Cloyne facts expose the pathology of the church

Unless the Catholic hierarchy examines its obsession with power it cannot reform itself

MUCH OF the Cloyne report brought no surprises to the people of Ireland and those of us in other countries who had anticipated its publication. In many ways it was a continuation of the revelations that came with the three commission reports that preceded it.

The report was met with the expected “heartfelt” expressions of regret, apology and even shock by officials of the Catholic Church, followed by promises of reform and the promulgation of yet more procedures, policies and boards. By now the Irish people, however, are beyond suspicion and cynicism. They have broken through another layer of the protective clerical veneer and have named the responses for what they are: a mendacious smokescreen.

It is no consolation to the Irish people but they are certainly not alone. This debacle in the Diocese of Cloyne is reflected in the recent publication of the report of the grand jury in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Five years after a first jury exposed widespread cover-up and shameful treatment of victims, followed by the usual promises to clean up the mess, a second grand jury found that the expressions of regret and promises of reform were a deceptive cover for an intentional lack of commitment to bring justice to victims and protect children.

Cardinal Seán Brady said that “grave errors of judgment were made and serious failures of leadership occurred”. Bishop John Magee admitted that the diocese “did not fully implement the procedures set out in church protocols”. What happened in Cloyne and in Ferns, Dublin, and the institutions cannot be dignified as “grave errors of judgment” or incomplete implementation of church protocols. The systemic sacrifice of the emotional, psychological and spiritual lives of innocent children for the sake of the image and power of the hierarchy was no error.

The commission of investigation into abuse in the Cloyne diocese learned that the destructive response to the reports of sexual abuse was not accidental or isolated but embedded in the fabric of the clerical culture. The members of all four commissions are to be highly commended for their courage in rising above the long-standing tradition of unquestioned deference to the hierarchy to reveal in detail the disgraceful and infuriating systemic disregard of the innocent children.

The three preceding reports were indeed shocking and scandalous. But the report carries the revelations even further in three important ways: naming the Vatican as an integral part of the problem; exposing the cynical use the concept of “pastoral care” as an excuse for obstructing justice; and acknowledging that the church cannot be trusted faithfully to comply with its internal regulations, much less the demands of the civil law.

When the reality of widespread sexual violation of the young by clergy was first exposed in the US in 1985, Pope John Paul II and the Vatican remained mute for six years. When questioned, Vatican spokesmen distanced not only themselves but the rest of the world by asserting it was an “American problem”. In his first public statement on June 11th, 1993, the pope tried to shift the blame to the secular media, whom he accused of “sensationalising” evil. He concluded his letter with: “Yes dear brothers, America needs much prayer lest it lose its soul.”

It was not long before tragic events in Newfoundland, Austria and Ireland clearly dislodged the papal efforts at denial. The recognition of widespread sexual molestation by clerics in several continental European countries, in South America and most recently in the Far East, have confirmed this is a worldwide problem not only of sexual violation by dysfunctional clerics but, even worse, a problem of intentionally self-serving and destructive responses by the bishops.

THE DIRECT ROLE of the Vatican in enabling and even directing the cover-up, stonewalling and obstruction of justice has been suspected for years. The report made a vitally important breakthrough by describing in concrete detail the essential role the Vatican played in the disgrace of the diocese.

The report points to two serious deficiencies in the Vatican response. The first is the papal nuncio’s refusal to co-operate with the commission during the Dublin and Cloyne investigations, as well as his lukewarm response to the horrific contents of the report. The second and far more treacherous aspect is the direct attempt to sabotage the Irish bishops’ 1996 policy document Child Sexual Abuse: Framework for a Church Response .

The commission found this document contained a “detailed and easy to implement set of procedures”. Yet, before it could adequately be put into practice, the papal nuncio, Archbishop Luciano Storero, sent the Irish bishops a letter passing on the concerns of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy. The letter clearly reflected the reactionary attitude of Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, who was prefect at the time. He erroneously labelled the policy “merely a study document”.

This most outrageous and at the same time erroneous sentence gave the Irish bishops licence to ignore their own procedures but also the civil law.

The Vatican response has been the defence of the hierarchy and the scandalous lack of concern for the victims. There are the expected expressions of regret, sorrow and promise of prayers which serve only to confuse and even anger the victims and are a very thin cover for the consistent pattern of self-serving support and protection of the bishops.

The clerical culture that cannot comprehend the depth of evil and destruction it has enabled has failed to internalise the reality that in this 21st century sacrificing the welfare of innocent children to maintain the image and power of an ecclesiastical aristocracy is a disgrace that will be the catalyst for an inevitable and profound change in the nature of the institutional church.

The rapid disintegration of the absolute control of the Irish hierarchy over Irish society is the result not of the lack of faith of the Irish people, as some in ecclesiastical leadership would like to believe, but in the lack of fidelity of the leadership to the people whom they have sworn to serve.

Msgr Denis O’Callaghan, Bishop Magee’s point man, openly opposed the framework document because it did not provide an adequate pastoral response. This masks a fundamental misunderstanding and misapplication of an authentic expression of pastoral care which is not an excuse for minimising the fact sexual violation of a minor is a serious crime in both canon and civil law.

WORSE STILL WAS the use of pastoral care as a justification for protecting the accused priests at the expense of justice for the victims. The report saw the misuse of the pastoral concept as a “scheme whereby counselling was provided to the complainant in a manner which was hoped would not attract any legal liability to the diocese”.

There is no evidence of effective pastoral care in the past or even today, only crisis management. There is no evidence from any of the four reports that the overriding concern of the hierarchy and clergy has been the physical, emotional and spiritual welfare of the victims. What would true pastoral care have looked like? Upon receipt of a report of the sexual molestation of a child or adult, the bishop’s first (and often only) concern would not be the maintenance of secrecy and protection of the priest. Rather, he would immediately seek out the victim and the victim’s family to make clear to them that in their hour of pain, confusion and humiliation at the hands of a cleric, they and not the cleric are the most important people in the diocese and indeed in the church.

The third breakthrough is the realisation that any structures or policies created by the church depend on the commitment of the bishops and the support of the priests. In Cloyne and elsewhere the bishops made promises, created policies and appointed boards and then proceeded systematically to subvert their rules and those of society.

Marie Collins, in her recent interview on RTÉ’s Prime Time , spoke the truth when she said that the promises and policies that have streamed from the bishops mean nothing. The report clearly reflects this sad reality: “It seems to the Commission that continuing external scrutiny is required.” Outside monitoring with serious consequences for neglect, and mandatory reporting by all clergy with possible jail time as a consequence for failure, are necessary responses.

The commission has probed deeply into the dysfunctional clerical culture of the Cloyne diocese. With this report, the threshold to a new level of awareness has been reached. The findings and conclusions, as probing and shocking as they may be, are not enough. What we have seen exposed in all four reports but most shockingly in the Cloyne document is the toxic nature of the clerical culture at the heart of the institutional church.

We must demand answers to even more radical questions. What is it about this culture that justifies living in an alternate reality that places image and clerical security far above the welfare of innocent children? Why does the “people of God”, as Vatican II described the church, need to function like a monarchy with an attendant clerical aristocracy?

Why the narcissistic obsession with power, secrecy and control? Until the bishops and priests look deeply into this culture and acknowledge its pathology, the outrageous behaviour exposed in the report will be part of a shameful history.

http://tinyurl.com/3lhln9r

California LGBT curriculum is ‘indoctrination,’ critic says

The California governor has signed into law a bill that will not simply require a “gay history” curriculum.

It requires a form of “indoctrination” that will label Christianity as being intolerant and bigoted, one critic says.

“The bill is not about teaching gay history. That’s what the sponsors of the bill are portraying it as. That is not the language of the bill. That is not what it does, that’s not the intent,” William B. May, head of the San Francisco-based Catholics for the Common Good, told CNA on July 15.

While the history of the gay rights movement would be covered in history books as history, he said, the bill’s curriculum standards require “bringing to the attention of students the sexuality of people in history and social studies, who happen to be gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual.”

“It also has the effect of making sure that they are portrayed in a good light,” May continued.

“It’s really an indoctrination bill that is being totally misrepresented by the politicians and by the media.”

Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill into law on July 14 after it passed the Democrat-controlled legislature on a largely party-line vote.

“We’re disappointed that the governor signed it,” May said. “It’s a troubling precedent for politicians to dictate what’s in textbooks.”

Democratic state Sen. Mark Leno of San Francisco, the bill’s author, said that teaching gay history in public schools will teach students to be more accepting of gays and lesbians.

“We should not be afraid to teach our children of the broad diversity of human experience,” Sen. Leno said, according to Fox News. “It’s not going away, it’s always been with us. We have different kinds of people, who are, under law, to be treated equally. Why would we not want to teach our children this?”

He compared opponents to those who criticized curriculum requirements for ethnic and women’s studies.

However, May warned that the curriculum requirements will have adverse effects on groups that disapprove of homosexual behavior.

“This bill will contribute to Christianity coming under attack in the classroom as being intolerant, bigoted, and standing in the way of progress,” he told CNA. “This is part of a broader agenda to redefine love, relationships, marriage and family.”

He noted the related public debate about bullying, which he called “a serious problem” that “needs to be dealt with directly.”

He rejected the claim that curriculum requirements would reduce bullying.

“It’s absurd to think that teaching about the sexual characteristics or sexual orientation of people in history is going to have any bearing on that,” he continued.

Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles has also criticized the bill. In a July 5 column, he called it “another example of the government interfering with parents’ rights to be their children’s primary educators.”

The bill could have national effects.

Because of California’s size and influence, many textbook publishers adjust their products to meet California curriculum standards.

May said the bill’s passage into law is “just one more wake-up call for the need to organize.”

He pointed out that Catholics for the Common Good has launched projects like Stand with Children, a marriage advocacy program.

It is also organizing a program called Faith in Action, which consists of small formation and support groups for “not just defending marriage and family, but promoting it.”

http://tinyurl.com/42cd5ky

Accused of being gay, Spanish priest challenges Church to measure his anus

WITH no apparent evidence other than a photograph of Spanish priest Andrés García Torres hugging a young Cuban seminarian, the Catholic bishop of Getafe has leapt to the outrageous conclusion that there is something gay about two topless men in a warm embrace.

According to this report, the bishop now wants the priest to abandon his parish in the Madrid dormitory town of Fuenlabrada, undergo a psychiatric cure, and take an HIV test.

Torres responded by saying he intends going to Rome to show that he is being expelled from his parish unfairly.

http://tinyurl.com/64jyg3o

The priest, who insists that her and the 28-year-old with whom he was photographed on a trip to Fátima are just good friends, and threw down this challenge:

Let them measure my anus and see if it is dilated.

He said his mum hadn’t stopped crying over what has happened.

Locals say that the priest is a very humane person, dedicated to helping others. More than 1,000 signatures have been gathered in his support.

Normalization of homosexuality is a ‘calamity’ – John Piper

Amid ongoing “gay pride” celebrations and the push for gay marriage, influential evangelical John Piper wants to put it all in perspective for the church.

“My sense is that we do not realise what a calamity is happening around us,” Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, wrote in a commentary on Thursday.

“Christians, more clearly than others, can see the tidal wave of pain that is on the way. Sin carries in it its own misery.”

It’s been nearly a week now since marriage for gay and lesbian couples was legalised in New York and since hundreds of thousands of Americans celebrated homosexuality with gay pride parades, not only in New York but also in Piper’s home state of Minnesota.

Homosexuality and its celebration are nothing new, the Reformed pastor clarified.

“[Homosexuality] has been here since we were all broken in the fall of man,” he wrote.

“What’s new is not even the celebration of homosexual sin. Homosexual behaviour has been exploited, and revelled in, and celebrated in art, for millennia.

“What’s new,” he underscored, “is normalisation and institutionalisation. This is the new calamity.”

America, and the rest of the world, is moving toward the institutionalisation of homosexuality, the 65-year-old pastor lamented.

Yet the Bible makes it clear that homosexual behaviour is sin, he said.

“Alongside its clearest explanation of the sin of homosexual intercourse (Romans 1:24-27) stands the indictment of the celebration of it,” he said.

“Though people know intuitively that homosexual acts (along with gossip, slander, insolence, haughtiness, boasting, faithlessness, heartlessness, ruthlessness) are sin, ‘they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them’ (Romans 1:29-32).’I tell you even with tears, that many glory in their shame’ (Philippians 3:18–19).”

For the first time since it began tracking the issue of same-sex marriage in 1996, a Gallup poll last month found that a majority of Americans (53 per cent) believe marriages between same-sex couples should be recognised by law as valid.

Moreover, 56 per cent of Americans say gay or lesbian relations is morally acceptable, another Gallup poll found in May. Only 39 per cent perceive homosexual relations as morally wrong.

Piper stressed that his purpose for writing on the controversial issue is “not to mount a political counter-assault”.

He doesn’t believe that is the calling of the church.

Rather, Piper expressed his desire to “help the church feel the sorrow of these days. And the magnitude of the assault on God and his image in man.”

He didn’t pin the sin of sexual immorality on homosexuals alone, however. Heterosexuals are just as guilty.

Piper emphasised that Jesus died for both heterosexual and homosexual sinners so that they might be saved. Jesus, he stressed, offers “astonishing mercy”.

But rather than embracing that salvation, thousands celebrated sin last weekend, he lamented.

“Christians know what is coming, not only because we see it in the Bible, but because we have tasted the sorrowful fruit of our own sins. We do not escape the truth that we reap what we sow. Our marriages, our children, our churches, our institutions – they are all troubled because of our sins,” he wrote.

“The difference is: We weep over our sins. We don’t celebrate them. We turn to Jesus for forgiveness and help. We cry to Jesus, ‘who delivers us from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10).'”

“And in our best moments, we weep for the world.”

The win in New York for gay rights activists is expected to propel the gay marriage movement forward. Already, they are working to push similar legislation in Maine and to defeat a measure amending the constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman in Minnesota.

Amid the movement to redefine marriage, Piper made it clear that Jesus created sexuality and “has a clear will for how it is to be experienced in holiness and joy”.

“His will is that a man might leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and that the two become one flesh (Mark 10:6-9). In this union, sexuality finds its God-appointed meaning, whether in personal-physical unification, symbolic representation, sensual jubilation, or fruitful procreation.”

Nevertheless, there are no signs of the gay marriage movement slowing down. With that, Piper left Christians with this concluding note:

“This is what I am writing for. Not political action, but love for the name of God and compassion for the city of destruction. ‘My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law.’ (Psalm 119:136).”

http://tinyurl.com/3ft86aa

State Department action on ‘LGBT rights’ could split Catholic countries

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has praised State Department action on “LGBT” rights which includes support for Gay Pride marches and a Lady Gaga concert in Rome.

But two critics said U.S. advocacy is “far beyond the mainstream” and risks alienating the Church from social life in Catholic countries.

“The administration has made the LGBT agenda one of the cornerstones of their foreign policy,” said Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute.

“They have directed their embassies everywhere to monitor and assist domestic homosexual movements whether the host country and their people accept it or not.”

“The U.S. is very powerful and can force governments to submit to its social policy views,” Ruse told CNA June 28.

Rebecca Marchinda, director of advocacy for the U.N.-focused World Youth Alliance, warned that U.S. activism—in Catholic countries especially—could result in the alienation of “the Church from the public sphere and the debate about these issues.”

“Instead of recognizing that states have legitimate reasons for recognizing marriage and family as an institution (and not other arrangements), the U.S. will help to pit the Catholic Church against civil society by stating that opposition to the U.S. ideas is based solely on outdated religious ideas.”

Some of these legitimate reasons, she noted, exist prior to religion and promote dignity and the common good.

Secretary Clinton discussed the U.S. administration’s role in homosexual advocacy at a June 27 LGBT Pride Month celebration co-hosted by the State Department and the organization Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies.

The U.S. Embassy in Rome played an “instrumental role” in bringing Lady Gaga to Italy for a EuroPride concert, Clinton said. Organizers of the event “desperately” wanted the American music star to perform and a letter to Lady Gaga from Ambassador David Thorne played a key role in securing the agreement.

“Over one million people attended the event, which included powerful words in support of equality and justice,” Clinton said.

Lady Gaga, a leading advocate for homosexual political causes, has also created several highly sexualized music videos that use Catholic religious symbols.

Paola Concia, a homosexual deputy of Italy’s Democratic Party, told the Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano that Ambassador Thorne’s intervention in the event was “surely” influenced by the political situation in Italy—the only founding nation of the European Union without a law on so-called homosexual rights.

The ambassador has frequently referred to Secretary Clinton’s phrase that “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.”

In her June 27 remarks, Secretary Clinton added that U.S. embassy staff in Slovakia worked “overtime” to help make the Pride parade in that country a success after the first one ended in violence.

The staff brought together more than 20 chiefs of mission from other nations to sign a public statement of support for the march and hosted a “respectful, productive debate on LGBT rights.”

“And on the day of the parade, our ambassador marched in solidarity right next to the mayor of Bratislava,” she said.

Clinton said the State Department was also involved in advocating LGBT rights in Honduras, Uganda, Malawi, Russia, Turkey, China and other places.

She noted the United States’ “major effort” at the Human Rights Council in Geneva to support a statement in ending violence and criminalization based on “sexual orientation and gender identity.”

The United States’ Bureau for Western Affairs and its permanent mission to the Organization of American States helped create a special rapporteur for LGBT rights within the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights.

Ruse said such advocacy is not simply about stopping violence against gays.

“They are intent on forcing homosexual marriage and homosexual adoption on countries that are offended by such things. They are intent on forcing sexual orientation and gender identity as new categories of non-discrimination that will trump the rights of religious believers.

“On this topic, this administration is far beyond the mainstream,” Ruse stated.

He said that most people around the world still understand homosexuality as “outside the norm” and as “something to be avoided and certainly not approved.”

“Most people recognize that the homosexual lifestyle is harmful to public health and morals. The effect of the Obama policy is to offend billions of people and force this view on reluctant governments. This is most especially offensive to countries that are predominantly Christian and Muslim. In fact, Christianity and Islam are among the chief obstacles of this agenda and policy.”

Marchinda suggested that Clinton’s comments express a “misunderstanding” about the nature of the debate on LGBT rights and that debate’s relationship to state sovereignty and human rights in general.

“It is worrisome that the United States has moved beyond defending the legitimate rights of all people to be free from violence to helping usurp the laws of (United Nations) member states concerning marriage and local regulations pertaining to parades and other events,” she told CNA on June 28.

“U.S. advocacy on these issues promotes a particular definition of human rights that is not accepted by all nations. It is increasingly a Western definition that the U.S. uses to promote its interests abroad and this definition guides its distribution of foreign aid to developing countries.”

Marchinda noted that there is presently no internationally-accepted definition of terms like “sexual orientation,” “LGBT,” or “gender identity,” though the U.S. continues to use this language in its human rights work.

“This causes confusion among member states of the United Nations and especially among those receiving aid with policy-type strings attached.”

http://tinyurl.com/3cawjbq