Showing posts with label Catholic Church Sex Abuse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Catholic Church Sex Abuse. Show all posts

Feb 28, 2014

Frontline Hits Milwaukee Archdiocese in Secrets of the Vatican

"In all these years, I have to say, that the Archdiocese of Milwaukee has a demonstrated history of having been both the most callous and the most disturbing. The most disturbing.
They have fundamentally violated the fundamental safety principles applying to children."
--
Jeff Anderson, Plaintiffs’ Attorney for Survivors of Clergy Sexual abuse

Frontline takes a hard look at the Catholic Church hierarchy in its documentary, Secrets of the Vatican, An Inside Look at the Scandals that Rocked Benedict's Papacy.

Coming in for harsh condemnation is the Archdiocese of Milwaukee for covering up mass rape and its hiding $ 57 million from over 500 claimants because the Archdiocese claimed it needs the $ 57 million to maintain a cemetery after the Archdiocese of Milwaukee went bankrupt.

The actions of Timothy Dolan also come under scrutiny, as does the Vatican and the efforts by allies to insulate money from rape survivors, supported by Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson in an underreported story but in the same protect-the-Vatican-forget-the-victims mentality that pervades the Catholic Church hierarchy.

This callous act of mendacity by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee was supported by Federalist Society Judge Rudolph T. Randa fronting for the Milwaukee child-molesting set in a ludicrous ruling for the Archdiocese in a bankruptcy case in July 2013, insulating the $57 million, and failing to disclose his connection to the archdiocese. See also Judge Randa Is Asked by Creditors of Archdiocese to Leave Case (Goodstein. NYT).

Here's a partial transcript from Frontline:

NARRATOR: When the Church chose to suppress stories of clergy sexual abuse, it was to silence people like Monica Barrett.
MONICA BARRETT: It was a Saturday, and I was 8 years old. And my father took my younger sister and I and we drove out to Lake Geneva to visit with this priest, William Effinger.
At one point in the day, Father Effinger said he needed help in the church with candles. And my father said, “Go help him.” And we went into the church, where he assaulted me for a period of time, and ultimately ended up raping me.
While he was raping me, I didn’t understand what was happening. I just knew there was this incredible pain and I could hardly breathe, and I kept praying that God would just let me die.
And when he finished, he stood up and he looked at me and he said, “If you tell anybody what you did, they won’t believe you. And if you tell anybody, your parents will burn in Hell.”
And then he gave me penance to do. And he turned and looked at me, and he smoothed his hair back with both of his hands, and he walked down the aisle of the church. And I remember hearing the door close. And I just sat there because I didn’t know what I should do.
And eventually, I realized that there was blood on my legs and there was blood on the new purple shorts that my grandma had given to me for my birthday. And so when I got to the end of the aisle of the church, I wiped the blood off with some of the holy water, and I went and sat outside under this big tree. And I was just crying because I was in pain and I didn’t understand what had happened to me, and I was scared.
As a child who went to Catholic school, we were taught that the priest is the closest you’ll ever get to God. And for me, when I was raped by that priest, it just pulled my entire foundation out from under me. Everything was just taken away in that day.
NARRATOR: Eventually, Father Effinger was convicted of sexual assault on another child, and died in prison. Monica never got her day in court because of the statute of limitations, but the diocese of Milwaukee sued her to recover $14,000 in legal expenses.
MONICA BARRETT: They very much were trying to intimidate me and to beat me down and to hold me out as the example, saying, “This is what will happen to you if you come forward and tell your truth.”
NARRATOR: Monica was not alone in her battle for justice in Milwaukee. Hers was one of hundreds of cases which were aggressively challenged by the diocese as they were compelled to pay about $30 million in settlements.
JEFF ANDERSON, Plaintiffs’ Attorney: In all these years, I have to say, that the Archdiocese of Milwaukee has a demonstrated history of having been both the most callous and the most disturbing. The most disturbing.
They have fundamentally violated the fundamental safety principles applying to children.
NARRATOR: Jeff Anderson has represented victims of clergy abuse for 29 years. He has long argued that Milwaukee is following procedures laid down in Rome.
JEFF ANDERSON: When it comes to the Vatican and its role in this crisis, all I have ever seen them do is talk, both denying responsibility and saying that they’re doing something, when in fact, they’re doing nothing other than what they’ve done in the past for decades and centuries, which is to deny, minimize blame, keep secrets and protect themselves.
PETER ISELY: Intimidation is the strategy. It’s not part of it, it is the strategy. “You’ve exposed this part of us. We’re coming after you. We’re coming after you, and no one’s going to dare to file a lawsuit again.” And it’s meant to intimidate and make people afraid.
NARRATOR: When he was 13 years old, Peter Isely entered St Lawrence Seminary in Wisconsin.
PETER ISELY: At a very, very young age, I had an absolute faith and belief and love of the Roman Catholic Church, of its rituals, of its traditions, even as a small boy.
NARRATOR: At the seminary, Peter was a victim of repeated sexual abuse by his spiritual director, Father Leifeld. In 1988, when Peter was in his late 20s, he found the courage to confront his abuser and report to the Church authorities. He soon discovered that he was not alone.
PETER ISELY: There were survivors, just independent of each other just starting to come forward across the United States— now we know across the world, but starting— and we all went down the same path, which was we went to the religious officials and authorities first, the bishops and the provincials, and reported to them what had happened to us.
And now, in my case, there were promises made. The provincial told me “We’re going to keep Father Leifeld away from children. We’ve got him in a secure treatment facility. He’s never going to be around children,” this kind of thing.
It’s when I found out that they had lied to me, that he was, in fact, around children, that he was under no supervision at all, that there was no consequences whatsoever, that no one’s watching him, that I then came forward publicly.
NARRATOR: Six years later, Father Leifeld was finally arrested and admitted other past abuses in this court deposition.
FR. LEIFELD: I know that I touched his penis. I don’t remember whether or not he touched mine. I didn’t understand that there would be a psychological damage to the young man.
1st SPEAKER: I’m the victim, so why am I in Hell?
NARRATOR: Peter Isely founded the Milwaukee chapter of SNAP, a Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests.
2nd SPEAKER: My brother is the victim of criminal sexual assault.
3rd SPEAKER: I was raped at 13 years old in my— my church.
4th SPEAKER: He admitted to you, Bishop Sklba, what he was and what he had done. You sent him back to work!
5th SPEAKER: Victims can’t have peace until they have justice.
6th SPEAKER: It was reported to the Archdiocese and— by 14 families from that parish. And what did the Archdiocese do? Transfer him again! Why? I want to know why!
NARRATOR: The Vatican has always claimed the responsibility for these cases rests with the local bishops and dioceses. Jeff Anderson disagrees.
JEFF ANDERSON: In every case that we have worked on for 29 years, the Vatican and its role has been prominent because every action taken by every bishop and archbishop and cardinal in connection with sexual abuse is effectively orchestrated and controlled by the Vatican. Every action taken has demonstrated to us that all roads lead to Rome and to the Vatican.
NARRATOR: The Vatican’s secret archives contain the Church’s records back through the centuries, including evidence relating to sexual abuse cases from the early Middle Ages to the present day.
As a sovereign nation, the Holy See cannot be compelled to hand over its original documents, or any copies held by their embassies worldwide. The only hope for those representing victims of sexual abuse is to sue individual dioceses. That was how Jeff Anderson was able to subpoena crucial correspondence between Monica’s former archbishop, Cardinal Dolan, and Cardinal Hummes, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy in Rome.
JEFF ANDERSON: We have evidence that Archbishop Dolan got express permission from the Vatican to move $57 million from diocesan funds into a cemetery trust, and that permission was given by the Vatican almost immediately.
NARRATOR: Two key words in Latin from Cardinal Hummes said it all, “Nihil Obstat”— “nothing stands in your way.” With these two words, the Vatican allowed the diocese to protect its millions from further legal claims of abuse victims.
JEFF ANDERSON: To me it was designed to do one thing, to keep the archdiocese and the Vatican from having to account for their crimes and complicity in them. No other real or legitimate reason.
NARRATOR: The Church argued that the money was always committed to their cemeteries, and a court upheld the transfer. Meanwhile the diocese declared bankruptcy. While they recently proposed to set aside $4 million in a victims’ fund, there are over 550 outstanding claimants, Monica Barrett and Peter Isely, among them.
PETER ISELY: This is a beautiful cemetery. They’re doing a terrific job of really maintaining this sacred space. You don’t need $57 million for this space and seven other cemeteries. The real purpose was to keep money from compensating childhood victims of sexual assault by priests in this archdiocese from court-ordered settlements, period.
And that is so cynical and so just unacceptable. And it’s just a further way of trying to hide— hide things. You’re hiding money in a cemetery, just like you hide sex offenders in parishes. ....

Feb 25, 2013

Milwaukee Catholic Archdiocese—No Contrition, More Shameful Attacks on Victims

Lobbying for the church blocked measures helping
child victims in Wisconsin, Arizona and Connecticut in 2010.

Update: Vatican Summoned Before UN Committee on Rights of the Child

The Catholic Church. What is wrong with these people in the Catholic hierarchy? Have they no sense of shame? Not even the Catholic Church's GOP friends can save these predators now.

By David Clohessy

Jim Stang is a bankruptcy expert. He’s been involved in nine Catholic institutional bankruptcies-more than any other attorney. In 2010, he was named “Bankruptcy Lawyer of the Year.” He knows this stuff.

And according to the National Catholic Reporter, Stang says that he has “not faced anywhere near the number of challenges to claims” as in Milwaukee.

In recent years, 574 alleged victims have come forward in response to the Milwaukee archdiocese bankruptcy filing. Catholic officials are trying to toss out 400 of them.

What a particularly cruel "bait and switch" maneuver. Church officials repeatedly claim “We’re seeking bankruptcy so we can be sure we’re able to help ALL victims.” Then, after running mandatory notification ads across Wisconsin urging victims to come forward, church officials now try to disqualify 400 of them.

Again, no other Catholic institution has played this kind of legal hardball with this many alleged victims.

And while we’re on the subject of Catholic bankruptcy claims, thanks to the AP’s Rachel Zoll who got it right recently, when she wrote “Milwaukee is the eighth diocese in the U.S. to seek bankruptcy protection since the abuse scandal erupted in 2002 in Boston.”

Notice she didn’t say or assume that dioceses seek bankruptcy protection because they’re broke. That’s a common – and wrong-headed - assumption. Zoll simply states the fact, without ascribing motive.

The sun doesn’t rise each morning because many people drink coffee then. The fact that two things may happen around the same time doesn’t indicate causation.

And Catholic officials don’t declare bankruptcy because they’re running out of money. They declare bankruptcy to avoid embarrassing trials that expose the corruption of the hierarchy.
#
As we written here before maybe now Wisconsin's dumb Sen. Ron Johnson will disavow his speaking out against the Wisconsin Child Victims Act just before he was elected to the U.S. Senate.

Feb 22, 2013

How Do PR Men of Catholic Church Speak with Straight Faces

Lobbying for the church blocked measures helping
child victims in Wisconsin, Arizona and Connecticut in 2010.
By David Clohessy of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
“How does he keep a straight face?” That’s the question I often think about the public relations staffers who work for Catholic officials.

Take Joseph Zwilling, the PR man for New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Here’s what Zwilling released yesterday about his boss’ deposition in clergy sex crimes cases:

"Today Cardinal Dolan had the long-awaited opportunity to talk about his decision nine years ago in Milwaukee to publicize the names of priests who had abused children and how he responded to the tragedy of past clergy sexual abuse of minors. . .” (Annysa Johnson and Bruce Vielmetti of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

Long-awaited? Really?

Ever met anyone who really looked forward to being deposed by a hostile lawyer in a child sex case?

Dolan’s a chatty guy. He blogs a lot. He gives lots of interviews. Maybe we missed it, but we don’t recall even once hearing Dolan say “Geez, I’m just dying to sit in a room for hours, surrounded by lawyers, and face questions under oath about predator priests. . .”

Notice too that Zwilling mentions Dolan’s alleged desire to talk about “the good work and progress that took place to ensure the protection of children and pastoral outreach to victims" in Milwaukee and Dolan’s decision there “to publicize the names of priests who had abused children.”

That move, we’re convinced, was part of a shrewd strategy to forestall legislative reform that would have enabled more child sex victims to expose more predator priests in court.

But regardless, if publicizing the names of child molesting clerics in Milwaukee was “good work” and “progress,” why does Dolan refuse to do the same thing in New York?
Maybe now Wisconsin's dumb Ron Johnson will disavow his speaking out against the Wisconsin Child Victims Act just before he was elected to the U.S. Senate. First, he needs to pray on it, I suppose.

As Dan Bice reported in June 2010:
"People want a senator (referring to Johnson) who is going to fight for victims of abuse, not lobby against them," said John Kraus, a senior strategist for the incumbent Democrat [running against Ron Johnson]. "If he won't stand with children who are victims of abuse, who will he stand with?"

Here are the key political questions:

Why did a guy considering a run for statewide office decide to jump into a controversy that cuts across party lines? What upside could there be?

Only (Ron) Johnson can answer those.

In an interview last week, he said he was first contacted on the issue by Deacon Tim Reilly, director of administration for the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay. Though a Lutheran, Johnson is a big backer of Catholic schools and was serving on the diocese's finance council at the time of his testimony.

The proposal [the Child Victims Act] would have eliminated the statute of limitations for future victims of child sex abuse and opened a three-year window for past victims.

It [the Child Victims Act] was opposed by the insurance industry and church organizations, including the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, which argued the bill could bankrupt it. The measure had the support of several police organizations, social workers and Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm.

Feb 11, 2013

Pope Is Driven from Office; Survivors' Group Responds

Update: Pope’s Resignation May Make International Prosecution Easier, Says Center for Constitutional Rights

Can anyone imagine an institution with less credibility to explain why Pope Benedict XVI has announced he is resigning?

Less than one week after the release of the film, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, which implicated the Vatican and the Pope in the cover-up in the Roman Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandal and exposed the scandal to a widening audience, the Pope says he's resigning because of advancing age.

The Pope's statement includes no mention of the Church's sexual abuse scandals.

No apologies. Nothing.

The Times reports today:

When he took office, Pope Benedict’s well-known stands included the assertion that Catholicism is “true” and other religions are “deficient”; that the modern, secular world, especially in Europe, is spiritually weak; and that Catholicism is in competition with Islam. He had also strongly opposed homosexuality, the ordination of female priests and stem cell research. ...

Benedict’s tenure was caught up in growing sexual abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church that crept ever closer to the Vatican itself.

In 2010, as outrage built over clerical abuses, some secular and liberal Catholic voices called for his resignation, their demands fueled by reports that laid part of the blame at his doorstep, citing his response both as a bishop long ago in Germany and as a cardinal heading the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles such cases.

In one disclosure, news emerged that in 1985, when Benedict was Cardinal Ratzinger, he signed a letter putting off efforts to defrock a convicted child-molesting priest. He cited the priest’s relative youth but also the good of the church.

Vatican officials and experts who follow the papacy dismissed the idea of his stepping down at the time. “There is no objective motive to think in terms of resignation, absolutely no motive,” said Father Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman. “It’s a completely unfounded idea.”
Right.

Reuters reports: "Ratzinger served in the Hitler Youth during World War Two when membership was compulsory."  

A strange observation. Since when is collaboration with NAZIs compulsory?  

Most of the press is going along for the ride in its uncritical reporting of what the Vatican says as though this were a credible source of information.  

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) has also issued a statement.

The statement is published below in its entirety.   
The College of Cardinals will now look to its membership for a new leader, someone who can lead the Church into a new era. We hope that they look for a man among them who will protect the most vulnerable among the faithful: innocent children and reach out to the most hurt among the faithful: victims of clergy sexual abuse.

For the Church to truly embody the spiritual teachings of Jesus Christ, it must be led by a pontiff who demands transparency, exposes child-molesting clerics, punishes wrongdoers and enablers, cooperates with law enforcement, and makes true amends to those who were hurt so greatly by Catholic priests, employees and volunteers.

The era of cover-up and secrecy in the Catholic Church must end. Our greatest hope is that the newest Pope agrees and becomes a true leader in the spirit and teaching of the Gospels..

Victims of child sexual abuse agree on one thing: they want to ensure that what happened to them never happens to another child. The only way for that to happen is for the Cardinals to select a Pontiff who puts child safety and victim healing first, as the teachings of Jesus Christ dictate.

Feb 5, 2013

Wisconsin Gets Leading Role in Catholic Church Atrocity Film

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Alex Gibney: "Judging from statements from the Vatican, it's as if there has barely been a sex abuse crisis." ... "I think what this film does is show what happens to institutions when they become so convinced of their own goodness that they imagine that they can do no wrong."

Wisconsin, former Milwaukee DA E. Michael McCann (1968-2006), the city of Milwaukee, Boulder Junction, Three Lakes, former Archbishop Rembert Weakland and host of heroic activists refusing to remain victims are featured in Alex Gibney's powerful, disturbing, inspiring and brilliant new documentary on the Catholic Church and its systemic preying on children by Catholic priests protected from on high, the current pope, Rat-something, who gives a shit what the guy's name is—Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God.

McCann and the Milwaukee Police Dept. don't come off well. They come off as bystanders and careerists who chose to look the other way.

Weakland is a hero, just not to the Catholic Church and its sick dogma.

By the way, to keep up on this ongoing atrocity, bookmark the good folks at SNAP, Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests.

Ron Johnson, Wisconsin's dumb senator, is not mentioned by name in the film but as he and his fellow Republicans saw fit to kill the Wisconsin Child Victims Act and take the side of the molesters and rapists, his actions live in the film as well.

I'm betting the current Republican legislature and Scott Walker won't have a change of heart.

Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God.
The Republican Party has consolidated its allegiance with the the hierarchy of the Catholic Church now.

That's why the Wisconsin Child Victims Act was killed. Locally, around here (the Madison area) Morlino is the head shit-head.

Whenever I think of organized pond scum such as the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, I take solace in the words of Norman Cohn. A "mood of passive compliance" is all that is required for atrocities to take place.

But these victims, robbed of their childhoods, spoke up, beginning with homemade flyers (at right) they handed out at Milwaukee City Hall and Catholic institutions.

This is the beginning of how this came to light. I surely would like to meet these people some day and have a cold beer with them.

Passive compliance v. these brave people.

Passive compliance never stood a chance.

Apr 11, 2010

Catholic Columnist Dowd Has Had Enough

With the seeming regularity of rain in April [at least in Wisconsin], each day bring a new Pope-protected-a-child-molester story.

One Catholic columnist, the New York Times' Maureen Dowd, has had enough. She wants children and adult victims protected. And she wants sexism in the church eliminated.

Dowd, with her Menckenesque acid keyboard, has devoted her last five Times columns to excoriating the Pope. And rightly so.

The Pope is an criminal accessory to child rape, and should be spending his days trying to make these victims and their families whole, and not dismissing child molestation as "petty gossip" spread by Jews in New York.

[By the way the journal Politics Daily, and the victims group SNAP, the Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests, deserve acclaim for their humanism, eloquence and compassion in the face of continuing stonewalling from the Vatican.]

The Catholic Church remains a bigoted institution dedicated to the oppression of women, gays and child sexual abuse victims.

Writes Dowd:
How could such spirited women, smart and successful on every other level, acquiesce in their own subordination [in Saudi Arabia]? I was puzzling over that one when it hit me: As a Catholic woman, I was doing the same thing.

I, too, belonged to an inbred and wealthy men’s club cloistered behind walls and disdaining modernity.

I, too, remained part of an autocratic society that repressed women and ignored their progress in the secular world.

I, too, rationalized as men in dresses allowed our religious kingdom to decay and to cling to outdated misogynistic rituals, blind to the benefits of welcoming women’s brains, talents and hearts into their ancient fraternity.

To circumscribe women, Saudi Arabia took Islam’s moral codes and orthodoxy to extremes not outlined by Muhammad; the Catholic Church took its moral codes and orthodoxy to extremes not outlined by Jesus. In the New Testament, Jesus is surrounded by strong women and never advocates that any woman — whether she’s his mother or a prostitute — be treated as a second-class citizen.

Negating women is at the heart of the church’s hideous — and criminal — indifference to the welfare of boys and girls in its priests’ care. Lisa Miller writes in Newsweek’s cover story about the danger of continuing to marginalize women in a disgraced church that has Mary at the center of its founding story:

‘In the Roman Catholic corporation, the senior executives live and work, as they have for a thousand years, eschewing not just marriage, but intimacy with women ... not to mention any chance to familiarize themselves with the earthy, primal messiness of families and children.’ No wonder that, having closed themselves off from women and everything maternal, they treated children as collateral damage, a necessary sacrifice to save face for Mother Church.

And the sins of the fathers just keep coming. On Friday, The Associated Press broke the latest story pointing the finger of blame directly at Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, quoting from a letter written in Latin in which he resisted pleas to defrock a California priest who had sexually molested children.

As the longtime Vatican enforcer, the archconservative Ratzinger — now Pope Benedict XVI — moved avidly to persecute dissenters. But with molesters, he was plodding and even merciful.