Apr 6, 2010

More Vatican Deflection as the Abuse Cases Pile Up

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Well this just gets more and more sickening. After a Holy Week of insulting Jews and sex abuse survivors and blaming the media for doing its job, the Vatican is upping the ante on its relentless self-pity.

The Vatican heatedly defended Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday, claiming accusations that he helped cover up the actions of pedophile priests are part of an anti-Catholic "hate" campaign targeting the pope for his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.

Vatican Radio broadcast comments by two senior cardinals explaining "the motive for these attacks" on the pope and the Vatican newspaper chipped in with spirited comments from another top cardinal.

"The pope defends life and the family, based on marriage between a man and a woman, in a world in which powerful lobbies would like to impose a completely different" agenda, Spanish Cardinal Julian Herranz, head of the disciplinary commission for Holy See officials, said on the radio.

No. I'm pretty sure that criticism of both his Holiness and the church has to do with the avalanche of new reports of sexually abusive priests who were not properly dealt with. And am I the only one who sees some irony in claiming to be pro-family in the wake of a child abuse scandal?

Meanwhile the charges are piling up. Over Easter weekend we learned that the Vatican dragged its heels on defrocking 2 priests who were described by their own bishop as "satanic."

The abuse cases of two priests in Arizona have cast further doubt on the Catholic church's insistence that Pope Benedict XVI played no role in shielding pedophiles before he became pope.

Documents reviewed by The Associated Press show that as a Vatican cardinal, the future pope took over the abuse case of the Rev. Michael Teta of Tucson, Ariz., then let it languish at the Vatican for years despite repeated pleas from the bishop for the man to be removed from the priesthood.

In another Tucson case, that of Msgr. Robert Trupia, the bishop wrote to then-Cardinal Ratzinger, who would become pope in 2005. Bishop Manuel Moreno called Trupia "a major risk factor to the children, adolescents and adults that he many have contact with." There is no indication in the case files that Ratzinger responded.

The article notes that this case languished, in part, because the Vatican was revising its procedures, which resulted in the controversial 2001 letter from then Cardinal Ratzinger. Many interpreted this letter as calling for secrecy as the Vatican adjudicated these cases. Even after the changes implemented by Ratzinger, the process seemed unconscionably slow.

More alarming, the most recent case to come to light started in 2005, well after the new streamlined procedure was in place, and it has yet to be prosecuted.

A Catholic priest who fled Minnesota for India after being accused by two teenage girls of rape continues to serve as a priest in a Catholic school system five years after his case was brought to the attention of the Vatican, according to documents and testimony in a lawsuit against the Church.

The accused cleric, the Rev. Joseph Jeyapual, oversees the hiring of teachers for 40 Catholic schools in the diocese of Ootacamund, India, according to documents in the case.

. . .

In the first letter, Bishop Balke warned that to ignore the case "would be a shameful act of betrayal towards the women and girls in India to whom Fr. Jeyapaul could at present pose a risk."

In a response six months later, on behalf of Cardinal Levada, a deputy made no mention of disciplinary action against the accused priest but said he would "be monitored so that he does not constitute a risk to minors and does not create a scandal among the faithful."


The Vatican spokesman told the Associated Press the priest had been punished by being sent to a monastery for a year to pray.

So prayer and contemplation are punishment? For a priest?!! Isn't that what they do?

As with so many of these cases, Rev. Jeyapaul became a football, just punted from one diocese to another, and protected from law enforcement. In this case, he  returned to his native India, where the Bishop refused to follow a Vatican directive and defrock him. So let me get this straight: Only the Vatican can order a priest be defrocked, which has held up some of these cases for years, but a bishop can just refuse? Who's running this show? And how does this protect children? Meanwhile a second priest who was actually convicted and served time for molesting a 12 year old girl, remains in the priesthood in another Indian diocese.

If the Vatican can't see that cases such as these open the Catholic Church to fair criticism, there is something seriously wrong. It's always bad policy for leaders to refuse to take responsibility for failings in their institutions and blame everybody else. Where does the buck stop if not with the Pope?

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