Catholics Media and Culture

Catholics Media and Culture

The Vatican speaks to CNN about “What the Pope Knew” regarding sex abuse in the Catholic Church

Continuing my interview with CNN’s Gary Tuchman about this Saturday’s documentary on the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal (What the Pope Knew, Saturday @ 8:00 PM [ET]), I asked him if it was difficult obtaining interviews with both the victims and the Vatican itself.

JWK: Were the victims eager to talk with you?

Not eager. As you saw in the documentary, there were some 200 deaf boys
who were molested as children. One of the deaf men just decided to file
a suit. It was painful for him. He was anonymous when he filed the
suit. He was ashamed. Here’s a grown man who had never been able to
hear. He could barely speak. His life had been hell. And, all of a
sudden, he feels like he is doing something to his life that is
extremely valuable. He’s filing suit because he’s found out about these
documents too and he realized nothing was done when it could have been

And, he wasn’t eager to talk. He wasn’t even eager to use
his name in the suit but he realizes now, after we talked to him, that
(that was) an important thing for him to do.

JWK: You
interviewed Vatican Prosecutor Monsignor Charles Scicluna as part of
this program. What kind of cooperation did you receive from him and
from the Vatican as a whole?

TUCHMAN: Monsignor Scicluna
is the Vatican prosecutor in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith which is where Cardinal Ratzinger worked before he was pope. He
was the head of the Congregation. 

He was a very gracious man.
It took us a while, frankly, to get a high-ranking Vatican official to
talk with us. They were weary, as they have every right to be. We
explained what we were doing — that it was going to be a hard-hitting
look, but fair, and that’s why we wanted their response.  So, we’re
grateful he talked to us and he was a very nice person who appears to
be very dedicated to getting rid of the miserable, selfish molesters
who may still be out there.

JWK: Is there a sense that there are still more molesters out there?

There’s definitely more out there. We hope it’s not as high of a rate
as it was in the 1980’s and 1970’s and before that. We have every
reason to believe it’s not as high of a rate because of the awareness
of it. More People are paying attention to it but you’d be a fool to
think there aren’t any.

And, indeed, in our hour documentary
we talk about a priest in India who is wanted in the United States for
allegedly molesting a girl. The United States wants him extradited —
today — and the Indian authorities will not extradite him. He claims
he’s innocent. He certainly deserves a day in court. In any other
(organization) you’re temporarily taken off the job while the
investigation is going on if you’re an accused molester. But the
Catholic Church is not insisting upon that. So, it shows you there is
still some undone business.

JWK: The program, I think, is very fair — but may I ask what your religion is and how it may have affected your expectations?

Can I just say that I am observant and I am a believer? Religion and
faith is a very important part of my life and my family’s life.

You present a complicated portrait of Pope Benedict — as a man who, as
head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, seemed more
obsessed with clamping down on dissent than abusive priests. But after
2001 or so he seemed to have a change of heart and was more aggressive
in the pursuing the cases.

TUCHMAN: What I hope had
happened is that there is increased realization among the high-ranking
officials in the Catholic Church that the religion is important and the
reputation of the Church is important but what’s most important are the
children within the Church and, perhaps, that wasn’t given as high a
priority in the past and is getting a higher priority now. I think
that’s wonderful for the children.

JWK: You say in the documentary that Cardinal Ratzinger wasn’t the villain in this story but he wasn’t the hero either.

of the arguments is that the way the Church is structured is it’s the
Pope who can make the big decisions. John Paul had the power in the
early eighties. He could have done what Pope Benedict did in 2001 and
he didn’t.

The question is Cardinal Ratzinger was very close to
him in the 1980’s and there’s no indication that Cardinal Ratzinger
said to John Paul (that) I think we need to be more aggressive about

In the early part of the 2000’s you still had important
bishops and archbishops around the country blaming the news media for
this. To Cardinal Ratzinger’s credit he’s now acknowledging (Church
responsibility). His quote is this has been, quote, “born from the sin
within the Church.”  It used to be blamed on enemies of the Church on
the outside but he’s acknowledging that and that’s an important

JWK: What was Pope John Paul II’s responsibility? Was he lax? Or did he not know — until, perhaps, the very end?

TUCHMAN: Journalistically
we can’t say.  We don’t know. It seems unlikely he didn’t know because
of everything that was going on in the eighties and nineties and the
letters being sent to the Vatican. But it’s certainly possible he
didn’t know. Even in big companies bosses are sometimes shielded from
bad news.

We don’t know the answer because popes don’t do
interviews. Not only do we not know from John Paul but we don’t even
know from Benedict necessarily. We can’t draw a conclusion because
Benedict didn’t talk to CNN. Not that there’s anything bad to be drawn
from that because popes don’t do television interviews. That’s

But if Monsignor Scicluna or another high-ranking
official didn’t talk with us — if no one at the Vatican would talk to
us — I think it would be fair for a viewer to draw a negative
conclusion. But he did. So, therefore, we do have the response from the
Vatican and he’s not saying anything the the Pope wouldn’t approve.

One criticism, even among Catholics, is the idea that the Church seemed
to feel it could handle allegations of child sexual abuse internally. 

TUCHMAN: There’s
no question about that. The public and police were not told about these
child molestations that we feature in our documentary and that wouldn’t
cut it anywhere else.

Looking at it in the most sympathetic
way to the Church, the feeling was, based on the the faith, that
pastoral counseling and treatment and prayer could cure these priests.
But what was neglected to be thought about was (that), even if you
cured the priest, you still have the child who’s damaged for life and
that wasn’t considered. Hopefully today it’s being considered a lot

Tomorrow: The Conclusion

Comments read comments(19)
post a comment
Sister Maureen Paul Turlish

posted September 23, 2010 at 10:25 am

The welfare of childhood victims of sexual abuse by priests was never ever considered.
The few victims and their parents who were brave enough to tell early on were not believed, blackballed, slandered, shunned and harassed. Have I forgetten anything?
Pope Benedict, because of his former position as head of what used to be called the Holy Office of/for the Inquisition, has the most extensive knowledge of the extent of sexual abuse by clergy, whether of children, young women, men and vulnerable adults. This includes the sexual abuse of women religious around the world by priests, brothers, etc.
The true scandal, the true crisis is the COVER-UP THAT HAS BEEN GOING ON WORLD-WIDE FOR ALMOST A CENTURY and about which we are still just finding out about in countries like Belguim and the Netherlands.
No sexually abusive bishops have been defrocked or disciplined and even the two Irish prelates who submitted their resignations had them refused by the pope.
What kind of a message does this send?
So much for the pope’s “doing everything possible.”
Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
Victims’ Advocate
New Castle, Delaware

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posted September 23, 2010 at 1:14 pm

I hope you interviewed former senator Decamp from Nebraska. When he was investigating Boys Town USA – selling boys for sssexx.
The then cardinal ratzinger, while escaping the Boys Town issue, stated to the senator and 4 others that clergy pedophilia was an enormous problem in the US, more so than any other country.
At the time, ratzinger was trying to deflect and bet he never realized the clergy abuse scandal would hit the media as it did. He other wise would have never admitted it.
Anything short of ratinger not knowing the full extent, which BTW he is breathing relief that only so little has gotten exposure so far, of the abuses is a lie. Ratinger and the pope at the time knew how large the problem is and was.

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posted September 23, 2010 at 1:19 pm

The purpose of the 2001 letter written by ratzinger to ALL bishops was to ensure bishops adhered to the earlier 1962 document to cover up the abuses – deny the child and use threats when necessary.
In addition, this 2001 letter demanded the bishops “extinguish” all cases of abuse until the victim reaches the age of adulthood plus 10 years. Why? Because statutes of limitations now protects the RCC, the pedos and DENIES the victims.
Yes, this pope not only knew of the abuses, but caused more harm to victims with his cover ups. To place the blame just on him is wrong, those popes who preceded him did the same.
Let’s also not forget how compassionate the bishops and cardinals are as they pay top notch lobbyist to stop laws that would expose the truth and to help the victims. When do these bishops, cardinals and the pope stop their cruelty to those who have lost lives?

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posted September 23, 2010 at 1:23 pm

2001 letter written by ratzinger when he was cardinal with the responsibility to squash the clergy acts of pedophilia worldwide.

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Mad Mac

posted September 23, 2010 at 3:09 pm

This is one of the questions that need asking, Why does the pope think it is ok to torture abuse victims, By leaving those in power who allowed children to be raped and abused, This act alone says he does not want victims to heal, Why has no reporter asked priests why they say this is ok, and the laity, by their collective actions

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posted September 23, 2010 at 3:22 pm

The truth is a great healer, the RCC will deny the healing.

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posted September 23, 2010 at 8:07 pm

also wondering on this:
Is the reason of religion in reality an act of treason?
From the perspective of psychology/psychiatry sexual abusers and their defenders are a defective product of their environment or that they are criminally insane.
In regards the position of Catholics/Christians re the sexual abuse of children by Catholic and other clergy appears for many of them to firstly be a ‘matter of belief’ and then a matter of law. This is an obscenely defective, blackmail riddled act against the state, democracy and humanity.
Child molesters, sexual abusers and their defenders quickly show their treasonous position when the issue is in regards the crime of sexual abuse and the abuses of trust through the use of deception and religion against children. It is well understood that these people (both abusers and defenders) are immature in a host of areas; two prime examples being sexuality and relationships.
Recognizing the indicators of these treasonous traits in those we communicate with is essential today if we are to improve child safety and protection along with improvements in providing justice and repair to those who have been abused in this way. Among the first things to observe is an inability to remain focused on the legal, criminal and human rights points presented; obfuscation, diversion, mock shock and horror, mock outrage, personal anger etc are the favored tools of today’s Christian/Catholic in their need to digress, avoid, evade, deny ad inifinitum when attempting to determine the real position of today’s’ good Christian or good catholic on the topic of the sexual abuses of children in their churches.
For them to respond to questions in regards legality, human rights, equality, sexuality etc with quotations from the bible, catechism, canons, bishops statement etc is a simple and clear statement of those things that have confused the defender. What in effect they are saying is that these things (religious quotes, dogmas etc) are the things they have not been able to surmount or to rationalize clearly, that is one of the strong reasons why they cannot directly answer your questions. This obfuscation of course is actually about whose authority one should follow so it is helpful here to ask directly if the reader believes that we should be guided firstly by the rule of law, the Constitution, Human Rights acts etc or by the teachings of the Bible, Torah, Koran, Jesus Christ, Christianity, Catholicism or other religious belief system.
The religious answer often says that because ‘x’ said or wrote something 2000 or so years ago (or other canon, dogma etc which has followed from that) that we should hold with that firstly in our interactions and dealings with one another. This unfortunately is an obvious piece of social blackmail as we all know that the Constitution and the law come first and foremost in all our dealings with one another and that religious belief and practice are a personal thing for each and every one of us.
Those who advocate otherwise are simply demanding that you give up your legal rights, obligations and protections under the laws of your country and instead that you should uphold their religious beliefs before you uphold the laws of the land.
This is why the ‘argument’ surrounding this so often becomes one of religion when in fact it should firstly be one of which authority should rule.
People are entitled to any belief they may like to hold. That is not the question here. There is no enshrined right in ‘freedom of religion’ for a person to demand that you abrogate your responsibility to the law to uphold someone else’s belief or to put that belief before the laws etc of the country as that would be an act of treason or subversion against the country.
Therefore knowing if someone is prepared to be a treasonous subversive acting against the laws and Constitution of the country and against the Human Rights of individuals and children is of paramount importance in identifying someone with the ability to defend and protect a sexual abuser or whether they are someone who is to seeking to place the abuser outside the laws of the land as a means of upholding some delusion based on their religious education and therefore their religious understanding.
Of course knowing that they are demanding the same treasonous and subversive acts from yourself is always something that raises the ire of many and simply demands that the religious individual’s beliefs come secondary to the right of all to live by our justice system and rule of law and that they should publicly uphold that right first and foremost else they carry out the actions of the subversive and the treasonous.
It is your right to hold the rules and laws of your country first which is being attacked when someone responds with religious beliefs, rules or dogma rather than the rule of law. They should should be condemned and have their rights and freedom removed for these acts of treason and the abuse of trust they enact as it is simply not the freedom of religion that they are espousing; it is the absolute demand that you conform to their religious ideals in place of the rule of law. This is clearly a treasonous and subversive act of blackmail against you and against every other citizen in the country as they simply do not have the right to demand this of you or anyone else. This is today’s Christian equivalent of Islamic acts of terrorism as they both have the same motivation and desired outcomes.
The only legal answer or position is that the rule of law does and must always come before the rules of a persons religion regardless of how many follow that religion as to do anything else is to be subversive and treasonous towards your country, your countrymen and towards those who may hold different religious views. To do otherwise would require that we re-write our laws, our Constitution and for us to redefine what is democracy and natural justice as a beginning so we could permit the views and rules of a particular religion to become the over-riding authority under which we would all be bound.
This simply can not be permitted to happen as this would be an unacceptable extreme and would provide the basis for a great increase in radicalism, terrorism, oppression and exploitation throughout society and is the stuff that has already led us into many wars in the past.
Which do you believe should come first, the rule of law, Constitution and natural justice or a religious belief and its laws?

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posted September 24, 2010 at 12:33 pm

John B.
Thank you for putting the truth in such a manner that no educated person could ignor. I have tried to get Congress & Senate to hold hearing on the sexual abuse of childern by the religious for five years. Got as for a reguest for a hearing from Congressman Stephen Lynch MA, in 2005. I know believe that was just to shut-up my groups concerns with letting us think that something might be done.
Could I have your permmission to reprint your comments on a flyer to be passed out on the sidewalk at this Sunday’s Red Mass at the Catherdral in Boston? The Red Mass is a service for politicians and lawyers who buy the untruths form the pulpit.
Robert C

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posted September 24, 2010 at 11:48 pm

secular media CNN..The catholic church is a 2,000 yr old church..scandals, heretics are not new..the priest sex offender here is jailed, and died already..mostly this cases are decades ago..why the Catholic church?
Let me give you some figures that Catholics should know and remember. For example, 12% of the 300 Protestant clergy surveyed admitted to sexual intercourse with a parishioner; 38% acknowledged other inappropriate sexual contact in a study by the United Methodist Church, 41.8% of clergy women reported unwanted sexual behavior; 17% of laywomen have been sexually harassed.
Meanwhile, 1.7% of the Catholic clergy has been found guilty of pedophilia. 10% of the Protestant ministers have been found guilty of pedophilia. This is not a Catholic Problem.

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Victim of catholic priest pedophilia - sodomy

posted September 25, 2010 at 1:06 am

Please show me where your pope and bishops want to blame the protestants of pedophilia.
Here are some facts for you, catholic deflector, in california and maryland where lawmakers preserved victims civil rights – laws changed.
Over 85% of cases were against the RCC and less than 15% were against the sum total of all other religions and organizations. Tell me, catholic, when do you people stop blaming everyone else but yourselves?
A victim of clergy abuse – doing Gods work.

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Victim of catholic priest pedophilia - sodomy

posted September 25, 2010 at 1:08 am

And BTW, insurance paid the claims so that no organization would be targeted.

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posted September 25, 2010 at 4:29 pm

For ACTUAL FACT’s that debunk much of CNN’s report unfairly accusing the pope :”Has CNN no shame?
“CNN’s appalling attack on the Pope”

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A victim of sssoodddoomy ages 8 to 10

posted September 25, 2010 at 5:20 pm

It saddens me to see CNN only reporting half the damage caused by thye pope and the RCC’s hierarchy. Then again, they can only report the facts. The whole truth would likely be too disgusting.
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. What has he done to help these people and their families? NOTHING – ZERO.
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.

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Kay Ebeling

posted September 25, 2010 at 8:17 pm

There are aboout a hundred thousand victims of Pedophile priests and a lot of us want to talk. Why didn’t CNN look for us? Read City of Angels Blog for coverage of these crimes by a journalist who is also a victim- and who wants to see more of this story in mainstream about how far ranging these crimes were. Every archdiocese in the USA had pedophiles for decades.

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posted September 26, 2010 at 12:52 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 popes now. The truth is in actions, not empty words.

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posted September 29, 2010 at 7:08 am

Here is who the RCC pedos and their protectors want to harm again.
After all, it’s OK they harmed children and hide from the crimes because others did it too.

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Bruce Ryman

posted September 29, 2010 at 7:19 am

Please….everyone….the posts here just keep escalating to name calling and bitterness. Can we all agree on a couple of things:
1. The Church’s approach to handling the abuse situations in the past was wrong…period, no disclaimer, no caveate.
2. The current rules, regulations and oversight (like mandatory Veritus training for ANY adult dealing with Children) is a significant improvement
3. There is no question that if any Bishop in USA deliberately ignored USA laws regarding reporting of abuse that they should be fired. (This because the Church goes out of its way to insist that local Bishops in fact, hold the day to day power of decision making)
4. None of this changes the message of Christ or the fact that he founded the Church on the back of Peter and the apostles. We all must continously be vigilent and work to keep Satan out (in all forms) from our faith, and remember that “man” is always going to be tempted to do something that is “his way” not “God’s way”
If we can agree on the above, then we can assertively continue to build the structure to mitigate future problems of this nature as much as possible, and do what is necessary to heal the past both from a secular and spiritual view point.
Peace and Love

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posted September 29, 2010 at 8:16 am

And also that the pope calls all the shots or the bishops would not have worked in unison.
An ratzinger’s 2001 letter to destroy children victims by obstruction of justice. He demanded bishops “extinguish” cases of abuse until the victim reaches adulthood plus 10 years. This way statutes of limitations protects the RCC, the pedo and denies the victims civil rights.
Here are the children the pope wanted to make sure were completely destroyed;
Thank you for being above the scum of the pope, bishops and cardinals. Please do not join them in further destruction to lives already destroyed – visit the link I posted.

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posted October 1, 2010 at 6:08 pm

Pope is to be served summons – Belgium want hos resignation

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