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“Judgment Day For Pervert Priests?”: Tackling The Enablers Of Child Abuse, The Bishops

For the first time in the long and sordid history of the Catholic Church’s saga with pedophile priests, the Vatican has approved a special judicial tribunal that could bring to justice the bishops who have helped protect offending priests.

But is it enough to protect kids? Survivors groups hope that this time the Vatican has come up with an approach that will work.

“It could be, but only time will tell,” David Clohessy, the national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests (SNAP), told The Daily Beast. “But this isn’t like horseshoes. Every ‘miss’—however close it seems to be to the peg—means more kids will be raped.”

The new tribunal was the brainchild of American cardinal Sean O’Malley, who has become a central figure in the popular papacy of Pope Francis, which may make him a major contender when it comes time for the next conclave. As head of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, and one of the pope’s trusted confidantes who sit on the elite Commission of Cardinals, O’Malley presented the plan at a meeting of the pope’s key men in Rome this week. They adopted it unanimously.

The tribunal will not focus on the abusers themselves per se, but rather on complicit bishops who moved the abusers around, knowing full well they were putting children in harm’s way. The five-point plan drafted by O’Malley allows for a number of changes to the current procedure, including making it a duty for diocese to report claims of abuse to Rome, according to Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi.

For years, the Vatican has distanced itself from its field offices, effectively toeing the party line that what happens in individual dioceses cannot be blamed on the central church in Rome. By making it compulsory to instead alert the Rome-based tribunal of all complaints, the Vatican is effectively closing the gap and effectively taking greater responsibility for what happens in its dioceses.

The real question, though, is whether the new process will actually translate into effective punishment for proven offenders, and whether the secular courts will still be kept at bay when it comes to punishing child abusers and sex offenders. The organization Bishop Accountability, which keeps a database of extensive public records of accusations against abusers, warned that the very office that enforces accountability must itself be accountable.

“A public docket, prompt announcements of decisions, and release of documents are essential,” the group said in a statement.

The new tribunal will operate under the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which was reincarnated from the old Universal Inquisition department of the Holy See. It will have dedicated staff to sort through complaints and help process claims, and it will pass down judgments if it finds bishops complicit in the abuse.

Survivors groups are hopeful, but they say they would prefer that all sex abuse cases are all handled in the secular courts, not dealt with in a Vatican-operated tribunal.

“I don’t think we welcome any new internal cleric-dominated process, especially when it’s in the CDF, which, for decades, has refused to defrock or delayed defrocking some of the worst predator priests,” Clohessy says. “On paper, a mechanism like this looks good. But church abuse mechanisms always look good on paper. If this one is used to prevent cover-ups and punish ‘enablers,’ we’ll be surprised and pleased. If, however, it’s used to mollify distraught parishioners and generate good headlines, we won’t be surprised. That’s been the history of nearly all of the hundreds of church abuse panels over the past three decades.”

At face value, at least, this plan does feel fresh, if only because the Vatican has never directly mandated the investigation of bishops before. But it does call into question what this means for some of the most high-powered Vatican officials who are now facing allegations of taking part in the cover-ups, like Cardinal George Pell the Vatican’s financial czar who has been facing allegations in his native Australia for decades that he bribed victims and mishandled the case of defrocked pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale.

Last week, Peter Saunders, one of the few non-clerical members of O’Malley’s Protection of Minors Commission, told Australia’s 60 Minutes program he thought Pell should be removed. “He has a catalogue of denigrating people, of acting with callousness, cold-heartedness, almost sociopathic,” Saunders told the program. “I consider him to be quite a dangerous individual.” Pell has threatened legal action against the program, and the Vatican was quick to distance itself and O’Malley’s commission from Saunders’ remarks, even though he is a member of the group.

Whether Pell’s case will be among the first heard by the new Vatican tribunal is anyone’s guess, but there are certainly plenty of others who could keep the tribunal busy once it is in place. Polish Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, for one, is in Rome after being brought back from the Dominican Republic where he was the papal nuncio. At the time of his removal, the Vatican promised that Wesolowski would be investigated and brought to justice for the alleged abuse of young boys. So far as anyone knows, that has not happened. By being whisked back to Rome, he escaped secular court judgment in the Dominican Republic and even though he has been defrocked, he still enjoys immunity by living inside Vatican City.

Lombardi said that the O’Malley has given the new tribunal a five-year period to evaluate its success and effectiveness. God only knows how many children will be saved or be made to suffer while the Vatican and the victims groups work out whether the new plan works.

 

By: Barbie Latza Nadeau, The Daily Beast, June 1, 2015

June 12, 2015 Posted by | Cardinal Sean O'Malley, Catholic Church, Vatican | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Shameless Fear-Mongering”: It’s Time To Expel Michele Bachmann From Congress

In a recent interview on conservative radio show Faith & Liberty, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) warned that the gay community ultimately wants to “abolish age-of-consent laws, which means we will do away with statutory-rape laws so that adults will be able to freely prey on little children sexually. That’s the deviance that we’re seeing embraced in our culture today.”

Of course, Bachmann offered absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support her claim, most likely because there is none. It’s an outright lie. A supposed inherent link between homosexuality and pedophilia has been disproven time and again. Consequently, the canard that gay people — gay men, specifically — wish to sexually exploit children, which was once commonly held in America, has, more recently, been reduced to fodder for far-right homophobes. Granted, Bachmann certainly falls into that demographic, but the scope of her influence far outreaches that of an average private citizen.

In the same interview Bachmann went on to state that the gay community also wishes to legalize polygamy and enact “hate-speech laws across the United States” in order to bring about the “rise of tyranny.”

This latest incident isn’t Bachmann’s first foray into the arena of blatant homophobia. She’s been peddling inflammatory myths about the gay community and representing those myths as indisputable truths throughout her stint as a congresswoman, all the while insisting that her message “is to spread goodness and joy and wholeness and healing.”

In the marketplace of shameless fear-mongering, Michele Bachmann can certainly hold her own amongst the usual cast of right-wing characters. However, a great deal of Bachmann’s rhetoric is typically irresponsible and borders on slander. For instance, in another recent interview Bachmann implied that unaccompanied minors fleeing the violence in Central America, who have come in large numbers to the Southern U.S. border, will be allowed into the country by President Obama so they can be put into foster care and used for “medical experimentation.” How much longer will Bachmann be allowed to make such wild, completely unfounded accusations with impunity?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for individuals being able to freely express an opinion. And I understand that it’s important to play to your audience. But these are no mere opinions, and Bachmann is no mere individual. And this latest incident isn’t Bachmann’s first foray into the arena of blatant homophobia. What Bachmann is doing is presenting an erroneous and incendiary scenario as truth. We’ve heard it before, but what makes this instance all the more disturbing is the simple fact that Bachmann isn’t some washed-up 1950s-beauty-pageant contestant, nor is she some huckster televangelist. Bachmann is a member of the Congress of the United States. She has the power to introduce bills and resolutions, and to vote on whether or not they should be enacted into law. When Bachmann was sworn in for her fourth and current term in Congress, she stated on her website, “It is a true honor to represent the citizens of Central Minnesota in the United States Congress.” Given her opinion of the gay community, I don’t believe Bachmann is genuinely capable of fulfilling that duty, nor does she have any inclination to do so. After all, Bachmann must be aware that a segment of the population of Central Minnesota is made up of gays and lesbians. Otherwise, Bachmann & Associates, the counseling center founded by Bachmann’s husband, Marcus, wouldn’t have considered it necessary to offer conversion “therapy” to its clients. And Bachmann has campaigned tirelessly against same-sex marriage in Minnesota throughout her political career.

Bachmann has hinted that she will not seek reelection at the end of her current term in Congress. She has also vaguely hinted at another run for the U.S. presidency. I don’t think there is even the slightest chance that Bachmann could be elected to run the country. History has proven that. Regardless, I believe she should be expelled from Congress. Our system of government was created to be “of the people, by the people and for the people.” The “people” includes the LGBT community, and government officials such as Michele Bachmann are not only not for us; they are pathologically against us. Personally, I don’t believe my tax dollars should be used to pay the salary of someone who wants to convince the world that my ultimate desire is to be able to legally molest children.

 

By: Walt Hawkins, The Huffington Post Blog, August 9, 2014

August 10, 2014 Posted by | Homophobia, Michele Bachmann | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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