Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Mucking Things Up

"I must say in those days, if a priest denied such activity [child molestation], I was very strongly inclined to accept the denial."
"[The Church] mucked things up and let people down. [Its response was] indefensible."
Cardinal George Pell, Vatican finance minister
Senior Counsel Assisting Gail Furness stands in front of a screen displaying Australian Cardinal George Pell as he holds a bible while appearing via video link from a hotel in Rome, Italy to testify at the Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child...Reuters/Jeremy Piper-Oculi/Handout via Reuters

"[One abusive priest] would have been prosecuted and convicted except that the bishop intervened and he was sent to Michigan for treatment and then placed in another parish upon his return."
Pennsylvania grand jury

"Someone recently shared the expression, 'When you know more, you can do more'. With the grand jury report, we know more, and we will do more [to address the issue of priests preying on children]."
Altoona-Johnstown (Pennsylvania) Bishop Mark Bartchak
It never goes away. The horrendous scandal of priests molesting children who trusted them as God's representatives on Earth, just keeps repeating itself time and again, moving from one geographic area to another as abused children now adults, living with their agony in silence now feel empowered by previous revelations leading to investigations and public disclosure has given them confidence to relieve themselves of the misery they have long lived with silently.

Australia has been rocked to its core by the launching of charges of abuse by dozens of victims whom fourteen priests from the diocese in Ballarat, near Melbourne, from the 1960s to the 1990s assaulted as the story continues to reveal the wretchedness of humanity. As many as five priests at one time in that history preyed on children. In commenting on the testimony, Cardinal George Pell one of the Vatican's most influential figures, murmurs "disastrous coincidence."

It certainly was for some of those involved several of whom committed suicide. Father Gerald Ridsdale stands out as one of the worst offenders. He has been accused of over one hundred instances of abuse. Not even his own nephew was spared. And, as it happens, Cardinal Pell shared living quaerters with this man in their early years as priests. In retrospect, he says thoughtfully, he had noticed nothing unusual.

Cardinal Pell back then served as a consultant to Ballarat Bishop Ronald Mulkearns. Father Ridsdale was an irritant, a problem that Bishop Mulkearns neatly solved by moving him for years between parishes. But Cardinal Pell had no knowledge about the abuse that ran rampant through the ranks, even as he rose to attain the Archbishopric of Melbourne, and later Sydney.

Inconveniently Father Ridsdale's nephew recounts a conversation with Cardinal Pell who once said to him: "I want to know what it will take to keep you quiet", an remembrance that the good Cardinal denies. Cardinal Pell is elderly now, and in poor health. The Vatican is concerned for his health. He testified via video link from Rome, at the Australian hearing.

And so, Australians went to the trouble to raise $200,000 to enable fourteen victims to travel to Rome to face Cardinal Pell. Who then admitted he had done too little, as in nothing-at-all, to counter the abuse he had no knowledge of, that he had paid too little attention to accusations, and was willingly relieved to turn a deaf ear to. Hear no evil has its value' no knowledge, no action required.

That's what is happening in Australia, while in Pennsylvania two Catholic bishops have been revealed to have given assistance in shielding the abuse of hundreds of children at the hands of over 50 priests over a 40-year time-span. The grand jury report based its evidence partially on diocesan archives kept secret, but uncovered through the auspices of a search warrant.

Those archives validated the suspicion that this diocese had acted just as others all over the world had seen fit to do; 'trouble' priests were simply shunted about from one parish to another. They were never to be prosecuted. The dignity of the church would be impaired. One of the priests had been convicted of forcing sex on orphans during mission trips to Honduras.

The documents in question included a "payout chart": $10,000 to $25,000 to victims who were fondled while clothed; $15,000 to $40,000 to boys who had been fondled underneath clothing, or had been subjected to masturbation; $25,000 to $75,000 for those unfortunates subjected to oral sex; and $50,000 to $175,000 allotted to those who were subjected to intercourse.

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