The smoking gun

Yesterday I mentioned the discovery of a “smoking gun” in the Catholic Church’s abuse scandal: a 1997 letter to Ireland’s bishops from the late Archbishop Luciano Storero, described as “Pope John Paul II’s diplomat to Ireland. ”  Storero’s letter instructed the bishops not to report sexual abuse cases to secular authorities, but to keep it in the Church.  Yesterday I couldn’t find the letter online, but alert reader Hempenstein did (it’s available here as a pdf file).  Click to enlarge:

And why shouldn’t the bishops report abuse to Irish authorities? The real reason, of course, is because it’s terribly damaging to the Church and its authority.  But the letter says this: “The text, however, contains ‘procedures and dispositions which appear contrary to canonical discipline and which, if applied, could invalidate the acts of the same Bishops who are attempting to put a stop to these problems. If such procedures were to be followed by the Bishops and there were cases of eventual hierarchical recourse lodged at the Holy See, the results could be highly embarrassing and detrimental to those same Diocesan authorities.”

Translation:  Don’t report child abuse to nonreligious authorities because it might result in your being embarrassed at the Vatican; and it could even hurt your career.

If we use Sam Harris’s moral calculus here, the Vatican is weighing the well-being of abused children against potential embarrassment and career damage to priests and bishops, and the Holy See decided that the scales weigh heavier for the latter.  And that’s immoral.

What strikes me is that both Catholic and accommodationist bloggers (at least the ones I read—excluding Andrew Sullivan), often the first to decry discrimination against women and minorities, are strangely silent on what the Church has done to children, and on how the cover-up reaches to the highest level of the Vatican.

106 Comments

  1. Posted January 19, 2011 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    The clerics are receiving the equivalent of a TARP bailout from the “too big to fail” Vatican, LLC.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 7:46 am | Permalink

      Yeah, but now its payback time, baby!

  2. Posted January 19, 2011 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Let’s not forget, this is smack dab in the middle of Ratzinger’s term at the Inquisition.

    If there was any doubt before that the whole thing is rotten to the core…well, I’m sure Bill Donohue will continue spinning at warp speed, but so did Mohammed Said al-Sahhaf.

    Cheers,

    b&

    • Insightful Ape
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      Ben, please be polite.
      “Congregation for the doctrine of the faith”, not the holy inquisition.
      Long live the euphemistic mouthfuls.

      • Posted January 19, 2011 at 8:29 am | Permalink

        Somehow, I didn’t expect that….

        b&

  3. Sigmund
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    The current catholic apologetic line is that child abuse wasn’t considered a serious crime until recently; presumably due to all those pot-smoking hippies and their free-love, chicken-marrying ways.
    Strangely enough, as someone who went to a catholic school in Ireland in the 1970s and where serious sexual abuse occurred, I remember it rather differently. In that instance the abuser had the misfortune to be a lay-teacher rather than a priest, in which case there didn’t seem to be much debate about canon law – as soon as the accusation was made the police were called, and he was arrested in his classroom.

    • Posted January 19, 2011 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      First, I’m a product of the hippies, so to speak, so I can’t directly address the sexual mores of that generation. But I’d never before heard of child rape being part of the free love movement.

      Second…I’ve been particularly surprised that the apologists have chosen this particular tack. In so doing they completely invalidate their entire fundamental claim to morality. If the Church is merely blindly following the whims of popular society, however it might tug…well, what’s the point, really? Basically, they’ve just unabashedly embraced the exact “moral relativism” they’ve previously claimed to be against.

      Of course, it’s really just about power politics. The stated aims are tertiary at best; what really matters is maintaining a stranglehold on money and influence. Anything and everything can and will be shamelessly dropped in an instant without remorse to further their primary goal.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • yesmyliege
        Posted January 19, 2011 at 10:28 am | Permalink

        Ben, I do believe that the “apologist” you mentioned was actually Pope Ratzi himself. Oh, and lest we forget, he also implied that atheism was to blame as well.

      • Posted January 19, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

        IIRC I think Stephen Fry said – shouted – it best at his and Hitchens’ comprehensive demolition of the debate question “Is Catholicism A Force For Good In The World”.

        One of the hapless Catholics (that lackwit Tory Anne Widdicombe, I think) attempted to trot out the weaselly defence – in response to the allegations of moral hypocrisy/ignorance/torpitude – that the Church didn’t prescribe the moral zeitgeist and were merely swept along in its currents. Stephen bellowed “WHAT ARE YOU FOR, THEN?”

        • Posted January 20, 2011 at 3:14 am | Permalink

          “WHAT ARE YOU FOR THEN?”

          …and that was the best bit of the whole debate–standing and *cheering* after that. Made me want to give Stephen Fry a big sloppy kiss (on the cheek;-))

    • daveau
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      It’s OK because everyone was doing it is a really depraved excuse, at best, for anything. In this case, it doesn’t fly at all. Pathetic.

  4. alfonso
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    “Anti-Catholicism is the anti-Semitism of the intellectual.” Amen.

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      Give me a break! What a stupid comment–one that excuses the Church for its cover-up by crying “anti-catholicism.”

    • Posted January 19, 2011 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      Expressing horror at the Catholic church’s global child rape racket is no more anti-Catholic than expressing outrage at Israeli treatment of Palestinians is anti-Semitic.

      Actually, the Israelis at least have the excuse of being in the middle of an armed conflict similar to the long-standing ones in Northern Ireland and South Africa, and they’ve many times engaged in diplomacy to try to achieve a peaceful resolution.

      The Catholic “excuse” is that they enjoy raping children too much to be bothered to stop (“Don’t blame us — everybody else is doing it, too!”), so they just try to keep a lid on things to avoid damaging their public image (and thus their income stream).

      Cheers,

      b&

    • Helen Wise
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      No. No, it isn’t. How very obnoxious to compare the relatively mild censure that the Church is receiving now for it’s clerical crimes against children to the abuse and oppression the Church has committed against non-Catholics–particularly Jews–for centuries.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      Sorry, Alfonso, but it is well deserved to berate the RCC over its disgusting, immoral behavior. The entire heirarchy should be investigated and prosecuted for these horrible crimes and coverup.

    • steve oberski
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      No, No, No, It’s not the intellectuals, it’s the jews, homosexuals and the liberal media who are behind this smear campaign.

      Get with the program alfonso.

      Didn’t you get the latest secret message from the vatican ?

      Time to pull out your decoder ring and get in sync with the latest vatican spin on this.

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:01 am | Permalink

        Give alfonso a break. It isn’t easy to be closed minded and worshipful of woo. It takes him a while to change gears.

        • steve oberski
          Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:05 am | Permalink

          (http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2010/05/vatican-excuse-bingo.html)

          Here we go alfonso:

          Long Time Ago

          It all happened a long time ago and the church has changed. No fair to keep bringing it up.

          Secular Society

          It’s the fault of The secularization of society. If only everyone was a good catholic and kept his mouth shut, things would be just fine.

          Women’s Ordination / Abortion / Gay Marriage

          The only agenda of the church’s critics is women’s ordination, abortion and gay marriage.

          Pornography

          With so much invasion of eroticism, sometimes it’s not easy to stay celibate or to respect children. Not easy!

          Jews / Liberal Media / The Internet / Satan

          The Jews are always behind everything as is The liberal media (ie The New York Times). Oh and Satan. Yes he exists.

          Like the Persecution of Jews

          Criticizing the Catholic Church is just like persecution of the Jews because pointing out that the church systematically covered up the rape of children for decades is exactly like murdering six million Jews.

          (Yes we know this conflicts with the previous point. We hope you won’t notice.)

          Hatred of Christianity

          What motivates the church’s critics most of all is a pathological hatred of Christianity.

          Homosexuals

          Of course, the real problem is homosexuality not pedophilia. You see, there is a relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia. That is true. That is the problem.

          Masons

          It’s both the fault of freemasonic organizations that portray pedophilia as normal, and also a conspiracy by masonic lodges and big business to undermine the church. Simultaneously.

          Post Pubescent

          It wasn’t pedophilia because the kids (most of them anyway) were post-pubescent. And they wore sexy short shorts. (OK I made the last bit up.)

          Boy Scouts / Schoolteachers

          Employers from every walk of life – schoolteachers, boy scouts – all molest kids. For example, just this month, Rabbi Baruch Lebovits was found guilty on eight counts of sexually abusing a Brooklyn boy. (Hey, it’s fault of the Jews again.)

          Petty Gossip

          It really is. Petty gossip about raping children and systematically covering it up for years. So annoying.

          Therapy

          The priests were not reported to the police because they were being put in therapy instead. It was the zeitgeist of the day you see. Everyone did it.

          Catholic Standards

          At least the Catholic Church has the standard that rape is wrong (even if it falls short of that standard), unlike atheists.

          You Didn’t Object

          Victims didn’t object – most 15-year-old teenage boys wouldn’t allow themselves to be molested. So why did you?”

          Gold Diggers

          These so-called victims are just gold diggers – just out to make a buck off the poor honest church.

          Radical Lawyers

          The liberal media has teamed up with Radical Lawyers to persecute the church.

          Parents

          Parents and psychologists are to blame for not reporting the sex abuse in a timely fashion. Because if they had reported the abuse promptly the church would have acted immediately.

          No Smoking Gun

          Cardinal Joey Ratzinger knew nooothing about it. Nooothing, I tell you. Move along now.

          • yesmyliege
            Posted January 19, 2011 at 10:33 am | Permalink

            Well done! (Although stealing Bill Donohue’s crib notes is a sin.)

          • Posted January 20, 2011 at 3:19 am | Permalink

            Brilliant–copy…aaand…paste. Keeping that–and promptly forwarding to sis:-))

    • nichole
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      Anti-child rape is not equal to anti-catholicism.

      You gonna cry blood libel next?

      • Posted January 19, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

        Actually I have a little appreciation of the claim that being against child rape is the same as being against Catholicism. That argument amounts to the apologists admitting that child rape, it’s cover-up and facilitation, are effectively sacraments of the church.

        I wouldn’t go quite that far myself, but since they admitted it and they should know I’m prepared to take them at their word.

        • Kirth Gersen
          Posted January 20, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

          Hi, Sam! Figured it was just a matter of time before I saw you here. 😉

          • Posted January 20, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

            Hi Kirth! 🙂

            I’ve been here for a while, but I’m not a very dedicated blog commenter. I’m not sure what differentiates them from message boards where I’m more forthcoming.

    • Posted January 19, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

      No mercy for child rapists.

    • Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

      Who the fuck are you trying to kid?

      This isn’t “anti-Catholic”, you cretin, it’s …

      … listen closely now ..

      ANTI CHILD-RAPE

      Unless you’re developmentally deficient in some way, the ONE place to lay blame for the ongoing Catholic Church child-rape scandal is … the Church, who ignored, covered up and enabled the rape of children for decades.

      If you, in light of all the evidence presented to date, choose to somehow defend the Church for its crimes against children (and the damaged adults they became), you really are no better than a rapist yourself. That or you are galactically ignorant of the situation – or in severe denial.

      For the Vatican to behave as it has done reveals the entire organisation as corrupt, immoral and frankly dangerous. You wouldn’t accept this behaviour from Microsoft; why accept it from your self-appointed moral betters?

    • Veronica Abbass
      Posted January 20, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

      Anti-Catholicism is the intelligent response of the rational.

  5. alfonso
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    “smoking gun or delusional liar? The true is very different: Pedophile Priests. The Social Construction of a Moral Panic
    by Massimo Introvigne
    http://www.cesnur.org/2010/mi_preti_pedofili_en.html

    • Posted January 19, 2011 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      alfonso, you have just confirmed that you are the very embodiment of evil.

      b&

      • nichole
        Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:12 am | Permalink

        I googled the opposite of “cheers” for you, Ben.

        “Stacked was hailed as the opposite of Cheers, instead of a smart person in a “dumb” place, it is based on the concept of a dumb person in a “smart” place.”

        And Wikipedia gave me this, which fit the situation so perfectly…Synchronicity, eh?

    • Sigmund
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      What nonsense.
      The argument is not that priests are pedophiles. The argument is that the application of Catholic canon law rather than secular state law denies legal justice to the victims of pedophiles and ultimately results in more victims since the abusers are not incarcerated but moved around to different locations. It is an entirely secular argument. It would be the same if we were talking about a golf or tennis club that prevented a pedophile instructor on its staff from being reported to the authorities and tried to deal with it in-house.

    • Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

      Again, your excuses and waffling reveal you to be no better than a god damned rapist.

      Again – little wonder that atheists are labelled “angry” all the time. If Catholics like Alfonso could actually comprehend what’s happening – and if they had to deal with fuckheaded excuses – they’d be angry too.

      • whyevolutionistrue
        Posted January 20, 2011 at 4:30 am | Permalink

        Please stop this kind of language. Address the arguments but do not accuse a commenter of “being no better than a god damned rapist”. That’s a horrible thing to say, and it would be good if you apologize.

        I won’t tolerate this invective here.

        • Michael Kingsford Gray
          Posted January 20, 2011 at 4:57 am | Permalink

          Fact is not congruent to invective.

  6. alfonso
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    The Church catholic denies justice justice to the victims of pedophiles?
    False. The sex scandal is a fraud; Los Angeles Attorney Declares Rampant Fraud,
    Many Abuse Claims Against Catholic Priests are ‘Entirely False’.
    In a stunning ten-page declaration recently submitted to the Los Angeles County Superior Court, veteran attorney Donald H. Steier stated that his investigations into claims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests have uncovered vast fraud and that his probes have revealed that many accusations are completely false.

    Counselor Steier has played a role in over one hundred investigations involving Catholic clergy in Los Angeles. In his missive Mr. Steier relayed, “One retired F.B.I. agent who worked with me to investigate many claims in the Clergy Cases told me, in his opinion, about ONE-HALF of the claims made in the Clergy Cases were either entirely false or so greatly exaggerated that the truth would not have supported a prosecutable claim for childhood sexual abuse” (capital letters are his).

    Mr. Steier also added, “In several cases my investigation has provided objective information that could not be reconciled with the truthfulness of the subjective allegations. In other words, in many cases objective facts showed that accusations were false.”

    http://www.themediareport.com/jan2011/special-steier-declaration.htm?_sm_au_=iVVNQHjHsV11tbJP

    • Posted January 19, 2011 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      Apparently, you can’t even be arsed to read the actual letter from the Apostolic Nuncio at the top of this page.

      You’re doing an awesome job convincing the world that the Church is the spawn of Satan, wholly in love with child rape, corruption and lies. Good job — keep it up!

      b&

    • steve oberski
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      If the sex scandal is a fraud then why did the Papal Nuncio to Ireland tell Irish bishops not to report suspected priests to the authorities ?

      Was the Ryan Report a complete fraud ? Was there no element of truth to it ?

    • nichole
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      No scandal, then why the cover-up?

    • Miranda Celeste Hale
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      Bill Donohue, is that you?

    • DiscoveredJoys
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      Did you miss this bit in The media Report quote?

      Yes, Catholic priests terribly abused minors, and bishops failed to stop the harm. That’s an undeniable truth. There are few crimes that revolt more than sexual abuse. The abuse of minors is a dark episode that the Church will forever have to live with.

      It may well be true that some opportunists have falsely claimed abuse, but that does not invalidate the true cases of abuse. There may well be other cases that people have not chosen to bring – what about those?

    • Helen Wise
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      It is abundantly obvious that arguing with alfonso is a waste. He is, evidently, a troll.

  7. Kevin
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Disgusting. Revolting. Appalling.

    In short, nothing new.

  8. alfonso
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Was the Ryan Report a complete fraud ? No.Let me say in advance to avoid misunderstandings: a case of abuse is too many.
    At the same time as it is a lengthy text (five volumes, 2,575 pages), I presume that few people have read, including the vast majority of those who have written about in the press. The report is based on the testimony of 1090 people and covers from 1914 until 2000, although the most prominent period is from 1936. It examines the educational situation of the internees Irish men and women, led by religious congregations [I’m not clear if there were no state-owned]. The report explains that using the term abuse in its broadest sense: it refers only to sexual abuse but, above all, physical abuse (punishment, violence), psychological and, in general, neglect, abandonment, poor living conditions, food, low health.
    Of the total women’s centers, three people are accused of having committed sexual abuse: the three are secular center workers. In the case of male centers: the mention of sexual abuse by 23 religious, of which half are concentrated in two of the twelve centers of concern to report. There are two centers that do not specify the number of priests involved. In four centers, the abuses were committed not by religionists but by residents / school children in higher grades.

    The summary says that “the witnesses reported being sexually abused by priests and lay staff in schools and institutions and co-residents and others, including professionals, both external and internal institutions. He also claimed to have been sexually abused members of the public in general, including social workers, visitors, staff, host families. “Allegedly, above all, the ineffectiveness of government agencies, and the same society and families.
    In summary justice if, not anti-Catholic myths.

    • Sajanas
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      Every time you try and wipe away a stain, there are 20 more coming to light. What about the Archbishop in Belgium that raped his own nephew, and the other ‘liberal’ archbishop who tried to convince the victim not to report the crime (while secretly being taped). What about the leader of the Legion of Christ in Mexico who raped several children and yet because of his position was well protected. Or Cardinal Law in Boston who covered up sex abuse there, and left for a Cardinal’s post in the Vatican before he could be properly questioned.

      This is what happens when you put an institution before its members. If anything, I think pointing out these problems is tremendously Pro-Catholic. After all, the people uncovering this are the ones who are interested in protecting children from rape, and allowing the victims to get properly compensated for their terrible abuse, and trying to get a change in leadership that actually views raping children as a bad thing.

    • Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      Attaboy, alfonso! Don’t be ashamed of your enthusiastic support for institutionalized child rape; be proud!

      Why, if you do a good enough job, your local diocese might even let you in on the fun! Just think — you, too, could have a choir boy of your very own.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • Kevin
        Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:44 am | Permalink

        Yes, I think alphonso is primarily jealous that he can’t get away with child rape, too.

        • Matt Penfold
          Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:51 am | Permalink

          All those years of piety and then to be denied a bit of child buggery! That must really grate.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      Catholic sex abuse cases [Wikipedia]:

      “A nine-year government study, the Ryan Report, published in May 2009, revealed that beatings and humiliation by nuns and priests were common at institutions that held up to 30,000 children. The investigation found that Catholic priests and nuns for decades “terrorised thousands of boys and girls, while government inspectors failed to stop the abuse.”

      “In 2001, major lawsuits emerged in the United States and Ireland, alleging that some priests had sexually abused minors and that their superiors had conspired to conceal and otherwise abet their criminal misconduct.[9] In 2004, the John Jay report tabulated a total of 4,392 priests and deacons in the U.S. against whom allegations of sexual abuse have been made.

      Ireland # US.

  9. TheBrummell
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    I was struck by the “English speaking world” part – why would this fraction of global Catholicism be singled out? Would allegations of sexual abuse of children by handled differently if they occurred in France, or Poland, or Argentina?

    • Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      In Mexico, Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado raped his own illegitimate children. Pope John Paul II decided his case needed Papal attention, and so he asked Maciel to take an early retirement.

      I’m not aware of anywhere that the Church has any kind of presence that it doesn’t also promote its global child rape racket.

      Cheers,

      b&

  10. Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    “Anti-intellectualism is the anti-Catholicism of alfonso.” Or something.

  11. Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Today the Vatican is saying the letter is “misunderstood.” Srsly!

    http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2011/01/19/vatican-letter.html

    • Sigmund
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      Well those who can’t read english won’t understand it so technically the church is telling the truth. Mental reservation.

    • Helen Wise
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      Thank you for the link!

      That seems a really tepid response to the drubbing the Church is taking over the letter, doesn’t it?

    • steve oberski
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      The folks in the comment section of that article don’t seem to be buying the explanation, except for the odd catlick apologist.

  12. alfonso
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Bill Donohue, is that you?
    No, Who is this guy?
    I am a Spanish Catholic who has investigated and refuted myths online debates anti-Catholicism: woman without a soul, anesthesia during childbirth, the non Prohibition of lightning, Pope Leo XII and the smallpox vaccine …
    http://bedejournal.blogspot.com/2009/03/pope-leo-xii-and-vaccination-ban.html
    http://www.koreamed.org/SearchBasic.php?DT=1&RID=78501
    http://www.churchinhistory.org/pages/booklets/chloroform.htm
    http://bedejournal.blogspot.com/2008/12/deep-sleep-of-adam.html

    • SinSeeker
      Posted January 20, 2011 at 12:56 am | Permalink

      Okay, I’ll bite – what’s “the non Prohibition of lightning”?

      • Michael Kingsford Gray
        Posted January 20, 2011 at 4:54 am | Permalink

        What Michael Jackson did to his complexion?

  13. alfonso
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Bill Donohue, is that you?
    No, Who is this guy?
    I am a Spanish Catholic who has investigated and refuted myths online debates anti-Catholicism: woman without a soul, anesthesia during childbirth, the non Prohibition of lightning, Pope Leo XII and the smallpox vaccine …
    http://bedejournal.blogspot.com/2009/03/pope-leo-xii-and-vaccination-ban.html
    http://www.koreamed.org/SearchBasic.php?DT=1&RID=78501
    http://www.churchinhistory.org/pages/booklets/chloroform.htm
    http://bedejournal.blogspot.com/2008/12/deep-sleep-of-adam.html

    • Utakata
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      You smell like a troll to me.

      • Matt Penfold
        Posted January 19, 2011 at 10:16 am | Permalink

        Just think how alfonso will have taken the news that Spain now allows gay marriage, and smile.

        It must drive him insane!

    • Posted January 19, 2011 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      Nevermind. You’re even more weasel-y than Bill Donohue. Congrats on that achievement, dude.

    • Kevin
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      Dude — NOBODY has a soul.

      It’s imaginary.

    • nichole
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      Are these links to “myths” that you have refuted? Because they’re all written by different people, none named “alfonso” unless you’re taking credit for the anonymous article on churchinhistory.org.

      Your second link is broken, btw
      “Fatal error: Using $this when not in object context in /home/koreamed/WebServices/webpages.KoreaMed/ArticleDisplay.php.inc on line 1775”

    • steve oberski
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      alfonso, you do know that Franco is dead and that Spain is a now secular democracy ?

      Or are you longing for the good old days when the catlick church hopped into bed with every fascist dictator going ?

  14. Tulse
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    If we use Sam Harris’s moral calculus here, the Vatican is weighing the well-being of abused children against potential embarrassment and career damage to priests and bishops, and the Holy See decided that the scales weigh heavier for the latter. And that’s immoral.

    At the risk of derailing the conversation back to Harris’ book, such weighing is precisely what Harris calls morality. Harris’ position does not authorize an a priori determination that these actions were immoral, precisely because his moral position is utilitarian and consequentialist. There are no actions prohibited tout court — heck, he says that even torture may be justified under certain circumstances. So if the moral calculus involves the question “do these actions increase the overall well-being of conscious creatures”, then I can easily imagine scenarios where covering up these horrific crimes would indeed lead to greater overall well-being.

    For example, if revealing these crimes causes a massive decrease in donations or increase in lawsuit payouts, and those funds are therefore diverted from charitable work that does massive amounts of good, then it may very well be that, on balance, damaging the Church’s reputation results in worse overall outcomes than reporting child rape. Note that I’m not saying that’s true, merely that such reasoning and calculation would be required before Harris could declare whether the Church’s actions were immoral, or not — the judgement of the morality of these actions hinges on precisely such calculation, and Harris cannot simply say that such coverup is immoral without such determination.

    That’s the cold logic of utilitarianism, and one reason that I think Harris’ position is extremely problematic.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

      It is only problematic if you don’t agree with the outcome of his moral calculus.

      For an analogous example, it may well be that some populations differential reproduction benefits from nuking the hell out of another population. While that would be awful, it doesn’t mean that evolution is a problematic (fact or) theory.

      I don’t think it would be a very useful moral calculus if enough people disagreed with it, an external problem. But inherently problematic? No.

      • Tulse
        Posted January 19, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

        It is only problematic if you don’t agree with the outcome of his moral calculus.

        Of course, but that’s true of any moral system. I was just pointing out that those who see these actions of the Catholic Church as inherently wrong, as needing no further exploration to condemn, don’t agree with Harris (or at least with the implications of the morality he has laid out). Specifically I was disagreeing with Jerry’s implicit claim that Harris’ calculus would (in some obvious, incontrovertible sense) see these actions as immoral without question. I’m not sure how many supporters of Harris’ position in general are willing to accept this conclusion in specific.

  15. Reggie
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    I’m amused that the cover-up order ends with, “Yours sincerely in Christ.” And then it’s signed by the representative of God’s representative on Earth. One can only assume that God doesn’t want anybody to call the cops when a priest gets caught buggering a boy.

    And that’s all we need to know about Holy Mother Church, I reckon.

    • Kevin
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      Or a girl.

      Between 1950 and 2002, there were documented 246 cases of abuse of girls younger than age 8.

      Yes, you can all go “ick” now — except alfonso, who apparently is getting a chubby with all this sex talk.

      • Posted January 20, 2011 at 1:25 am | Permalink

        except alfonso, who apparently is getting a chubby with all this sex talk.
        Please don’t go there. That’s the worst kind of ad hom.

        • Kevin
          Posted January 20, 2011 at 10:01 am | Permalink

          Who the fuck cares? Seriously, if he persists in defending child rapists, then at some point one has to wonder about his motivation…

          • Kirth Gersen
            Posted January 20, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

            No — we can assume he’s a Catholic apologist, which is what can be derived from a logical interpretation of his posts. Anything else — any freaking thing else — is pure speculation without evidence.

            • Kirth Gersen
              Posted January 20, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

              And no, I’m not defending child abuse — but I am for sure defending evidence-based conclusions, vs. random assumptions.

  16. Posted January 19, 2011 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    If there is smoke pouring out of the gun, but the authorities choose not to notice, does that really count as a “smoking gun”.

  17. Marshall
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Jerry: “So much for the benign nature of mainstream, non-fundamentalist faiths.  This is the governance of the Catholic Church; are people still going to assert that “regular” religion is not harmful?”
    The Catholic church is not “regular religion”. Regular religion is where you get together face-to-face with your neighbors and collectively give praise for the inexplicable privilege of being alive in this complex frustrating beautiful place. I don’t doubt that some RC parishes are like that, but the “Catholic” (“Universal”) church is a world-spanning political party with a totalitarian agenda, and this sort of letter is thoroughly what can be expected.

    Local community is it. Loose that and you’ve lost most everything.

    • Posted January 19, 2011 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      Sorry, not buying it. More Christians are Catholic than anything other sect. It doesn’t get any more mainstream, regular, common, etc. than that.

      Cheers,

      b&

    • Posted January 19, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      I notice you repeated Jerry’s “regular” but not his “mainstream.” You can hardly pretend that the Catholic church is not mainstream religion!

    • Posted January 19, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      Furthermore…

      “Regular religion is where you get together face-to-face with your neighbors and collectively give praise for the inexplicable privilege of being alive in this complex frustrating beautiful place.”

      That’s a very “special,” sentimental, selective, doe-eyed definition of religion. It describes part of religion, but certainly not all of it, or what is central to it. You forgot the part about “God,” for a start.

      • yesmyliege
        Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

        That’s not regular religion, but it’s pretty close to just saying “Good morning!” and meaning it.

  18. alfonso
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Nichole: Thanks for telling me the link breakage. But I never claimed to have written those articles. What it did was to contact James Hannam( and with Humphrey Clarke), a historian of science specialising in the Relationship Between Science and Christianity in the Medieval and Early Modern eras. Honestly acknowledged that he was unaware fraud myth of papal prohibition of smallpox vaccine. It also tells you that this ridiculous myth was being used by Patricia Churchland to defame the Church. Therefore I sent irrefutable findings of 2 French historians: Yves-Marie and Jean-Claude Bercé Otteni. And also other secondary sources …
    In conclusion, Leo XII’s Alleged ban of Vaccination is a myth whiggish REPEATED Which Has Been Ever Since slavishly and promulgated, HAVING Despit absolutely no basis in fact-whatsoever. No doubt it will continue in internet to take on a new lease of life black legends long as it is anti-catholic or anti-religious.
    One last point, do not understand the aggressiveness of other commentators to me.

    • Posted January 19, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      Our hostility towards you is the same response any civilized human shows towards an advocate for a global child rape racket.

      b&

    • NoAstronomer
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      Do try and stay on topic please. We’re not talking about smallpox, we’re busy pointing out that the catholic church condoned and facilitated raping children for (at least) many decades.

      TIA.

      Mike.

    • nichole
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      Okay, so you were linking to myths then. You would have done well to link to your debunking as well.

      The aggression is because you are crying catholic persecution while acknowledging that priests raped children, apparently indicating that you think church officials are above the law. It is wildly insensitive to the abused, which is offensive to those who empathize with them.

      The issue is not whether the church is being persecuted, it’s whether priests raped children then had their crimes covered up by Vatican officials. The letter in the OP would indicate that the second thing was true, which itself would indicate that the first thing was true.

      So get this straight: Prosecution of child rapists is not persecution of the Catholic Church, and if they were complicit in covering up the crimes to save face then the church is an accomplice. If the priests are being prosecuted, then their accomplices should be also. The church harbored criminals. If a religious group wants to have their own laws and system of punishment, that’s fine; they still have to abide by the laws of the states that they reside in. You can make additional laws if you like but you have to follow ours too. One of our (state) laws is no child raping. Vatican City is a sovereign nation if I’m not mistaken; they could make child raping legal there and harbor all the pedophile priests within their own walls. Harboring them in my backyard is when we call the cops.

    • Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

      Fucking hell – is this your first time on the internet?

      Alfonso, if you’re going to defend people who allow child rapists to continue raping children, well…

      …people are going to get fucking hostile.

  19. Launcher
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    > “… the cover-up reaches to the highest level of the Vatican”

    This won’t in the least hurt the late Pope John Paul II’s chances for canonization. After all, there’s soooo much evidence – reviewed by the Church’s best experts! – that he belongs in their repertoire of saintly subdeities.

  20. Gayle K. Stone
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    …”procedures established by the Code of Cannon Law” which reads like the “By Laws” of the Cosa Nostra. Note that the letter warns the Clergy, you will get more flack than the embarrasment to the Holy See. For those of you that have not read “The Case of the Pope” by Geoffrey Robertson, QC, please do. It’s a recommendation on Dawkins’ web site or easily and inexpensively obtained from Amazon.

    • steve oberski
      Posted January 19, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      What did the poor Cosa Nostra ever do to earn such an invidious comparison ?

      • Michael Kingsford Gray
        Posted January 19, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

        Quite.
        The RCC makes the mafiosi look like fluffy kittehs.

        • Posted January 19, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

          I imagine if there was money in it, the Mafia would of course run a child molestation racket.

          The Catholic Church does it for free.

          • Michael Kingsford Gray
            Posted January 20, 2011 at 5:03 am | Permalink

            Mafia power seems primarily aimed at worldly prestige, yet RCC power seems aimed at base perversions, with worldly prestige as poor second.
            I expect such is why the aberrantly lustful join the church, and the masculinely insecure join the Cosa Nostra.

    • Posted January 21, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

      I’m reading it right now. It’s an appalling record.

  21. Caak
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    …the Vatican is weighing the well-being of abused children against potential embarrassment and career damage to priests and bishops, and the Holy See decided that the scales weigh heavier for the latter. And that’s immoral.

    But if you believe the Holy See is in charge of the One True Church dedicated to saving humanity from fires of hell, then it becomes moral. Damage to the church’s reputation means less converts, which in turn means more people being tortured for eternity in hell. The Church is the only way to salvation, thus there is a moral obligation to protect the Church.

    With God, all things are permissible.

  22. Posted January 19, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    The Pope and his fellow child rape supporters need to be arrested the next time their skirt-wearing asses leave the Vatican.

    Even better would while they’re in the Vatican. Then maybe all of the art and gold they’ve stolen over the centuries can be returned to their owners as well.

    • Michael Kingsford Gray
      Posted January 20, 2011 at 4:50 am | Permalink

      Hear, hear. Well spoken Sir.

  23. Diane G.
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    (subscribing)

  24. John F.
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    I think people are being too hard on the church. When you’re part of a group, it’s simple human nature to reflexively close ranks against a perceived assault from outsiders — even if doing so means dismissing legitimate complaints. It’s part of the tragedy of the human condition.

    They’re just men, after all. It’s not as if they’re allied with some sort of supernatural force of morality.

  25. Posted January 20, 2011 at 1:19 am | Permalink

    What strikes me is that both Catholic and accommodationist bloggers (at least the ones I read—excluding Andrew Sullivan), often the first to decry discrimination against women and minorities, are strangely silent on what the Church has done to children, and on how the cover-up reaches to the highest level of the Vatican.

    Andrew Sullivan is an accommodationist?

    • Sigmund
      Posted January 20, 2011 at 5:09 am | Permalink

      That also strikes me as incorrect.
      I think being theistic excludes one from the term accomodationist. Accomodationist, in the context we use it here, is the term that applies to atheists that cozy up to the religious, telling them that science is compatible with religion and telling the rest of us to stop being so rude.

      • Posted January 21, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

        From the infallible Wikipedia: “He defended religious moderates in a series of exchanges with atheist Sam Harris in which Harris maintained that religious moderates provide cover for fundamentalists and make it impossible for anyone to effectively oppose them.”

        I stand corrected. I only knew about the married gay bear side; I didn’t realise he was so conservative religiously.

  26. Dominic
    Posted January 20, 2011 at 5:14 am | Permalink

    Sounds like the recipe for an Anthony Burgess novel… “It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me.”

    Seriously, these people have no sense of decency. This Catholic aloofness & refusal to obey civil law is why Henry II (one of my heroes) went into conflict with Thomas a Becket.

    • Tulse
      Posted January 20, 2011 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      “It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me.”

      One of the best opening lines ever.


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