chief among them is Father Richard Holong, not to knock his work with the poor, HIV positive persons and destitute which are commendable but his association with Jamaica CAUSE and others claiming their opposition to any moves on amending or repealing the buggery law etc. The warning was issued on September 29, 2015; see the Observer report HERE. It is commendable and one thing to condemn paedophilia to conflate abuse with same gender sex leads to the constant rift between church groups, child rights groups and LGBT advocacies.
The Guardian two days ago reported:
Even by Vat
ican standards the timing is spectacularly inept. The six Oscar nominations for the movie Spotlight have refocused the attention of the world on the issue of paedophile priests inside the Catholic church – almost certainly the biggest scandal to plague the institution in the past century. And yet, with disdain or disregard for world opinion, just two weeks before the Oscars the most outspoken member of the pope’s commission to combat sex abuse has been sacked.
Pope Francis is busy elsewhere. After Friday’s historic meeting with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church – the first for almost 1,000 years – he has been about his usual business: visiting prisoners, migrants, indigenous people and the families of victims of the violence of drug traffickers, this time in Mexico.
But in his absence a hidden civil war inside the Vatican continues. On one side are reformers who want public accountability for abuser priests and the bishops who have overseen them. On the other is the recidivist Roman old guard whose instinct for cover-up continues.
Two years ago Francis set up the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. It is made up of clerics, theologians, psychiatrists, therapists and – most significantly – two survivors of priestly sex abuse. The most vocal member was Peter Saunders, who founded the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, one of the world’s most forthright anti-abuse campaigners.
His sacking last weekend is a signal that, behind the scenes, the Catholic church is reverting to its old bad habits.
At its first meeting in May 2014, the commission’s president, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston – the man who cleaned up the mess exposed by Spotlight – startled its members by revealing that establishing the group had run into more opposition inside the Vatican than any other papal reforms, apart from the overhaul of Vatican finances.
Over the following two years the anti-abuse commission has seen attempt after attempt to undermine it. Key Vatican departments vied to take control of the body. Its decision to set up offices outside the Vatican was countermanded. Bureaucrats tried to subvert its attempt to write its own statutes. It was starved of finance.
Its press releases were doctored and diluted – as happened with the Vatican announcement on Saunders, which was presented as a fait accompli despite Saunders’ insistence he had merely been asked to consider whether his outspoken public pronouncements were compatible with his role as a papal adviser. “It was not a vote of no confidence,”another commission member, Marie Collins has since revealed.
As the story broke so did the news that the Catholic church had been running training courses for new bishops where they were told it was “not necessarily” their duty to report accusations of clerical child abuse to the police. The commission, it transpires, has been allowed no role in devising the training programme even though another member, the British psychiatrist Baroness Sheila Hollins, insisted on Friday that its brief was “to assist local churches in all parts of the world” to develop initiatives to safeguard children and vulnerable adults.
Church spin doctors rushed to the internet to suggest that removing Saunders, with his constant public lobbying on behalf of victims, would free the commission to get on with important policy work. That is the opposite of the truth.
Certainly Saunders has been an uncomfortable irritant for many in the Vatican. On the eve of this month’s meeting he told one newspaper that its previous session, in October, had been a “non-event”. He said publicly what a number of commissioners have told me privately, that the body – which meets only twice a year – is moving too slowly. “Glacial” is the word used by several members.
That may explain why it took him over two years to accept the resignation of the US bishop Robert Finn in Kansas City after his 2012 criminal conviction for failing to report a paedophile priest to the police. Commission members called for Finn’s removal but it was almost three years after Finn’s criminal conviction before Francis authorised action.
Then, even more controversially, Francis promoted a bishop in Chile, Juan Barros, who was accused by abuse victims of covering up for a paedophile priest.
All of that sits uneasily with the policy of zero tolerance that Francis called for in 2014 – after his commissioners had repeatedly pressed him to endorse such an approach.
Rome may come to regret its judgment that Saunders is more of a nuisance inside the tent shouting out than he will be outside shouting in. Since his removal he has condemned the “Vatican system” as “essentially corrupt and unwilling to do the right thing” more HERE