12 April, 2010

Another Long Lent | First Things

The truth seems to have gotten out, if slowly and incompletely: the single most influential figure in reshaping the Roman Curia’s attitude toward these scandals and the Church’s legal practice in dealing with them, was Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI.

The plaintiff’s bar cannot concede this, for to do so would be to destroy the narrative it has been selling to the world media; Ratzinger’s enemies cannot concede this, for they have never been able to find good in him; and European secularists cannot concede this, for in their minds the Church is, in principle, irreformably corrupt—Voltaire’s L’infame. But those willing to look at facts and evidence have begun to understand just how crucial a role Ratzinger played in ensuring that 2010 did not automatically become 2002 redivivus....

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Another Long Lent | First Things

8 comments:

  1. Hi Tim,

    I cannot understand why Catholics such as yourself and George Weigel are not demanding that B16 explain himself. This circling of the wagons would be excusable - except for the damning evidence that is now lapping at the red shoes and lace cassock of His Holiness. The stench of evil is all over this man's papacy.

    As Archbishop of Munich we are being asked to believe that Ratzinger had absolutely no knowledge that a pedophile priest was being protected and moved around under his watch. Seems to me that a sick pervert in one's own diocese ought to be exactly the sort of thing a competent Archbishop would and should notice.

    As Cardinal in charge of the CDF we are being asked to believe that 2 letters written to him in 1996 by Archbishop Weakland were never read. We have evidence that Weakland wrote to Ratzinger twice in 1996 about the pervert Fr. Murphy (who abused 200 deaf children), but His Emminence never degined to answer the Archbishop, or to apparently take any action. I don't care how busy you and George claim Ratzinger was - I think we would all like to know what Ratzinger actually did about this case. I don't care if it was not the CDF's jurisdiction at the time to prosecute Fr. Murphy, I would like to know what Ratzinger actually did with this information. If Ratzinger did nothing, then I think that tells us a great deal about this man's priorities and values.

    As for the 1985 case of Fr. Kiesle, the point is that Ratzinger was more concerned about the "the good of the universal church" than promptly defrocking a known molester. My goodness, if I had a case like this before me I would have promptly referred the scoundrel to the police, and personally walked his case over to the man in the Vatican charged with laicizing priests. You know, I would actually get out of my chair and out of my office, and walk across the courtyard to the office of my colleague in charge of laicizing priests and demand that it be done post haste. Let's not forget that Ratzinger at the time was the second most powerful prelate in the Vatican, and had the ear of the pope.

    And lastly, your blessed JP2 provided refuge in the Vatican to known predators (i.e. Monsignor Prince) and known collaborators (ie. Cardinal Bernard Law). If Ratzinger is such a warrior for goodness, why the hell did he not turf Bernard Law out on his ear when he was elevated to B16 5 years ago?

    Sorry Tim - instead of vigorously defending B16, you guys should be asking him some hard questions. Instead of mounting the barricades and claiming that no pope has been a more valiant champion for the victims of sexual abuse, you should be demanding to know why so much filth apparently went unnoticed and unactioned under his various watches.

    You might even ask yourselves why you are all in such a hurry to cannonize JP2 - when he and his hand picked cohorts allowed this rot to run unchecked in every corner of the Church across the globe for decades.

    Cheers...Martin

    ReplyDelete
  2. Martin: You write:

    1. "As Archbishop of Munich we are being asked to believe that Ratzinger had absolutely no knowledge that a pedophile priest was being protected and moved around under his watch. Seems to me that a sick pervert in one's own diocese ought to be exactly the sort of thing a competent Archbishop would and should notice."

    I ask you to consider that the priest came into the Diocese for psychiatric treatment, and was posted to pastoral work shortly before Cardinal Ratzinger was publicly announced as the new Prefect of the CDF. His auxiliary Bishop responsible for personnel assignments has taken responsibility for the decision as Ratzinger's focus was on the office he was about to move into in the Vatican.

    2. "As Cardinal in charge of the CDF we are being asked to believe that 2 letters written to him in 1996 by Archbishop Weakland were never read. We have evidence that Weakland wrote to Ratzinger twice in 1996 about the pervert Fr. Murphy (who abused 200 deaf children), but His Emminence never degined to answer the Archbishop, or to apparently take any action."

    Weakland sent the letters without any special markings or through the diplomatic channel normally used when a Bishop wants to bring a matter to the attention of a Prefect or Pope. He waited 20+ years between the time the allegations came to light before his first two timid approaches. Even the judge in the canon law trial said that the instruction to halt came just days before Murphy died, and after the family agreed to bury him without the normal honors of priesthood (an agreement they broke).

    3. As for the 1985 case of Fr. Kiesle, the point is that Ratzinger was more concerned about the "the good of the universal church" than promptly defrocking a known molester. My goodness, if I had a case like this before me I would have promptly referred the scoundrel to the police, and personally walked his case over to the man in the Vatican charged with laicizing priests."

    That man was the Pope. I ask you to remember how hard it was for any priest to be laicized back in JP II's early days. He demanded offending priests be forced into monastic life rather than release them from their vows. It took a few years for Ratzinger to gather the authority and power to begin to make these decisions on his own. I do remind you as well that immediately upon becoming Pope, he started to remove these high profile corrupt and unfaithful clerics from the priesthood. 'Marciel' of the Legionaries of Christ is one such example.

    B16 deserves the benefit of the doubt if we can judge him at all by his actions as Pontiff.

    Tim

    ReplyDelete
  3. Martin

    The media is full of lies.

    All it can do is make assumptions. You assume the worse because you obviously do not like the Church.

    As for the 1985 case of Fr. Kiesle, the point is that Ratzinger was more concerned about the "the good of the universal church" than promptly defrocking a known molester.

    It's his job to care about the universal Church. Kiesle was already suspended from ministry, so he was no danger to children. Would defrocking have done anything extra to this guy? No. He was already finished as a priest.

    You only want to see things from one point of view, not ALL points of view.

    There is room for criticism of the Church. But the media reporting on this matter is not presenting an accurate picture of the events.

    you should be demanding to know why so much filth apparently went unnoticed and unactioned under his various watches.

    Because one man cannot supervise the whole world.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for your prompt response.

    You write: "I ask you to consider that the priest came into the Diocese for psychiatric treatment, and was posted to pastoral work shortly before Cardinal Ratzinger was publicly announced as the new Prefect of the CDF. His auxiliary Bishop responsible for personnel assignments has taken responsibility for the decision as Ratzinger's focus was on the office he was about to move into in the Vatican."

    Nevertheless, Ratzinger led a meeting approving the transfer of the pedophile priest on Jan. 15, 1980 and Ratzinger was kept informed about the priest's reassignment afterwards. While I can appreciate that Ratzinger must have been kept very busy counting the days till he could wear his new red frock about the streets of Rome, I would think that you folks might assign some responsibility to the future pope for the meeting that he chaired and its ridiculous decision.

    You also write: "Weakland sent the letters without any special markings or through the diplomatic channel normally used when a Bishop wants to bring a matter to the attention of a Prefect or Pope. He waited 20+ years between the time the allegations came to light before his first two timid approaches. Even the judge in the canon law trial said that the instruction to halt came just days before Murphy died, and after the family agreed to bury him without the normal honors of priesthood (an agreement they broke)."

    So basically, you are implying that Ratzinger does not read his mail, nor does he instruct his staff on how to properly escalate matters to his attention. Well in the real world I am responsible for supervising my staff and for ensuring that they make approriate decisions. If Ratzinger wants us to believe that he is merely incompetent and not evil, then he should open up his files and demonstrate his incompetence.

    You then write: "I ask you to remember how hard it was for any priest to be laicized back in JP II's early days. He demanded offending priests be forced into monastic life rather than release them from their vows."

    Just to provide some context here, Fr. Kiesle tied up the 2 young boys before he raped them. If this fact would not move JP2 to laicize Fr. Kiesle, then I can only conclude one of two things:

    a) JP2 was evil
    b) Ratzinger is an incompetent communicator because he cannot relay simple facts to his superior in order to achieve an immediate and just outcome

    All of these cases should be of intense interest to Catholics. Catholics should not be defending this man until some basic facts are known, for example: What exactly did Ratzinger do in each case? What did he know and when did he know it? Who did he speak to? What instructions did he give?

    Why is all of this information not being made public if there is nothing to hide?

    In order to clear Ratzinger of blame, you are asking us to believe that he was an incompetent adminstrator and that everyone around him (including JP2) was evil and corrupt. My what a shining defence that is...

    Cheers...Martin

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Suzanne,

    Yes, the media is full of lies. But it is not the only institution full of lies. Let me remind you that were it not for the media exposing the truth about what the Church did and did not do, the sexual absue of children would be continuing today unabated. The only thing that stopped your Church in its tracks was the truth that the media reported. Nothing else.

    Think about that for a moment - your Church would still be hiding and lying about pedophile priests, AND pedophile priests would still be raping children.

    You might just save a bit of your bile about the media and the Church's critics and direct it where it belongs - at the Roman Catholic Church and its collaborating hierarchy.

    Cheers...Martin

    ReplyDelete
  6. Martin: You write, "So basically, you are implying that Ratzinger does not read his mail, nor does he instruct his staff on how to properly escalate matters to his attention. Well in the real world I am responsible for supervising my staff and for ensuring that they make approriate decisions. If Ratzinger wants us to believe that he is merely incompetent and not evil, then he should open up his files and demonstrate his incompetence."

    Martin, living as I did in a Cathedral in which the Chancery staff also lived, I know that the structures of the Church can be manipulated to keep those higher from 'knowing' what's going on. As regards Bishop Windle, (who was Ordinary at that time) he suffered from an almost invincible ignorance when it came to judging priests and priest candidates. Lorne W. and Michael N. were both ordained to the priesthood when the Seminary recommended against it, based solely upon their word to be - and I quote from first hand witness, hearing it from the Bishop's lips myself - 'good little priests'. In their own way, each were precursors of this year's harvest of scandals- mistakes that the Bishops who followed corrected immediately upon becoming aware of them. These same Bishops swept clean the entire Chancery personnel of the Windle regime, and began the process of quietly addressing a legacy of mismanagement.

    So believe me, I know how the management of information within Church structures here at that time reflected more the governing style satirized in the 'Yes Minister' T.V. series more than it did one with any legitimate concern for issues of justice for victims of past events.

    It was neither proper nor just: it is however, the way that things were done back in the 80's and 90's. I also know that things changed dramatically when Bishop Windle's reign came to an end. This is why I have some hope for the complete and proper application of the 'one strike' policy announced today by Pope Benedict XVI.

    There's reason to hope. Defense of the Pope is not in vain, nor in error. I have known George Weigel for more than 15 years and I know him to be of excellent intellect, character, and a good judge of people. He's had 20 years of personal interaction with both Pontiffs, and I take his assessment as being true and accurate when it comes to assessing either man.

    I guess on this too we shall have to agree to disagree, for your assessment is based on media reports whereas I base mine upon that of George Weigel, who aside from being a noted lay theologian, based his assessment upon the intimate knowledge of the Spiritual principal's whose character and actions are being caluminified in these media reports. He has access to the essential documents AND the people who wrote them. I put my trust in him.

    I continue to stand with 'Peter' through these stormy waters - for his barque will certainly safely navigate its way to safe harbor. We have Christ's promise that it would be so... and I choose to believe.

    Tim
    Tim

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Tim,

    I don't know George Weigel, and I do not believe everything that I read in the press. Nevertheless, there is enough circumstantial evidence to warrant a full investigation into Ratzinger and the Vatican's role in the cover up of sexual abuse.

    A fish rots from its head down. The cover ups were not isolated in either time or location. You yourself have called for an inquiry into the Canadian Church...I suggest extending that concept to include an impartial inquiry into Rome's complicity. The pope should appoint an impartial investigator with full access to the archives, records and personelle of the Vatican.

    Let the facts of such an inquiry speak for themselves. I would think that putting one's faith in the words and representations of other men (without checking the facts) is partially what got the Church into trouble in the first place.

    I for one am bone tired of the careful parsing, dissembling, and obfuscation of the Church's defenders in this matter. Let's just test your Church's hypothesis that Ratzinger is an incompetent administrator surrounded by corrupt men, instead of a very wicked man who placed the welfare of child abuse victims second to his own Church's temporal power and prestige.

    Cheers...Martin

    ReplyDelete

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