30Jan Pope orders new investigation into allegations against Bishop Barros



Pope Francis sends special prosecutor to Chile to investigate charges against Bishop Barros


By Gerard O’Connell

In a stunning move of the utmost importance, the Vatican today announced that Pope Francis has decided to send Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta to Chile to listen to the victims that accuse Bishop Juan Barros of being present when they were abused by the country’s most notorious predator, the Rev. Fernando Karadima, and of covering this up.

The Vatican statement, issued in Italian and Spanish, said:

As a result of some information received recently regarding the case of Monsignor Juan de La Cruz Barros Madrid, Bishop of Osorno (Chile), the Holy Father has decided that Msgr. Charles Scicluna, the archbishop of Malta and President of the College for the examination of appeals (“in materia delicta graviora,” “in matters of grave crimes”) in the Ordinary Session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is to go to Chile to hear those who have expressed their wish to submit elements in their possession.

Sources told America that Francis made the crucial decision a few days after returning to the Vatican from his weeklong visit to Chile and Peru during which he had staunchly defended Bishop Barros against those who accused him of cover-up, saying they had not yet produced proof or evidence for such charges, and consequently the allegations can be considered “calumny.”

Three known victims of Father Karadima—Juan Carlos Cruz, Jose Andres Murillo and James Hamilton—have publicly accused Bishop Barros of being present when Father Karadima abused them. The bishop has categorically denied this and rejected their charges as slander. Until now Francis has stood firmly by the bishop and against the opposition to the appointment of Bishop Barros to head the Diocese of Osorno in 2015. The pope was heavily criticized for this decision and accused of listening to the bishop but not to the victims in Chile. Many charged that he has a blind spot or simply “does not get it” when it comes to the question of abuse.

On the plane from Lima to Rome on Jan. 21, 2018, Francis asked forgiveness for offending the victims and explained that when he said they had yet to provide “proof” for their accusations, he actually meant “evidence.” He asked their pardon for what he said was felt as “a slap in the face” to the victims.

At the same time, he defended Bishop Barros and revealed that at Francis’ behest investigations had been carried out more than once into the accusations against him, but these did not produce any evidence with which to condemn him. The pope said that he was personally convinced that Bishop Barros is innocent. But, he added, “my heart is open” to receiving new evidence. That last remark, which went largely unnoticed at the time, implied that he did not exclude the possibility that things could change. His unexpected decision announced by the Vatican today reopens the case and raises the possibility of new and different scenarios.

Pope Francis’ choice of Archbishop Scicluna is highly significant. He enjoys great credibility among survivors because of his work from 2002 to 2012 as promoter of justice (chief prosecutor) at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith against priests and religious who sexually abused minors.

Archbishop Scicluna first gained prominence on the world stage in 2002 when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then prefect of the C.D.F., called the Maltese civil and canon lawyer to work at his side in the C.D.F. as promoter of justice in cases of abuse of minors by clergy and religious. His appointment came as the abuse scandal was hitting the church in the United States like an earthquake.

In the following 10 years, no fewer than 3,000 priests were removed from ministry under the new zero tolerance policy. 

In those years at the C.D.F., Archbishop Scicluna played a key role in drafting the new norms for the church’s handling of sexual abuse allegations, norms that are now operational throughout the Catholic Church. He traveled widely to explain the new zero tolerance policy and the accompanying norms to church leaders in different countries and gave many public conferences. He also interacted positively with the international media. He gained fame as a fearless defender of children, minors and survivors of abuse, emerging as the public face of the Vatican in the fight against the sexual abuse of children by clergy. 

In April 2005, as Pope John Paul II was on his deathbed, Cardinal Ratzinger sent Archbishop Scicluna to North America to investigate the criminal acts of Father Marcial Maciel, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ. He took depositions from victims, and their testimony led to the removal from public ministry of this very powerful religious leader who had many friends and defenders at the highest levels in the Vatican.

Benedict XVI nominated Scicluna as auxiliary bishop of Malta and appointed him as a member of the C.D.F. in 2012. Pope Francis sent him to Scotland in 2014 to investigate the accusations by victims against Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who subsequently was removed from public ministry.  Francis then appointed him as president of the C.D.F. board of appeals on questions relating to cases of abuse of minors by clergy and religious in January 2015, and a month later named him archbishop of Malta.

Born to Maltese parents in Toronto, Canada, on May 15, 1959, Archbishop Scicluna came to Malta with his family in 1960 when he was 11 months old. He was ordained a priest in 1986. After receiving his doctorate in canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1991, he went on to serve over the next four years as defender of the marriage bond and promoter of justice at the Metropolitan Court of Malta. He was also professor of pastoral theology and canon law at the local faculty of theology and vice-rector of the major seminary of the archdiocese. Moreover, he did pastoral ministry in the parishes of St. Gregory the Great in Sliema and Transfiguration in Iklin. 

58 Responses

  1. iggy o'donovan

    A welcome move. But is it not a little late.

    • Frances Burke

      Archbishop Scicluna has a very good record when it comes to child protection. He worked in this area from 2002 to 2012 to promote the zero tolerance policy adopted by the Church


      • Pascal O'Dea

        Of course it is late, but better late than never.It is reassuring that Pope Francis has shown “feet of clay” ,is human and is prepared to listen reflect and act.

        • Frances Burke

          The latest news on this subject


          • Frances Burke

            The latest developments regarding this issur


            • Eddie Finnegan

              Thanks to Frances Burke@4&5. These reports put a very different hue on the whole story. Francis may have few options left.

              • Frances Burke

                This is very disappointing reading.
                As a survivor, I find the CDF solution for some clerics who have admitted sexually abusing children to “live a life of prayer and penance” extremely upsetting, disturbing and frankly unbelievable. The Fr Mauro Inzoli case highlights the dysfunctionality of this course of action and it is only when the Church hands over the names of all priests who have admitted sexually abusing children to the relevant authorities that they can then claim ‘Zero tolerance’ on this issue


                • Frances Burke

                  A statement from the Pope would be welcome at this stage


                  • Frances Burke

                    It will be interesting to see if the suggestion of “putting women in charge of the church’s response to sex abuse. So far, the “clerical genius” has not produced good fruits.” will be adopted by the Church. It will be interesting to see if women will suddenly be the answer to fixing this mess.


                    • Frances Burke

                      A statement from the Pope is essential at this stage to end all this speculation


                      • Eddie Finnegan

                        Not sure how familiar folks in other parts of Ireland are with the phrase ‘scraping my skillet’ for ‘going to confession’. It’s what we called it in my corner of South Armagh back in the day. Pope Francis has made a thing of a slightly staged skillet scraping, on rather than in camera, at one or other of the confessionals in Rome’s great basilicas during the more penitential seasons. He has also, probably for the past five years turned his Christmas greetings to the Curia into a very thorough, public and entertaining skillet scraping. They may not have felt so humble after his er rollicking as they pretended to look. This week’s Ash Wednesday may well be the ideal time for his own public skillet scraping. It could be the making of him and of all of us.

                        • Frances Burke

                          What needs to be done to protect children


                          • Frances Burke

                            This is a step in the right direction


                            • Frances Burke

                              The latest news on this issue


                              • Frances Burke

                                Australian Bishops: Pray and fast in reparation for child sexual abuse

                                I wonder did the Catholic Bishops of Australia ask any survivors what was needed as reparation for sexual abuse before they came up with this plan? Do the Bishops of Australia really believe that getting their flock (who were ignorant of any knowledge of the sexual abuse of children) to say prayers and deny themselves food will help survivors? Are they trying to pass on their guilty conscience over their cover up of child sexual abuse onto their flock? From whom are they seeking “forgiveness for the sins committed by Church authorities”? Are they going to ask those abused children – now adults – for forgiveness, or are we going to be left on the side lines while they come up with ‘special liturgies and prayers’ to atone for our particular situation?

                                Sexual abuse is a life sentence. I have gradually come to accept this fact and that my ‘healing’ is an ongoing journey. It took me a long time to start this journey. Nearly four decades had passed before I got the strength to face a sympathetic counsellor and disclose my sexual abuse. The primary motive for so doing was that I could no longer bear the thought that my abuser could be harming other children. This was followed by disclosure to family, friends, work colleagues, Garda and finally a Judge and a Jury. The process was tortuously difficult but it has given me peace of mind.

                                Through this process I have learnt many valuable lessons. I have learnt that “In order to heal you have to reveal”. I have learnt that you have to “Tell the truth and shame the devil”. I have learnt that we are capable of achieving much more than we give ourselves credit for. I have learnt that people really care and that I am loved very much. I have learnt that I can be of some benefit to other survivors as we sit in a circle and share our pain and broken histories at our meetings. I have learnt that I am lucky to be alive unlike many Australian children from Ballarat who could no longer live with the pain caused by Clerical sexual abuse.

                                The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has published a very damning report regarding the cover up of child sexual abuse by the Australian Catholic Church. If the Catholic Bishops of Australia asked me as a survivor for my opinion on how the Bishops can make reparation for child sexual abuse I would say;

                                1) The Bishops need to take full responsibility for any cover-ups that they were involved in and not pass their shame onto innocent parties. They need to “Tell the truth and shame the Devil”

                                2) The Bishops need to enforce ’Zero Tolerance’ on those under their charge who have admitted sexually abusing children by handing them over to the relevant authorities

                                3) The Bishops need to ensure that children are protected and that they can never be harmed by any Clergy into the future


                                • Phil Greene

                                  In a speech to an aid conference in Stockholm, Ms Mordaunt tore into Oxfam over its response to the revelations about aid workers in Haiti in 2011.

                                  She said: “The recent revelations about Oxfam – not solely the actions perpetrated by a number of those staff – but the way the organisation responded to those events, should be a wake-up call to the sector.

                                  “They let perpetrators go. They did not inform donors, their regulator or prosecuting authorities.

                                  “It was not just the processes and procedures of that organisation that were lacking but moral leadership.”

                                  No organisation is too big, or our work with them too complex, for me to hesitate to remove funding from them if we cannot trust them to put the beneficiaries of aid first.
                                  Revelations around the handling of sex allegations at Oxfam should be a wake-up call to the charity sector, the International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said
                                  Oxfam received £31.7 million in taxpayer funding in 2016/17.
                                  But Ms Mordaunt indicated millions in taxpayer funding could be cut off in the wake of the scandal.

                                  She said: “No organisation is too big, or our work with them too complex, for me to hesitate to remove funding from them if we cannot trust them to put the beneficiaries of aid first,” she said.

                                  ……. Frances , I cannot even begin to understand what you have gone through.. your courage, your bravery shines through and i hope your light continues to shine bright and keeps you going through the dark days and nights.. If you are agreeable I would like to write to my local bishop, my bishop in Rome , our ambassador from the Vatican asking if there is an action-plan in place for such reparation as you suggest above ?

                                  • Frances Burke

                                    Thank you Phil for your kind words. Please share my letter as you see fit.

                                    • Frances Burke

                                      In this article the pope admits the abuse scandals are “a great humiliation” and said they show “not only our fragility, but also, let us say so clearly, our level of hypocrisy.” I assume he is talking about the hierarchy when he is saying this.
                                      It is interesting to note that there is no record of these frequent meeting he has had with survivors. All in order to protect survivors privacy!!
                                      I am alarmed by his statement “How shameful I felt!” said Francis. “What shame! They didn’t realize that I was the archbishop, I was a priest and — what shame!”


                                      • Paddy Ferry

                                        Frances@15, thank you for sharing your experience as a survivor with us. That must take some courage in a public forum like this.

                                        Eddie recently chastised me for continuing to challenge those who would persist in trying to assuage the horror of child sex abuse. (I do wonder why I am the only one to continue that challenge.) However, your simple sentence that ” Sexual abuse is a life sentence” must sum the situation up perfectly.

                                        I thought I should now share the clip from John Bowmans Questions and Answers when Michael O’Brien talks about the seven barristers trying to make him a liar at the Ryan Commission. I don’t recall anybody writing a book to castigate the legal process involved in that commission and utter unfairness of how people like Michael were treated.


                                        • Frances Burke

                                          Thanks for that Paddy. I am now in floods of tears after watching that video. It’s heart wrenching stuff.

                                          • Kevin Walters

                                            Paddy Ferry @ 19

                                            Thank you for the link Paddy, giving us the very powerful statement made by Michael O’Brian .

                                            kevin your brother
                                            In Christ

                                            • Kevin Walters

                                              Phil Greene @ 16

                                              “It was not just the processes and procedures of that organisation that were lacking but moral leadership.”

                                              Were any sacked at Oxfam?

                                              I suspect not, just moved on to save face and then for them to continue in the same sinful behaviour within another charity or elsewhere, as CAFOD has suspended one of its workers who joined them from Oxfam.

                                              Is not this the same culture that we find within the Church, this collusion (Cover up) with evil cannot be solved within the present structures of the church, as a true act of repentance (Change of direction) is needed, as in a fundamental shift of culture.

                                              Our Lord has given the Church the means to do this, as He has placed before the elite within the church a broken image of themselves, is there no one with the courage to embrace it and lead the Church out of this quagmire of self-deception.

                                              kevin your brother
                                              In Christ

                                              • Eddie Finnegan

                                                No, Paddy@19, I’m not one for chastising, let alone castigating anyone. Who am I to judge? as yer man said. I do occasionally give my opinion, however. If I understand aright the comment you alluded to, I still believe that in a forum designed mainly for priests to have a voice to reflect, discuss and comment on issues affecting the Irish Church and Society today (as it says above on the tin) we should engage with those thinking priests who write here and advance their positions and arguments rationally and with courtesy and stamina, even if we find ourselves on the other side of the argument. Frances Burke, throughout this and an accompanying thread, demonstrates that sort of rational argument, courtesy and stamina that educates us all. Ever since his March 2010 ‘Furrow’ article on the Murphy (Dublin) Report, I have found Pádraig McCarthy’s articles, comments and book marked by rationality, stamina and, above all, courtesy. (Paddy, I think your final sentence above is a fairly clear allusion to Pádraig’s engagement with the Murphy Report.)

                                                • Anne

                                                  Re your clip from Questions and Answers , I was in the audience sitting in front of Michael O Brien when the poor man gave his account of the horrendous abuse he suffered by his tormentors. As you can see the politicians on the panel were rendered speechless at his distress. I met him in the Green Room after the show and I gave him a hug. I also told him that I believed every word he said .
                                                  In my observations many people including the clergy just have no insight into the devastating long term emotional trauma suffered by victims of abuse.
                                                  For example I was in Lourdes on a pilgrimage some years ago and I went to visit a friend who was taking care of the sick in the hospital. I overheard a nurse say that abuse victims were mostly looking for money and they won’t be satisfied until the diocese won’t be able to afford to pay the priests their pensions!!

                                                  • Joe O'Leary

                                                    Michael O’Brien stoutly denied being sexually abused in a radio interview ten years earlier, in 1999.

                                                    During the 1999 interview on a local radio station, O’Brien expresses sympathy for victims of sexual abuse who suffered at the hands of the notorious Rosminian abuser at Ferryhouse, Brother Sean Barry. He goes on to say: “But I must say, and I have to say it here and now, because I had to meet my family when this came out. And say it never happened to me, I never seen it happening, I never heard of it happening in my seven years in Ferryhouse. I never seen or heard of it.”

                                                    Although O’Brien acknowledges in the interview that he was subjected to physical abuse and deprivation at Ferryhouse, he also pays tribute to the Rosminians and says that this was the state’s fault, not Ferryhouse.

                                                    “We were left there to those brothers and those priests to become our parents, and look after us. And as far as I’m concerned, 99.9% of them done a good job… out of every group, no matter what organisation you’re in, you’ll find bad eggs, Ferryhouse is my home. And I will defend it to the end as long as I live, because I was reared by them.” …..


                                                    • Frances Burke

                                                      Today Chilean survivor Juan Carlos Cruz meets with Bishop Scicluna.

                                                      I hope many good things for survivors and the Church result from this

                                                      • Anne

                                                        I was sitting in close proximity to Michael O Brien on the Question and Answers Show and there is no doubt in my mind that what he said was genuine. To me he appeared to be reliving the nightmare and he would have to be a great actor , well rehearsed to say what he did. He may well have avoided saying in public what really happened to him as going public is a very difficult thing to do. I believed him and still do.

                                                        • Phil Greene

                                                          To Kevin @22 , this is a letter I received from Oxfam ireland on 13th Feb. OXfam UK protected the institution. They did “let go” of some people whilst others “resigned” and took up positions elsewhere.

                                                          I am reticent about saying too much about abuse as the last thing I want to do is just unconsciously add insult to injury in any way for the survivors… they have suffered enough.

                                                          The point is that there are very few hiding places anymore in a world as information is readily available .. albeit still too late in many cases but people are hearing about it faster and it is reaching a wider audience than ever before … it is the action taken by the responsible institution that will lead to its survival or downfall … people are getting tired of “do not let this stop the good work” being used as a defence if/when nothing is done about the “bad work”.. i.e. bad leadership.. We need more people like Ms. Penny Mordaunt in 16 above.
                                                          We must not take away from our Church the good work that the are doing in safeguarding children now.. but they must take proper ownership, and not only when a public faux-pas has taken place.

                                                          “As a valued supporter, I know you will have found the stories of sexual misconduct unfolding in the media as appalling as we have.

                                                          The behaviour of some staff employed by Oxfam Great Britain in Haiti in 2011 and in Chad in 2006 was totally unacceptable, contrary to our values and the high standards we expect of our staff.

                                                          We want to make it very clear – we completely condemn any form of abuse against the people we work to protect and support. We feel deep shame in the behaviour of those who failed to uphold our values, values I know you share.

                                                          I feel great responsibility in the trust that you place in us and I know that this awful situation may have damaged that. We promise to continue to be open and transparent and rebuild any trust lost.

                                                          No staff employed by Oxfam Ireland were involved in these cases and they did not involve the misuse of public funds. All of the money you helped to raise for Haiti was spent as planned on the relief response to the 2010 earthquake.

                                                          Oxfam Ireland has a zero-tolerance approach to sexual misconduct and will not stand for any kind of harassment of staff, partners, volunteers or those we serve.

                                                          It is my priority to ensure that our staff, volunteers and the people we work for are safe and valued and we have several safeguarding policies in operation to prevent harassment and abuse, including a prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse policy. Staff and volunteers are encouraged to raise any concerns they may have without reprisal and we have a robust whistleblowing policy in place.

                                                          I want to ensure you that this incident does not represent Oxfam or what we stand for. The deplorable actions of a small number of people will not stop the vital work against poverty and injustice worldwide that you contribute to everyday.

                                                          I’m sure the recent news has been painful and shocking for you and Oxfam supporters around the world. If you have any questions or concerns about the current media coverage, and you would like to personally speak to us, please do get in touch.

                                                          Thank you so much for your ongoing support,

                                                          Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland CEO

                                                          Jim Clarken,

                                                          Chief Executive

                                                          Oxfam Ireland”

                                                          • Kevin Walters

                                                            Joe O’Leary @ 25

                                                            So we have a contradiction

                                                            Irish Examiner, Wednesday, May 27, 2009. See the link below
                                                            Mr O’Brien, 75, a former long-serving member of Clonmel Corporation who was elected lord mayor in the early 1990s, has been campaigning for the rights of fellow victims through his Right to Peace organisation since he went public with his own experiences in 1999.
                                                            He also criticised church leaders for failing to back victims even after the Child Abuse Commission was set up 10 years ago

                                                            . “Before then I was scared out of my living daylights to mention sexual abuse, scared what the people of Ireland would say to me. I was afraid of becoming a leper. And I did become a leper to some people. Not one priest came to my door in the last 10 years.”


                                                            The underlying problem is that there is a ‘proven’ very strong ‘on-going’ world wide culture of cover-ups within the church, that is reinforced by Cannon law, and because of this, it is obvious to Joe Blogs (Man in the street) that the leadership of the church cannot be trusted.
                                                            To expect the average man to think otherwise no matter how you present (Justify) a few individual cases set against an avalanche of proven hypocrisy is to delude oneself

                                                            Credibility needs to be restored and this can only come about by a manifest change of culture.

                                                            kevin your brother
                                                            In Christ

                                                            • Frances Burke

                                                              This is very alarming reading.

                                                              “As must be done in good jurisprudence, always in favor of the offender,” the Pope told reporters January 21 en route home from South America.


                                                              • Phil Greene

                                                                Correction .. Oxfam GB rather than Oxfam UK..

                                                                • Paddy Ferry

                                                                  Yes, Joe it is odd how he would initially deny being abused when  we now know from that Questions and Answers clip that he definitely did suffer horrendous sexual abuse. Nobody watching that clip could doubt that fact. Perhaps, as Anne has alluded to, some people simply find it too difficult to talk in public about it. I know there were some victims/survivors over here who could not cooperate with the commission on abuse which is ongoing at the moment. Or, perhaps, Michael, as he mentioned that night, was a politician seeking office –I think he actually said he was a mayor — and for any politician in Ireland, until very recently, keeping on the right side of the church was definitely a very good idea if they wanted to succeed in public life.
                                                                  Now, having just written that I feel I have been disrespectful to Michael. I actually agree completely with Phil@28 that we probably should not continue this kind of discussion given that we all know what is the  score as far as sexual abuse of children by priests and religious is concerned and we have now known the score for decades. So, why are we still debating this topic? However, Joe, I always feel goaded by your attitude and Padraig’s to respond when you both always try and defend the alleged culprits or try to mitigate the awfulness of it all or just to muddy the waters, which you are both expert at doing, whether it is the Tuam babies scandal, the Spotlight film, the case of George Pell in Australia and there are many more examples over the years which I simply cannot recall this minute.
                                                                  Like Phil I fear we risk adding to the hurt of those who suffered abuse and their families. I shudder to think what I would have been capable of doing to anybody who had ever abused any of my children –thankfully body ever did. And, perhaps, that gets to the crux of the matter; you actually have to be a parent yourself to fully understand the truly heinous nature of the crime of sexually violating young children. Eddie,@23 I always respect your opinions and I hope you can respect mine too. It is great to have your contributions again. We did miss you. I rest my case.
                                                                  PS. I suppose the simple thing would be for someone who knows Michael to ask him why he initially denied, as Joe has just told us, that he had been sexually abused.

                                                                  • Paddy Ferry

                                                                    I have just discovered why Michael initially denied he had been sexually abused when I read Kevin@29. So,no need to ask Michael again. Well done, Kevin and thank you for your research.

                                                                    • Joe O'Leary

                                                                      “A little bit of suspicion is never misplaced in this world” (Mozart).

                                                                      You “know the score” about the Tuam Babies — despite Catherine Corless’s muddying the waters of the media version which is still running rife? And you are sure that George Pell is guilty of child abuse despite the eminent voices in Australia denouncing the proceedings against him as deeply unjust? DId you know the score about Nora Wall? Kevin Reynolds?

                                                                      One never knows the score without due process, and without the essential weapon of justice known as “cross-examination”.

                                                                      “Nobody watching that clip could doubt that fact.”

                                                                      Surely you have heard angry men make allegations that are utterly plausible and that still turn out on analysis to be groundless?

                                                                      See irishsalem.com for many examples/

                                                                      • Joe O'Leary

                                                                        ” I suppose the simple thing would be for someone who knows Michael to ask him why he initially denied, as Joe has just told us, that he had been sexually abused.”

                                                                        I simply googled and cut and pasted what I read. In the link I gave he explains his 1999 denial. “”The reason I didn’t say anything about sexual abuse on local radio was that I didn’t want my family or anybody to know about it. I didn’t want to talk about it … I had been mayor of Clonmel and I didn’t want anyone to know about it.”
                                                                        This is from a 2009 interview with the Sunday Times. In the Irish Examiner story, also from 2009, he says: “Before then [i.e. ten years previously] I was scared out of my living daylights to mention sexual abuse, scared what the people of Ireland would say to me. I was afraid of becoming a leper. And I did become a leper to some people. Not one priest came to my door in the last 10 years.”

                                                                        This seems to suggest that he DID talks about being sexually abused in 1999?

                                                                        As to the Pell case, please be apprised of the following:

                                                                        “I do not need to defend Pell’s right to a presumption of innocence. The most recent voices in defence of Pell’s rights are those of respected members of the legal fraternity anxious about the state of justice. The Justice Institute of Victoria has said the “lack of regard” for the cardinal’s rights was “a startling affront” to the cornerstone of the legal system. Noel Pearson, who is neutral about the cardinal except that he is interested in justice, has condemned the silence of “latter-day Robespierres” who won’t stick their heads above the parapet to defend the presumption of innocence.”


                                                                        • Joe O'Leary

                                                                          More here: http://www.politics.ie/forum/current-affairs/130071-michael-o-brien-questions-answer.html

                                                                          The theory that Michael O’Brien was “in denial” in 1999 is hardly credible; and it is not the explanation given by the man himself.

                                                                          • Frances Burke

                                                                            Good to see that Juan Carlos Cruz felt he was listened to by Archbishop Scicluna yesterday. He also said

                                                                            ““There are thousands of other victims around the world that need to be believed and heard and given the same treatment and respect that I have received today,” Cruz said.” washingtonpost.com/amphtml/nation…


                                                                            • Frances Burke

                                                                              Ownership and public participation of survivors is denied in the new PCPM lineup.

                                                                              This is another way of silencing survivors. (CCSASurvivors@TutelaMinorum)

                                                                              • Paddy Ferry

                                                                                Joe, I expect you will fight this corner until your dying day. I find your need to do this very puzzling. You must realise you are unlikely to convince many people as we do all actually “know the score”.

                                                                                My final word on this horrible topic–I hope –is from the Barry Bennell case. I am sure you know he is the former coach of Man City and Crewe Alexander who has been convicted, last week, of sexually abusing boys whom he was coaching. One of his victims, now an adult, stood outside the court and said “why did no one help us, people must have known”. That really connected with me. And I am sure it applies to other parts of the world where child sex abuse was rampant.

                                                                                When you hear Michael say how scared he was of talking about his abuse, you have to conclude it is remarkable that the scandal of child clerical sexual abuse ever got into the public domain in Ireland given the power and control our Church exercised. A relation of mine–an otherwise sensible person–once said to me that it was a mortal sin to say anything bad about a priest. I was not immediately certain that she was talking nonsense, but ,of course, I was only a child then.

                                                                                • Joe O'Leary

                                                                                  “I expect you will fight this corner until your dying day. I find your need to do this very puzzling. You must realise you are unlikely to convince many people as we do all actually “know the score”.”

                                                                                  My “need” to smack down injustice and prejudice is just a natural instinct. There should be nothing puzzling about it to anyone who cares about fairness and justice. (For instance, it is totally unfair to presume George Pell is a child molester, as you seem to do, despite the wise warnings of those versed in the legal situation in Australia.)

                                                                                  Injustice and prejudice often come in the form of blazing righteousness — the same sort of moral certainty that underlaid the abuse in institutions that our elders were so sure were in the right. The way people now talk about “pedophiles” is a stark regression from the more humane attitudes of the past; you can cut the atmosphere of hatred, prejudice, and obscurantism with a knife. And that is only one of the forms of Salemism now thriving.

                                                                                  The anticlericalism of scenes like the one with the priest in Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards” or many nasty scenes in John Boyne’s “A History of Loneliness” (acclaimed as brave, a work of historical importance, and so on, by eminent novelists who should know better), or similar distortions in “Philomena” and “The Magdalen Sisters”, or in generalized tendentious rants about babies in septic tanks, is another miasma one can cut with a knife.

                                                                                  #metoo is taking a leaf from the SNAP handbook and many who guffawed at clerics are now finding themselves exposed to the same inquisition and not liking it one bit!

                                                                                  • Paddy Ferry

                                                                                    Joe,I also care about fairness and justice and I do not  presume that George Pell is a child molester. While there are, apparently, multiply accusers willing to testify against him, we obviously must wait until the court process is complete. Everybody is entitled to be presumed innocent until it is proven otherwise.

                                                                                    On the question of fairness I think it was very unfair of you to impugn Michael O’Brien honesty and integrity despite his heartrending and obviously sincere testimony on the Questions and Answers program. When you first commented there was no mention of any sympathy for the man or the fact that “there were seven barristers trying to make a liar of me” which seemed to upset Michael so much.
                                                                                    The whole purpose of your initial comment seemed aimed at undermining Michael’s credibility which I thought was a really poor show on your part, Joe

                                                                                    • Joe O'Leary

                                                                                      As to “knowing the score”, I am not sure that anyone knows it. To the majority of commentators the score seems to be that the Catholic Church has been a catastrophe for Ireland and that the sooner it is extirpated the better. Any attempt to plead context, or for a due recognition of the greatness and goodness of Irish Catholicism, is scoffed at. Now all the anti-church tropes of a hundred years ago (you can find them in Joyce for example) have become gospel.

                                                                                      • Kevin Walters

                                                                                        Phil Greene @ 28

                                                                                        “They did “let go” of some people whilst others “resigned” and took up positions elsewhere”

                                                                                        You did well Phil in response to my question to you ”Were any sacked at Oxfam? By emphasizing “let go” also “resigned,” as these terms represent a sophisticated way of intellectualizing the hypocrisy of power, given in coded words of deception, permitting an on-going “hiding place” in a circle of evil, as in pass the parcel (Problem).

                                                                                        The exclusion of the word ‘sacked’ as in Dismissal points us in the direction of damage limitation, this course of action it is fair to say took place at board level as now a sacrificial director has resigned who most probably will soon find another welcoming good job but the ongoing culture remains the same, hide the problem as in give it to someone else.

                                                                                        “We need more people like Ms. Penny Mordaunt in 16 above”

                                                                                        Yes but more so we need more people like Bishop Moriarty who in humility shamed the Devil and served the Truth

                                                                                        “We must not take away from our Church the ‘good work’ that they are doing in safeguarding children now.

                                                                                        Yes we must not take away from the church her ‘new’ efforts that were ‘forced’ upon her to protect children but this action does not go to the heart of the problem as the self-serving circle of Clericalism; a policy of maintaining or increasing the power of a religious hierarchy; remains intact.
                                                                                        The change is superficial as the fundamental on-going culture of dishonest manifest as deflection, denials, stonewalling, bribes, intimidation and lies have not been fully embraced and in not doing so ensures that it will continue. Most probably now at this moment in time in the West to a lesser degree but the underlying culture has not changed waiting to assert itself when other difficult circumstances are encountered.

                                                                                        This is the biggest scandal that the church has had to confront in the last five hundred years and coupled with it we have the manifestation of arrogance, revealed by our Lord Himself in such a manner that it confronts the hypocrisy of the elite within the church, who contrary to His inviolate Word made themselves a self-serving image of worldly beauty (Goodness) and it is fair to say that the arrogance of Clericalism has been confronted by divine intervention, but the transforming action of the Holy Spirit is still waiting to take place.

                                                                                        “I am reticent about saying too much about abuse as the last thing I want to do is just unconsciously add insult to injury in any way for the survivors…”

                                                                                        Anyone who has been traumatised by this present manifestation of evil within the church looks for closure and this closure for the majority of the abused and their families can only be achieved by the perpetrators or their accomplices (those who facilitated The Papacy to cover up this scandal) showing TRUE contrition for what they have done.
                                                                                        So are you saying Phil that you have given up on a fundament shift of culture and because of this you might ‘add insult to injury to the survivors’?

                                                                                        kevin your brother
                                                                                        In Christ

                                                                                        • Sean O'Conaill

                                                                                          #40 Does justice not also demand acknowledgement that there has been huge institutional failure in clerical Catholicism – failure that has still not been seriously studied and explained by the leadership of that same institution?

                                                                                          In the wake of the Ryan Report, on May 24th, 2009, Bishop Noel Treanor was asked by Tommie Gorman (of RTE) to comment on an earlier interview with Fr Tim Bartlett re the Ryan findings that it was necessary to find out:
                                                                                          ‘How this occurred. How the structure that was, that is the church, allowed this to happen, then attempted to cover it up, and then let it continue to happen’.

                                                                                          Bishop Treanor’s response:

                                                                                          “I believe simply that as a church within society we have to recognise honestly that these things have happened. We cannot in any way at any level within the church be indifferent. I don’t think anybody is. We can’t wash our hands of it. We can’t deny it. We simply have to see the evil and the crimes that were perpetrated straight in the face, and that means we have to examine why they happened.

                                                                                          “That will require if I may say so an inter‑disciplinary discussion with people who are members of the church ‑ involving victims, those who were abused and indeed going beyond the borders of our church, so that we have the best anthropological and scientific analysis available to try and understand why this happened.

                                                                                          “One can simplify. It can be said this is due to celibacy. Institutions which were not run by clergy nor celibates have had the same problem. Nonetheless it did happen within our church, which claims to be inspired by the values of Jesus Christ and to care for the most vulnerable in our society. Failures occurred on the part of some, besmirching all of us, undoing the good work of the many who gave their lives and energies totally to these people. This has to be examined. It calls out for examination and sanation.”

                                                                                          That ‘examination and sanation’ of staggering superstructural failure never happened. Instead, in 2012, the Vatican scapegoated Sean Fagan, Gerry Moloney, Brian D’arcy, Owen O’Sullivan and Iggy O’Sullivan (and staff at the Irish College in Rome) – and now, in 2018 we know that a pope may ‘forget’ evidential letters presented formally and personally to himself in 2015, pertaining to a bishop appointed by him who was a known associate of a known abuser when he was appointed- and go on to cry ‘calumny’ in 2018.

                                                                                          Yes too there is injustice in the blowback from a secularism that is not addressing its own stark failures to achieve ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’, and no individual should face the level of excoriation visited on Cardinal Pell.

                                                                                          But has the same Cardinal Pell frankly yet admitted the shortcomings of the monarchical model of Catholic administration he too presided over and defended, or called for ‘a multi-disciplinary’ inquiry into its starkly obvious failure? What exactly will it take to trigger that – another 200 years of scandal?

                                                                                          Those who keep an inventory of anti-clerical injustices need to keep a parallel inventory of the staggering failures of that same clerical institution – still ongoing – to be sure that justice is indeed being properly served. Concentrated power corrupts, and until that truth is reflected in the church’s supreme governmental system we cannot all be healed.

                                                                                          • Frances Burke

                                                                                            I would recommend the following book on this topic

                                                                                            “Understanding and Addressing Adult Sexual Attraction to Children” by Dr Sarah D. Goode.

                                                                                            It is not an easy read but very educational and highlights the importance of keeping children safe

                                                                                            • Joe O'Leary

                                                                                              What Noel Trainor calls for is quite utopian, in view of the obfuscatory, obscurantist and obstructionist practices that have so long prevailed in the Church. A church that practiced dialogue and open discussion would have been far better placed to deal with scandals. Obviously a very different church culture is called for. But do you see signs of it emerging?

                                                                                              • Anne

                                                                                                Joe @42
                                                                                                It is very difficult for Catholics like us to try and defend the indefensible. It is clear that your allegiance to the Church far outweighs your empathy for the victims of abuse.
                                                                                                I live in the Diocese where the notorious Sean Fortune wrecked havoc on people’s lives and I clearly remember a priest asking me did I think there was a vendetta against Sean Fortune by members of the public who were out to get him. This in spite of the fact that numerous parishioners had pleaded with his Superiors to do something about him. If the whistleblowers had been listened to at the time the Church would have been spared a lot of the criticism that it is now getting. Covering it up made matters one hundred times worse.
                                                                                                “For Evil to succeed it is only necessary that Good Men Do Nothing.”

                                                                                                • Phil Greene

                                                                                                  So are you saying Phil that you have given up on a fundament shift of culture and because of this you might ‘add insult to injury to the survivors’?

                                                                                                  Hi Kevin ,
                                                                                                  I wrote these words because I, personally, can see no reasons for the debate taking place on this site. These conversations, in my humble opinion, only seem to upset two opposing sides and appear to entrench them further in their own beliefs rather than lead to any shift in thought. If any of this was new news then yes, let’s hear the debate .. but it is not. As I said I will write to the Bishops and ask for the action that Frances and other survivors need to see within their lifetimes. I would prefer to act in this way. Other than that I can do nothing to change any of this sorry culture.. walking away, at times, appears to be the best way to live a fuller faith-filled life. As a woman it really seems ridiculous to support a group of men who seem to think they are the only ones with answers.. and are so adept at finding 101 ways to say No to change as time relentlessly marches on..
                                                                                                  Oxfam, for now, will not allow these obscenities to happen again, they rely too heavily on peoples’ and governments’ goodwill and will ensure good practise going forward. .they must.. as their good name is now more important than ever as they compete in the marketplace for funding.. they do not have the luxury of a Faith to hide behind.
                                                                                                  I hope George Pell and any other clergy that are going through times of perceived injustice ( I am not up-to-date with his case) will , in the future, empathise more fully with survivors of clerical abuse and use their gifts to help these people . The survivors unfortunately did/do not have the weight of the higher judiciary in the Church (with some exceptions) to cry “fowl” when their voices were/are silenced.
                                                                                                  No more now please Kevin on this matter , to me anyway, as I feel the futility of my words here, some can never be converted.

                                                                                                  • Frances Burke

                                                                                                    Vatican says Bishops only duty when dealing with sexual abuse is to deal with it internally – though they must be aware of local laws


                                                                                                    • Paddy Ferry

                                                                                                      Sean, thank you for that very well balanced and wise reflection. I had been hoping you would intervene. I am very reassured by Bishop Treanor’s sensible and honest admission that “we cannot wash our hands of it” and that “we cannot deny it”. Perhaps you are correct, Anne, as it does seem to be the case, that Joe’s “allegiance to the Church far outweighs your empathy for the victims of abuse.” But, Joe, I also carry great allegiance to our Church and it is because of that and my continued hope to see its renewal and, one day, hopefully to regain some of its lost  credibility, that I always say we must hold our hands up and admit the horrors of the past. Anything less will simply not do. We will never regain credibility and respect otherwise.
                                                                                                      But, that is only of secondary importance. Of much greater  importance is our need to show respect and concern and empathy for the feelings of the victims of sexual abuse and their families. That is paramount, surely.

                                                                                                      So, Joe, I am really sorry our positions are so diametrically opposed on this single issue and that I have to continue to challenge you on it. On everything else we have always been at one. At least, I cannot think of anything else I have ever felt the need to disagree with you on. And, who was it who said that you are wonderfully inclusive teacher. I certainly agree with that and I think we have been blessed to have your knowledge and erudition readily available to us on this site.
                                                                                                      I will not be in Ireland in June, Joe but if you are ever in Scotland it would be great to meet up.  I think we miss the big ACP meetings in the Regency. We travelled over for a few of them and I meet some of our ACP site co-contributors. They were special occasions. Perhaps we need to have them again. We could arrange a meeting that week-end — for those of us who contribute to this site– to coincide with the main meeting. I could even recommend a speaker for the main meeting, Werner Jeanrond  who spoke at our Edinburgh Newman Assoc last year. He was really uplifting and inspiring. His address was then shared on this site. We have Tony Flannery coming to our Newman Assoc on March 6th and also to Edinburgh University on Feb.28th. We are very excited about that . I have told all my friends and contacts that Tony is not to be missed.
                                                                                                      I am starting to ramble now. Good night everyone and God Bless.

                                                                                                      • Frances Burke

                                                                                                        Exposure documentary “Boarding Schools – The Secret Shame” investigating historical sexual abuse in private British schools is very relevant to this discussion. However, it is not very pleasant viewing.


                                                                                                        • Joe O'Leary

                                                                                                          “Allegiance to the church” — is that all you see in a simple claim for justice to those falsely accused or disproportionately demonized (a claim that I make not only for sisters and clergy but for gays and pedophiles and trans folk and victims of the #metoo witch hunt, and a claim I’ve been making from a time before the clergy were embroiled in scandal)?

                                                                                                          My main offence on this thread has been to draw attention to the criticism of Michael O’Brien’s story by fellow victim Christine Buckley and others, which a simple google check instantly brought to light and which was covered in the media. I think Leo Varadkar did well not to clap and join the expected emotional reaction. Probably he was thinking of Enda Kenny’s reaction to the Cloyne Report, which I recommend everyone here to reread.

                                                                                                          Empathy is admirable, but it is not the sole determinant of justice and can often get in the way of justice. In the wider media it is not empathy that is paramount but the very different sentiments that fuel scapegoating and witch hunts — as can easily be verified by checking the comboxes of sites discussing such topics.

                                                                                                          • Sean O'Conaill

                                                                                                            #46 What I see just now in Ireland is a clerical system in slow breakdown, yet meanwhile trying to put some kind of ‘face’ on this ‘Year of the Family’.

                                                                                                            On Feb 3rd in Derry we had a meeting of about 200 lay people to discuss Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’s call to a new style of mission and the challenge of engaging younger generations who increasingly want nothing to do with ‘pay, pray and obey’ non-dialogical Catholicism. It was attended by the nuncio, Archbishop Okolo, but the main speakers were lay people and there was time for group discussion.

                                                                                                            In the group I led there was a heartening willingness to respond to the pope’s call for compassion, service and accompaniment of those in non-standard relationships, and to broaden our understanding of ‘living in sin’ to embrace issues of justice and the environment. There were people in the group already doing ‘mission’ in their own way for those in need – e.g. for people who are lonely or lost.

                                                                                                            Old moulds are breaking down in Ireland, and meanwhile the superstructure is in crisis – so the future is there for the shaping. It’s very clear that ‘vocation’ is no longer supplying blood to the clerical system we have inherited – but is nevertheless calling many to Christian service and sacrifice.

                                                                                                            Who knows what structure of ‘church’ may rise from all of this? There will be continuity of some kind, obviously, but a lot of debris left behind – and change will be the dominant theme. The ending of the administrative unaccountability of hierarchs must surely be part of this, as the Holy Spirit inspires all who pray sincerely. Every educated Catholic now knows what the Catholic Lord Acton had to say about undivided power in 1887. Few now would question what he also said in the same letter: “There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.”

                                                                                                            A system that refuses to investigate its own dysfunction has blown the historical whistle on itself. No airline whose planes crashed so predictably would still be in business.

                                                                                                            • Joe O'Leary

                                                                                                              Robin Morton recounts that A(lgernon) B(ertram) Mitford (grandfather of the notorious Mitford sisters), who was a diplomat in Japan at a key moment in its history (1866-70), said that Eton in his schooldays (1840s) was a hotbed of sexual vice and bullying that involved the most ingenious tortures (though he had a nostalgia for the place); he was the first Westerner to witness a seppuku, which he described in his book “Tales of Old Japan” (and he was an advisor to Gilbert and Sullivan on The Mikado, which contains a Japanese song he passed on to them).




                                                                                                              • Frances Burke

                                                                                                                This Tusla report is hot off the press. Significant improvements have been made in protecting children but a few orders have seriously lagged behind as can be seen from the headlines.

                                                                                                                From reading the report I am concerned that a large number of orders have not addressed the following in their safeguarding documents;
                                                                                                                1) clear ways in which Church personnel can raise allegations and suspicions about unacceptable behaviour towards children by other Church personnel or volunteers (whistle-blowing), confidentially if necessary
                                                                                                                2) a process for dealing with complaints made by adults and children about unacceptable behaviour towards children, with clear timescales for resolving the complaint
                                                                                                                3) contact details of local child protection services, such as Health and Social Care Trusts/HSE, PSNI, An Garda Siochana, telephone helplines and the designated person


                                                                                                                It took 15 years to get it to this point. There is a lot done and there is still a lot more to do.

                                                                                                                • Frances Burke

                                                                                                                  This is very difficult to credit. And to discover further into the article

                                                                                                                  “According to reports, Amenta has previously faced charges of obscenity in 1991 and sexual molestation in 2004, though neither of those charges led to convictions. In 2013, Amenta himself made a complaint to police of being robbed by two transsexuals.”

                                                                                                                  I wonder how he avoided convictions in 1991 and 2004?

                                                                                                                  I wonder when he looks at those pictures of minors does he see it as abuse?


                                                                                                                  • Frances Burke

                                                                                                                    This is a very interesting article. To quote from it;

                                                                                                                    ‘Everyone in Rome says they want an end to abuse scandals. But will they do what it takes?’

                                                                                                                    ‘What they need is manpower and resources, and a clear mandate to be proactive in their work; what they have got is a Vatican-wide hiring freeze since 2014.’


                                                                                                                    • Frances Burke

                                                                                                                      These are the Child Protection Guidelines promoted by the Irish government.


                                                                                                                      They are the guidelines which are required of all organisations (sports, educational, clerical etc.) who are in contact with children.

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