, to feed hostility and rejection.”

…he said newcomers must “know and respect the laws, the culture and the traditions of the countries that take them in”.

Migration and immigration have been an essential part of human history. As the most isolated country in the world New Zealand has been totally reliant on immigration.

Some care has to be taken over the numbers and types of immigrants allowed to move here, but our isolation makes this relatively easy to control.

Hostility and rejection are impediments to a healthy society.

Communities, meanwhile, have “to open themselves without prejudices to (newcomers’) rich diversity, to understand the hopes and potential of the newly arrived as well as their fears and vulnerabilities”.

Communities here are generally open and welcoming to newcomers here, with only isolated attacks and a bit of moaning on the sidelines.

A pragmatic Pope, to an extent

The current Pope continues to surprise with his proclamations. He is proving to be one of the most progressive and controversial pontiffs.

His latest surprise – Pope says it can be ‘morally necessary’ for couples to split.

Pope Francis said on Wednesday that it may be acceptable or even “morally necessary” for married couples to split up if they are at war with each other.

“There are cases in which separation is inevitable,” the Argentinian pontiff said during his weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square.

“Sometimes, it can even be morally necessary, when it’s about shielding the weaker spouse or young children from more serious injuries caused by intimidation and violence, humiliation and exploitation, neglect and indifference.”

The insistence that couples remain married no matter what is ridiculous, and can be dangerous and debilitating for spouses who are victims and for children living in dysfunctional married households.

I think commitment to marriage is an important part of our culture, but if a relationship has broken down irreparably then it makes no sense to insist on maintaining a charade – been there, done that until giving it up.

This is a significant and pragmatic shift in Catholic thinking – from the Pope. But it seems that the church as a whole is slower to change from in impractical ideal.

But the Vatican released a working paper earlier this week which suggested that reformists will be disappointed.

The document, a sort of road map which sets out the key topics to be debated, indicated that there will be no change to the current ban on receiving communion for Catholics who have divorced and then remarried.

In the eyes of the Church, their divorces are not valid and they are therefore living in sin with their new partners in adulterous relationships.

It should be pointed out that those insisting on broken down marriages continuing and refusing to accept re-partnering have never experienced a marriage themselves, nor have they experienced a normal one to one committed relationship.

The document also suggested that the Vatican will not alter its view of homosexual sex as a sin nor soften its opposition to gay adoption and gay marriage.

Yeah, that would be a bit too modern to the old men of the church.

Pope blasts Curia in Christmas message

The Pope has blasted the Roman Curia in his Christmas message to them. He began:

“Sometimes [Officials of the Curia] feel themselves ‘lords of the manor’ [It. padroni] – superior  to everyone and everything,” forgetting that the spirit, which should animate them in their lives of service to the universal Church, is one of humility and generosity, especially in view of the fact that none of us will live forever on this earth.

He went on to list fifteen ‘diseases’ including:

  • The feeling of indispensability “often stems from a pathology of power, the ‘complex of the elect….is the narcissism that looks passionately on its own image and does not see the image of God stamped on the face of others, especially the weakest and most in need.”
  • “Existential schizophrenia” of double lives that create “parallel worlds”
  • “Terrorism of gossip” that sows discord and that amounts to “cold-blooded murder” of friends and colleagues.
  • Being “excessively busy” and not taking time for rest;
  • Excessive planning of functionalizing, or trying to “close or direct the freedom of the Holy Spirit”;
  • Bad coordination, like an orchestra that produces noise instead of music: “When the foot tells the hand, ‘I don’t need you,’ or the hand tells the head ‘I’m in charge’ “;
  • Rivalry and vainglory: “When one’s appearance, the color of one’s vestments or honorific titles become the primary objective of life”;
  • Indifference toward the needs of others: “When, out of jealousy or guile, you feel joy at seeing another fall rather than lifting them and encourage them”;
  • Accumulation: “When the apostle tries to fill an existential emptiness in his heart by accumulating material goods, not because he needs them but because he’ll feel more secure”;
  • Worldly profit and exhibitionism: “It’s the sickness of those who insatiably try to multiply their powers and to do so are capable of calumny, defamation and discrediting others, even in newspapers and magazines, naturally to show themselves as being more capable than others.”

Then he concluded.

After listing these ailments, Pope Francis continued, “We are therefore required, at this Christmas time and in all the time of our service and our existence – to live ‘speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love’”.

“I once read that priests are like aeroplanes: they only make the news when they crash, but there are many that fly. Many criticise them and few pray for them”, he concluded. “It is a very nice phrase, but also very true, as it expresses the importance and the delicacy of our priestly service, and how much harm just one priest who falls may cause to the whole body of the Church”.

He’s a very different sort of Pope. The ‘padroni’ may not like being told hard truth but it’s good to hear the Pope being prepared to shake up their self serving complacency..

Pope Francis launched a blistering attack on the Vatican bureaucracy Monday, outlining a “catalog of illnesses” that plague the church’s central administration, including “spiritual Alzheimer’s” and gossipy cliques.

The pope’s traditional Christmas greeting to the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Holy See was less an exchange of warm wishes than a laundry list of what the pontiff called the “ailments of the Curia” that he wants to cure.

In a critique that left many of the assembled clerics clearly uncomfortable, the 15 ailments in Francis’ “catalog of illnesses” reflected the take-no-prisoners approach he promised when he was elected nearly two years ago as an outsider with little direct experience in Rome.

Pope Francis issued a blistering critique on Monday (Tuesday NZT) of the Vatican bureaucracy that serves him, denouncing how some people lust for power at all costs, live hypocritical double lives and suffer from “spiritual Alzheimer’s” that has made them forget they’re supposed to be joyful men of God.

Francis’ Christmas greeting to the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Holy See was no joyful exchange of holiday good wishes. Rather, it was a sobering catalog of 15 sins of the Curia that Francis said he hoped would be atoned for and cured in the New Year.

He had some zingers: How the “terrorism of gossip” can “kill the reputation of our colleagues and brothers in cold blood.” How cliques can “enslave their members and become a cancer that threatens the harmony of the body” and eventually kill it by “friendly fire.” About how those living hypocritical double lives are “typical of mediocre and progressive spiritual emptiness that no academic degree can fill.”

Pope Francis on Monday used an annual pre-Christmas meeting with the cardinals and bishops of the Vatican bureaucracy — normally an exchange of good wishes and blessings — to issue a scathing critique of them, warning against 15 separate “diseases” in their work and attitudes.

Saying he wanted to prepare them all — including himself — to make “a real examination of conscience” before Christmas, Francis said while the Vatican bureaucracy was called to “always improve and grow in communion,” it was also prone to “disease, malfunction, and infirmity” like every human institution.

“I believe it will help us [to make] a ‘catalog’ of diseases … to help us prepare for the sacrament of reconciliation, which will be a good step for all of us to prepare for Christmas,” Francis said.

Many of the 15 diseases given by Francis were frank and blunt: a feeling of indispensability like a “rich fool”; of having a “spiritual Alzheimer’s” that makes a person dependent on the present; of living an “existential schizophrenia” of double lives that create “parallel worlds”; and a “terrorism of gossip” that sows discord and that amounts to “cold-blooded murder” of friends and colleagues.

His full message:

Pope Francis: Christmas greetings to Curia

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the heads and other senior officials of the departments of the Roman Curia on Monday, in their traditional exchange of Christmas greetings. In remarks prepared for the occasion and delivered Monday morning, the Holy Father focused on the need for those who serve in the curia – especially those in positions of power and authority – to remember and cultivate an attitude and a spirit of service.

“Sometimes,” said Pope Francis, “[Officials of the Curia] feel themselves ‘lords of the manor’ [It. padroni] – superior  to everyone and everything,” forgetting that the spirit, which should animate them in their lives of service to the universal Church, is one of humility and generosity, especially in view of the fact that none of us will live forever on this earth.

“It is good to think of the Roman Curia as a small model of the Church, that is, a body that seeks, seriously and on a daily basis, to be more alive, healthier, more harmonious and more united in itself and with Christ”.

“The Curia is always required to better itself and to grow in communion, sanctity and wisdom to fully accomplish its mission. However, like any body, it is exposed to sickness, malfunction and infirmity. … I would like to mention some of these illnesses that we encounter most frequently in our life in the Curia. They are illnesses and temptations that weaken our service to the Lord”, continued the Pontiff, who after inviting all those present to an examination of conscience to prepare themselves for Christmas, listed the most common Curial ailments:

The first is “the sickness of considering oneself ‘immortal’, ‘immune’ or ‘indispensable’, neglecting the necessary and habitual controls. A Curia that is not self-critical, that does not stay up-to-date, that does not seek to better itself, is an ailing body. … It is the sickness of the rich fool who thinks he will live for all eternity, and of those who transform themselves into masters and believe themselves superior to others, rather than at their service”.

The second is “’Martha-ism’, or excessive industriousness; the sickness of those who immerse themselves in work, inevitably neglecting ‘the better part’ of sitting at Jesus’ feet. Therefore, Jesus required his disciples to rest a little, as neglecting the necessary rest leads to stress and agitation. Rest, once one who has brought his or her mission to a close, is a necessary duty and must be taken seriously: in spending a little time with relatives and respecting the holidays as a time for spiritual and physical replenishment, it is necessary to learn the teaching of Ecclesiastes, that ‘there is a time for everything’”.

Then there is “the sickness of mental and spiritual hardening: that of those who, along the way, lose their inner serenity, vivacity and boldness and conceal themselves behind paper, becoming working machines rather than men of God. … It is dangerous to lose the human sensibility necessary to be able to weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice! It is the sickness of those who lose those sentiments that were present in Jesus Christ”.

“The ailment of excessive planning and functionalism: this is when the apostle plans everything in detail and believes that, by perfect planning things effectively progress, thus becoming a sort of accountant. … One falls prey to this sickness because it is easier and more convenient to settle into static and unchanging positions. Indeed, the Church shows herself to be faithful to the Holy Spirit to the extent that she does not seek to regulate or domesticate it. The Spirit is freshness, imagination and innovation”.

The “sickness of poor coordination develops when the communion between members is lost, and the body loses its harmonious functionality and its temperance, becoming an orchestra of cacophony because the members do not collaborate and do not work with a spirit of communion or as a team”.

“Spiritual Alzheimer’s disease, or rather forgetfulness of the history of Salvation, of the personal history with the Lord, of the ‘first love’: this is a progressive decline of spiritual faculties, that over a period of time causes serious handicaps, making one incapable of carrying out certain activities autonomously, living in a state of absolute dependence on one’s own often imaginary views. We see this is those who have lost their recollection of their encounter with the Lord … in those who build walls around themselves and who increasingly transform into slaves to the idols they have sculpted with their own hands”.

“The ailment of rivalry and vainglory: when appearances, the colour of one’s robes, insignia and honours become the most important aim in life. … It is the disorder that leads us to become false men and women, living a false ‘mysticism’ and a false ‘quietism’”.

Then there is “existential schizophrenia: the sickness of those who live a double life, fruit of the hypocrisy typical of the mediocre and the progressive spiritual emptiness that cannot be filled by degrees or academic honours. This ailment particularly afflicts those who, abandoning pastoral service, limit themselves to bureaucratic matters, thus losing contact with reality and with real people. They create a parallel world of their own, where they set aside everything they teach with severity to others and live a hidden, often dissolute life”.

The sickness of “chatter, grumbling and gossip: this is a serious illness that begins simply, often just in the form of having a chat, and takes people over, turning them into sowers of discord, like Satan, and in many cases cold-blooded murderers of the reputations of their colleagues and brethren. It is the sickness of the cowardly who, not having the courage to speak directly to the people involved, instead speak behind their backs”.

“The sickness of deifying leaders is typical of those who court their superiors, with the hope of receiving their benevolence. They are victims of careerism and opportunism, honouring people rather than God. They are people who experience service thinking only of what they might obtain and not of what they should give. They are mean, unhappy and inspired only by their fatal selfishness”.

“The disease of indifference towards others arises when each person thinks only of himself, and loses the sincerity and warmth of personal relationships. When the most expert does not put his knowledge to the service of less expert colleagues; when out of jealousy … one experiences joy in seeing another person instead of lifting him up or encouraging him”.

“The illness of the funereal face: or rather, that of the gruff and the grim, those who believe that in order to be serious it is necessary to paint their faces with melancholy and severity, and to treat others – especially those they consider inferior – with rigidity, hardness and arrogance. In reality, theatrical severity and sterile pessimism are often symptoms of fear and insecurity”.

“The disease of accumulation: when the apostle seeks to fill an existential emptiness of the heart by accumulating material goods, not out of necessity but simply to feel secure. … Accumulation only burdens and inexorably slows down our progress”.

“The ailment of closed circles: when belonging to a group becomes stronger than belonging to the Body and, in some situations, to Christ Himself. This sickness too may start from good intentions but, as time passes, enslaves members and becomes a ‘cancer’ that threatens the harmony of the Body and causes a great deal of harm – scandals – especially to our littlest brothers”.

Then, there is the “disease of worldly profit and exhibitionism: when the apostle transforms his service into power, and his power into goods to obtain worldly profits or more power. This is the disease of those who seek insatiably to multiply their power and are therefore capable of slandering, defaming and discrediting others, even in newspapers and magazines, naturally in order to brag and to show they are more capable than others”.

After listing these ailments, Pope Francis continued, “We are therefore required, at this Christmas time and in all the time of our service and our existence – to live ‘speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love’”.

“I once read that priests are like aeroplanes: they only make the news when they crash, but there are many that fly. Many criticise them and few pray for them”, he concluded. “It is a very nice phrase, but also very true, as it expresses the importance and the delicacy of our priestly service, and how much harm just one priest who falls may cause to the whole body of the Church”.