SCRUB ALERT: The Times reopens its bear-baiting pit

TwitterIn another entry, I said that we would see an increase in attacks on the Holy Father, attempts to implicate him personally in the cover-up of sexual abuse of minors by priests when the Pope was still Archbishop of Munich.

Hell’s Bible launched an attack, written by committee.

The Times has now opened up its own bear-baiting pit.

The Times article is by Richard Owen.  The headline is designed to make you think the Pope is guilty of something before you read the article.

Thus, the editors, for printing this headline, are scrubs. If Richard Owen wrote the headline, he is a scrub.

It will seen be impossible to track without Nexis-Lexis all the attack in the media, the unjust and unprofessional insinuations.

Also see Damian Thompson‘s piece.

UPDATE:

Another fairly despicable story from AP, which was again written by committee but has the usually responsbile Nicole Williams name at the top.

Pope under fire for transfer, letter on sex abuse

  By NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press Writer Nicole Winfield, Associated Press Writer   – Fri Mar 12, 6:24 pm ET

VATICAN CITY – Germany’s sex abuse scandal has now reached Pope Benedict XVI: …

You are being guided to the conclusion, before you read the article, that the Pope is personally guilty of something.

The rest of the article has some interesting information, but its dwells on the word "scandal" and seems intended to paint the Church in a bad light rather than merely inform.

UPDATE:

In contrast to the other media.

CNA: Vatican: Pope was ‘completely extraneous’ to Munich sex abuse decision

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22 Responses to SCRUB ALERT: The Times reopens its bear-baiting pit

  1. MOP says:

    A very important communique from the Vatican Information Services was just released today, called “A Clear Route Thru Stormy Waters” at

    http://212.77.1.245/news_services/press/vis/dinamiche/inde_en.htm#start

    and addresses some of the accusations against the then Cardinal Ratzinger. Thank you, Father Z, for your posted prayers for our Pope. Now, more than ever we all need to support him in this new assault.

  2. gloriainexcelsis says:

    The “Sacramento Bee” had a NYT byline with the heading “Inquiry moves closer to pope” with sub head “Archdiocese he led let priest linked to abuse resume job.” It’s a similar storyline to the one you reference. Bringing his brother into the mix the last couple of days adds to the bashing, especially when the headline is talking about “abuse,” and then just mentions slapping, for heaven’s sake. It’s a red herring. Sorry. When I was growing up, slapping was not abuse, no more than rapping across the knuckles with a ruler. The Pope needs our prayers, daily and fervently. The attacks will get more virulent. Just watch.

  3. Prof. Basto says:

    NOTE ISSUED BY HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE DIRECTOR

    VATICAN CITY, 13 MAR 2010 (VIS) – Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. today issued a note entitled “A clear route through stormy waters”.

    “At the end of a week in which a large part of the attention of the European media has been focused on the question of sexual abuses committed by people in institutions of the Catholic Church, we would like to make three observations:

    “Firstly, the line being taken by the German Episcopal Conference has shown itself to be the right way to face the problem in its various aspects. The declarations of the president of that conference, Archbishop Zollitsch, following his meeting with the Holy Father, recap the strategy laid down in the conference’s recent assembly and reiterate its essential operational aspects: recognition of the truth and help for victims, reinforcement of preventative measures and constructive collaboration with the authorities (including the judicial authorities of State) for the common good of society. Archbishop Zollitsch also unequivocally reiterated the opinion of experts according to whom the question of celibacy should in no way be confused with that of paedophilia. The Holy Father has encouraged the line being followed by the German bishops which – even taking account of the specific context of their own county – may be considered as a useful and inspiring model for other episcopal conferences that find themselves facing similar problems.

    “Furthermore, an important and wide-ranging interview given by Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna, promoter of justice of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gives a detailed explanation of the significance of the specific canonical norms established by the Church over the years to judge the heinous crimes of sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy. It is absolutely clear that these norms did not seek, and have not favoured, any kind of cover-up of such crimes; quite the contrary, they initiated intense activities to confront, judge and adequately punish the crimes in the context of ecclesiastical legislation. And it must be remembered that all this was planned and set in motion when Cardinal Ratzinger was prefect of the Congregation. The line he followed was always one of rigour and coherence in dealing with even the most difficult situations.

    “Finally, the archdiocese of Munich has replied, with a long and detailed communique, to questions concerning the case of a priest who moved from Essen to Munich at the time in which Cardinal Ratzinger was archbishop of that city, a priest who subsequently committed abuses. The communique highlights how the then archbishop was completely unconnected with the decisions in the wake of which the abuses took place. Rather, it is evident that over recent days some people have sought – with considerable persistence, in Regensburg and Munich – elements that could personally involve the Holy Father in questions of abuse. To any objective observer, it is clear that these efforts have failed.

    “Despite the storm, the Church clearly sees the route she must follow, under the sure and rigorous guidance of the Holy Father. As we have already had occasion to observe, it is our hope that this torment may, in the end, help society as a whole to show ever greater concern for the protection and formation of children and adolescents”.

  4. Prof. Basto says:

    From the Vatican Information Service:

    VATICAN CITY, 13 MAR 2010 (VIS) – Given below is the text of an interview, published today by the Italian newspaper “Avvenire”, with Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna, promoter of justice of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, concerning the investigative and judicial activities of that dicastery in cases of “delicta graviora”, which include the crime of paedophilia committed by members of the clergy:

    Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna is the “promoter of justice” of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He is effectively the prosecutor of the tribunal of the former Holy Office, whose job it is to investigate what are known as “delicta graviora”; i.e., the crimes which the Catholic Church considers as being the most serious of all: crimes against the Eucharist and against the sanctity of the Sacrament of Penance, and crimes against the sixth Commandment (“thou shall not commit impure acts”) committed by a cleric against a person under the age of eighteen. These crimes, in a “Motu Proprio” of 2001, “Sacramentum sanctitatis tutela”, come under the competency of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In effect, it is the “promoter of justice” who deals with, among other things, the terrible question of priests accused of paedophilia, which are periodically highlighted in the mass media. Msgr. Scicluna, an affable and polite Maltese, has the reputation of scrupulously carrying out the tasks entrusted to him without deferring to anyone.

    Question: Monsignor, you have the reputation of being “tough”, yet the Catholic Church is systematically accused of being accommodating towards “paedophile priests”.

    Answer: It may be that in the past – perhaps also out of a misdirected desire to protect the good name of the institution – some bishops were, in practice, too indulgent towards this sad phenomenon. And I say in practice because, in principle, the condemnation of this kind of crime has always been firm and unequivocal. Suffice it to recall, to limit ourselves just to last century, the famous Instruction “Crimen sollicitationis” of 1922.

    Q: Wasn’t that from 1962?

    A: No, the first edition dates back to the pontificate of Pius XI. Then, with Blessed John XXIII, the Holy Office issued a new edition for the Council Fathers, but only two thousand copies were printed, which were not enough, and so distribution was postponed sine die. In any case, these were procedural norms to be followed in cases of solicitation during confession, and of other more serious sexually-motivated crimes such as the sexual abuse of minors.

    Q: Norms which, however, recommended secrecy…

    A: A poor English translation of that text has led people to think that the Holy See imposed secrecy in order to hide the facts. But this was not so. Secrecy during the investigative phase served to protect the good name of all the people involved; first and foremost, the victims themselves, then the accused priests who have the right – as everyone does – to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The Church does not like showcase justice. Norms on sexual abuse have never been understood as a ban on denouncing the crimes to the civil authorities.

    Q: Nonetheless, that document is periodically cited to accuse the current Pontiff of having been – when he was prefect of the former Holy Office – objectively responsible for a Holy See policy of covering up the facts…

    A: That accusation is false and calumnious. On this subject I would like to highlight a number of facts. Between 1975 and 1985 I do not believe that any cases of paedophilia committed by priests were brought to the attention of our Congregation. Moreover, following the promulgation of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, there was a period of uncertainty as to which of the “delicta graviora” were reserved to the competency of this dicastery. Only with the 2001 “Motu Proprio” did the crime of paedophilia again become our exclusive remit. From that moment Cardinal Ratzinger displayed great wisdom and firmness in handling those cases, also demonstrating great courage in facing some of the most difficult and thorny cases, “sine acceptione personarum”. Therefore, to accuse the current Pontiff of a cover-up is, I repeat, false and calumnious.

    Q: What happens when a priest is accused of a “delictum gravius”?

    A: If the accusation is well-founded the bishop has the obligation to investigate both the soundness and the subject of the accusation. If the outcome of this initial investigation is consistent, he no longer has any power to act in the matter and must refer the case to our Congregation where it is dealt with by the disciplinary office.

    Q: How is that office composed?

    A: Apart from myself who, being one of the superiors of the dicastery, also concern myself with other matters, there are the bureau chief Fr. Pedro Miguel Funes Diaz, seven priests and a lay lawyer who follow these cases. Other officials of the Congregation also make their own vital contribution depending upon the language and specific requirements of each case.

    Q: That office has been accused of working little and slowly…

    A: Those are unjustified comments. In 2003 and 2004 a great wave of cases flooded over our desks. Many of them came from the United States and concerned the past. Over recent years, thanks to God, the phenomenon has become greatly reduced, and we now seek to deal with new cases as they arise.

    Q: How many have you dealt with so far?

    A: Overall in the last nine years (2001-2010) we have considered accusations concerning around three thousand cases of diocesan and religious priests, which refer to crimes committed over the last fifty years.

    Q: That is, then, three thousand cases of paedophile priests?

    A: No, it is not correct to say that. We can say that about sixty percent of the cases chiefly involved sexual attraction towards adolescents of the same sex, another thirty percent involved heterosexual relations, and the remaining ten percent were cases of paedophilia in the true sense of the term; that is, based on sexual attraction towards prepubescent children. The cases of priests accused of paedophilia in the true sense have been about three hundred in nine years. Please don’t misunderstand me, these are of course too many, but it must be recognised that the phenomenon is not as widespread as has been believed.

    Q: The accused, then, are three thousand. How many have been tried and condemned?

    A: Currently we can say that a full trial, penal or administrative, has taken place in twenty percent of cases, normally celebrated in the diocese of origin – always under our supervision – and only very rarely here in Rome. We do this also in order to speed up the process. In sixty percent of cases there has been no trial, above all because of the advanced age of the accused, but administrative and disciplinary provisions have been issued against them, such as the obligation not to celebrate Mass with the faithful, not to hear confession, and to live a retired life of prayer. It must be made absolutely clear that in these cases, some of which are particularly sensational and have caught the attention of the media, no absolution has taken place. It’s true that there has been no formal condemnation, but if a person is obliged to a life of silence and prayer, then there must be a reason…

    Q: That still leaves twenty percent of cases…

    A: We can say that in ten percent of cases, the particularly serious ones in which the proof is overwhelming, the Holy Father has assumed the painful responsibility of authorising a decree of dismissal from the clerical state. This is a very serious but inevitable provision, taken though administrative channels. In the remaining ten percent of cases, it was the accused priests themselves who requested dispensation from the obligations deriving from the priesthood, requests which were promptly accepted. Those involved in these latter cases were priests found in possession of paedophile pornographic material and, for this reason, condemned by the civil authorities.

    Q: Where do these three thousand cases come from?

    A: Mostly from the United States which, in the years 2003-2004, represented around eighty percent of total cases. In 2009 the United States “share” had dropped to around twenty-five percent of the 223 cases reported from all over the world. Over recent years (2007-2009), the annual average of cases reported to the Congregation from around the world has been two hundred and fifty. Many countries report only one or two cases. There is, then, a growing diversity and number of countries of origin of cases, but the phenomenon itself is much reduced. It must, in fact, be borne in mind that the overall number of diocesan and religious priests in the world is four hundred thousand, although this statistic does not correspond to the perception that is created when these sad cases occupy the front pages of the newspapers.

    Q: And in Italy?

    A: Thus far the phenomenon does not seem to have dramatic proportions, although what worries me is a certain culture of silence which I feel is still too widespread in the country. The Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) offers an excellent technical-juridical consultancy service for bishops who have to deal with these cases. And I am very pleased to observe the ever greater commitment being shown by Italian bishops to throw light on the cases reported to them.

    Q: You said that a full trial has taken place in around twenty percent of the three thousand cases you have examined over the last nine years. Did they all end with the condemnation of the accused?

    A: Many of the past trials did end with the condemnation of the accused. But there have also been cases in which the priest was declared innocent, or where the accusations were not considered to have sufficient proof. In all cases, however, not only is there an examination of the guilt or innocence of the accused priest, but also a discernment as to his fitness for public ministry.

    Q: A recurring accusation made against the ecclesiastical hierarchy is that of not reporting to the civil authorities when crimes of paedophilia come to their attention.

    A: In some English-speaking countries, but also in France, if bishops become aware of crimes committed by their priests outside the sacramental seal of Confession, they are obliged to report them to the judicial authorities. This is an onerous duty because the bishops are forced to make a gesture comparable to that of a father denouncing his own son. Nonetheless, our guidance in these cases is to respect the law.

    Q: And what about countries where bishops do not have this legal obligation?

    A: In these cases we do not force bishops to denounce their own priests, but encourage them to contact the victims and invite them to denounce the priests by whom they have been abused. Furthermore, we invite the bishops to give all spiritual – and not only spiritual – assistance to those victims. In a recent case concerning a priest condemned by a civil tribunal in Italy, it was precisely this Congregation that suggested to the plaintiffs, who had turned to us for a canonical trial, that they involve the civil authorities in the interests of victims and to avoid other crimes.

    Q: A final question: is there any statue of limitation for “delicta graviora”?

    A: Here you touch upon what, in my view, is a sensitive point. In the past, that is before 1889, the statue of limitations was something unknown in canon law. For the most serious crimes, it was only with the 2001 “Motu Proprio” that a statute of limitations of ten years was introduced. In accordance with these norms in cases of sexual abuse, the ten years begin from the day on which the minor reaches the age of eighteen.

    Q: Is that enough?

    A: Practice has shown that the limit of ten years is not enough in this kind of case, in which it would be better to return to the earlier system of “delicta graviora” not being subject to the statue of limitations. On 7 November 2002, Venerable Servant of God John Paul II granted this dicastery the power to revoke that statue of limitations, case by case following a reasoned request from individual bishops. And this revocation is normally granted.

    ***

    After reading the interview, I wish to express my opinion on two topics. I believe that:

    (a) the canonical statute of limitations should be reppealed specifically regarding paedophilia cases;

    (b) the promoter of justice mentions a duty to report to civil authorities in certain English-speaking Nations as well as in France, whenever he is informed of a case of paedophilia outside of the Sacramental Seal of Confession. According to the interview, other countries (those where the law of the State does not require the bishop to report), it is not the policy of the Congregation to require the Bishop to report the accused priest to the civil authorities. I’m greatly disturbed by that information. I tought we were past that stage, and that the obligation to report had already been imposed not only in those countries that require it by law, but also elsewhere, as a voluntary act of collaboration by the Church vis a vis the secular authorities that run the criminal justice system, as this is not only a canonical, but also a criminal matter of interest to the State.

    I think that – for the good of the faithful themselves and with a view to establishing a more stringent system of repression against the practice of sexual abuse – a canonical law should be issued requiring bishops of the whole world (and not just those who discharge ministry in courties that require it) to report cases of sexual abuse that come to their attention outside of the seal of Sacramental Confession.

  5. nzcatholic says:

    I wouldnt be surprised if the devil begins to attack the Holy Father with potency. Prayers for him are needed now

  6. QMJ says:

    What saddens me more than the article are the comments afterwards. So much anger. Ignorance is not bliss.

  7. shane says:

    Prof. Bastro, there are problems with making the reporting of abuse canonically mandatory, at least for the universal church. In countries where the Church is persecuted or operates ‘underground’, or in a territory where sovereignty is a matter of dispute, reporting to the authorities could result in unintended complications.

  8. irishgirl says:

    The devil’s legions are lining up their ‘big guns’ against the Holy Father-so now it’s time for US to do the same in support of our Papa!

    To the barricades, with Rosaries in hand! May Our Lady crush the head of her and her Son’s inplacable foe!

  9. tired student says:

    The Pope is not personally culpable for abuse or abetting abuse, and shouldn’t be smeared. However, the laity do have a right to be angry. Bishops aren’t being asked to resign for enabling abusers. To their credit, some bishops have voluntarily resigned over their mishandling of abuse cases. Other bishops that have mishandled abuse cases beyond a reasonable doubt should be removed by His Holiness. That would be one step towards ameliorating a horrific situation.

  10. becket1 says:

    Can’t wait to see what happens to these reporters when they start attacking Muslim Imams and Islam for sexual abuse. The liberals really don’t understand what they are treading upon. Do they?.

  11. chcrix says:

    Let’s do a Fr. Z style deconstruction of revelant parts of the Times story:

    The Pope was drawn directly into the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandal last night as news emerged of his part in a decision to send a paedophile priest for therapy. The cleric went on to reoffend and was convicted of child abuse but continues to work as a priest in Upper Bavaria.

    The priest was sent from Essen to Munich for therapy in 1980 when he was accused of forcing an 11-year-old boy to perform oral sex. The archdiocese confirmed that the Pope, who was then a cardinal, had approved a decision to accommodate the priest in a rectory while the therapy took place. [In other words Cardinal Ratzinger had NO part whatever in the decision to send a paedophile priest for therapy. Essen is a different diocese. The Munich diocese agreed to keep the guy under observation while he was being evaluated or treated. Seems like a good idea to keep an eye on him to me.]

    The priest, identified only as H, was subsequently convicted of sexually abusing minors after he was moved to pastoral work in nearby Grafing. [A serious mistake. But when exactly?] In 1986 he was given an 18-month suspended jail sentence [For WHAT exactly and WHEN – the offense in North Rhein Westphalia, an offense in Bavaria, or perhaps both. We NEED to have exact information and these incompentents aren’t providing it.] and fined DM 4,000 (£1,800 today). There have been no formal charges against him since.

    The Archdiocese of Munich and Freising said that there had been no complaints against the priest during the therapy at a church community in Munich. [So he was clean during his therapy] It said that the decision to let him continue working in Grafing was taken by Gerhard Gruber, now 81, who was vicar general of the archdiocese. [This is important. Cardinal Ratzinger was appointed to the CDF at the end of 1981 and reported for duty in Rome early in 1982. It is quite possible that any offenses occurred after he packed his bags for Rome. So, Cardinal R. was this priest’s boss for somewhere between 1 year at a minimum and 2 years max. A bad call was made to put this guy back in circulation – apparently not his. Some other offense(s?) followed – probably after the Cardinal was gone. But we can’t be sure because they haven’t given us the info. Furthermore there was NO coverup. The lack of info is suggestive to a cynic like me. Looks like a non-story trying to pretend that it is one.]

  12. Prof. Basto says:

    Cardinal Ratzinger was appointed Prefect of the CDF in November 25, 1981. He left for Rome soon after to take up his new office. Although he remained Archbishop of Munich for a couple of months after appointment to the CDF, he resigned the archiepiscopal See in early 1982 and that resignation was accepted and made public on February 15, 1982.

    So, he cannot be responsible for anything that happened in the Archdiocese of Munich after that date.

  13. Denis says:

    You can always tell that Easter is coming when this sort of stuff starts happening in the press. Reminds me a bit of the scene in Lion, Witch & Wardrobe when all the ghoulies are jibbering around Aslan, finally daring to insult him, just as he allows himself to be tied to the table.

  14. adeodato says:

    Papers like the the Boston Globe and NYT were largely responsible for bringing the abuse scandal to light in the US. If they are really “Hell’s bible” then what does that say for those within the church who said and did nothing for so many years and in so many places?

    If the Pope is guilty of negligence or somthing worse in the past, then that needs to be know. We should not presume guilt, but we should also not presume that any Pope is free from sin. A candid and translucent analysis of the sexuality, and yes, sexual activty of the clergy is needed if we are ever going to get past all this.

  15. chcrix says:

    “If the Pope is guilty of negligence or somthing worse in the past, then that needs to be know. We should not presume guilt, but we should also not presume that any Pope is free from sin.”

    adeodato: The point is that the article as published does not support the headline “Abuse Scandal in Germany Edges Closer to Pope”. Please see my previous post.

    Since the facts as reported do NOT support the headline, the publications involved are guilty at the very least of misleading their readers.

    When the facts are so at variance with the reported details, I believe that we are entitled to a presumption of malice (conscious or otherwise) on the part of the editors. (N.B. generally a writer does NOT get to make up the headline – I know from personal experience.)

  16. chcrix says:

    Sorry. My error. Above post should read:

    When the HEADLINE is so at variance with the reported details, I believe that we are entitled to a presumption of malice (conscious or otherwise) on the part of the editors. (N.B. generally a writer does NOT get to make up the headline – I know from personal experience.)

  17. Maltese says:

    Yes, I think the media is now contorting things and using ad-hominem attacks against the Church; and using the now stale “catholic church scandal” to mount their attacks against the Church; where, they should focus on the ripe protestant scandals infecting their own diocese.

    But I myself know that, for instance, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, is a cesspool of homosexual clergy. I was even propositioned for sex by one of their clergymen during a confession, God help my soul if I’m lying!

    So, in other words, I don’t think the media is overstating things, per say, with respect to gay priests. And, of course, pederasty is a uniquely gay problem, sorry to say.

    And though it’s not a uniquely Catholic problem, I do think the years after the Second Vatican Council opened the flood gates to gay clergy, and siphoned-off, to an extent, straight men. I just really think that’s a fact, which you can count on your left thumb, and the four fingers on that hand left over, no matter what anybody else says.

    I recoil at extreme behavior and views, whether left or right. But I am drawn, again and again, to a nearby FSSPX chapel we have here, despite my better judgement.

    I used to be like Paul persecuting Christians in my judgement of FSSPX; I literally used to disdain them, and judge them, and think them traitors to Peter.

    But now I think Lefebvre might be among the great Saints someday!

    Remember, even Benedict XVI said that “not every council has been a fruitful one,” and I, for one, think Vatican II should be trash-heaped! It has caused too much confusion, too much suffering, too much indifference among the faithful!

    It was valid, but it’s not un-Catholic to say we can now safely ignore it as a miserable failure….

  18. Norah says:

    I was even propositioned for sex by one of their clergymen during a confession, God help my soul if I’m lying!

    Maltese, did you report that solicitation to the bishop, the nuncio, Rome?
    Solititation inside or around the confessional must be reported.

  19. Norah says:

    But I myself know that, for instance, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, is a cesspool of homosexual clergy.

    Maltese, if you have the evidence to support this claim have you reported it to the archbishop, the nuncio, Rome?

  20. Maltese says:

    Norah, I didn’t report it to the archbishop since he himself has a boyfriend, but I did send a letter to Rome, asking why we couldn’t have a modicum of catholic sensibility, and they responded thanking me.

    Again, I’m not trying to be sensational, but God help me if I’m being untrue!

    There is an overarching sense that we can’t criticize bad prelates; but, why not?

    I take Dante as my model: he was the arch-prelate-critic par-excellence.

    He makes art of putting certain Cardinals in hell, and I think, today, I could judge certain archbishops there myself, especially in new mexico…

  21. Steve K. says:

    The devil is taking the Church here in a pincers attack – one pincer is the NYT et al using the scandals as a weapon to attack the Holy Father. Attack from without. The other pincer however is the sodomites and heretics within the ranks of the clergy, undermining the Church from within. This isn’t going to go away until the Church tackles what everyone can see plainly. The Church has many enemies within and they need to be dealt with.

    Recall Fr. Gabriele Amorth’s recent remarks.

  22. wanda says:

    Not sure where the quote is from..but, it goes something like..strike the Shepherd, scatter the flock.

    Will pray for our Holy Father.