02/9/17

Steve Bannon Aligns With Vatican Hard-Liners Who Oppose Pope Francis

Anti-Pope Francis posters appeared in Rome last week, with a message in a Roman street dialect saying, “Hey, Frank, you took over Congregations, suspended priests, decapitated the Order of Malta and the Franciscans of The Immaculate, ignored Cardinals… Where the heck is your mercy?”

BY

White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is known to have cultivated ties with far-right parties in Europe, like the National Front in France. He also seems to have forged an alliance with Vatican hard-liners who oppose Pope Francis’ less rigid approach to church doctrine. The New York Times reported this week on Bannon’s connections at the Vatican.

Before becoming White House chief strategist, Bannon — who is Catholic — was the executive chairman of Breitbart News, which he called a “platform for the alt-right.” That’s a movement associated with white nationalism.

During a visit to Rome a few years ago, Bannon struck up a friendship with the American Cardinal Raymond Burke, a traditionalist who has emerged as one of Pope Francis’ most vocal critics.

Bannon hired Thomas Williams, an American former priest, as Breitbart’s Rome correspondent. Williams belonged to the conservative Legion of Christ, which was roiled by scandal when it was revealed its founder had been a pedophile.

Williams recently told his own story on an Italian TV talk show: In 2003, he fathered a child, but he kept it secret until he was outed by a news report. He then left the priesthood and married the child’s mother — who is the daughter of the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, Mary Ann Glendon.

In July 2014, Bannon addressed a conference that was held inside the Vatican but was sponsored by a conservative Catholic group. Speaking via Skype, Bannon painted an almost apocalyptic vision of the state of the Western world.

“We’re at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict, of which, if the people in this room, the people in the church, do not bind together and really form what I feel is an aspect of the church militant, to really be able to not just stand with our beliefs, but to fight for our beliefs against this new barbarity that’s starting.”

A barbarity, Bannon added, that would completely eradicate “everything we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000, 2,500 years,” and which he clearly spelled out a few minutes later: “We are in an outright war against jihadist Islamic fascism. And this war is, I think, metastasizing far quicker than governments can handle it.”

This is language that Pope Francis has never used. The pope has repeatedly urged European countries to welcome migrants — who are, in the majority, Muslim — and he has championed the rights of the poor.

A year ago, Francis criticized candidate Donald Trump for wanting to build a wall along the border with Mexico, saying, “A person who thinks only about building walls … and not building bridges is not Christian.”

But that’s not Bannon’s worldview. While most Breitbart reports on the pope have been neutral, headlines about the pope when Bannon was in charge included:

  • “Seven Ways Pope Francis Slapped Conservatives in the United States”
  • “A Vatican Expert: Pope Francis a ‘Friend of Islam’ “
  • “Pope Francis Slams Capitalism, Death Penalty, Immigration Law; No Real Mention of Abortion, Gay Marriage”
  • “Pope Francis Threatens Legacy of Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan”

While Breitbart and Bannon seem to be making common cause with Roman Catholics who are on the outs with this pope, these Vatican hard-liners are not very powerful.

Nevertheless, Pope Francis’ supporters inside the Vatican worry that following Trump’s election victory, the pope is a little more isolated — a lonely progressive on the global stage. They say this has emboldened his critics both within and outside the Vatican, who have become more vocal.

For example, just last week, mysterious anti-Francis posters cropped up around Rome. The photo showed the pope looking uncharacteristically very grouchy, and the unidentified author — using a Roman street dialect — accused him of acting in an authoritarian manner and showing lack of mercy, despite the fact that Francis has made “Mercy” the unofficial slogan of his papacy.

Francis has not reacted. But in a surprising move, on Sunday, he issued the very first papal blessing for the Super Bowl. It was a video message in his native Spanish — not in Italian, which he usually uses for official messages — in which he said such a sporting event “shows that it’s possible to build a culture of encounter and a world of peace.”

The Italian media labeled the message “anti-Trump.”

Complete Article HERE!

02/29/16

Top Vatican cardinal says pope backs him on stance over abuse issue

 

Senior Counsel Assisting Gail Furness stands in front of a screen displaying Australian Cardinal George Pell as he holds a bible while appearing via video link from a hotel in Rome, Italy to testify at the Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse in Sydney, Australia, February 29, 2016.

Senior Counsel Assisting Gail Furness stands in front of a screen displaying Australian Cardinal George Pell as he holds a bible while appearing via video link from a hotel in Rome, Italy to testify at the Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse in Sydney, Australia, February 29, 2016.

Australian Cardinal George Pell, the highest-ranking Vatican official to testify on systemic sexual abuse of children by clergy in the Roman Catholic Church, said on Monday that he has the full backing of Pope Francis.

Pell on Sunday told Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse that the church made “enormous mistakes” and “catastrophic” choices by attempting to cover up abuses in the 1970s.

Pell’s testimony has received global coverage. Because of his high position in the Vatican, the Australian inquiry into sexual abuse cases that occurred decades ago has taken on wider implications about the accountability of church leaders.

Pell, 74, has become the focal point for victims’ frustration over what they say has been an inadequate response from church leaders. Pell himself is not accused of sexual abuse and has twice apologized for the Church’s slow response.

“I have the full backing of the pope,” Pell told reporters as he arrived at Rome’s Hotel Quirinale to give evidence in front of former abuse victims who traveled to Italy for the late night sessions.

In his position as Vatican treasurer, Pell met with Pope Francis for a routine meeting earlier on Monday, after telling the inquiry he was “not here to defend the indefensible.”

He said was aware of rumors and complaints against pedophile clergy when he was a young priest in the 1970s, but that Church superiors tended to give priests the benefit of the doubt, something he acknowledged was wrong.

Pell said children were often not believed, abusive priests were shuffled from parish to parish and the Church was over-reliant on the use of counseling of priests to prevent further abuses.

The strong language was welcomed by former victims, but Pell’s failing memory on specifics angered witnesses in Rome and Sydney. He repeatedly said he could not recall specific incidents when he was asked about them.

Special prosecutor Gail Furness quizzed Pell via video link from Sydney on Monday. There were audible gasps as the Cardinal said he was deceived by Church leaders who did not inform him about claims against Father Gerald Ridsdale among others.

Ridsdale, who was repeatedly moved from parish to parish, was later convicted of 138 offences against 53 victims.

Ridsdale’s nephew, David Ridsdale, was among 15 abuse victims and supporters who traveled to Rome on the back of a crowd-funding campaign to see Pell give evidence after he said he was unable to travel to his native Australia because of heart problems.

SPOTLIGHT WIN

Last year, Pell denied accusations made at Commission hearings that he had tried to bribe a victim to remain quiet, that he ignored another complaint and that he was complicit in the transfer of a pedophile priest.

Church sexual abuse broke into the open in 2002, when it was discovered that U.S. bishops in the Boston area moved abusers from parish to parish instead of defrocking them. Similar scandals have since been discovered around the world and tens of millions of dollars have been paid in compensation.

The hearing started on the same night that Spotlight, a film about newspaper reporters who uncovered systemic paedophilia in the Church in Boston, won the Academy Award for best picture.

The Vatican newspaper dedicated two articles to the win, saying Spotlight was not an anti-Catholic film as some have claimed.

“The ogres were not exclusively men in cassocks. Paedophilia does not necessarily derive from a vow of chastity,” the newspaper said. “But it is by now clear that there were too many people in the Church who were more worried about the image of the institution than the gravity of the act.”

Complete Article HERE!

02/28/16

Pell denies abuse accusations and criticises suspicious timing

This coming 29 February, the cardinal is to give evidence before an Australian commission, via video link from Rome. The cardinal, who has been accused of covering up child sex abuse cases, said the false news report printed by the Herald Sun is outrageous

Cardinal Pell

Cardinal Pell denies outright the sex abuse allegations made against him and corroborated by Australian newspaper Herald Sun.

By IACOPO SCARAMUZZI

Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop Emeritus of Sydney and Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, has denied outright the sex abuse allegations made against him and corroborated by Australian newspaper Herald Sun. One week before he is due to give evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, via video link from Rome, the cardinal also criticised the suspicious timing of the news leak. Some victims are accusing him not of actually carrying out acts of sexual abuse but of covering up cases that were reported to him in recent decades. He was responsible for the priests who are said to have committed the offences.

“Cardinal Pell is due to give evidence to the Royal Commission in just over one week. The timing of these leaks is clearly designed to do maximum damage to the Cardinal and the Catholic Church and undermines the work of the Royal Commission,” says a statement leaked by Pell’s offices. “The allegations are without foundation and utterly false.”

The Herald Sun wrote that Cardinal Pell is being investigated by Victoria Police’s Sano Taskforce, over alleged abuse against minors both consistently and occasionally when he was still only a priest in Ballarat and when archbishop of Melbourne.

“It is outrageous that these allegations have been brought to the Cardinal’s attention through a media leak,” the statement reads. “The Cardinal has called for a public inquiry into the leaking of these spurious claims by elements in the Victorian Police in a manner clearly designed to embarrass the Cardinal, in a case study where the historical failures of the Victorian Police have been the subject of substantial evidence.”

In his statement, Cardinal Pell refers to the Southwell Report, an independent Church inquiry into the accusations of abuse the cardinal allegedly committed against an altar boy at a summer camp on Phillip Island in 1962. The investigation, which was conducted by retired Supreme Court judge, Alec Southwell, ended with the cardinal’s absolution. The Phillip Island allegations have been on the public record for nearly 15 years. The Southwell Report which exonerated Cardinal Pell has been in the public domain since 2002,” today’s statement reads. “The Victorian police have taken no steps in all of that time to pursue the false allegations made, however the Cardinal certainly has no objection to them reviewing the materials that led Justice Southwell to exonerate him. The Cardinal is certain that the police will quickly reach the conclusion that the allegations are false.” “The Victorian Police have never sought to interview him in relation to any allegations of child sexual abuse and apart from the false allegations investigated by Justice Southwell, the Cardinal knows of no claims or incidents which relate to him.”

Cardinal Pell, the statement says, “strongly denies any wrongdoing. If the police wish to question him he will co-operate, as he has with each and every public inquiry. In the meantime, the Cardinal understands that several media outlets have received confidential information leaked by someone within the Victorian Police.” Thus, “the Cardinal calls on the Premier and the Police Minister to immediately investigate the leaking of these baseless allegations”.

Cardinal Pell will give evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse via video link on 29 February. 15 victims are travelling to Rome to attend the cardinal’s hearing, with money raised through a crowdfunding initiative. “As an archbishop for almost 20 years he has led from the front to put an end to cover-ups, to protect vulnerable people and to try to bring justice to victims,” says a separate statement released by the office of 74-year-old cardinal Pell, who was granted permission not to travel to Australia for the hearing, due to the serious health risks involved. “As Cardinal Pell has done after earlier hearings, he is prepared to meet with and listen to victims and express his ongoing support.”

Complete Article HERE!

02/11/16

Tracing the Bishops’ Culpability in the Child Abuse Scandal

By 

Pope Francis’ commission on the clergy’s sexual violation of children had a timely private screening in Rome last week of “Spotlight,” the Oscar-nominated film about the pedophilia scandal in Boston. The film offers the Vatican, if it will listen, an emphatic lesson in accountability. It dramatizes the decision by The Boston Globe to do more than enumerate the scope of the scandal by reporting on cases involving scores of abusive priests. The scandal was tracked up the church hierarchy to Cardinal Bernard Law, who eventually had to resign his leadership when the news media, not the church, documented his role as a protector of abusive priests.

Hierarchical accountability remains a pressing issue that the Vatican has not fully confronted in the numerous dioceses of the world where the scandal was suppressed. The pope’s 17-member commission presented fresh evidence of this failing when one of its two abuse-victim members, who had gone to the news media to criticize the slow pace of its work, was suddenly suspended on Saturday in a commission vote of no confidence.

Peter Saunders

Peter Saunders

To its credit, the commission, stressing it was only a policy body, had previously urged the pope to create a separate tribunal to judge bishops accused of shielding abusive priests. But Peter Saunders, the suspended commission member, and other abuse victims complained that there has been no progress since the tribunal’s creation last June. They were incensed as well over the pope’s appointment last year of a new diocesan leader in Chile, Bishop Juan Barros, a close associate of a Santiago priestthe Vatican found guilty of child abuse in 2011. The pope nevertheless defended the bishop and was seen on a video complaining that protesterswere “lefties” and “dumb.”

Mr. Saunders may have become an impatient and annoying dissident on a commission charged with developing advisory solutions for the problem, but he has a valid point that Pope Francis cannot afford to ignore. Regaining credibility among the church laity requires clear and timely investigation and punishment of prelates who covered up the rape of children with hush money and rotated abusers to new parishes to commit fresh crimes. “There must be consequences” for offensive church leaders, the laity panelappointed by the United States hierarchy warned over a decade ago.

Unfortunately, no effective method of accountability was devised by the wary American hierarchy, leaving the issue up to Rome. Considering his reputation as a determined reformer, Pope Francis should prod the bishops’ tribunal into action and not let the gaping need for honest and full accountability disappear into the arcane workings of the Vatican.

Complete Article HERE!

01/26/16

Irish priest punished by Florida bishop for informing on pedophile colleague

By Cathy Hayes

Young christian priest in cassock arrested and handcuffed

Tyrone priest, Fr John A Gallagher is being punished by unresponsive bishops and Vatican for doing the “right thing,” and having Indian pedophile, Fr Jose Palimatton, investigated by police.

A priest, originally from County Tyrone and now based in the United States, claims he has been “frozen out” of the Catholic Church after calling the police to investigate a fellow clergyman who had shown child-porn images to 14-year-old parishioner.

Fr John A Gallagher (48), from Strabane, Co Tyrone, is now living in a holiday home belonging to one of his friends and parishioners. He says the locks on his parochial house were changed and he was placed on medical leave by his bishop in the Diocese of Palm Beach, FL. Gallagher says he was told by the Catholic Church to put a pedophile priest on a plane back to India rather than cooperate with the police.

Gallagher has been living in the United States since 2000. Prior to this he served in the Long Tower parish in Derry. He is well-known in the Catholic community in the US and has made several religious music records and TV appearances. In 2012 he received a personal note from Pope Benedict XVI thanking him for his work, but Gallagher said this was little comfort as he felt “the wrath” of the Church in the past year.

Father John A Gallagher, from Strabane, County Tyrone.

Father John A Gallagher, from Strabane, County Tyrone.

A local police chief in Palm Beach has also voiced his concern over the treatment of Gallagher and wrote to the Church to complain.

The incident took place in January 2015. Gallagher, who has remained silent on the matter until now, has written to bishops and cardinals in Ireland and America as well as the Vatican but has been unable to locate the Indian clergyman in question. He said he has not received a satisfactory response from the Catholic Church.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that Fr Jose Palimattom, who had been at the parish of the Holy Name of Jesus Christ in West Palm Beach for just one month, approached a 14-year-old boy after Mass. The priest showed the boy as many as 40 images of naked boys. According to ABC news, the tag words in the images included “little boys,” and “young boys 10-18 yoa.”

Palimattom (48), a priest of the Franciscan Province of St Thomas the Apostle in India, was serving a two-year residency at Holy Name of Jesus Parish in West Palm Beach from December 2014.

Fr Jose Palimatton. Photo: Facebook.

Fr Jose Palimatton.

Police say he was in the first stages of grooming the boy.

The night after Palimattom had shown the young boy the photos he sent him a Facebook message which read “Good night. Sweet dreams.”

The young boy told a friend who reported this to the Church choirmaster, who immediately informed Fr Gallagher.

The Irish priest says that on the night he found out he was told by a Florida Church official, “We need to make him go away, put on a plane.”

He had been instructed to put Fr Palimattom on a plane to Bangalore. Gallagher was also told “do not keep written notes,” by the same official.

All of this has been recorded in documents, filed with the Vatican, by a specialist Canon Lawyer on behalf of Gallagher. These were sent to Cardinal Gerhard Muller, Prefect of the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in Rome.

Rather than following the Church’s instruction to “make him go away,” Gallagher interviewed Fr Palimattom along with one of his parishioners, a retired police officer. The parishioner took notes at the meeting.

Palimattom admitted to showing nude pictures of boys to the teen. He also admitted that he had sexually assaulted boys in India before arriving in the US. A few hours later he repeated this confession to detectives from the specialist unit of the West Palm Beach Police.

Gallagher contacted the police, following the rules the Catholic Church had set down after hundreds of cases of sexual abuse carried out by the clergy on children.

At the time the Palm Beach diocese released a statement saying that despite prior investigation they had no knowledge of Palimattom’s previous assaults in India.

They said, “As part of its due diligence, the diocese completed a background screening which also included a screening in India, and received a Certificate of Aptitude from the Minister Provincial in India. During this background process, no prior misconduct was revealed.”

Palimattom admitted, ABC news reported, that the prior assaults were not on record as they had not been reported to police. It was also claimed by the media that Palimattom was under orders from the Church to avoid being in the company of minors without other adults in attendance.

Having reported Palimattom’s actions to the police, and despite the fact that he was following the Catholic Church’s own rules, it was made clear to Gallagher that his actions were not approved of.

He said, “It was made clear to me that what I had done (co-operating with the police) wasn’t what I should have done.

“It was a very distressing time for me and the parish. But we had a special Mass and I told the congregation what had happened. I told them it was now in the hands of the rightful authorities, the police.

“Palimattom was on the local TV news as his arrest became public. I did the right thing.”

He was arrested and his bail set at $10,000. The Catholic Church dealt with the victim’s family through lawyers and an out-of-court settlement was made. Palimattom has been sent back to India to an undisclosed location.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In late April 2015 Gallagher was called to meet with the Bishop of Palm Beach, Gerald Barbarito. Three other Church officials were in attendance. Gallagher was in line to be promoted and was surprised to receive a phone call the day after their meeting telling him he was being demoted.

The Irish priest said, “No reason was given. I asked if I could meet with him again and this was refused. He said if I didn’t wish to be demoted and moved to another parish, I should leave the priesthood.”

Four weeks later Gallagher was rushed to hospital with a suspected heart attack. He had become unwell while hearing Confession.

Gallagher said Bishop Barbarito visited him in the hospital but did not anoint him or bring him Communion.

Six days later Gallagher asked Dominican nun, Sister Ann Monahan, to retrieve files on the Palimattom scandal from his office at the Holy Name of Jesus Christ church. She retrieved the files but later when she returned a church official stopped her and took the keys to the building from her. The 84-year-old nun has now been officially retired.

When Gallagher got out of the hospital he found the locks on the parochial house had been changed and a new priest appointed to his parish. Under the bishop’s orders Gallagher was due to leave one month later, in July.

Gallagher said, “I was in shock. I had just suffered a suspected heart attack and wanted to return to my home to recover. Instead, I was homeless.”

In a letter the Bishop suggested that Gallagher needed “treatment” for his mental health. An all-expenses paid trip was offered to him, to a clinic in Pennsylvania. Gallagher refused and has been on paid leave since.

When the police, who were investigating the Palimattom case, learned of Gallagher’s absence they wrote to Church leaders, including Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the head of the Pontifical Commission for Child Protection, a group established by Pope Francis in 2014.

Chief Deputy in the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s office Michael Gauger, who has been a cop for 44 years, said this was not the first time that the Church has impeded investigations.

He wrote, “Due to Fr Gallagher’s co-operation the case was swiftly resolved and the opportunity for additional crimes was diminished.

“Educated in the pattern of behavior by those engaged in this inappropriate behavior, the crime could have escalated to something physical which would have been devastating to the victim as well as the Catholic Church.”

Chief Deputy Gauger urged Cardinal O’Malley to ensure the Irish priest received “accolades for his compliance with criminal investigators.”

Another detective working on the case had written a memo to Gauger on May 5, 2015, before Gallagher’s heart attack. Detective Debi Phillips also said she had been hindered by the Church in the past and expected to face the same opposition in Gallagher’s case. However, she was wrong.

She wrote, “Reverend Gallagher and his staff provided timely evidence that was needed to arrest and ultimately convict Jose Palimattom for the felony charge of Showing Obscene Material to a Child.

“If it wasn’t for the co-operation … other children would have also been victimized.”

Gallagher communicates with his Bishop, Gerald Barbarito, only through his canon lawyer.

Gallagher did receive a response from Dublin’s Archbishop, Diarmuid Martin, who wrote back to him and left a voice message. Gallagher now believes that the Church in Ireland can help “break the wall of silence over here (in Florida).”

He continued, “Because of the structure of the Church, each diocese is run separately from the other, so there is no broad church.

“This is now 2016 and this is what happens to whistleblowers in the Catholic Church.

“Pope Francis speaks of ridding our church of the crimes of sexual abuse and being open and honest about doing it. I haven’t seen that in Pope Francis’s Church yet.”

When contacted, none of the parties – from Gallagher’s Palm Beach Diocese, the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in Rome, or Palimattom’s order in India, the Franciscans Province of St Thomas The Apostle – was available for comment, at the time of this report’s publication.

Complete Article HERE!