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Apr 23, 2010

Here’s a crazy idea: What if the Pope is innocent?

How much actual evidence is there against Pope Benedict? None at all. Sure lots of people, including many Catholics, dislike the Pope. But being unpopular is not a crime, writes Paul Mees.

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Does anyone remember the Catholic s-x abuse scandal at the Vienna Boys Choir? According to The Age of  March 19, the choir “has been caught up in accusations that pedophile priests systematically abused their choristers.” The same day’s Australian reported that “the crisis over sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has intensified” as a result of the choir scandal.

The Australian story was a beat-up, The Age’s an outright fabrication. The Vienna Boys Choir is a private organisation, and the complaints of abuse were made against teachers and older choristers, not priests. Once this became apparent, the media dropped the story: the choristers’ suffering ceased to be interesting without a church angle. But there have been no apologies, retractions or Media Watch denunciations.

If ordinary Catholics elected popes, I would not have voted for Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The urbane Carlo Martini, of Milan, was much more to my taste than the Panzer Kardinal from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. And while he has not started the heresy hunts feared by his critics and desired by his supporters, Pope Benedict XVI has made some very poor decisions.

One of the worst was to approve the lifting of the 1980s excommunication of four bishops, one of whom is a Holocaust denier. In his rather lame apology, Benedict conceded that he could have found out the bishop’s views simply by consulting the internet: “I have learned the lesson that in the future in the Holy See we will have to pay greater attention to that source of news.”

So it is understandable that many observers have treated the rash of negative stories about Benedict and child abuse as examples of the same problem. The impression that the Vatican has its collective head in the sand has been reinforced by daft comments blaming homosexuality for child abuse and comparing criticism of Benedict to anti-semitism. But where is the evidence that the Pope is guilty of anything worse than bad PR?

Smoking guns

Bestselling atheist author Richard Dawkins wants the Pope prosecuted for aiding and abetting child abuse. His “smoking gun” is the case of the Californian priest Stephen Kiesle, who actually asked to be defrocked after s-xually assaulting two children in 1978. Ratzinger wrote to Kiesle’s bishop, who supported the request, in 1985 saying he needed more time to give the matter “careful consideration”.

Why did Ratzinger need to consider the request, Dawkins asks? And why didn’t he report Kiesle to the police? The answer is that Kiesle had already been reported to the police, convicted and sentenced. After completing his sentence, Kiesle left the priesthood and wrote to the CDF asking to be formally defrocked. Every year, some of the church’s 410,000 priests quit.

They don’t need Vatican permission: they can simply walk out. But they do need to be laicised if they want to get married in a Catholic church. Ordinarily this is not a problem, but it was in Kiesle’s case, because his bishop cited the sexual assaults as a factor in favour of laicisation.

Ratzinger’s reply to the bishop has been misrepresented by selective quotation. It begins by referring to “the matter of the removal of all priestly burdens from … Kiesle”, making it clear that the CDF was being asked to grant a favour, not a punishment. Ratzinger then says “it is necessary to consider the good of the universal church together with [i.e. not just] the petitioner [Kiesle]”, and that the CDF “is also unable to make light of the detriment that the granting of the dispensation can provoke within the community of Christ’s faithful, particularly regarding the young age of the petitioner.”

The “detriment” is the problem created by rewarding a convicted pedophile with permission to marry, which also explains the reference to Kiesle’s age.

Kiesle was defrocked 15 months later, and married shortly afterwards. He abused another child in 1995 and was sentenced to six years’ jail. So Ratzinger’s concerns were well-founded. The suggestion that Ratzinger covered anything up or endangered children, however, is completely groundless.

What about the case of Father Lawrence Murphy of Wisconsin, though? Didn’t Ratzinger cover up for him? The first answer is that the documents in the Murphy case show that Ratzinger played no part in any of the decisions. The second answer is that his underlings in the CDF didn’t cover anything up or endanger any children either.

Murphy abused deaf children at a Milwaukee residential school in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1974, some of his victims complained to the police, who declined to prosecute: it is not clear why, but they may have been barred by the statute of limitations. Murphy was dismissed from his post at the orphanage and went to live with his mother in Superior, at the opposite end of Wisconsin.

Murphy’s victims did not rest, and in 1996 persuaded the Archbishop of Milwaukee to begin proceedings to defrock him. Unfortunately, Murphy had a cunning canon lawyer. He argued that the proceedings were invalid, because they had been started outside the church’s statute of limitations, and that Murphy should have been prosecuted in Superior, where he lived, not Milwaukee. The Milwaukee ecclesiastical court accepted these arguments, so the Diocese of Superior began proceedings against Murphy. It wrote to the CDF seeking an extension of the time limit for prosecutions; Murphy sent a letter opposing the request and pleading poor health.

The CDF replied, saying there was no need for an extension of time, as there is no time limit for prosecuting offences such as Murphy’s. It also asked whether, given Murphy’s health and the difficulty in prosecuting offences from so long ago, less formal disciplinary measures would be appropriate. The Bishop of Superior replied that he intended to proceed with the prosecution, but by this time Murphy’s health had deteriorated, and he died three months later. In the meantime, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee abandoned the earlier proceedings that had been found to be invalid.

There was no cover-up by Ratzinger or the CDF: Murphy had been reported to the police a quarter of a century earlier. And no more children were put at risk, because Murphy had ceased priestly duties. All that happened was that the proceedings against Murphy were transferred from Milwaukee to Superior, the CDF queried whether a prosecution was still appropriate under the circumstances, and Murphy died before a verdict was reached.

A pattern develops

There is a pattern developing here, but it is one of media misrepresentation, not of cover-ups by the Pope. In fact the current “scandal” started in the same way. Newspapers reported that two priests in the German diocese of Regensburg had been jailed for child abuse, one in the 1950s and another in the 1970s. Amid attempts to suggest that the Pope’s brother, who directed the Regensburg Cathedral choir, might have known about the abuse, the media missed the central point. The two priests were prosecuted by the police, convicted and sent to jail. It then emerged that Catholic and Protestant clergy in other parts of Germany were also jailed for s-xual assaults on children.

The core of the American and Irish scandals was the fact that clerical child abuse was covered up. Instead of being prosecuted by the police, offenders were sent for therapy, pronounced cured and returned to duty, often to re-offend. The Boston Globe won a Pulitzer Prize for exposing the cover-ups in Boston: no beat-ups were needed because there was a genuine scandal. But the evidence from Germany undermines suggestions of an international conspiracy to avoid police prosecutions.

Only one of the “smoking guns” against Benedict involves a priest who was not reported to the police. This was Peter Hullermann, who s-xually assaulted three boys in the German diocese of Essen in 1979. The documents in the case have been released to the media, including the minutes of a meeting with the victims’ parents. These record that the parents did not want the case referred to police, to protect their children. Perhaps this was really a cover-up, but alternatively the parents may have had a sincere desire to shield their children from further trauma.

Hullermann was sent for therapy in Munich, where he was allowed to return to parish duties against the advice of his treating psychiatrist. These decisions were made by the Munich personnel director, a Father Fahr, and the diocesan vicar-general, Father Gruber. The decision to accept Hullermann required the approval of Munich’s diocesan council, which consisted of Archbishop Ratzinger and his senior officials.

Fahr did not attend the council meeting, but sent a memo stating that a young priest needed “medical-psychotherapeutic treatment in Munich” and a place to live with “an understanding colleague”.

The diocesan council approved the request. Gruber later wrote another memo recording Hullermann’s return to parish duties and copied it to Ratzinger, but it did not mention the psychiatrist’s advice. Neither memo provided any information alerting Ratzinger to the fact that Hullermann was a pedophile. Some years later, after Ratzinger had left Munich, Hullermann was transferred to another Bavarian diocese, where he re-offended.

This does appear to be a case of gross, if not criminal, negligence by Munich diocesan officials, and a cover-up as well. But Ratzinger was a victim of the cover-up, not a participant. The documents show that he was kept in the dark about Hullermann, and Gruber has confirmed this (Fahr is dead). While Gruber might be suspected of covering for his boss, the same cannot be said of the psychiatrist, who is still angry about the affair. But he also says Ratzinger knew nothing about what was going on.

The case against Ratzinger rests solely on claims that he should somehow have known what happened, when the documentary and witness evidence confirms that he didn’t. It may be worth mentioning that in 1980 the Archdiocese of Munich had 2.2 million parishioners, 1700 priests, 750 brothers and 5800 nuns: even a micro-manager could not keep track of everything.

Unpopularity is not a crime

So how much evidence is there against Benedict in total? None at all. It is true that lots of people, including many Catholics, dislike the Pope. But being unpopular is not a crime. Indeed, the real test of the integrity of a legal system is the ability to be fair to those we dislike, to judge them on the evidence rather than our prejudices. Evidence, a concept Richard Dawkins used to be very keen on when he was a scientist, does not mean op-ed pieces in newspapers or blogs, but facts tending to suggest guilt.

But instead of judgement on the evidence, we get reportage such as that of Johann Hari, a staff writer for Britain’s Independent. Hari says there has been “an international conspiracy to protect child-rapists”, and that “Joseph Ratzinger was at the heart of this policy for decades”. Hari’s smoking gun is a 1962 Vatican directive called “Crimen Sollicitationis”, which is analysed in chapter four of the Murphy Report, the inquiry into the mis-handling of clerical sex abuse in Dublin that reported last year.

The Vatican document, which actually dates from 1922, provided procedures for prosecuting priests accused of various offences, including child abuse. The scandal in Dublin arose because these procedures were not followed. “The penal process of canon law was for a period of years set aside in favour of a purely ‘pastoral’ approach, which was, in the commission’s view, wholly ineffective as a means of controlling clerical child sexual abuse.”

Compare Hari’s take on the same question: “Here’s what we are sure of. By 1962 it was becoming clear to the Vatican that a significant number of its priests were r-ping children. Rather than root it out, they issued a secret order called ‘Crimen Sollicitationis’ ordering bishops to swear the victims to secrecy and move the offending priest on to another parish.”

The Independent is a respected newspaper, but Hari’s smear is worthy of Julius Streicher’s Der Stürmer. This is not another clumsy comparison with anti-semitism. While Jews were Streicher’s main target, he also ran a long campaign against the “immorality” of the Catholic clergy. This campaign climaxed in 1937, when the government closed most of Germany’s Catholic schools. More than 200,000 Catholics left the church, many religious orders were shut down and hundreds of priests sent to concentration camps.

In the end, 21 clergy out of a nationwide body of 20,000 were convicted of child abuse. Some were probably guilty, but Streicher and Goebbels convinced Germans that there were thousands of abusers, all linked by a conspiracy directed from the Vatican.

The historical analogy should not be pressed too far. The current attacks on Benedict are not being co-ordinated by anyone. Some media players are activated by malice, but most are just following the herd, chasing the biggest “scalp” around. But Der Stürmer is relevant because it reminds us of the importance of journalistic standards. Smear campaigns are wrong, even when directed against people we don’t like.

Paul Mees is senior lecturer in planning at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria. His new book Transport for Suburbia: Beyond the Automobile Age (Earthscan, 2010) is not about religion.

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145 thoughts on “Here’s a crazy idea: What if the Pope is innocent?

  1. Venise Alstergren

    @JOHN CANDIDO @ PAUL MEES: Of course celibacy is an erroneous excuse for child molestation….in itself.

    Any self-respecting child molester can offer a child a packet of Smarties with a reasonable degree of success. To actually go to all the trouble of becoming a priest just to bugger small children is laughable.

    However, PAUL, you ignore the real point-which appears to be your stock in trade.

    The real point is the arbitrarily celibate male who is, day after day, year after year, confronted by small children. Something has to break. This is merely a rerun of ‘the nicest castle will be the one most heavily besieged’.

    Marriage has covered up many child rapists. However, the men concerned are mostly serial rapists. It takes the Catholic church to make an art form of martyrdom.

    To condemn well-meaning men to a life of celibacy, with the promise of an afterlife of heaven is right up there with the Muslim belief of seventy-eight virgins, dressed as houris of paradise, and popular fiction, await all men, but will come more quickly if one is a martyr and a terrorist.

    By the time the Catholic church decides to join the twenty-first century the world will have become uninhabitable anyway.

    By now you PAUL will have learned a little bit about the hostility with which women view the Catholic church. But, because I am a woman, doesn’t obviate
    the Hell with which it treats the poor male fools who yearn to be decent human beings.

  2. Phil

    As evil as child abuse is and the worst of human behaviour, let’s not forget we are dealing with an organisation that was built on the back of lies and pagan solar sun god myths. A fact their hierarchies are well aware of, as with all religions for that matter. This now is an obvious fact for those who care to look. Why can’t we just lance this boils? Where possible get justice, compensate it’s victims. Always remember that it is humanity that has forced religion into improving it’s morals and not the other way around. Why are people so blind to these facts?

  3. Paul Mees

    @john candido: Sorry I have taken so long to respond to your posts: my internet was down.
    @”What my mistake entailed was to rely on the near frenzy of media reports and other websites, both christian and secular, that suggested that some scandals could be connected to Benedict when he was the Archbishop of Munich or a Cardinal in the Vatican. We will all have to wait and see if anything substantial will arise in future, or that these stories were in fact a media beatup or were simply innacurrate.”

    I agree with you.

    @”If there is any truth to these three paragraphs [of Richard Sipe] in that they provide incontrovertible and verifiable evidence, that can withstand the rigours of a court of law, and which clearly and rationally substantiates that he is connected with disreputable decisions that have disadvantaged any children or women that have been abused, I will immediately call for the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.”

    I also agree, and so will I. However, the document Richard Sipe has placed on his website, which has publicly available for years, does not support his claims. It simply records the 2001 decision to transfer child abuse (and some other) cases from the Congregation for the Clergy (then headed by Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, whose appalling performance I have mentioned in previous posts) to Ratzinger’s CDF. If this is evidence of anything, it’s evidence in favour of Ratzinger — who persuaded pope JPII to take the handling of abuse cases away from Castrillon, who was stalling on defrocking abusive priests. The pace of defrockings accelerated rapidly as soon as this was done.

    As for your comments about links between celibacy and child abuse, at the risk of attracting another spray, I actually agree with Liz45 on this. Celibacy is no excuse. There are, of course, other arguments against clerical celibacy, some of which you have mentioned, but I think they belong in another discussion thread.

  4. John Candido

    Dear Liz and Venise, I have stumbled upon some information located within Richard Sipe’s website, which potentially is relevant material against the general ethos and purpose of Paul Mees’ article above called ‘What if the Pope is Innocent’. If you go to http://www.richardsipe.com/ and scroll down the page a little, you will come across a smallish white rectangle situated to the immediate right of centre entitled ‘New: Ratzinger Signs Off’. If you click on it, a pop-up will detail some interesting information about whether Ratzinger is connected to any sex abuse scandal while he was a Vatican Cardinal. I have copied it in its entirety as a quotation for anybody to conveniently read below.

    ‘2010-04-01 – Those of us who have worked on legal cases involving sex abuse of minors by Catholic bishops and priests have seen this signature (Ratzinger’s) on a number of documents we have had to review. Cardinal Ratzinger, notwithstanding his good intentions, has acted repeatedly according to the pattern and practice amply described in U.S. court records, victims’ testimonies, journalistic accounts beginning with Jason Berry and the National Catholic Reporter in 1985, recent Grand Jury Reports, and the church’s own files, etc. etc. etc. All these sources and more document cover up to avoid scandal and to preserve clerical image in preference to protecting children. Words have changed. The pattern and practice have not.’

    ‘Cardinal Levada who now occupies Ratzinger’s post as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith left a trail of transfers of abusive priests across the country and more. The Zero Tolerance policy much touted by the American bishops as their moral high ground is in reality a swamp of reassignments and further clerical hiding. A glaring loophole exists in the U.S. decree – it does not include abusive bishops who continue without containment until the waters public exposure and scandal rise so high even the Vatican cannot keep dry.’

    ‘Examples: Cardinal Groer of Vienna and Fr. Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ were known abusers long before Rome took any action. Lesser publicized clerics i.e. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and Bishop Robert Brom have yet to attract Vatican attention.’

    If there is any truth to these three paragraphs in that they provide incontrovertible and verifiable evedence, that can withstand the rigours of a court of law, and which clearly and rationally substantiates that he is connected with disreputable decisions that have disadvantaged any children or women that have been abused, I will immediately call for the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. If this information is true and verifiable as it is presented, Benedict has no credibility or integrity and he should immediately resign his office for the good of the church. Sincerely yours, John Candido.

  5. John Candido

    My apologies to Liz and to whoever has read my previous post, but the website addresses that I had placed within it has somehow unhelpfully not appeared. I will try again but I fear it will be a farce as I don’t know what I am doing wrong. Can anybody offer me some guidance?

    Here we go again. Richard Sipe’s website is http://www.richardsipe.com/ . The National Catholic Reporter’s website is http://ncronline.org/ . The specific research that I reffered to is located at http://ncronline.org/blogs/examining-crisis/secret-sex-celibate-system . I hope this works.

  6. John Candido

    Liz, your intuition about celibacy being not a cause of the sexual abuse of children but that the dysfunctional environment of clerical culture which leads a minority of celebates to abuse children, has been born-out by recent research in America. An ex-benedictine monk and priest in the United States, who subsequently became an authority on celibacy and sexuality, as well as a psychotherapist who is called Dr. Richard Sipe, has conducted extensive research into the hidden sexual lives of celebate priests and religious. He is also an author on the issue of celibacy within the catholic church.

    If you google A. W. Richard Sipe or you went to his website , or the National Catholic Reporter’s website at , which is an independant American Catholic news site, or the specific research that I am refering to at , you could inform yourself further about the issue of sex and celibacy among priests and bishops. Please avail yourself of these websites because they are a real eye-opener. In particular, some of the articles within the National Catholic Reporter are quite high quality, open-minded, religious journalism, which are written by priests or lay people. Some of the posts are sensational reads. Any modern and liberal minded catholic knows that s/he is not alone when they click-on and read the National Catholic Reporter.

    Liz, I sadly agree with you that some men join the priesthood or a religious order so that they can access children for absolutely nefarious reasons, and this is really hideous and disgusting. It is one clear and important reason that the current governance of the church is a dysfunctional and dangerous modality that needs urgent reform and restructuring. Although I am not an authority in many of these issues including church history, celibacy was introduced in 1139 AD as a form of religious indenture, which has the effect of increasing the power of the church over the individual priest. The church could easily order him to move from one location to another without the need to take his wife and family into consideration. It has also been thought that as a celibate priest does not have a wife or a family, there is no possiblity that the church will have to provide for his surviving family through any claim by them after a priest’s death.

    I totally agree with you that in the 21st Century, it is entirely stupid and unrealistic to expect any person to live a celibate life as defiined by Canon Law (church law). The legal requirement is that all priests must live in perfect and perpetual continence, which means a life without any sex or recourse to masterbation. This is patent and absolute rubbish! A growing band of critics has labelled celibacy as a modern form of slavery, with the Vatican as the slavemaster. It has also been rightfully conceptualised as a denial of priests’ modern human rights to be married and have families.

  7. Venise Alstergren

    @LIZ, @JOHN,

    Liz, there are some fine pieces of writing in the bible. Also our who language is full of biblical passages.

    Whether these make up for the interminable garbage of a vengeful god is another matter.

    I must be tired, as I’m forgetting things.

    Liz, try the Song of Solomon for some gorgeous writing.

    I’ll be in touch tomorrow.

  8. Liz45

    JOHN – there’s many men who, for one reason or another are celibate – but they don’t sexually abuse kids. In the Singleton/Hunter region, it’s thought that perhaps 80 students have been abused. there’s several priests etc who’ve been charged. I’m of the view, that just as pedophile rings function in the broader community, they probably have a network in the cc also. In fact, perhaps some priests join the clergy for this very reason – ready access to children. How hideous is that? Which of course makes the actions aimed at the current pope so hideous – to make kids the butt of abuse, and then to hide and/or just move the perpetrators around is criminal – literally and morally!

    I’ve heard that the celibate factor was introduced so that men didn’t have families to leave their assets to? I don’t know how true this is, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Like the introduction of no meat on Fridays being introduced to save the fishing industry? Perhaps it’s just been, that the cc was just too good at protecting these criminals for so many years, that they just got too ‘comfortable’? I believe that leading a ‘celibate’ life is unrealistic, unnatural and unjust. Whatever the reasons, celibacy isn’t an excuse! I might be short of money, but it’s no justification to steal – from anyone!

  9. John Candido

    Venise, I can’t argue against that. If your perception of the priest’s visit was see you as a future source of financial donations via mass contributions, then I don’t blame you one bit. Presumably this priest as well as a multitude of other priests, just don’t have the time to form adequate, proper, and long-term relationships with their parishioners. This is one more indirect example of the inappropriateness of the current manner of ecclesiastical governance that the Vatican embodies.

    By being so antediluvian, the church has stuck with celibate males as the only acceptable candidates for the seminary. If the church was not governed by a Vatican that is unelectable, impervious to outside opinion, dysfunctional, and moribund, it would have accepted male, female, married, lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, and transgendered candidates for the priesthood a long time ago. As they have not, we are stuck with a dying church that clings to idiotic ideas such as only male celibate candidates for the priesthood, when we could have a multitude of excellent candidates for the priesthood from people with any sex, sexuality, or marital state. When we alter the mode of ecclesiastical governance, whenever that will happen, the church will fill its presbyteries with a plethora of priests. This should mean that priests will have more time for their parishioners.

  10. Liz45

    JOHN – VENISE – My experience re financially supporting the cc. Years ago I moved from one area to another – different church etc(although I hadn’t been for ??) I was really crook on the day of moving, and the next day, a priest arrived on the doorstep amongst the mayhem, plus 2 little boys. I had to look for the teapot etc and tried to be pleasant etc although I was tired, sore and sorry! A few days later an envelope containing smaller envelopes for the ‘plate’ arrived in the letter box – I was so disgusted, that I put them straight in the bin, and never set foot in the church – ever! So much for welcoming me to the area – only my money was welcome I thought! I wouldn’t even support any of their charities etc – not while they’re so wealthy!!!

  11. John Candido

    Thanks for your reply Venise. To use your analogy, I did find myself on a tram that was going in the wrong direction. I did get off the tram in terms of refusing to practice my faith i.e. mass attendance, and I am no longer contributing any money to any of the church’s charities. I am a believer in God, so what have I decided to do about my quandry?

    If I can return to your useful analogy Venise, I got off the tram and I do try as hard as I possibly can, with what resources I have, to tell the tram to go in the right direction. I see it as a small part of my christian calling to do this with all of my sinerest efforts. Other catholics may decide to join another church, stay where they are but remain vigilant and critical, explore the possibility of joining another religion, or to in fact decide that the church and God are humbug and explore atheism or agnosticism. Its a free country and all power to them; they are free to do any of these things, if that is what their conscience is telling them to do.

  12. Liz45

    Venise1 – Perhaps it’s a man/woman ‘thing’? When I thought of my experiences as a child, then the same when I became a mother, with the contraception dogma, I then started to think about the whole damned thing, and saw it for what it is. A very dangerous and destructive ‘organisation’ that makes its rules in order to protect its own disgraceful practices. I wondered why other religions encourage the reading of the bible(friends/acquaintances bookshelves etc) but the cc does not – don’t want any pesky peasants finding out the truth or shock/horror questioning the pope’s ‘powers’ do they?

    The very fact of being forced to accept another mortal’s ‘truths’ without question is offensive to me! But, many fall for it, and a lot of them show that they’re quite intelligent in other areas, but……? Scary isn’t it?

    All the while, these same people can participate in the most ‘unchristian’ behaviour, such as, rejecting people who are gays or lesbians; people who divorced used to be shunned, and even now, I don’t think a catholic can remarry in the cc. Such caring, sharing people aren’t they? Preach forgiveness and love, and live their lives with callous disregard for others whose circumstances may not be as priviledged? And we’ve already spoken of those impoverished people in Africa etc? It all just makes me very angry and disgusted!

  13. Venise Alstergren

    JOHN CANDIDO: What is the difference between the Pope and any other CEO?

    The man was voted onto the board. Then, for a variety of reasons, mostly age-related I imagine, he got the top job.

    I imagine that what he lacks in take home pay is more than compensated for by being surrounded by priceless works of art, the absolute tops in food and wine, together with the finest of Havana Havana cigars (my informants tell me he is a very heavy smoker)

    Because of some monumental stuff-ups (no pun intended) he is perceived by the rest of the world as incompetent and inept. As old fashioned and conservative as the organisation he fronts for.

    He should get the sack. But the weak-witted of the catholic church persist in thinking of the Pope as ‘God’s representative on earth’.

    As soon as you can show me God’s written manifesto for all of this, is as soon as I will re-cant in spades.

    You are obviously extremely upset with your church, and I imagine your faith in god is intact, why not change your religion?

    If you found yourself on a tram which was heading in the wrong direction, wouldn’t you get off in order to get the tram that is going in the right direction?

    I see, it’s your tram, right or wrong.

    Sorry to have wasted your time.

  14. John Candido

    On reflection, I think that I need to revise a sentence that I had written in my previous post. In my third paragraph I had written, ‘the Pope’s capacity to govern the church is now under question because of decisions he took while he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and for former decisions he made while he was an Archbishop in his native Germany’. This sentence needs to be more qualified.

    I don’t have irrefutable evidence that Benedict had made particularly poor decisions while he was the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith or as Archbishop of Munich. I don’t think that any journalist throughout the world currently has irrefutable evidence, that can withstand the rigours of a court of law, that he made decisions that were to the detriment of any person that was abused. What my mistake entailed was to rely on the near frenzy of media reports and other websites, both christian and secular, that suggested that some scandals could be connected to Benedict when he was the Archbishop of Munich or a Cardinal in the Vatican. We will all have to wait and see if anything substantial will arise in future, or that these stories were in fact a media beatup or were simply innacurrate.

    Let me be absolutely clear. I am not walking away from the rest of my criticisms about the catholic church. Most notably, its moribund and authoritarian governance, its mediaeval doctrinal positions on sex, sexuality, and birth control, the need to contemporise the church by incorporating modern knowledge into its doctrines, that the Vatican lacks courage and humility, the inviolate nature of human conscience, my advice to other catholics to walk away from the support and practise of the faith, and the need for vigilance and activism on the part of the laity.

    I have made a mistake in one of my sentences because of my justifiable anger about the current parlous condition of the catholic church. Whether I go to mass or not, it is still my church as it is as much as anybody elses. I believe that its decrepit and undemocratic methods of governance and its culture of clericalism are prime causal factors for these abuse scandals and there subsequent coverup. What intelligent catholics everywhere must do is to propose alternative democratic models of ecclesiatical governance, that can accomodate transparency and accountability, in place of intransigent authoritarianism.

    Therefore, I would like to revise the above quoted sentence to read, ‘the Pope’s capacity to govern the church is now under question because of decisions he reportedly took while he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and for former decisions he reportedly made while he was an Archbishop in his native Germany’. In the light of this revision, I unreservedly retract what I said about the need for Benedict to resign, but I do believe that he is a very poor administrator and leader because of the four reasons I subsequently made in the same paragraph. Due to these abuse scandals, the world has placed the church and Benedict on notice. Sincerely yours, John Candido.

  15. Venise Alstergren

    LIZ: You do realise that DAVID SANDERSON had the gall to turn around and say he isn’t a Catholic, BUT.

    HTF can people solemnly believe that a man, elected by men, is god’s representative on earth is piteous. Did they even consult their God, and how did he reply, by banging on a temple drum in Morse Code? PODONG, BAM, BAM. I am GOD. PODONG!

    It sounds like a very bad musical.

    Don’t forget.

    The thing about faith, about doctrine, about ideologies of any sort, is that you can’t fight them with facts!

    Sorry to keep repeating this. I just wish I had written it.

    Cheers

    V

  16. Liz45

    @AR – should be! The dogma of the cc, that on one day a human being is capable of making mistakes and just being plain wrong, changes the minute the same person becomes pope? The nonsense that ‘the pope cannot err in what HE teaches’ is essentially wrong, unjust and plain stupid! does the cc really believe that the pope is akin to their god? Surely not! It’s almost blasphemous, isn’t it? You’d like to think that equal justice also played a major role in the prequisities for being a ‘leader’? Apparently not! In 2010 we still have the same old misogynist and unjust ‘laws’ as were present 30-50+ yrs ago!

  17. AR

    Isn’t being Pope a big enough crime againt rationality? Power without glory, authority without justification.

  18. Liz45

    VENISE – Men like David Sanderson make me feel very weary indeed! I wonder what it will take to make them realise, that they’re part of the very problem they criticize me for being a survivor of? Maybe if we concentrate on the younger generations, by the time these dinosaurs have gone, life for women and abused children might be different. If we could get rid of the cc it would help!

    Incidently David, I also know of a woman who was raped by a priest at the age of 16. No relative of mine! The “I’m not a catholic, but” is on the same level as, “I’m not a racist, but”? Or “some of my best friends are black” etc? So predictable – they’re depressing! You should watch, “War on Democracy” John Pilger’s hard hitting documentary about some of the worst dictators in my life time – Latin America!

    I’ve just got home from a May Day march/rally, and a lovely leisurely coffee with friends – some of them male, and wonderful men they are too! They give their support on International Women’s Day and Reclaim the Night also! Gives me heart!

  19. Venise Alstergren

    DAVID SANDERSON: Are you trying to suggest that Liz’s experiences have no value because her evidence is empirical?

    Coming from the self-satisfied troll who gaily admitted that the only reason for commenting was to sharpen up the debate. It is usually catholics who begin by saying “I’m not a catholic, but.”

    I’m sure all the people who are dying of AIDS and women whose bodies are malformed by multiple pregnancies and the endemic diseases of over-crowding and poverty brought about the catholic church’s diktats, find your conscienceless guff ever so comforting.

    Your behaviour is extraordinary, your lack of conscience remarkable, and the dedication to your own worth on a par with any rancid third-world dictator.

  20. Liz45

    @John Bennetts – I’ve just been mopping my floors and thinking about your comments. I couldn’t help but smile when I thought of an example of your comments to me re my experiences. It would be like a police officer telling a woman off because she ‘got us out here last month on the same issue’? Instead of castigating or arresting the bloke for bashing her up again! It’s called, ‘shooting the messenger’? When the sexist comments/behaviours stop, I’ll stop!

  21. Liz45

    Chances are, if you’re a woman in this country(or any other for that matter) you’ll experience these things. I’ve repeatedly asserted, that by raising my experience is only to publicize thousands of others. If you bothered to read the stats on ABS or your local state’s police records you would be educated. You don’t and you aren’t? It was perfectly logical for me to ask who “we” are? You obviously think it’s the selected people that you nominate! Why not share it? I don’t care if you don’t respond – pity you started in the first place!
    If I keep bringing up my personal circumstances as you say, it’s obvious that nothing’s changed if they’re still relevant! You blokes just don’t want or think you shouldn’t have to be scrutinised? Tough!

  22. David Sanderson

    Liz, I notice that in every argument you bring up a some personal experience (that we have to take on trust, you seem to have a personal trauma for every occasion) that you seem to think automatically gives you a win regardless of the other facts and logic. It doesn’t and I’m not responding further (it was foolish of me to respond last time) as it only encourages you to expound at length your endless personal grievances.

  23. Liz45

    @DAVID – “You may be surprised to learn, that perpetrators of domestic violence also include police, lawyers, barristers, doctors and in my case, also a chamber magistrate!”

    Correction – my husband wasn’t a chamber magistrate, but I went to see one and his advice was to “go home, be a good wife, and cook his favourite meal”? An accurate quote, even though it was over 40 yrs ago, I’ll never forget it. The police weren’t much better! None of them enquired about my health or my children’s?

    They also include, psychologists, teachers, plumbers, electricians etc etc!

  24. Liz45

    @DAVID SANDERSON – “Liz, we explain some instances of ranting and bigotry as due to the personal circumstances of the person involved.”

    And the “we” in this sentence and following ones relate to who exactly? Paul Mees and yourself? Men in general, or just anybody who hasn’t been bashed or sexually molested, assaulted or murdered perhaps? Well, sadly that rules out one in 3 women who will/are abused by their partners/husbands in their lifetimes, or one in 4 girls and almost the same for boys who’ll be sexually abused. As it’s also child abuse if chn witness violence, even if they are not physically abused, there’s too few people left, both perpetrators and victims/survivors?

    You may be surprised to learn, that perpetrators of domestic violence also include police, lawyers, barristers, doctors and in my case, also a chamber magistrate! So David, who are these “we” to whom you refer, and how do we know, that those who make the laws aren’t personally involved somehow!

    “From a more policy perspective we do not allow those who are aggrieved in a particular matter to set the punishment upon those they attribute guilt.”

    Again, how do you know, that a woman/women on a jury where a man is on trial for murdering his wife/partner hasn’t experienced dv herself, likewise for a male perpetrator etc? You don’t! You’re just being a smart alec or showing your ignorance and or bias! Or all three!

    I think it might be a smart move if you refrain from sexist superiority right now!

  25. David Sanderson

    Liz, we explain some instances of ranting and bigotry as due to the personal circumstances of the person involved. Nevertheless that kind of understanding is not intended to legitimise bigotry and ranting and is only intended to ensure that the response to their behaviour is toned down as we can see that they have a reduced responsibility for that behaviour.

    From a more policy perspective we do not allow those who are aggrieved in a particular matter to set the punishment upon those they attribute guilt. The aggrieved can be very useful in supplying evidence but they ought to have no role in determining punishment or in determining policy questions that may arise from harmful behaviour. They are too personally invested and the least likely to attain, and act on, a balanced perspective.

    Whether or not the Pope should be charged (in my view it is clearly without foundation to do so) is a matter for dispassionate evaluation and certainly should not be done as a way of punishing the church. There are many ways that the church has, and will. be rightly punished but this is not one of them.

  26. Liz45

    @VENISE- Once again Venise, you have annunciated a strong and principled stand on a revolting and damaging crime! I’d much prefer to accept your offer of friendship and support than either Paul’s or David’s. I bet the organisation Braveheart and others would agree with me!

    @DAVID SANDERSON – “of ranting bigotry and extremism”

    Tell me David, if a person wrote an article claiming a defence for a LAY PERSON who committed acts of buggery, physical violence, intimidation, threats, bullying, blackmail to name just a few crimes, how would you react if victims responded in an angry manner, or people on their behalf were outraged by at best, a gross lack of insensitivity to a display of being on the side of the perpetrators and those who protect them? Would you accuse those people “of ranting bigotry and extremism”? I would like to think not! I’ve asked you previously to name an incident or situation where you were outraged etc and you didn’t respond.
    does this mean that you’ve escaped actions that could bring forth such emotions, or do you just like to ignore them, or is it just that you lack empathy?

    I don’t accept the exclusion zone that Paul Mees has placed me in when he’s criticized others on this post. It’s too easy to say,

    ‘everyone who’s against me is a twit or a bigot or a ??, who lives on another planet, but not you Liz45, you’re different’?

    Well no I’m not! I used my situation to illustrate how these gross acts were committed against kids and young adults, and then they find out yrs later, that older siblings were treated in a similar or worse manner. It’s also interesting to note that each abuse re my family was in a different town or city of NSW! The perpetrators were large in number, and I suspect they still are – they’re probably a bit smarter at avoiding scrutiny! If kids are threatened in their homes by abusers, they’re probably in a similar position in schools, churches etc?

    As recent as a few weeks ago, the pope made derogatory comments about the media’s publishing of some damning evidence that coupled him with covering up horrific sexual crimes committed by his subordinates! That outraged many people in the community, not just catholics or victims. Paul Mees stuck his head out on a most provocative quest, and many responded in a way an ordinary person of integrity, and some sensitivity would anticipate.

    Perhaps I would’ve taken a different stand if Paul took the time to tell us of the mechanisms in place now, to either assist those abused who come forward with complaints, and just as importantly had informed us of the rules and precautions against future opportunities of abuse. But no, this is just a ploy to cover up decades and decades of criminal acts that have left too many people in a shattered and depressed state! The only thing I will concede, is that there are many popes, bishops, cardinals and priests of bygone yrs who are also responsible for covering up crimes of sexual abuse. I don’t just single out the current pope, although I do condemn him. I read an article that stated, that even the bishop or whoever who was defending the current pope(and blaiming celibacy and homosexuality etc) had NOT discussed the current situation with the pope? I find that amazing, but it doesn’t surprise me – what it does emphasize, is that in his view, the goal is to ‘shut down’ the scandal/accusations/bad publicity etc, with scant regard to victims.

    One of the aspects of sexual abuse of children have been the accounts of how these kids were threatened and bullied by their attackers. They used their ‘priestliness status’ to inflict horrific accounts of what would happen if these children told anyone, let alone go to the police etc. I’ve sat and listened to young and older adults tell their stories, either on talk back radio, in person or by reading about them; of how even their lives were threatened, how they were to blame as they were evil, that their parents would disown them, and that they’d go to hell for ‘THEIR sins’- this in itself is enough to cause great feelings of anger and outrage!

    I’ve also listened to the absolute vile explanations of pedophiles who often insist, that children are ‘sexual beings’ and by charging them with crimes is against nature, blah blah blah! I just want to vomit at this outrage. I’m sure that many priests who committed these heinous crimes feel the same way, and justify their behaviour accordingly – otherwise, how else can did/do they continue doing it?

    On last evenings news, it was reported, that an 81/2 yr old priest has been sentenced to approx. 18 months jail for acts of sexual abuse, assault and buggery against an alter boy in the 70’s when the child was only 10 yrs old. This priest was active in the same church about 10 yrs after I was married and where my children were christened! A mere 30 minutes drive by car from my current home! This boy was blackmailed and bullied over a period of at least 10 yrs; that if he didn’t go and ‘visit’ this bastard all would be revealed! The very young man was abused again and again! On his behalf, and too many others, I responded with great anger to this excuse for a legal observation, and I have no problem with that. The situation warrants it! It will be interesting to observe, whether this criminal’s name is removed from the list of ‘his reverend’ or whatever?
    He’ll no doubt require protection via solitary confinement while serving his sentence! I don’t have much sympathy for him, even recognising his age! I just think of how traumatized that little boy must have felt for yrs! I’d like to give this now man a hug – he’d be about the same age as my own sons!

  27. David Sanderson

    I think I’ll die of boredom first if I have to read any more of your stuff, Venise.

  28. Venise Alstergren

    DAVIN SANDERSON: OK I’m a dill! Make you feel any better?

    One final question please….What is the difference between a hard-line, right-wing catholic who writes a screed on the joys of being a catholic, and someone who does the catholic’s work for him/her?

    I went to a great deal of trouble to give the evidence of an African Archbishop, a famous/infamous cardinal from South America and a few words from a famous epidemiologist, Elizabeth Pisani, who was writing about AIDS, and indirectly about the bloody-mindedness of the Catholic church, who would rather cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, male, and female, because shock horror and dismay. The most effective way of eradicating AIDS is by the use of condoms, which also are useful in birth control.

    Yet you accuse me of unfair and unreasoned debate.

    If all this vital discussion- concerning, literally, the lives and pain of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of suffering people-meant to you nothing more than an exercise in thesis writing. In the name of fairness and reasoned debate, of course, makes you one very sick puppy.

    You should die of shame.

  29. David Sanderson

    You’re a dill, Venise. I am not a Catholic, as I stated earlier, and I am not writing in support of Paul Mees. I wrote in favour of fair and reasoned debate, never your strong point, and against the kind of ranting bigotry and extremism that was so evident in this thread.

  30. Venise Alstergren

    PS: Line one para one should have read “If you didn’t want to be savaged why didn’t you write your Public Relations sheet in the Catholic Leader.”

  31. Venise Alstergren

    PAUL MEES: If you didn’t want to be savaged why did you write your Public Relations sheet in The Catholic Leader. Or, even better, The Catholic Weekly. You might even have won ‘an official framed print’ of Oz’ very own saint “Blessed Mary MacKillop”.

    You are not the least bit worried about the lies of the catholic church, or the terrible crimes committed in the Church’s name. You merely whine to your fellow catholic, David Sanderson, “I should have known better!”

    You knew what your reception would be the minute you decided to place this ludicrous Public Relations sheet, but you decided to go ahead anyway.

    Ninety percent of Crikey’s readership is well educated, and they question everything, and if you can’t stand the sight of your own blood, you had no business climbing into the bull ring in the first place.

    JOHN CANDIDO: Thank you for an excellent post.

  32. Liz45

    @JOHN CANDIDO – I agree with most of what you’ve said, except I must take exception to using the feminine “her” when describing the cc. I object to that for the same reasons why I object to calling battleships, in fact all ships, “her” or countries “her”. These are all neuter gender, and using “her” is for what purpose I wonder? A ‘motherly’ inference? I don’t think objects that carry deadly weapons have anything to do with being humane let alone ‘motherly’, which is to nurture, protect and defend etc? The cc is “it” the people who belong, or organise, or run it have a gender, but the concept doesn’t!

    Somthing to mould and dominate is probably more to the point I suspect! As a feminist, I reject the use of “her” to describe this organisation that is anathema to all I have respect for, and after 65 yrs of life’s experiences! Nothing maternal about it at all!

    Before the male followers/protectors of the cc have a fit over the word “feminism” may I suggest that you look it up in your dictionaries for the accurate description; which is, basically, to fight for/seek/agitate for equality and justice for women.

  33. Paul Mees

    @David Sanderson: “Paul, you have entered the twilight zone…”
    Thanks for the warning: I should have known better!

  34. John Candido

    I am not replying to Paul Mees’s article in this post but want to express my thinking on the current calamity that the Catholic church finds herself in generally. I am a catholic who does not practice my faith anymore, but I am still a believer in God. What I am going to write is partly invective and diatribe, but my reason for this is that I am really fed-up with the institutional church because it is and most probably will continue to be an unmovable object, and I will try to explain why I think that is so.

    The Catholic Church in parts is a thoroughly disgusting institution. The Vatican is insensitive to outside opinion because it is so wrapped up in its own collective ego and position of power. Nobody elects them except themselves. The laity have no say as to who will be a Bishop, or any other high-ranking prelate within our dioceses or within the Vatican. Ask yourself, do they talk to anybody outside their inner circle? No, they do not. Why not? Because nobody has any power to remove anybody within the Vatican except the Pope, who can only go by resignation or death. What is so obvious about the Vatican is that as an institution, it is self-perpetuating, unelectable, and therefore moribund as a consequence. This is the essence of the Vatican.

    Parts of the Vatican are tainted by a disgusting group of celibate paedophile protectors, who have the gall and arrogance to defend clergy who have commited crimes against children. In addition, the Pope’s capacity to govern the church is now under question because of decisions he took while he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and for former decisions he made while he was an Archbishop in his native Germany. His suitability to govern is also under question because of decisions he has taken while holding the office of Pope. Vis-a-vis, the apointment of Holocaust denier Bishop Richard Williamson as a catholic bishop, his risable comment about condom use in Africa, for his poor handling of ecumenical relations with the Anglican Church in England, and for inadvertently insulting the people of the Islamic faith through a speech he gave at a German university. Sadly, it looks increasingly the case that the Pope should resign his office.

    Please pause for a moment and contemplate what has happend to thousands of vulnerable children around the world. What parts of the Vatican and other diocesan bishops have done by protecting priests who have committed serious crimes is to spit into the faces of children, spit into the faces of women who have been abused, and spit upon the very face of Christ himself! And in tandem with their own bankrupt policies of clergy management, they have also treated the law with total contempt. There is no question that the modern world is aghast by this and will not acknowledge the church as having any credibility or integrity.

    The Vatican as an institution lacks the virtues of leadership, courage, and humility. It also lacks a governing culture bounded by transparency and accountability. These virtues and values of governance are linked, because you need leadership, courage, and humility in order to see the need for reform and to then proceed to do it. And you need leadership, courage, and humility in order to accomodate transparency and accountability. To wit, the church needs to humbly admit its searing errors regarding child abusers and summon the courage to reform its structures, processes, disciplines, policies, and doctrines.

    It urgently needs a thorough updating of its teaching through doctrinal reform by looking at the knowledge gained through the research of universities into the human condition. It must incorporate into its doctrines a modern understanding of psychology, psychiatry, genetics, sexology, sociology, and anthropology. To fail to reform their thoroughly mediaeval doctrinal positions on sex, sexuality, and birth control, is utterly non-catholic because it is not consistent with the truth of modern knowledge as the world knows it. To remain ignorant or intollerant of a modern understanding of human beings in order to maintain the status quo on all her teachings, is to truely lack leadership, courage and humility. In consequence, the Vatican is a poorly led coward’s paradise populated by paedophile protectors and law breakers.

    One essential starting point that the church cannot compromise on is the notion that every human being, believer and non-believer alike, is absolutely entitled to their own conscience. The primacy of the individual conscience is an unasailable reality that cannot be diluted by any individual or power structure. It will take some courage and humility for the Vatican, their apologists, as well as the multitude of sycophants and conservative thinkers around the world, to accept this unconditionally. Any attempts to dilute this teaching on conscience while the modern secular world is watching, will be fatal for the church’s mission to spread the Gospel. Not only will she be exposed for the antediluvian fossil that she is, but the modern world will declare her a risible farce.

    How do we responsibly resist a power structure that is dysfunctional, vainglorious, self-perpetuating, and unassailable? What I have done over ten plus years is to stop going to mass for good and to take up Christian Meditation, as rediscovered and taught by the late Fr. John Main OSB and which is currently led by Fr. Lawrence Freeman OSB. I will never return to this dark and forbidding institution, which claims an absolute affinity with Jesus Christ, until it is thoroughly reformed and reconstructed. The Vatican is a pox on the Gospel, but she will never see this in a millenia. In addition, don’t send your children to mass or to a catholic school and stop giving any money to their charities and schools. Children can still be taught about the Gospel through personal instruction and the example of their families. Use the internet and the mass media to highlight your disatisfaction, and wherever possible litigate against any church employed individual or structure, that you have reasonable grounds to believe has committed crimes or assisted criminals.

    The modern, civilised, and cosmopolitan world that we have grown up in demands that we take whatever civilised and legal action that is within our means, in order to rectify error in our church. The Catholic Church is currently in a potentially calamitous state and it needs our activism and our prayers. She must rediscover leadership, humility and courage, together with the modern values of governance, such as transparency and accountability. We the laity and whoever is with us, must seek to change what is a structurely moribund institution, by confidently exposing lies, obfuscation, criminality, and ecclesiastical dysfunctionality. Sincerely yours, John Candido.

  35. Liz45

    Yes, and in reference to Oscar Romero, he went against the emphatic ruling from Rome when he chose to stand with and speak up for his ‘flock’! It’s interesting to note, that about 20 yrs ago, while president of a women’s health centre, I was privileged to be able to welcome women from Nicaragua who were on a tour to get support for what was happening in their country. They were funded, housed etc by the trade union movement, as were their counterparts previously from El Salvador! I don’t recall the cc assisting them at all!

    The same applies in my area in recent times. The only clergy who consistently supports the people whether it was against WorstChoices, the invasion of Afghanistan & Iraq, or the people of Gaza is a Uniting Church Minister. Not one priest or minister from the other so-called religions have ever attended, nor have I heard them speak out in support or against o? depending on the situation. This man is a lone voice, and I have enormous respect for him – he doesn’t care who you are or whether you’re a christian or not! Now, that impresses me greatly!

  36. Venise Alstergren

    DAVID SANDERSON: @ PAUL MEES @LIZ @CHRIS@JOHN BENNETTS, etc

    PAUL MEES: In case you refuse to read my long comment I will reduce it to a short one in reply to your 30 year old crime in El Salvador re a murdered Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero.

    I see, the death of one Archbishop equals the death of hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world?

    Once again I repeat Elizabeth Pisani’s words: “The thing about faith, about doctrine, about ideologies of any sort, is that you can’t fight them with FACTS.”

  37. Liz45

    VENISE – Indeed!

    Paul Mees – What about the very young women in Africa who are married off and are pregnant too early. Due to their immature and in many cases malnourished bodies, they can be in labour for days, many of them die and their babies most certainly do. However, sadly, too many eventually give birth(to live or dead babies) only to end up with fistulas(bowel or bladders are torn) and are then shunned as they are incontinent in one or both cases. A wonderful Australian couple(the woman is now in her 80’s-her husband has died) as doctors, built a hospital in order to do corrective surgery on these women. Sadly, there is still a lack of midwives etc to care for these women. If the cc wasn’t so misogynist, they could be proactive re contraception, and encourage the women to wait until they are a more suitable age/size. Many women are so small, due to malnutrition from birth. And yet, we have the so-called expert (male)bishops preaching the absolute bullshit as described above! I believe that it is a crime against humanity to do so!

    If men had babies, these laws so called, would never have seen the light of day. I reckon, if men suffered morning sickness like I did, I doubt they’d get past 3 months let alone 9 of them, vomiting at least every morning, or almost all day!

    There’s a lot of ammunition against the cc and rightly so. When you put yourself forward to ‘make breaks’ for them, you must realise, that there’ll be lots of people who find your defence of them an absolute insult.

  38. Venise Alstergren

    @PAUL MEES: As a member of the legal fraternity, how do the following comments sit with you? One is from a cardinal and the other is an Archbishop.

    “The Vatican clearly believes condoms are the work of the devil. And they are perfectly willing to claim that black is white to dissuade people from using them. “‘The AIDS virus is roughly 450 times smaller than the spermatozoon,'” Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family, told the BBC’s ‘Panorama’ programme in 2003. ‘”The spermatozoon can easily pass through the “net” that is formed by the condom.’ This man, who presides over the Family Council of a state with no women and no children, believes that sperm can pass through a condom.’

    If Dr Elizabeth Pisani is saying what I think she’s saying about the good Cardinal and his lies. It would also mean that women could use condoms with confidence AND GET PREGNANT, so why can’t the church distribute condoms freely throughout the under-developed world?

    Here’s another doozy from an Archbishop Ndingi Mwana a’Nzeki, the Archbishop of the Kenyan capital Nairobi, on the subject, in 2006: “‘There are no two ways about it…When condoms are provided anyhowly, (sic) chances of promiscuity increase since a majority of our people end up engaging in casual sex'”

    The Catholic big shot was speaking during a conference on stigma, discrimination and denial. And perhaps he knew something about denial. As he was urging the government to ban the advertising and distribution of condoms, HIV was already destroying the immune systems of one in seven people in their late teens and early twenties in some provinces of Kenya.

    The cardinal was implying that when condoms are available, you can get laid any time you like. Sadly there is not a scrap of evidence to support this view; it’s a bit like suggesting you can end a drought by giving out umbrellas. There us, however, plenty of evidence to suggest that easy availabilty of condoms increases the chance they will get used between people who were going to have sex anyway.

    “The thing about faith, about doctrine, about ideologies of any sort, is that you can’t fight them with facts”.

    The good doctor (epidemiologist) certainly puts her evidence lucidly to explain about the catholic mentality which tells outright lies to the poor and helpless across the world. How many lives have been lost because of these venal old men
    is beyond comprehension.

    Yet you Mr Mees, represent the system which allows this this sick religion.

  39. Liz45

    DAVID SANDERSON – (touched the wrong key?) If you wish to side with the cc then you’re just as bad as the misogynists and apologists for the crimes, misery and culture of lying and using their ‘flock’ as money raisers! Any other group engaged in this type of activity is called a cult, and rightly so! I don’t see any difference between the exclusive brethren and the cc – none whatever! Both use fear and intimidation to keep their followers, and preach damnation to those who have the guts to leave.

    Both treat women as 2nd class citizens, baby making machines, and except for their own ends, don’t encourage the use of a free and independent mind! Exclusive brethren have been known to intimidate little girls who accuse one of them of sexual abuse, and ignore the family court re the justice of the protective parent! The cc probably doesn’t even canvass the use of the courts, and prohibits divorce anyway!

    Your stance speaks volumes about you!

  40. Liz45

    @Paul Mees – Yes, and when the people of El Salvador approached pope John re his being declared a saint, they were at first fobbed off, and then told, perhaps, after 50 yrs! Apart from the priest in another part of Latin America who stood for President and won, there’s been a very quiet response from Rome re these peoples’ plight, not to mention those in Africa etc. All they get are lies re condoms etc and women die in childbirth etc. I suppose they should offer that up for their sins – just like I was taught when a child!

    DAVID SANDERSON

  41. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    Au contraire David Sanderson, Paul entered the twilight zone when he started off with the assumption that Ratzo is truly ‘innocent’. In no moral sense can this be true, and no amount of sophistry (what you like to call ‘sweet reason’) can disinfect this fetid swamp. Ratzo spent decades with this mob, knew what things they were culpable of, and yet he rose to the top with their ‘blessing’.

    Anyway, the good thing out of all this is the worldwide reappraisal of this cult by millions of people who still have a moral compass and know that this organisation is about power and exerting it to be unaccountable.

    Those days are coming to a close.

  42. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    Paul Mees, if you really want to bring up the Catholic church’s appalling record with its ‘liberation theologists’, (instead of hiding behind the corpse of Bishop Romero), then hey, make my day, as they say in the movies!

    Go on, defend that, if you dare.

  43. David Sanderson

    Paul, you have entered the twilight zone, the end of the thread where the nutters and cranks completely take over. Nothing will satisfy this lot except the substantial or complete destruction of the Catholic church – and anything else that gets their goat.

    All the sweet reason in the world will avail you nothing except more rabid attacks on you, your beliefs (real or imagined) and your motives.

  44. Paul Mees

    I know I’m breaking my own rules here, but the people being murdered by death squads in El Salvador did get some support from their hierarchy, particularly Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador and head of the church in that country. He was murdered by the same death squads 30 years ago while celebrating mass.

  45. Paul Mees

    @John Bennetts: “Perhaps not extending right to the Pope, but never-the-less, evidence.”
    I agree with you that there are people in the church hierarchy against who cases could and should be made. For example, a bishop in France was convicted of failing to report a crime, something that is itself a crime in that country, but unfortunately is not here. I would have liked to see the retired (catholic) Bishop of Ballarat prosecuted over the case of Fr. Gerard Risdale, but the Victoria Police investigated and found insufficient grounds. If we had the same laws as France, he probably would have been prosecuted.

    There have been investigations of church cover-ups, most recently two reports in Ireland. Although some bishops were found to have behaved disgracefully, they were not found to have behaved illegally. They were guilty of staggeringly gross negligence, but that’s not illegal. They have all resigned and their resignations have been accepted by Rome. The police in Massachussetts also investigated the former Archbishop of Boston, Bernard Law, over the cover-ups there, but found no basis for a prosecution. He did resign, but was allowed to retire to a minor, but cushy, position in Rome. I don’t think he should have been allowed to do that by the previous pope, and I think Benedict should make him “retire” from his current position and do some real penance for his negligence.

    As I said in my article, the fact that Benedict is not guilty of any crimes does not make me a fan of his. I am admirer of people like the person Liz45 quotes: ‘when I give food to the poor I’m called a saint, when I ask why they’re poor in the first place, I’m called a communist’. That was Helder Camara, the archbishop of Recife in Brazil.

  46. Liz45

    @VENISE- HI Venise! I agree with you re Paul Mees’s shock by my family’s experiences. Ours are miniscule in comparison to too many other peoples’. There is no way that the cc or any other will entice me back to the fold, anymore than the Coalition could encourage me to vote for an organisation that locks up traumatised kids and adults whose only ‘crime’ is to flee for their lives. I won’t support an arrogant misogynist like Abbott, who gives the cc a bad name – or perhaps he just personifies the absolute hypocrisy of it. I stopped giving the ALP my primary vote yrs ago over uranium mining. I don’t like war mongers who dress up their lust for wealth on the backs of already traumatised people – Iraq & Afghanistan!

    I hope that Paul Mees now has a better impression of what I stand for! The cc stands condemned as does its jibberish about love and blah blah blah! The use of parishoners money to make them wealthier doesn’t endear them to me either. I could go on, but I think I’ve painted a vivid picture! It’s funny; once you question one area of this organisations activities etc, you start questioning others, and the end result is the above!

    It’s interesting to note, that the nun who inflicted her wrath on me was from the same order as Mary McKillop? I don’t have any time for all that rubbish either! Is her god so mean as to only cure one or two people out of the millions who contract cancer each year and suffer horrific deaths? Nah, they disgust me!

    I recall a priest who once said, ‘when I give food to the poor I’m called a saint, when I ask why they’re poor in the first place, I’m called a communist’?
    It reminds me of the attitude of the cc in Rome to the impoverished and oppressed people of either Chile or El Salvador – both who had thousands tortured and brutally murdered by pro US militia and civil followers of obscene wealth etc. I don’t recall them getting much solace or support from the cc heirarchy! Quite the contrary in fact!

  47. Venise Alstergren

    PAUL MEES: Beneath your urbane exterior-about a millimetre down-is just another catholic thug. You appear to be shocked by LIZ’s story. Are you so far removed from reality that you don’t even know these sort of things exist?

    I don’t think you are shocked at all. LIZ has said she is a lapsed catholic and you hope, by being polite to her, to bring her round and back to the fold.

    “Anti-catholicism is the anti-semitism of the intellectuals”. It would appear that you assume that anyone who is halfway intelligent, who questions god, religion, faith, and a belief in fairies-at the bottom of the garden, of course- is by default anti-semitic and anti-catholic.

    I am unable to speak for others, but I happen to be pro-reason, which is a vastly different scenario.

    You do amuse me in that you have probably spent your life halfway incoherent
    with fury as to your ability to prove god exists. Certainly I cannot prove that this old bloke sitting up there in la la land doesn’t exist. But at least I’m not trying to foist a religion on anyone. Nor am I out to enslave half the human race. Which makes me able to take the high moral ground.

  48. Venise Alstergren

    PAUL MEES: Then, as a barrister you should appreciate why people like me do not believe in god. NOT ENOUGH EVIDENCE!

  49. John Bennetts

    If there is no prima facie evidence, why the continued strenuous efforts to hide that which doesn’t exist?

    I favour an investigation, the Church favours no investigation.

    You seem to believe that the investigation is completed & no evidence was found.

    Remember, your expertise in these matters and direct knowledge of them are far less than that of the two professors of law which I cited. They clearly believe that, given a chance, the evidence is there to be found.

    Perhaps not extending right to the Pope, but never-the-less, evidence. While this is the common feeling of the public, the Church continues to lose face, including those within it who are blameless. How fair is that?

  50. Paul Mees

    @John Bennetts
    As I said some 90 posts back, I do trust the law. That’s why I know there will be no charges against the pope, as there is no credible evidence. You need prima facie evidence of guilt to bring charges, not op-ed pieces, whether written by experts or not.

  51. John Bennetts

    @Paul:
    “I will, however, point out to people upset that I am a lawyer and have analysed the evidence in a “lawyerish” way, that my piece was written in response to media reports suggesting that the pope has broken the law and could/should be put on trial.”

    Fair enough, Paul, but you are in a journalistic space, not a court room. The rules of the game are appropriate to the venue. If/when the Pope or any other representative of the CC is brought before a court, it becomes time to present evidence and for judgement based on that evidence and the laws of that particular jurisdiction.

    Until then, it is certainly appropriate for journalists to research and to analyse and to comment on that which is in the public domain or which can be discovered. Some of that which IS public appears to be most damning of many past and present people within the Church. Appears to be, note… not proven to be.

    Expert opinion then comes into play. I cited and others cited reports from involved and concerned lawers who feel strongly that, based on their involvement in legal processes and of evidence concerning the Church’s response to accusations, that there is still a case to answer and that the Church is still resortinng to coverups, despite papal statements to the contrary. He is the CEO.

    For those reasons and others, I reject your affirmation of plausible innocence of the Pope or by implication the Church, because the weight of knowledge (not yet Evidence) indicates that this is highly unlikely.

    Perhaps we could both agree that, under the circumstances, charges should be brought where reasonable prospect of a verdict exists and that the evidence should be brought forth and tested.

    As I posted previously, that is exactly what is happening in several jurisdictions. I hope that this spreads world wide and quickly, so that those within the Church may not be further tainted by the alleged criminality of the few.

    Writing articles suggesting, on the flimsiest of justification, that the Pope may not be innocent does nought to resolve this impasse. True openness and court examination are the only way forward.

    Or, don’t you trust the law?

  52. Liz45

    PAUL MEES – My family was only one of too many. I responded to your lawyer’s article on the view that there’s no justification for what the cc has done, as there’s no justification for this pope or past popes to react in the manner they have, for too many decades. I put your ‘scrutiny’ in the same position as someone who’d try to assert, that there was a mitigating factor/s re the Ivan Milat murders, or the revolting and brutal mongrels who murdered Anita Cobby for example.

    I’m satisfied, beyond reasonable doubt, that the protective veil has been ‘up’ for too many years, and this pope and ones before him, plus cardinals, bishops, other priests and brothers in teaching schools conspired to protect the church from scandal! While I haven’t heard of nuns being responsible for sexual abuse, they certainly engaged in sometimes horrific acts of physical abuse that did cause death! As a woman, I find their brutality hard to comprehend! It shows a side of human beings and adds weight to the saying, ‘evil can only flourish when good men(or women)do nothing’!

    Some may think, that the brutal murders I’ve referred to are not as bad as sexual abuse. In some cases of abuse(indeed, we now realise the terrible damage done to footballers if they’re rendered unconscious, or even just too many scrums, can cause serious and severe brain damage) including those bangs into the blackboard I and my school mates suffered, coupled with the suicides and too many other long term effects – these are almost as bad as murder! A lot was just a matter of luck!

    We also now realise, that it’s most important for victims of crime to tell their stories; to receive a genuine apology and restitution – not just money. Money is something that the victim can visually couple with remorse, but is not sufficient on its own. And ‘shutting the person down’ re forcing their silence only compounds their pain and anguish! Even the comments made by the pope after the publication of the ‘evidence’ was arrogant and showed no sensitivity or empathy. And so my comments that nothing has changed is validated by his and others actions!

    It is heartening to know, that others on this site are also angered by the past weeks disclosures. In the final analysis, it’s these people, when they touch the lives of victims and show real ‘christian’ love and empathy, will help those people heal – this is sadly lacking in the cc!

  53. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    Anti-Catholicism is the anti-catholicism of a lot of Catholics these days Paul Mees.

    And why is that do you think?

    Because the unctious sophistry of it’s barely ‘plausible deniability’ is utterly beyond belief. A cult that runs on belief in utterly unbelievable things has finally gone so far that even its believers can no longer believe its denials. (Now that’s some irony!)

    Your attempt to shroud the issue with some selected ‘facts’ does nothing more than show how desperate people like you are to defend the indefensible.

    Ratzo spent decades with criminals and never called them out or exposed them UNTIL the public outrage forced some lame mumblings and promises to ‘do better’. You might say ‘he didn’t know’, but if you’d believe that you’d believe in any silly thing, like the resurrection for example.

  54. Paul Mees

    I don’t intend to interrupt the enjoyment of the posters who have filled this thread with their dislike of the catholic church, or even gratuitous personal attacks on me. I think this is the kind of thing Donald Horne (an atheist humanist) was been thinking of when he wrote, in “The Lucky Country”, way back in 1964 when I was 3 years old, that “anti-catholicism is the anti-semitism of the intellectuals.”

    I will, however, point out to people upset that I am a lawyer and have analysed the evidence in a “lawyerish” way, that my piece was written in response to media reports suggesting that the pope has broken the law and could/should be put on trial.

    I also want to exclude Liz45 from my criticisms. What you and your family have been through sounds truly awful and I can’t imagine what it must have been like. The perpetrators should be punished and I would be happy to supply the tomatoes, although I think that may be too kind, given what you have described.

    I remain keen to respond to anyone who addresses my actual arguments. As for the rest of you, feel free to enjoy yourselves.

  55. Liz45

    @JOHN BENNETTS – “I wouldn’t p_e on them if they were on fire.”

    Well John, there IS something we can agree on!

    VENISE – I couldn’t agree more. As Germaine Greer’s book title illustrates women are treated as “Damned Whores and God’s Police”? Josephine should read it!

    I’m always twice as cranky with women who sell out other women, as they should know better, and if they don’t, they should listen, read and show some empathy to the plight of their sisters, not side with the very people who make the rules and insist on how they’re carried out – usually to suit male interests only!(Look at the now hopefully rescinded law of provocation that the legal fraternity used to get men off murder charges for the horrific and violent murders of their partners/wives – thank you Phil Cleary! A good and decent man.)

    I woke up to the misogynist attitude of the cc re contraception. My first 2 babies were born, 11 mnths, 2 wks and 6 days apart – they’re the same age for 8 days each yr. I asked 5 priests re contraception, got 5 different answers and so said ‘stuff you buggars'(or words to that effect)and took the advice of my GP who counselled very strongly against having any more – soon!(I waited 4 yrs and the body really gave up then – pre ecclampsia is a potentially dangerous condition to have – I was very lucky and stayed in bed as stressed!) I had a script for the pill prior to leaving hospital! Yes! One victory for this indoctrinated young woman – this was 1964!

    This aspect of the cc is just one of a myriad of reasons why they’re misogynist and not even christian. Where in the ‘good book’ does it say anything against contraception and also the nonsense, of not eating meat on fridays for instance, or has that been removed from the mortal sin ‘book’ of crimes now? Absolute rubbish – to help out the professional fishers perhaps?????

    ps. What on earth did you say to have a whole comment removed? What a naughty person you are! You’d get the ruler across your fingers, or perhaps your head bashed into the blackboard like I did when I was 10 and 11! naughty little girl?????LoL – giggle-giggle!

  56. Venise Alstergren

    Ah, I have been moderated, and a whole comment obliterated.

    JOSEPHINE: Saint Paul was Paul of Tarsus.

    JOSEPHINE: I have a problem with catholic ladies who appear not to have seen themselves reflected in a mirror -presumably every morning-and know they can never, never, have the upward mobility of a man in the church. In effect they support a system that makes of them to be second class citizens.

    They can die for the Church and become a saint. Of which there are thousands. But for over two thousand years a catholic woman has been treated as an aberration. A sort of milch cow for males. A broodmare, a receptacle, and a piece of furniture. A thing to be used or abused.

    It would seem that many women not only accept this quaint belief set up by males, they actually get hostile towards outsiders who haven’t purchased the same tawdry bill of sale.

    If there was a god he would be outraged by the women who cheerfully put their brains on hold, in the name of worshipping him, of course.

    BTW: Ship’s captains know they are responsible for all the mistakes which happen aboard their ships. Even if they were unaware of the person who mucked up, the captain stands by his ship, and its crew to the bitter end. Hell, he is even prepared to go down with his ship to the bitter end. He s the one who takes responsibility for anything that happens on-board.

    In what way is the Pope different to a ship’s captain?

  57. John Bennetts

    Or, for another Professor of Law’s informed opinion (as against simple barrister’s guess – and a barrister whose expertise appears to be in town planning, at that) try the following posting on the same NY subject.

    http://writ.news.findlaw.com/hamilton/20090729.html

    She says, much more eloquently than I, that the CC is very much a crock of sh_t that puts worldly treasure far above any little quibbles such as ethics and law and victims’ rights, and even tries to threaten the legislators quite bluntly and openly if they are threatened with a taste of actual legal process.

    Pshaw!

    Happy, declared Papist Paul Mees, I particularly commend these articles to you, so that you may learn humility. Pray for the gilded manfrocks, they need all the help they can get. I wouldn’t p_e on them if they were on fire.

  58. John Bennetts

    If any of you still suspect that the Catholic Church has a skerrick of compassion for the victims of abuse, or that the Catholic Church has changed its approach to disclosure and openness before the law, read the linked document from today’s New York Times.

    NB It was written by an attorney who is actually involved in the case, i.e. he knows the facts, unlike the barrister author of the article which set this particular hare running.

    Caution, though – it is sickening.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/27/opinion/27lessig.html?th&emc=th

  59. Liz45

    VENISE – I haven’t even told the whole story! Why do I get the feeling, that some people here are being a little too ‘lighthearted’? I’m fine within my skin these days. I’m now a grandmother, and I’m fine, but I know that my siblings(who are older than me) who were abused are not!

    I am still outraged at the abuse of kids of any age in any country at the hands of anyone. What makes the cc so despicable, is their outward signs of piety and ‘wholesomeness’ while their colleagues have and probably still are abusing kids, who as adults, might kill themselves; may never have loving positive relationships, and always have horrific nightmares etc. I don’t think any of this is funny, and I reject anyone and any organisation that lightens these horrific human rights abuses. The perpetrators and their apoligists are the worst type of criminals in my view!
    Too harsh? No way!

    I’m really sorry that people trained in the Law, like Paul Mees, who has a responsiblity to uphold the Law, to protect the vulnerable from abuse, think that it’s OK to make apologies/pleas etc for the abusers of innocent and beautiful kids. There’s no excuses – ever! What’s the legal equivalent of the Hypocratic Oath?

  60. Venise Alstergren

    CHRISTOPHER D: I’m dead impressed and so glad I apologised.

    Cheers

    V

  61. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    No probs, VA, it was just an opportunity for me to bring up Nietzsche (nice segue, huh?)

  62. Venise Alstergren

    CHRISTOPHER DUNNE: I stand corrected-sit, actually. I thought the proper title was the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection. How did I arrive at Evolution? Oh well, that is lazy of me to have used the wrong title. Especially as I’ve read large tracts of it.

    Sorry about that

    Cheers

    V

    PS: My apology may not arrive to you for ages as I am being moderated.

  63. Liz45

    @JOSEPHINE- “The Pope is completely innocent of anything related to the abuses, yet he has taken ALL the blame for them, ”

    This is just not true. If a school Principal knew of the sexual abuse of one of his/her teachers and protected the abuser, he/she would be charged with perverting the cause of justice, or maybe something more serious. Thankfully, these days we have stronger laws that were perhaps not in operation in the countries of a decade or more ago, in the countries that these priests were active, but the pope as either a bishop or a cardinal had a duty of care to the rest of the community to remove the alleged perpetrators and inform the police. There is too much evidence now, that this did not happen – for a variety of reasons, or as I call them, weak excuses!

    I’ve asked before, why can the police have the power to enter any premise/home/office etc in order to seek evidence/information, but not to enter premises designated by the cc? This is an act of injustice and positive discrimination against victims, without the alleged crimes of sexual abuse. This is relevant to those here who wish to muddy the waters by bringing forth the other incidents of sexual crimes against anyone, but particularly children. Let there be no muddy water here – I submit that every person who commits such crimes should be treated the same in every country and brought before a court to face these charges. Anyone who disagrees with this, or uses pedantics to hinder this is just as bad as the criminals in my view!

    In this country, at last, if police are called to a domestic violence complaint, where there’s evidence of abuse taking place EVEN WITHIN EARSHOT OF A CHILD, it is now deemed serious, and mandatory reporting must take place, and every effort must be made to remove that child/children to a safe place – hopefully, by removing the perpetrator. In NSW, several million dollars have recently been allocated just for this purpose. At last! I’ve only had to wait 47 yrs for this to happen!

    JOSEPHINE – The cc does not deserve your protestations of support, and nor does the pope. As someone said once, ‘the buck stops with him’? To make his position even worse, the pope recently referred to the media accusations as just ‘petty public gossip’ or words to that effect? That told me, that he’s not concerned about the lives of kids, past and possibly present and future victims – the vatican holds scandal right up there with ‘mortal sin’ to be avoided at all costs! Regardless of who it hurts! Damn him!

  64. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    Oh, I meant to say that there’s another good long article in today’s NY Times about another child molester, Cardinal Groër, and how he rose through the ranks despite his reputation being widely known. Ratzo of course is involved, must have known, but didn’t ‘out’ him.

    Same old, same old.

    But there’s still ‘plausible deniability’ as usual, but once more, the same pattern of the sh!t floating to the top.

    As for the organisation: a fish rots from the head.

  65. David Sanderson

    “The Pope is the leader of over 1 billion people worldwide and so far there have been around 11,000 alleged abuse cases worldwide (and mostly in the US). The US president is the leader of around 300 million people and around 39 million people have been abused as a child.”

    Josephine, your use of statistics could be classed as number abuse and is without any genuine meaning. You discredit yourself by reaching for such transparently dishonest tactics.

  66. Josephine

    Venise, what rubbish are you talking about St Paul? Lol! St Paul has condemned homosexuality in many of his letters. This just goes to what lies people like you will resort to get what you want.

  67. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    VA, I’ll be a tad nit picky here: Darwin wrote a book called “On the Origin of Species”, and in it explained how species evolved over time in response to their changing environments. It was, and still is, an intellectual tour de force because every branch of science since has built upon it.

    I’m also rather fond of that other great 19th C mind, Frederich Nietzsche, who said, (amongst many other things) that “Gott ist Tot” . In one version, he says:

    “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”

    …and the cults of christianity have not yet caught up, and have nothing to offer except medieval mumbo jumbo and nostalgia and some very fine art and music (the devil doesn’t always get the best tunes!).

    Our dreary, worn out churches cannot make us worthy of this act. We must leave them in the dust of history.

  68. Josephine

    The Pope is completely innocent of anything related to the abuses, yet he has taken ALL the blame for them, something he need not do since it was a very small percentage of priests who were guilty and the abuse cases have been and continue to be handled at diocesian level.

    Are you really concerned about child sex abuses or only when there’s a Catholic angle to it? If you are really concerned about child sex abuses, you should denounce the leaders of all nations as well since child sex abuses happen on worldwide outside the Church too… in fact on a much wider scale, especially in the US. The Pope is the leader of over 1 billion people worldwide and so far there have been around 11,000 alleged abuse cases worldwide (and mostly in the US). The US president is the leader of around 300 million people and around 39 million people have been abused as a child.

    However it looks like you’re more concerned about attacking the Church than anything else. You’re basically using this issue as an excuse to push your agenda/causes, aren’t you?

  69. Venise Alstergren

    LIZ: Someone who has endured what you’ve gone through as a child should take out a class-action against the catholic church. Although, guess who’d be the barrister for the defence?

    Not to mention the sprays coming from all our catholic parliamentarians.

    Don’t forget no one has done more to enforce sexism than Islam or Catholicism+ The Oz Taliban.

  70. Liz45

    VENISE – As a kid growing up, we were led to believe that another Paul perhaps god himself started the “one, true faith”? Didn’t hear anything about that bloke!

    You’d be in big trouble with the nuns speaking that sort of ‘blasphemous nonsense’? Perhaps double time at polishing the brass alter rails! Or polishing the brass vases etc. Mind you, the boys were allowed to play sport while the girls did this? Sexism was alive and flourishing then too! The nun who used to bash me also loved giving the ruler(on its side) to those of us who learnt/played the piano? Charming little torturer? She would’ve fitted in very well with Ruddock’s view re treatment of children?

  71. Venise Alstergren

    LIZ: The catholic church was founded by Paul of Tarsus, a notorious homosexual.

    Virgin birth, holy trinity and assorted garbage was swiped from other religions in the first place, so what ever kudos I could gather up for the cc-which I couldn’t-it would not include originality.

  72. Venise Alstergren

    JOHN BENNETTS: Sorry, I had to clear my own name from being accused by PAUL MEES as smearing him by accusing him of saying the children were to blame.

    Thank you for your excellent article. It is most instructive.

    Of course the trouble with catholics is-apart from their unspeakable crimes against humanity-they’ve had it sweet for two thousand years, and can’t hack the fact that one Charles Darwin wrote a book called “The Theory of Evolution”. Or the fact that education is mandatory these days.

    They have to rely on brain-washing children to get new bums on seats (no pun intended)

  73. Phil

    The leaders of the cc would be well aware of the crap they peddle.
    Here is a guy who did a PhD on the subject on the origins of religions. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvin_Boyd_Kuhn)
    Although not a follower of Theosophy or it’s off shoots, I find their studies in revealing the truth of religions interesting to say the least. Ask yourself, why some of the facts about the known sun god religions, especially the latest version, Christianity are not commonly known or taught. Obviously covering things up is what the cc does best and why it and it’s offshoots still exist today as the cults they truly are.
    Hiding the facts of abuse is child’s play to them. (Pun intended)

  74. David Sanderson

    No, immoderate moderation can take the blame.

  75. John Bennetts

    Thanks for the gesture, David.

    TWICE! But why only unpaedophilic the first time?

    I am honoured … or am I?

    Just trying to make a distinction between the time and place for members of the Bar to be let off the chain. Or was he saying that is a Barrista?

    Coffee time!

  76. Venise Alstergren

    PAUL MEES: Before you rest you so called case wherein you accuse me of being part of a smear campaign, I’d like to bring your attention to my actual words as written by me.

    “Your article could be read as being all legalistic art, but totally lacking of any heart.”

    Where oh where do I accuse you of …. “and accusing me of blaming abuse victims instead of the media”. Do tell!

    I do, however, owe you one apology. Clearly, you are an amateur.

    I rest my case Mr Mees.

  77. Liz45

    @PAUL MEES, JOHN BENNETTS, DAVID SANDERSON – One of the basic aspects of the male person’s behaviour, is their belief by their words etc, that they have a ‘natural superiority’ re life’s issues. By some ‘divine’ happening, what they assert has more value and must be listened to attentively, while women like me are defined as whining or carping or must a ‘man hater’? How convenient for them!

    Paul only wants to engage with people who fit his ideas of responding to his article, and any deviation from his perceived ‘script writing’ is just cast aside with disdain! What bloody arrogance!

    JOHN usually addresses my comments by sniping and calling me a ‘man hater’ and then continues on with his usual exhibitions of supreme arrogance. DAVID’s response is similar, even after he’s stated that he’s not a catholic and so hasn’t had any experiences re what this article is commenting on? But obviously thinks it’s OK to castigate me after I’ve given just one family’s history re this horrific abuse!

    The mind bloody boggles!

    The fact that thousands of people have been abused over the who knows how many years by perhaps a systemic paedophile ‘ring’ of priests and other clergy is a history that all clergy should be ashamed of, and any legal person should be on the side of the victims, not doing a PR job for the perpetrators and their bosses? When one reads of the experiences in the Newcastle/Hunter region for example, involving several priests and maybe 80+ children, it’s not exaggerating to surmise, that these bastards had a ‘club’ mentality? I’m sure it happens in other areas as well; the legal fraternity, police, public servants etc. I remember the Judge who committed suicide yrs ago as his participation in child pornography was disclosed. Got enough guts to behave in a vile manner, but bloody cowards when they’re found out!

    The thundering silence of the cc in Australia in recent weeks is evidence of the fact, that covering up abuse and treating victims as just a damned nuisance that won’t go away is still alive and well. Where’s Pell’s voice or Andrew? Fisher? the bishop who insulted those parents? They’ll all run for cover hoping people like Paul Mees will help it all go away! It won’t!

    It’s not just victims and past and present catholics who are outraged now, it’s the broader community who are also demanding explanations and justice!

  78. David Sanderson

    “After reading all of the thread above, several times”

    Wow, your capacity to endure pain is not inconsiderable. I drop my underpants to you in deep respect.

  79. David Sanderson

    “After reading all of the thread above, several times”

    Wow, your capacity to endure pain is not inconsiderable. I drop my unpaedophilic underpants to you in deep respect.

  80. John Bennetts

    Paul Mees has been good enough to provide links to the news articles which prompted his “what if he isn’t guilty” article.

    I suspect that he has transferred his barrister’s trained brain into the public arena. I am not a barristrer but I will try to explain what has caused the mismatch of logic systems between a law court and the court of public opinion.

    Barrister: Attacks the factual basis of claims, discarding all which is not evidence, as defined within the Evidence Act, fully supported by a chain of authenticity which demonsttrates that it has not been tampered with. Draws conclusions based on that which is still on the table after winnowing by this process, then prepares argument based on legal principles to discredit the opposing viewpoint and to support his client’s interests, whether or not these are his personal (as distinct from professional) opinion.

    Public opinion: Must work with available reports, including via journalists. Relies to an extent on life experience, eg Liz45 whose own life experiences make published allegations against Ratzinger and the CC sound not only plausible but highly probable. Another, such as I, without CC background, must form an opinion based on the reputation of the journalist and the medium comveying the news, as well as the degree of perceived hard factual basis via quoting sources, etc.

    This thread is not a law court… Crikey is a journalist’s creation, so it is appropriate to reference other news sources, etc, in order to influence opinion.

    After reading all of the thread above, several times, and following all links, I feel that I am much better informed. That in no way makes me a juror or a judge, only a person with an opinion based on publicly available reports.

    My opinion, for what it is worth, is that there are many issues which the CC should answer for in a place where facts may be tested and evidence produced and examined a court. This lay person’s opinion extends further, to a conviction that the appropriate authorities within at least half a dozen Western countries and, no doubt, 100 other countries not mentioned in the articles, should be concerned about at least:
    + The activities of individual priests and church workers in relation to allegations of criminal sexual, physical and emotional abuse of parishoners and their children.
    + The apparent failure of local management to report these crimes to civil authorities, as required by local laws.
    + The apparent collusion of local and higher management, not all of which were within the country of initial offense, in devising, agreeing, instructing, directing or even enforcing that failure to report to civil authorities the allegations and/or actual knowledge of criminal assault by staff on parishoners and their children.
    + Each of these investigations and resulting actions would of course name names and be specific as to charges against perpetrators of the original crimes, the coverups, the illegal non-reporting, the generation and promulgations of systems which aid and abet or even coerce the above conduct.

    In other words, I am firmly convinced that much wrong has been done, and that is is highly likely but not yet proven in a legal sense that the wrongdoing affects the CC from top to bottom.

    Now what? I put aside the original article as a mind game from a barrister at play.

    The real game is the response, country by country, to the allegations which have emerged and which are still emerging. That, I would love to see, and I expect that certain countries have indicated a willingness to do just this, eg Ireland and Germany.

    Do not expect this to be swift or clean. My guess is that the CC will be up to its neck in controversy in relation to historic assauly claims for another 50 years, even if no member of the church ever commits or endorses such conduct again.

    It is like a great big version of the James Hardy asbestos cases. The company changes countries via USA to Holland, changed its name, fraudulently restructured and lied publicly about its response to the harm it did. I expect the CC to shop jurisdictions, to hide documents, to delay, block and prevaricate, because that is what humans do when their systems are threatened.

    What would surprise me most would be a public, global Mea Culpa and invitation to unhindered external impartial access to records and staff, from CEO/Pope to lowliest minion, and to agree to restitution to individuals and societies damaged by their organisation’s criminality, either in a corporate sense or as a collective of individuals.

    That response would speak to me of honour, of repentance, and of sincerity.

    Until this happens, the nitpicking must continue. But, please – leave the barristers where they belong – inside a courtroom.

  81. Paul Mees

    I’d rather focus on people who have responded to my actual article, but I do want to make one observation about Venise Alstergren calling me a “hired PR man for the catholic church” and accusing me of blaming abuse victims instead of the media: I rest my case on the questions of smear campaigns.

  82. Paul Mees

    Here are the links requested by MS and Josephine (sorry for the delay):

    • The Age’s article on the Vienna Boys Choir
    http://www.theage.com.au/world/scandal-spurs-plea-from-pope-20100318-qiaq.html
    • For comparison, the SMH’s version of the same story
    http://www.smh.com.au/world/pope-writes-to-irish-catholics-over-abuse-20100318-qif4.html

    • Unfortunately, the report from The Australian I quoted seems to be only available in print (19 March, World, p. 9); the online version is a straight reprint of the original London Times story:
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/vienna-boys-choir-caught-up-in-sex-abuse-scandal/story-e6frg6so-1225842363980

    • The Kiesle case document file can be downloaded from the link at the foot of this LA Times article
    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/04/pope-urged-caution-in-case-of-california-priest-accused-of-molestation.html
    • A translation of Ratzinger’s 1985 letter, which was in latin
    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/04/pope-urged-caution-in-case-of-california-priest-accused-of-molestation.html

    • The Murphy case document file, from the New York Times
    http://documents.nytimes.com/reverend-lawrence-c-murphy-abuse-case?ref=us#document

    • The NYTimes report on the Hullermann case
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/26/world/europe/26church.html
    • Time Magazine report, including interview with psychiatrist
    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1973914,00.html?xid=rss-topstories
    •Wall Street Journal interview with Gruber
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704448304575196482519443598.html?mod=WSJ_WSJ_US_World#articleTabs%3Darticle

    Let me know if I’ve missed anything.

  83. Liz45

    @JOHN JAMES – “The stats suggest that the vast majority of sexual abuse is carried out by family members, who are usually married and/or sexually active, of the victims.”

    Don’t you start watering down the horrific crimes of priests, brothers and nuns with this red herring! You conveniently forget one very important difference, and that is, that ‘lay’ people are treated differently. Also, priests get up each Sunday and lead the parishoners to believe that they are ‘christ’s vicar on earth’ blah blah, when we now know, that many priests had abused an alter boy in the sacristy prior to the mass comencing, or in the case of my sister, when he had the trust of my parents while driving her to mass? Some people have been abused in the confessional, for goodness sake? The duplicity of their very public and private stance is mind boggling. How many kids were called liars when they confided in a parent or family friend about being abused; like the little girl in ‘Suffer the little children’ who had her mouth scrubbed with a brush with revolting soap on it, after she reported sexual abuse by the ‘kind’ male adult member of the family she visited for weekend ‘holidays’?

    If police have the power to seize lots of possessions of an ‘ordinary’ person of interest while investigating crimes, why are the laws different in relation to priests? Why were they treated differently in the 60’s, 70’s even last week perhaps? If the person referred to in this article was a school principal, what would your attitude be then?

  84. Venise Alstergren

    Hi CD. I’ll be as glib as PAUL MEES, author and hired PR man for the catholic church and say. How many people actively try to break into gaol?

    Those figures are probably not registered as statistics anyway. The authorities confine criminals to gaol whilst overlooking the greatest crime of all. The removal of lives and brains of their unfortunate flock, the catholic church.

    Now, I have to butt out, I can feel my rage rising, but I want to get a decent sleep tonight.

    Multiple cheers

    V

  85. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    No I can’t VA, but you’ve got me intrigued.

  86. Venise Alstergren

    CHRISTOPHER DUNNE: If David Sanderson should not care to produce the figures, perhaps you could help me?

    There is method in my madness, I assure you.

    Cheers

    V

  87. Venise Alstergren

    PS: I make the distinction of non-catholic church education for reasons which should be quite clear to you.

    Cheers

    V

  88. Venise Alstergren

    DAVID SANDERSON: I come in peace!

    I was just wondering if you might have the statistics of the numbers of people leaving the catholic church (Oz charter) per annum versus the numbers of non catholic church educated adults volunteering to become catholics per annum? (Oz charter).

  89. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    Try again with some ‘moderation’ removed:

    Ah, ‘crank in the wilderness’! LOL

    Love your psuedo-biblical putdowns Dave!

    Oh, and that Cardinal Castrillón, some of his exploits make excellent reading:

    John Paul II created him Cardinal Deacon of SS. Nome di Maria al Foro Traiano in the consistory of 21 February 1998. Two days later, on 23 February, Castrillón Hoyos was promoted to full Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy. On 26 October of that same year he served as papal envoy to the signing of the peace accord between Peru and Ecuador to settle their border dispute. During his tenure as Prefect, he expressed his disapproval of the zero-tolerance policy of the American bishops towards pae-dophile priests, saying that the bishops ignored such “fundamental principles of the Church” as forgiveness and conversion[3]. On 14 April 2000, he replaced Angelo Felici as President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, the Curial office that handles the Vatican’s relations with Traditionalist groups such as the Society of St. Pius X.

    Upon the death of John Paul II on 2 April 2005, Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos and all major Vatican officials, in accord with custom, automatically lost their positions during the sede vacante. He was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that selected John Paul’s successor Pope Benedict XVI, and was himself considered papabile—a possible successor to the papacy. Pope Benedict later confirmed him as Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy and President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei on the following 21 April.

    (wikipedia)

    …so Ratzo promoted this guy, years after he made quite clear his ideas on dobbing in criminals in the cult.

    So in reality David, you’re just another lame apologist for appalling crimes, but are so befuddled by your inability to judge a sick cult for what it is.

    And if you’d like to be really informed about my ‘obsessive beliefs’, then how about a translation of the Cardinal’s very letter?

    You’ll be pleased to know he advocated not denouncing a priest who was later sentenced to 18 years in jail for repeated r-ape of a boy and se-xual assaults on 10 others:

    CONGREGATIO PRO CLERICIS

    The Vatican, 8 September 2001

    Most Reverend Excellency

    I write to you as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith entrusted with aiding the Holy Father in his responsibility for the priests of the world.

    I congratulate you on not denouncing a priest to the civil authorities. You have acted wisely, and I am delighted to have a fellow member of the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and of other bishops, would prefer to go to prison rather than denounce his priest-son

    For the relationship between priests and their bishop is not professional but a sacramental relationship which forges very special bonds of spiritual paternity. The matter was amply taken up again by the last Council, by the 1971 Synod of Bishops and that of 1991. The bishop has other means of acting, as the Conference of French Bishops recently restated; but a bishop cannot be required to make the denunciation himself. In all civilised legal systems it is acknowledged that close relations have the possibility of not testifying against a direct relative.

    In this regard we remind you of the words of Saint Paul “So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear” (Philippians 1, v 13-14)

    This Congregation, in order to encourage brothers in the episcopate in this delicate matter, will forward a copy of this letter to all the conferences of bishops.

    Assuring you of my fraternal closeness in the Lord, I send my greetings to you, your auxiliary and your whole diocese

    (Castrillón’s signature)

    To His Most Reverend Excellency
    SE Mgr Pierre Pican
    Bishop of Bayeux-Lisieux

    …and Ratzo promoted this reptile!

    Oh damn, I guess there’s no point trying to influence you with the gruesome facts, is there David?

  90. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    Try again with some ‘moderation’ removed:

    Ah, ‘crank in the wilderness’! LOL

    Love your psuedo-biblical putdowns Dave!

    Oh, and that Cardinal Castrillón, some of his exploits make excellent reading:

    John Paul II created him Cardinal Deacon of SS. Nome di Maria al Foro Traiano in the consistory of 21 February 1998. Two days later, on 23 February, Castrillón Hoyos was promoted to full Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy. On 26 October of that same year he served as papal envoy to the signing of the peace accord between Peru and Ecuador to settle their border dispute. During his tenure as Prefect, he expressed his disapproval of the zero-tolerance policy of the American bishops towards paedophile priests, saying that the bishops ignored such “fundamental principles of the Church” as forgiveness and conversion[3]. On 14 April 2000, he replaced Angelo Felici as President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, the Curial office that handles the Vatican’s relations with Traditionalist groups such as the Society of St. Pius X.

    Upon the death of John Paul II on 2 April 2005, Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos and all major Vatican officials, in accord with custom, automatically lost their positions during the sede vacante. He was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that selected John Paul’s successor Pope Benedict XVI, and was himself considered papabile—a possible successor to the papacy. Pope Benedict later confirmed him as Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy and President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei on the following 21 April.

    (wikipedia)

    …so Ratzo promoted this guy, years after he made quite clear his ideas on dobbing in criminals in the cult.

    So in reality David, you’re just another lame apologist for appalling crimes, but are so befuddled by your inability to judge a sick cult for what it is.

    And if you’d like to be really informed about my ‘obsessive beliefs’, then how about a translation of the Cardinal’s very letter?

    You’ll be pleased to know he advocated not denouncing a priest who was later sentenced to 18 years in jail for repeated r-ape of a boy and se-xual assaults on 10 others:

    CONGREGATIO PRO CLERICIS

    The Vatican, 8 September 2001

    Most Reverend Excellency

    I write to you as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith entrusted with aiding the Holy Father in his responsibility for the priests of the world.

    I congratulate you on not denouncing a priest to the civil authorities. You have acted wisely, and I am delighted to have a fellow member of the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and of other bishops, would prefer to go to prison rather than denounce his priest-son

    For the relationship between priests and their bishop is not professional but a sacramental relationship which forges very special bonds of spiritual paternity. The matter was amply taken up again by the last Council, by the 1971 Synod of Bishops and that of 1991. The bishop has other means of acting, as the Conference of French Bishops recently restated; but a bishop cannot be required to make the denunciation himself. In all civilised legal systems it is acknowledged that close relations have the possibility of not testifying against a direct relative.

    In this regard we remind you of the words of Saint Paul “So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear” (Philippians 1, v 13-14)

    This Congregation, in order to encourage brothers in the episcopate in this delicate matter, will forward a copy of this letter to all the conferences of bishops.

    Assuring you of my fraternal closeness in the Lord, I send my greetings to you, your auxiliary and your whole diocese

    (Castrillón’s signature)

    To His Most Reverend Excellency
    SE Mgr Pierre Pican
    Bishop of Bayeux-Lisieux

    …and Ratzo promoted this reptile!

    Oh damn, I guess there’s no point trying to influence you with the gruesome facts, is there David?

  91. David Sanderson

    Well, as I indicated, there is no point trying to influence people with extreme and obsessive beliefs. You seem to have convinced yourself that you have exceptional perceptive powers but in reality you are just another crank in the wilderness, trying to find someone who will listen.

  92. Venise Alstergren

    PAUL MEES: The reverse side of your glib question “What if the Pope is innocent?” Would be “What if the abused children were guilty?”

    Each hypothesis cancels out the other, and make as little sense as the other.

    Have you got many of these cutesie questions tucked away?

    Your article could be read as being all legalistic art but totally lacking of any heart.

  93. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    But thank you for trying David, although you might be shocked to know that I actually can see the ‘good’ in many of the cult’s adherents, but it doesn’t absolve it of the crimes, nor the misery it has inflicted in ‘god’s name’ (most ironically!).

    Just like there are, no doubt, many blameless and conscientious workers in Goldman Sachs, the organisation is still a giant money-sucking vampire squid occupying an amoral universe inflicting financial misery on millions.

    You see David, I can encompass more than one point of view. I can also see a malicious cult based on guilt and fear, one that is intrinsically about power and patriarchal control of people’s minds and bodies, as something that may also attract many people of good, but incredibly misguided intent, (in my opinion) into its murky maw. It also has a great tendency to attract perverts, the simple minded, the confused and the psychopathic, and this is inherent in its very being. The crimes committed by these latter groups aren’t accidental ‘collateral damage’, but intrinsic to what it is.

    Nothing will change just because the present godfather waves his hand and mumbles something in Latin about ‘sins’. Nothing at all. This organisation is fundamentally about making humans do things which aren’t human. It’s like making horses trot…unnatural, against nature, if you like. And any organisation so rooted in this unnaturalness will always attract the types who commit crimes like the ones Liz45 recounts.

    It is, sadly, the nature of the beast, and Ratzo has spent a lifetime in it.

    By my reckoning, that makes him guilty, not of actually raping a child, but being part of the conspiracy to defend to the utmost any exposure of the truly abhorrent side of this cult. It was always there.

    It always will be.

  94. John james

    Its always interesting reading an extended exchange like that following this article and I’m amazed to see such an array of views.
    The problem of sexual abuse has certainly affected the church, but it is by no means confined to celibate clerics.
    The stats suggest that the vast majority of sexual abuse is carried out by family members, who are usually married and/or sexually active, of the victims.
    Moreover, sexual abuse and manipulation is rampant. In my own profession of medicine, the medical bodies have had to remind doctors of their responsibilities and re-issue guielines, after a relatively large increase in the number of doctors found to have taken advantage of patients or to have entered into sexual relationships, deemed inappropriate, with their patients.
    I think that while some bishops have certainly been remiss in protecting the vulnerable, I think that there has also been some conflicting advice at different times. Now the consensus is that any incident of alleged abuse must be reported to police but I believe there was advice at one time that this problem was more of an illness than a crime and bishops were sometimes advised that the alleged perpertrators needed to receive psychiatric attention.
    This Pope has done an enormous amount to ensure this problem is properly addressed within the Church.
    I’m not so sure its being addressed effectively outside. You’ve only to look at the resistance, amongst many, to the notion that Roman Polanski has any case to answer, to sense there are two standards being applied by some.
    Finally, the case of the ” Nazi bishop”, and this Pope, referred to by the author, needs addressing, and I’m a little disappointed to see the author hasn’t done so, but rather has clouded the issue somewhat.
    The Pope will always do all in his power to foster and strengthen unity amongst Christians. His predecessor, John Paul, worked very hard to bring Eastern European Christians back into the fold, dialoguing with them wherever he could, and understanding them well, because of his Slavic origins. Sometimes he was rebuffed. The Russian Orthodox were very hostile at one point, though they have warmed somewhat, I believe.
    Similarly, this Pope has tried to make it easier for Anglicans, wishing to join the Catholic Church, to do so, and vast numbers, in the UK and United States, are coming over. The four bishops, from another group that had left the Church, requested an opportunity to dialogue more, and Benedict simply moved to facilitate that dialogue. He’s not endorsing any “private” views they may hold, and I understand the other three colleagues of the bishop making his comments about the holocaust, also reprimanded him.

  95. Liz45

    @DAVID SANDERSON – I’m pleased that you’ve refrained from including me in your comments re chastising CHRISTOPHER, but you are being just as bad as the original perpetrators of these crimes, and the apologists like Mees who they’ve agitated to defend them.

    What crime really makes your blood boil? Think of some injustice that was so damaging to you that you can still feel the outrage of when it happened? Think of how you’d feel if someone came along and tried to ‘pour the oil on these waters’ and shock horror, even put forward the perpetrators point of view, or worse still, showed signs of going through the evidence like Paul Mees has done in order to find a ‘small patch of blue’? Wouldn’t you want to scream and shout at the injustice of it? And then, when that fell on deaf ears, you’d probably just feel depressed and isolated. I’ve been past that stage for myself, but I absolutely fume at the mere idea of somebody attempting to diminish the role of the ‘bosses’ in this issue, re the damage to others.

    In the Newcastle/Singleton area alone, it’s been revealed that at least 80 children have been the victims of sexual abuse by certain priests over a period in, I believe, the 70’s/80’s. One priest, already facing many charges, had 20 more added just last week/10 days. That’s why this attempt by Paul Mees is so repugnant and offensive to me. I can still recall the brainwashing of the nuns and priests re the responsibility of girls in a relationship – that it was our ‘duty’ to protect these boys from their base instincts blah blah blah! All the while, these same people could’ve been bullying, threatening, thumping, whacking, bashing, raping those same kids who sat with me in the class room or at church or??? How absolutely sickening is that? Bloody hypocrites.

    With 3 kids and a prolapsed bladder(from the too quick birth of my last child) I had to fight a catholic urologist to even recognise that I had a problem that needed ‘fixing’? His refusal was based on the fact that ‘it would interfere with my then husband’s sex life’? Little thought about the pain and further damage done to me, and by the way, who was even interested in my sex life – he knew what agony that was?

    Finally, I took the initiative, found a sympathetic Gynae who immediately told me that I needed surgery, and by the way, how many kids do you have, and do you want more etc? I had a tubal ligation at the same time. That took me 2 yrs of absolute agony for that to take place – I was not yet 25 yrs old! This is just one small ‘snapshot’ into the lives of many women via these misogynist bastards who used god to abuse women, and sadly too many kids of both sexes!

    The urologist even had the damned cheek to accuse me of not ‘liking kids'(while I was nursing my sweet little blond haired boy of not quite 2) and proceeded to tell me that he had 9 – I quickly retorted that no, his wife did, bring her in here and I’ll ask her? I also said that I like mercedes benz, but I didn’t want a whole fleet of them! So was born an activist and feminist, and I’ve been fighting this type of bs ever since! I get so weary of it all, but I won’t give up or give in!

    Then, when there’s blatant proof of the present pope’s involvement in covering up these crimes, we have people like Paul Mees doing his damnest to come out sounding plausible and reasonable about a situation that would NOT be condoned in any other sector. Substitute the CEO of BHP or the military or a Principal in a state school in the place of the pope? I can hear the screams of ‘sack him/her’ ‘charge him/her’ and I’d be leading the screams! Just amazing! Rotten to the core! Some kids were raped as little children. As a human being, this just makes me want to vomit! As a mother, it makes my blood boil – over! Adults have a responsibility to protect all children. Every child in the world is my responsibility.

    I stand up for kids who are even ignored in shops for example, when they’ve been there longer than I, but I’m going to be served first. How do we raise children to be responsible adults, with clear lines about justice and ethics and taking responsibility, when other adults abuse them in a horrific way. Every adult who doesn’t rise up in supportive anger with abused children is letting those kids down – in a very destructive way. Some never recover; some kill themselves; some never have loving relationships, and some just die slowly in their heart and mind. I won’t be privvy to their silent agony!

    The more you attempt to make excuses for this man, and that’s all he is – a man, who should be subjected to the same laws as the rest of us. He should be charged with ‘crimes against humanity’ or at least, perverting the cause of justice? I remember the other bs taught as a child – that the pope can’t ‘err in what he teaches’? What crap is that? He’s a man, and if I ever needed any proof, this surely is it. He’s an ordinary man, who in several cases acted in a reprehensible and disgusting manner! Paul, don’t try and justify or look for excuses of such blatant abuses – enough!
    Just imagine one of those raped kids has read your article! I shudder to think! I can only offer them a ‘hug of understanding and solidarity’! What you should’ve done!

  96. David Sanderson

    Any very large long-lasting institution will inevitably have many sins and crimes that stain it. Australian governments have many crimes and stains, most obviously the treatment of the aboriginal peoples. It would nevertheless be unjustified and counterproductive to denounce those governments in the hysterical, hateful style that characterises your outpourings.

    That is the severe lack of balance that I am talking about but experience demonstrates that those who are as unbalanced as you are the most unable to perceive these flaws therefore I have no expectation that I will be able to convince you.

  97. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    “anti-clerical extremism”, “violent beliefs”, “severe lack of balance”?

    You amuse me David, because you take blunt criticism of this manfrock cult as excited by hate, but I think it’s the product of rational moral outrage at the violence and horrible persecutions it’s dished out for centuries.

    I don’t ‘hate it’, am not in the slightest ‘excited by hate’ nor otherwise consider myself lacking balance. In fact I’m actually restoring some balance to the rorting of reason and logic this cult has exercised for a thousand years or so, (as well as the blatant sadism it’s inflicted on countless millions over those centuries).

    You see David, it’s all about perspective, and mine is that this cult needs to be called out for what it is, ie a cult, and I won’t be cowered by it’s adherents or apologists for telling the truth.

    Go back and read Liz45’s account. Multiply that by hundreds of thousands, look back over the centuries of persecutions and patriarchal tyranny and the millions inflicted with guilt and shame over their very human faculties, and then tell me that I lack ‘balance’.

    And I’ll try and keep a straight face when you do!

  98. David Sanderson

    Christopher, I am not part of the ‘cult’ and escaped the ‘brainwashing’ that excites your hatred by never attending any church or Catholic school. Nevertheless I have no sympathy for anti-clerical extremism. The church does have significant ills but that does not make your hysterical denunciation fair or reasonable.

    You appear to mistake your violent beliefs for a “pulsing life force”. It is nothing of the kind and indicates only your severe lack of balance.

  99. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    Oh, and on that ‘hate’ thing: how come an organisation that’s persecuted people for centuries, for not ‘believing’, being different, having independent thoughts, being women even…gets to define outrage at its egregious abuses as being ‘hate’?

    So typical of the kind of twisted sophistry this cult uses: critics are full of ‘hate’, but the cult’s vicious persecutions and brainwashing is what exactly?

    Nup, it’s hate. This cult hates freedom: of thought, of sexuality of the pulsing life force that makes us truly human.

    A cult of self loathing eunuchs, poncing about in frocks tells its victims to shut up for decades and anyone who dares criticise it is only inspired by ‘hate’?

    Now, that’s I what I call sophistry, and a total perversion of language.

  100. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    Pompous patronising is so easy David. Real insight and a healthy moral outrage is a lot harder for those who’ve been brainwashed by a cult.

  101. David Sanderson

    Hate and bile is so easy Christopher. Real thought and considered argument is a lot harder and there is precious little of that in your extremist ranting.

  102. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    Josepine: “hate and not reason”? LOL

    “Reason” doesn’t get much of a look in at cult central, and hasn’t for nearly two thousand years, but nice of you to drag it out to hide behind whenever the ugly underbelly of this organisation is exposed.

    “Reason” is suddenly a convenient fig leaf after all these centuries of burning people for using it?

    Oh the irony!

  103. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    Paul Mees et al:

    You don’t ‘get it’, do you?

    An organisation, a cult, to be more technically descriptive, that has promulgated fear and guilt for centuries, based on ‘belief’ in the utterly impossible, without any tangible evidence whatsoever, is now hiding behind the defence that “there is no evidence” that Ratzo knew of the egregious and ubiquitous crimes that have been committed by it forever?

    Go look up the word ‘irony’!

    People like Liz45 probably don’t need to as they’ve experienced the stinking hypocrisy of this cult directly.

    What she knows, and I know, and millions of us who have the capacity for thought (unpolluted by the menfrocks), is that the proposition that Ratzo is truly “innocent” is as unlikely as the resurrection, or any of the other mumbo jumbo that’s the stock in trade of this brainwashing cult.

    I’m happy to go with the likeliest possibility, ie Ratzo’s in it up to his mitred head, but now has been forced into the open by worldwide public opprobrium.

    Like the recanting on Galileo, it’s way past time.

    So if the citizens of the world have a ‘belief’ that the Pope is culpable, then job done, because he can’t pretend to be the head of an organisation (anointed by god, no less!) and then duck responsibility for its crimes.

    Here’s a crazy idea: what if the overwhelming majority of the world ‘believes’ this organisation is truly dysfunctional? Now, there’s something I can truly ‘believe’ in!

  104. Liz45

    @David Sanderson – “I’m not a Catholic and I consider many Catholic ‘positions’ odd and unhelpful but I think the venom and extremism against the church displayed by some of posters here to be unbalanced and shameful. ”

    May I suggest, that if you or one or more of your children had been raped or assaulted by these criminals, then you may feel much different. How would you then feel, if those responsible, far from being treated like the rest of us, were protected from the law and efforts were made to bully the victimes, force them into silence on receipt of compensation(shut up money, I call it) and now, we have their barristers trying to make breaks for them – still!

    One representative of the pope has tried to blame homosexuality for these crimes, another blamed celibacy, and so it goes on. There are many men, who for a variety of reasons are celibate, but they don’t use that to justify raping kids. And there are heaps more hetrosexuals who commit these crimes than homosexual men. As a woman, I’d feel much safer on the streets if all hetrosexual men were removed, and only homosexual men were allowed out after dark – believe me! I wouldn’t have to make sure that my car door is always locked for instance!

    The “venom and extremism” as you put it is an understandable reaction from people who’ve been fed BS for decades, and by an organisation that still doesn’t get it! Crimes of a horrific nature including the rapes of little 5 and 6 yr old girls have been treated in a disgraceful manner by the cc. These little girls were Australians,(not that that fact makes the crime worse?) and a current bishop castigated those parents during world youth week. One of those little girls committed suicide in her early 20’s, the other is disabled from trying! Tell me what part of being ‘venonous and extreme’ were their parents who only wanted to speak to the pope? Why wasn’t the cc treated like you or I if we committed these crimes – there is a decades old history of protection by the heirarchy, and the pope’s recent comments re the current revelations was to refer to them as ‘petty gossip’? No wonder people are enraged. The culture of the church HAS NOT changed, and it’s obvious that it doesn’t intend to! We’ve all heard the nonsense attempts at remorse so many times, only to find out, that there were even more of these occurrences than we realized?

    @Josephine – Perhaps you can explain, why did the pope sound so contrite during his visit to Australia and I seem to recall the US as well, but recently referred to the issues raised recently as “petty gossip”? If a sexual assault had been committed against you, and those responsible for the perpetrators protected them, how would you feel?

    As a woman and perhaps a mother, how do you think you’d feel if one of the thousands of abused children was one of yours? As a mother, I’d be screaming very loud I can assure you. Due to my experience of physical cruelty by nuns, I determined that my kids would never go to a catholic school. When I found out, only a few yrs ago of the sexual abuse of my brother, as a mother of sons, I was thankful that they weren’t exposed to that criminal/s!

    In fact, I believe, that some pedophiles choose to become priests as they know they’d a) be in a position of trust, and b) have access to children. Nothing has happened to change my mind about this, and I’m sure many others agree with me!

    I’ve just finished reading a book called, “Suffer the little children” about a group of nuns in Belfast that committed horrific abuses against little girls in their care. These crimes happened in the 1950’s – not a century ago? I don’t know when they stopped, but I suggest you and Paul and David read it! I obtained it from my local library – in the Biography section. A little who was locked in a room after being belted with a cane and then because she’d wet herself(after being left locked in a tiny room for hours) had her genital area scrubbed with a scrubbing brush, and her long hair was used as a mop! Having her hair literally pulled out by these abusers was a regular practice. Tell me what sort of monsters do that? This was not an isolated case – not at all! Watch the movie “Sister Magdalene” (I think?). These children were not educated, and these 3 sisters were exposed to this type of cruelty for years – one was only 6 wks old when detained and didn’t escape for yrs! The middle sister suffered all sorts of psychological and psychiatric illnesses for yrs, and finally took this Order to court after she read where women in Scotland had done it and succeeded!

    FINALLY, If I know a bank has been robbed and don’t disclose this to the police, I can also be charged with a crime, and treated as harshly as those who physically robbed the bank! If I know that a crime is going to be committed, and remain silent, I’m in a similar position. Some(many?) priests who abused kids were protected, and then went on to commit more crimes. I believe, that those who protected them should also be charged, not have their barristers do a ‘spin job’ on the whole filthy and immoral business! Keep in mind, that this is the same church that has oppressive rules against others – homosexuals, people who use contraception, the use of condoms to avoid sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV etc. What bloody hypocrites? And then to read more bloody tripe is insulting!

  105. Josephine

    Thank you, Paul. An excellent and well-argued piece. Could you give me the paper or website references for The Age and Australian reports please?

    btw, the spite spewed out by some of the posters here just goes to show how many are driven by hate and not reason.

  106. David Sanderson

    I’m not a Catholic and I consider many Catholic ‘positions’ odd and unhelpful but I think the venom and extremism against the church displayed by some of posters here to be unbalanced and shameful.

    Paul Mees has tried to conduct a civilised discourse but has been assailed by people who have a purely destructive bent driven by spite and prejudice.

  107. Liz45

    Paul Mees
    Posted Sunday, 25 April 2010 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    “Quite a few of these responses seem to confirm my point (as 3572 has noted), which was that some people dislike the pope so much that they don’t need evidence to be convinced of his guilt: Christopher Dunne actually seems to be proud of this!”

    No Paul Mees, you’re wrong. Most of the anti views of the present disgraceful situation stem from people like me who’ve known and been disgusted by the behaviour/s of the cc for decades. What’s happening now is no surprise to me. Nor is your behaviour any surprise. The cc must be really ‘packing it’ when they bring in barristers etc to try and do a PR job – you can’t – it’s too late for that! The fact is, that I’ve seen and heard the bulls**t for decades and your intervention doesn’t surprise me at all. It just makes me shake my head in disbelief, that after who knows how many abuses, ruined lives, destroyed human beings, bastards like you still don’t get it! Let me spell it out….

    The Catholic Church and all of its apologists need to be put up against the wall and at best, have tomatoes thrown at them; preferably charged with aiding and abetting, at the very least, and …. THEN, they should have to listen to the accounts of every abused person. THEN, they should be forced to use their billions to at least attempt to make amends – unlike now, when the arrogance and lack of decency is just a foul stench that it permeates through every country in the world!

  108. Paul Mees

    Quite a few of these responses seem to confirm my point (as 3572 has noted), which was that some people dislike the pope so much that they don’t need evidence to be convinced of his guilt: Christopher Dunne actually seems to be proud of this!

    MS has made a valid point, however, which is that I should have provided links to the documents and articles quoted. These were in my first version, but I cut them out in a vain attempt to get under 2000 wds. I’ll post them when I get back to work on Tuesday (they are on my computer there), but in the meantime:
    – the Kiesle documents are on the LA Times website in a PDF (search under his name); the LAT site also has a translation of the 1985 letter (which was in latin)
    – the Murphy documents are on the NY Times site (headed “The predator priest who got away”)
    – I got my quotes in the Munich case from the NY Times and Time Magazine reports: they did not copy the documents, only quoting them (with lots of added “editorialising” and beating-up in the case of the NYT); the Time article also has an interview with the psychiatrist; there is also an interview with Gruber in the Wall St Journal of 21st April.

    The reference to Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos is accurate, but incomplete. He is an absolute disgrace, but this is why Ratzinger persuaded the previous pope to take resposibility for defrocking priests guilty of abuse off him and transfer it to Ratzinger’s CDF in 2001. Since then, the pace of defrockings has accelerated rapidly. Castrillon Hoyos was also the main person responsible for the debacle over the holocaust-denying bishop. Ratzinger should have sacked him as soon as he became pope in 2005 (he is now retired, but in my view should be made to hand back his red hat).

  109. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    “matey”?

    Cipher, your pompous patronising cracks me up.

  110. 3752

    Matey – get some insight and some courtesy. One seriously thinks perhaps there is more going on for you than your anger here gives out. Cheers.

  111. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    That’s it Cipher, put it all down to the nasty media actually quoting the Archbishop and the story told by Dario Castrillón Hoyos.

    Silly me, to ever think there might be any other worldly authority except for the one brought down from on high by the celestial menfrock cult!

    So, even when newspapers quote these people, we are not allowed to accept that they may be telling the truth if it conflicts with the company rules?

    Oh, “please refrain” dear Cipher, I’m splitting my sides with mirth. Because I have ‘belief’ in the sinister nature of the Catholic Church, and my ‘faith’ is unshakeable.

    You see, faith is a truly wonderful thing.

  112. 3752

    @Liz45 – I hope, furthermore, that your outlining of these things can contribute to the investigation and reform of practice. Surely that it what is sought here.
    Take care, kind regards.

  113. 3752

    Hi Christopher,

    I’m a little disapppointed by your tone, as usual.

    My faith? Don’t believe I mentioned I had any.

    Anyway, as I say, while you are swinging the cudgel as you are, I hope you’ll stop to have a think. No-one feels any less than you do about the horrors inflicted on people: I suspect the disappointment I’ve had here is watching your obviously voracious energies wound up and screaming on something that requires the kind of systematic and analytic approach to it that Rees has given. The reason I’ve been disappointed with your commentary is that it is only screaming: it is not insightful, it is not instructive, and it offers nothing more than a stack of media citation to support your view. Rees’ analyis is doing nothing more than showing you up – I’m sorry to say it.

    @Liz45: Your story is horrific. Of course. I’m sorry to hear it and I think everyone else here is too. No-one would wish to be able to tell the tale you have. I hope that your energies concerning the injustice experienced in the church may be applied to seeking compensation – I cannot imagine what it must be like to hold those kind of experiences. You are right to be angry.

  114. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    Here’s another bit for you Cipher:

    In an interview in his native Colombia, Dario Castrillón Hoyos, who headed the Vatican department that deals with the clergy, said that a letter he wrote to the French bishop in 2001 was the product of a meeting in the Vatican.

    “It was a meeting of cardinals. Therefore the current pope, who at that time was a cardinal, was present,” he said.

    After the letter came to light, Castrillón said the last pope, John Paul II, had approved it and recommended that it be circulated – as it was – to all Catholic bishops. “The law in nations with a well-developed judiciary does not force anyone to testify against a child, a father, against other people close to the suspect,” Castrillón told his interviewer. “Why would they ask that of the church?”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/apr/23/belgian-bishop-admits-molesting-boy

    …so it wasn’t ‘company policy’ to hush it up? And Ratzo never knew such things happened?

    Pull the other one, it sings Agnus Dei!

    You can believe in divine trinities and miracles, but appear not to be able to believe in the obvious?

    Oh ye of little (but highly selective) faith!

  115. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    3752: (Nice nic there mate. Can I just call you Cipher?)

    You asked me to “please refrain”?

    Would that be how the kids asked their frocked molesters? Did they ask so politely?

    Let’s hope so, we’d all at least hope that the holy church could teach the little urchins some manners.

    Or did you mean like “please refrain from making complaints about being bug-gered by the Bishop”?

    Or are you just peeved that finally the wider public is looking into this stinking organisation and getting the smell in their nostrils, and would like it to “please refrain”.

    Which is it Cipher? Please explain?

  116. Liz45

    @Greg Angelo
    Posted Friday, 23 April 2010 at 3:08 pm

    I heartily agree!

    The fact is, that during my lifetime, the catholic church had a policy of protecting, covering up the sexual assaults of children by priests. As the ‘head’ of the ‘company’ the pope must take responsibility, and in at least 3 countries, this pope did not. I have no sympathy for him one bit, and in fact, I’d add the name of the Australian bishop who used the media to castigate the traumatised parents of two little girls, both raped at the ages of 5 and 6 – one committed suicide and the other still a young woman is damaged for life as a result of a suicide attempt!

    George Pell has even admitted, that the policy of ‘shutting up’ victims and not acknowledging blame was advised by insurance companies? What sort of moral code was practiced by him and the church over decades?

    For these reasons, plus the attitudes to condoms, contraception in general, attitudes to women(only baby making machines?) and the use and abuse of children is sufficient reason/s for the whole damned lot of them to be put on trial – for crimes ranging from murder/sexual assault, abuse of duty of care(re HIV & AIDS) – the list goes on! If I’d followed the ‘rules’ on contraception yrs ago, I wouldn’t have been alive to raise the 3 children I already had. The misogynist attitudes of the cc just fill me with great anger!

    One of my sisters was molested by a priest, a brother was abused by a so-called christian brother, and I was bashed by a nun! All crimes! Not one person was arrested or charged with those crimes, let alone stand trial! Their colleagues must have known what they were doing. Certainly in the case of the nun, it was no secret! Of course, my parents should’ve taken action, but they were fed the same BS as is going on now!
    These bastards stock in trade was harrassing and terrorising kids about ‘their’ sins. I can still recall the tirades from the pulpit about hell and damnation, and this was the modis operandi of the nuns etc as well. Terrifying kids re their ‘sins’? Wow! if only we knew then we’d have had a field day; accusing them of hypocrisy would’ve appealed to me! I remember feeling scared to death for eating a piece of devon on a Friday, as I’d forgotten what day it was. I must have been all of 9 or 10? I was scared to cross the road in case a car hit me and I’d go to hell!

    In the US, well over $800 million has been paid out in compensation; but there’s no compensation for those who are dead via suicide! Too many stories of cover ups around the world, including here!
    Forget that the person in question is the pope. What if an employer allowed a worker to get away with sexual assault in the workplace, and bullied the victim and then tried to cover it up with shut up money? There’d be an outcry, and rightly so! How come no priest, bishop or pope hasn’t been charged with covering up major crimes, or have they? Perverting the cause of justice?
    Everyone is covered by the same laws of the land – and that should also include popes!
    I find it repugnant for people to offer defence or excuses for this pope and his predesessors behaviour/s – sickening in fact!

  117. paerobinson

    @rysiu You are mistaken. I’m firmly in favour of all defendants having legal counsel – including the Pope. The legal system you ascribe to me is a pre-secular legal system. One of the crucial issues in this whole Catholic Paedophelia scandal is the reach of secular law. The problem isn’t that the pope can’t get legal council. The Pope is a powerful boy who can probably get anything he wants. What many people are wondering is how far does Papal privilege extend? At what point does the Pope come under the same legal ambience as the rest of us? I belong in the faction that says we should all be equal before the law.

  118. 3752

    i) @C Dunne:
    “Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard of Bruges conceded in an Easter homily this year that as the Vatican leadership confronted persistent accusations of abuse, “the reputation of church leaders was given a higher priority than that of abused children”. (source: NY Times)”

    – Again, you are using media reports of the Archbishop of Bruge’s homily to make a point where media reports are what is in question. It doesn’t stand. When was the Archbishop talking about? At what time? In the c20th, which much of the article discussed; or in the last 10 years? And was the Archbishop giving some kind of “insider information” concerning events to which he had no privy, or are you just reading him that way – perhaps like the NYT. Or worse, are you reading the NYT as reading him that way?

    “And that ladies and gentleman, gives us faith in our belief that Ratzo, head frock, knew too.”
    – No, it gives us no evidence at all. It gives us evidence that one Archbishop resigned on the basis of his understanding of matters. He may have had no insight beyond his own diocese and sphere of influence. To insinuate that he “knew the Pope’s mind” or whatever your remark implies is as groundless as many of your other assertions. Throwing them out there is fine – even throwing the standard abuse at religious believers that you do is nowadays acceptable in a public forum: but it gives no insight. Please refrain.

    @Phil – “Obviously Ryciu, you haven’t made the effort to study the history of religion’s origins. When you do, you can be smug as well and the weight of your delusion will no longer be on your chest. Try it, but I doubt you have the will. It’s amazing how much knowledge is out there these days on this subject if you care to look. Be brave and open your mind to realty, it’s true enlightenment.”
    – Actually, Phil, I have, and suspect I am much more qualified in this matter than you. Aside from that, you are simply backing one version of things; Phil was backing another, and at least doing so elegantly. It isn’t really good enough to sit and pretend that you have a set of insights to which everyone else must bow. You clearly have less than you think – or so your comment suggests. Certainly Paul Rees had the discipline to mount an argument – and not make suggestive slander, which has been the character of most of the anti-religious attacks here.

    Thanks for the work, Paul: a nice set of analyses. Cheers.

  119. Phil

    @Ryciu
    “@phil – intriguing. an unsupportable presupposition followed by an utter dearth of logic terminating in an unnecessarily smug conclusion! but hey, i’m sure it felt better for you to get it off your chest.”

    Obviously Ryciu, you haven’t made the effort to study the history of religion’s origins. When you do, you can be smug as well and the weight of your delusion will no longer be on your chest. Try it, but I doubt you have the will. It’s amazing how much knowledge is out there these days on this subject if you care to look. Be brave and open your mind to realty, it’s true enlightenment.
    However, you do demonstrate that knowledge of the English language is not a sign of heresy (being able to choose).

  120. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    Oh damn, there goes the Bishop of Bruges too, (he just resigned citing a little bit of boy abuse in his past).

    Another frock hits the pavement:

    Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard of Bruges conceded in an Easter homily this year that as the Vatican leadership confronted persistent accusations of abuse, “the reputation of church leaders was given a higher priority than that of abused children”. (source: NY Times)

    And that ladies and gentleman, gives us faith in our belief that Ratzo, head frock, knew too.

    (If they don’t need ‘evidence’, then why should we? I mean, they would like us to believe in an imaginary big sky daddy with no proof of such a things existence, but we only have to believe in what most intelligent observers would conclude is beyond doubt.)

    Do you see how wonderful a thing belief is?

  121. Alexander Berkman

    oh non existent god please save me from your followers

  122. rysiu

    a timely and worthwhile article, though i’m certainly no fan of the catholic church (although i am christian). the response has been especially instructive, as it is noticeably devoid of any genuine counter-argument.

    @paerobinson – i’m intrigued by your suggestion that paul should concentrate on seeking justice for the victims. i trust we should extend this to the legal system more broadly and dispense with defence counsel when we all reckon the defendant ‘done it’? i think the idea that the guilty within the church should be held responsible was quite clear in the article.

    @phil – intriguing. an unsupportable presupposition followed by an utter dearth of logic terminating in an unnecessarily smug conclusion! but hey, i’m sure it felt better for you to get it off your chest.

    @christopher dunne – not sure if you’re being disingenuous or simply ignorant, but your rather juvenile characterisation of what constitutes “belief” needs a bit of work. it was quite a refreshing post though, it’s been *ages* since us theists have been told we’re not only wrong but stupid.

  123. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    Nailing Ratzinger for the Catholic church’s centuries of abuse of children is about as likely as getting the CEO of Goldman Sachs for being an amoral giant vampire squid…nice idea, but utterly unrealistic considering just how these organisations work. Sure, we’d all like to believe that the head honcho knew there’d been perverts and sadists and child abusers lurking in the cloisters since, well, almost since Jesus was a boy, but nup, he didn’t. Can’t prove it, so nah, nah, ne nah, nah to you!

    But we ‘think’ he did. And let’s face it, he’s from a long line of godfathers (or is that the ‘other’ Italian organisation?) who’ve claimed, amongst other incredible things, yes, infallibility.

    So he’s infallible, but he just managed to overlook centuries of flagrant and widespread vile behaviour to children. Didn’t ever get a whisper in the Vatican corridor about certain ‘impious’ goings on in churches all around the globe? Not once? Never turned a blind eye?

    It’s go gloriously impossible to believe, you’d almost call it an ‘article of faith’ for those of us who find this cabal of menfrocks a two thousand year old freak show; a realm of mumbo jumbo, guilt and fear and outright weirdness.

    Ok, who’s for the new cult, based on the ‘belief’, (because, well, we just ‘must’ believe it), that old Ratzo’s as guilty as sin, his organisation is rotten to the core, and the whole frescoed edifice is peeling away to reveal the centuries of depravity that masqueraded as pious belief?

    Isn’t ‘belief’ a wonderful thing?

  124. Darren Holmes

    Phil
    I don’t see the link. If the christain faith, and the Catholic Church at it’s core, are living a great lie, what makes you think they know it? If you believe something to be the truth, you cannot be perpetuating the greatest lie. The astounding thing for me in this discussion, is that the real facts are not sufficient news and scandal. To editorialize and misquote just to satisfy a strange desire to make the issues around child abuse in the Church even worse than they undoubtedly are, is just wrong.
    The modern Catholic Church is a soft target for journalists and editors who are not too fussed about the accuracy of a scandalous story. The Church and the public deserve better. And so do the many genuine victims of pedophile priests.

  125. MS

    Paul, if you want to argue that your op-ed is more factually accurate than the NYT’s or Huff’s op-ed, then you may want to give links to documents and quotes that support your argument, rather than just arguing “no he didn’t”.

  126. Phil

    He’s the leader of an organization that perpetuates the greatest lie ever hoisted onto the human race. Could he be innocent? Doubt that!

  127. paerobinson

    Paul, your article has given me pause for thought.

    I believe Benedict was a dangerous clown long before his current crisis – I’m thinking of two well known incidents in particular

    1. The consideration he gave to a Nazi bishop over and above the consideration he gives to every woman; married man and gay on the planet.
    2. His ignorant and murderous comments on AIDS and condoms in Africa.

    I confess, in his case, I tend to believe the hearsay.

    Here’s the conundrum for you. Even if you are right and there is no evidence linking Benedict directly to any criminal activity, he remains culpable. The paedophilia is widespread, systematic and, but for the energy of the liberal press, would still be shunted from parish to parish. This has all happened on Benedict’s watch as either Pope or head of the Inquisition that looks intothese problems. In any other organization, he’d be forced to stand down.

    Rather than use your considerable legal skills to quibble in his defence when no-one can touch him, why don’t you use them to seek justice for victims of these heinous crimes?

  128. SBH

    don’t be ridiculous Paul, the Pope hasn’t been Innocent since 1724

  129. Paul Mees

    @Gibbot: “Surely if there is no prima facie evidence, then the court will not issue a warrant”. Indeed, and they won’t, but that doesn’t stop the smear campaign.

    @Gibbot2: “I were a member of an organisation that was being tainted with criminality within its ranks I would be the first to demand complete accountability – as high up the food chain as the trail led.” Indeed, and we do. But at least some of us sympathise with Richard Dawkins when, in an earlier, saner, moment, he said (in “The God Delusion”, of all places): “I dislike the Roman Catholic Church. But I dislike unfairness even more.” The smear campaigns are actually distracting attention from fixing the problem, which the current pope, unlike his predecessor, is actually trying to do (notwithstanding his poor performance in other areas where I disagree with him).

  130. Gibbot

    @Paul Mees – Surely if there is no prima facie evidence, then the court will not issue a warrant.

    @David Sanderson – What puzzles me is why it is not Catholics themselves that want this issue fully brought to light. If I were a member of an organisation that was being tainted with criminality within its ranks I would be the first to demand complete accountability – as high up the food chain as the trail led. I don’t think anyone could see Robertson’s actions as an attack on Catholics in general, though maybe I’m wrong there.

  131. Angra

    You realise of course that in his inauguration the Pope has to be paraded over the heads of the Cardinals with no underpants on and his dress spread so they can confirm that he has the “balls” to govern the Catholic Church? (ever since the embarrassment over Pope Joan).

    So maybe peeping at male genitals is an institutionalized practice?

  132. John

    I agree, put the pope on a ducking stool.

  133. John Bennetts

    Gilbbot,

    While not disagreeing with your second paragraph, your first is unsupportable.

    You are supporting a “guilty until proven innocent” approach which belongs, along with the Roman Catholic Church, back in the Dark Ages.

  134. David Sanderson

    Gibbot, that is a bit obtuse. Putting the Pope before a court would be humiliating and discrediting and that is really the point of these efforts – not a conviction.

    Geoffrey Robertson may be admirable in many ways but, like the Pope, he is not infallible. It is counter-productive to attempt to do something that would anger millions of Catholics and lead to even more of a defensive reaction. The idea is to push the Church to be more open and accountable, not drive it into a corner where it will be justifiably able to claim religious persecution.

  135. Paul Mees

    Gibbot–In order to have someone tried in court, you need prima facie evidence of guilt, not editorials downloaded from the internet. If there is no such evidence, then the “defendant” doesn’t have to answer the charges. Geoffrey Robertson understands this: as far as I am aware, he has only been asked to advise on whether the pope has diplomatic immunity. For what it’s worth, I don’t believe anyone should be protected from prosecution by diplomatic immunity.

  136. Gibbot

    All well and good. If Ratzinger’s defense is as watertight as suggested, then he should have no trouble demonstrating so in court.

    I’ll also note that like the MSM, Dawkins has been portrayed as the driving force behind the movement to have Ratzinger stand trial. While Dawkins certainly supports the move, it is Geoffrey Robertson that is putting forth the case. Of course Robertson is a little harder to portray as the bully, what with his lifelong career as a campaigner for human rights and all.

  137. Angra

    What if the Pope was innocent?

    Actually 13 of them have been.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Innocent

  138. Paul Mees

    Greg Angelo’s comment illustrates the point I was trying to make. Editorialising in the Huffington Post and NYT does not count as evidence, and nor do Google searches. The 2001 document Ratzinger helped prepare can be read on-line and does not say what Sabine Leutheusser claims it does (or at least what the HPost says she claims). As for the post from the NYT, I thought I had explained what really happened in Wisconsin in my post– which was based mainly on the documents on the NYT site, which do not in fact support the story they ran. To answer someone who claims there has been a media beat-up by quoting some of the media beat-ups is not very convincing.

  139. Bob

    Letter from the pope:

    Apparently some of my employees have been raping your children.
    Sorry about that.
    Also, the managers of those workers refused to take action when the rapes were reported.
    Sorry about that.
    Anyway, I’ve written to the workers and the managers and told them not to do it any more.
    So it’s all better now.

  140. John

    This story is just like the one about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
    I prefer the words of an earlier pope: “Don’t do it”.

  141. Greg Angelo

    Having recently finished reading a book involving the appalling sexual abuse of children in the custody of the Christian Bros in Ireland, I have little sympathy for the appalling bastards within the Catholic Church who abused their trust and satisfied their sexual needs by sodomising and beating children. I have even less sympathy for the church officials including the then Cardinal Ratzinger (and now Pope Benedict) for whom protecting the church’s image from damage was apparently more important than the stretched anal sphincters and corrupted psyches of the abused children. Whilst I accept that the Vienna but boys choir was not part of the Catholic Church, and there is no direct evidence of child abuse admissible in court at present in relation to this choir, this in no way detracts from the culpability of Vatican officials in covering up child abuse within the church. This includes the current Pope Benedict.
    The following two quotations in relation to Vatican cover-up of child abuse are readily available on the Internet. I would suggest that before people run around defending the Catholic hierarchy that they seriously researched the subject.
    “The Vatican moved to defuse criticism after the German justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, said Monday that a Vatican secrecy rule has played a role in a “wall of silence” surrounding sexual abuse of children. She cited a 2001 Vatican document – drawn up by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – requiring even the most serious abuse cases to be first investigated internally.”
    (Huffington Post :April 23 2010)
    “Top Vatican officials — including the future Pope Benedict XVI — did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys, even though several American bishops repeatedly warned them that failure to act on the matter could embarrass the church, according to church files newly unearthed as part of a lawsuit.
    The internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal.
    The documents emerge as Pope Benedict is facing other accusations that he and direct subordinates often did not alert civilian authorities or discipline priests involved in sexual abuse when he served as an archbishop in Germany and as the Vatican’s chief doctrinal enforcer.”
    (New York Times: 24 March 2010)

    These two quotations are merely what is readily available from a quick Google search and I have not deeply researched the subject. However anybody who is an apologist for any person involved in a cover-up of child abuse deserves to be condemned even if not personally involved themselves. At no stage should the church be above civil law. Pederasts should be handed to police authorities regardless of their religious status.

  142. klewso

    Yeahhhhh, and what if he’s not?

  143. paddy

    [Unpopularity is not a crime] ???
    Oh yes it is!

    It’s also a mortal sin, a hanging offence and in extreme cases,
    it’s been known to draw the ultimate punishment.

    The soft cushion and the comfy chair!!!

  144. David Sanderson

    Attempting to prosecute the Pope is very misguided – futile and easily characterised as persecution. Redress is most appropriately gained by exposure and public campaigning.

  145. Eponymous

    A beat up? In the media? I find that very hard to believe.

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