Thursday, April 15, 2010

Malta defaced Benedict XVI billboard with Hitler’s moustache & word pedophile

See our earlier article Benedict XVI is the Hitler-Pope of history

See our response to Benedict XVI's call for penance: Penance is not justice; penitence is inequality to the lifetime suffering of victims of the John Paul II Pedophile Priests Army

Graffiti on a Maltese bridge

UK victims of paedophile priests seek meeting with pope

Vatican is urged to use the papal visit to demonstrate concern at the damage done by paedophile priests

A poster announcing Pope Benedict XVI's forthcoming visit to Malta has been defaced with a Hilter-style moustache and the word "pedoflu" (paedophile). Photograph: Ben Borg Cardona/AFP

The Vatican is being urged to arrange meetings between victims of clerical sexual abuse and Pope Benedict XVI when he comes to the UK later this year.

Victim support groups, including the Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests (Snap) and One in Four UK, said such encounters would help defuse anger and demonstrate the church's concern for its wounded congregation.

The call comes after the papal spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said that the pope had "written of his readiness to hold new meetings" with abuse victims in the "context of his concern" for them. Lombardi's statement is the strongest indication so far that the Vatican will continue to reach out to victims of clerical sexual abuse through papal visits. The pope's British visit in September would be a high-profile opportunity to do so.

There was further embarrassment for the Roman Catholic church in England yesterday, when it was reported that a paedophile priest was allowed to continue abusing victims despite being investigated by a child protection commission chaired by the archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols. Catholic officials denied that Nichols knew any details of the case involving the London priest, Father David Pearce, who was eventually arrested in 2008.

Church officials said last week that the papal itinerary had yet to be finalised and would neither confirm nor deny that the Vatican was looking at arranging meetings with abuse victims.

Snap, which is opening a UK office to cope with the demand for support from victims, said it "fully expected" meetings with abuse victims to happen in the UK. But victims' groups warned that such meetings must be open and transparent. Similar meetings in Australia and the US had been clandestine and orchestrated, they said, with church leaders selecting suitable candidates for encounters that, despite their secret and unofficial nature, attracted positive headlines.

Maeve Lewis, from One in Four, said: "In Australia and the USA, there was no opportunity for victims to set their own agenda. There was no chance to ask difficult questions."

Last month one abuse victim, Bernie McDaid, from Peabody, Massachusetts, revealed how he was chosen to attend a secret meeting with the pope during the 2008 papal visit to the US. McDaid was abused by a Boston-based priest who molested at least 40 boys in the area.

Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the archbishop of Boston, arranged the meeting in Washington DC between a mass and a papal address to Catholic educators after the pope declined an invitation to go to Boston, one of the areas worst affected by clerical sexual abuse.

McDaid told Associated Press he had left the chapel believing Benedict had grasped the scale of the problem and the pain caused by it. But two years of subsequent inaction by the church left him disillusioned. "Was it a PR move? Looking back at that now, I have to say it was. Everything they do is not about the children. It's about the church. It's always the church first," he said.

The past few months have seen devastating revelations about clerical sexual abuse and its concealment in churches and Catholic-run institutions across Europe, prompting outrage from the public, and profuse apologies and promises of investigations from the most senior Catholics on the continent.

Next weekend Benedict visits Malta, itself shaken after botched handling of abuse claims. It was reported this month that 45 priests had been accused of sexual offences since the creation of a church response team in 1999. None of the cases has been referred to the police – the retired judge who heads the project said that was the responsibility of victims and parents. The island, which has a population of 400,000, is 98% Catholic and abortion and divorce are banned.

Amid the expressions of regret from bishops about paedophile priests in their ranks, there is also quiet fury about the €750,000 bill for the two-day trip.


April 17, 2010
Pope’s visit to Malta overshadowed by paedophile priest scandal
The damage done by the child abuse scandal has been compounded by a lack of coherent response from those at the top

A papal trip to Malta would not normally attract world attention, but these are not normal times in the Vatican. The Pope’s first overseas engagement since the sex abuse scandal embroiled the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy will take place in the full glare of the media — the same media that some of his supporters accuse of waging a campaign against him and their religion.

The blame game — the Vatican has also attributed its woes to homosexuals, the Holocaust, the Irish, and even the Devil — speaks to a wider problem in the Church’s handling of accusations that it conspired to cover up paedophilia committed by its clergy. Only in the past few days have Vatican officials scrambled to find a coherent strategy to try to control a scandal that has inflicted immeasurable damage on the institution.

“The problem is not that the Vatican line over the crisis has had unfortunate consequences,” said Andrea Tornielli, the biographer of Pope Benedict XVI and other modern pontiffs. “The problem is that there is no line.”

Even as the Pope faced accusations that he had covered up instances of clerical abuse while Archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982, and later as head of doctrine at the Vatican for 24 years, there was no co-ordinated rebuttal. In the corporate world, the response to such a public relations disaster would be crisis management, but the Vatican’s ancient bureaucracy, and a centuries-old culture of secrecy is ill equipped to meet the demands of communications strategies.
Related Links

* Pope urges faithful to do penance over abuse

* Vatican: gays to blame for abuse crisis

* Priest ‘needed protection from unfounded claims’

“We are not a multinational,” Father Federico Lombardi, the Pope’s spokesman, said recently. The Holy See, he said, “does not believe it is necessary to respond to every single document taken out of context”.

Asked during a rare briefing for reporters whether there had been urgent meetings in the Vatican over the abuse scandal, he looked baffled. Didn’t he feel that the Vatican was under siege? “No. We issue clarifications when necessary,” he replied, pointing to the publication on the Vatican website of church rules on abuse, making it clear for the first time that bishops must go to the police.

The reality, however, is that new abuse stories have appeared almost daily, and Father Lombardi, 68, a genial and mild-mannered Jesuit from Piedmont, northern Italy, has struggled without any apparent strategy or guidance from higher up in the Church.

Instead, stories involving abuse at the hands of priests have been dismissed as “petty gossip” or “idle chatter”. Contentious remarks by cardinals and bishops — blaming the stories on a Jewish conspiracy, for instance — have added to the furore.

The publication on the internet this week of new Vatican rules setting out a requirement to report suspected paedophiles to civic authorities, and intended to mark a new start, was almost immediately overshadowed by yet another gaffe, this time from the Pope’s deputy, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who, on a visit to Chile, linked child abuse in the Church to homosexuality.

Vatican officials have repeatedly claimed that 2001 regulations issued by the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — now Pope — which imposed papal confidentiality on abuse cases, were meant to speed up inquiries, not bury them, and that abusive priests were primarily the responsibility of local bishops.

Ambiguous at best, the guidelines look to many like an attempt to put the reputation of the Church above the suffering of victims. Indeed, cardinals are on record as saying that bishops were “not obliged” to go to the police.

The Pope’s call on Thursday for “penance” — the closest he has yet come to a mea culpa — may mark the start of a more coherent fightback.Father Lombardi has hinted that new initiatives are in the offing, including more papal meetings with victims as well as a “deepening of the measures of prevention and response” to abuse.

It may not be enough. This week Giovanni Maria Vian, the editor of L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, admitted that the Vatican had communication problems, adding: “We could do better.”

When appointed as spokesman for the Pope, Father Lombardi, said: “I don’t think my role is to explain the Pope’s thinking or explain the things that he already states in an extraordinarily clear and rich way.”

This relaxed approach looks dangerously inadequate. Father Lombardi has faced one public relations disaster after another under a Pope who, during his five years in office, has offended Muslims, Jews and Anglicans.

He has admitted that he does not talk to the Pope about the abuse issue, but to Cardinal Bertone.

The Pope, moreover, is not a natural communicator, as was his predecessor, John Paul II, nor did he start out as a parish priest, with contact with daily life. His style is remote and professorial, he listens to few advisers and he does not have people from all walks of life to lunch or dinner, as John Paul did.

In Germany, where the numbers of the faithful are in decline, Der Spiegel magazine has already written off his pontificate as a failure, describing “the tragedy of a man who had set out to write books and only near the end of his life was summoned to assume the Herculean office at the Vatican”.

After Malta, more challenging trips to Portugal, Cyprus, Britain and Spain await. Some doubt that the Pope, who at his appointment described himself as “a humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord”, can rise to the challenge that his Church now faces.

His former friend and fellow theologian Hans Kung does not believe that the Vatican is capable of the reform required. “We cannot hide the fact that the system of hiding [abuse] was led by the Congregation of Faith of Cardinal Ratzinger, in which they kept cases under strict secrecy,” he wrote this week. “The consequences of these scandals for the Catholic Church are devastating. Dear bishops, ask yourselves how we are going to deal with this in the future? Do not be silent – silence makes us complicit. Send demands to Rome for reform.”


At Friday, April 16, 2010, Blogger goliah said...

The waves of accumulating scandal shaking the ramparts of the roman catholic church will look a mere trifle compared to the 'perfect storm' that is shortly coming. For these growing, worldwide sexual scandals and endemic institutional corruption, having destroyed virtually any remaining 'moral' authority, while betraying thousands of children and the faithful, only reflect a far greater betrayal of humanity itself and is setting the stage for the 'churches' worst nightmare: the questioning of it's very origins! And that has already started on the web. But not by any atheist ravings. We may very well come to 'remember' the church as two thousands years of accumulated hubris and theological self deception, retailing a counterfeit copy of revealed truth.


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