Previous posts in this discussion:
PostThoughts on the RC Church Scandals (Randy Black, USA, 02/26/13 8:50 am)
I've hesitated to enter this Roman Catholic Church (RCC) discussion (most recently, David Fleischer, 25 February) because religion is generally not my area of interest. However, as I study these issues, the matter of Roman Catholic priests and their propensity for pedophilia is less about religion.
It's more about felonies committed by the employees/priests of the RCC against young boys. The additional crimes include the ongoing coverups that extend to the Pope, his writings, actions, and his legal staff. These matters may extend to include his unprecedented, surprise resignation earlier this month.
It seems to me that the RCC's nearly century-old pedophilia scandal, coupled with the continuing coverups, represent a tragic heritage for the RCC and especially for Pope Benedict XVI.
It's very clear from court records that RCC church leadership at the Vatican level knew about the pedophiles in their cadre of priests since at least 1962, yet did everything in their power to hide the criminals from prosecution and to hush up the victims with money payouts.
In 1962, a secret document regarding "crimen sollicitationis" was issued by what is today the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (PCDF). It instructed bishops about how to handle cases in which priests were accused of using the privacy of the confessional to make sexual advances on children. The Vatican document directed that all matters related to pedophiles in the priesthood be kept secret and under lock. It also directed that all who denounced a priest to be excommunicated "unless such charges were made by the children who were abused ‘within 30 days' of such abuse."
Cardinal Joseph Razinger reaffirmed that 1962 cover-up document in 2001, when he issued the "De delictis graviorbus" on behalf of the PCDF, which by then he headed.
Later, when money failed to quiet the victims, at least a half-dozen dioceses declared bankruptcy.
It has been a common practice by the Catholic Bishops and Cardinals, and other church officials, to transfer the criminals from one church to another in order to shield the RCC from the crippling prosecutions and financial damages propagated by such pedophiles.
"Forget the children our priests raped, just save the parish and the land that we own and rent to retailers, and which is not taxed," seems to be the RCC's mantra (my thought).
In its defense, the Roman Catholic Church made the claim that "only about" 5,000 of its priests out of 410,000 were giving the church a bad name.
Historically, the Church has claimed that these crimes "were an internal matter," while defending them from prosecution in civil and criminal courts.
When the RCC leaders were questioned by the media and the courts, they outrageously defended themselves by claiming that "Hey, the Boy Scouts of America have the same problem."
Payouts to the victims, coupled with the legal defense costs, are in the billions of dollars of RCC funds that have been used to "settle" the matters of the nearly exclusively male victims, before, during and after prosecution.
Geographically, the crimes of the RCC priests and senior leadership have resulted in more than 3,000 civil lawsuits per the BishopAccountability.org Website. In 1998, the Dallas Diocese paid out $44 million in today's dollars as a result of crimes committed in the 1970s-1990s.
The RCC Diocese of Louisville, Kentucky settled for $25.7 million on 240 victims, because of the crimes of 34 priests in 2003. Yet the crimes continued across the globe. Southern California, Oregon, Seattle, LA (500 victims and $660 million in payouts to the children who were sexually abused) and dozens of other dioceses have been actively involved in the crimes and the cover-ups.
In all, at least half dozen Catholic dioceses have declared bankruptcy in order to avoid the financial payouts.
One example among thousands: From Wikipedia: "John Geoghan was shifted from one parish to another although Cardinal Bernard Law had been informed of his sexual misconduct on a number of occasions such as in December 1984 when auxiliary Bishop John M. D'Arcy wrote to Cardinal Law complaining about Geoghan's reassignment to another Boston-area parish because of his 'history of homosexual involvement with young boys.'"
As the record demonstrates, these terrible violations of our children extends to the Vatican: "A memo personally signed by Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, when he headed the powerful Vatican office where all charges of abuse were centralized, was exposed (in 2001) has aroused a new outcry."
Cardinal Ratzinger overrode and stopped any action against the predator priest Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy. Ratzinger threatened to excommunicate anyone who charged that priests were sexual abusers. (The Evening Standard, 30 Sept. 2006). Regarded at "the enforcer" under Pope John Paul II, Ratzinger directed a "strict cover-up of pedophile priests."
Reverend Murphy was accused of sexually abusing more than 200 boys at a Milwaukee School for the Deaf, despite appeals for his expulsion even from his own bishop. For decades the former students had used sign language and written affidavits in meetings with bishops and secular officials to demand that Father Murphy be charged and prosecuted.
At the same time, the story broke in Italy that 67 former pupils of another school for the Deaf in Verona had accused 24 priests, brothers and religious laymen of sexually abusing them from the age of 7 years.
In Germany, more than 250 suppressed cases of abuse have surfaced in the last two months, including in districts directly overseen by Pope Benedict when he had been the bishop."
(RB) In my opinion, these crimes are the direct result of the RCC's idiotic doctrine of celibacy. But that's another story for another day. Until the RCC finds a new way to stop these crimes, the church will continue to shrink and to become less relevant around the globe.
JE comments: This is the damning evidence in a nutshell. The question remains open as to whether these crimes, together with their coverup, are the reason behind Benedict XVI's resignation. The only silver lining I see here is that the Church now has an unprecedented opportunity to purge its ranks of those who prey on the vulnerable. It really has no other choice.
Thoughts on the RC Church Scandals
(Norman Tutorow, USA
02/27/13 1:44 AM)
Five cheers for Randy Black (26 February)
John, you are guilty of an egregious error. You stated that the Roman Catholic Church had no other choice than to purge its ranks of priests who prey on the vulnerable. It does have another choice, and that is to
ignore the entire fiasco and hope that it goes away.
Randy, I would make one negative comment. Why do you refer to
these creatures from the nether world by the title Rev? And I was
surprised to learn that you think "Rev" means "one to be revered." Oh,
of course, you were being sarcastic! You knew all along that "rev" is
the abbreviation for "revolting" or "revulsive." Very witty of you!
So "Rev" is a good description after all.
Incidentally, the word "reverend" appears only once in the Jewish
bible. "Holy and reverend is his name," referring to the Jewish god.
Thanks for your good work.
JE comments: I'm guilty of an egregious error from time to time, but to me there is a reason the Church has no choice but to clean up its act once and for all: litigation.
Use of "Reverend" in Judaism; Rabbi Joseph Herman Hertz
(Henry Levin, USA
02/27/13 4:01 PM)
Just to add to Norman Tutorow's tale of the word "reverend" (27 February), my great
uncle Joseph Herman Hertz was the Chief Rabbi of the British Empire
from 1913 until his death in 1946. His tale is interesting. He was
born in Slovakia and came to the US as a young lad. In the US (as
in Israel today), the Orthodox branch of Judaism dominated religious
life. Hertz went to the newly established Jewish Theological Seminary
(an upstart, called the Conservative Branch of Judaism, but really a
more modern movement in opposition to Orthodoxy). He was the first
Rabbi ordained by the JTS in 1894, but no congregation would accept
him because of his suspect ordination, so he still had to enroll at an
Orthodox seminary to get a more "official" title.
He went briefly to
a Syracuse congregation, marrying my mother's Aunt Rose (a beauty from
a family of beauties) and saw an enquiry for a Rabbi in South Africa.
He applied and was selected and left for SA and Johannesberg around
1896, arriving at about the time of the Second Boer War. He became
passionately British and apparently failed to keep that out of his
preaching, such that President Kruger tried to expel him. He had to
leave, temporarily accompanying the young Winston Churchill, who had
been sent by the British to protect their interests. He returned to
SA in 1902 and stayed until 1911, when he left for London.
The Jewish Community in London was at war internally over its
leadership with the traditional Orthodox community in conflict with
the newer modern versions of Judaism, where ancient traditions were
being rejected or re-interpreted. Although they needed official
recognition by the Crown, they could not find a suitable candidate
until my Great Uncle showed up with his JTS and Orthodox ordinations.
He became the Chief Rabbi of the British Empire, the symbolic head of
the Jewish faith in the eyes of the Crown and officialdom.
until his death in 1946 and became famous for his interpretation of
the books of the Old Testament. His commentary on this scripture is
encased in a book that is still used to interpret the weekly Torah
readings from the Bible.
The bottom line is that as with other official leaders of their
religions in the British Empire, he was referred to officially as
I just found out that his great-granddaughter is an
economist at Cambridge, Noreena Hertz. She is well-known in her
profession. And, if her picture is anything like the one on the
official site on the Internet, the family beauty has been visited on
the next generations.
JE comments: I couldn't resist Googling Dr. Hertz, and yes: the beauty of the Hertz family lives on. (You're a good looking fellow yourself, Hank!)
What a fascinating family story. Has Rabbi Hertz's biography been written? Given his illustrious career, I assume that it has.
- Thoughts on the RC Church Scandals (Paul Levine, Denmark 02/27/13 2:01 AM)
Thanks to Randy Black (26 February) for laying out the sordid details of the RCC
cover-up of priestly pedophilia over decades. It certainly gives
new meaning to the aphorism, "May all your problems be little ones."
But I wonder if John Eipper is right in assuming that the RCC has
"no choice" but to reform. Powerful vested interests may oppose it.
The RCC is often compared to the CCP in its practice of total
control and insistence on infallibility. Now many critics argue
that the Party has "no choice" but to eliminate official corruption.
But there is no indication that this will happen. Neither institution
can correct itself without calling into question its existence: the
monopoly of the Party or Patriarchal elite. What ordinary Chinese say
of the CCP may be true of the RCC: "If we don’t root out corruption,
the country will perish; if we do root out corruption, the Party will perish."
JE comments: Some colleagues will cringe at the comparison of the Roman Catholic Church with China's Communist Party, but both are at a crossroads. The Church probably has an easier job ahead of it, if it chooses the new Pope wisely. They must elect a reformer and a good communicator, a man with zero tolerance for corruption. Something along the lines of a "truth and reconciliation commission" would go a long way towards restoring the confidence of the RCC faithful.
Catholicism, Communism, and Raccoon Terrorists
(William Ratliff, USA
02/27/13 7:30 AM)
I will leave it to Paul Levine (27 February) to spell out parallels between Roman Catholicism and the CCP, if he wishes to do so, but I will add that the first serious and impressive comparison I ever read of RC and Communism (not specifically the CCP), in 1962, was by two scholars who were very well informed on both, Józef Maria Bocheński and Gerhart Niemeyer, in their Handbook on Communism.
Ed Jajko (26 Feb.) rings another old bell with the Raccoon Terrorists headline. Those beautiful masked bandits did roam around parts of Palo Alto at night for years, often in groups (seemingly families) of up to six, the big males probably weighing up to 20 pounds. Though the headline was overkill, to be sure, they did rather terrorize some local pets and the phrase had a ring of "reality" to Palo Alto residents who had often encountered them tipping over garbage cans and deck chairs in their yards in the middle of the night.
JE comments: That raccoons do their marauding while masked only increases the terror factor. And they can't take the masks off. The TSA would never allow them on a commercial flight.
RCC and CCP: McGregor's *The Party*
(Paul Levine, Denmark
03/01/13 1:27 AM)
In response to William Ratliff (27 February), parallels between the RCC and CCP are confirmed in Richard McGregor's authoritative book, The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers (2010):
"It is no coincidence that the Vatican is one of the few states with which China has been unable to establish diplomatic ties since the founding of the People's Republic in 1949. The city-state, which is the administrative centre of the Catholic Church and the home of the Pope, is the only other organization of comparable dimensions to the Chinese Communist Party, albeit on a global scale, and with a similar addiction to ritual and secrecy. The Party guards the command of its catechism as zealously and self-righteously as the Vatican defends its authority over the faith. . . The on-and-off talks between Rome and Beijing have been punctuated, in private, by a self-aware black humor. One of the unofficial Chinese intermediaries with Rome joked about the uncanny similarities between the Party and the Catholic Church when he visited the Vatican in 2008. 'We have the propaganda department and you have the evangelicals. We have the organization [personnel] department and you have the College of Cardinals,' he told a Vatican official. 'What's the difference, then?' the official asked. The Chinese interlocutor replied, to hearty laughter all round: 'You are God and we are the devil.'" (p. 10)
- RCC and CCP: McGregor's *The Party* (Paul Levine, Denmark 03/01/13 1:27 AM)
- Thoughts on the RC Church Scandals (Paul Levine, Denmark 02/27/13 2:01 AM)
- Use of "Reverend" in Judaism; Rabbi Joseph Herman Hertz (Henry Levin, USA 02/27/13 4:01 PM)