Skip to comments.Pope blunt before U.S. cardinals
Posted on 04/23/2002 7:11:21 AM PDT by history_matters
VATICAN CITY, April 23 Pope John Paul II bluntly told American cardinals Tuesday that sex abuse by priests is rightly considered a crime by society, and that there is no place in religious life for abusers. The pontiff made his comments his strongest yet since allegations of sexual abuse of children by priests began pouring in this year during an extraordinary meeting between U.S. cardinals and Vatican officials.
THE POWERFUL and specific words by the pope could have a determining effect on whether the Catholic Church in the United States formulates policy to automatically hand over pedophile priests to civil authorities what some have called a one strike and youre out standard.
The abuse which has caused this crisis is by every standard wrong and rightly considered a crime by society; it is also an appalling sin in the eyes of God, the pope told the closed-door meeting. To the victims and their families wherever they may be, I express my profound sense of solidarity and concern.
People need to know that there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young, the pope added, according to the official English text of the speech released by the Vatican.
The meeting opened a day after a report that a move was afoot by fellow cardinals to force the resignation of embattled Boston Cardinal Bernard Law, accused of mishandling sex abuse cases.
At a press conference held after the popes speech, a senior U.S. cardinal, Chicagos Francis George, said the topic had not come up during meetings with Vatican officials. But George noted that Law told the group that if he hadnt made some terrible mistakes, we probably all wouldnt be here.
The pope, for his part, did not address the issue directly, but he did say bishops and superiors are concerned above all else with the spiritual good of souls.
I ask Catholics to stay close to their priests and bishops and support them with their prayers at this difficult time, he added.
The Roman Catholic Church in the United States has been rocked by waves of sex abuse scandals that have shaken the confidence of the faithful, led to the resignation of one bishop, and cost the church millions of dollars in legal settlements. Church officials have been accused of covering up misconduct by priests, in some cases by moving known abusers from job to job.
Bishop William Skylstad, who is attending the talks as vice president of the U.S. Conference of Bishops, told NBCs Today show that there has been very strong discussion of a national standard for dealing with sexual abuse and that more details might emerge when the talks conclude on Wednesday. A final decision, however, would not be made until U.S. bishops and cardinals meet in June, he noted.
Ahead of Tuesdays meeting with the pope, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., insisted that Law should stay in his place and insisted that the agenda in the meetings boil down to one thing.
Weve got to make sure that people can trust their priests, he said. We are here to find out what we can do, in concert with the Holy See, to create an environment that is safe for children.
ACTION ON LAW UNLIKELY NOW
The ultimate fate of Law, accused of knowingly transferring pedophile priests from parish to parish instead of defrocking them, seems highly unlikely to figure in the closed-door meeting that concludes Wednesday night, despite what is said in personal conversations.
No cardinal spoke publicly about Laws possible resignation, but a Los Angeles Times report quickly spread around the Vatican.
The report Monday quoted a cardinal, who spoke to the Times on condition of anonymity, as saying that several U.S. cardinals would push the Vatican to ask Law to resign.
McCarrick said he had not heard of an anti-Law push. If some felt very strongly, they would speak to him privately. I cant see a cabal.
The trouble began on his watch and he wants to fix it. Give him a chance, McCarrick told reporters.
Upon his arrival in Rome on Monday, Law declined to answer questions about his trip to Rome earlier this month to discuss his possible resignation with the pope.
Law said he had made his position clear in a statement Sunday in Boston, in which he called the scandal a wake-up call for the Catholic Church that must spark immediate and decisive changes.
SEASON FOR ACTION
Underscoring the urgency here, the head of the U.S. Conference of Bishops, Wilton Gregory of Belleville, Ill., told a media briefing that weve passed the time for mea culpas. Were in the season for action.
The ongoing Law saga aside, differences could emerge among bishops and with the Vatican over whether homosexuals should be barred from the priesthood and whether to relax the Catholic rule that priests be celibate.
McCarrick agreed with the popes weekend remarks that were interpreted as taking celibacy off the agenda. Its a straw man to bring that up at this time, he insisted.
Church officials have said the pedophile scandals have deeply affected the pope, who turns 82 next month. John Paul suffers from the symptoms of Parkinsons disease and has recently been forced to reduce his participation in long ceremonies because of knee pain.
Boston became the epicenter of the controversy in January, when reports disclosed that Law and other church leaders had reassigned a priest accused of pedophilia.
The aftershocks of these revelations have since been felt in parishes throughout the country as additional reports of abuse have come to light.
1. It would be in line with "justice." Law KNEW what he was doing.
2. It would make GREAT media sense. The others could then move on and point out "what has been done."
3. It would give the Pope the opportunity to put a HEALER in Boston.
What is this supposed to mean? To my knowledge, Cardinal Law still hasn't said what he should have done with the practicing homosexual and pedophile priests.
Unfit priests do not materialise out of thin air. They come from corrupt seminaries, which draw upon an ignorant, secularised laity that's been wandering in the desert for 40 years, systematically denied the spiritual and catechectical rigor to identify and resist the wolves who've come among them.
True. And they would still be going around doing business as usual. Thank God for Law's cowardice!
No, the trouble did not begin on Bernie's watch. The vast majority of this abuse took place before he ever arrived in Boston, but his handling of the abusers, when he learned of them, is the reason all of them are in Rome.
I find it interesting, this 'whisper' campaign to get rid of him. I tend to agree with McCarrick, let's see what he does in Boston to clean up the mess and make sure it never happens again.
The abuse which has caused this crisis is by every standard wrong and rightly considered a crime by society; it is also an appalling sin in the eyes of God. To the victims and their families, wherever they may be, I express my profound sense of solidarity and concern.
People need to know that there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young.
We must refer all allegations to proper civil investigators for objective investigations.
True, but what upsets people the most is Cardinal Law's transferring Shanley (possible co-founder of NAMBLA) to California with a glowing letter of recommendation. You should read that letter, along with the kind, pastoral letters to Geoghan commending him on his years of service. Read about Shanley's lifestyle over the years - sick and perverted. Cardinal Law knew all about Shanley and yet sent him among the unsuspecting sheep here in Boston and then on to California. I cannot fathom that.
Cardinal Law is almost reviled here in Boston right now. Getting rid of him will not "fix" the problem, but IMO, Cardinal Law is a detriment to the Church. I hope the Pope looks beyond the current "outing" of the homosexuals in the priesthood and deals with the underlying reason for it. Any US Cardinal that is not obedient to Rome in every way needs to be replaced.
Yes, but how do you know if a priest is a practicing homosexual? Plus, I don't think we can afford to foot the bill for years of therapy if the numbers of homosexual priests are correct - it ain't just a few!
Maybe Cardinal George should be looking in the mirror....
The following is posted on the Roman Catholic Faithful website...
Chicagos Archdiocesan Gay and Lesbian Outreach (AGLO)
Francis Cardinal George betrays his flock. Is he fit to serve?
In the September 20, 2000 issue of the Chicago Sun-Times there appeared an article titled: STEPPING INTO THE LIGHT -Group for gay Catholics expands to south suburbs, By Cathleen Falsani, Suburban Reporter in which the Sun Times announced:
The Archdiocese of Chicago's ministry to gay and lesbian Catholics is expanding to the suburbs. Cardinal Francis George has given the go-ahead for the Archdiocesan Gay and Lesbian Outreach program -- known as AGLO -- to set up its first suburban outpost at St. Emeric's Church in Country Club Hills.
McCarrick agreed with the popes weekend remarks that were interpreted as taking celibacy off the agenda. Its a straw man to bring that up at this time, he insisted.This from the man who just last week insisted the problem of predator priests was media hype. Wake up, Ted.
You ask, Yes, but how do you know if a priest is a practicing homosexual?
-- First, most straight priests already know.
-- Re-establish fraternal community amongst diocesan priests.
-- No more bed-and breakfast ownership. Nor vacation homes in ProvinceTown or Fire Island. The Holy Father just said that the life of a priest should be "austere". You can't have austere in a bed-and-breakfast ownership.
-- Making it public that active homosexuality will lead to defrocking.
-- Don't be afraid to be on the lookout for it.
-- Do things to make it impossible for them to be priests, starting with seminaries.
This is not a witch hunt; this is just prudence in critical times.
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