With apologies to courageous WWII German Pastor Martin Niemöller:
First they blamed the media
Then it was the Jews
Now it's homosexuals
Who will be next?
and will anyone remain to believe the rhetoric of Benedict XVI and his inner circle of Catholic fundamentalists?
By John Cooney
THE Vatican has been plunged into a new row over clerical child abuse after its second in command claimed that homosexuality, rather than celibacy, was linked to paedophilia.
The controversial comment was made yesterday by the Vatican's secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone in a clumsy attempt to defuse growing criticism of Pope Benedict XVI.
Speaking in Santiago, Chile, Cardinal Bertone, the Pope's 'prime minister', said the Pontiff would soon take more surprising initiatives regarding the sex-abuse scandal but he did not elaborate.
He told a news conference: "Many psychologists and psychiatrists have shown that there is no link between celibacy and paedophilia but many others have shown that there is a relationship between homosexuality and paedophilia."Pathology
Cardinal Bertone described this pathology as "one that touches all categories of people and priests to a lesser degree in percentage terms.
"The behaviour of the priests in this case is very serious, is scandalous," he added.
Bertone's gaffe came as the Vatican for the first time called on bishops across the world to report clerical child abuse crimes to police, in accordance with national laws.
Yesterday, the Vatican posted the statement of its official policy of how to deal with abuse complaints on its web-site.
This was in line with last month's letter to the Catholics of Ireland from Pope Benedict XVI, in which he told Irish bishops to co-operate with gardai and health authorities in abuse investigations.
Wednesday 14 April 2010, page 22
Vatican attacked over cardinal's claim of homosexuality and paedophilia link
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Pope Benedict's number two, said homosexuality - not celibacy - is linked to paedophilia
Rory Carroll, Latin America correspondent, and John Hooper in Rome
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, whose comments on homosexuality and paedophilia have outraged gay groups. (Plinio Lepri/AP)
Gay rights groups have condemned the Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, for claiming that the Catholic church's sexual abuse crisis was linked to homosexuality and paedophilia and not celibacy among priests.
Bertone, who is considered Pope Benedict's number two, sparked the controversy on a visit to Chile when he suggested gay sexuality was to blame for the church's child abuse scandals.
Homosexual associations in Italy reacted with anger and indignation. The biggest group, Arcigay, called the cardinal's words "shocking and irresponsible". The president of the gay media service, Gaynet, said if senior church officials "feel constrained to dump the blame on homosexuals, it says a lot about the current state of desperation in the Vatican".
Gay rights advocates in Chile also waded in. "Neither Bertone nor the Vatican has the moral authority to give lessons on sexuality," Rolando Jiménez, president of the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation in Chile, told AP.
No reputable study exists to support the cardinal's claims, said Jiménez added. "This is a perverse strategy by the Vatican to shirk its own ethical and legal responsibility by making a spurious and disgusting connection."
The cardinal, who is known for his blunt and sometimes tactless manner, made the remarks at a televised press conference in Chile's capital Santiago.
He said: "Many psychologists and psychiatrists have shown that there is no link between celibacy and paedophilia but many others have shown, I have recently been told, that there is a relationship between homosexuality and paedophilia. This pathology is one that touches all categories of people, and priests to a lesser degree in percentage terms. The behaviour of the priests in this case, the negative behaviour, is very serious, is scandalous."
In apparent embarrassment, the Holy See's official daily, L'Osservatore Romano, did not mention Bertone's remarks in its report on the press conference.
Five years ago the Vatican implicitly linked homosexuality and paedophilia when, following the child abuse scandals in the US, it banned men from studying for the priesthood if they " showed deeply rooted homosexual tendencies".
But the connection was questioned last year in the preliminary version of a report commissioned by the American Catholic bishops, which is due to be published in December. They said the data they had studied so far did not support a link between a homosexual identity and a higher probability of sexual abuse.
Cardinal Bertone's remarks in Chile may have been prompted in part by renewed calls in Latin America and elsewhere for the church to drop its celibacy rule. Costa Rica's president Oscar Arias last week urged the Vatican to "correct that error".
The church is also under pressure in Argentina, Mexico and other Latin American countries which have ignored its injunctions against granting civic rights to same-sex couples.
Santiago was not an ideal venue for the cardinal's remarks given that one of the Chilean church's highest-profile paedophile cases involves a priest having sex with young girls. Despite multiple complaints the church hierarchy kept Father José Andres Aguirre, known to parishoners as Father Tato, serving at several Catholic girls' schools in the capital.
London ~ April 13, 2010
Top cardinal, Tarcisio Bertone, blames paedophile crisis on homosexuals
Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone made the comments in Chile where he is on an official visit (Ivan Alvarado/Reuters)
By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent, and Richard Owen in Rome
The Holy See’s second-highest prelate after the Pope has blamed homosexuals for the paedophile crisis.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, said that the child rape scandal that is threatening the moral authority of the Roman Catholic Church worldwide is linked to homosexuality and not celibacy among priests.
Other Vatican clerics have sought to deflect criticism from the Catholic hierarchy by blaming the media, and one retired bishop was even reported earlier this week to have blamed the Jews.
Cardinal Bertone made the comments during a news conference on Monday in Chile, where one of the church’s highest-profile paedophile cases involves a priest having sex with young girls.
Cardinal Bertone said: “Many psychologists and psychiatrists have demonstrated that there is no relation between celibacy and paedophilia. But many others have demonstrated, I have been told recently, that there is a relation between homosexuality and paedophilia. That is true. That is the problem.” Cardinal Bertone also said that the church had never impeded investigations of paedophilia by priests.
Chile’s gay rights advocates reacted with anger. “Neither Bertone nor the Vatican has the moral authority to give lessons on sexuality,” said Rolando Jiménez, president of the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation in Chile.
Mr Jimenez also said that no reputable study existed to support the cardinal’s claims. “This is a perverse strategy by the Vatican to shirk its own ethical and legal responsibility by making a spurious and disgusting connection,” he said.
At least one of the paedophile priests in the Chilean Church victimised young girls, including a teenager who became pregnant.
At the time the archbishop of the capital, Santiago, received multiple complaints about Father José Andrés Aguirre. However, the priest known to his parishioners as Father Tato continued serving at a number of Catholic girls schools in the city.
Later the Church sent Aguirre out of Chile twice amid abuse allegations. He was eventually sentenced to 12 years in prison for abusing 10 teenage girls.
One of the girls, identified as Paula, said that she and the priest started to have sex when she was 16 and that it lasted until she was 20.
She told the Chilean newspaper La Nacion: “I thought it wasn’t that bad to have sex with him because when I told priests about it at confession they just told me to pray and that was it. They knew, and some of them guessed that it was Father Tato. But everyone looked the other way. No one corrected or helped me.” She said that one of the priests to whom she confessed about Aguirre was Bishop Francisco José Cox, who himself was facing allegations of paedophilia.
Cox had been bishop in La Serena, in northern Chile, for seven years when he was removed in 1997 amid rumours that he was a paedophile. He was first transferred to Santiago, then Rome, then Colombia, and finally Germany. The Schoenstatt Movement, a worldwide lay community within the Catholic Church, paid for the moves and his treatment.
In 2002 Santiago Archbishop Francisco Javier Erráruriz said that Cox had agreed to be removed for “inappropriate conduct”.
The archbishop acknowledged that Cox had shown “affection that was a bit exuberant”, especially toward children, but said: “I’m not aware of any formal allegation backed by evidence.” Archbishop Erráruriz said that Cox volunteered to be confined to a Schoenstatt convent in Colombia to continue “praying to God for his pardon for the errors he has made”.
Last week the archbishop admitted that the Chilean Church was investigating cases of priest paedophilia after playing the issue down for years.
“There is something to these paedophilia abuses just a few, thank God,” Archbishop Errazuriz said in an interview on state television.
Cardinal Bertone’s comments are likely to exacerbate further the worst crisis to engulf the Catholic Church in years.
Last week the Associated Press published correspondence that showed that while heading the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger, now the Pope, resisted pleas from a California diocese to laicise a priest who had pleaded no contest to lewd conduct for tying up and molesting two boys.
In 1986 Cardinal Ratzinger wrote a letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons in which he stated that a homosexual orientation, even if the person was totally celibate, was a “tendency” toward an “intrinsic moral evil”. Moreover, he said, a homosexual inclination is both an “objective disorder” and a “moral disorder”, which is “contrary to the creative wisdom of God”. “Special concern and pastoral attention should be directed towards those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not.”
The future Pope concluded in his letter that pastoral care for homosexual persons should include the “assistance of the psychological, sociological and medical sciences”, and that “all support should be withdrawn from any organisations which seek to undermine the teachings of the Church, which are ambiguous about it, or which ignore it entirely”.
Yesterday there were unconfirmed reports that a retired bishop, Giacomo Babini of Grosseto, had said that a “Zionist attack” was behind the criticism of the Pope, that Jews were the Church’s “natural enemies” and that “deep down, historically speaking, the Jews are deicides [God killers]”.
Mgr Babini was quoted as having told an Italian Catholic website that Hitler had exploited German anger over the “excesses” of German Jews, who in the 1930s had “throttled” the German economy.
Denying making such remarks, Mgr Babini, 81, later said: “Statements I have never made about our Jewish brothers have been attributed to me.”
The Vatican also came under fire at Easter when the Pope’s personal preacher, the Reverend Raniero Cantalamessa, quoted a “Jewish friend”, who likened accusations against the pontiff in the clergy sex abuse cover-up scandals to collective violence against Jews.
He made the remarks in a Good Friday sermon at St Peter’s Basilica, which the Pope attended.
A recent edition of The Tablet, the British weekly, quoted a curial official on facts and figures about the paedophile cases that have been reported in the last ten years.
Mgr Charles Scicluna, Promoter of Justice at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said: “It is possible that in the past – perhaps out of a misunderstood sense of protecting the good name of the institution – some bishops were, in practice, too indulgent towards these very sad cases. I say this was in practice because, in principle, the condemnation of this kind of crime has always been firm and unequivocal.” He said that between 1975 and 1985 he knew of no cases of paedophilia committed by priests. Only from 2001 did the congregation deal with such cases. “Therefore, to accuse the current pontiff of a cover-up is, I repeat, false and calumnious,” he said.
He said that in 2003 and 2004 an “avalanche of cases hit our desks.” Many of them came from the United States and concerned the past.
“In recent years, thank God, the phenomenon has greatly reduced. So now we try to deal with new cases in real time.” In the last nine years the congregation has considered accusations concerning about 3,000 cases, which refer to crimes committed over the last 50 years.
He continued: “We can say that, in general, about 60 per cent of these cases chiefly deal with, more than anything else, acts of efebophilia; that is, sexual attraction towards adolescents of the same sex. In another 30 per cent they are heterosexual acts. And in 10 per cent they are acts of true and proper paedophilia; that is, based on sexual attraction towards prepubescent children.
“The cases of priests accused of true and proper paedophilia have been about 300 in nine years. These are too many for goodness sake! but it must be recognised that the phenomenon is not as widespread as some would have us believe.” The age of consent in the Vatican is 12.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Paedophilia link to homosexuality, not celibacy - cardinal
SANTIAGO/BERLIN – It is homosexuality, not celibacy, that is linked to paedophilia, the Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said yesterday, seeking to defuse the sex scandal that has battered the Catholic Church.
On a visit to Chile, Cardinal Bertone, dubbed the deputy pope, also said Pope Benedict would soon take more surprising initiatives regarding the sex abuse scandal, but he did not elaborate.
“Many psychologists and psychiatrists have shown that there is no link between celibacy and paedophilia but many others have shown, I have recently been told, that there is a relationship between homosexuality and paedophilia,” he told a news conference in Santiago.
“This pathology is one that touches all categories of people and priests to a lesser degree in percentage terms,” he said. “The behaviour of the priests in this case, the negative behaviour, is very serious, is scandalous.”
Meanwhile, a new report commissioned by the Catholic Church in Germany has found that children were “sadistically tormented and also sexually abused” at a monastery in Pope Benedict’s native Bavaria.
A lawyer investigating accusations of abuse in a Benedictine monastery school in Ettal presented a final report to the archdiocese of Munich and Freising yesterday, including 173 pages of victims’ accounts of abuse.
“My investigations quite clearly show that for decades up until around 1990, children and adolescents were brutally abused in the Ettal monastery,” Thomas Pfister said in a statement.
“The number of victims’ accounts has increased significantly since the intermediary report of March 5th,” added Mr Pfister, who said last month that hundreds of pupils had been beaten and some sexually abused at the school.
An archdiocese spokesman said he could not comment on the specific number of victims before a news conference today.
A survey published yesterday found that a quarter of German Catholics were considering quitting the church in the wake of reports of hundreds of cases, some many decades old, of sexual abuse by clerics. – (Reuters)
Dublin ~ Wednesday April 14 2010
Linking homosexuality with abuse
Madam, – I am shocked to hear that the Catholic Church (via Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone) is now blaming homosexuality for that organisation’s systematic rape of children and its subsequent cover-up (World News, April 13th). Would it not be more becoming of an organisation claiming to be “Christian”, to stop its vicious attack on vulnerable minorities, such as gay men and women, and instead focus on contributing to a modern and inclusive society that protects the weak and punishes those who destroy lives? – Yours, etc,
Cullenswood Park, Ranelagh, Dublin 6.
Madam, – I am deeply aghast at Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone’s blind assertion that homosexuality is linked to paedophilia. There is absolutely no study which shows a correlation between the two or which shows that homosexuality causes paedophilia.
I am not surprised, however, that an organisation that refuses to address its own grim failings in an appropriate manner chooses to make scapegoats of an innocent minority group to deflect some of the media attention away from itself. These kinds of statements are sure to cause great upset among members of the homosexual community and their families.
Even worse, I dread to think of the psychological damage these kinds of statements could cause among those who are just beginning to explore their sexual identities. It seems to me that this organisation, which has caused so much damage already, finds it easier to continue damaging than to make amends and turn itself around.
As control and credibility slips from its grasp, I brace myself for any further desperate mutterings which Catholic Church leaders may have to offer us over the coming months. – Yours, etc,
LGBT Campaigns and Human Rights Officer,
University College Cork