Thursday, March 25, 2010

Isely's Pushing the Wrong Agenda

I met Pete Isely a number of years ago. Pleasant guy, and (at the time) he had a very sensible cause: get the pedophiles out of their collars and into prison.

Who could argue with that? I certainly didn't.

Somewhere along the line, Pete's been co-opted by people who are not as sensible as Pete was. They have a markedly different agenda: they are gunning for the Pope, and Isely's been duped.

"The goal of Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, was to keep this secret," [Isely] said, flanked by photos of others who say they were abused and a poster of Ratzinger. "We need to know why he (the pope) did not let us know about him (Murphy) and why he didn't let the police know about him and why he did not condemn him and why he did not take his collar away from him."

Church and Vatican documents showed that in the mid-1990s, two Wisconsin bishops urged the Vatican office led by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger - now the pope - to let them hold a church trial against Murphy. The bishops admitted the trial was coming years after the alleged abuse, but argued that the deaf community in Milwaukee was demanding justice from the church.

Ratzinger was not a member of the Congregation for Clergy (which is directly responsible for priests in the overall sense), nor the Congregation for Bishops. He was head of Congregation for Doctrine. So the first question is "Why did Weakland write to Cong. Doctrine rather than Clergy or Bishops?" (The answer is below, in the CNS News story.) It is very important to note that Ratzinger's Congregation did NOT have full control of priest-pedophile issues until 2002, by the way. (Noted below is the fact that Ratzinger himself won for CDF the ability to laicize priests convicted under Canon Law.)

UPDATE: the first complaint came in in 1974. It is not yet clear whether ANY civil/criminal complaints were filed in this matter.

The second question is: why the Hell does Isely complain that Ratzinger 'did not inform Milwaukee police and the Milwaukee DA'? Did we not have an Archbishop right here in Milwaukee at the time? Or an auxiliary Bishop (or two)? Since the local DA was a Catholic and his wife worked at a Catholic high school, it shouldn't have been too hard to find McCann's home phone number, right? IIRC, one could also find a listing for "Milwaukee County Office of District Attorney" if you wanted to reach McCann during the day. He'd probably take a call from Rembert Weakland.

Finally, Isely complains about "secrecy." He's right: the Vatican did want to keep the matters confidential, but not for the reasons Isely (and his pals) want you to believe. The Vatican kept these things confidential for the protection of the victims AND as a guard against unwarranted calumny of the priests. Canon Law is like American jurisprudence--innocent until proven guilty, and all that stuff. As you will also see (below), Canon Law has a statute of limitations--just like lots of States in the USA.

This is exactly the same as the practice at the local newspaper: they do NOT publish the name of someone charged with incest (e.g.) to protect the child. Similarly, the local newspaper does NOT publish the names of arrested suspects until charges have been filed.

Yes, the newspaper knows all about libel--unless it's the Church which does not publish names.

Charlie Sykes is right. Something about this story smells funny.

Has anyone called E. Michael McCann about this? Anybody? Bueller?

More here from Airstrip One (England...)

I do, however, get the very strong feeling that the Pope’s enemies, including his enemies in the Church, are trying desperately hard to discover serious complicity on his part in a child abuse case. Because that would be just so convenient, wouldn’t it?

Thompson cites the CNS story, which has a few interesting facts, too. Like the following:

Archbishop Weakland wrote to Cardinal Ratzinger about the case in 1996 because he thought it might involve "solicitation in the confessional," a sin which because of its gravity involved the doctrinal congregation.

Later in 1996, the doctrinal congregation told Wisconsin bishops to begin a canonical trial of Father Murphy, the Times article said. But it said that process was halted after Father Murphy wrote directly to Cardinal Ratzinger, saying that he had repented and was in poor health, and that the allegations went beyond the church’s own statute of limitations for such crimes.

UPDATE: As it turns out, the trial was NOT "halted."

Also worth noting:

Vatican officials who spoke on background said the New York Times story was unfair because it ignored the fact that, at the urging of Cardinal Ratzinger himself, new procedures to deal with priest abusers were put in place in 2002, including measures making it easier to laicize them.

At some point in time, the JS will stop using NYSlimes stories as "fact-based."


3rd Way said...

An executive's subordinate ordered another subordinate to stop the trial process against an admitted serial child molester. If this was any organization other than a church the executive responsible would have stepped down months ago.

Dad29 said...

Does "statute of limitations" ring a bell for you, 3Way--or does no law matter when smearing a Pope?

Dad29 said...

By the way--when does Obama step down based on his subordinate's blatantly (felonious) illegal offer of Chief/Naval Ops in exchange for NOT running against Specter?

Anonymous said...

Why don't the Lutherans (pick a denomination/synod!), Presbys, Methodists, or Episcopals have this kind of trouble, DaddyZero? Why was/is the preisthood such a pedophile magnet? Why indeed? You can play your little "shift the shaft" games (It was Weakland's fault! It was McCann's fault! Any but the Rat-Zinger!) but it doesn't change the basi truth: these creeps felt at home and were protected! Why?

Amy said...

Um Lutherans and the rest do. And the Church is far less likely to produce abusers than...public schools.

Here's a pertinent graph:

My research of cases over the past 20 years indicates no evidence whatever that Catholic or other celibate clergy are any more likely to be involved in misconduct or abuse than clergy of any other denomination -- or indeed, than nonclergy. However determined news media may be to see this affair as a crisis of celibacy, the charge is just unsupported.

Literally every denomination and faith tradition has its share of abuse cases, and some of the worst involve non-Catholics. Every mainline Protestant denomination has had scandals aplenty, as have Pentecostals, Mormons, Jehovah´s Witnesses, Jews, Buddhists, Hare Krishnas -- and the list goes on. One Canadian Anglican (Episcopal) diocese is currently on the verge of bankruptcy as a result of massive lawsuits caused by decades of systematic abuse, yet the Anglican church does not demand celibacy of its clergy.

But, by all means, don't let facts get in the way.

As I've said before: in a world where we make condoms for 12-year-olds, where public schools whisk away girls for abortions without parental consent, and where graphic "coming out" stories are part of the "safe schools" czar's curriculum (and where that czar did nothing to stop the statutory rape of a minor), anyone who complains about the Catholic Church's scandals without condemning these realities is hypocritical. So that means the media, and 99.9% of lefty bloggers/commentators.

As another blogger says, the day will come not when the Church is in trouble for the scandal - but that we worked to excise these abusers from our seminaries and parishes. We will be in the wrong for oppressing just another sexuality in the glorioius mosaic.

Anonymous said...

Rich, Amy, rich! Find me another denomination where a slimeball child molester was shuffled around from unsuspecting church to unsuspecting church for a couple decades! This was par for the course in the holy Roman church. Take a look at the question at hand. Do you think a Methodist Bishop could get away with moving the pedophiles around like the bozos did right here in Wisconsin?

Why didn't the "higher ups" kick the turds out? Because homosezuality isn't viewed as "abnormal" in the priesthood because, frankly, is isn't viewed as abnormal behavior by a group comprised disproportionately of gay men.

Rat-Zinger isn't out of the woods on this deal yet. Far from it.

Anonymous said...

Amy--The study you cite is from 2002, from a professor (who is NOT Catholic) of history and religious studies, based on a self-study conducted by ONE archdiocese. Hardly a representative sample. And, the man responsible for that report just recently stated that "much to my surprise, the Islamic scriptures in the Quran were actually far less bloody and less violent than those in the Bible". His take was renounced. Here, read more, if you would like.

Would this revelation make him more or less credible to you now?

The fact remains there has been duplicity, and it is POSSIBLE that Pope Benedict played a role. To what extent is the question. So, of course, the Vatican is going to circle the wagons. Now, I would agree that MOST priests are "normal", and that there are elements who are, unfortunately, dragging their good name in the mud. But, to me, that's NOT the issue. The focus ought to be on the cover-ups of those priests who had engaged in sinful behavior by the powers that be. The intense scrutiny of those good men of the cloth rests upon those within the RCC hierarchy for their unwillingness or outright refusal to be transparent.

And, Dad29, talk about character assassination! Isley's been "duped" by "outside" forces, that's rich. Maybe you need to revisit some of the "facts" you've been "reporting".

jimspice said...

Centium et centium!

Amy said...

No, anon, you just prove that there's no point arguing fact with liberals.

Anonymous said...

Amy, if it were "liberals" diddling the little boys and "liberals" engaged in the massive, intercontinental, decades-long coverup, you would be in your normal, self-righteous ecstatic mode. But because it is your beloved can-do-no-wrong church, you put on your horse blinders. Wake up and smell the coffee! Confession will be good for your soul.

No, it wasn't ALL priests, but it was a significant minority, and for some reason the higher-ups apparently thought that the behavior wasn't sufficiently problematic to protect the VICTIMS.

How could the jerk in Milwaukee stay in the saddle long enough to molest a couple hundred boys? Because, in the end, no one really gave a damn about the VICTIMS! That's the sick part.

Did and does this activity occur in other denominations? Yes, and when it does and it is exposed to the light of day, heads role. Here your church simply shuffled the bad priest around and let him "have at" his captive audiences over and over and over -- for decades! Sick, sick, sick!

I know that you often rage against homosexuality which is, apparently, a sin in your mind only when a priest isn't involved.

GOR said...

Anon: the civil authorities did know about the Murphy case back in the 70s and they didn't pursue it for 'lack of evidence'.

That lack of evidence could have been for a number of reasons: 1. the victims didn't want publicity and refused to bring charges; 2. the lapse of time (this began in the 50s); 3. Statutes of Limitation; 4. Difficulty to prove in a case of 'he said/he said'.

There is a lot of blame to go around here, but it is convenient for some to put it all on the Church.

The NYT article was selective in the facts of the case - and it had all the documents. Saying the Holy Father 'knew and did nothing' is slanderous and gutter journalism - and the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel, like others in the MSM, just picked it up and ran with it.

Shame on all of them!

RAG said...

I agree with dad29 about not making too much hay against B12 for what happened in this particular case. I do have some concerns that archdiocesan officials and the papal ambassador in Washington could have been more aggressive.

On the overall issue of clergy sexual abuse I believe the church must be far more proactive. This starts with full repentance but the "collar club" doesn't always practice what it preaches.

Dad29 said...

FWIW, anony(s), Abp Cousins and CERTAINLY Abp Weakland, were and are "liberals."

So is the un-named co-conspirator, Bp. Sklba. Curious, no, that his name has not been mentioned?

Anonymous said...

So liberals in the RCC are unwelcome, is that the implication? What would Jesus say, perhaps "Buy More Ammo"?

Anonymous said...

Amy--No, anon, you just prove that there's no point arguing fact with liberals.

What do you fault in my 10:35 p.m.?
What "facts" do you believe I'm distorting?