Nun scolds Catholic Church about sex abuse

A Roman Catholic nun says the church hasn’t properly addressed the issue of sexual abuse at the hands of priests since the Mount Cashel orphanage scandal of the 1980s.

Sister Nuala Kenny, a pediatrician who was a member of a commission that looked into child sexual abuse by priests in St. John’s, N.L., from 1989-91, said the reaction from clergy was to turn a blind eye to the abuse and to move the offending priest to a new parish.

“It nearly killed me to be a nun, a baby doctor, sitting there listening to people describe what had happened when men of God, priests of my church, had offended against their children and teenagers,” Kenny told about 200 people at the Dalbrae Academy in Mabou.

“It nearly broke my heart. The devastation that occurred was truly heartbreaking, but I thought we learned something, I thought we wrote something important.”

The commission that Kenny served on recommended the creation of the Canadian Conference on Catholic Bishops ad hoc committee on child sexual abuse.

Without participation by Canadian bishops to deal with the systemic problems that made sexual and physical abuse possible, the church can’t begin to heal itself so it can tackle other problems, such as declining church attendance, she said.

“We have not addressed, ‘Why has it happened the way it has happened? Why have we dealt with it the way we have?’ ”

Full Article HERE!

Theologian Hans Küng on Pope Benedict ‘A Putinization of the Catholic Church’

On Thursday, Pope Benedict XVI arrives in Germany for a long-awaited visit. Prominent Swiss theologian Hans Küng explains to SPIEGEL why the papal visit will do little to help the crisis in the Church and compares Benedict to Vladimir Putin in the way he has centralized power.

Full Interview HERE!

Hans Küng, 83, was one of the Catholic theologians who, like the then-theology professor Joseph Ratzinger, helped shape the Second Vatican Council at the beginning of the 1960s and pushed for more openness within the Catholic Church. In 1979, Küng, who was teaching theology in the German city of Tübingen at the time, publicly criticized the dogma of papal infallibility. The Vatican responded by revoking his permission to teach. Today, Küng is still a Catholic priest and heads the Tübingen-based Global Ethic institute, which he founded.

Why the pope must face justice at The Hague

When it comes to holding the Catholic Church accountable for sexual abuse of children by members of the clergy, all roads lead to Rome. That is what my organisation, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (Snap), concluded after years of seeking justice in other venues and being turned away.

On 13 September, we travelled to the Hague to file an 84-page complaint and over 20,000 pages of supporting materials with the international criminal court, documenting our charge that the pope and Vatican officials have tolerated and enabled the systematic and widespread concealing of rape and child sex crimes throughout the world.

Holding childhood photographs that tell a wrenching story of innocence and faith betrayed, and joined by our attorneys from the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, we stood up and demanded the justice that has so long been denied. The New York Times called the filing “the most substantive effort yet to hold the pope and the Vatican accountable in an international court for sexual abuse by priests”.

No doubt, many people of faith are shocked that we would accuse a world church leader of crimes against humanity – a man considered by many to be infallible. But the man who is infallible must also be accountable.

By the Vatican’s own account, “only” about 1.5-5% of Catholic clergy have been involved in sexual violence against children. With a reported 410,593 priests worldwide as of 2009, that means the number of offending priests would range from 6,158 to 20,529. Considering that many offenders have multiple victims, the number of children at risk is likely in the tens, or even hundreds, of thousands.

We believe the thousands of pages of evidence we filed this week will substantiate our allegations that an operation has been put in place not only to hide the widespread sexual violence by priests in all parts of the world, but also to obstruct investigation, remove suspects out of criminal jurisdictions and do everything possible to silence victims, discredit whistleblowers, intimidate witnesses, stonewall prosecutors and keep a tighter lid than ever on clergy sex crimes and cover-ups. The result of this systematic effort is that, despite a flood of well-publicised cases, many thousands of children remain vulnerable to abuse.

While many pedophile priests have been suspended in recent years, few have been criminally charged and even fewer defrocked. Worse, no one who ignored, concealed or enabled these predators has suffered any consequences. At the head of this hierarchy of denial and secrecy is the pope, who has served as an enabler of these men. We believe the Vatican must face investigation to determine whether these incidences have been knowingly concealed and clergymen deliberately protected when their crimes have come to light.

I know this story well, because I was sexually abused by a parish priest, from my time in junior high school until graduation. Because of the shame and trauma, several years passed before I was able to tell anyone. By that time, it was too late to file criminal charges. Church officials refused to restrict that priest’s access to children or take action against him for several more years, despite other victims coming forward.

Indeed, powerful factors prevent all but the most assertive, healthy and lucky victims from seeking justice. Many others succumb to drugs, anorexia, depression or suicide when the pain of innocence betrayed becomes too much to bear. A recent investigation in Australia revealed a case in which 26 among the numerous victims of a particular priest had committed suicide.

For the safety of children and the prevention of yet more heinous wrongdoing, the international criminal court may be the only real hope. What other institution could possibly bring prosecutorial scrutiny to bear on the largest private institution on the planet?

Our journey for justice has been a long one, and it’s not over yet. But we know where it must end: with justice at The Hague.

Full Article HERE!

Polish Catholic journal criticizes church over abuse

A Catholic journal has criticized the Polish church’s handling of sexual abuse by priests, following repeated claims that local church leaders failed to confront the problem.

“The harm caused by sexual molestation of children is unquestionable, but the evil is much greater when pedophilia occurs in the community of faith, and when, in a falsely conceived defense of the church, the authorities hide the facts, conceal the perpetrators and ignore the suffering victims,” the Wiez bimonthly said in an editorial in its August-September edition, dedicated to clergy sexual abuse.

The journal questioned whether the Polish church’s handling of abuse claims complied with Vatican instructions and whether the good of the church meant “the good name of clergy or the good of the weakest.”

“In Poland, church superiors react in different ways. Sometimes sentences are passed on the quiet against priest-pedophiles in secular courts. Sometimes, everything is consistently denied,” it said.

However, the Catholic archbishop in charge of legal affairs for the Polish bishops’ conference told Wiez abuse accusations were best handled with pastoral care and “appropriate therapy” and said the bishops would not be publishing guidelines on the issue adopted in 2009.

Archbishop Andrzej Dziega of Szczecin-Kamien said he believed Poland’s Catholic bishops had their own “competence and experience” on sexual molestation and would not need a commission — like that established by the church in neighboring Germany — to examine abuse cases.

“The duty to handle cases, appropriately establish the truth and define the scope of responsibility of concrete people lies with the church superior — but this remains an internal church activity and does not replace the competence of the wider judicial process,” he said.

“Personally, I’m in favor of totally separating church and secular procedures, upholding the civic rights that belong to everyone in the state and the rights of believers in the church community,” he said.

Jakub Spiewak, president of the Kidprotect Foundation, which runs a hotline for abuse victims and seven separate child-protection programs, told Catholic News Service Sept. 12 that the Catholic journal’s warnings were “important and unprecedented” and said some bishops had shown “extraordinary laxity” toward abuse cases.

“I’d prefer the church to draw conclusions from the mistakes of others, rather than waiting to make its own, since people will be hurt when it does,” he said.
“But it sometimes seems as if the church is thinking like a child — that if it closes its eyes, the danger will go away,” he added. “People won’t tolerate a situation in which priests are above the law, answering only to their bishops and claiming different rights and duties than other citizens.”

Leading Catholics, including Poland’s children’s rights spokesman, have urged the church to adopt clear procedures for handling various abuse claims since the 2002 resignation of the Archbishop Juliusz Paetz of Poznan for molesting seminarians.
In 2008, a Dominican, Father Marcin Mogielski, was suspended by the church after testifying to prosecutors about abuse by the priest in charge of Catholic schools in the Szczecin-Kamien Archdiocese.

Other cases have involved allowing convicted abusers to remain in their parishes.
Writing in the journal, a Catholic psychologist, Ewa Kusz, said the Polish church lacked psychological checks for its seminarians and priests or “transparent norms” for vetting lay and religious employees and had no policies or norms for handling abuse accusations.

She added that there was a “lack of cooperation between church and state” on abuse issues and said church cooperation with clinical professionals also “left much to be desired.”

Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, co-author of a book on pedophile priests, told Wiez the situation in Poland was comparable to that of Germany before a wave of abuse scandals in 2010, when “cases from the past were partly known about, but the scale of the problem wasn’t understood or dealt with.”

“If the church in Poland doesn’t confront this reality and doesn’t take the bull by the horns, the same thing will happen which we witnessed in the United States, Canada, Ireland, Germany, Austria and recently in Belgium,” the priest said.
“If the church doesn’t know how to react to such situations because it hasn’t bothered to ascertain the facts, its image will suffer much more than if it had said, ‘Yes, we had such cases — they were very painful, but we tackled them.'”

Full Article HERE!

Why the ICC likely won’t charge pope over Catholic Church sex abuses

An attempt to prosecute Pope Benedict XVI in the International Criminal Court (ICC) for clerical sexual abuse around the globe faces daunting legal obstacles that make it unlikely the case will be heard, but will nonetheless put the Vatican’s role in the abuse under new public scrutiny.

The complaint, filed Tuesday by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) through its attorneys from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), charges that “Vatican officials tolerate and enable the systematic and widespread concealing of rape and child sex crimes throughout the world.”

SNAP President Barbara Blaine said in a press statement: “SNAP wants to prevent even one more child from being raped or sexually assaulted by a priest and we hope that victims around the world will know today that they are not alone and that it is safe to speak up and report their abuse. We as victims are mobilizing across the globe, and every survivor is invited to join us.”

In a statement to the Associated Press, the Vatican described the move as a “ludicrous publicity stunt and a misuse of international judicial processes.”
A high legal bar

The challenge for SNAP and the CCR will be to show that the ICC has jurisdiction over the case. Created by, but operating independently of, the United Nations, the ICC was founded in 1998 for the purpose of trying individuals for war crimes such as genocide and crimes against humanity.

Experts say the matter of the Roman Catholic Church’s responsibility for cases of child abuse is outside the remit of the ICC. “It’s a publicity stunt, it’s nothing more,” says British attorney Neil Addison, author of legal textbooks including Religious Discrimination and Hatred Law.

“The ICC is supposed to exist for situations of war crime and where there isn’t a legal remedy within the country where the offenses took place. [But] all the child abuse that took place within Ireland took place under the jurisdiction of the Irish courts, the same for the US, and so on,” Mr. Addison says.

“In simple terms, to get a prosecution before the ICC you need to show that what happened was part of a ‘widespread and significant attack directed against any civilian population.’ The ICC is not designed for dealing with normal criminality,” he says.

But the CCR claims that its case against the Vatican authorities is in keeping with the court’s purview.

“We have looked at findings from all over the world and feel it fits the criteria for the court,” says Pamela Spees, a senior staff attorney with the CCR. “If nobody ever demands it then it will never happen, it’s certainly not going to happen on its own.”

The CCR says it has provided 22,000 pages of documentation alongside its filing with the court, including copies of judicial reports from Ireland and Canada, grand juries in the US, and depositions.

“We’re not simply talking about a situation where they kept [child abuse] silent – which is bad enough – they knew the sexual violence would continue when shift these guys [accused priests] around,” she said.

Full Article HERE!