Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hollow apology from Legionaires of Chirst

In the last few days leading figures in the Legionaries of Christ have asked for forgiveness for the behaviour of their founder Marcial Maciel Degollado. These are indeed hollow words.

Over two years ago this blog contacted the Legionaries of Christ and asked direct questions concerning their founder. All that was forthcoming was pious piffle, which was insulting and demeaning.

The case about the Legionaries of Christ is most interesting and should be carefully studied by those who are interested in truth. Those who want to examine the cult of clericalism should do an audit and in-depth study of the Legionaries of Christ.

When I was studying in Rome between 1974 and 1976 I came face to face with Legionary of Christ seminarians. They all dressed in identical clothes, carried similar briefcases and all spoke and behaved in a similar manner. They portrayed an image of absolute loyalty to the clerical state. It appeared that they were advised not to speak or socialise with the likes of me. Everything about them gave the impressions that there was something not right with this group of men.

Then I was never able to analyse in clear and defined terms what actually was amiss with this organisation. Yes, their clothes were crazy, they walked and talked in an odd fashion. They came across to me at the time as, let's say, 'unusual'. I would also have had questions about the general tone of sexuality among the group. It was that 'something' they all seemed to share as if it were a 'hidden culture' - maybe even unknown to themselves. In the 1970s young men living in Europe did not dress or act as these men.

And then the world learns of the sexual abuse perpetrated by their founder and the man they all admired and respected as a 'holy man'.

It was a long, difficult and torturous investigation of good journalism that found out the truth. One might ask was it discovered through the 'petty gossip of dominant opinion'. However it was discovered, it is important that the world knows that the substance of the Legionaries of Christ is on the shakiest and worrying of foundations.

What sort of people did their founder attract and recommend join his organisation? What sort of people were and are attracted to such an organisation?

What is even more worrying is a trend that is developing today among students for the priesthood that seems quite similar to what I experienced among the Legionaries of Christ between 1974 and 1976. It was wrong then and I am convinced it is wrong now.

Back then I was told they were holy people. It was a nonsense then and is a nonsense now. The grace of God works in and through nature and it really is time the bluff of 'pious piffle' was called what it is - a lie.

Allegations against Walter Mixa

The report below appears in today's Frankfurter Rundschau. It is a damning allegation about the behaviour of the Bishop of Augsburg, Walter Mixa. It is alleged that in the 1970s and '80s he used tough physical force on children in a home, run by sisters.

What went on in Irish schools and orphanages that we have never been told about?

Missbrauch in der katholischen Kirche

Heimkinder belasten Bischof Mixa



Bischof Walter Mixa (Bild: dpa)

Augsburg. Fünf ehemalige Heimkinder des Kinder- und Jugendhilfezentrums St. Josef in Schrobenhausen erheben einem Medienbericht zufolge Vorwürfe gegen den Augsburger Bischof Walter Mixa. In eidesstattlichen Erklärungen, die der "Süddeutschen Zeitung" vorliegen, behaupten die drei Frauen und zwei Männer, Mixa habe sie in den 70er und 80er Jahren mehrmals geschlagen. Sie berichten von Ohrfeigen, Fausthieben gegen den Oberarm und Schlägen auf das Gesäß mit Teppichklopfer und Stock die Rede.

Das Bistum Augsburg bezeichnet die Vorwürfe in einer Stellungnahme als "absurd, unwahr und offenbar in der Absicht erfunden, den Bischof persönlich zu diffamieren." Walter Mixa war von 1975 bis 1996 Stadtpfarrer von Schrobenhausen und soll laut den Berichten der ehemaligen Heimkinder regelmäßig die Mallersdorfer Schwestern besucht haben, die das Kinderheim damals leiteten. Danach soll er die Heimkinder für ihr Fehlverhalten bestraft haben. Auch die Nonnen sollen die Kinder geschlagen haben - "mit Holzbesen, Holzpantoffeln und Kleiderbügeln", wie die heute 41 bis 47 Jahre alten Personen berichten.


Der Orden der Mallersdorfer Schwestern hört diese Vorwürfe nach eigenen Angaben zum ersten Mal, kündigt aber einen offenen Umgang an und will die Geschehnisse gemeinsam mit den Betroffenen aufarbeiten.
Das Bistum Augsburg hingegen dementiert "entschieden" die Anschuldigungen und "behält sich ausdrücklich zivilrechtliche und strafrechtliche Schritte" vor. (ddp)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Unedifying papal comments are most upsetting

The sex abuse crisis within the Catholic Church comes as a terrible shock to many people.

People feel upset, let down, surprised.

Those who have been in dispute with the church will feel in some ways vindicated with all the current breaking news.

It is not a problem of secularisiation nor is it the creation of the chattering classes. Nor is it in any way linked to the Vatican Council. It is greatly upsetting to hear the pope making those references. It is also surprising and most unedifying.

The reality is an unspeakable reality of crimes and cover ups. The cover-ups were possible because those covering up were in powerful positions.

Has it all something to do with a belief that church ministers genuinely believe that they have a direct link with God? When priests and bishops say they will 'reflect' on something and then take action, does that mean they are in a direct link-up with God?

But it also must be said that the Irish people allowed the church to behave as it did/does.

It is interesting to note that for over 40 years there has been a growing alienation/anger among people towards the institutional church. Why was that? Was that simply the common sense of people, who were objecting to a behaviour they saw as unacceptable?

Young men studying for priesthood are told there is an escathological value in celibacy and that celibacy gives priests more time for work.

From 40 years of experience I can prove categorically that the second reason is factually inaccurate/untrue. And who can say a word of sense about the escathological merits?

German bishop uses Goebbels name

The piece below appears in today's Frankfurter Rundschau. Regensburg bishop compares the media anti church campaign to the propaganda of Goebbels. How misplaced and unfortunate. And Bishop Mixa also makes some unfortunate comments. The German story is going to run and run.

Theologin zu Missbrauch

"Das ist demagogisch"

Die Kirche hat sich schuldig und damit angreifbar gemacht, sagt die Theologin Marianne Heimbach-Steins. Mit der FR spricht sie über abgeschmackte Nazi-Vergleiche und Kirchenmänner, die sich verfolgt fühlen.
Frau Heimbach-Steins, der Regensburger Bischof Gerhard Müller will im Missbrauchsskandal eine mit Goebbels´ Hetze vergleichbare Medienkampagne gegen die katholische Kirche ausgemacht haben.

Die Behauptung einer Kampagne lenkt vom eigentlichen Problem ab. Es geht nicht an, den Feuermelder zum Brandstifter zu machen. Und indem Bischof Müller die Gläubigen dann auch noch zum "Widerstand" aufruft, verschiebt er die moralische Verantwortung ein zweites Mal: Unbeteiligte werden funktionalisiert, um vom Versagen einer Vielzahl kirchlicher Amtsträger abzulenken. Ich halte das für demagogisch.
Die Kirche hat sich schuldig und damit angreifbar gemacht. Darüber sollte nichts hinwegtäuschen - weder abgeschmackte Nazi-Vergleiche noch Versuche, die "säkulare Gesellschaft" oder die 68er für Missbrauch verantwortlich zu machen.

Wie Bischof Mixa aus Augsburg das getan hat.

Die Position führt auf eine falsche Fährte, als ob ein veränderter - und weniger verklemmter - Umgang mit Sexualität zur Pädophilie geführt hätte. Ich halte das Argument aber auch für moralisch fragwürdig, weil es wiederum den Eindruck erweckt, die Verantwortung auf andere abzuwälzen.

Ab welchem Umfang wird das Versagen Einzelner eigentlich zu einem Versagen des Systems?

Das ist kein quantitatives Problem. Die Verantwortung der Einzelnen ist nicht "abzulösen" durch den Verweis auf das System. Aber die christliche Ethik kennt neben dem schuldhaften Verhalten des Individuums auch die "strukturelle Sünde". Und im Fall des Umgangs mit Missbrauchsfällen zeigt sich meiner Ansicht nach so etwas auch in der Kirche als Institution.

Inwiefern?

Viel zu lange wurde der Selbstschutz der Kirche über alles andere gestellt. Das hat in der Praxis dazu geführt, dass Vergehen geheim gehalten wurden, die veröffentlicht gehört hätten; dass Opfer nicht gehört und anerkannt wurden, dass Täter nicht konsequent aus der Gefahrenzone herausgeholt wurden. Ich habe immer noch den Eindruck, dass die beschwichtigende Rede von - wenn auch vielen - Einzelfällen die Auseinandersetzung mit dem Strukturproblem verhindert. Selbst im Brief des Papstes an die irische Kirche ist das so.

Wo liegt das Strukturproblem?

Ich sehe einen Komplex von Problemen. Ein erster Punkt betrifft die priesterliche Lebensform. In der Ausbildung und Begleitung der Kleriker muss der verantwortungsvolle Umgang mit der eigenen Sexualität offen thematisiert werden. Missbrauch von Amtsmacht - denn das ist sexueller Missbrauch von Kindern und Jugendlichen durch Geistliche - muss konsequent geahndet werden. Eine offene Diskussion darüber, ob Zölibat und Priesterberuf zwingend zusammengehören müssen, muss endlich zugelassen werden.

Und der zweite Punkt?

Zur Person
Marianne Heimbach-Steins, 51, ist Professorin für Christliche Sozialwissenschaft an der Universität Münster. Die Theologin gehört dem Zentralkomitee der deutschen Katholiken (ZdK) an.

Sie forscht zu religiöser Pluralität, Frauen- und Menschenrechten sowie Sozialethik der Bildung. jf
Fotostrecke Fotostrecke: Orte des Missbrauchs
Betrifft weitergehende Fragen der kirchlichen Selbstdeutung. Aktuell zeigen sich, so scheint mir, Relikte eines Selbstverständnisses, das mit dem Zweiten Vatikanischen Konzil überwunden sein sollte, nämlich die Kirche als "societas perfecta" - als vollkommene Gemeinschaft - innerhalb oder neben der säkularen Gesellschaft zu betrachten.

Das heißt?

Die Kirche und ihre Institutionen werden als heilig und unantastbar begriffen, so etwas wie strukturelle Sünde gilt für die Kirche selbst als ausgeschlossen. Aus diesem Verständnis heraus wird sie für fähig gehalten, Probleme in den eigenen Reihen selbst zu lösen - also insbesondere ohne Eingreifen der staatlichen Justiz oder ohne angemessene Berücksichtigung humanwissenschaftlicher Erkenntnisse. Das ist nicht nur unvereinbar mit einem modernen Verständnis der Kirche, sondern auch kaum vermittelbar im Verhältnis zwischen Kirche und säkularem Staat.

Der Papstkritiker Hans Küng sagt sinngemäß, dass Benedikt XVI., der bis 2005 an der Spitze der für Missbrauchsfälle zuständigen Glaubenskongregation stand, als Aufklärer so glaubwürdig sei wie der Frosch, der den Sumpf trockenlegen will.

Sexueller Missbrauch
Sexuelle Gewalt

Diskussion, Hintergründe, Fotostrecke und mehr.
Ich halte es vom Anspruch und in der Sache für falsch, dass die Aufklärung zentral von Rom aus erfolgen soll. Die erste Verantwortung liegt bei den Ortskirchen. Andererseits kann in der hierarchisch strukturierten Organisation der katholischen Kirche der Papst nicht außen vor bleiben. Erst recht nicht, da Benedikt XVI. als früherer Münchner Erzbischof in die deutsche Situation involviert ist und als Kurienkardinal autoritative Vorgaben für den Umgang mit den Missbrauchsfällen gemacht hat.

Und was folgern Sie daraus?

Es gehört umso mehr zur versprochenen vollständigen Aufklärung, dass sich Papst Benedikt XVI. mit den angesprochenen Strukturfragen auseinandersetzt. Er ist keine neutrale - gleichsam außenstehende - Beurteilungsinstanz, sondern durch sein Amt Teil des Systems.

Interview: Joachim Frank

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Germans appoint independent investigator

The German government have appointed a former family minister, Christine Bergmann to carry out an independent investigation. Ms Bergmann is a member of the SPD.

If the Vatican is to investigate seminaries in Ireland it is essential that women are members of the investigating teams.

Die frühere Familienministerin Christine Bergmann (SPD) soll die unabhängige Beauftragte der Bundesregierung zur Aufarbeitung von sexuellen Missbrauchsfällen werden, hieß es am Mittwoch aus Regierungskreisen. Auch „bild.de“ berichtete über die Ernennung Bergmanns. Die SPD-Politikerin ist 70 Jahre alt und war früher Senatorin für Arbeit und Frauen in Berlin. Außerdem beschloss das Bundeskabinett einen Runden Tisch zur Aufarbeitung der Missbrauchsfälle.


60-Jähriger berichtet von Misshandlung
Die unabhängige Beauftragte soll Vorschläge für Hilfen für Missbrauchsopfer in katholischen und anderen Einrichtungen erarbeiten. Mit dem Amt, das bundesweit Fälle der Vergangenheit aufarbeiten soll, ist aber nicht die Leitung des Runden Tischs verbunden, der sowohl zurückblickend als auch präventiv in die Zukunft agieren soll. Das erste Treffen des Gremiums mit rund 40 Experten ist für den 23. April geplant.

Die SPD-Politikerin Bergmann war von 1998 bis 2002 Ministerin in der rot-grünen Koalition unter Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder (SPD). Sie bringt Erfahrungen als Ombudsfrau im Auftrag der Bundesregierung mit. Gemeinsam mit dem früheren sächsischen Ministerpräsidenten Kurt Biedenkopf (CDU) berichtete sie Bundesregierung und Parlament über die Auswirkungen der Hartz-Reformen und beriet sie bei der Umsetzung in Detailfragen.

Vor dem Kabinettsbeschluss hatte es Streit um den Runden Tisch gegeben. Justizministerin Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (FDP) hatte verlangt, dass es vorrangig um die Fälle in der der katholischen Kirche gehen sollte. Die katholische Deutsche Bischofskonferenz hatte ihre Teilnahme verweigert. Familien- und Bildungsministerium kündigten daraufhin einen eigenen Runden Tisch mit dem Schwerpunkt Prävention an.

Nun sollen alle drei Ministerinnen den Runden Tisch gemeinsam leiten, neben Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger Bildungsministerin Annette Schavan und Familienministerin Kristina Schröder (beide CDU).

Die Grünen-Fraktionschefin Renate Künast hatte zuvor die Pläne der Regierung zur Aufklärung von Kindesmissbrauch an kirchlichen Einrichtungen und Schulen als unzureichend kritisiert. Sie sagte am Mittwoch im ZDF-„Morgenmagazin“, es sei zwar schön, dass es eine unabhängige Beauftragte für Kinder geben soll. Dies könne aber nur „so eine Art Wächteramt“ sein. Besser wäre aber eine unabhängige Kommission aus drei Personen. Diese sollte „wirklich aufklären, was ist in den Institutionen passiert“.


Die Frage sei, „wie muss man Regeln aufbauen, damit dieses nicht mehr passiert.“ Künast kritisierte Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel (CDU). Diese habe sich bei den immer neuen Fällen von Missbrauch in katholischen Institutionen „nicht getraut, wirklich scharfe Worte und klare Worte zu sprechen“.

Künast kritisierte auch diesen Runden Tisch. Dabei gehe es nicht um die konkrete Aufklärung der Fälle. „Es geht um ein allgemeines, diffuses Darüberreden, und zwar in der ganzen Breite des Kindesmissbrauchs.“ Zu „Spiegel Online“ sagte Künast: „Bei den Missbrauchsfällen handelt es sich um schwere Straftaten, die rein gar nicht zu einem Runden Tisch passen.“

Statt aufzuklären, wolle Merkel unangenehmen Wahrheiten ausweichen: „Frau Merkel folgt der Idee nur, um eine wirklich kritische Debatte zu verhindern. An eine schonungslose Aufklärung will sie offenbar nicht ran.“


Künast ärgern auch die tagelangen Debatten in Union und FDP: „Sie machen sich zu viele Gedanken um Institutionen, statt die Opfer in den Mittelpunkt zu stellen.“ Sie forderte die Bundesregierung auf, rasch einen unabhängigen Bericht über die Missbrauchsfälle in Auftrag zu geben.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Off the streets and back on the stage

A great picture in today's Irish Times of actor Alan Devlin, who is currently appearing in Philadelphia Here I come.

Alan slept rough for two and a half years. Alcohol propelled him into a long stretch on the streets.

He managed to turn his life around with the help of Crosscare, a social care agency run the archdiocese of Dublin.

Maybe it's time to examine the examiners

Yesterday's edition of the Frankfurter Allgemine Zeitung carried an article on the pope's letter to the Irish church.

It is not the easiest piece of German to read. It gives the impression of two worlds colliding. It is strong, it is emphatic and it asks pertinent questions.

Is there a link between celibacy and what has/is happening? Is it possible for large numbers of men to come together, join up to an organistion where they all have one thing in common, which is that they make a public declaration to be celibate? Can that 'work'?

Anyone who has been to the Vatican for large events must observe the 'unusual tone' of so many young clerics. Their dress seems to be so out of sync with the majority of men their age. It would seem there is something significant amiss and it needs real, open and honest discussion.

If the Vatican is to conduct an examination of seminaries in Ireland, who will they send to do the job? Should it not be an outside agency?

After the letter

The pope's letter could have been an awful lot worse. But why the secularisation piece? Child sexual abuse by clerics was going on a long time before the arrival of the motor car. And the cover up had been fine-tuned close to perfection long before that.

The forthcoming visitation could be scary. Is there a hint that there is need for a return to pre-Vatican II style seminaries? Will it be Legionaries of Christ Lite. But if so the Vatican will find itself in a real dilemma. There is at present a worrying trend taking shape in the 'formation' of priests.

The German situation of the priest being moved from Essen to Munich for therapy purposes needs further investigation. Are there no therapists in Essen? On the other hand, Munich is the capital of Bavaria.

Always dangerous to generalise, but if one sits down and does a study of the type of cleric who is sent on to study canon law a picture can be put together.

When it comes to a mix of legal rigidity and church conservative thinking then it is a most dangerous and potent cocktail.

Of course all canon lawyers cannot be painted with the same brush. But be assured there are canon lawyers out there who are inept, incompetent and down right odd.

Among a group of 25 16 to 17-year-olds living in Kerry, one went to Mass on Sunday.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The apparel oft proclaim the man

A cleric was overheard saying, 'we will get the media' yet. Of course a comment like that can be brushed aside. On the other hand it might well be saying something worthy of discussion. Many media people say horrible and nasty things about the hierarchical church.

Is the current turmoil the playing field for a battle that has been simmering for a long time?

Has it all something to do with territory and power and control?

Vincent Browne talks about not giving people titles. He argues titles give people power. That's true.

Maybe for many devout Catholics the dress of the pope was a given. Is there something strange about an octogenarian wearing red shoes?

Whatever about the pope and his clothes, the dress of many young clerics is surely worrying to many people. What is it Shakespeare says about clothes?

Sean Brady admits to cover up

Yesterday Sean Brady in his sermon in Armagh used the word 'cover up'. It is a reassuring step.

What appears below is from today's Frankfurter Rundschau.



Bayerns Bischöfe wollen Meldepflicht der Kirche

Vierzehnheiligen. Im Missbrauchsskandal der katholischen Kirche wollen Bayerns Bischöfe enger mit der Justiz zusammenarbeiten. Alle Verdachtsfälle sollen gemeldet werden. Die Staatsanwaltschaft könne solche Fälle besser aufklären, sagte der Münchner Erzbischof Reinhard Marx. Nach den bisherigen Leitlinien der Bischofskonferenz zum sexuellen Missbrauch Minderjähriger kann die Kirche auf eine Anzeige verzichten, wenn die Opfer das nicht wollen. Diese Lücke sollte geschlossen werden, heißt es in einer Erklärung der Bischöfe. (dpa)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

More German revelations

Many weeks ago this blog commented on the speed of events in Germany re child sex abuse within the Catholic Church.

The stories coming out about the priest transferred from Essen to Munich make for terrible reading. But it will prove to be the tip of the iceberg in Germany.

The German story is going to be long, cruel and sad. And it will include issues between the former German Democratic Republic, that part of the Catholic Church in the GDR, the Vatican and the Government of the Federal Republic.

There is a runaway train coming down the tracks.

A short open letter to Cardinal Brady

Dear Cardinal Brady,

Many years ago I interviewed you when working with the Irish News. You came across as a very nice person. You gave me time and compared to another bishop I had interviewed some time earlier, you were friendly relaxed and certainly not pompous.

Since my priestly ordination and before I have had serious problems with authority in the church. I have never understood the sycophancy that is part of church culture.

But I always thought you were decent and had little time for so much of the clerical 'thing'.

And now this.

Is it accurate to say that these two young people were not allowed tell their parents about this issue? Did they have a legal team in that room when they signed that form? Has the church tried to fight this case?

It is terrible. Again it is part of the culture of clericalism.

What is most worrying is the apparent non-acceptance of what is happening in clerical circles. It is also of great concern to see the people who are currently in positions of authority in houses of formation.

What next?

Michael Commane.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A mix of arrogance and incompetence

Last night TV3 showed part of the bishops press conference in Maynooth.

This event has to be a most significant event in the Irish church.

Three bishops, John McAnreavey, Chrsity Jones and Denis Brennan fielded questions from interviewers.

These three men were incredible, incompetent and arrogant. It was at the highest possible point on the cringe meter.

Maybe Vincent Browne was somewhat petulant but these three men behaved in a shameless and utterly incompetent manner.

Are these the people who talk about the 'deposit of faith'? Are these the men to whom Catholics are expected to show allegiance and respect? Are these the men who sit on boards? Are these the men who ordain priests?

This was the best possible example of Irish clericalism. No doubt these three men came up the clerical promotion pole; never said a wrong word, spoke the clerical speak and hey presto John Paul II makes them bishops.

Irish clericalism was shown in the full splendour it deserves on TV 3 last evening on the Vincent Browne Show.

How sad. How tragic. But what is even more tragic and sad, these men will be replaced by people of the same style, speak and incompetence.

The TV comedy 'Fr Ted' could not have made up what appeared on TV3 last evening.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Limerick friar scores own goal

In today's Irish Times Brother Shaun O'Connor is reported to have said that fans who attend a match due to take place on Good Friday can no longer call themselves Catholics and can expect to face the wrath of God.

If the report is accurate and the man said that, is there a bishop, a religious superior who will call the man in and tell him not to say such silly things?

There might well be need for a discussion on the issue of the match on Good Friday but the nonsense of what Brother O'Connor says needs to be corrected at once.

It is this mindset that continues to make the Catholic Church sound so sad and silly.

Hopefully a bishop will speak out and act as a Christian leader.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lead stories in German speaking media

Cistercian abbot resigns in Austria becaue of sexual abuse case at their school in Vorarlberg in Asutria in the 1980s.

The lead story in today's Frnakfurter Rundschau is church abuse cases.

My father, the finest and gentlest man I ever had the good fortune to know, was a past pupil of a Cistercian boarding school. In his 90s he could still talk to me about the 'savagery' of some of the priests in the school when he was there in the mid 1920s. When asked if he was ever aware of any sexual abuse he emphatically said 'no'.

He did say that the boys in the school who went on to join seminaries were generally accepted by the school population to be gay in orientation.



Missbrauchsfälle in Österreich

Abt tritt zurück

Wien/Salzburg. Auch in Österreich kommen immer mehr Jahrzehnte zurückliegende Fälle von Kindesmissbrauch in der katholischen Kirche ans Tageslicht. In Salzburg nahm am Dienstag das Stift St. Peter zu seinem Erzabt Bruno Becker Stellung, der wegen Missbrauchsvorwürfen seinen Rücktritt angekündigt hatte.

Das Internat des Privatgymnasiums des Bregenzer Zisterzienser-Klosters Mehrerau im Vorarlberg bestätigte einen Missbrauchs-Fall und körperliche Gewalt in den 1980er Jahren. Man habe damals einen Missbrauchs-Fall gehabt, der nicht angezeigt worden sei, sagte der Mehrerau-Abt Anselm van der Linde den "Vorarlberger Nachrichten" (Dienstag).



Der Pater habe damals seine Tat gestanden und die Kirche habe ihn nach Tirol versetzt. Dort habe der heute 74-Jährige eine Therapie gemacht und arbeite weiter als Priester. 2001 habe dann ein weiterer Geistlicher seines Klosters einen drogensüchtigen Jungen in Innsbruck missbraucht. Er sei sofort suspendiert und vor Gericht verurteilt worden.

Internatsleiter Regens Dominikus Matt gab vereinzelte gewaltsame Übergriffe auf Schüler in der Vergangenheit zu: "Das kann ich bestätigen. Allerdings ist das schon lange her." In Salzburg hatte am Montag Erzabt Bruno Becker einen einmaligen sexuellen Missbrauch eines Minderjährigen vor mehr als 40 Jahren zugegeben und seinen Rücktritt erklärt. Er habe sich bei dem Betroffenen entschuldigt und bedauere seine Tat noch heute aufs Tiefste.

In einer Pressekonferenz des Stifts am Dienstag wurden Ausmaß und Hintergründe der Tat klar: Der damals angehende Priester Becker soll erfahren haben, dass der Elfjährige bereits von zwei anderen Ordensbrüdern missbraucht wurde. Daraufhin bat er ihn unter der Vorspiegelung von Hilfe zu einem Gespräch, wo er sich dann selbst an dem Jungen verging. "In Fragen sexuellen Missbrauchs gibt es keine Toleranz, auch nicht für einen Erzabt", sagte Prior Korbinian Birnbacher. Becker sei selbst als Kind sexuell missbraucht worden. (dpa)

German fast track to Rome

It might be an interesting exercise to compare the much publicised meeting between Pope Benedict and the Irish bishops with the upcoming meeting between the pope and the head of the Catholic church in Germany.

The Germans get to see the pope within days of scandal hitting the media. The German meeting will be between the president of the German Bishops Conference and Pope Benedict.

With the Irish visit, each bishop had a seven minute talk with the pope. What can someone say in seven minutes?

Different strokes for different folk.

Playing rugby on Good friday

Playing a game of rugby in Limerick on Good Friday? Should the pubs open for the day? A Redemptorist priest goes on national radio and talks about offering sacrifice to God and arguing the match should not be played on Good Friday.

Funny old world.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Roman tale

The story below is in today's Irish Times.

This blog takes great care not to use the first person singular of the personal pronoun. A break from that rule in this case.

I am convinced what is written below is the tip of a terrible iceberg. I am convinced in my heart and mind that the hierarchical church has been turning a blind eye to the issue for generations upon generations. It simply refuses to discuss the issue. It does everything possible to pretend a different reality. I am convinced there is a link between closet gay priests and an absurd insane-type conservative orthodoxy. I am convinced that a great and pathetic game is being played out.

Papal aide linked to Vatican gay prostitution ring
PADDY AGNEW in Rome

“AT WHAT time does he have to be back in the seminary?” The question might seem innocent enough, were it not for the fact that the man asking it is a Papal Gentleman, Angelo Balducci, and the man of whom he is asking it is his pimp, Vatican chorister and Nigerian, Chinediu Thiomas Ehiem.

If Italian media sources are to be believed, then the compromising shadow of a highly active gay prostitution ring currently hangs over both the Holy See and unnamed Rome seminary colleges.

The first casualty of this potentially explosive scandal was Thiomas Ehiem, who yesterday was dismissed from the choir of the Cappella Giulia, the choir used in St Peter’s for ceremonies which do not involve the pope.

The Cappella Giulia comes under the auspices of Cardinal Angelo Comastri, arch-priest of St Peter’s.

Vatican sources pointed out that Mr Ehiem was neither a priest nor a seminary student, but a lay member of the choir.

The revelations came to light during investigations into Angelo Balducci, former head of the Italian office of public works, who was arrested last month on suspicion of corruption. This related to the awarding of a series of public contracts for major events such as last year’s G8 Summit in La Maddalena, Sardinia (later moved to L’Aquila), the 2009 World Swimming Championships, and next year’s 150th anniversary celebrations of the Unity of Italy.

Phone taps of the last two years reveal that Mr Balducci regularly contacted two men, Mr Ehiem and Lorenzo Renzi, to ask them to set up “appointments” for him, “appointments” for which he would pay up to €2,000.

Mr Balducci would ask for a description of his “escort”, and would be furnished with details of the man’s height, weight, skin colour, age and sexual availability.

Transcripts of Mr Balducci’s conversations suggest that his “escorts” came from many different backgrounds, with some being illegal immigrants who badly needed money.

Others were seminary students in Rome.

Mr Balducci, who has been a Papal Gentleman since 1995, has long worked closely with the Holy See on behalf of the Italian state, overseeing the logistical and infrastructural requirements of events such as the Holy Year in 2000, the canonisations of Padre Pio and Opus Dei founder José Maria Escriva in 2002, and the beatification of Mother Teresa in 2003.

In the context of the investigation into the office of public works, investigators believe that Mr Balducci systematically abused his position, exacting favours that ranged from a job for his son to the construction of a swimming pool by builders who had been awarded public contracts.

Investigators believe that private sector contracts for last year’s G8 Summit were inflated from an initial €290 million to €600 million.

Papal Gentlemen are those lay attendants of the pope who serve in the papal household, in the Apostolic Palace and in St Peter’s on ceremonial occasions.

Pension cut but not for politicians

Yesterday the Irish government announced changes in pension rules and conditions.

What an opportunity it gave them to change their own absurd pension arrangements. Not a squeak from them on the issue.

People with power and control always feather their own nest. And the ordinary people plod on. With the trade union movement in decline, the plight of the working class is becoming acute.

A walking PR disaster

Singer Sinead O'Connor has an open letter in today's Irish Examiner.

And while all this is taking place in the world of the media the church 'motors on'.

Something profoundly tragic is taking place.

Has the church intentionally gone that extra mile to create a PR disaster? Is that part of its plan of action?

Michael Foot, who died yesterday, was a PR disaster, but it was clear that he was an honourable and genuine human being.

During the papacy of John Paul II, great damage was done within the church. So many 'wrong' men were appointed bishops. All the time the emphasis had been on 'orthodoxy' and a 'safe pair of hands'. Is this where 'safety' and 'orthodoxy' leads.

For a bishop to dare mention money these days is simply astonishing. The church is awash with money.

Another worrying phenomenon is the attitude among large sections of the clergy and especially the young people.

What at all is going to happen?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Germans give new word to English language

A new word in the German language - 'Bossnapping'. It appears in today's Frankfurter Rundschau. And naurally it means kidnapping a boss. What would be the past participle of bossnapping and would it be a separable verb? Fabulous stuff indeed.

German television were in Dublin on Sunday and interviewed Sinead O'Connor on the child sex abuse issue in the Irish Catholic church. It was on the programme ttt.

It was poor quality, superficial and old hat material.

Another dose of mental reservation

In the last few days a number of dioceses in Ireland have said that money they will be spending on child sex abuse issues is not coming from Sunday collections.

Is this more 'mental reservation' speak?

A number of years ago a wise Irish Dominican commented that it would not be issues dealing with sex that would be the real problem for the church, rather issues dealing with money.

These days there is a notice in the porch of a church in Ireland advising people not to give money to beggars within the church. The notice also appears in the community's newsletter. In that same newsletter there is an ad for their Easter novena Mass cards.

The acceptance of receiving alms and the fact that people can so easily take alms for granted is so embedded in clerics that the irony of that porch notice is not even noted or seen.

Every cent the Irish church receives is through alms, or at least that was the original source of the money. Over the years a number of clerics did earn salaries but that source of revenue is now much depleted.

To say that the money being spent on child sex abuse cases is not coming from Sunday collections is a terrible untruth and the hierarchical church should be asked to stop using words that do not mean what they say.

The catholic church in Ireland does not pay CGT, which means every school run by the church is in someway or other funded by taxes, through the diocese, order or congregation.

It is simply upsetting hearing bishops and their spokespeople attempt to misinform people. Money is seldom if ever ring fenced. Alms of their nature cannot be ring fenced.

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What's in a name?

The 'Thinking Anew' column in The Irish Times today. Michael Commane Sometimes I wonder has all the pious 'stuff' we have ...