Catholics Media and Culture

Catholics Media and Culture


CNN’S “What the Pope Knew” offers solid reporting on the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal

posted by John W. Kennedy

I’ve spent the last three sessions of this blog running an interview with CNN’s Gary Tuchman about his one-hour documentary entitled What the Pope Knew airing tonight at 8:00 PM ET.

As the title suggests it deals with the child sex abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church and, after watching an advance copy, I can tell you that I found it to be an excellent piece of journalism.

Though I could have done without the sometimes with unnecessarily dramatic background music, the reporting itself is seems rock solid and delivers the facts in a straightforward manner that is tough but fair.

Unfortunately, the facts do convincingly show that Pope Benedict XVI (when he headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith during the papal reign of John Paul II) did not do all he should have done when cases of alleged child sexual abuse by priests were brought to his attention. The strong suggestion being that then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was much more sensitive to the cause of protecting that Church’s reputation than to the pain of the victims of child molestation. 

On the other hand, the program (which, BTW, features an interview with Msgr. Charles Scicluna of the Vatican) does take care to note that as Pope, Benedict has charted a new course for the Church that much more aggressively deals with such allegations. He has also met privately with abuse victims and has publicly apologized for the Church’s decades-long failure to adequately protect children in its care from priestly abusers.

Critics, of course, say that he still hasn’t done enough and that, in any event, his chief concern is still protecting the image of the Church.

Who can know what’s in a man’s heart? But I choose to hope (and pray) that Benedict’s heart has been truly opened to the pain of the victims. It wouldn’t be the first time in history God chose someone who made serious mistakes in judgment to be a positive force for healing.

And, I pray that the victims too experience healing. It was a terrible thing that was done to them — made worse by the Church not showing the concern and compassion it should have when the crimes occurred.

At the same time, I feel compelled to note that I have seen and experienced the compassion of good priests in my life — priests who don’t deserve to be tainted by the actions of some who were, tragically, allowed to repeatedly commit heinous crimes.

While the Church is far from perfect. There are occasions of hypocrisy and corruption that need dealt with.  That’s certainly true of any large organization and the way the sex abuse allegations were handled does constitute a scandal within the Church.

But it is also true that the Church is filled with many, many good people who sincerely devote their lives to God by serving His people.  It is possible to acknowledge both truths. 

Balance requires a willingness to admit and truly come to grips with what happened (so healing can begin and necessary reforms can be made) as well a realization that the Church stands for something that is good and solid and beyond the failings of even its leaders — and that is the love and forgiveness offered to the world through Jesus Christ.  

What the Pope Knew exposes a dark period in Church history to the healing power of light and truth. And, as all Christians know, the truth shall set us free. 




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Petel2

posted September 25, 2010 at 6:43 pm


As a victim of rrraaappes and sssoddoommies from ages 8 to 10, once a gang sssooooddoommy by 4 priests – I’m asking Americans to help us expose the truth. Please demand your lawmakers and justice departments to hold this organization accountable. Right now, the RCC has the financial ability to buy those who should be helping us.
..
Many mothers suffer unimaginable pain as they cry every night for their lost children who committed suicide and those mentally ill. And these mothers know the RCC denied their children. Not only does the RCC deny their children, but their lobby efforts to stop laws that would help all victims of abuse, deny all abused.
..
The RCC doesn’t care for these mothers, the children victims and only care of their own reputation.
..
Please help us expose the truth.



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Petel2

posted September 25, 2010 at 6:44 pm


It saddens me to see CNN and others only reporting half the damage caused by the pope and the RCC’s hierarchy. Then again, they can only report the facts. The whole truth would likely be too disgusting anyway.
..
The damaged caused by ratzinger included the cover ups, the worst crimes imaginable. All the time and effort he spent denying the children victims, NEVER ONCE did he issue documents to care for the child. Now that is the tell all of what he cared most about. As a result, many victims committed suicide and others mentally ill. This didn’t have to happen, all the tears and suffering of families and victims caused by this man who choose to protect self over small elementary school children’s lives.
..
Let’s see what else ratzinger did. He wrote a letter to demand the victims cases be “extinguished”, until they reach the age of adulthood plus 10 years. Why? Because, this way, statutes of limitations now protects the church, the pedos and denies the victims. How is that for a caring ratzinger.
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Had the children been cared for instead, they might have lead normal lives.
..
I could never imagine any human being could stoop as low as this pope and his churches hierarchy.
..
..
Someone please tell me what the pope is doing today to help these victims and their families?
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As a victim I only see him deflecting from the truth, just more lies.
Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/catholicsmediaandculture/2010/09/cnns-gary-tuchman-asks-what-the-pope-knew-and-when-he-knew-it-regarding-child-sexual-abuse-within-th.html#preview#ixzz10aGoqBSp



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paul c. ireland

posted September 25, 2010 at 8:48 pm


hi all,,i hav,nt seen the programmed about what the pope knew.but if you email me at paul.carpenter.111@gmail.com il be glad to forward you on a one hour programme that was ran by the bbc in england a few years ago..i have always said that the only thing worse than a paedophile is the scum that cover their tracks..the pope to me is nothing but pure evil..if i as a normal working class person knew about a crime,,say a bank robbery..i would be brought before a court and charged for wit_holding evidence..why is this man doing a world tour like hes some kind of super star.he should have been arrested on an international warrent while he was out of the safety of rome…parents around the world will u ever understand that this scumbag protected child rapist,s…i hope u or your families never have to endure the pain caused by the act of rape..but dont wait until it happens before you understand the impact it has on victims..then ask yourself would you protect a beast that could rape an innocent child..the pope did..more than once..still thing hes a man of god..he does,nt serve the god i pray too..think about it..only the good people on this earth can make changes.start by getting that evil bastard out of the catholic church and into jail were he belongs..along side his baby raping friends..



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Anne Rice

posted September 25, 2010 at 9:37 pm


I thought the program, What the Pope Knew, was excellent. All of the material was familiar from the pages of the New York Times and other substantive news articles. But it was good to see it set out on television in a concise and effective and truthful way. I pray, I pray, that Catholics will speak up and demand reform and cleansing in their church. The voices of defensive Catholics, attacking reporters, trying to spin the stories to blame everybody but the church, can be so deeply discouraging. I left this church because I feel it is immoral, and I could no longer be complicit with its immoral actions and lies. But many still love it and support it. I hope they will speak out against the Vatican and demand reform. I hope they will demand to know how and why Bernard Law is still a Cardinal living in luxury in Rome.



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nnmns

posted September 26, 2010 at 1:58 am


I also thought it was well done. And very important. I hope it opens a lot of eyes.



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Mary

posted September 26, 2010 at 9:29 am


Guess I’m the minority voice. I think the whole thing is slanted. And, in attacking what the Pope did or what he “should” have done is missing the point of what the Bishops should have done. In addition all the evidence points to something in the Vatican’s favor – they aren’t the centralized authority. The Church is in reality very decentralized and Bishops do have the authority to act but didn’t. No, I can’t agree with the CNN arguments. I can agree that the whole thing is reprehensible but then so to is the majority of sex abuse happening in our own homes and our societal inability to deal with it. This episode makes the Church a scapegoat for reasons other than its own actions and in doing so hides millions of other victims and crimes that would point the guilty finger at ourselves. Perhaps we should stop wasting air time to villify the Pope for doing his job -following the same laws we have in our country regarding due process and start attacking the problem as a whole.



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John

posted September 26, 2010 at 10:06 am


The Houston Press recently published an article that suggests that the present Pope was purposely elected to the Chair of Peter so he would gain immunity from depositions under oath as a head of state. The Houston attorney who makes his case in the Houston Press should have been interviewed by CNN.
The Pope is the de facto autocratic head of the Catholic Church no matter what legal fiction may say de jure and the Cardinals are his enforcers. It is the preceding Pope put on a path to expedited canonization as a saint who awarded the “cover-up Cardinal” John Law of Boston a Basilica in Rome as his forced retirement award. Given the surfacing of cover ups in Ireland and Germany, are there enough Roman Basilicas to go around?
Here is what has been reported by reputable main stream newspapers in the United States: The cover up by the Catholic hierarchy of abuse of primarily teenage males by Catholic priests is no longer restricted to the United States or to subordinates of Bishops. The Church admitted that the personnel chief of the then Cardinal Ratzinger’s German Archdiocese who was “personally, exceptionally connected to Ratzinger” quietly transferred a known pedophile priest to active ministry in another diocese. Cardinal Sean Brady of Ireland now admits to being part of a clergy abuse investigation in 1975 in which a 10- and 14-year-old were forced to sign secrecy oaths. A French parish priest was forced to either abandon a widow he had loved and lived with for 20 years while serving his parish or leave the priesthood.
The former Cardinal Ratzinger, now sitting on the Chair of Peter (St. Peter was a married family man personally selected by Jesus from among the Twelve to be the first Pope,) stubbornly and inexplicably refuses to allow all Catholic priests to marry and continue their ministry despite centuries old exceptions like priests in Roman Catholic Lebanon. It is time that the Catholic hierarchy realize that prohibiting a priest from being married especially diocesan priests who do not take the vow of poverty and who often live alone creates a needless haven for predators of teenage males. Most of the child abuse by the clergy has been directed to male children who have reached the age of puberty or older.
It is time that the Catholic hierarchy recognize that the vow of poverty taken by order priests who live in communities is the one vow that truly evidences genuine sacrificial love and service of others. It is time for the Catholic hierarchy to allow a married priesthood at a time when many parishes lack priests to serve the needs of the people. It is time for the Catholic hierarchy to realize that the culture of an isolated male clergy whose celibacy and institutional top down authoritarian collegiality only serves to isolate them from their parishioners and to severely diminish their ability to pastor and minister to their flock.
In at least one diocese in the United States, the seminar church volunteers are required to take before participating in youth ministry is more akin to a how not to get caught or suspected of child abuse seminar for insurance purposes then a seminar on how to protect children from abuse. The Pope should order all parishes to conduct seminars for parents and their children on how to avoid being abused and how to report child abuse instead. It may soon be time for parishioners to start boycotting the Sunday collection baskets until their married sons and maybe some day, their daughters, are allowed to serve their parishes as priests and pastors. It is certainly time for the Catholic hierarchy and the Holy Father to take the words of married family man, St. Thomas More, in Care of the Soul to heart: “There is no way toward divine love except through the discovery of human intimacy and community.”



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Anthony

posted September 26, 2010 at 12:02 pm


Very well said Mary.



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Petel2

posted September 26, 2010 at 12:29 pm


Not slanted Mary, you are just under-informed. You see, Ratzinger was responsible for ensuring the cover ups of abuse for over 20 years, that was not stated in the story. Next, this story made it appear that ratzinger was the only pope who acted positively to taking action on defrocking, a manipulation of the facts. In fact ratzinger used defrockings as another tool of manipulation and deception. You see, the pressure was mounting to doing something or ratzinger gets nailed. He was selective in his defrocking and the priests did not lose retirement, yet victims lost lives. The article should have stated the time-line, then all would have pieced the truth together and seen the manipulation.
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The worst that ratzinger did was to enforce the secrecy and the denial to children whose lives were lost in his 2001 letter, yes not long ago. The letter;
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Let’s see what else ratzinger did. He wrote a letter to demand the victims cases be “extinguished”, until they reach the age of adulthood plus 10 years. Why? Because this way statutes of limitations protects the church, the pedos and denies the victims. How is that for a caring ratzinger.
..
Had the children been cared for instead, they might have lead normal lives.
..
I could never imagine human beings could stoop as low as this pope and his churches hierarchy.
..
..
Someone please tell me what the pope is doing to help these victims and their families? Answer that question before supporting this criminal.



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Petel2

posted September 26, 2010 at 12:54 pm


Someone please tell me what the pope is doing to help these victims and their families?
Answer that question before supporting this criminal.
Let’s see the truth of the pope now, the truth is in action.



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Muldoon

posted September 27, 2010 at 1:25 am


Restorative Justice is the only way for the church to move forward in dealing with the Clergy Sexual Abuse scandal. If the Pope would come clean, establish a world wide Restorative Justice action this scandal could truly be put behind us all in a matter of a few years.
Restorative Justice has been used all over the world to resolve injustice. In order for it to work the pope would have to admit that there was EVIL within his CHURCH.
I have been waiting 49 years for justice please help me find it in my life time. Tell the Pope we need Restorative Justice NOW



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glorybe1929

posted September 27, 2010 at 12:28 pm


As far as I am concerned, “anyone” who knew what was going on with their fellow priests, nuns and brothers’had the responsibility to go to the authorities to put an an end to these CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY!
IF THEY KNEW AND DID NOTHING OR TRANSFERED THE SEXUAL ABUSERS like all the Bshops allowed the pastors to do, then they are held totally responssible just as the Pope knew and did nothing..According to the CNN program last Sat. and Sun. which said “When did he(the pope) know and what did he know?” It was a pathetic show but better than nothing.



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Dr Rosemary Eileen McHugh

posted September 27, 2010 at 1:55 pm


I thank Mr. Kennedy for his article. I too have known many good and holy priests and nuns over my lifetime. However, as a family physician, I have been saddened by how my Church, especially Pope Benedict, has been responsible for widespread sex abuse to continue to spread throughout the world!
Even now, Pope Benedict refuses to take personal responsibility for all of the harm that his decisions have caused, both as Pope and as Cardinal Ratzinger in charge of the office of faith and morals for about 24 years before he became Pope.
I see the Pope as a very shrewd and ambitious man who did not want to rock the boat in the Vatican, so that he could go up the ladder. He became the right hand of Pope JP II and then Pope himself!
In my own experience, I was sexually assaulted by a Carmelite priest when I was younger. When a priest who was my regular confessor went to give fraternal correction to the Carmelite, the Carmelite was angry that he was found out and he criticized my confessor for daring to correct a brother priest. My confessor, a very good priest, was stunned by the less than humble response of the Carmelite.
As I see Pope Benedict today, he reminds me of the smugness of that Carmelite priest. The Pope and the hierarchy and that Carmelite priest continue to act as if they are above the law. Sadly, those in the Vatican may continue to be above the law, if we allow the piece of land called the Vatican to remain a sovereign state.
We as Catholic lay people have no voice in our Roman Catholic Church. It is time that victims of sex abuse become more important than the Pope and members of the hierarchy who have allowed the abuse, especially of children, to continue.
I am grateful that CNN has helped us to face the truth of some of what has been happening by the leaders in our Church who put their own lives ahead of those of the abused.
Where is the servant leadership in our leaders? Are they walking in the footsteps of Jesus as they talk about their lace and robes and the ermine fur-trimmed bonnet that the Pope apparently likes to wear?
We are not in the Middle Ages! Why are the Pope and Curia dismantling Vatican II, adding a dead language (Latin) back to the Mass, and refusing to give anyone a real voice in the Church except for the voices of celibate men in the Vatican?
I think the RCC needs new leadership in order to really clean-up the mess that it is in. As CNN has shown us, the Pope and some of the bishops have been complicit in these priest sex abuse cases.
Sincerely, Rosemary Eileen McHugh, M.D., 2 Wheaton Center, Wheaton, IL.



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Petel2

posted September 27, 2010 at 4:20 pm


Rosemary Eileen McHugh, M.D. As you put it “see the Pope as a very shrewd and ambitious man who did not want to rock the boat in the Vatican, so that he could go up the ladder.”
Over the lives of small children. Let me repeat, over the lives of small children raped and sodomized.
Odd that no other bishop or cardinal stood strong and stood up for the children – I believe that sums up the RCC.
I am no longer catholic and keep my children away from religion, it brainwashes children into the adults we see posting here who deny those harmed and minimize the damage. I’m glad you were able to continue your education. Myself, as a promising student, was sodomized from ages 8 to 10, once gang sodomized by 4 priests. On another occasion, one priest after sodomizing me attempted to suffocate me – I played dead and slept in the woods. How is a child suppose to concentrate again? Avoid mental illness? I once could read books in two languages at age 4, to never able to pass again.
Let me tell you, catholics would rather pour vinegar in our wounds, than to help us. And all we ask for is a day in court to prove our cases, we are denied by these holy selfish people. Just look at their deflections among these and other posts.



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Goodguyex

posted September 28, 2010 at 12:01 am


The show was a rehash of the material that has already been debunked several times already. There is no smoking gun and no direct obfuscation. If the tendency to act was too slow, it is because that is what everyone did at the time.
If an abusive priest is removed from the ministry and dealt with by civil authorities, the decision of when to defrock/laicize him is not an issue to anyone else but the priest and the bishops. All this is another attempt to make something out of nothing.



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Goodguyex

posted September 28, 2010 at 12:11 am


The discussion of the priest abuse think reminds me of a pin-ball game with issues like pin-balls, bouncing off posts going in all directions, rehashing old ground, making long lost associations, with not clear straight forward intend but to run up some kind of “score” for show. Dead priests and bishops can not be prosecuted, bishops and popes do not have some ESP to tell what all the priests are doing, and every accusation is not totally correct and seldom is.
Hind sight is always 20-20 especially 30 years after the fact. That seems to be what the show is suggesting. Living in the hear and now (sepecially 30-40 years ago before such instant info) and dealing with events and people as they come with limited resources, information, other skewed agenda, is not easy.



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Petel2

posted September 28, 2010 at 12:15 am


Nothing debunked, has been criminal from the pope down.
Never once did this pope, cardinals or bishops go to the aid of small children raped and sodomized. All vatican documents demanded cover ups with threats, they left the small child threatened and to fend for themselves. How low could this hierarchy go? Never thought human beings could stoop so low.
Looks like Goodguyex is just another deflector. We know who they are.
I suggest folks to read all posts. Posts include the worst crimes against humanity by this pope, bishops and cardinals. And this is a religion?



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Petel2

posted September 28, 2010 at 12:23 am


All crime is 20/20, to the criminals.



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Petel2

posted September 28, 2010 at 12:35 am


The perfect crime – Violently sodomize children. The child is many times well into adulthood before they begin to wake from their trauma, mental illness caused. Imagine losing a victim’s childhood and adulthood due to trauma caused by rapes and sodomies? In fact, depending on the level of violence, it may take some 50 years or more, some never wake from the trauma. Meanwhile the pedos are harming others, they average 80 victims. And 80 victims makes for lots of witnesses. This is an ageless crime as many pedos continue their crimes into their 80’s.
We need to take these crimes seriously, no statutes of limitations. Especially in an organizations as the RCC where many pedos know of each other. If we could arrest these most violent that escape the law, then just maybe get some to talk about each other.
In New York State we know of over 500 child molesting priests that we can not prosecute because lawmakers fear losing catholic votes and won’t pass laws to protect the victims civil rights. In fact one who violently sodomized me is a bishop today in New York State, he protects the others. Lawmakers protect him.



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Goodguyex

posted September 28, 2010 at 2:16 am


Peter 2 “I suggest folks to read all posts. Posts include the worst crimes against humanity by this pope, bishops and cardinals. And this is a religion?”
Crimes against humanity? This is both hyperbole and bigotry of the worst kind.



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Goodguyex

posted September 28, 2010 at 3:32 am


John Kennedy writes ”
Unfortunately, the facts do convincingly show that Pope Benedict XVI (when he headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith during the papal reign of John Paul II) did not do all he should have done when cases of alleged child sexual abuse by priests were brought to his attention. The strong suggestion being that then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was much more sensitive to the cause of protecting that Church’s reputation than to the pain of the victims of child molestation.”
It was not the direct responsibility of people in Rome to do things for the victims in Iowa or anywhere else. They are much too far removed, especially 30-40 years ago. This was for the local bishops and priests to do. Yes, the Pope will meet with some victims, perhaps now middle aged.
But it should not be necessary for the Pope to “feel your pain” towards these people anymore than anyone else.
It is totally impossible for the pope to know everyone and everything involved. That is giving the pope too much responsibility and indirectly too much power and authority over the day to day lives of priests and bishops.



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Petel2

posted September 28, 2010 at 6:34 am


Pope orchestrated the cover ups, already been proven.
..
The damaged caused by ratzinger included the cover ups, the worst crimes imaginable. All the time and effort he spent denying the children victims is unimaginable. NEVER ONCE did he issue documents to care for the child, now that is the tell all of what he cared most about. As a result, many victims committed suicide and others mentally ill.
..
Let’s see what else ratzinger did. He wrote a letter to demand the victims cases be “extinguished”, until they reach the age of adulthood plus 10 years. Why? Because this way statutes of limitations protects the church, the pedos and denies the victims. How is that for a caring ratzinger.
..
Had the children been cared for instead, they might have lead normal lives.
..
I could never imagine human beings could stoop as low as this pope and his churches hierarchy.
..
Ratzinger played the key role in denying small children, all to preserve the reputation of the RCC and the pedos.



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Petel2

posted September 28, 2010 at 6:43 am


And ratzinger admitted to the senator in Nebraska and 4 others that pedophilia by RCC clergy was the largest in the US, it was in epedemic. This happened when he was escaping the Boys Town USA (the Catholic home for small boys) issue, selling boys for sex. I imagine that ratzinger was deflecting from Boys Town to never imagine he would be exposed in 2002 for clergy abuse. Back fired, I guess.
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No doubt ratzinger didn’t know of all the individual cases just as mob heads didn’t know everyone who was getting hit – they all knew that coving up was important though.
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More so, ratinger was a micro manager – he knew the detail – he managed it. Who knows, ratzinger may have also molested a child. Seems that, as the mob, these guys all have secrets on one another.
..
No wonder ratzinger does nothing for the victims. Also funny that when he meets victims, they are picked by the church – get the ones less abused maybe? The ones still brainwashed by the RCC? All deceit from ratzinger and the RCC hierarchy.



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Goodguyex

posted September 28, 2010 at 8:27 am


Peter2 “All the time and effort he spent denying the children victims is unimaginable. ….And ratzinger admitted to the senator in Nebraska and 4 others that pedophilia by RCC clergy was the largest in the US, it was in epedemic. This happened when he was escaping the Boys Town USA (the Catholic home for small boys) issue, selling boys for sex.”
If you really believe that, you need a lot of personal help.
The pope did not spend any time denying anything about children victims. It is not his responsibility, it is the bishops. Maybe some new programs need to be in place. The offices of the Diaconate can be a good one for reviewing all this from both a clergy and layman perspective on a local level.
Maybe there is a gap between the hierachy and the local church, but oddly enough it was the notion of Collegiality that was common in the 1960’s and 1970’s where the local church would take care of things independently from Rome and some decentralization was to be allowed. This seems to be the time when this 2 decade bubble of sex abuse occured.
Now where pops out a vampire and it seems like many are calling for the Vatican to do an Inquisition.



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Lori

posted September 28, 2010 at 11:44 pm


The idea that one should be surprised about the priests who the pope actually targeted is odd. He was the head of the Office of the INQUISITION. The name was changed in 1904 and then again in 1965, but that is what it was.



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Mark Griswold

posted October 31, 2010 at 9:13 am


I had the privilege of interrogating a first year priest 13 times over a 7 month period. When I asked him about the “Enforced Celibacy” of the priests he gave me his canned responses regarding the great SACRIFICE priests are called upon to make for the “church”. But as I kept going back to the Scriptures about 1) PETER being MARRIED, 2)”FORBIDDING TO MARRY” being a Doctrine of Demons (I Timothy 4:6), 3) about “Calling NO Man ‘FATHER'”, and 4) regarding the POPE, “There is NONE HOLY But ONE, that is GOD.”, he finally ADMITTED “The Church WINKS at FORNICATION.” When I probed further, he reluctantly ADMITTED that “The sin of FORNICATION protects us from the MUCH GREATER SIN of PRIESTLY MARRIAGE.”



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Vicki

posted December 7, 2010 at 12:31 am


What we are not addressing is the criminal behavior of the priest, the bishops, John Paul and Ratzinger.
It is a CRIME to conspire, cover up, or enable a criminal to continue to sexually molest a child.



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Amelia

posted September 4, 2011 at 11:14 pm


of course nobody new. Same as with the many children the priests get. Here in Philly evrybody know how many children they have except the church and wuld it not be the same elsewhere?



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Houston Attorney

posted October 30, 2011 at 12:55 am


In this case, you must really find a very good and reliable attorney!



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