08 December 2009

Abusive priests teach, in effect, that Jesus is a child molester

I happened to come across one of the weekly columns that Canadian priest Fr Raymond de Souza (above) writes for the National Post and includes on his own website. This particle column, posted on 29 October, was The Vatican’s man in Canada . He was praising the outgoing nuncio to Canada, Archbishop Luigi Ventura.

What caught my eye was Father de Souza’s clarification of what a nuncio is and isn’t:

The apostolic nuncio is generally thought of as ambassador of one state to another, but that is not quite right. The Vatican City State does not have diplomatic relations with any country. Diplomatic relations are with the Holy See.

What’s the difference? The Holy See is the legal expression of the pope’s role as universal pastor of the Church. States maintain diplomatic relations with the supreme authority of the Catholic Church, which is recognized as a sovereign power in international law.

Mrs Mary O'Rourke TD (member of Irish parliament)

My reading of what Father de Souza wrote is that a nuncio represents the pope as pastor. That means that when the current papal nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, who was appointed on 22 February last year, and his immediate predecessor, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, now nuncio to Australia, refused to even reply to letters from the Murphy Commission, set up by the Irish government to look into the sexual abuse of children by priests in the Archdiocese of Dublin, they were, in effect, giving the ‘two fingers’ to these children – in the name of the universal pastor of the Church. Here is what the Dublin Report says about Rome’s refusal to cooperate:

Documents held by Rome

‘2.23 The Commission wrote to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in Rome in September 2006 asking for information on the promulgation of the document Crimen Sollicitationis (see Chapter 4) as well as information on reports of clerical child sexual abuse which had been conveyed to the Congregation by the Archdiocese of Dublin in the period covered by the Commission. The CDF did not reply. However, it did contact the Department of Foreign Affairs stating that the Commission had not gone through appropriate diplomatic channels. The Commission is a body independent of government and does not consider it appropriate for it to use diplomatic channels.

‘2.24 The Commission wrote to the Papal Nuncio in February 2007 requesting that he forward to the Commission all documents in his possession relevant to the Commission's terms of reference, “which documents have not already been produced or will not be produced by Archbishop Martin”. The letter further requested the Papal Nuncio, if he had no such documentation, to confirm this. No reply was received. The Commission does not have the power to compel the production of documents by the Papal Nuncio or the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Commission again wrote to the Papal Nuncio in 2009 enclosing extracts from the draft report which referred to him and his office as it was required to do. Again, no reply was received.’ (My emphases).

The CDF found time to complain to the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs about protocol but apparently didn’t give a damn about abused children in Dublin.

Irish Foreign Minister Micheál Martin

Last Saturday Paddy Agnew, The Irish Times correspondent in Rome wrote the following:

Last week I rang the Holy See press office looking for an official reaction to the Dublin diocesan report. The Vatican’s senior spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, patiently trotted out the standard Holy See line as to how such “matters” were the concern of the local church. The Vatican was aware of the seriousness of the report but did not want to interfere, added the spokesman.

Given that the report continued to greatly exercise and trouble minds in Ireland, I inquired next day if the Holy See had anything to add. This time, Fr Lombardi’s number two, Don Ciro Benedettini, answered the phone.

When he heard my voice, knowing what I would want to ask, Don Ciro began to laugh. It was a friendly, inoffensive laugh of the sort that said, “Come on, Paddy, We have nothing more to say on this matter.”

This to me indicates that the press people in the Vatican are out of touch. The lack of response of the two nuncios – acting officially in the name of Pope Benedict – and of the CDF show utter contempt. Do the two nuncios have the same contempt for Pope Benedict, whom they officially represent, as they do for the Irish people?

Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, Papal Nuncio to Ireland

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin (left) with Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, previous papal nuncio to Ireland

Last week in the Dáil, the Irish parliament, Mary O’Rourke of the main government party, Fianna Fáil, spoke scathingly of the current nuncio: ‘Consider the discourtesy of the head of the Vatican parading around Ireland in his wonderful glitzy clothes but not replying to letters.’ She reminded me of something our rector, Fr Joe Flynn, one of three brothers who became Columbans and a canon lawyer, said in one of his First Friday talks in St Columban’s College, Dalgan Park, back in the 1960s, ‘If I were pope for half an hour I’d get rid of all those red belly-bands’.

Today, Tuesday, Archbishop Leanza will be visiting the office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, to explain why he and his predecessor refused to reply to the Commission. He has been summoned by the minister. (Mr Martin was very much personally involved in the recent successful efforts to obtain the release of kidnapped Irish Columban Fr Michael Sinnott in the Philippines). The nuncio, at his own request, met the secretary general of the Department of Foreign Affairs, last week.

Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh

Paddy Agnew and Patsy McGarry report in today’s Irish Times that Cardinal Seán Brady of Armagh and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin will meet Pope Benedict to discuss the whole situation. Nuncio Leanza will be there too along with ‘Senior Vatican Curia figures with specific competence in this area’.

The Irish Times report includes this, to me, strange paragraph:

They [‘Vatican insiders’] say Friday’s meeting is a direct intervention from the Holy See, and has been called by an increasingly frustrated Pope Benedict XVI. The sources say the pope will argue the Irish clerical sex-abuse crisis has gone on far too long and will urge Irish church leaders to find a definitive exit from the crisis.

Is this more concern for ‘the good name’ of the [institutional] Church?

Vincent Browne wrote in his column Vatican cannot escape blame in abuse scandal in the Sunday Business Post last Sunday:

One final reflection. This quite proper outrage over the bishops and the cover-ups and the lies disguises a larger phenomenon.The incidence of child sex abuse in Ireland is enormous.

According to that Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland (SAVI) report of 2002, around 320,000 people were raped in childhood, and there is little reason to believe the incidence of child rape has diminished.The incidence of child rape among the clergy is certainly greater than among the population at large, but only about 4 per cent of child rapes have been perpetrated by the clergy.

The government shows no interest at all, aside from the odd photo opportunity.

In her column Fighting to implement change in a positive way in last Saturday’s Irish Times in which she commented on the Dublin Report, Breda O’Brien has this throwaway line: Not to mention the discovery last February that 20 children have died in [State] care since 2000 – to which we seem supremely indifferent.

While I find the SVI figure of 320,000 being raped in childhood difficult to believe, I hope that the 20 children who have died in State 'care' in recent years and the 96 percent of children – whatever the actual figure - abused by others rather than by priests or religious will not be forgotten.

But one awful reality is that the priests 'configured to Christ' by their ordination, as Pope John Paul emphasised so strongly in Pastores Dabo Vobis, who abused the four percent in Dublin in effect taught these children that Jesus is a child molester. One, as if to emphasise this, used a crucifix in raping a young girl.

The Church in Ireland and Rome/the Vatican/the Holy See cannot sweep this under the carpet.

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