AP throwing more spaghetti at Pope Benedict: this time from California

logoUPDATE: 10 April 1743 GMT:

The New York Times has a piece which essentially echoes what I wrote, below.  I added it at the end.

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ORIGINAL POST 9 April 2050 GMT:
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I am sure that some of the writer’s at AP are having a great time, as they sit back and allow themselves to be fed leaked documents by lawyers.  Great reporting.

This is an AP story about another case in California.  AP’s willing accomplices, who more than likely have some monetary interest in the matter, are trying to pin another case on Pope Benedict while he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Remember, the Congregation dealt with many cases from the USA over the decades.  Therefore, we could be seeing one per week thrown out like so much spaghetti against a wall  – with journalistic sophistication of course – until a strand sticks and dries in place.

At the heart of this seems to be a letter from then-Prefect Card. Ratzinger about the case.  A few observations before you start readings.

First, the letter in the article seems to be a fax or slightly off-center photocopy, as the stripe on the right side indicates.  Also, the protocol stamp at the top is in English, so the letter came from the diocesan chancery in question.  Also, this was obviously a photograph of the letter taken with a digital camera, as the light suggests.  I suspect some grass in the chancery who had access to the file, or someone in a lawyer’s office leaked this. 

Now,… my emphases and comments:

Apr 9, 1:54 PM (ET)

By GILLIAN FLACCUS ["flaccus"... Which in Latin means "flabby", if memory serves, "flappy-eared'.]

LOS ANGELES (AP) – The future Pope Benedict XVI resisted pleas to defrock [Can't they find a better and more accurate cliché?] a California priest with a record of sexually molesting children, citing concerns including "the good of the universal church," according to a 1985 letter bearing his signature. [Does it strike you that the quote might be slightly out of context?]

The correspondence, obtained by The Associated Press, [Much as a sewer obtains its contents, perhaps... but wait... there's more drama to come!] is the strongest challenge yet to the Vatican’s insistence that Benedict played no role in blocking the removal of pedophile priests during his years as head of the Catholic Church’s [clichés abound] doctrinal watchdog office.

The letter, signed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was typed in Latin and is part of years of correspondence between the Diocese of Oakland and the Vatican about the proposed defrocking [sigh] of the Rev. Stephen Kiesle.

The Vatican refused to comment on the contents of the letter Friday, but a spokesman confirmed it bore Ratzinger’s signature.

"The press office doesn’t believe it is necessary to respond to every single document taken out of context regarding particular legal situations," the Rev. Federico Lombardi said. "It is not strange that there are single documents which have Cardinal Ratzinger’s signature."

The diocese recommended removing Kiesle (KEEZ’-lee) from the priesthood [wait for it...] in 1981, [NB] the year Ratzinger was appointed to head the Vatican office that shared responsibility for disciplining abusive priests. [This is misleading.  The then Sacred Cong. for the Doctrine of the Faith did not have competence unless the case also involved something that pertained to the Congregation, such as solicitation in the context of the sacrament of penance, in the confessional.  Unless there was something else...]

The case then languished for four years [Does AP know why?] at the Vatican before Ratzinger finally wrote to Oakland Bishop John Cummins. It was two more years before Kiesle was removed; during that time Kiesle continued to do volunteer work with children through the church. [What does "volunteer work" mean?  Was he functioning as a priest?  Would that not have been a situation for the DIOCESE OF OAKLAND to handle rather than the Holy See?]

In the November 1985 letter, Ratzinger says the arguments for removing Kiesle are of "grave significance" but added that such actions required very careful review and more time. [So, he recommended that they be thorough in a  canonical process that probably wasn't being handled by the CDF?] He also urged the bishop to provide Kiesle with "as much paternal care as possible" while awaiting the decision, [I suspect that people forget that priests who harm children also have souls which are in danger of eternal damnation, and that the Church is also in the business of saving souls, no matter how wicked their sins.  Or is it inappropriate to hope that nobody is condemned to Hell by other human beings?] according to a translation for AP by Professor Thomas Habinek, chairman of the University of Southern California Classics Department. [Because no one in the highly educated crew at AP have studied one of the most important languages in the history of the world, and one that is currently pertinent to the story they are so focused on.]

But the future pope [right... 20 years later] also noted that any decision to defrock [AGAIN?] Kiesle must take into account the "good of the universal church" and the "detriment that granting the dispensation can provoke within the community of Christ’s faithful, particularly considering the young age." Kiesle was 38 at the time. ["DISPENSATION"? AP has been talking about the priest's "removal" but not about a "dispensation".  What dispensation?  Dispensation from the obligations of the clerical state?  That is not the same as the "removal" impiled in dismissal from the clerical state, which is a punishment.  Of course the half-informed scribblers of AP probably don't understand this.  But, dear reader, this was an interesting line in the letter, if that is what it actually says in Latin.  As I read these things, here is what comes to mind.  And this is where the AP's desires fall apart in this case.  In the 60's and 70's hordes of priests simply left ministry or, if they requested a dispensation from the obligations of the clerical state, they were often caused to wait a great deal of time - often a decade or more - until the priest was older and had a change to reflect - with the hope that somehow they might be recovered as priests.  Clearly this case is more complicated because the priest concerned had harmed children.  But back in the day, the standard operating procedure was to try to save priests from quitting.  Therefore, when a petition for dispensation had been made, the Congregation followed their standard operating procedure.  I suspect there was "boiler plate" in that letter.  I am simply musing aloud here.  If AP can make wild and aggressively obtuse statements, I think I as someone far better informed than their writers, can muse a little having observed the chicken-tracks of truth they left here and there in the piece.  A WDTPRS reader said he would transcribe the Latin of the letter and send it so I can have a look and a get a feel for it.  Once upon a time I wrote Latin for an office in the curia and know the style.  But I digress...  It's just that I have the sense that the AP interpretation misses the point entirely... but, as I said.. I digress.  That "dispensation" is the key. We will keep reading.]

Kiesle had been sentenced in 1978 to three years’ probation [this is a civil charge, of course] after pleading no contest to misdemeanor charges of lewd conduct for tying up and molesting two young boys in a San Francisco Bay area church rectory.

As his probation ended in 1981, Kiesle asked to leave the priesthood [Ah hah! SEE?  If he had requested a dispensation from the obligations of the clerical state, then some boiler-plate kicked in. Cardinal Ratzinger may have signed something like a form letter, with language common to these cases.] and the diocese submitted papers to Rome to defrock [Someone... please... help... ] him.

In his earliest letter to Ratzinger, Cummins warned that returning Kiesle to ministry would cause more of a scandal than stripping him of his priestly powers. [Oooo! the purple patch as well.  "priestly powers"!  Ooooo!]

"It is my conviction that there would be no scandal if this petition were granted and that as a matter of fact, given the nature of the case, there might be greater scandal to the community if Father Kiesle were allowed to return to the active ministry," Cummins wrote in 1982. [I am inclined to agree with Bp. Cummins... perhaps a first.]

While papers obtained by the AP [From some grass... or is it "pipe"?  "mole"?  But read carefully...] include only one letter with Ratzinger’s signature, correspondence and internal memos from the diocese refer to a letter dated Nov. 17, 1981, from the then-cardinal to the bishop. [NOTA BENE:] Ratzinger was appointed to head the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith a week later. ["appointed... a week later".  So, this was revving up when Card. Seper was there.  We should look at the Annuario Pontificio from that time and see who else was working there.]

California church officials wrote to Ratzinger at least three times to check on the status of Kiesle’s case. At one point, a Vatican official wrote to say the file may have been lost and suggested resubmitting materials. ["At one point... " Would that have been during the time when the file was in another dicastery?]

Diocese officials considered writing Ratzinger again after they received his 1985 response to impress upon him that leaving Kiesle in the ministry would harm the church, Rev. George Mockel wrote in a memo to the Oakland bishop.

"My own reading of this letter is that basically they are going to sit on it until Steve gets quite a bit older," the memo said. "Despite his young age, the particular and unique circumstances of this case would seem to make it a greater scandal if he were not laicized."  [Again, my comments above seem to apply.]

Irwin Zalkin, an attorney representing some of the victims, said he was familiar with the correspondence but wouldn’t provide documents to AP. ["wouldn't provide documents"]

"Cardinal Ratzinger was more concerned about the avoidance of scandal than he was about protecting children," Zalkin said in a phone interview. "That was a central theme."  [I don't know how he, a lawyer in California, could possible know what Cardinal Ratzinger was thinking in Rome.  Does he have special psychic powers?]

As Kiesle’s fate was being weighed in Rome, the priest returned to suburban Pinole to volunteer as a youth minister at St. Joseph Church, where he had served as associate pastor from 1972 to 1975. [I wonder if, in that time, he committed any other crimes against minors.  Also, though this story is clearly focusing on then-Prefect Ratzinger, why isn't AP crawling all over the Diocese of Oakland asking why that priest - once convicted - was being allowed to work with young people?  If the diocese saw that the priest in question was doing this and was not concerned, could it be that someone in the diocese was hoping that he could be returned one day to active ministry?  That was the usual approach in those days, after all.  They were listening to the psychologists and other experts about therapy for molesters, etc.  If there was a memo in the chancery about greater or lesser causes of scandal, there must have been divided opinions about what to do in his case.  In the meantime, Rome, which usually wanted sometimes many years to pass before dispensing men from the obligations of the clerical state, was following its usual procedure before putting the dispensation on the Holy Father's desk for his signature.  The Pope would ultimate have to sign it.]

Kiesle was ultimately stripped of his priestly powers [Ooooo.] in 1987, ["stripped"... really? Or was the dispensation granted?  Those are not the same thing.  One is a punishment, and the other is not.]  though the documents do not indicate when, how or why. They also don’t indicate what role – if any – Ratzinger had in the decision.  [So... with all that in mind... is AP really trying to get you to think that Ratzinger was the one blocking the "stripping" of the "frock".]

Kiesle continued to volunteer with children, according to Maurine Behrend, who worked in the Oakland diocese’s youth ministry office in the 1980s. After learning of his history, Behrend complained to church officials. When nothing was done she wrote a letter, which she showed to the AP. [Ummmm... what does the Holy See have to do with that?  Isn't that a problem for the Diocese of Oakland?]

"Obviously nothing has been done after EIGHT months of repeated notifications," she wrote. "How are we supposed to have confidence in the system when nothing is done? A simple phone call to the pastor from the bishop is all it would take." [And yet for some reason that did not take place?  I wonder why.]

She eventually confronted Cummins at a confirmation [Okay!] and Kiesle was gone a short time later, Behrend said.

Kiesle was arrested and charged in 2002 with 13 counts of child molestation from the 1970s. All but two were thrown out after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional a California law extending the statute of limitations. [Keep in mind that Papa Ratzinger lead the charge to change the Church's process in these cases so that a "statute of limitation" could be waived if the case merited.  Right?  Ratzinger got that change put in.  AP doesn't mention this.]

He pleaded no contest in 2004 to a felony for molesting a young girl in his Truckee home in 1995 and was sentenced to six years in state prison.

Kiesle, now 63 and a registered sex offender, lives in a Walnut Creek gated community, according to his address listed on the Megan’s Law sex registry. An AP reporter was turned away when attempting to reach him for comment.

William Gagen, an attorney who represented Kiesle in 2002, did not return a call for comment.

More than a half-dozen victims reached a settlement in 2005 with the Oakland diocese alleging Kiesle had molested them as young children.  [What they don't say is whether any of those crimes occurred during the time he was being allowed to "volunteer" with youth ministry at that parish... that is after he had been suspended.]

"He admitted molesting many children and bragged that he was the Pied Piper and said he tried to molest every child that sat on his lap," said Lewis VanBlois, an attorney for six Kiesle victims who interviewed the former priest in prison. "When asked how many children he had molested over the years, he said ‘tons.’" [sick... monstrous]

Cummins, the now-retired bishop, told the AP during an interview at his Oakland home that he "didn’t really care for" Kiesle, but he didn’t recall writing to Ratzinger concerning the case.

"I wish I did write to Cardinal Ratzinger. I don’t think I was that smart," Cummins, now 82, told AP.

Documents obtained by the AP last week revealed similar instances of Vatican stalling in cases involving two Arizona clergy[No, actually, they don't.  But this is AP's official line and they will push it no matter what the facts might be.  After all, if they do, maybe more lawyers and pipes will feed them more stolen or leaked documents!]

In one case, 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. [That has been dealt with else where.  I wrote about that.]

In the second, the bishop called Msgr. Robert Trupia a "major risk factor" in a letter to Ratzinger. There is no indication in those files that Ratzinger responded.

The Vatican has called the accusations "absolutely groundless" and said the facts were being misrepresented. [Indeed they were.]

Associated Press writers Brooke Donald in Oakland, Eric Gorski in Denver, John Mone in San Diego, Raquel Maria Dillon in Los Angeles and Victor L. Simpson in Rome contributed to this report.  [So... quite a group effort, wasn't it.]

I have little respect for AP.

Moreover….

It is one thing to dismiss a man from the clerical state after a canonical process.  That is what the cliché-smiths of AP et al. are talking about with that tiresome "defrock", or "stripping" of "priestly powers" (which is inaccurate… it only "strips" the Church’s permission to use those "powers").  This is a punishment.

It is another thing to "dispense from the obligations of the clerical state" on a man’s request.

Sometimes the inaccurate terms "laicized" or "reduced to the lay state" are used loosely in regard to both of these, the punishment and the dispensation.

When you read these half-witted stories in the MSM, keep your eyes open to the terms and remember that they are often being used loosely.

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UPDATE 10 April 1743 GMT:

From Hell’s Bible

Pope Handled Priest Case Quickly, Lawyer Says
By DANIEL J. WAKIN
Published: April 10, 2010

ROME — The future Pope Benedict XVI, dealing with a request to defrock a child-molesting priest in California, [They are clinging to the line the want to push, contrary to the other factual indications.  Keep this in mind as you read.] was handling it as a dismissal from the priesthood — not an abuse case — and acted “expeditiously” by the standards of the time, a Vatican lawyer [What on earth is a "Vatican lawyer"?  Is such a critter similar to an albino assassin?] said in a statement released Saturday.  [Spot the errors?  First, cases which dealt with dismissal, as a punitive measure, were in those years generally not handled by the CDF unless they dealt with other grave sins (such as those involving the confessional).  The case was a matter of a request for dispensation from the obligations of the clerical state, which is not a a matter of punishment. Hell's Bible can hide its mendacity behind the vague cliche of "defrock", which could mean several things.  Their squishy language serves to hide the truth while they push an anti-Catholic agenda.]

The Vatican issued the remarks a day after reports emerged that Benedict, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, signed a letter to the priest’s bishop saying the matter needed more time and that the “good of the Universal Church” had to be taken into account. It took two years for the man, the Rev. Stephen Kiesle, to be removed from the priesthood.  [Again, a misrepresentation.]

The bishop, John S. Cummins, wrote to Pope John Paul II in 1981, saying that the priest had been criminally charged with molesting six boys ages 11 to 13 several years earlier [NOTE...] and that he was asking to be dismissed. [Get that?  The priest was asking for a dispensation.  That is why the CDF was handling this dimension of the case of the former priest.] He wrote to Cardinal Ratzinger at least three more times, to provide information and check on the case’s status.
 
The lawyer, Jeffrey Lena of Berkeley, Calif., [Who wrote this slop?  Is this the "Vatican lawyer"?] denied that a 1985 letter from Cardinal Ratzinger to Bishop Cummins showed him “resisting pleas from the bishop to defrock the priest.” Mr. Lena was quoted in the statement as saying there was a “rush to judgment going on here.”

The matter was the third recently reported instance in which documents have indicated [read that last part again... notice the assumptions, the premises you are simply supposed to accept...] that Benedict or  [OR!  OR!] his subordinates failed to act strongly  ["act 'strongly'"?  What the hell does that mean?  Where they supposed to ... what ... deny them judicial process according to the Church's processes at that time?  Rack them?] against abuser priests — a failing that Vatican officials, cardinals and many bishops have heatedly rejected. The reports have surfaced amid a wave of disclosures about past sexual abuses by Roman Catholic priests around Europe.

In the Kiesle case, Mr. Lena [Again.. is he the "Vatican lawyer"? This fellow from Berkeley?] said it had been completely up to the local bishop to make sure the priest was prevented from doing harm again. “The abuse case wasn’t transferred to the Vatican at all,” he said.  [But.. the request for the dispensation was.  Right?]

Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter, written in Latin, [Keep in mind what I wrote in my analysis of this yesterday and my comment about dispensations and "boiler-plate"....] “appeared to be a form letter typically sent out initially with respect to laicization cases,” the lawyer said, although it specifically mentions Father Kiesle’s relatively young age.  [Not an uncommon factor in requests for a dispensation, btw.]

At the time Cardinal Ratzinger led the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which took over abuse cases in 2001, four years before he became pope. [Therefore many years before the Kiesle case.]  In years before, some of the cases landed at the congregation for various reasons. In this case, Mr. Lena said the congregation was handling only the laicization aspect.

The defrocking was handled “expeditiously not by modern standards, but by the standards at the time,” he said.  [But you would not get that by scanning the top of this article.  You have to read to the bottom to get the point.  In the meantime, the writer front loaded all the news that fits their pre-judged position.]

Furthermore, in the Hell’s Bible the lazy and less unbiased Laurie Goodstein with some other guy have yet another piece pressing the same errors despite the facts staring them in the face.

In that Goodstein piece she and her accomplice write, "The priest, convicted of tying up and abusing two young boys in a California church rectory, wanted to leave the ministry" and move on with, "That decision did not come for two more years, the sort of delay that is fueling a renewed sexual abuse scandal in the church that has focused on whether the future pope moved quickly enough to remove known pedophiles from the priesthood, despite pleas from American bishops."

Again we find in Goodstein’s article the tiresome and vague word "defrocked" … four times.

I doubt Laurie Goodstein is mentally deficient.  I conclude that she and/or her editors drone that inexact but titillating word in order to blur the distinctions that must be made so as to understand the cases they "report".

Does Goodstein ask questions about the internal policies of the Diocese of Oakland?  No.  That would not serve the goal of her masters:

GET BENEDICT… HURT BENEDICT…

UPDATE: 20:05 GMT

Fr.  Fessio gets it right.

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48 Responses to AP throwing more spaghetti at Pope Benedict: this time from California

  1. ROFL! “flaccus”–flabby-eared–absolument, mon pere!
    “Spaghetti thrown against the wall” is absolutely on target.
    These people have no idea of what they are writing about or speaking…some good canon lawyer should be their “coach”; but, heaven forbid some kind of “prejudice” should enter their sophomoric rantings.
    I read this and yawned. More of the same.
    Catholics: learn your vocabulary; get some canon law under your belt; and do not be cowered by these ‘light-weights’!

  2. Peggy R says:

    THanks for the fisking. I saw this myself about an hour ago. It seems like a big nothing-burger to me. ‘

    Also, note that the priest was not hidden from the civil authorities who gave him only probation. I don’t see grounds for blaming the diocese or Vatican, even if there weren’t a statute of limitations barring lawsuits.

    [The Belleville, IL, diocese has a couple of abuse cases before appellate courts in IL. The local judges flipped the birdie to the statute of limitations in those cases.]

  3. Main news in UK TV Newsreels

  4. Scott W. says:

    Let’s see…the Murphy case makes Bp. Weakland look like the bad guy no matter how one tries to spin it. The Munich case is basically pinned on a CC’ed memo; thin gruel indeed. Now this. Is that the sound of scraping I hear?

  5. Tim Ferguson says:

    Where is the anger with the State of California? Here’s a guy that apparently was tried and convicted and sentenced to probation! probation? For child abuse? Did any of the abuse take place after his arrest and probation? Where’s the interview with his probation officer? How closely was he supervised? Why wasn’t he punished further? If he had been convicted and sent to prison – or a mental hospital – then whether or not he retained his clerical status wouldn’t matter all that much, vis-a-vis keeping kids safe. And that’s what this is all about, right? Keeping kids safe. Not anything to do with squashing the moral voice of the Church or anything? These reporters are interested in keeping kids safe…. right?

  6. Andrew says:

    As someone who understands Latin well, I went to the AP website to see if a copy of the said letter would be enclosed. It only shows the signiture, everything else is blurred. Cur?

  7. T. Ferguson: No. Keeping kids safe is not in the interest of the MSM. Nor, unfortunately, as it seems, in this particular case of law enforcement. It’s all on the Church. All of it.
    Well, this stinks like a dead rat.
    If law enforcement would do their damned job; if people would, for once, try to understand the difference between a church canonical trial and a civil trial; if pdeople would just come forward, when they have been actually molested by some perv priest and get it adjudicated, maybe, maybe these problems would not be so prevalent.
    Good grief!
    Is sanity gone? Are people that mucked up in their heads that if some priest abuses their child, they don’t go tot he authorities?

  8. Deo volente says:

    When you read these half-witted stories in the MSM, keep your eyes open to the terms and remember that they are often being used loosely

    Yes, Father, used loosely but effectively for their nefarious purposes. Polls on the popularity of the Holy Father have taken a nosedive since the assault coordinated at Holy Week and the Octave of Easter began.

    I did my part this morning by throwing out the free MSM newspaper that they frantically throw at my residence for weeks at a time. No I won’t subscribe, and yes, their ad revenues continue to plummet. Maybe the writers can type term papers for a living?

  9. TJerome says:

    Remember gang, this is payback from the Democratic Party’s auxiliary, the mainstream media, who are very, very angry that the American bishops did not back ObamaCare. This is designed to mute the voice of the Church. If you buy their products you are supporting the instrumentalities of our Church’s woes. Cancel that New York Slimes today!

  10. Theodorus says:

    The devil is surely having fun these days, inciting his minions to spread lies and hatred against the Church and the Vicar of Christ. I am truly amazed to see how tireless and relentless those satanic agents are; for weeks, we can hardly go through a day without reading some demonic revelations popping up on newspapers or sites. O Lord, humble the enemies of Thy holy Church, we beseech Thee, hear us.

  11. Ulrich says:

    @Andrew
    “Letter X” (sic!) may be found here:
    http://i.usatoday.net/communitymanager/_photos/on-deadline/2010/04/09/letterx-large.jpg
    There doesn’t seem to be atranslation error, about from stuff like translating “dicasterium” –> “court”.
    This time they were a little bit better prepared.

  12. Dave N. says:

    Good for Maurine Behrend.

  13. Shepard Smith of FNC embarrassed himself on air tonight by taking the AP story at face value. Total fail.

    I think he is also a Yankees fan.

  14. kradcliffe says:

    Thanks for that, Father! I’d cottoned on to most of the weaknesses in that article, but the nuance in “dispensation” was lost on me… thanks for explaining it. Now I understand what was really going on.

    Of course, when I try to explain to people these things, I’m accused of not caring about the children.

  15. Norah says:

    The problem is that the average person, Catholic or non-Catholic, hasn’t the expertise to sort the wheat from the chaff in these stories and the journalists know it. What sticks in the mind is the headline and the main point which is driven home again and again – Ratzinger /Pope Benedict ignored pleas to do something about yet another abusing priest. For the two second grab generation that’s just about all they can or wish to absorb.

  16. Oneros says:

    I don’t think people understand. No one is saying that Ratzinger didn’t follow procedures. What is being questioned ARE those procedures. Are the notions of some byzantine Roman bureaucracy needed to laicize a priest or dispense from the obligations of the clerical state. And, once again, it seems to come back to this obsession with mandatory celibacy, I hate to say. If a man wanted to be dispensed…just let him be. They made it so hard because of this fixation they have with trying to keep people boxed into that, even who didn’t want to be anymore. Sure, Ratzinger was following the institutional process…but is the institutionalism and that very process…which are being questioned.

  17. Mitchell NY says:

    I am so sad reading these awful stories day after day. What a horrible mess to clean up. I pray the Holy Father can do something to redeem the Church, keep out people who harm children and bring a deep sense of profound sorrow, not only in individuals who have done this but in all the Church and her Priests. So that future Priests feel so bad that they will not even think about harming an innocent child during their lifetimes. People suffer forever from abuse and often find vultures who look to exploit it further during their lifetimes. I can see through the clouds that the Holy Father has done much to better the situation already and I wish the press would mention this. While reading the article I could not help but think of all this going on, and it occured to me that much of it was during the previous Pontificates. The writer does not mention this intentionally, probably because he probably doesn’t want to distract people from HIS main point. TO focus solely on Papa Benedict. And where was the press during these years, why did they not write about events as they heard rumors (which the press always loves to investigate) during the previous Pontificate? Or the one before that? Maybe some members of the press turned a blind eye much in the same way that many in the Church did. How ironic.

  18. FOLLOW UP: Later in the program Special Report on FNC, Shephard Smith made something like a correction… like one, but not quite one. It was better than nothing, however, and in the correct direction.

  19. Scott W. says:

    And, once again, it seems to come back to this obsession with mandatory celibacy, I hate to say.

    Actually the obsession is on the side of people who want to do away with it. Note that there is not. one. shred. of. evidence. that celibacy has anything whatsover to do with causing or contributing to the abuse crisis. And yet it is the first thing everyone wants to pitch when the media goes on another feeding frenzy. What do you call it when someone keeps reaching for the same solution in spite of the evidence? I’d call it a presupposition looking for a stick to beat with.

  20. oneros: Okay. The procedures in place in 1985 and before may have been too restrictive; that is not the case today. Any priest who has credible evidence that he has molested a minor, is, in essence, laicized. Period.
    The media has got to get off of this obsessive “turning up” of evidence that Pope Benedict somehow was negligent or responsible for any kind of allowance of the continuation of the abuse of minors. Enough, already!
    Mandatory celibacy is NOT the problem here. Married men abuse at higher percentages than priests do. And as for homosexual involvement here; yeah, it’s evident that priests with either same sex attractions or unresolved sexual development with homosexual attraction were the perps here.
    Married priests, per se, are not the answer. Purity, chastity, a proper understanding of virtue are.
    The media doesn’t get it; a good portion of the Catholic population doesn’t get it; most of the other Christians don’t get it; so what?
    Consecrated celibacy, if it is lived with the proper understanding and formation, is a sign of the kingdom of God.
    This “filth” is just a sign of Satan’s involvement in the Church.

  21. If everybody who wasn’t getting any was automatically turned into a heartless evil criminal, there’d be an awful lot of maiden aunts on the serial killer lists, and convents would be notorious charnelhouses.

    Oh, wait. That doesn’t happen.

    Or maybe it’s just men, and somehow every monastery in Europe for a thousand years was busy raping and pillaging more than any Mongol ever did, instead of developing agriculture and machinery and clockwork, and copying books, and making the wilderness into a breadbasket.

    Nope, nope, don’t remember the evil killer monks of Europe thing.

  22. JARay says:

    My reaction to this HEADLINE news here in Australia is that there is someone with access to correspondence either in the Vatican or in the various chanceries in America with a serious intent to expose to the media anything at all which can be worked towards forcing Pope Benedict to step down. Just who would benefit from such an outcome? That’s not difficult to work out is it?! Neither is it difficult to work out just why they hate the Pope. He is too good, too holy, too much of an example of all that is best in the Church

  23. Theodorus says:

    JARay, I have been thinking exactly the same thing! I am afraid that as long as Benedict XVI lives, those devil’s agents will continue to dig the hell out of it. May God strengthen and protect our Holy Father.

  24. JJMSJ says:

    Indeed, we need to pray for the Holy Father. As he said on Sunday, 24 April 2005,
    “Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves.”
    The wolves are certainly out there and are circling and snarling.

  25. PostCatholic says:

    …there is someone with access to correspondence either in the Vatican or in the various chanceries in America with a serious intent to expose to the media anything at all which can be worked towards forcing Pope Benedict to step down…

    These documents public record when they are subpoenaed by litigants and entered into evidence in the American justice system. They have not been coming to light because some nefarious conspirator is raiding various diocesan archives looking for the juicy letters that will embarrass the Pope, they’re coming to light because they are part of due process of law.

  26. “Because no one in the highly educated crew at AP have studied one of the most important languages in the history of the world, and one that is currently pertinent to the story they are so focused on.”

    Back in the 1970s, the New York Times had a copy editor who would translate the paper’s headlines into Latin after deadline, just for fun. But that man and those days are long gone.

  27. TC says:

    [q]“The press office doesn’t believe it is necessary to respond to every single document taken out of context regarding particular legal situations,” the Rev. Federico Lombardi said. “It is not strange that there are single documents which have Cardinal Ratzinger’s signature.”[/q]

    As vicious as the media have been, such Nixonian statements really don’t help, the Vatican needs a new, much more savvy crew in the press office who can explain three times a day, in monosyllables, the differences between laicisation and “defrocking”, which Congregations do what, &c.

  28. jamie r says:

    It’s abundantly clear from the NY Times documents that it’s a case of dispensation from the burdens of the priesthood, and not dismissal. What would be the Latin for “dismissal”? It may be somewhat the translator’s fault — he renders “dispensatio” as “removal,” though, it should be clear from the letters in English that what’s being talked about is dispenation. The lightness of punishment by civil and diocesan authorities is also appalling — he abused 6 boys in as many months, and was given only 3 years probation, and eventually wound up doing youth ministry within the diocese. Dispensation from his obligations to the Church would’ve hurt children more than helped; as long as he’s obliged to be obedient, he could be kept away from contact with children. This article pisses me off, not just at the press, but at terrible bishops.

    http://documents.nytimes.com/the-document-trail-stephen-kiesle#document/p15

  29. Genna says:

    This new, selective revelation (a single document; where are the others?) has come hot on the heels of the appointment of Archbishop Gomez.

  30. SimonR says:

    The BBC have been running this story as a lead on their website and on the Today programme. It will prove to be another failed attempt to bring the Pope down.

    Listen to Today at http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8612000/8612842.stm

    David Willey said that the letter reveals that Cardinal Ratzinger said that no action should be taken against this priest in the interests of the “good of the universal Church. He is trying to protect the Church from scandal”

    He also said it was written in Latin showing the secrecry surrounding Vatican correspondence (you couldnt make this stuff up!)

    David Willey then agrees with the Presenter that this is a letter which bears the signature of Ratzinger in which he makes it plain he is more worried about scandal . It is a “really damaging document” irrespective of context he says.

    He also says that the American Bishops must be leaking these documents “which shows they are under pressure from their flock and congregrations” (Find this very hard to believe)

    So, 2mins47seconds of biased irresponsible reporting (or rather BBC opinion) and the Pope is guilty withoutdoubt by the BBC of covering up the scandal and hence here is the smoking gun.

  31. Scott W. says:

    So, 2mins47seconds of biased irresponsible reporting (or rather BBC opinion) and the Pope is guilty withoutdoubt by the BBC of covering up the scandal and hence here is the smoking gun

    Yes. While child abuse is something to be agitated about, the press wants more than agitation. They want Catholics to douse themselves in gasoline, set themselves on fire, and go on a French Revolutionesque Reign of Terror where we torch every high-ranking church official whehther they are guilty of anything or not.

  32. robtbrown says:

    I don’t think people understand. No one is saying that Ratzinger didn’t follow procedures. What is being questioned ARE those procedures. Are the notions of some byzantine Roman bureaucracy

    It is byzantine neither in geography nor in method. Vatican bureaucracy, which is fairly austere, is set up so that problems steep like tea before they are addressed.

    needed to laicize a priest or dispense from the obligations of the clerical state. And, once again, it seems to come back to this obsession with mandatory celibacy, I hate to say. If a man wanted to be dispensed…just let him be.

    The article concerns a priest molesting children, not romancing women. I doubt that you think he should be dispensed from celibacy so that he can licitly molest children.

    They made it so hard because of this fixation they have with trying to keep people boxed into that, even who didn’t want to be anymore. Sure, Ratzinger was following the institutional process…but is the institutionalism and that very process…which are being questioned.
    Comment by Oneros

    I don’t think that’s what happened. A few points:

    1. The hierarchy assumed that those interested in the contemporary trivialized priesthood (and accompanying formation) would be of the same quality as it was before the banalization of the Church

    2. The hierarchy assumed that the products of seminaries deficient in philosophy, theology, and discipline would be as good as those who had been formed in good seminaries.

    As I’ve said before, a seminarian must be formed to be celibate. And that formation is not merely classes on celibacy.

    3. That hierarchy also assumed that the collapse of discipline within the priesthood would not produce problems within the priesthood.

    4. That same hierarchy also underestimated the severity of the sexual problems.

    5. Rome takes very seriously tu es sacerdos in aeternum. Mandatory laicization of a priest is the last resort. Despite liberal bellyaching to the contrary, Rome likes for these matters to be dealt with within the diocese or religious order. As I’ve said before, that can include taking away a priest’s faculties, removing him from all pastoral contact, leaving him only able to say a private mass. And of course, years ago problem priests could be ordered to live at an isolated retreat house, with no contact with any of the guests.

  33. robtbrown says:

    These documents public record when they are subpoenaed by litigants and entered into evidence in the American justice system. They have not been coming to light because some nefarious conspirator is raiding various diocesan archives looking for the juicy letters that will embarrass the Pope, they’re coming to light because they are part of due process of law.
    Comment by PostCatholic

    These cases have been litigated in the US for years. Why are the documents coming to light now?

  34. Grabski says:

    Oneros For one, it’s not ‘mandatory celibacy’. Celibacy is freely chosen, and if one can not commit to it one does not have to. What’s more, the Catholic and Orthodox tradition is that priests can not marry once they are ordained.

    The problem is the obsession of our society with sex. Well, that plus pretending that the 80% of same sex abuse is not homosexual.

  35. Grabski says:

    Post Catholic Actually, we have two infamous liberals who protected predators: Weakland (Murphy) and Cummins (Kiesle).

    In each case, by the time it reached Ratzinger’s desk, the men were suspended from active ministry.

    Except for that minor detail, your analysis is spot on!

  36. PostCatholic says:

    These cases have been litigated in the US for years. Why are the documents coming to light now?

    And will be litigated for years to come. As the legal discovery process proceeds and as documents are entered into evidence, I’m sure more will come to light.

    Post Catholic Actually, we have two infamous liberals who protected predators: Weakland (Murphy) and Cummins (Kiesle).

    In each case, by the time it reached Ratzinger’s desk, the men were suspended from active ministry.

    Except for that minor detail, your analysis is spot on!

    Lots of conservative bishops who protected predators, too, grabski. I don’t understand your point. Mine is that while the Pope’s record is very good indeed in juxtaposition to the scoundrels and liars he’s been surrounded by, it has a way to go until it is blameless.

  37. Grabski says:

    PostCatholic You’re blaming Card. Ratzinger for the misrule of the liberals Weakland and Cummins? That’s rich.

    Have you seen the John Jay data on the number of abuse cases and number of abusers, from the 1960s to the present? The peak of the crisis was the early 1980s; ie, as Card. Ratzinger and JPII started to clean out the muck. From that point forward, the trajectory is straight down and the number of cases is down 94%. The chart can be found here (and the chart comes from an active enemy of the Roman Catholic Church, Andrew Sullivan)

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/page/7/

    No one is blameless, but the facts behind the Pope’s turn at the wheel show him arighting the ship.

    So if you have an example of where the Pope actively protected an abuser like Murphy (as did the uber liberal Weakland), or where the Pope refused to police a predator (like the liberal Cummins), you should bring it forward.

  38. shellac says:

    “The problem is that the average person, Catholic or non-Catholic, hasn’t the expertise to sort the wheat from the chaff in these stories and the journalists know it. What sticks in the mind is the headline and the main point which is driven home again and again – Ratzinger /Pope Benedict ignored pleas to do something about yet another abusing priest. For the two second grab generation that’s just about all they can or wish to absorb.”
    Comment by Norah

    AMEN!!! I have a hard time knowing just what to believe. This in spite of me loving to read and exercising reading and comprehension skills every day! You can imagine how lost Joe/Jane sixpack are!!!! However my brothers and sisters I do know who to Trust. I thank the Good Lord for you all and Fr.Z. My God bless us all and keep us in His grace and love.

    I also recall how our family in the early church were asked to deny Jesus and make an offering to Caesar. They went to their death singing and giving prase to God. We today are called not to a martyrdom of blood. Yet let us suffer for Jesus and be witnesses for Christ and His Church! Let us be proud Catholics. Let us not stay silent when someone slanders our Mother the Church. Lets us not deny Christ! With all my love to all of you! :-) Michael aka Shellac.

  39. robtbrown says:

    These cases have been litigated in the US for years. Why are the documents coming to light now?

    And will be litigated for years to come. As the legal discovery process proceeds and as documents are entered into evidence, I’m sure more will come to light.
    Postcatholic

    So you’re saying that litigation that began in the 80′s is still in the discovery process? I don’t think so.

    Have you ever considered why more information about Cardinal Bernardin never hit the press?

    This latest news is simply intended to undermine a pope many, some of whom are in the Vatican, consider to be too Catholic.

    To re-state what I have already written: Every one of these cases could have been handled efficiently without recourse to Rome. I personally know of two cases in which bishops moved quickly to remove priests immediately and completely from any pastoral ministry. Neither ever returned. Both left the priesthood, and one died of AIDS.

    The idea that a diocesan bishop has to keep a priest in active pastoral ministry unless Rome laicizes him is wrong.

  40. Grabski says:

    Rotbrown The idea that a diocesan bishop has to keep a priest in active pastoral ministry unless Rome laicizes him is wrong
    ….

    Interesting and essential point.

    Is it possibole that Cummins and Weakland (in these two instances) kicked the ball over to Rome to avoid problems coming from their refusal to do their duty on time?

    And is it possible that these selective cases were chosen precisely b/c the two are liberals, hence less likely to get the scrutiny from the press a conservative would?

    I can imagine Weakland’s defense to the press: “look, I sent it to Rome and they didn’t move on it.”

    Of course, that would be after 20 years of protecting Murphy, but it fits the NYT’s template of authoritarian Benedict bad, radical Weakland good.

  41. Doubtful Thomas says:

    As can be expected with yellow journalism, today’s edition of The Dallas Morning Pravda had this very story on the front page above the fold. This location seems to be reserved for any dross that implicates the Catholic Church negatively, no matter how poor, inaccurate and misleading the reporting, and no matter how old the incident.

    I have also noticed over the years that the poor Protestants, when they have scandals, end up with only a few paragraphs buried deep within the DMP. Follow-up reporting usually does not happen. Now I’m not saying the Protestants should usurp the prominent Catholic presence on the front page – that’s reserved for us, anyway – but the newspaper’s agenda is clear for anyone who has eyes to see. And perhaps the church should be thankful for this: the Diocese of Dallas seems to grow every Eastertide with new converts (excluding immigration from North and South) in spite of the problems it has had with this issue. I wonder if that infuriates the folks at the DMP?

  42. PeterK says:

    be sure and check your local papers tomorrow and see if and where the put the story about the US swimming coaches and abuse

  43. AnAmericanMother says:

    PostCatholic,

    You are in my line of work now.

    The ‘discovery process’ in most of these cases was over long, long ago. It is usually set by case management order, but is often 90, 120 or 180 days depending on the court and whether it’s extended by consent. It may be reopened in extraordinary cases.

    But, more importantly, in every case I have ever seen in over 25 years of civil practice, in any suit involving sexual abuse, especially of a minor, all the documents are placed under seal by the trial court. There is almost always a confidentiality order entered as well, forbidding counsel to discuss the case with the media or anybody else. Local practice (Georgia): the documents are placed in heavy cardboard envelopes and sealed with the court seal. A copy of the order is stapled to the front of the envelope. Anybody who breaks it for any reason has to (a) have a court order; (b) sign his or her name and the date, and then reseal.

    These documents are most likely being thrown over the transom by a lawyer or somebody else involved in the case in violation of a court order. If it’s a lawyer, and he’s caught at it, he’ll be packing his toothbrush and going with the sheriff to a nice, cozy cell for contempt of court.

  44. If there is credible evidence that a priest has sexually abused a minor today, he is “toast”. Period.
    These past stories are to be interpreted in the light of pre-2001 church law.
    As for the lack of people coming forward to accuse priests who have abused their children; that’s another story. Sorry to say, for whatever reason, they cannot cast aspersions at the Pope, even in his work in the CDF; the local bishop is to be held to the fire here.
    The utter lack of love of the Church, the incredible anger and animus against the Church and her Leaders, the utter disrespect for the Catholic Faith, in general, is despicable.
    Just despicable. So you were molested by a priest? So have many of us; deal with it. If it’s criminal activity, go to the authorities.
    Yeah, there are perv priests that did a lot of damage. But they are NOT the Catholic Faith. They are to be pitied, prayed for, and held to justice. Period.

  45. catholicmidwest says:

    If there is credible evidence that a priest has sexually abused a minor today, he SHOULD be toast. Somebody should get on the phone and call the cops, pronto.

  46. @AnAmericanMother–that was VERY helpful, thank you very much!
    @nazareth priet — roger that. I’m waiting for somebody to remind the MSM of “subsidiarity”–these situations were all under the local bishops’ jurisdictions FIRST. So if somebody’s “letting pedophiles go free,” then the wolves *should* start circling somewhere else other than Rome.

    We all know they won’t, of course…