Saturday, January 14, 2012

Taking Down God's German Shepherd

 Strangely, this all started over a comment I posted on an annotated version of the Pope Song, which you might remember is brought to us by the newest comedian to make my love list. In the annotations, the poster accuses Tim Minchin of lying about the fact that the current Pope was involved in the sex abuse cover-up in the Catholic Church. As it is common knowledge that this is so, I posted the following comment:

There's documentation that proves that Ratzinger was instrumental in the coverup, he just didn't do it while he was Pope. John Paul II was pope at the time, but it was still the guy who is pope now who did it and there is evidence the Vatican does not deny is there. Sure he could have been more specific and state that the current pope covered up a major pedophilia scandal while he was still a cardinal, but it is a comedy song, artistic liberty and that, a stretch to call it a lie

I was then met with this very simple response from the poster himself:

And yet you provide no credible evidence to support what you say. Why is that?

Well, because it's the youtube comments and not a college paper on the subject, and there's a 500character limit? But OK, here's me assuming he's just misinformed again, so I go ahead and respond:

The document that generally outlines how to cover up a sex abuse scandal in the vatican is called Crimen Sollicitationis, which has been made available so I am sure you can get yourself a copy to read. Ratzinger enforced this as cardinal and was granted immunity in 2005 by George Bush for his involvement in the coverup in the US, matter of public record. There is an internal document from Ratzinger to priests that was found too further showing he was enforcing it
Also, the document itself is named and shown in a BBC documentary called Sex Crimes and The Vatican, I'm sure you can find it online to watch. I know youll say it's biased and whatnot but when you get to the part with the documentation demonstrating Ratzinger's involvement in the coverup pause it, write down the name of the document, find a copy online and see for yourself if it is sufficient proof.

Relatively concise and to the point I thought, but then I received the following three comments that just blew me away:

You seem to confuse petty gossip with fact. Crimen Sollicitationis deals primary with the "Church Crime" of priests soliciting for sex during confession, but also briefly mentions priests having sex with children. Paragraphs 15 to 21 of the document demands (under threat of excommunication) that anyone solicited for sex by a priest is to denounce that priest. That hardly sounds like a cover-up.
The document here:­n.htm

And yet Fr Doyle, long time critic of the Vatican, and consultant to the "documentary" says this of the documentary: “Although I was a consultant to the producers of the documentary I am afraid that some of the distinctions I have made about the 1962 document have been lost. I do not believe now nor have I ever believed it to be proof of an explicit conspiracy, in the conventional sense, engineered by top Vatican officials, to cover up cases of clergy sexual abuse....

Firstly, Pope's are not in the habit of responding to Petty Gossip, so don't expect a public response to defend himself. Secondly. you're clearly clueless as to the Church's teaching on Papal Infallibility:

WHAT?! Wow, this is the kind of ear-plugging that creationists would be extremely proud of. Of course I knew he was going to claim that the documentary I mentioned was biased, which is why I told him to use it only to get the name of the document that demonstrates Ratzinger's involvement, to read it and see for himself. Surprise surprise he didn't, but instead went on to strike "uninformed" off my list and leaving me with two options regarding his mental state: brainwashed, or lying. Whatever I don't really care either way, but to lay this matter to rest, let's look at what the evidence actually says shall we? You all can decide for yourselves whether or not you think it is sufficient to bring Ratzinger's involvement out of the realm of "petty gossip" and into the "pretty fucking likely" or indeed "yup, absolutely involved".

 Step 1 - What does Crimen Sollicitationis actually say?

True,  the document is not a 50 page how-to manual on child molestation cover-up conspiracies. It is a document that talks about many different aspects of crimes against the faith. Child molestation is in there too, though, so what does it have to say?

Sources please: here's the vatican's own English translation. Don't trust it? Go ahead and have the original latin version. OK now let's dig in.

Preliminaries 11. Since, however, in dealing with these causes, more than usual care and concern must be shown that they be treated with the utmost confidentiality, and that, once decided and the decision executed, they are covered by permanent silence (Instruction of the Holy Office, 20 February 1867, No. 14), all those persons in any way associated with the tribunal, or knowledgeable of these matters by reason of their office, are bound to observe inviolably the strictest confidentiality, commonly known as the secret of the Holy Office, in all things and with all persons, under pain of incurring automatic excommunication, ipso facto and undeclared, reserved to the sole person of the Supreme Pontiff, excluding even the Sacred Penitentiary.

(bold my own). So OK, confidentiality, got it. Must be confidential. But maybe this doesn't cover the victims right? Surely they're allowed to tell somebody? Nope.

Preliminaries 13: The oath to maintain confidentiality must always be taken in these causes, also by the accusers or complainants and the witnesses.

Ouch. Sounds pretty clear to me. So what are these paragraphs that Jerry refers to? Do they make a special provision for underage victims of sexual abuse? Let's take a look:

15. The crime of solicitation is ordinarily committed in the absence of any witnesses; consequently, lest it remain almost always hidden and unpunished with inestimable detriment to souls, it has been necessary to compel the one person usually aware of the crime, namely the penitent solicited, to reveal it by a denunciation imposed by positive law. Therefore:

16. “In accordance with the Apostolic Constitutions and specifically the Constitution of Benedict XIV Sacramentum Poenitentiae of 1 June 1741, the penitent must denounce a priest guilty of the crime of solicitation in confession to the local Ordinary or to the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office within one month; and the confessor must, by an obligation gravely binding in conscience, warn the penitent of this duty.” (Canon 904).

(bold my own). So yes, you are supposed to denounce the priest, to another priest, not to the cops! There is a slight yet freaking HUGE difference between the two.

So where does it actually talk about sexually abusing children?

73. Equated with the crimen pessimum, with regard to penal effects, is any external obscene act, gravely sinful, perpetrated or attempted by a cleric in any way with pre-adolescent children [impuberes] of either sex or with brute animals (bestialitas).
74. Against clerics guilty of these crimes, if they are exempt religious – and unless the crime of solicitation takes place at the same time – Religious Superiors also can proceed, according to the sacred Canons and their proper Constitutions, either administratively or judicially. However, they must always communicate a sentence rendered, or an administrative decision in those cases which are more grave, to the Supreme Congregation of the Holy Office.

Nowhere does the document say anything about calling the authorities. Nowhere does it say when and how to help the victims of these heinous crimes. All it says is that the crimes that are outlined in the document are to be treated with the utmost secrecy and confidentiality, and the sexual abuse of children is included in that list.

Step 2 - What evidence is there that Ratzinger had anything to do with this?

Ok, so even though Crimen Solicitationis was not a document that focused solely on child abuse, it still very clearly states how to handle a priest involved in a sexual abuse case. OK, but that document was published in 1962. Catholic bloggers tell us it was obscure right? No one really even knew about it, right? And even if they did, what does any of this have to do with the current Pope Josef Ratzinger?
Well, it has to do with a letter he wrote in 2001, in which he specifically states the enforcement of Crimen Solicitationis, with a few changes. The original letter in Latin can be viewed here, just in case you want to double check this English translation for yourself, and it is pretty clear how he believes the sex abuse scandals were to be handled.

"[T]he Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, through an ad hoc commission established (...) because the instruction Crimen Sollicitationis, issued by the supreme sacred Congregation of the Holy Office on March 16, 1962,(3) in force until now, was to be reviewed when the new canonical codes were promulgated."
So what, pray tell, were these changes made to the ruling of Crimen Sollicitationis, which in case you haven't noticed is stated to have been in force until now? Well, the first four crimes involve the Eucharist, which is not what we are here to talk about, so let's move on to the part where they describe:

"A delict against morals, namely: the delict committed by a cleric against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue with a minor below the age of 18 years."

"Only these delicts, which are indicated above with their definition, are reserved to the apostolic tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith."

Now we're getting to the heart of it. It is now, in 2001, that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is assigned cases of sexual abuse against a minor, not previously under its jurisdiction. So why is this important? Because:

 "Cases of this kind are subject to the pontifical secret".
What is the pontifical secret, do you ask? Well, it's quite simple really, it's a super special kind of secret:

"Business of the Roman Curia at the service of the universal Church is officially covered by ordinary secrecy, the moral obligation of which is to be gauged in accordance with the instructions given by a superior or the nature and importance of the question. But some matters of major importance require a particular secrecy, called 'pontifical secrecy', and must be observed as a grave obligation."

But wait, there's more. There is a "statute of limitations" of sorts, even for cases regarding the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. At some point it does run out, and therefore one could assume that once this prescrpition no longer applies one could theoretically break pontifical secrecy and go to the police. Surprisingly this sort of statute of limitations was one of the things that was revised by Ratzinger, and he lays out what that is quite clearly:

 It must be noted that the criminal action on delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is extinguished by a prescription of 10 years. The prescription runs according to the universal and common law; however, in the delict perpetrated with a minor by a cleric, the prescription begins to run from the day when the minor has completed the 18th year of age.

So Ratzinger has extended the statute of limitations on cases of pedophilia. Do you understand what that means? It means that no one, under pain of excommunication, could talk about these proceedings to anyone until the victim turned 28. Why is this convenient? Let's look at statute of limitation laws for sexual abuse of a minor in some places where these sex abuse scandals were prevalent:
US - New York: until the victim turned 23 at the time, but there have been recent efforts to change that
US - Massachussetts: 15 years at the time, though it has been extended to 27 years as of 2006
US - California: 10 years, although there is also another law (which is being challenged repeatedly until it is overturned) that says child molestation can be prosecuted also one year after the crime is reported, regardless of whether the 10 year limitation is up.
Ireland: No official statute of limitations, but a judge can decide not to hear the case if enough time has passed that the victim does not have a clear recollection of the event

Full disclosure here: in 2005 a Vatican official stated that, as of 2002, pontifical secrecy was officially not extended to speaking to law enforcement with regards to the sexual abuse of minors. Of course he didn't really say it like that, what he implied was that pontifical secrecy never intended to include talking to the police, but since the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was approved by the Pope in 2002 that's when it really became official. However, there are two reasons why that is partially bullshit and partially has nothing to do with what we are talking about here:

1. That official was Joseph Fiorenza, not Ratzinger, the Pope that approved the Act was John Paul II, not Ratzinger, and therefore that is not evidence that Ratzinger himself does not think that pontifical secret applies to talking to the police, and

2. If it's true that the general idea was that pontifical secret does not apply to speaking to authorities about priests sexually abusing children, then no one was excommunicated from the church for doing so even before 2002 right?

Oops, wrong. And wrong again.

Also strange that Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, who cosigned the letter, doesn't agree that they should be obligated to contact the authorities over sex abuse cases

Some youtubers have told me that I was basically wasting my time with this guy, and one of them told me that he preferred to ask Jerry if he had any evidence for what he claimed, which was far more amusing. However, I cannot fully agree with that line of reasoning. It is logically impossible to prove that someone didn't do something. You would have to account for every single second of that person's life in order to prove they didn't do something. It is the person that makes the claim that needs to bring the evidence, and I think I did just that. So Jerry, the ball is in your court now. Do you claim that the evidence I have provided is insufficient, fake or both? Prove it. Show me. Don't quote some guy ranting on a Catholic blog as if that was fact, notice I didn't quote Chirstopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins in what they have to say about the Pope. Get your documentation, your evidence, and you tell me why you claim this evidence does not stand. I do this in the effort to get you to truly research what you believe, subject your assertions on this point to the same scrutiny that you would anything else. If you don't, ask yourself this:

What exactly are you afraid you'll find?

1 comment:

  1. Would not be surprised if the current pope did some kiddie diddling himself.