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Friday, October 14, 2011

US Catholic Bishop Charged In Child Pornography Bust.

Anyone who knows me personally knows I have the strongest possible reasons for being a Roman Catholic who is deeply glad to see Robert Finn charged.

I have so far steered well clear of stating the full extent of what I saw at the heart of the diocese for which I trained for the Catholic priesthood after a career in banking and the charitable sector.Continue Reading This Article>>>

I'm not about to write about my experience here, suffice to say that I did not experience any form of sexual abuse but that what I did see and experience destroyed at least 12 lives that I am aware of.

Let me propose a scenario: A consultant doctor at a hospital knows, directly, that a junior doctor has molested an adult or a child (it's not just children the media should focus on, take my word for it). The consultant moves the doctor to another hospital and hides reports detailing the doctor's crimes. Result: he is eventually barred from medicine by the General Medical Council AND charged with a criminal offense for concealing knowledge of a crime.

Now look at the case of every single Catholic bishop since the abuse scandals began in the 90s: Not one of them was ever charged with a criminal offense.

When recently the Belgian police raided the offices of an Archbishop in that country, the current Pontiff had the audacity to refer to the raid as "an outrage" that the Church had never experienced before.

The simple truth is that where abuse and financial corruption have occurred in the Church there has been systematic failure by the state to enforce basic criminal law. Be it in the UK or in Ireland or in the US, judges and police departments have an unmitigated catalogue of historical failures to push for the conviction of bishops.

I want to say something about appointments to the episcopacy at this time.

I was a seminarian who had a huge insight into the life of my diocese because I was a connected, liked and admired man both among my peers and among the upper reaches of the Church here. I was friends with several of the highest-ranking men in the diocese. What I saw was a 100% failure on their behalf to act on information they knew ought to have seen the removal from office of dangerous men. These high-ranking priests were often men I had profound admiration for, but were ultimately men whose moral fibre had been crippled by a lifetime in a system which absolutely obliterates anyone who speaks out.

Pope Benedict XVI has spent a decade using extremely strong language to condemn men he has actually called "the filth of the priesthood". His first official letter to all Catholic parishes was a form promise to smash the secrecy of former years and remove from office anyone who had abused others whilst under the sacred office of priest.

Fine words.

Yet the pattern remains the same: priest speaks out, priest is called insane, bishop targets him for shamefully violent ostracisation, priest leaves office or has a break down. I've seen precisely this pattern in my own diocese more than once and of course nobody went to Rome to complain. Why would you when you know Rome would do nothing?

In my diocese there wasn't even the first stage of moral outrage; matters just leapt from abuse to silence in one easy jump.

When Bishop Willie Walsh in Ireland recently said "Bishops act as though they are mini-Popes" he was made a target by other bishops; not even bishops are safe from being targeted.

When another bishop with whom I was personal friends spoke out he was called (and this is God's own truth) "a bastard", "a traitor" by other bishops in the 'Bishops Conference' of my country. Can you imagine that? If you can't, then I'd like to inform you of what happens to decent men in the priesthood and seminary: they usually always leave.

Want to know why the convents are empty? A century of unimaginable mental abuse by "sisters" who did things that are not only evil but were often criminal.

I know wonderful nuns in their 70s and 80s who suffered an emotional abuse of such depraved depths that fifty or sixty years later it still reduced them to tears to speak about it.

Yet still it remains that I watched good priest after good priest, and good nun after good nun, turn a blind eye to what was going on in seminary; men in their twenties and thirties were having nervous breakdowns and leaving. Others were turning to alcohol to cope with the emotional violence. Others left after having completed over 60% of their 6 years of training. Not one Canon or Monsignor or Mother Superior or friar or sister or priest went to the Bishop.

I feel an eternal sense that this problem will never go away because the Church is continuing the culture of silence that starts in seminary and continues to be rewarded straight through to being elevated to the episcopacy; it's a system built on lies and fear. The appointments recently made in my country include the elevation to the position of Archbishop of a man almost universally recognised as being a shameless bully. A man of such remarkably dangerous inner workings that priests basically stayed away from him because he was considered insane.

It all brings up memories of Cardinal John Cody, former head of the Archdiocese of Chicago, who was a thief, a lunatic, a philanderer and a despot.

Cody was investigated by the FBI for fraud in a case that ended inconclusively after a pal on the judiciary essentially put the kibosh on the investigations going any further. Cody was never charged and neither did the Church step in to do anything about the fact that over $1,000,000 went missing during his tenure. This is the 1960s, when a million dollars was a lot of money.

Another recently appointed archbishop I know is a man famed for his almost perfect lack of basic adherence to Catholic teaching. Yet his friends in the episcopacy saw to it that the terna (the list of suggested 'names' which a country sends the Pope) essentially secured him the job.

I spoke out about what I saw. I experienced two solid years of perfect hell. Not one of the three priests that daily went for me, hid my excellent reports, or publicly mocked me has ever been called to task.

But priests are little different to the cowards I see on a daily basis who turn a blind eye to the horrors of systems they themselves inhabit: policemen who ignore racism in the ranks, teachers who ignore useless colleagues, soldiers who tolerate perverse bullying until a suicide occurs. Man prizes personal security over the needs of the society he lives in. It is not until things reach disaster point that anything ever changes, whereas in the Church we've had a fire burning for a long time and still no one reaches for the extinguishers.

I want to see Catholic bishops removed for far less than failure to report criminal acts; I want them removed from office for bullying, for lying, for outrageous spending, for stealing, for promoting their buddies, for attacking their critics, and for silencing dissent. I want the personal insanity of a great many bishops made public and the removal of these men by Rome to take immediate effect. There is incredible spite and maliciousness at the heart of every Catholic diocese and its staple diet is the silence of those too afraid to speak out because they would be removed from seminary or from their parish.

The Pope talks about "purification" of the Church and yet he permits the reckless crucifixion of all those priests who did come forward in the 90s to speak up about abuse.

There are no rewards for being a Savonarola save the mercy of Almighty God and the knowledge of ones righteous courage. I do not regret that I spoke out and I do not regret that I am soon to do far, far more than speak to the Archbishop.

When I am done with what I have to do, a lot of men will be out of a job. And a "job" is all it ever was to them.

I look back on the wonderful, saintly, amusing and kind priests and nuns I grew up with and I mourn for the generation of priests now being produced, for they are men who will take on a far darker and more serious mantle of silence and secrecy than any generation before them, and the pattern of abuse/silence will continue unabated.

Until these bishops are charged with criminal offenses nothing will ever move on.

1 comment:

  1. "Anyone who knows me personally knows I have the strongest possible reasons for being a Roman Catholic...."

    At least you lot can claim St John of the Cross and St Theresa of Avila, whilst we Proddies have to settle for the likes of John Knox and Norman Vincent Peale. ~shudder~