The cowardly, patriarchal Catholic leadership maintained a massive cover up of child sex abuse in epidemic proportions for decades while shuttling pedophile priests from church to church. Allegations of church-based sex abuse are increasing across Europe, including in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland. New abuse allegations have surfaced in Brazil, home of the world’s largest Catholic population.
Serious accusations have rocked the Irish church since the U.S. scandal broke. But it was not until the middle of last year — when a government report detailing Irish clergy child abuse was released — that the extent of the problem was entirely clear. The report alleged 2,000 cases of abuse over a 60-year period. A second government investigation, released by the Irish government in November 2009, fanned the flames by revealing the collusion of Irish police in systematically covering up cases of child abuse by Dublin clergymen. For Ireland, this is only the latest part of the clergy abuse saga — the Associated Press reports that since the mid-1990s there have been nearly 15,000 complaints leveled against the church — with legal claims topping $1.5 billion.
The scandal: In late February, a Dutch radio station and newspaper broke the story of alleged abuse in Dutch Catholic boarding schools in the 1960s and 70s. The last Catholic boarding school may have closed in 1981, but victims have not forgotten their traumatic experiences. Once again, the trickle of a few lone voices surged into a torrent — nearly 200 allegations surfaced in the weeks following the radio program. Victims told stories of priests who shamed them into thinking they had done something wrong, which accounted for their silence. Even when accusations were leveled, priests tended to brush off evidence.
The scandal: In early March, the head of a Benedictine monastery in Salzburg confessed to sexually abusing a child more than 40 years ago, before he was ordained. His offer to resign was immediately accepted. A few days later it was reported that another priest in southeast Austria was suspected of having abused approximately 20 children in his parish. Anonymous accusations of abuse at a boarding school at Mehrerau Abbey have also been confirmed and allegations of abuse within the world-famous Vienna Boys’ Choir have also surfaced.
The scandal: The latest and most salient crisis is now taking place in Germany, where allegations of abuse have surfaced this year for the first time. At least 300 cases of abuse have emerged, and elite Jesuit boarding schools across the country have been accused of mistreating pupils. Eighteen of the 27German archdioceses are now being investigated for child abuse while the German Justice Ministry says that Vatican secrecy has hamperedinvestigations for the past decade.
Such explosive accusations are a direct attack on Pope Benedict himself, who has been criticized for sending a confidential letter in 2001 to every Roman Catholic bishop, advising them to keep allegations of sexual abuse secret for at least 10 years. The letter went on to say that investigations into abuses would be done internally. The German cases have been particularly dangerous for the pope, who was the bishop of Munich from 1977 to 1981. Already he has been accused of allowing a priest who was a known molester to continue serving. Even the pope’s older brother, Father Georg Ratzinger, has been accused of allowing abuses to occur at a school choir he directed from 1964 to 1994.
Revelations of abuse in Germany, particularly in the Munich archdiocese while Benedict was the archbishop, have seemingly put a lid on the argument by some in the Roman Catholic Church that sexually abusive priests were an American aberration, the result of lax morals and overblown news coverage in the United States.
They also have brought the crisis to Benedict’s doorstep, with the news that, as archbishop of Munich, he approved the transfer of an abusive priest from another jurisdiction, and that later, as the church’s top doctrinal official, he was in a position to know about a Wisconsin case in which the church failed to defrock a child-molesting priest. The New York Times reported that Benedict, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, had been copied on a memo notifying him that Father Peter Hullermann was being reassigned to pastoral work even as Hullermann was undergoing therapy for pedophilia. Hullermann was later convicted of molesting boys.
An earlier New York Times article, which said Ratzinger, as the church’s top doctrinal official in the 1990s, had failed to act against the Wisconsin priest, who was believed to have abused as many as 200 deaf boys from the 1950s to the 1970s
“The focus now is on Benedict,” or Ratzinger as he was previously known-” A famous Catholic protege of the Hitler-Youth or the Nazi Pope as he is often called“ worked fist in glove with the Nazis. This decrepit old pedophile supporter, revered by pious catholics as God’s earthly spokespreson, has both lied & denied responsibility for the world wide massive cover up of child sex abuse by Catholic heirachy(himself) and clerics. While there is enough evidence to convict the ailing necromancer it seems unlikely that their is enough international will present to really challenge the Catholic state whose ambassadors sit in powerful positions in governments around the globe.
Sex Crimes and the Vatican is a documentary about a former Catholic priest at the centre of Ireland’s biggest child abuse enquiry. The scandal exposed details of a secret Vatican decree- No mistake, but part of a secret church directive which sheltered the perpetrators, and silenced the victims of abuse . . The church knew Father Fortune was a paedophile, but failed to inform the police. Instead it hid him from the authorities/ moved him from Parish to Parish. He was finally exposed, and killed himself on the eve of his criminal trial. Along with the BBC, Colm began investigating who’d been responsible for helping him evade detection. It turned out to be the most senior church figure in the diocese, the Bishop of Ferns Doctor Brendan Comiskey. During this documentary the Bishop was confronted on BBC Television and within weeks of his denial of any involvement Bishop Comiskey was summoned to Rome and resigned as bishop.
a government inquiry called the Ferns report followed and when published exposed a cover up involving more than just one priest.
The Ferns report makes disturbing reading. It details allegations of the rape and abuse of over 100 girls and boys, made against 26 priests from this small, rural diocese. It says that there was a culture of secrecy, and a fear of scandal, that led Bishops to place the interests of the Catholic church ahead of the safety of children. The report was the first to link the churches behaviour to a secret Vatican decree for dealing with paedophile priests.
Instead of going to the authorities, after the victim sought another priest to report the abuse to – the priests invoked one of the most powerful tenets of the Catholic faith – To bar the vctim (innocent children) or his abuser from ever speaking out. This oath of silence was part of the secret church decree called ‘crimen sollicitationis’ (crime of solicitation). The directive was written in 1962, and Catholic bishops worldwide are ordered to keep it locked away in the church safe. It instructs them on how to deal with priests who solicit sex from the confessional. But it also deals with any obscene external acts with youths of either sex. Child abuse. Originally written in Latin it imposes the strictest oath of secrecy on the child victim, the priest dealing with the allegation, and any witnesses. Breaking that oath means instant banishment from the Catholic Church - excommunication.
The procedure was intended to protect a priests reputation until the church had investigated. But in practice it offered a blueprint for cover-ups. The man in charge of enforcing it for 20 years was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the man made Pope last year. In 2001 he created the successor to the decree. In spirit it was the same, overarching secrecy with a threat of excommunication. He sent a copy to every Bishop in the world. But now he ordered that the Vatican must have what it calls ‘exclusive competence’. In other words, all child abuse allegations must go exclusively to ROME. It’s all controlled by the Vatican, and at the top of the Vatican is the Pope. So Joseph Ratzinger was at the middle of this for most of the years the crimen was enforced. He created the successor to crimen, and now he’s the Pope. This all says that the policy and the systematic approach has not changed.
At the same time as the scandals were erupting in Ireland in 2002, hundreds of cases were emerging here in the United States. A US report tells us that almost four and a half thousand US priests have been accused of raping or sexually abusing children.
Its epicentre was Boston. The same stories repeated time and again. The church quietly shifting accused priests from parish to parish. Allegations of a systematic cover-up. Patrick Wall, a former Benedictine monk who became the Vatican approved enforcer of crimen sollicitationis in his Minnesota diocese.He
was part of the system that was getting chewed up and being used deceptively, and it was a real dark night of the soul. Everything that he had trained for, you know, well over a decade to do, he found out that he wasn’t working for a holy institution but an institution that was wholly concentrated on protecting itself
When a priest was accused of sexual abuse, the abuser was slipped quietly away, and Father Patrick was moved in.
Cos most of the cases never saw the light of the day, hence they were successful. That is really the ultimate definition of success for the church, when it comes to a case of sexual abuse of a minor, that no one ever finds out about it, that it gets shut down, that it’s kept quiet. If a pay off is needed, or if some kind of a settlement is needed, it’s done. He had a $7 million budget in 1996 to do such things. And.. but the thing that we had to have was a confidentiality order where it absolutely had to be agreed that everything was quiet. And you work with the victims as best you can, but the ultimate desire is to maintain stability, peace and calm, and the biggest thing you have to do is absolutely shut down the scandal.
Disillusioned, Father Patrick left the priesthood and joined lawyers acting for victims. There’s no policy to help the victims, there’s absolutely no policy to help those who are trying to help the victims, and there’s an unwritten policy to lie about the existence of the problem. Then, as far as the perpetrators, the priests, when they’re discovered, the systemic response has been not to investigate and prosecute, but to move them. To move them from one place to another in a secret way, and not reveal why they’re being moved. So there’s total disregard for the victims, total disregard for the fact that you’re gonna have a whole new crop of victims in the next place. Now this is just… this is not in the United States where this is happening. This is all over the world. You see the same pattern and practice no matter what country you go to.
We may be thousands of miles away from Rome, but this place is directly linked to the Vatican. What gets me is it’s the same story every time and every place. Bishops appoint priests, who they know have abused children in the past, to new parishes and new communities, and more abuse happens.
The Catholic church has 50 million children within its world-wide congregation.
The Vatican has no child protection policy. The only policy they have is to protect the perpetrators,.. to protect the Vatican, to cover this up, to keep it as deeply buried in secrecy as possible, and to prevent as much damage to the institution as possible. So it’s damage control.
Ratzinger’s instruction to send all allegations of child abuse to the Vatican is proving frustrating for police and social workers trying to catch and jail priests
Former Phoenix District Attorney
I will tell you that the secrecy, the… I mean the obstruction that I saw during my investigation was unparalleled in my entire career as a DA here in Phoenix Arizona. It was so difficult to obtain any information from the church at all. In fact we knew of certain meetings that had taken place, and yet no documentation was ever produced to be able to, you know, show that that meeting had even occurred. The Vatican’s official line is that it’s sex crime code is purely for internal use, and not intended to hinder civil investigations.
You know, when we started looking at it I mean it was really interesting. I mean we came across, in the canons for the church, that there are supposed to be secret archives to where this type of material is to provided and not given to civil authorities no matter what the circumstances. We had information that there is an instruction from the Nuncio, who is Ambassador status, to shift all this, you know, incriminating type of information to him because under our.. under the law we could not subpoena that material because he would have protected status as an Ambassador from the Vatican. I think that that’s really what the story is. Is that the church.. the church’s failure to acknowledge such a serious problem. But more than that, it is not a passiveness. It is a.. it was an openly obstructive way of not allowing civil authorities to try to stop the abuse within the church. I mean they fought us every step of the way.suspected of abuse.
The Vatican, the moral compass of the Catholic church, may well be holding evidence of other child abusing priests from around the world. But instead of cooperation and transparency, many feel the church’s directives create obstruction and cover up in practice. There’s one man who has the power to change that.
Ratzinger, who now is Pope, could tomorrow get up and say ‘here’s the policy for throughout the church. Full disclosure to the civil authorities. Absolute isolation and dismissal of any convicted cleric. Complete openness and transparency. Complete openness of all financial situations. Stop all barriers to the legal process. Completely cooperate with the civil authorities everywhere.’ He could do that.
Watch the full documentary or read the transcript