Monday, December 7, 2009

The Pope's Visit to Britain is Nothing to Celebrate

Original article
Tanya Gold

Save us, O Lord, save us all. Save us from the Pope. Joseph Ratzinger is coming to Britain. Gordon Brown is "delighted". David Cameron is "delighted". I am "repelled". Let him come; I applaud freedom of speech. But no red carpets, please. No biscuits. No Queen.

In his actions on child abuse and Aids, Joseph Ratzinger has colluded in the protection of paedophiles and the deaths of millions of Africans. As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Pope John Paul II's chief enforcer), it was Ratzinger's job to investigate the child abuse scandal that plagued the Catholic church for decades. And how did he do it? In May 2001 he wrote a confidential letter to Catholic bishops, ordering them not to notify the police – or anyone else – about the allegations, on pain of excommunication. He referred to a previous (confidential) Vatican document that ordered that investigations should be handled "in the most secretive way . . . restrained by a perpetual silence". Excommunication is a joke to me, perhaps to you, but to a Catholic it means exclusion and perhaps hellfire – for trying to protect a child. Well, God is love.

He also waved aside calls to discipline Marcial Maciel Degollado, the Mexican founder of the global Legion of Christ movement. Allegations of child abuse have stalked Maciel since the 1970s. His victims petitioned Ratzinger, only for his secretary to inform them the matter was closed. "One can't put on trial such a close friend of the Pope as Marcial Maciel," Ratzinger said. Two abuse victims sued him personally for obstruction of justice, but he claimed diplomatic immunity.

Eventually, when the allegations could no longer be denied, Ratzinger apologised, and sent Maciel off "to a life of prayer and penitence". Why not prison? He didn't say. "It is a great suffering for the church . . . and for me personally," was Ratzinger's comment about the wider child abuse scandal. Great suffering? I thought to be raped as a child was great suffering. To be exposed as complicit in a cover-up is surely merely . . . embarrassing?

Ratzinger added that he believed the Catholic church had been the victim of a "planned" media campaign. By whom? By gays? By Jews? By Jedi? He instructed that prayers be said in perpetuity for the victims – thanks, I feel better now! – along with a push to ensure that men "with deep-seated homosexual tendencies" do not enter the priesthood, thereby turning all responsibility for the scandal into – the laps of the evil gays!

Ratzinger is also active in the suppression of Liberation Theology, a Latin American movement that insists that social justice is the central purpose of Christianity; that good Catholics should also be political activists who fight for the rights of the slum-living poor. Ratzinger was repelled, and dismissed it as "a fundamental threat to the faith of the Church".

And so to the church's own holocaust – in Africa. Condoms can protect Africans from Aids. But who can protect them from Ratzinger? The Catholic church has long pursued a no-condoms policy. In El Salvador the church got a law passed, ensuring that condoms were only sold with a warning stating they did not protect the user from Aids. In Kenya, Cardinal Maurice Otunga staged public burnings of condoms. The former Archbishop of Nairobi, Raphael Ndingi Mwana a'Nzeki told his flock that condoms, far from protecting them, contribute to the spread of the disease. Well, God is love.

Some local priests in Africa counsel contraception, because they care about their parishioners. But the Vatican, on its Roman cloud, disagrees. Aids, Ratzinger says, "cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems". That is a lie. Not a fantasy, like the virgin birth and all the other magical, mystical nonsense, but a dangerous lie. There are, Your Holiness, more than 12 million Aids orphans in Africa. Twenty-two million Africans have Aids and the UN fears that eventually 90 million could die.

Ratzinger presides over a church that calls homosexuality "a deviation, an irregularity, a wound". Catholic reformers have tried to liberalise this view but Ratzinger slapped them down. In a 1986 letter, he complained that, "Even within the Church, [people] are bringing enormous pressure to bear . . . to accept the homosexual condition as though it were not disordered." He added that homosexuality is "an intrinsic moral evil".

Care to know the suicide statistics for teenage gays, Your Holiness? They are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual fellows. In 1998, a 39-year-old gay man called Alfredo Ormando set fire to himself in St Peter's Square, in protest at your policies. He died.

Ratzinger is no better on women; he opposes women priests, of course, and demands the criminilisation of abortion even for women who have been raped or are very sick; gin and wire coathangers, anyone? His friend, the theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg, has said that Ratzinger sees the push for female priests as driven by "spokeswomen for radical feminists, especially lesbians".

So this is the man who is coming to lecture us about morality. Welcome, Benedict XVI, Episcopus Romae, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God. Don't tread on the corpses

Monday, October 26, 2009

Vatican Probing Child Sex Abuse Allegations Against Archbishop

Original article

The Irish Church's standing in Rome has been dealt a further damaging blow with a high-level Vatican investigation into a complaint of child sexual abuse against a Tipperary-born archbishop.

This is the first instance of an official charge of clerical child molestation being made against an archbishop of Irish nationality, and it comes as the Irish Church is preparing “for the worst” with publication of the Murphy Report on abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin.

It was learned yesterday Richard Burke (60), Archbishop of Benin, a city in southern Nigeria, stepped aside earlier this year pending the outcome of an ecclesiastical trial by the Vatican's doctrinal watchdog body, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The Kiltegan missionary archbishop from Fethard, Co Tipperary, who is believed to be in the United States, has not commented on the allegation.

He is accused by Dolores Atwood, a 40-year-old married woman now living in Canada, of sexually abusing her when she was a minor, aged 14, and ill in a Nigerian hospital which he visited as a priest.

She also alleges that she suffered “emotional torture” during a 20-year secret affair which he conducted with her contrary to his vow of celibacy.

Last night St Patrick's Missionary Society in Kiltegan, Co Wicklow, also known as the Kiltegan Fathers, revealed it received a complaint from a woman against Archbishop Burke on December 16 last.

“We expressed the deep sorrow and regret of the Society for the suffering the complainant and her family are going through and we affirmed the Society's commitment to child protection,” a statement said.

“We assured her that the Society's Child Protection Policy and Procedures would be adhered to. The Society offered to provide counselling for the complainant.”

The statement confirmed that the Society has complied with a request from the Doctrinal Congregation to send to Rome all relevant documents relating to the allegation so that Rome can exercise full jurisdiction.

“Although a member of St Patrick's Missionary Society, Archbishop Burke ceased to be under the jurisdiction of the Society when he became a bishop and is now under the direct jurisdiction of the Holy See,” the Kiltegan Fathers said.

It was the late Pope John Paul II who consecrated him Bishop of the Nigerian diocese of Warri in March 1997, and in December 2007 Pope Benedict XVI promoted him to Archbishop of Benin City.

According to Monsignor Charles Scicluna, a senior advocate for the Congregation, Pope Benedict was informed of the charges against Archbishop Burke, who will be called to Rome for interrogation before it completes its investigations under oath of confidentiality.

Read more:

The Church Must Bow Down to Law of the Land

Original article

THE report on the Catholic hierarchy's handling of child sex abusers in the Dublin archdiocese is expected to criticise civil authorities for contributing to a culture of impunity surrounding paedophile priests.

While senior clergy will carry the blame, the report also implicates some senior gardai and health authorities for failing to follow through on complaints against paedophiles. According to informed sources, the report singles out the lax response of gardai in certain investigations and also criticises the former health boards in the Dublin area for failing to protect children from exposure to paedophile priests.

"The report will indicate that some senior gardai did not see investigating church men as their role. There was a view that the church was outside the remit of the garda," said an informed source.

Health authorities are criticised for not having the structures in place to deal with abusers outside the family. "They did not seem to know what their powers were," said the source.

The criticisms are believed to relate to cases dating back to the 1970s and 1980s, a period when both the Church and the civil authorities have in the past claimed they had yet to be enlightened about paedophilia.

The Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse in the Dublin archdiocese is the second this year to examine the extent of child abuse perpetrated by the members of the Catholic Church. The Ryan report disclosed in brutal and graphic detail how children, most from poor and vulnerable backgrounds, were routinely beaten, sexually and psychologically abused in residential institutions.

The findings of the second report are expected to be just as shocking.

The scale of official reluctance to challenge Catholic hierarchy over its handling of paedophile priests is said by sources to be disturbing. Equally alarming is how the errant priests were shielded behind the cloak of the church as they moved from one parish to the next.

The victims of clerical abuse and the clergy itself may have to wait another fortnight to discover the extent of the report's findings. Having got the all-clear from the High Court,Justice Minister Dermot Ahern had planned to release it after a cabinet meeting last Tuesday.

The report's release was stalled again after the Director of Public Prosecution raised fresh concerns that its publication could prejudice a forthcoming trial of a priest on sex abuse charges.

In advance of its publication, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has already alluded to its findings as providing "a painful but an important reflection on society".

But when it is eventually published, the protagonists in the sordid tale of ecclesiastical cover up documented in several volumes running to 1000 pages are likely to include former senior clerics in the Dublin diocese.

Its investigation from 1975 to 2004 examines in forensic detail the progress of 46 paedophile priests, under the stewardships of the Archbishops Dermot Ryan, Kevin McNamara andCardinal Desmond Connell. Of the three, Cardinal Connell is expected to face most scrutiny. Archbishop of Dublin from 1988, he retired in 2004, with yet another apology for his scandal-prone handling of child sexual abuse cases.

Demonstrating his willingness to face up to clerical sex abuse, he trawled diocesan records over 50 years and gave the names of 17 priests to gardai, along with the names of those who had complained. He was demonstrating his willingness to deal with clerical child abusers at the time.

When in 2005, his successor, Archbishop Diarmiud Martin, embarked on his own trawl of diocesan archives, he discovered files on 102 priests and identified a figure of 390 children whom they had sexually abused. Last year, Archbishop Martin revised the figure to 160 priests who were suspected or alleged to have abused more than 400 children since 1940.

Another protagonist is expected to be Monsignor Alex Stenson, whose name has featured in several of the child abuse cases highlighted in recent years due to his role in investigating complaints against priests.

A highly regarded canon lawyer, Msgr Stenson is now a parish priest in Killester, a north Dublin suburb. For several years he was chancellor of the Dublin archdiocese working with both Dr Kevin McNamara and Cardinal Connell who succeeded him in 1988.

As chancellor, Msgr Stenson was the person to whom many parents were referred when they complained about suspect priests.

Msgr Stenson was the senior cleric who accused a nine-year-old Mervyn Rundle of lying when he claimed to have been abused by a parish priest. This was despite the fact that the diocese had already received numerous complaints against the priest.

The priest was instead sent back to his parish. It was many years later before he was convicted and Mr Rundle awarded €300,000 in an out-of-court settlement.

Those who know Msgr Stenson say that he is a meticulous record taker. It is believed that he took detailed notes of his interviews with priests under suspicion and with their accusers, including parents, children and others.

It is understood that these records accounted for many of the 65,000 diocesan documents that Archbishop Martin released to the commission of inquiry last year. Cardinal Connell contested the release of some of the documents, in a High Court action which he later withdrew.

Msgr Stenson, who helped to draft the Catholic Church's guidelines on dealing with child sex abuse, spoke at the launch of the document in 1996.

Elaborating on the guidelines for journalists, he said there is "no way certain paedophiles" could be re-admitted to ministry, although bishops could make an exception in "special cases" where the priest would not have access to children.

Perhaps this was the logic which led to the late Fr Noel Reynolds becoming chaplain at the National Rehabilitation hospital in Dublin in 1997, despite complaints to the Dublin archdiocese about his behaviour towards children in his previous parish of Glendalough.

Cardinal Connell never told the hospital about Fr Reynolds' past, in breach of his own church guidelines.

Only when a "formal" complaint was made to the archdiocese in 1998 was Fr Reynolds removed from ministry. He later admitted to abusing 100 children.

Despite that staggering confession, the first the hospital knew of its former chaplain's paedophile proclivities was when it was contacted by the ground-breaking Prime Time documentary in 2002.

Behind the Catholic hierarchy's public displays of sorrow and hand-wringing for the victims of clerical sex abuse is a competing loyalty to canon law.

The Dublin archdiocese even refused to assist gardai in cases where sex abuse had been admitted to them in private by priests because -- in its view -- canon law took precedence over civil law.

This ecclesiastical arrogance was displayed to greatest effect in the case of Marie Collins. As a 13-year-old in hospital in Dublin, the chaplain stood at her bedside and took inappropriate photographs of her.

Years later in 1995, when she learnt that the cleric was still a working priest, she reported him to the Dublin archdiocese. Although the priest had admitted his guilt, Cardinal Connell indicated he could not co-operate with a garda inquiry. Msgr Stenson later threatened to sue Marie Collins when he discovered she had given his correspondence to her admitting the priest's guilt to gardai.

When Marie Collins went public with her claims in 2002, Michael McDowell, then justice minister, dismissed the Catholic Church's canon law as having the same status as golf club rules.

Seven years and a commission of inquiry later, it still remains to be seen whether or not the Catholic hierarchy is truly ready to bow to the law of the land.

Archbishop Accused of Sex Assault on Teenager

Original article

An Irish archbishop is accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl in Africa before having a 20-year affair with her, it emerged today.

The Vatican is investigating a complaint made against Archbishop Richard Burke, who stepped down as Archdiocese of Benin in Nigeria earlier this year.

He is one of the most senior members of the Catholic Church to be accused of assaulting a minor.

Archbishop Richard Burke was a member of St Patrick’s Missionary Society, based in Kiltegan, Co Wicklow.

In a statement the society, also known as the Kiltegan Fathers, confirmed it received a complaint from the woman last December.

“She alleged that she was sexually abused as a child by Richard Burke,” it said.

“We expressed the deep sorrow and regret of the society for the suffering the complainant and her family are going through and we affirmed the society’s commitment to child protection.

“The society offered to provide counselling for the complainant.”

Archbishop Burke, who is from Co Tipperary, was ordained a priest 34 years ago and later worked as a missionary in Nigeria. He became an archbishop in 2008.

It is alleged he sexually assaulted the victim in April 1983, when she was a 14-year-old patient in a hospital.

The victim, a married 41-year-old mother of three who now lives in Canada, maintains she also had a relationship with the cleric for more than two decades.

Archbishop Burke withdrew from ministry while the complaint is being investigated.

The Catholic Church has been rocked by child sex abuse scandals, most recently with the Ryan Report which laid bare the physical and psychological abusive regimes operated by religious orders in church and state-run institutions.

A damning inquiry into the handling allegations in the Dublin Archdiocese is also due to be published.

The Kiltegan Fathers said although still a member, Archbishop Burke is under the direct jurisdiction of the Holy See since he was made a bishop.

“The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith requested that all relevant documents relating to the allegation be forwarded to Rome so that it can exercise its full jurisdiction in the matter,” its statement read.

“The society has done this.”

The Kiltegan Fathers said it also kept in contact with the complainant and informed her regularly of the steps taking in accordance with its policy and procedures.

“The society is committed to ensuring that justice is done and that no child is put at risk through the behaviour of our members,” it added.

Abuse Claim Against Archbishop

Original article


The Vatican is investigating an allegation of child sex abuse against an Irish-born archbishop based in Africa, his missionary order confirmed today.

Archbishop Richard Burke (60), from Clonmel, Co Tipperary, was ordained a priest for St Patrick’s Missionary Society, known as the Kiltegan Fathers, in Co Wicklow, in 1975. He was ordained a bishop in 1997, and installed as Archbishop of Benin, Nigeria, in March of last year.

In a statement, the society said it had received a complaint last December from a 40-year-old woman against Archbishop Burke.

“She alleged that she was sexually abused as a child by Richard Burke. We expressed the deep sorrow and regret of the society for the suffering the complainant and her family are going through and we affirmed the society’s commitment to child protection,’’ it added.

“We assured her that the society’s child protection policy and procedures would be adhered to. The society offered to provide counselling for the complainant.’’

The statement pointed out that although Archbishop Burke was a member of the society, he had ceased to be under its jurisdiction when he became a bishop and was now under the direct jurisdiction of the Holy See.

“However, he agreed to follow the society’s child protection procedures and voluntarily withdrew from ministry while the complaint is being investigated,’’ it added.

“The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith requested that all relevant documents relating to the allegation be forwarded to Rome so that it can exercise its full jurisdiction in the matter. The society has done this.’’

The society, said the statement, had kept in contact with the complainant, and informed her regularly of the steps being taken in accordance with policy and procedures. She had also been informed of the direct jurisdiction of the Holy See in the matter.

“The society is committed to ensuring that justice is done and that no child is put at risk through the behaviour of our members,’’ it added.

The Irish Mail on Sunday featured an interview with Dolores Atwood, who said that the abuse began when she was 14 years old and a patient in a hospital at Warri, Nigeria, in April 1983.

She alleged the archbishop continued to have a sexual relationship with her as recently as 2003.

Ms Atwood, who now lives in Nova Scotia, Canada, said she believed she was “manipulated and controlled’’ as a teenager.

She said she eventually confessed the relationship to her husband because she was wracked with guilt. She wrote to the Vatican and the society reporting the allegations.

Ms Atwood said she had provided phone recordings, letters and airline tickets to Church authorities as proof of their relationship.

Clergyman Linked to Rwandan Genocide Seized in Italy

Original article

-- A Rwandan accused of "complicity" in the massacre of students at the college he headed during the country's genocide 15 years ago has been arrested in Italy, where he served as a clergyman, an international police agency said.

Officers from the Italian Carabinieri and Interpol's National Central Bureau in Rome, Italy, arrested Emmanuel Uwayezu -- who had been wanted in Rwanda, the international police organization Interpol said Wednesday in a news release.

Uwayezu, 47, is accused of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity. He is in Italian custody and is awaiting extradition to Rwanda.

According to Interpol's statement, the Rwandan arrest warrant says Uwayezu was alleged "to have acted individually and as part of a conspiracy to plan and commit genocide by instigating Hutus to kill Tutsis in the area of Gikongoro, as director of the Groupe Scolaire Marie Merci college in Kibeho."

He is accused of "participating in meetings with government and military authorities which allegedly planned the extermination of the Tutsi ethnic group" and "complicity in the massacre of some 80 students in May 1994 in the college which he headed."

Uwayezu arrived in Italy in 1997, took an alias, and was working as a vicar at the Church in Empoli commune near Florence when he was seized, Interpol said.

The man was identified after Interpol's fugitives unit received information and pictures from Rwandan authorities.

The Archdiocese of Florence issued a statement about the arrest two days ago, saying it hopes the justice system will come up with the truth about the case.

But, it said, "we stand by the fact that Don Emmanuel has always declared his estrangement to the events in question and we accompany him in prayers."

One Italian news report noted that Uwayezu is a priest of Hutu ethnicity and lived and worked as vice-parish priest in Ponzano, part of the county of Empoli.

Don Guido Engels, the head of the parish and a priest, told the ASCA news agency that "Don Emmanuel never cultivated feelings towards another ethnic group. He always wanted peace."

"The arrest of Uwayezu demonstrates the power and effectiveness of international co-operation between police worldwide in obtaining information in relation to the identification, location and apprehension of fugitives around the world," said Jean-Michel Louboutin, Interpol's executive director of police services.

This operation is a credit to law enforcement officers and agencies in Italy and Rwanda."

Two years ago, Interpol created a unit dedicated to searching for fugitives in the genocide who were wanted by Rwanda and the U.N.-sponsored International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. So far, seven people wanted by Rwanda and five wanted by the tribunal have been arrested.

Police in Uganda recently arrested and extradited a man who is among the most wanted suspects from the Rwandan genocide. Idelphonse Nizeyimana was picked up at a hotel in Rubaga, a suburb of the capital, Kampala.

The arrest, by Ugandan police, was part of an operation between the tribunal, Ugandan authorities, and Interpol. Nizeyimana was transferred Tuesday to a U.N. detention facility in Arusha, Tanzania, where the tribunal is based.

The 1994 Rwandan genocide left an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus dead over a 100-day period, the United Nations and Interpol say. Millions more were raped and disfigured, and nearly an entire generation of children lost their parents.

Archbishop Accused of Sex Assault

Original article

An Irish archbishop is accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl in Africa before having a 20-year affair with her, it has emerged.

The Vatican is investigating a complaint made against Archbishop Richard Burke, who stepped down from his post with the Archdiocese of Benin in Nigeria earlier this year.

He is one of the most senior members of the Catholic Church to be accused of assaulting a minor.