Is the Vatican cooperating fully with the Irish Government?

The most significant sentence in the Vatican’s response to the Irish Government about the Cloyne Report comes on the second-last page, just before the concluding remarks. It says: “From the foregoing considerations, it should be clear that the Holy See expects the Irish Bishops to cooperate with the civil authorities, to implement fully the norms of canon law and to ensure the full and impartial application of the child safety norms of the Church in Ireland.”

This sounds reasonable on the face of it. But it conceals a vital distinction that the Catholic Church has already used to mislead people in Ireland on the same issue. Look again carefully at the wording: the Bishops should implement “fully” the norms of canon law, and ensure the “full and impartial” application of the Church’s child safety norms. Yet when it comes to cooperating with the civil authorities, as opposed to the internal rules of the Church, the important word “fully” is missing.

This missing word “fully” is the exact formulation that the Dublin Archdiocese used in 1997 to mislead people about its response to the sexual abuse of Marie Collins. When the priest who had abused Collins was convicted, the Archdiocese issued a press statement claiming that it had cooperated with police in relation to her complaint. Collins was upset by this and told her friend Father James Norman. Father Norman told police that he had asked the Archdiocese about the statement and the explanation he received was that “we never said we cooperated ‘fully’, placing emphasis on the word ‘fully’.”

The Catholic Church calls this linguistic trick ‘mental reservation.’ As Cardinal Desmond Connell explained in 2009, “there may be circumstances in which you can use an ambiguous expression realising that the person who you are talking to will accept an untrue version of whatever it may be.” In some circumstances, of course, this may well be true. But not in the circumstance of responding to the rape and torture of children. Now we have the Vatican using the same formulation to create the impression that it is cooperating fully with the civil authorities, while leaving open the defence that it never said ‘fully’.

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Bishop Magee lied and deliberately misled, says Cloyne Report

How can we believe, without corroboration, anything that members of the Irish Catholic Hierarchy say in cases where it is in their interest to mislead us? That is surely the central question that arises from the Cloyne Report into the handling of allegations of sexual abuse Continue reading “Bishop Magee lied and deliberately misled, says Cloyne Report”

Vatican compares child abuse with ordaining women

Apologists for the Vatican have recently claimed that the Catholic Church does not compare sexually abusing a child with attempting to ordain a woman, but that it merely included both crimes in the same document as a procedural matter. However, this is not true.

A Vatican official has explicitly described the crimes contained in this document as being “on the same level” of seriousness. They are the “Delicta Graviora”, the crimes which the Catholic Church considers the most serious of all, and which are reserved to the Holy See for judgment.

In 2007, the Vatican published a pamphlet on Paedophilia and the Priesthood, written by Monsignor Raffaello Martinelli, an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and member of the editorial commission of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This pamphlet explicitly states:

“The seriousness with which the Church evaluates and judges acts of pedophilia is shown by the fact that with a new law passed in 2001, the Holy See (and not the local bishops) decided to reserve the right to judge those crimes…

The fact that the Pope wanted to reserve to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — a dicastery of the Holy See — judgment of the acts of pedophilia committed by priests, shows that the Church considers those acts to be very serious, serious crimes on the same level of the other two serious crimes — reserved to the Holy See — that can be committed against two sacraments: the Eucharist and the holiness of confession.”

In 2010, with the updated document Normae de Gravioribus Delictis, the Vatican has now added the attempted ordination of women to this strange list of the most serious crimes of all.

And the direction of the comparison is not that they consider these theological crimes to be as serious as sexually abusing a child, but that they consider sexually abusing a child to be as serious as these theological crimes, to be judged by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which used to be the Congregation of the Inquisition.

For example, sexually abusing a child is listed not as a crime against the child, but as a crime against the Biblical commandment forbidding adultery. And attempting to ordain a woman attracts a more serious punishment than sexually abusing a child. This is the type of morality that results when people put theology ahead of reality.

Ethical issues should be evaluated on the basis of human rights, compassion, well-being and suffering, not on the basis of theological dictates from people who believe they are getting messages from the creator of the universe.

Pope’s letter protects church, not its victims

The Pope’s letter on child sexual abuse holds lessons for civic society.What he writes to Catholics about religion is a matter between him and them. But the Catholic church also operates within civic society, acts as a quasi-State at the United Nations, and sends ambassadors to real States.

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