FaithWorld

Pope did not impede defrocking of abusive priest: Vatican

By Reuters Staff
April 10, 2010
ratzinger signature

The signature of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on a 1985 letter about Father Stephen Kiesle, shown after its release to Reuters April 9, 2010/Sam Mircovich

The Vatican has defended Pope Benedict from accusations that, in a previous post as a senior Church official, he tried to impede the defrocking of a California priest who had sexually abused children. In a statement, a California-based Vatican lawyer accused the media of a “rush to judgment” and said the case had never been referred to the Vatican as an abuse case but as one of a man who wanted to leave the priesthood.

In a 1985 letter from the Vatican, typed in Latin and translated for The Associated Press, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger told the bishop of Oakland he needed more time “to consider the good of the Universal Church” as he reviewed a request by the man to leave the priesthood.

Vatican lawyer Jeffrey Lena said he could not confirm the authenticity of the letter but indicated that it appeared to be “a form letter typically sent out initially with respect to laicization cases,” when men ask to leave the priesthood.

Lena “denied that the letter reflected then-Cardinal Ratzinger resisting pleas from the bishop to defrock the priest,” the statement said. “There may be some overstep and rush to judgment going on here,” Lena said on Saturday.

“During the entire course of the proceeding the priest remained under the control, authority and care of the local bishop who was responsible to make sure he did no harm, as the canon (Church) law provides. The abuse case wasn’t transferred to the Vatican at all,” he said.

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It’s odd that anyone should be surprised at the current sexual child abuse scandal engulfing the Catholic Church. It should not be surprising because for anyone who knows the history of the Church, rampant sexual abuses of all kinds were quite commonplace for centuries. During the Middle Ages the Church had absolute power over people, and the people had no power at all to do anything, nor anyone to complain to. One can only imagine the lurid events in convents, monasteries, abbeys and other houses of God. That clergy went on doing this until the present time is only natural.

The trouble for the Church is, these days the environment outside the Church is different. A priest can no longer do as he pleases with the boys in church because these days the child can speak out without fear of being flogged by his parents, or bringing shame to the family, or excommunication, or even a visit to an Inquisition dungeon. So, the only difference between now and the 14th century is that now there’s an open press, a somewhat liberal society, and an inexorable distancing from religion and thus from the despotic yoke of the Church.

But no one should expect the Pope to make the right thing now, namely defrock these pederast priests and hand them over to the civil authorities for prosecution, because that is not what popes do. No, popes do not have the interests of Justice and the victims in mind, they have the interests of the Holy Church in mind, and that means thinking in the long term. And when it comes to thinking ahead and thinking of what will be best for the Church in the long term, the answer is always demurrals, delays, silence, and stonewalling for decades—even generations—until there’s no one alive who lived through the events in question, and the events are forgotten by all except some historians. By the time they narrate the events in history books, the people are so detached that the stories sound almost quaint. It’s like stories of the massacres perpetrated by Catholics in the name of religion during the Crusades or even the Religious Wars. Or the tortures and persecutions of the Inquisition. Who is revolted by these things these days? We would if they had just happened. But we are not because they happened so long ago that we tend to view them in the same way as the barbarous actions of any people in antiquity. This is the strategy of silent popes. It has worked wonderfully for the Church in the past. It’s up to right minded people today to prevent it from working for them again.

Gabriel Wilensky
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Six Million Crucifixions:
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Posted by gwilensky | Report as abusive
 

Mr Wilensky, you have raised some important and interesting points in your comment. The abuses that have gone on in the catholic church during this extended period needs to be investigated by an independent judicial system and the perpetrators brought to justice in the full light of day. There can be no going forward until this is fully resolved to international legal standards – particularly as the abuses have been now sighted in both Europe, Ireland and the States. How many others are there?

J Peters
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Editor/Publisher
Schiel & Denver Book publishers
US: http://www.schieldenver.com
UK: http://www.schieldenver.co.uk
Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/schieldenver
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Posted by bookpublishers | Report as abusive
 

Mr Wilensky, you have raised some important and interesting points in your comment. The abuses that have gone on in the catholic church during this extended period needs to be investigated by an independent judicial system and the perpetrators brought to justice in the full light of day. There can be no going forward until this is fully resolved to international legal standards – particularly as the abuses have been now sighted in both Europe, Ireland and the States. How many others are there?

J Peters
————————————— ———————————— ——————
Editor/Publisher
Schiel & Denver Book publishers
UK: http://www.schieldenver.co.uk
Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/schieldenver
————————————— ———————————— ——————

Posted by bookpublishers | Report as abusive
 

Mr Wilensky, you have raised some important and interesting points in your comment. The abuses that have gone on in the catholic church during this extended period needs to be investigated by an independent judicial system and the perpetrators brought to justice in the full light of day. There can be no going forward until this is fully resolved to international legal standards – particularly as the abuses have been now sighted in both Europe, Ireland and the States. How many others are there?

J Peters
————————————— ———————————— ——————
Editor/Publisher
Schiel & Denver Book publishers
US: http://www.schieldenver.com/
UK: http://www.schieldenver.co.uk/
————————————— ———————————— ——————

Posted by bookpublishers | Report as abusive
 

Mr Wilensky, you have raised some important and interesting points in your comment. The abuses that have gone on in the catholic church during this extended period needs to be investigated by an independent judicial system and the perpetrators brought to justice in the full light of day. There can be no going forward until this is fully resolved to international legal standards – particularly as the abuses have been now sighted in both Europe, Ireland and the States. How many others are there?

J Peters
————————————— ———————————— ——————
Editor/Publisher
Schiel & Denver Book publishers
US: http://www.schieldenver.com/
UK: http://www.schieldenver.co.uk/
Follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/schieldenver

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Posted by bookpublishers | Report as abusive
 

If Rome can survive inquisitors, conquistadors, and endorsing fascist dictators, it can survive this too!

In my opinion, the RC church is capable of great acts of beauty and goodness as well as great evil. Some people call that humanity!! But it must be held accountable, something we are not seeing much of it seems.

I have blogged about this on my website if anyone is interested? http://www.sacredpolitics.com Let me know what you think as it is a new venture.

Posted by DanStorkBanks | Report as abusive
 

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