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Excuses for the Vatican Complicity

Lyle J. Arnold, Jr.

1. The "wall of silence" - "The Pope ... continues to be under fire for a 2001 Vatican letter he sent to all Bishops advising them that all cases of sexual abuse of minors must be forwarded to his then-office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and that the cases were to be subject to pontifical secret. Germany's justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnattenberger, has cited the document as evidence that the Vatican created a `wall of silence' around abuse cases that prevented prosecutions." (1)

Sabine Leutheusser

Benedict: I promise that I knew nothing.
Leutheusser: You created a wall of silence
2. The "protracted hiatus" - Fr. Michael Teta began molesting boys soon after his arrival at the Diocese of Tucson, Arizona, in 1978. Bishop Manuel Moreno of the Diocese held a tribunal, calling Teta’s acts of molesting boys in the confessional as they prepared for First Communion "satanic." Bishop Moreno removed Teta from his priestly duties, but he wanted the priest defrocked, which only could be done at Rome. Moreno petitioned the Vatican for the defrocking.

Later, in a signed letter dated June 8, 1992, Card. Ratzinger advised Bishop Moreno he was taking control of the case. Five years later, however, nothing had been done. Teta remained on the Church's payroll while working with youths outside the Church. On April 28, 1997, Moreno wrote to Ratzinger saying, "This case has already gone on for seven years. I make this plea to you to assist me in every way you can to expedite this case."

In 2004, seven years later, Teta was defrocked. The protracted hiatus caused by Ratzinger, however, allowed the statute of limitations to save Fr. Teta from criminal prosecution. (2)

3. The Ratzinger letter, more delays - Juxtaposed on either side of the headline story of the April 10, 2010 issue of the Contra Costa Times, titled "Vatican Scandal Hits Home,” is a picture of Benedict XVI and former East Bay priest Stephen Kiesle, convicted of molesting boys. The full quote of a letter written in 1985 by Card. Ratzinger to the Oakland Diocese Bishop (in response to the Bishop’s request to defrock Fr. Kiesle) is displayed. No guesswork is necessary regarding the intent of the letter. It blocked the defrocking of Fr. Kiesle, who had a notorious pedophile problem, dating years before the 1985 letter.

Benedict with Fr Stephen Kiesle

Ratzinger blocked the defrocking of pedophile Kiesle, right
In 1978 Fr. Kiesle had been convicted of tying up two pre-teen boys and molesting them. He was later arrested on thirteen counts of child molesting during the late 1970's. Again, the statute of limitations provided safety for Kiesle, and all the charges except two were dropped. The resolution of the remaining case is not recorded.

At least three letters from officials at the Oakland Diocese had written to Fr. Ratzinger to check on the status of the Fr. Kiesle case. At one point a Vatican official wrote to the Diocese saying that perhaps the file had been lost, and asking that the case be re-submitted. Eventually Fr. Kiesle was sentenced to six years in prison in 2004 for a molestation in 1995. He now lives in a retirement community in California, where his parole directives require him to wear a GPS (Global Positioning System) anklet. (3)

There is something striking about the above incriminating vignettes, which point to a smoking gun on Card. Ratzinger. The seriousness of the indictments demanded a candid and convincing answer. Yet the exact opposite has occurred.

4.: "Petty gossip" - "Pope Benedict today risked inflaming opinion as he appeared to round on critics of the Catholic Church over the widening sexual abuse scandal, saying he would not ‘be intimidated by ... petty gossip.’” (4) This retort is nothing less that bewildering. Instead of addressing the substance of the accusations, he clumsily takes an impudent (and impotent) verbal swing at those who seek answers to serious charges of inaction. Such reaction by the world's most powerful leader seems to be a sad case of complicity.

Allen’s diversion tactic

In a frantic effort to protect Pope Ratzinger, John Allen, correspondent for the progressivist National Catholic Reporter, employs a diversion tactic. Allen attempts to deviate attention from Ratzinger's "pontifical secret" and his "wall of silence" by exposing a hitherto tightly closeted malfeasance.

Dario Castrillon Hoyos

Turning attention toward the cover-up of Card. Hoyos
The story turns on a 2001 letter written by Card. Castrillon Hoyos to French Bishop Pierre Pican, reported in a Vatican statement dated April 15, 2010. In it Hoyos congratulates Pican for not reporting an abuser priest to the police: "I rejoice to have a colleague in the Episcopate who, in the eyes of history and all the other Bishops of the world, preferred prison rather than denouncing one of his sons, a priest."

Now comes Allen's rather silly conclusion that this Hoyos’ letter lets Ratzinger off the hook in the present Vatican scandal. To wit:

"In effect, the Vatican statement (of April 15) suggests that Castrillon Hoyos was part of the problem which then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, eventually solved. ... The Vatican statement suggests that Castrillon Hoyos's attitude was part of the reason that then-Cardinal Ratzinger ... pressed for a more aggressive policy on the removal of predator priests. This statement represents a Vatican milestone. Rather than defending Castrillon Hoyos' September 2001 letter, the statement essentially concedes that it's an embarrassment, but insists that subsequent action by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Ratzinger amounted to a repudiation of the attitude it implied." (5)

I don’t believe that Allen’s reasoning is conclusive. As I have shown above in points 1, 2, 3 and 4, Cardinal Ratzinger was taking a position quite similar to that of Cardinal Hoyos. There was no clear policy of removing priests, as Allen pretends, but of protecting them indefinitely or until the statute of limitations would expire.

Lame excuses and weak defenses

The fixes being suggested to halt the crisis that has engulfed Pope Benedict and the Church are generally a tangle of confusions, contradictions and utter nonsense.

An East Bay priest, Tim Stier, called for current Oakland Diocese Bishop Allen Vigneron “to initiate a public dialogue about the crisis in the Catholic Church" or else he would go into "voluntary exile." Fr. Stier, however, is part of the problem, not the solution. What he proposed is more "structural change”: Give Catholic women "full equality" and let priests marry. Gay priests should marry their lovers; likewise, let straight priests marry theirs. (6)

Cardinal William Levada

For Levada the difficult task of denying reality
George Weigel defends the Pope by gratuitously stating that "no one in the Church has done more, over the last decade, to compel the sclerotic institutional culture of the Vatican to face these problems than Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI." (7)

Card. William Levada, the prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, simply (and laughingly) blames the New York Times. He censured the Times for their coverage of a priest who is believed to have abused dozens of deaf children during a 20-year period, attributing the failure in punishing him to Ratzinger. (8)

One of the more sensible opinions offered is from the Catholic Timothy Shriver, who says the solution to the crisis in the Church is for the Pope to "convert." (9)

May Our Lady of Fatima help our Prelates and faithful to reject Progressivism, which is consuming the Church, and to convert. And may She give many graces to the poor souls who have fallen into this heresy or adopted compromises for convenience’ sake, graces to see clearly who the guilty really are.
1. Nicole Winfield, AP, March 12, 2010, Vatican City.
2 Matt Sedensky, "Pontiff let priest serve for years, documents show,” Contra Costa Times, April 3, 2010; Clergy Child Molestations, www.multiline.com.au/
3. "Vatican Scandal Hits Home," Contra Costa Times, April 10, 2010.
4. "Pope Benedict condemns `petty gossip' over child sexual abuse scandals," Guardian.co.uk, March 28, 2010.
5. John L. Allen, Jr., "Vatican disses one of its own on sex abuse," April 15, 2010
6. Contra Costa Times, April 11, 2010, p. A8,
7. Ibid.
8. "Cardinal Levada responds to NY Times pope story," The Catholic Voice (Oakland Diocese), April 12, 2010
9. Contra Costa Times, April 11, 1010.
Posted April 28, 2010

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