Wednesday, 31 March 2010

The Pope and the Press ...

Thanks to Jack Valero (forwarded to me by email) for the information I am going to post here, explaining how the attack on Benedict XVI re two cases of child-abusing priests is - though sad and shameful in itself - just a stick with which to beat the Pope.

Valero writes: "The idea of some in the media was then to find a story that involved Cardinal Ratzinger directly, before becoming Pope. First there was a story based in Munich, where Cardinal Ratzinger had been archbishop and he had authorised for a priest from another German diocese to come to Munich for treatment. He was an abuser. Without Cardinal Ratzinger’s knowledge, he was placed in a parish situation where he abused again. By the time this was found out Cardinal Ratzinger had been in Rome for a few years. So he was not involved.

The second story broke in the New York Times on 25 March and was about a Fr Murphy who had abused deaf children in the 70’s. He had been reported to the civil authorities who investigated him but dropped the case. In the early 90s his archbishop decided he was guilty and withdrew him from public ministry. He then wrote to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) because some of the offences included solicitation in the confessional, which always had to be reported to the Holy See. A process of laicisation started but in 1998, Fr Murphy himself wrote to Cardinal Ratzinger saying he was dying, he had lived in isolation for some years, had not abused for many years – could the process be stopped? Cardinal Ratzinger agreed and thee priest was not defrocked. Fr Murphy died 4 months later. Now one can argue whether the decision was right or wrong, but one cannot say Cardinal Ratzinger was either complicit in the abuse or helped to cover it up in any way."

Details of the case can be found in two pieces in Zenit, which explain it well:

Valero was called by Sky News and actually appeared in their afternoon service explaining the above. You can see it here:

He says: "I wanted to say so many more things! But at least I was happy to be given the opportunity to put the record straight in some way."

Valero continues:
"Actually the truth is the opposite to what the media are trying to portray. Since 2001, when Cardinal Ratzinger was asked by Pope John Paul II to take over these types of cases, he speeded up the procedures and made everything much more transparent than had been up to then. In other words, it is thanks to Pope Benedict that the Catholic Church has such good procedures in place. This is well explained by John Allen here:

An excellent piece well worth reading is Archbishop Nichols writing in the Times:

- End of Valero's comments -

God bless our Holy Father and protect him from all attacks upon him.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

On us thy dear children ... St Patick's Day 2010

Singing 'Hail, glorious St Patrick' always brings a tear to my eyes, especially the verse about the exiles keeping alive the fire lit by the man at Tara, now spread throughout the world. In our own school we have the relics of a 7th century Irish missionary saint in our altar, one of the early spiritual sons of St Patrick.

This year my Irish sentimentalism was tinged with a dose of collective shame about the whole saga unfolding in Ireland regarding child abuse. It is just all so horrible.

But, let's get one thing straight: to pretend that priestly celibacy is the problem is a very myopic idea. How many women do you know who would have liked to marry one of these men? It is blindingly obvious that in the case of sexual abuse, we are concerned with men who enter the priesthood for false motives. In the famous case of Father Sean Fortune, and in almost all the others, the abuse starts as soon as the priest has the chance, shortly after ordination. The issue for ths Church is that such men should never have been allowed through to ordination in the first place, not that the priestly life has corrupted them. Suspension, imprisonment, even excommunication is what should happen here.

On occasion, and I guess this is in the minority of cases, a good priest (or doctor, or teacher, or parent, or whatever) can be uncharacteristically weak and silly with someone in his care. In such cases, usually, things do not go too far, but are a great source of embarassment and shame. For men in this situation, it could well be the loneliness of celibacy which is the proximate cause, or at least the trigger. In that kind of situation, perhaps the advice of Jose Maria Escriva is pertinent: act like Noah's good sons confronted with their father's drunkeness and be forgiving and compassionate. And yet, even for them, the Church needs to learn the lesson that 'no-one is above the law.' Still, if Catholics made sure to love their priests, and pray for them, it would help ...