Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Clarifying The Irish Church Abuse Question

As one expects from certain kinds of lawyers (and members of the MSM), the effort is directed toward obscuring the issues. After all, there's money to be had here.

The "Irish letter", in reality, had to do with effective prosecution, not 'coverups.'

The Vatican says a letter warning Irish bishops against reporting sexual abuse of children to police has been misunderstood.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said that with its 1997 letter, the Vatican wanted to ensure that Irish bishops follow church law precisely so that pedophile priests would not have any technical grounds to escape church punishment.

Lombardi issued the statement Wednesday after The Associated Press reported that the letter from the Holy See's top diplomat in Ireland told bishops that their "mandatory reporting" of abuse policy "gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and a canonical nature."--AP

There are two sets of laws at play here. One is the Church's Canon Law; the other is civil law.

Under Canon Law, "defrocking" a priest (until the Ratzinger reforms) was highly technical and complex, and the rights of the defendant-priest were carefully guarded--as are the rights of criminal defendants in the US.

The Vatican's letter to the Irish bishops was a caution, warning that civil reporting of criminal activity COULD result in preventing "defrocking" under Canon Law.

The Vatican did NOT 'instruct' the Irish bishops NOT to report under civil law.

Further complications to the 'defrocking' process were present because many priests solicited illicit sex during Confession, which raises the "seal of confession" problem, both for the victim and the priest.

The Vatican's 'Irish letter' was issued to make certain that 'defrocking' could go on, un-impeded by external (civil) prosecutions and the necessarily attendant Canon Law implications, which could prevent such 'defrocking'.

Similar situations arise in the US when a District Attorney AND a Federal prosecutor have the same defendant in their sights, by the way. Both prosecutors "want their guy," but because there are differing standards of evidence and different court procedures, one prosecutor often defers to the other when making their case.

Not unusual. Not a "plot." Not a Secret International Cabal. Just the usual jurisprudential complications.


John Foust said...

So why should a sexual abuse victim and their family be concerned with the Church's process? Shouldn't they hope for civil justice?

I think this time-consuming Canon Law process is the loophole that attracted pedophiles to the priesthood. Homosexuals had no particular reason to become priests. It would be easier to find another gay man on the outside. Of course, perhaps some of them were pushed to the priesthood by families who suspected their preference, and who thought it might change them. That's not hard to imagine.

jimspice said...

"The Vatican did NOT 'instruct' the Irish bishops NOT to report under civil law. "

Mmm hmm. It was just STRONGLY 'suggested.'

You must have attended catechism twice the day they covered "nudge, nudge, wink, wink."

Dad29 said...

I think this time-consuming Canon Law process is the loophole that attracted pedophiles to the priesthood

Easily one of the most ridiculous assertions made in the blogosphere.

Homosexuals should not have been ordained, period.

Dad29 said...

Spice-man, I was Jesuit-educated, thus am very aware of all the usual evasions, diversions, etc.

Obviously, so were the ambulance-chasers here; they're very good at masking reality for their own benefit.

GOR said...

As usual the media (New York Times and Irish TV) put their own spin on this to attack the Church. The letter in question was an advisory letter – not an order – commenting on the proposed way of dealing with these cases put forward by the Irish hierarchy. It came from the Congregation for the Clergy in 1997 - 5 years before Cdl. Ratzinger’s CDF assumed responsibility for these cases.

Nevertheless, the Irish TV program sought to involve Pope Benedict anyway. They brought up the Fr. Murphy case here in Milwaukee to imply the Holy Father’s ‘complicity’ – a charge already debunked here in the US, once the true facts were brought to light. But why let facts get in the way of a good story and an attention-grabbing headline?

Jimmy Akin effectively takes apart the NYT article on his blog.

Dave said...

Jimmy Akin's take is here:

John Foust said...

Tell me why a homosexual man would want to become a priest. I think your priesthood was attracting pedophiles. Big difference, no?

Anonymous said...

Tell me why a homosexual lives on Main Street in Jefferson, WI.

Billiam said...

Foust, A homosexual would want to become a priest because it's easy access to young boys. It's not pedophilia. The vast majority are males above the age which pedophiles go after. These guys would likely be right at home as members of NAMBLA.

jimspice said...

You know, Billiam, if you're going to hate homosexuals, you should just stick with the "God told me to" excuse. No one can argue with that one. Being gay makes you no more likely to be sexually attracted to children, and no matter how much you wish it were true will make it so.

Anonymous said...

Exactly, JimSpice.

Dad29 said...

It's hard for me to infer that Billiam "hates" homosexuals from his remark above.

But then, I'm not a mind-reader.

His response is germane, factual, and non-inflammatory.

jimspice said...


Prove it.

John Foust said...

So Dad29, every time you encountered a priest that set off your gaydar, every time you heard rumors of a priest molesting children... what did you do about it?

John Foust said...

Why would a pedophile think that the most satisfying, easiest access to children would be to give up a "normal" life and make the tremendous sacrifices to become a priest? Why not a public school teacher? Why not a day care provider? A candy store owner?

If they were actually just homosexual, why not move to a friendly community and live a happier, easier life among other consensual adults?

What's the explanation for the priests who molested little girls? Adult women? That's all the fault of the homosexuals, too?

Dad29 said...

Which facts need proof in your mind?

That the predators are ephebophiles?

That they are (largely) homosexual?

That they are priests?

All you have to do is read the US Church's OWN report on the matter to get that all straight.

jimspice said...

"Which facts need proof in your mind?"

Billiams claim that "A homosexual would want to become a priest because it's easy access to young boys" which you consider factual.

Let me make it real simple for you. Do you believe homosexuals are more likely to sexually assault adolescents than heterosexuals? And if so, what evidence do you have to back that up?

Dad29 said...

No. But I DO believe that homosexuals are more likely to assault boys then are heterosexuals.

That's why 'easy access to boys' is in Billiam's response.

John Foust said...

What Jim is getting at is, do you think homosexuals are more likely to be pedophiles than heterosexuals?

Again I ask, why would changing your life to become a priest be the easiest way for a pedophile to gain access to children? That makes no sense.

Dad29 said...

Simple, John.

Priests do not represent "stranger danger."

Dave said...


If you want an answer to your question, I recommend Michael Rose's book Goodbye, Good Men.

And 80% of the cases involved adolescent boys between 11-17 years of age. Rather unusual, don't you think?

John Foust said...

There are endless other professions that would not require the innumerable sacrifices and commitments of becoming a priest, if all you wanted was to avoid "stranger danger."

I think they knew of the church's culture that would allow such abuse to be covered-up.

Dad29 said...


Well, you're the clairvoyant, John.

jimspice said...

"But I DO believe that homosexuals are more likely to assault boys then are heterosexuals."

And again, you would be wrong. I'm aware you are disinterested in academic studies, but the majority of research shows that men who molest boys overwhelmingly either have no sexual interest in adults, or are heterosexual:

In fact, the best predictor of abusing, is for the abuser to have been abused as a child himself. Thus, the priest abuse cycle repeats ad infinitum.

But I DO believe that homosexuals are overrepresented in the Vocations; gay Catholic kids have it drilled into their heads that they are "wrong" in God's eyes, and find the convent or rectory a convenient location from which to escape their sexuality. These are not the ones abusing children though.

Dad29 said...

research shows that men who molest boys overwhelmingly either have no sexual interest in adults, or are heterosexual


Hmmmm. 50/50? 60/40? 40/60?

The fact that they molest BOYS ought to be a hint, even to the most academic of the academic researchers, (but I live in the real world...)

We agree that there is a 'historicity' to abuse, and that homosexuals are over-represented in vocations (at least in the priesthood.)

But based on first-person accounts, it's not a matter of convenience (at least not exclusively.) In many cases, it's a matter of having been recruited by a homosexual vocations director.

jimspice said...

"The fact that they molest BOYS ought to be a hint."

So all the anal and oral that occurs in men's prisons is perpetrated by homosexuals too? No. Rape is about power, not sex.

"In many cases..."

Hmmmm. 1? 10? 53,359?

"But based on first-person accounts..."

Not a good way to get at the truth.