OK. This is my Howard Beale moment. It’s been building for a while.
It started approaching critical mass when people applauded at Rick Perry’s offhand statement that he “never struggled” with the possibility that Texas could ever have executed an innocent person. Then everything started piling on . . . State legislators passing misogynistic legislation . . . ALEC-written bills being fielded in state legislators all across the US . . . Ideologues holding the population of the US (including constituents who didn’t vote for them) hostage . . .
Then came Rick Santorum throwing up on John Kennedy’s speech on the separation of church and state. “I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state are absolute” he says. (I’ll have a lot to say about that later).
That got my attention.
Then I read that Tennessee has passed “The Monkey Bill.”
And, there’s the news that when Bill Zelder (of the Texas House of Representatives) couldn’t get his anti-choice legislation passed, he enlisted the Texas Department of State Health Services to implement it for him anyway. And they are.
Then Arizona passes a law saying that life begins two weeks before conception. (No, they didn’t bother to define the term “life” . . . D’you suppose we could convince Mexico to just let us give Texas and Arizona back? I was really hoping that Rick Perry would follow through with his threat to secede . . .)
Anyway, that did it.
Rant starts after the break.
Now, I am a non-confrontational person. I prefer to resolve differences of opinion through discussion and negotiation. In situations in which all parties are serious about resolving a problem, it is always possible to come up with a win-win solution.
I emphatically embrace the right of individuals to their own value system, opinions and religious beliefs. I treasure the First Amendment beyond measure, and to paraphrase Voltaire: I will defend to the death everyone’s right to hold and be able to express their opinions and beliefs without interference .
Having said that, I will also defend to the death everyone’s right to not have others’ opinions and beliefs imposed on them. The Darryl Issas, Rick Santorums, Bill Zelders and rabid right-wing Christians of the world seem to feel that they do have the right to impose their beliefs on others.
With his statement on the separation of church and state, Santorum has thrown the gauntlet down. Pandora’s box is now officially open.
Before I get started, I want to say that I do not want to tar everyone with the same brush. I know many, many people of many different faiths who take their beliefs very seriously and live their lives accordingly, but who do not feel that they have to inflict them on others. They are very gentle, caring, genuinely good people who inspire others with their quiet confidence and by the way in which they live their lives. They lead by example rather than by fiat.
To these people I apologize in advance for what I am about to say. I cherish their beliefs and the way they choose to live their lives and hope that some day I will achieve their grace.
Oh, and one more thing: What I have to say has nothing to do with my particular political or religious beliefs. The problem I have is not with the specifics of a particular set of beliefs. My issue is with bullying, hubris, fanatical ideology and disrespect for others from whichever quarter it comes. When I single out any group, it is only because it happens to be a handy example. The idea is to give all of the sanctimonious, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, in-your-face hypocrites out there a Jethro Gibbs smack on the back of the head.
Here goes . . . Warning: It’s a pretty long rant.
To: Rick Saintorum, My Other Brother Darryl Issa, the Texas Legislature, the Virginia Legislature, the North Carolina Legislature, reactionary right-wing bible-thumping Christians, et al.
Subject: My freedom OF religion is my freedom FROM your religion
It has gotten to the point that I can no longer ignore the fact that you are doing everything you possibly can to impose your religious beliefs and morals on me and others. This will never do.
One’s religious and moral beliefs are private and personal and are not open to legislation. You have no business trying to impose yours on anyone else. What chutzpah! My IQ is sufficiently above room temperature that I am quite capable of working mine out for myself, thank you.
Just to make myself clear, I will say it again: You have no right to even think that you have license to inflict your religious beliefs anyone else. In doing so, you are passing from the public realm to the private, where, not only do you have no business, you have no jurisdiction. This is not a matter for debate. HIC SVNT DRACONES.
Now, I don’t pretend to have a lock on Right, Truth and Goodness and all of the other Capitalized Religious and Moral Constructs. I am always interested in expanding and sharpening my perspective on things. I look forward to learning something new. If what I learn proves to be useful, I happily incorporate that new knowledge into my systems. I am always looking for new ways to think about things and I welcome discussions that challenge my view of the world. That’s the only way I learn.
You need to understand that it is disrespectful and an insult to my intelligence that you feel that your “way” is The One, True Way and that it is your mission in life to see to it that everyone lives according to it. Where do you get off thinking that? Your “One True Way” and $2.15 might get you a cup of coffee somewhere. You have no right poking your noses in other peoples’ lives. None. Nada. It’s none of your business. I’ll say it again: The way people choose to live their lives is between them and their god(s). It’s none of your business.
Now, I’m not implying that you have no right to your beliefs. Of course you do, just as I have my rights to mine. You don’t have to like them, but then, I don’t have to like yours either. But I am perfectly happy to discuss your beliefs with you and consider your argument on their behalf. I will even help facilitate that discussion in an open, public forum. I encourage dialogue and debate so long as it is conducted in a mutually courteous and respectful manner. I always learn something from a discussion.
Since we’re talking about discussion in an open, public forum, I want to revisit a statement made by Mr. Santorum in this context. I don’t know whether he really believes what he said or whether he was pandering to his audience . . . it doesn’t really matter. Here is the statement – rather, question, you raised on the February 26 edition of ABC Television’s “This Week,” a nationally televised news show:
“What kind of country do we live in that says only people of non-faith can come into the public square and make their case?”
The answer is: “You idiot, there is nothing anywhere in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution or any Supreme Court ruling that says ‘only people of non-faith can come into the public square and make their case.'”
Santorum, you really must be as dumb as you sound. There you are, a professed person of faith, on a nationally televised news show, making your case to a national audience. That one is a keeper. (I keep a list of statements that make me shake my head and wonder what in the world that person was thinking when he let those words out of his mouth). Yep, that one’s definitely a keeper.
Lets think about this for a minute. This is what the First Amendment to the Constitution says:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
In this country, you’re guaranteed the right to say pretty much what you want to in public. You are guaranteed the free exercise of your religion. So you can talk about your religion, in public, whenever you want.
Before you go any farther, stop by here for a history lesson. The salient discussion starts at about 11:00 into the video and runs to 15:00. You really, really should watch this. It’s a recap of the events leading up to and shortly following the authoring and implementation of the First Amendment.
But the First Amendment also says that it’s not OK to pass laws “respecting the establishment of religion.” This means that you can talk about your religion all you want but you can’t pass laws that would impose your religion and your beliefs on others.
It’s the second part, about not being able to impose your religion on others, that seems to give you indigestion. You have no respect for the beliefs of others, nor are you willing to engage in serious dialogue and real debate with those whose views differ from your own. You can’t handle it. So all you’re left with is trying to force your beliefs down other peoples’ throats. You’re all bullies. You can’t stand it that people are quite happy living their lives according to their own belief systems . . . which might not happen to to be exactly like yours. That, and the fact that they would really like for you to just go play in your own back yard.
One’s religious beliefs and morals are personal, private and unique to that person. There is no one-size-fits-all set of standards – even within sects/denominations of a given religious system. That is why Thomas Jefferson insisted that the First Amendment include the prohibition of the making of any “law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This means that you get to freely exercise your religious beliefs, but I do, too. And guess what? That means that you don’t get to pass laws that impose your religious beliefs/values on me or others. My freedom OF religion is also my freedom FROM YOUR religion.
What differentiates us is that I really do want for you to be able to live your life according to your beliefs. You don’t have to have to use contraception. You don’t have to have an abortion. You don’t have to celebrate Shabbat. You don’t have to eat halal. You don’t even have to eat fish on Friday if you don’t want to . . . but you do have to respect other peoples’ religions, customs, morals and beliefs and right to live their lives the way they see fit. Spare us your sanctimony.
Did I say that you have no right to try to impose your values/religious beliefs on others? I did? Good. I’ll probably mention again a time or two. I want to be sure that I get the message across.
The supreme irony in all this is that, apparently, you don’t feel that your omniscient, omnipresent and omnibenevolent God is capable of managing the universe to His satisfaction and you have to do it for Him . . . Or you don’t trust Him to manage things to YOUR satisfaction, so you have to do it for Him. Either way, your behavior can only be attributed to hubris.
Your attempt to inflict your charia on us is most unwelcome. (Yes, charia . . . the rabid Christian version of sharia). You are simply the Taliban in Western garb. That, and you don’t speak Pashto. (That’s OK, though. As Ma Ferguson said: “If the King’s English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it’s good enough for the children of Texas!” I guess among the things that you and the Taliban have in common is willful ignorance).
That you feel you have some God-given right to remake the world into the way you think it should be demonstrates your complete lack of respect for others. The thing is this, you see; by continually exercising this lack of respect for others, it reduces to zero any reason for others to respect you and your views. Over time, the more you push, the more the lack of respect for your behavior turns to contempt.
I’ll say it again, this time with contempt: MY FREEDOM OF RELIGION GUARANTEES MY FREEDOM FROM YOUR RELIGION. You can take your religion, morals and your beliefs and deposit them on Tralfamadore. I understand that the Tralfamadorians have enough of a sense of humor that they might enjoy your company. I have lost mine.
Now, I deeply respect peoples’ rights to their religion and religious beliefs. For most, those beliefs form the core of their Weltanschaaung. To challenge or try to usurp those beliefs is to attack the foundation of their belief system, and them. But you persist.
The urge to ban and censor books, silence dissenters, condemn outsiders, invade the private sphere, and invoke an exclusive salvation is the very essence of the totalitarian.
Yet this is exactly what you and the “Christians” in this country would do. You use your “religion” as a cudgel. You want to create a totalitarian state in which “the law” is “religious.”
Well, I’m seriously up for that, as long as it’s my religious and moral beliefs that are ordained. Absent that, we’re in for one helluva food fight unless you’re willing to honor the First Amendment and get used to everyone having their own beliefs and living their own lives.
Mr. Santorum, by saying that you believe that you should be able to inject your beliefs into my life you have demonstrated blatant disrespect for my beliefs, so turn-about is fair play. Lets talk a little bit about the Church that you would inflict on me and the rest of the country . . . (I specifically addressed Mr. Santorum, but please, all of you other sanctimonious, intolerant, hate-mongering, arrogant, ignorant, xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic, bible-thumping hypocrites feel free to include yourselves in this).
We could start with the Inquisitions, but one might say that that was a long time ago and the Church has changed since then. OK, one could advance that premise but it is certainly open to challenge. That’s not the point, though. Nothing can diminish the evil that was committed “in the name of God.” I’m sure that they didn’t teach you about them in Sunday School, and they normally don’t get much coverage in high school or undergraduate history books, but, if one is a Roman Catholic or Protestant derived from the Roman church, one really should study them a bit . . . They are, after all, part of your “religious family history.”
We could get a little closer in time and talk about the accommodation between the Vatican and Mussolini and the Third Reich and the ratlines that were organized at the end of WWII to help Nazis escape from Germany and Italian, Albanian, Croatian and Montenegrin fascists escape Europe to South America and other places. I can’t decide who was worse – the Nazis and fascists or the Vatican for facilitating their escape. I never have been able to figure out how the Vatican could be so schizophrenic . . . German, Italian, North- and Central European and French Roman Catholics fighting French, British, Polish and American Roman Catholics . . . and all of them praying to the same God . . . and the Church with feet in both camps. Milo Minderbender was a rank amateur compared to this.
One could go on and on cataloguing evil things the Roman Catholic Church has done. However, as far as I am concerned, the worst atrocities ever were the pervasive instances of pedophilia and emotional and physical abuse of children throughout the world since early in the last century. And I don’t mean just a few. The number is in the TENS OF THOUSANDS . . . in the Netherlands alone. I’m going to spend a considerable amount of time on this topic because as far as I am concerned, the behavior of the Church in tolerating and dealing with these events is so very heinous and shows the compete moral bankruptcy of the institution.
The response of the Church, from the parish to the Vatican, was to protect the pedophile and homosexual priests and do damage control so as to avoid as much scandal as possible. To hell with the people whose lives were ruined. (They were urged by their bishops to “forgive and forget”). And it wasn’t just the lives of the victims that were ruined. So were those of their families and extended families.
To this day, the ONLY concern of the Roman Catholic Church as an institution is to minimize damage, scapegoat the victims and try to thwart support groups for the victims. The response was to shuttle offending priests from parish to parish and even to provide refuge in the Vatican for some of the worst offenders. Never was there a sincere apology to any of the victims, much less care for those affected.
I am going to include an appendix which will list some references to some of the events and investigations, along with a few quotations and videos from those involved. Consider it an abbreviated bibliography of child sexual abuse by the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church.
If you actually read through it you will see why the Church gets my nomination for one of the most evil institutions on Earth. If it shocks you and turns your stomach and makes you indescribably sad for the victims and their families, there may be some hope for you. If not, you should consider joining the Republican Party and running for office. (I’m not a Democrat. I have as much contempt for them as I do for Republicans. It’s just that this fits the Republican profile . . . Mr. Santorum . . .)
In the following comments, I am going to be making some statements that might seem like hyperbole and sound incendiary, but every assertion I make is taken from the items in the Appendix. I couldn’t make this stuff up. I don’t think this way.
When the topic of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church comes up, one of the apologies/defenses for molestation by priests is that the proportion of pedophiles/homosexuals in the priesthood is no greater than, or maybe even less than that in the general population. That may be true, but it doesn’t in any way absolve the Church of its culpability in the way it responded the problem. Nor does it attenuate the grievousness of its behavior.
Sexual abuse of a child by a priest isn’t in the same ballpark as “regular old child sexual abuse.” The priest (and by extension, the Church) has a very different and specific relationship with both the victim and the victim’s family than does the “normal” abuser. The “normal” abuser doesn’t abuse the child and then hear the parents’ confessions and say mass for the whole family on Sunday. (Or, if the victim happens to be an altar boy, abuse him between masses). In that a priest is God’s intermediary, that is a big stick to wield over a child – and the child’s family for that matter. Talk about the bully pulpit. It’s just not OK for a priest to abuse children and then say mass for the child’s parents on Sunday. Nor is it OK to use the threat of excommunication to silence the victims and the victim’s families.
That is not just wrong. It is sick.
This is an institution that has not yet accepted responsibility for its actions nor offered any solace to its victims. To add insult to injury, it has obstructed any effort on the part of victims or legal authorities to get any resolution to the problems it has created. It even has gone so far as to offer refuge in the Vatican to some of the worst offenders to prevent them from being extradited to jurisdictions in which they committed their offenses.
If you don’t want to take the time to go through the Appendix and see just what church/states are capable of, I challenge you to at least visit these four pages:
- The Boston Globe site that has a series of video interviews with victims, families of victims, lawyers involved in cases associated with the abuses and members of the clergy.
- A documentary by BBC One Panorama titled “Sex Crimes and the Vatican.”
- Watch an interview with a survivor of the Irish Industrial Schools.
- Watch the Irish Taoisech (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny’s comments on the Cloyne Report to the Irish Parliament.
The Church is only interested in minimizing its institutional pain and has demonstrated that it is capable of and willing to go to whatever lengths it must to do so. It is an arrogant institution that considers itself above the law . . . even God’s law. It is completely self-absorbed and is only interested in self-preservation.
To hell with “its flock” and those who are actually trying to help them. Never mind them, but the Vatican is quite happy to provide refuge to priests who are wanted on criminal charges in the US and elsewhere. And a large part of individual culpability lies with Benedict XVI. Before he was elected Pope, he headed the Vatican office charged with safeguarding the faith and morals of the church. In that capacity he not only wrote directives on how to handle these “problems” in the dioceses, but he was actively involved in making some lawsuits “go away.” (For those who are interested there is an abundance of information available. Google/Yahoo/Bing are your friends). On the morality scale, he lies in the same neighborhood as Hitler and Stalin. Even the German bishops don’t like him.
Men of God, my ass. The Roman Catholic hierarchy is a Good Ol’ Boy’s club that thinks it can play by its own rules and owes nothing to anybody. It is completely out of touch. It may say that it’s “on a mission from God” but the God part got squeezed out of the equation a long time ago. Now it’s just a bunch of crazy old men who think they are a law unto themselves. They have no Christianity in them. They have no love, no humility, no grace, no humanity, even. Their only concern is for the perpetuation of the institution of “the Church.” They are not “agents of God,” they are agents of “the Church.” Their only interests are in protecting the the institution and their places in it.
So, Rick, you still want to hitch my wagon to the Roman Catholic Church? You want to abuse the people of this country the way the Roman Catholic Church has abused its “flock?” You want the Church to do to this country what it did to Ireland? You want this country to be run according to policies and practices of the Vatican? You want the Vatican’s tentacles in the government of this country? I don’t think so. Even as devout a country as Ireland has finally had enough church/state/church (See Item 4 above). Never happen. Not in a million years. Never.
We’ve already had one Civil War in this country. The Troubles were nothing compared to that. The next one can only be worse. Before you (or any of your rabid it’s-my-way-or-the-highway pseudo-Christian friends) take up the banner and start marching to “Onward, Christian Soldiers,” please read up a bit on the Civil War in the US and The Troubles in Northern Ireland. It’s just not a good idea to promote sectarian brother vs. brother conflict. And that’s what you’re headed for.
Now, please don’t think that I’m only repulsed by the Roman Catholic Church. There’s plenty to go around . . . Matter of fact, it’s such a target-rich environment I just don’t know where to start. How about the Westboro Baptist Church with its God Hates Fags message of hate to the families of slain soldiers. Or Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. Or Jimmy “I Have Sinned” Swaggart and the Assemblies of God church. Or Pat Robertson and his advocacy of Christian dominionism. Or Ted Haggard and his male escort and crack habit . . .
Then, there’s Tony Alamo, the fire-and-brimstone preacher who went to jail for 175 years for sexual abuse and transporting underage girls across state lines for sexual purposes. And Lou Beres of the Oregon Christian Coalition who had a history of sexually molesting adolescent girls . . . including his sister-in-law and friends of his daughters . . .
Or right-to-lifers who believe that, while it’s not OK to perform abortions, it is OK to kill the people who perform them.
Or right-to-lifers who are death penalty proponents? Or people who don’t see any problem at all with legislation preventing abortion or stem cell research or same-sex marriage or the use of contraceptives, but scream First Amendment holy hell when laws are passed saying that health plans must provide coverage for abortions or which protect same-sex marriage . . .
When I allow myself to think about it, the hypocrisy leaves me tongue-tied. The logical inconsistency of those positions made me feel like you really haven’t thought about them. But then I realized that you just don’t think.
Oops! I left out Joseph Kony! Sorry! But, then, Rush is one of his fans, so that makes him an OK guy.
If there really is a hell, there are places reserved for two of my favorite “born-again ‘Christians,’” the people who legitimized rendition and torture and lied to their countrymen so as to “legitimize” the war in Iraq . . . among other things: George W. Bush and Tony Blair. (I would include Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, but since W was nominally their superior, he owns their share, too).
I could go on and on and on about this but I won’t. Christopher Hitchens had an observation that pretty well pegs the situation:
All major confrontations over the right to free thought, free speech, and free inquiry have taken the same form — of a religious attempt to assert the literal and limited mind over the ironic and inquiring one.
Frankly, I think he was giving too much credit when he used the term “limited.” “Reactionary” is more like it. Reactionary as in “If the King’s English is good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for the children of Texas.” Reactionary as in: “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” Fine! Whatever. If that rings your chimes, I’m happy for you. Go tell someone who cares. Just get it the hell away from me.
Your behavior is apparently not mediated or encumbered by cortical (and in particular, neocortical) processing. You do whatever pops into your head and then, post hoc, justify it with some quotation from the Bible. Problem is, the Bible is not internally consistent, so you can get away with anything. For instance, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” but then there’s “Turn the other cheek.” Which is it? Pick one and stick with it. But then, you wouldn’t get to have your cake and eat it too.
You think it’s your right to do unto others, but the moment it looks like people want to make their own decisions about their lives, or worse yet, push back, you get your knickers all in a twist. GET OVER IT! Just remember that what goes around comes around.
To this point, most of the people in the US have been happy for everyone to have their own religious and moral beliefs and systems . . . because everyone has had the First Amendment right to practice them as they saw fit. But now you Calvinists have come along and peed in the pool and ruined it for everybody. Nobody gives a happy you-know-what about what you think. When you grow up and get a life and learn to play well with others, you’ll get a seat at the table. Just because you make more noise than anyone else doesn’t mean that what you’re saying has any intrinsic value.
A bully is a bully. Take your stuff somewhere else. The attention you’re getting? It’s contempt, not respect . . . Most people are just too polite to respond. I used to be. Not any more. You get no more respect than you give others.
Now, we have a problem, and I can think of three ways to deal with it. The first is by means of well-intentioned debate, dialogue and the negotiation of a win-win solution. A second is to acknowledge each others’ positions, shake hands, and with sincere respect, agree to disagree and behave like adults. The third is to “take it out back.”
I think one of the first two options are preferable because I’m afraid the third sounds a lot like Northern Ireland before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. One way or another, though, it important to disabuse you of the notion that you have any right whatsoever to poke your noses in the private affairs of others or presume that you have the right to decide how they should live their lives.
(A little aside on the notion of “rights.” With rights come responsibilities. With your right to hold and practice your own moral, ethical and religious beliefs without hindrance comes the responsibility of honoring others’ rights to hold and practice their moral, ethical and religious beliefs without hindrance. If you aren’t willing to uphold your responsibility, you forfeit your right. It’s a two-way street. You don’t get to have your cake and eat it too).
. . .
Very frequently when the topic of the separation of church and state comes up, I hear: “Yeah, but the United States was intended to be a Christian nation.” Really? Which kind of Christian? Roman Catholic? Anglican? (If so, which kind?), Methodist? (If so, which brand?) Moravian? Presbyterian? (If so, which kind?) Lutheran? (Which kind?) Pentecostal? Church of Christ? Jehovah’s Witnesses? Church of God? Mennonite? Quaker? Baptist? (If so, which kind?) Anabaptist? Evangelical? Greek Orthodox? (If so, what kind)? Eastern Orthodox? (If so, what kind)? Oriental Orthodox? (If so, what kind)? Mormon? (You’ve gotta be kidding me – The guy behind the curtain!?!?!?! Toto, we’re not in Kansas any more).
This assertion must mean, then, either: a) the law of the land has to integrate all of the dogmas and conventions of every denomination/sect of Christianity that exists, or b) somebody has to pick one and everybody else has to sign on. I can tell you right now, there’s no way I’m signing on for a “smorgasbord Christianity” as my charia. And if it’s going to be Plan B, I am going to be the one that chooses. There’s no way in hell I’m going to let anyone else pick my theocracy for me.
But then, I’m pretty sure that everyone else in the US feels the same way. That’s why the First Amendment states as clearly as it possibly can that there is to be no official religion. It means that everyone is free to believe whatever he/she wants to believe and to practice their beliefs free of interference from anyone whose beliefs may differ from theirs. Recommended reading: “On Liberty” by John Stuart Mill.
(I elected not to go into what that might mean for the mainstream Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, secular humanists, atheists, agnostics, etc., etc., etc. That’s another whole can of worms. You people have to understand that you’re way out in
left, sorry, right field here).
In case you elect not to go through the whole appendix, I just wanted to call your attention to what happens when the church and the state get too cozy. Here is a quotation taken from an article in the Guardian titled “An abuse too far by the Catholic church.” It is about the Ryan report which documented findings of child abuse in Irish institutions that were funded by the Irish Department of Education and run by Catholic Church orders.
“The Ryan report’s meticulous gathering of evidence over several volumes paints a picture of a system of church and state in Ireland which was horrifically dysfunctional with its combination of sadism and deference. Page after page punches the point home with relentless clarity. Squarely in the frame are the religious orders who systematically protected and tolerated their members’ actions even when they knew they were breaking the law. But also culpable is the state charged to inspect the childrens’ homes and schools. It was too deferential to the Catholic church to ever do the job properly.”
Soooo, this is how you would have things be in the US? Now it’s my turn to throw up. This is how “faith-based” institutions work? A connection between church and state that’s so cozy you can’t tell where one stops and the other starts? Where the function of state organs is compromised by the fact agents of the state are of the same church that they are charged with overseeing? Talking about conflict of interest! Again, no way in hell unless it’s my religion that’s “the one.”
Ah, but that’s all in the past, you say?
Last summer, the Cloyne Report “found that clergy leaders in the rural Irish diocese of Cloyne did not act on complaints against 19 priests from 1996 to 2009. It also concluded that the Vatican had encouraged bishops to ignore child-protection guidelines that included the ‘mandatory reporting’ of abuse to civil authorities.” At that point, the Irish had finally gotten their fill. Prime Minister Kenny took to the floor of Parliament to express Ireland’s own Howard Beale moment. See reference 4 above for a video of his speech. A transcript is available here. The first few sentences say it all:
The revelations of the Cloyne report have brought the Government, Irish Catholics and the Vatican to an unprecedented juncture.
It’s fair to say that after the Ryan and Murphy Reports Ireland is, perhaps, unshockable when it comes to the abuse of children.
But Cloyne has proved to be of a different order.
Because for the first time in Ireland, a report into child sexual-abuse exposes an attempt by the Holy See, to frustrate an Inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic . . . as little as three years ago, not three decades ago.
And in doing so, the Cloyne Report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism . . . the narcissism . . . that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day.
The rape and torture of children were downplayed or ‘managed’ to uphold instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and ‘reputation’.
Far from listening to evidence of humiliation and betrayal with St Benedict’s “ear of the heart” . . . the Vatican’s reaction was to parse and analyse it with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer.
This calculated, withering position being the polar opposite of the radicalism, humility and compassion upon which the Roman Church was founded.
The radicalism, humility and compassion which are the very essence of its foundation and purpose.
The behaviour being a case of Roma locuta est: causa finita est.
Except in this instance, nothing coud be further from the truth.
At that point, Taoiseach Kenny, on behalf of the Irish Republic, rapped the Vatican’s knuckles. Subsequently, in a fit of pique, the Vatican withdrew its ambassador from Ireland. Which in itself speaks volumes.
There are lessons in there somewhere . . . and it’s not about Roman Catholic priests. It’s about what happens when a religious institution thinks that it is above the law – or is the law. It is also about what happens when one entrusts the care of people to “faith-based” institutions. And it is about the fact the “church” has no scruples and no respect for the rule of law. “Religion” is not about “Good,” “Truth,” “Morality,” “Kindness,” “Stewardship,” “Care for Others,” or any of the other “Capital First Letter ‘Religious Words.’” It is about the institution and its perpetuation . . . whatever flavor of religion it happens to be.
Hence the utility and necessity for the separation of church and state.
Here endeth the Lesson.
Now, lest you write this off as another diatribe from a liberal fanatic, I am anything but. I am a registered independent who prefers mutual respect, adult dialogue and negotiation to ideological fringe lunacy. (Unless that’s your definition of liberal fanatic, and if that’s the case, I guess I am). I fall within one standard deviation of the mean on most issues. I take each issue as it comes.
I don’t do -ists and -isms. Once an idea/ideal/concept becomes institutionalized, the institution becomes the raison d’etre and the original idea becomes the rationalization of the institution. The institution is taken over by people whose priority is enhancing their position in the institution and covering their own asses. The sheeple then begin to invest themselves in the politics of the institution or “community” rather than being focused on the idea. You people have institutionalized hatred, bigotry, fear, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia and hubris. That’s just not my idea of “Christianity.”
This just in . . . More fuel for the fire:
Seen on a bumper sticker:
IF IT AIN’T KING JAMES, IT AIN’T THE BIBLE.
Wow! Not only do these people not understand that newer translations (sorry, Ma) of “the” Bible may be truer to what was actually being “said” in the “original” Bible, but:
- They’re completely oblivious to the sausage-making process that was the compilation of the Bibles,
- they’re oblivious to the members of the Christian family whose Bible is completely different from the one that evolved out of the Roman church, and,
- there are more non-English-speaking Christians whose heritage derives from the Roman branch than there are English speakers.
The King James version is not very useful for those who speak: French, Portugese, Spanish, German, Croatian, Danish, Swedish, Italian, Russian, Greek, Malay, Tamil, Urdu, Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese etc., or any of the languages of the world . . .
BUT! “We certainly agree that the language of the King James Bible is a unique language, but why shouldn’t it be? It’s the WORD OF GOD!” So, there you have it. Tough tiddlywinks if you don’t speak English. You’re just SOL. If you don’t speak English, God is just not on your side . . . Word.
In my experience, there is an inverse relationship between how well-informed a person is about a topic and how comfortable s/he is with making bald, provocative assertions about it. So, what I’m saying to all of you people out there who are so absolutely positive and are so comfortable in what you think you know: BULLSHIT! You don’t know diddly. Atheists know more about your religion than you do. Learn a little about your subject and some humility and you might get some respect.
This is the end of the memo. If you made it this far and have the stones to face what the Roman Catholic Church has done to the children of the world, and more importantly, how it has handled itself in the wake of the exposures, please continue through the Appendix. It is not at all pleasant.
Wikipedia is sometimes a good source of original references and it is for this subject. this case. Two references provide a starting place. “Catholic Sex Abuse Cases” is a good overview. Then “Roman Catholic sex abuse cases by country” goes into more detail about what happened where. The latter entry then links to articles that go into detail on a country-by-country basis. They will give one an idea of the scope of the problem.
I am going to give more coverage to events in the US and Ireland . . . the US because of the sheer volume of nastiness, Ireland because of the nature of the church/state relationship and how deeply the abuse went into the core of the country. The references below comprise a tour through Europe and the US – Listen to the experiences of the victims and the Church’s response to the abuse problem.
(The quotations that I have taken from the articles and reports do not come anywhere near close to telling the full story. I would urge as strongly as I can that one follow the links and read the whole article/story/report. Also, if you haven’t already visited the four links that I recommended earlier, please visit them before you go on. They’ll set the stage nicely).
Number of Church Abuse Cases Continues to Rise in Germany
“The church was more concerned about the offenders than the victims,” says Jörg D. “It provided them with therapy, stays in health resorts, new apartments or new positions, and it assiduously wiped away their old tracks. The abused children were left to fend for themselves.” . . .
“All of a sudden, nothing was right in my world anymore,” the man recalls. “An offender like that has no idea what he’s destroying in someone.”
More German Catholics quit Church over sex abuse
The German Catholic Church has been thrown into crisis over cases of decades-long abuse alleged against clergy. Top German Catholics, including Pope Benedict, have been accused of turning a blind eye to abuse cases.
Dutch Catholic Church Abuse Investigated, Thousands of Victims According to Report
As many as 20,000 children endured sexual abuse at Dutch Catholic institutions over the past 65 years, and church officials failed to adequately address it or help the victims, according to a long-awaited investigative report released Friday.
Tens of thousands of children abused by Netherlands church: commission
Radio Netherlands Wordwide portal to articles on child sexual abuse by the Dutch Roman Catholic Church
Forcible castrations and the Dutch old boys’ network
Dohmen wrote about a boarding school student who had been sexually abused by a Dutch monk. When the former student reported the abuse to the police in 1956, he was brought to a Roman Catholic psychiatric ward, declared a homosexual and then castrated.
Dutch Roman Catholic Church ‘castrated at least 10 boys’
Tolerant Dutch Shocked by Accusations the Church Forced Castrations
The newspaper said the castrations were regarded both as a treatment for homosexuality as well as a punishment for those who accused clergy of sexual abuse. The newspaper said 20-year-old Henk Heithuis had been surgically castrated on the instructions of Catholic priests in 1956 after he told police he was being abused at the Harreveld boarding school in Gelderland. Although the monks were convicted of the abuse, Heithuis was nonetheless sent to a Catholic psychiatric hospital and then castrated.
Wow! I guess it’s not a very good idea to piss off the Fathers/Brothers . . .
The United States
The abuse of children by priests in the US was endemic well into the first decade of the twenty-first century. Coast to coast and throughout the middle of the country. The references below are just a smattering of what is available if one has the stomach to look for them.
The Boston Globe’s expose on child abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in Boston:
Video interviews with affected parties
- Patrick McSorley describes his abuse by convicted ex-priest John Geoghan.
- Maryetta Dussourd recalls discovering that John Geoghan had abused her sons and grand-nephews.
- Gary Bergeron talks about how he and his brother were abused by Joseph Birmingham when they were alter boys.
- Ann Hagan Webb talks about how she was raped by a priest from the time she was in kindergarten until she reached puberty.
- William Oberle and his brother were abused by ex-priest Paul Mahan.
- Fr. Robert W. Bullock talks about the state of faith among Catholics.
- Attorney Mitchell Garabedian describes representing more than 100 victims of John Geoghan. “It’s so evil, it’s beyond belief.”
- Founders of Voice of the Faithful, a lay Catholic group, discusses the group’s beginning.
- Middlesex County DA Martha Coackly talks about prosecuting priest sex abuse cases.
- Discussion of the church’s financial responsibility to priest sexual abuse victims.
The Boston Globe coverups archive
The New York Times dossier on Roman Catholic sex abuse cases
“Indulgence” – An article in The New Yorker by Hendrick Hertzberg.
The crisis is not about doctrine, at least not directly. It’s about administration; it’s about the structure of power within the Catholic Church; it’s about the Church’s insular, self-protective clerical culture.
Did Catholic official’s ‘willful blindness’ open more kids to abuse?
“It was a willful blindness, your Honor. He turned a blind eye so he would not create a scandal,” the prosecutor added.
Monsignor: Philly cardinal shredded abuse list
Savannah diocese, bishops sued over priest child abuse case
Church Puts Legal Pressure on Abuse Victims’ Group
The network and its allies say the legal action is part of a campaign by the church to cripple an organization that has been the most visible defender of victims, and a relentless adversary, for more than two decades. “If there is one group that the higher-ups, the bishops, would like to see silenced,” said Marci A. Hamilton, a law professor at Yeshiva University and an advocate for victims of clergy sex crimes, “it definitely would be SNAP [Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests]. And that’s what they’re going after. They’re trying to find a way to silence SNAP.”
Lynn’s response to prosecutor’s attack: ‘I’m not perfect’
Just read it.
Catholic Priest Who Aids Church Sexual Abuse Victims Loses Job as Military Chaplain
Twenty years ago, the Rev. Thomas Doyle warned the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops about the church’s looming sexual abuse nightmare. Since then, he has become a hero to the victims, speaking out on their behalf and helping them in legal cases in recent years.
In doing so, Father Doyle also became a thorn in the side of the church hierarchy.
In the latest chapter of his turbulent career, Father Doyle was quietly removed from his job as an Air Force chaplain in a clash with his archbishop over pastoral issues.
He lost his endorsement as a chaplain from the Archdiocese of Military Services in September, a decision that until now had not become public. The leader of the Archdiocese of Military Services, Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien, said Father Doyle had flouted his guidelines about requiring daily Mass for Catholics on military bases and other pastoral issues.
Hmmm. Guess he’s lucky to have gotten away with not losing his family jewels . . .
I have saved the “best” for last. Ireland is a very “Catholic” nation. As such, “faith-based” institutions were given control over state-run institutions like orphanages, industrial schools, hospitals, etc. So in Ireland, the Church got a twofer. Not only did the parish priests get their shots at the children, but so did the priests and nuns that ran the “caregiving” institutions. Over the course of the last ten years, the Irish government has commissioned several inquiries into instances of child sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests. The reports will be described below.
The Ferns Report – the product of an inquiry set up by the Irish government to investigate complaints and allegations made against the Roman Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Ferns prior to 2002. The report was delivered in October of 2005.
For more information please see:
The Ferns Report – archive at BishopsAccountability.org
The Fern Report’s conclusions can be obtained here.
In a nutshell, there were failures on the part of all institutions involved – the Church, the Health Board and the police. How diligent is a Roman Catholic member of the Health Board or the police department going to be in the oversight of a Catholic-run institution? Reason enough for the separation of Church and state.
The Ryan Report – The commission began its work in 1999 and published its report in May, 2009. The scope of the investigation was the years between 1936 and the time of its publication. This report dealt specifically with instances of abuse of children in institutions and focused primarily on the “Reformatory and Industrial Schools” which were operated by Catholic Church orders.
Irish church knew abuse ‘endemic’
The main findings were:
- Physical and emotional abuse and neglect were features of the institutions.
- Sexual abuse occurred in many of them, particularly boys’ institutions.
- Schools were run in a severe, regimented manner that imposed unreasonable and oppressive discipline on children and even on staff.
- Children were frequently hungry and food was inadequate, inedible and badly prepared in many schools.
- Many witnesses spoke of being constantly fearful or terrified, which impeded their emotional development and impacted on every aspect of their life in the institution.
- Prolonged, excessive beatings with implements intended to cause maximum pain occurred with the knowledge of senior staff.
- There was constant criticism and verbal abuse and children were told they were worthless.
- Some children lost their sense of identity and kinship, which was never recovered.
- Absconders were severely beaten, at times publicly. Some had their heads shaved and were humiliated.
- Inspectors, on their occasional visits, rarely spoke to the children in the institutions.”
Thousands of Irish Children Stolen & Subjected to Abuse by Priests and Nuns
In Ireland, priests and nuns stole thousands of babies from their mothers arms.
The reason? They claimed it was a sin to have had them without being married.
Once stolen, they claimed the children were “orphans” and forced them into “Industrial schools” which were run by catholic orders and financed by the State.
Their motive? To receive funding for each child admitted.
To enslave the children, exploiting them in hard labour without pay in return . . .
In calling these places “Industrial schools” society believed the children were receiving education and that they were in the best hands because, after all, these religious catholic orders were supposed to be “God’s servants”.
However . . . Mary Smith, a survivor of these institutions speaks to TELEGRACIA Investigates to reveal what she had in fact lived through . . .
Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse
The Commission’s report said testimony had demonstrated beyond a doubt that the entire system treated children more like prison inmates and slaves than people with legal rights and human potential, that some religious officials encouraged ritual beatings and consistently shielded their orders amid a “culture of self-serving secrecy”, and that government inspectors failed to stop the abuses.
“Among the more extreme allegations of abuse were beatings and rapes, subjection to naked beatings in public, being forced into oral sex and even subjection to beatings after failed rape attempts by brothers. The abuse has been described by some as Ireland’s Holocaust. The abuse was said to be “endemic” in the institutions that dealt with boys. The UK based Guardian newspaper, described the abuse as ‘the stuff of nightmares’, citing the adjectives used in the report as being particularly chilling: “systemic, pervasive, chronic, excessive, arbitrary, endemic”.
Now you see why whenever I hear the term “faith-based” I want to throw up.
The Murphy Report – In 2006 a commission was formed by the Irish government to investigate allegations of child sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests between 1975 and 2004. The report was released in November 2009.
Report by Commission of Investigation into Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin
The Commission of Investigation Report into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin concludes: “the Dublin Archdiocese’s preoccupations in dealing with cases of child sexual abuse, at least until the mid 1990s, were the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church, and the preservation of its assets. All other considerations, including the welfare of children and justice for victims, were subordinated to these priorities.”
In December 2010 the Wikileaks group published thousands of recent United States diplomatic cables. One had been sent by the US Embassy in Rome on 26 February 2010. The author commented that the Murphy Commission had written to the Pope for information in any Vatican files, but the requests had not even been acknowledged.
The Vatican argued that such requests should be made through the Irish government via diplomatic channels, as the Holy See is a sovereign state. It was said in the cable that –
.. many in the Vatican were offended by requests for information from the Murphy Commission, which they saw as an affront to Vatican sovereignty.
“While Vatican contacts immediately expressed deep sympathy for the victims and insisted that the first priority was preventing a recurrence, they also were angered by how the situation played out politically.” Vatican officials were annoyed that the Irish Government “did not step in to direct the Murphy Commission to follow standard procedures in communications with Vatican City”.
After several requests Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone wrote to the Irish embassy in Rome insisting that diplomatic channels be used. Though his government had set up the Murphy Commission to be quasi-independent, Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen agreed with the Cardinal. There is some significant dispute over the facts of the response of the Vatican.
The Commission argued that it had written to Pope Benedict XVI in his capacity as head of the Church, and not as the head of state of the Vatican City. It said that it could not involve the Irish Government, as some past actions and omissions by the government’s departments were also under investigation.
The Cloyne Report – This inquiry was launched in 2009 after it became apparent that the child protection measures that were supposed to be in place were not effective. It was reported out in December 2010.
Cloyne Report: A detailed guide
The report found that Bishop John Magee falsely told the government and the health service that his diocese was reporting all abuse allegations to authorities. It also found that the bishop deliberately misled another inquiry and his own advisors by creating two different accounts of a meeting with a priest suspecting of abusing a child, one for the Vatican and the other for diocesan files.
It discovered that, contrary to repeated assertions on its part, the Diocese of Cloyne did not implement the procedures set out in the church protocols for dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse. It said the greatest failure was that no complaints, except one in 1996, were reported to the health authorities until 2008.
In one case outlined in the report the diocese’s second-in-command, Monsignor Denis O’Callaghan, withheld the identity of a perpetrator from the authorities and attempted to have a particular garda officer investigate it.
It said the disturbing findings are compounded by the fact that the commission found that the Vatican’s response to the church guidelines was entirely unhelpful and gave comfort and support to those who dissented from the guidelines. It said this was “wholly unacceptable”.
The commission said that the Papal Nuncio replied to a request for information relevant to its investigation by saying he was “unable to assist you in his matter”. The Nunciature said it did not determine the handling of cases of sexual abuse in Ireland and would not be in a position to assist.
While the commission considered that most gardai who were involved in investigating the complaints outlined in the report carried out their tasks well and did so while treating the complainants with compassion and dignity, the commission are very concerned about the approach adopted by gardai in three cases. The report is to be referred to the Guarda Ombudsman to examine these cases.
Cloyne Report – In Detail (RTE News)
The Cloyne Report scrutinises how both Catholic Church and State authorities handled allegations of abuse against 19 clerics in the Co Cork diocese.
Please see the original for details.
The Raphoe Report – This report was commissioned by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church. It reviewed case files from 1975 to 2010 for the purpose of determining how allegations and concerns were handled.
Raphoe Report: Catholic Bishop Admits ‘Horrific Sexual Abuse’ Occurred in Rural Ireland
“Insufficient emphasis was placed on the needs of victims, often in the misguided attempt to protect the reputation of the Church”, he (Bishop Boyce, Bishop of Raphoe) said.
Raphoe report a whitewash and an insult to victims – Martin Ridge
I think this is basically a total whitewash and I think it is a total insult to the victims and survivors and their parents because what we witnessed in west Donegal was just carnage that you wouldn’t ascribe to any civilised society.
I don’t know of any one week went by in west Donegal when a child or a number of children weren’t sexually abused.
For the Bishop now to come along, and he knows nothing, and uses soft spoken words, and makes what to me is a self-serving statement and no more, it’s blaring out for a full investigation into those people, into the Diocese of Raphoe. It should take immediate effect.
Hundreds of children abused by 20 priests
The contents of the report are said to be “horrific” and outline a catalogue of allegations against priests who abused young children and senior colleagues who failed their victims.
“There were hundreds and hundreds of victims,” one source told the Irish Independent, “and they were abused again and again while the church actively prevented investigations by the civil authorities”.
“The Raphoe diocese, like others, was only interested in protecting the church and not the victims”.
In one case the Irish Independent has learned about a priest who raped young boys in one of Raphoe’s 33 parishes and was “sent away” for less than a month after the parents of a young boy made a complaint to the church.
The incident, in 1977, left the family devastated when they realised the priest was returning to the parish. The family were assured that the church had ‘dealt with’ the matter and that no more incidents would take place.
The priest in question was moved through several other parishes over a 30-year period as the diocese failed again and again to deal with him. He continued to target young boys and abuse them. Gardai were never informed of the allegations.
When gardai did become involved in a number of investigations, the church was uncooperative, obstructive and misled detectives.
Report critical of Raphoe bishops
Irish Panel on Abuse Cites Failures by Church
Authorities in the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland were slow or did nothing to notify civil authorities and the Vatican of hundreds of allegations of clerical child sexual abuse over several decades, according to independent audits of six dioceses published simultaneously on Wednesday.
Rupture With Vatican Reveals a Changed Ireland
This is still a country where abortion is against the law, where divorce became legal only in 1995, where the church runs more than 90 percent of the primary schools and where 87 percent of the population identifies itself as Catholic. But the awe, respect and fear the Vatican once commanded have given way to something new — rage, disgust and defiance — after a long series of horrific revelations about decades of abuse of children entrusted to the church’s care by a reverential populace.
BishopAccountability.org – “Documenting the Abuse Crisis in the Roman Catholic Church”
“Sex Crimes and the Vatican” – Excerpts from the transcript in case you didn’t watch the documentary . . .
KENYON: Aidan Doyle was educated at a Catholic school run by priests.
DOYLE: Terror struck at approximately 10 past 3 in the afternoon, when he decided to come in and, as he put it, help me with the practicing of my music. Then a moment later everything changes. I was hauled back down onto the bed, I was told to lie down on the bed with him, on the bed where I was made to grope his private area. I was then… oh… (struggling and distressed) I was then mauled really.
It was: “You’re going to be intimate with me, you’re going to get closer to me, you’re going to be my special person.” I think all my hopes and dreams went then. It was just a question of when, how, will it ever stop.
KENYON: After the sexual assault Aidan ran from the room. He told another priest what had happened. But instead of going to the authorities the priests invoked one of the most powerful tenets of the Catholic faith – To bar Aidan or his abuser from ever speaking out.
DOYLE: He said to me “I’m going to apply the seal of confession to you, so that you must never talk about this, and it will be kept secret.” And I remember saying that that evening. That why should I have to keep quiet about something that I hadn’t initiated?
KENYON: Aidan didn’t know it, but an oath of silence was part of the secret church decree called “crimen sollicitationis” (crime of solicitation). The directive was written in 1962, and Catholic bishops worldwide are ordered to keep it locked away in the church safe. It instructs them on how to deal with priests who solicit sex from the confessional. But it also deals with any obscene external acts with youths of either sex. Child abuse. Originally written in Latin it imposes the strictest oath of secrecy on the child victim, the priest dealing with the allegation, and any witnesses. Breaking that oath means instant banishment from the Catholic Church – excommunication.
DOYLE: I was told that.. simply told you don’t talk about this again. It’s over, you’ll get over it, it’ll fade away in time, it’ll go away, you’ve nothing to worry about. You know it’s all about forgiveness, it’s all about forgiving your offender as well as the offender forgiving me. They were judge, jury and everything else. I didn’t have any opportunity to receive understanding. There was no understanding brought about. I didn’t know what this meant other than that I must never talk about it again.
KENYON: Aidan was so intimidated he hasn’t spoken of what happened for 40 years, until now. His abuser has never been punished. To uncover the significance of crimen sollicitationis Colm goes to meet Father Tom Doyle, a canon lawyer. Once a Vatican high flyer, then he criticised the church’s handling of child abuse and was sacked.
Father TOM DOYLE – Canon Lawyer
Crimen sollicitationis is indicative of a world-wide policy of absolute secrecy and control of all cases of sexual abuse by the clergy. But what you really have here is an explicit written policy to cover up cases of child sexual abuse by the clergy, to punish those who would call attention to these crimes by churchmen. You’ve got a written policy that says the Vatican will control these situations, and you also have, I think, clear written evidence of the fact that all they’re concerned about is containing and controlling the problem. Nowhere in any of these documents does it say anything about helping the victims. The only thing it does is say that they can impose fear on the victims, and punish the victims, for discussing or disclosing what had happened to them.
. . .
KENYON: There’s clearly a tension between the rule of law and the rule of the church, between child protection and the orders of Cardinal Ratzinger.
Father TOM DOYLE – Canon Lawyer
There’s no policy to help the victims, there’s absolutely no policy to help those who are trying to help the victims, and there’s an unwritten policy to lie about the existence of the problem. Then, as far as the perpetrators, the priests, when they’re discovered, the systemic response has been not to investigate and prosecute, but to move them. To move them from one place to another in a secret way, and not reveal why they’re being moved. So there’s total disregard for the victims, total disregard for the fact that you’re gonna have a whole new crop of victims in the next place. Now this is just… this is not in the United States where this is happening. This is all over the world. You see the same pattern and practice no matter what country you go to.
. . .
Father TOM DOYLE – Canon Lawyer
The Vatican has no child protection policy. The only policy they have is to protect the perpetrators, protect the.. to protect the Vatican, to cover this up, to keep it as deeply buried in secrecy as possible, and to prevent as much damage to the institution as possible. So it’s damage control.
. . .
KENYON: The man who dealt with his case was Rick Romley, a high profile district attorney in Phoenix. Before retiring this year he convicted 8 paedophile priests in his diocese and, uniquely, forced a written confession from the local bishop admitting that he knowingly hid child sexual abuse from the police.
RICK ROMLEY – Former Phoenix District Attorney
I will tell you that the secrecy, the… I mean the obstruction that I saw during my investigation was unparalleled in my entire career as a DA here in Phoenix Arizona. It was so difficult to obtain any information from the church at all. In fact we knew of certain meetings that had taken place, and yet no documentation was ever produced to be able to, you know, show that that meeting had even occurred.
KENYON: The Vatican’s official line is that it’s sex crime code is purely for internal use, and not intended to hinder civil investigations.
ROMLEY: You know, when we started looking at it I mean it was really interesting. I mean we came across, in the canons for the church, that there are supposed to be secret archives to where this type of material is to provided and not given to civil authorities no matter what the circumstances. We had information that there is an instruction from the Nuncio, who is Ambassador status, to shift all this, you know, incriminating type of information to him because under our.. under the law we could not subpoena that material because he would have protected status as an Ambassador from the Vatican. I think that that’s really what the story is. Is that the church.. the church’s failure to acknowledge such a serious problem. But more than that, it is not a passiveness. It is a.. it was an openly obstructive way of not allowing civil authorities to try to stop the abuse within the church. I mean they fought us every step of the way.
KENYON: His toughest battle involved Father Henn and two other priests who fled abroad to escape American prosecutors.
ROMLEY: I knew that these priests owed a vow of obedience to Rome, to the Vatican. And so I decided to write Rome and ask them, now that formal charges had been brought, to instruct them to follow their orders and to come back and surrender themselves so that the court system could take the case as we wanted it to. And I’ve got to tell you, I was very surprised. I’d written to Cardinal Sodano, who is the Secretariat of State, and I basically asked him could he instruct these priests to come back, and they just basically returned it, and they said they item’s been returned because the sender has refused to accept the correspondence. They did not even open it, they didn’t even acknowledge or give me any type of response. They just refused to accept it. A church with supposedly the moral authority to do what is right had miserably failed, you know, one of the most fundamental things, and that’s to stop the abuse of children. And they had a real opportunity here to make a.. I mean to make a powerful statement to the world. To say “everybody is accountable, to protect our children is important”. And they didn’t even open the envelope.
Update: See this recent column by Maureen Dowd.
What I have presented here is the tip of world-wide iceberg. Literally. In the documentary we heard about just one episode in Brazil. There have been instances all over the world. To me, the worst part of it all is that priests used the threat of excommunication to keep their victims silent. Call it extortion, bullying, whatever, it is completely antithetical to my idea of what Christianity and being a Christian is all about. It is evil. It is vile. It is bullying. All in the name of protecting “the Holy Church” from bad publicity. If this is Christianity, I am not a Christian and there’s now way in hell I’ll stand idly by while people try to make me run my life like that. I do not have the vocabulary to describe the intensity of disgust I have for the Roman Catholic Church and all of you rabid right-wing “God Said It, I believe it, that settles it” pseudo-Christians. Take your stuff somewhere else. Get it out of my face.
So you all can take your religion, your morals and your sanctimonious, xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic, hypocritical, hate-mongering, child-molesting friends and church and stuff them. Then, maybe, once you’re able to convince moral people that you and your friends and your religion(s) are significantly better than Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin and Joseph Kony, and when you demonstrate that you’re able to acknowledge individuals’ rights to their own religious beliefs and moral codes, and if you promise to sit down and shut up and behave yourselves, you might get to sit at the table with the adults.
 Hitchens, Christopher. God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything